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Durham Wildlife Trust: Bellamy's 'unwavering support' will be missed

David Bellamy
Getty Images

Durham Wildlife Trust has paid tribute to naturalist David Bellamy, who died yesterday, aged 86.

Mr Bellamy was its president and more recently held the position of patron.

In a statement, the trust said: "We will miss his unwavering support and commitment and will continue to do everything we can to conserve wildlife and encourage the next generation to appreciate and respect our flora and fauna."

London-born Bellamy, who lived in County Durham, presented programmes such as Don't Ask Me, Bellamy On Botany, Bellamy's Britain, Bellamy's Europe and Bellamy's Backyard Safari.

Trust director Jim Cokill said: "David Bellamy was one of the main reasons why I do the job I do today.

"His TV programmes gave me a love of wildlife and the natural world from a young age and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to meet him in later life.

"He made a lasting contribution to nature conservation in the North East, the country as a whole and across the world."

National award for North East museum

Putting the customer first has landed Beamish Museum a national award,

It won the customer commitment award from the British Chambers of Commerce.

Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish’s deputy director, said: “Our staff and volunteers always go the extra mile to make sure our visitors have an exceptional experience. We are proud to be representing the region on a national stage."

The County Durham open-air museum has about 500 staff and 500 volunteers.

Sarah Howard, chair of the British Chambers of Commerce, congratulated the team for always putting the visitor first.

Beamish Museum town scene
Beamish, The Living Museum of the North

Repairs due for Shildon secondary school

Your questions answered
BBC

As part of our election coverage we've been asking people what questions they want answered about their area.

One person contacted us with concerns about Sunnydale Secondary School in Shildon, which became part of Greeenfield Community College in 2015.

She said: "I am concerned for the school as it's in disrepair. Years 10 and 11 are being sent out of town to another secondary school... which the majority of the students don't like.

"Being shipped from one town to the other surely affects the GCSE results. I am sure this school will close unless something is done about it. If we lose this school we have nothing left in this town."

We contacted Durham County Council which said there were 758 pupils based at Newton Aycliffe, 99 Year seven and eight pupils at Shildon and 55 Year nine pupils whose education was split across both sites

However, it was aware there were ongoing building condition issues at the Shildon site.

Richard Crane, head of education and skills at the authority, said: "In recent weeks, problems with the drainage system have escalated and require us to undertake remedial works which cannot be completed with the young people onsite.

"As a result, at the start of the spring term in January, all pupils will be temporarily moved to the Newton Aycliffe site to allow this work to be carried out, along with further investigations and repairs.

"We do not have a time scale for the completion of the work but during this time, free pupil transport will be provided from the Shildon site to Newton Aycliffe.

“The move will not have an impact on the education of the pupils and will draw upon the positive experiences of children in Year 10 and 11 who have already made a switch to a single-site education in Newton Aycliffe."

Little Lyla is a shining light

A little girl who has brightened up the lives of poorly children across the world, despite battling a brain tumour herself, has been helping to spread festive cheer in her home city.

Lyla O’Donovan joined Katie Corrigan, chairman of Durham County Council, to switch on the Christmas tree lights at County Hall in Durham.

The seven-year-old, from Ushaw Moor, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016 and has undergone nine operations and suffered multiple complications since then.

Lyla is set to undergo a further operation after Christmas but stays positive.

With the help of her big sister Lilley, Lyla set up Lyla and Lilley’s Stars to send certificates to other brave children all over the world.

The O’Donovan family has also been working with the charity Brain Tumour Research to raise awareness of the disease.

Lyla’s work has not gone unnoticed.

Last month, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, presented her with a Wellchild Award in recognition of her strength, bravery and generosity.

Lyla and her dad Paul at the switch on
Durham County Council

Wigton man who stabbed two strangers jailed for 20 years

A Wigton man who stabbed two strangers and assaulted a woman in July this year has been jailed for 20 years.

Richard Moulton, 49, of Station Road in the town, had armed himself with two knives with which he attacked two men who were chatting in the street.

One was stabbed in the chest and the other in the stomach and both required surgery after suffering serious injuries.

A few minutes later, Moulton passed a woman visiting the town with her husband and lashed out, injuring her hand.

Moulton had admitted attempted murder, wounding with intent and assault and he was sentenced this morning at Durham Crown Court.

Judge James Adkin imposed a 20-year sentence with five years' extended licence, for what he called "life-threatening, entirely random violence".

