Bishop Auckland

England, United Kingdom

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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

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."

General Election 2019: The politics of power in Yorkshire

Stuart Harratt

BBC Local Live

Yorkshire is a place that sees itself as separate, unique, in a way not dissimilar to how Texans feel about their own huge corner of the United States. But in this sprawling chunk of England - one that declares itself God's Own Country - a party has grown that wants devolved power for its people.

Besides comparing its rolling dales and breathtaking vistas to a slice of heaven on earth, Yorkshire's fiercely independent streak is perhaps best exemplified by the actions of those who call it home.

In sport, the county has its own "international" football team. At the 2012 Olympics, a Yorkshire medal table was drawn up showing how it would have fared had it been a country. Its sports stars raked in 10 medals between them, putting them 13th in this fictional ranking - a feat bettered at Rio in 2016 when Yorkshire would have come 12th.

Read more here.

Yorkshire flag
Getty Images

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.

Bishop Auckland coal miner's daughter centre stage in Trump impeachment probe

BBC News

A coal miner's daughter from County Durham who rose to be a top national security adviser in the US has taken centre stage during impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump.

Millions of Americans tuned in to watch Fiona Hill, a distinguished Russia analyst, express her concerns about the machinations she witnessed inside Mr Trump's White House.

The inquiry is attempting to assess if Mr Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to pressure the country into investigating a political rival. The president denied any wrongdoing.

In her opening statement, Ms Hill told the inquiry about her background, saying she is an "American by choice", having become a citizen in 2002.

Fiona Hill

The 54-year-old, who was born in Bishop Auckland, said: "This country has offered for me opportunities I never would have had in England.

"I grew up poor, with a very distinctive working-class accent.

"In England in the 1980s and 1990s, this would have impeded my professional advancement.

"This background has never set me back in America."

Ms Hill said it had been her father's dream to move to the US, saying he "loved... its culture, its history and its role as a beacon of hope in the world".

Her father died in 2012, she said, while her mother still lives in Bishop Auckland.

Ms Hill's testimony, and the manner in which it was delivered, was well-received.

David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to Mr Obama, said Ms Hill "is operating on a different level" to those questioning her.

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.

Scarlett Moffatt dropped from Saturday Night Takeaway

County Durham reality TV star Scarlett Moffatt has been dropped from her co-presenting role on Saturday Night Takeaway.

The 29-year-old, from Bishop Auckland, landed the job in 2017 and said it was her "dream" to be working alongside Ant & Dec.

However, she will not be reprising the role when the show returns next year.

Scarlett Moffatt
PA Media

An ITV spokesman said: "Scarlett Moffatt won't feature as a contributor in the 2020 series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

"We thank Scarlett for all of her hard work on the show and will announce details of the new series nearer transmission."

She rose to fame after appearing on Gogglebox and won the 16th series of I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! in 2016.

She also recently appeared in Channel 4 documentary The British Tribe Next Door.

The first week in Radio 1 Newsbeat's election campervan
Week one of Radio 1 Newsbeat's election campervan tour starting in Bishop Auckland and Aberdeen.

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.


Games lift spirits and moods on County Durham estate

Street games have helped cut anti-social behaviour on a County Durham housing estate by 95% in a year.

And now the project behind it has one has won a police problem-solving award.

The Woodhouse Utd: Auckland Street Games project was crowned overall winner at the Problem Orientated Partnerships (POP) after judges heard of its success on the Woodhouse Close Estate, in Bishop Auckland.

Beth Maddox, of the Bishop Auckland Neighbourhood Police Team, teamed up with the Auckland Youth and Community Centre (AYCC), Believe Housing, Durham County Council and other businesses to launch the Auckland Games – a weekly activity session for children in Woodhouse Close.

Beth said: “I am delighted to have won the POP awards but even happier that we have been able to make such a difference to the lives of everyone in Woodhouse Close."

Chief Constable Jo Farrell and Beth Maddox
Durham Constabulary

Cafe politics in coal country

Lesley and Sam Zair

Election battleground: Bishop Auckland

This County Durham town faces the same dilemmas as many others - dying high streets, a strained health service and uncertainty over Brexit. One family has been at the political coalface in this former mining area for decades.

What do they and others think the future holds?

Barnard Castle business owner: Rural broadband a 'pain'

Donna Dobson, owner of Fox and Field, a women's clothing store in Barnard Castle says she wants the government to do more for rural areas in terms of broadband, and often feels like people get neglected in the area.

"We get regular drops in connection at the premises in Barnard Castle, then should I choose to work from home I struggle because we get such a poor speed.