Smoking linked to child deaths

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporter

Smoking at home and during pregnancy has been linked to the deaths of four children in County Durham and Darlington.

The cases, which were all reviewed by council chiefs last year, identified tobacco use as a possible factor in the tragedies.

The latest findings also highlighted issues including substance abuse by parents, mental health problems and access to health services.

Gill O’Neill, Durham County Council’s deputy director of public health, told the county council's health and well-being board that the authority was highlighting the threat of tobacco dependency.

Thousands of mums missed flu jabs

Local Democracy Reporting Service

More than 2,000 pregnant women in County Durham could have missed out on their free flu jab last winter.

Mums-to-be and others deemed ‘at risk’, such as over-65s or people with conditions such as asthma or diabetes, can also get the vaccine without having to pay.

But despite this more than 50,000 people eligible for the offer are not thought to have taken it up in 2018, with care chiefs keen to improve numbers ahead of the official start of flu season next month (December).

“The more we normalise the uptake of flu jabs the more people will promote it,” said Dr Stewart Findlay, chief clinical officer at the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES) and North Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

“The problem I have with the way pharmacies’ work is that, to date, we’ve had competition between pharmacists and GPs.

“It’s not helpful to the population, we have to find a way to work together to target patients to maximise the work of both.”

Dr Findlay was speaking at this morning’s (Wednesday, November 27) meeting of Durham County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which heard an update from the County Durham and Darlington Flu Prevention Board on vaccination efforts.

The flu jab is available from GPs and pharmacists, as well as midwives for pregnant women and costs about £10-13 for those not eligible to receive it for free.

Autumn, from the beginning of October to the end of November, is thought to be the best time to get it, ahead of the flu season, which runs December – March, according to the NHS.

Former officer denies detention centre sex charges

PA Media

A former prison officer at a detention centre has denied misconduct in a public office and a string of sexual offences and assaults against young inmates dating back to the 1970s.

Ian Nicholson, 74, who worked at Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham, appeared before a judge at Teesside Crown Court to plead not guilty to all eight offences that he faces.

Co-accused Alexander Flavell, 86, who is also charged with misconduct and sexual offences from his time working at the detention centre, was not asked to enter pleas, pending the outcome of a medical examination.

Mr Nicholson, who used a walking aid to leave court, faces a charge of misconduct in a public office, three counts of a serious sexual offence and four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Judge Howard Crowson listed the four-week trail to take place next November and granted both men unconditional bail.

He told them: "I'm afraid the trial is a very long way off."

The judge imposed a reporting restriction which prevents the media from publishing either defendants' address.

Medomsley Detention Centre closed in 1988 and was intended to house teenagers who had committed relatively minor offences.

In photos: Lumiere draws to a close

As the lights go out for another year, it's believed one million people have now visited Durham's Lumiere since the event began a decade ago.

The 2019 edition, which drew to a close last night, featured 37 artworks, including a giant slinky and a snow-globe over the horse statue.

Here are some images of the highlights.

Lumiere
BBC
Lumiere
BBC
Lumiere
BBC

Gritting teams are ready for the cold

Winter's here and council road gritting teams across the region are on stand-by for the ice and snow.

Durham County Council says its 76-strong fleet of gritters and snowblowers is ready and waiting for the colder weather.

There are 42,000 tonnes of salt ready to tackle the ice and any snow, with more than 2,380 salt bins located in key positions around the county.

The council says that during normal winter conditions 1,700 kilometres of priority one roads, normally A or B roads, will be treated, covering 45% of the road network.

The authority adds that more minor routes will be treated in times of prolonged severe winter weather when resources are available.

Durham gritters
Durham County Council

Terror-accused boy 'was adopting persona'

Press Association

An alleged teenage neo-Nazi said he was adopting a persona when he listed venues in his home city "worth attacking", a court has heard.

The 16-year-old boy, from Durham, drafted a manifesto entitled "A Manual for practical and sensible guerrilla warfare against the kike system in the Durham City area, Sieg Heil".

Within the document was a list of supposed targets including schools, post offices, pubs, council buildings, a passport office and a bus station, Manchester Crown Court has heard.

He also allegedly wrote of planning to conduct an arson spree with Molotov cocktails on synagogues in the Durham area.

But the youngster told a jury he had no intention of carrying out any attacks, did not hold racist views and only pretended to do so for "shock value" and to feel better about himself.