"It's a pain at times because when it's VAT time and such like and when you're trying to get everything reconciled and the internet drops it's really frustrating."

Mrs Dobson said she'd like politicians to remember that "we are up here in the countryside".

"I do think that big cities and towns get favored over us," she added.

"They've put more money into broadband in the Teesside area and I'm sure what they have is already 20 times better than what we have here so I would ask them to remember the countryside.

"They talk about how they want to save the countryside, well they need to step up to the mark and do something about it."

Donna Dobson

The reason the North is so 'Brexity'

BBC Radio 5 Live

Chris Lloyd, the chief features writer and political commentator for The Northern Echo, blames the north-south divide for the way so many people voted in the Brexit referendum.

“It's this feeling that the North as an entity is just forgotten about," he says.

“This 'Manifesto for the North' [a front page headline run by northern papers on Thursday] is really trying to remind people that the North is still here.

“We have specific demands, if you like, for increased infrastructure spending, better transport spending, actually joining the North East up.

“But it’s also about the fact that one of the reasons we are so Brexity up here is that we feel so disconnected, so far away from London and even further away from Brussels."

Front pages of The Journal, The North Echo and The Chronicle

Call for more police patrols over the weekend

Lucy Moody


Katie Pryor, 22, from Newton Aycliffe, told me she thinks more shops and pubs would bring people into the town centre.

She also thinks more police patrols would help encourage people to visit Bishop Auckland.

She said: “I think there should be more police patrolling on the weekend because there can be trouble. I think that’s one of the things that puts people off coming on a night out here."

Katie Pryor

'We went to bed as Great Britain and we woke up as little Britain'

John Emmerson, a hill farmer from Bishop Auckland, said Brexit had impacted some fellow farmers as it was the equivalent of "turkeys voting for Christmas".

He said: "It's a faith that we might be better outside of Europe. There's no solid basis for it. I've yet to see anybody put a solid argument up for leaving Europe.

"We're far better working together as a common community than we are split up.

"On the night of the referendum we went to bed as Great Britain and we woke up as little Britain, and that's a tragedy."

John Emmerson

Improving business rates 'would help small businesses'

Lucy Moody


Out on the streets of Bishop Auckland, a woman told me that business rates in the town should be looked at by politicians.

Jane Swinney, 64, said: “I think it’s the same with every town, they should be investing to improve the high street.

“I think if the politicians did something with the business rates that would help small businesses start up."

Jane Swinney

Labour voter 'moving towards voting Conservative'

Chris Guille runs a sci-fi toy shop in Bishop Auckland and said: "Our little street is doing quite well, but things like the main high street, it's just a battle for independent businesses to get anything on there because of the cost."

A remain voter in 2016, she says she wouldn't vote that way again if there was a second referendum.

"I'd vote to leave, the people had their say, they voted to leave and we should've upheld that," she said.

She added she was normally a Labour voter but was moving towards the Conservatives, but would read more election material before voting on 12 December.

Chris Guille

Firms need clarity, business leader urges

Pamela Petty, of the Bishop Auckland and Shildon Business Network, tells us there is an urgent need for "clarity and certainty" on Brexit and investment in order to give firms reassurance.

She also says north-east England needs a range of jobs in order to help it prosper, such as those on offer at Bishop Auckland television manufacturer Cello Electronics.

"When we actually leave the EU, what kind of incentives will the government give to manufacturing?

"Yes, we'd all like more high-skilled jobs in the North East, but they can't all be high-skilled so we need things like assembly jobs too."

Pamela Petty, speaking at the Cello Electronics factory

'The parties aren't answering questions'

Undecided voter Lizzie Brophy, a commercial manager for Stiller, said there wasn't enough information to help her make up her mind.

"The people in the parties aren't answering questions, they're just talking around the subject or using big headers like Brexit, no-deal, deal, but there's nothing underneath that that explains which way my vote should go."

Asked if her vote would be about Brexit, she replied: "I think other things are more important, we've been in the EU for such a long time, there's nothing concrete really in people saying why we should leave."

Lizzie Brophy

'Brexit Party should withdraw from Bishop Auckland'

Paula Kempin, who owns The 68 Cafe high above the Durham dales, has plenty of regulars from Bishop Auckland.

She said: "I'm not voting just for Brexit, which is why at the moment I'm still really torn."

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party think they can take crucial votes in the constituency.

But Paula said: "That's the wrong decision, if that's his tactics it's the wrong decision, because he should withdraw."