The document was seized along with a diary, books - including Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf - and computer devices by police who searched his home in March.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told prosecutor Michelle Nelson QC that his diary entries and online posts on a far right-wing forum were made in his false persona, which he said he created in 2017 because "it was the most extreme I could think of".

He denies preparation of terrorist acts, disseminating a terrorist publication, possessing an article for a purpose connected with terrorism and three counts of possessing a document or record containing information likely to be useful to a terrorist. The trial continues.

Durham anti-social behavior to be discussed

Plans to stamp out anti-social behaviour in Durham City will be discussed at a major conference today.

It follows reports of increasing problems in the city, including drug taking, drinking and other anti-social behaviour, particularly in the North Road area.

Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary are among the organisations attending the event at Durham Town Hall, which has been organised by the City of Durham Parish Council.

Council begins eyesore former pub demolition

Durham County Council has begun demolition of an eyeore building after its owners failed to comply with legal notices to carry out the work themselves.

The Drive 2 Data building, in Seaham - formerly the Noah’s Ark public house - had become derelict and old vehicles and rubble were being stored to its rear.

Its owners were issued with a notice in August 2018 requiring them to demolish it and remove all waste from the site.

When this did not happen, and a further notice was ignored, the council began demolition and the owner will be required to reimburse the cost.

Drive 2 Data building
Durham County Council

A council spokesman said: “The condition and appearance of the building has had a detrimental impact on the character of the area.

“We have tried to work with the owners previously and that offer will remain open if they approach us with a viable option for the future of the site.

"We hope this can mark the start of a new chapter for this area.”

Rear of the building
Durham County Council

Historic bridge closed for repairs

BBC Tees

A historic bridge in Teesdale has been closed to allow for urgent repair work.

Visitors to High and Low Force will need an alternative route to see the landmarks.

Durham County Council said following routine inspections engineers identified that Wynch Bridge needs urgent repairs.

The almost 200-year-old Grade II listed bridge was built for the Duke of Cleveland in 1820 as a replacement for what was said to be the earliest suspension bridge in Europe.

It will be closed for two months to allow for replacement of the timber deck and suspension joints, as well as cleaning and repainting of the iron works.

Wynch Bridge
Durham County Council

Shop that sold alcohol to children keeps licence

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A Tanfield shop caught selling alcohol to children twice in two weeks has been allowed to keep its licence.

The Happy Shopper failed two test purchases organised by Durham County Council’s trading standards team last year, where a member of staff sold wine to a 16-year-old and 15-year-old .

The matter was brought to Durham County Hall for a licence review, backed by Durham Constabulary who raised concerns about alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour in the village.

Owner Mrs Jaswinder Kaur Mehat served alcohol during both tests, but her solicitor Matthew Foster said she that was “distracted” at the time over news that her father in India was seriously ill.

Following assurances that the business would improve its training regime and install CCTV, licensing bosses said they were happy for the shop to continue selling alcohol.

The Happy Shopper
Google

Ron Hogg diagnosed with motor neurone disease

Ron Hogg
Durham Police

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg, 67, has motor neurone disease, it has been announced.

Steve White was appointed as acting commissioner last Friday after an emergency meeting of the Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Panel.

He said: “I am grateful that the panel has shown confidence in me to take on this important task, although it is with a heavy heart and a sense of duty that I will be performing the role of acting PCVC.

"Ron is unwell having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

"He has to concentrate on stabilising his symptoms and adapting to the impact of this devastating illness.

"We all wish him and his wife Maureen our best wishes at this difficult time for them and his family and friends."

Ambulance crews sent to South Bank incident

The North East Ambulance Service said it had sent six resources including a specialist hazard team to the former SSI plant in South Bank.

Fire crews are also on the scene.

An ambulance spokeswoman said there were no details about any casualties.

We will bring you more details when we have them.

Ron Hogg seeks appointment of acting PCC after being "unwell"

Ron Hogg, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for County Durham and Darlington, has asked the chair of the Police and Crime Panel to consider appointing an acting commissioner.

Mr Hogg is not standing down, but is "unwell".

The panel will discuss his request on 20 September.

Busty Bank in Burnopfield remains closed this morning

A road in Gateshead was closed yesterday after a lorry crashed into a bridge.

It happened on the Burnopfield Road in Rowlands Gill near the entrance to the National Trust's Gibside estate.

Police closed the road just after 16:00 yesterday afternoon.

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