Paula Kempin
BBC Radio 5 Live spoke to people in Bishop Auckland ahead of the general election.
BBC Radio 5 Live asked people in the town what they care about ahead of the general election on 12 December.

Election 'important opportunity to tackle different issues'

Volunteer conservation trainee Alison Laing joined the Newsbeat camper van in Bishop Auckland to talk about what she wants to see during the election campaign.

Alison Laing

She said: "It's not just about Brexit, it's such an important opportunity to tackle a few different issues at the same time, you can't just think about Brexit, you need to think about the environment, education, all that sort of thing."

Newsbeat camper van

On the campaign trail in Bishop Auckland

Adrian Goldberg

Presenter, BBC Local Radio

John Monaghan only bought the Castlegate Tearooms in Bishop Auckland six months ago.

He plans to vote Conservative because he wants "to get Brexit done and over with" and he doesn't want another referendum - although he voted remain in 2016.

"People have already voted so lets get it done," he says.

He hopes a Conservative government would bring "stability".

"There's a lot of investment going on in Bishop Auckland, especially with the Auckland Project, there's millions and millions of pounds being invested into Bishop Auckland."

But, round the corner in Newgate Street, "it's like a completely different town", he says.

"There's a lot of To Let and For Sale signs up. That part of the town isn't getting invested."

You can listen live here from 19:00 or replay below after.

Adrian Goldberg with your chance to have your say ahead of this year's general election.

'I'm going to stick with Boris'

We met two first-time voters at the 17th Century Three Horseshoes Pub in neighbouring Barnard Castle.

Bar worker Kim Moore said: "If somebody came in and explained what they wanted then it would be an easier choice to make, but at the moment I don't understand what anyone is doing."

Famr labourer Dean Bainbridge added: "I'm going to stick with Boris and see if he can get the job done."

Kim Moore and  Dean Bainbridge

'I don't think we'll suffer with Brexit'

BBC Radio 5 Live

John Elliott doesn't set much store by economic forecasts of what would happen after Brexit.

The Bishop Auckland-born chairman and founder of all-British washing machine manufacturer Ebac voted to leave the EU.

"Most economists haven't a good record on forecasting the economy," he says.

"I don't think we'll suffer with Brexit."

But he thinks we need change because we "can be much better than we are".

“If the UK was a company it would be bankrupt - we spend more than we earn, we consume more than we produce," he says.

“The country has been badly run for 30 years."

John Elliott

'There's no-one I've got confidence in to take us forward'

At the Fifteas Vintage Tearoom at Auckland Castle, we met Steve Goodwin and Rebecca Nye.

We asked them how a North East seat could have become a target for the Conservative Party after being a Labour heartland for so many years.

Steve said: "I just don't feel there's anyone I can trust at the moment, in terms of the people available to us, Labour, Conservatives, the other parties, there's no-one I've got confidence in to take us forward."

Steve Goodwin

Brexit isn't the only thing on people's minds

BBC Radio 5 Live

Believe it or not, there are people for whom the question of leaving or not leaving the European Union isn't the most pressing issue.

They have their preference and they voted one way or the other - but they really wouldn't mind if the opposite happened, if only things were better where they lived.

Bishop Auckland antiques dealer Suzanne Thomas voted to remain in the EU but says she wouldn’t “lose a minute’s sleep” if we left because there are more important issues facing the region.

Of more importance is "what goes on for us all every single day", she says.

"It’s what goes on in our hospitals, in our schools, in our towns, in our high street – these are the things that affect me and mine."

North East 'feels the world isn't listening to them'

Mark Easton, the BBC's Home Editor, says issues other than Brexit may come to the fore over the next month.

"This is an election that is unscheduled. It's been called because the Prime Minister can't get Brexit sorted with the numbers in the House of Commons at the moment.

"But of course, as we saw in 2017 in an election that was also about breaking the Brexit deadlock, campaigns have their own character and things bubble up. During the last election you might remember social care became a huge talking point.

"Although this election will be driven by the huge issue of Brexit, other issues may become really important.

"In the North East I think there's a real sense that the world isn't listening to them, that their voice isn't loud enough, they want to be heard more.

"They don't think there's been enough investment and think power is too centralised in London or Brussels."

The BBC's Louise Minchin and Mark Easton discuss the election at Auckland Castle

The High Street where even Poundworld has gone

Christian Fraser

BBC Journalist

Bishop Auckland really is a tale of two towns.

I've been struck by what people have been telling me over the last few days about some of the new investment which is coming in here.

Behind me you have the ancient part of the town, down there is Auckland Castle which gave the town its name.

Bishop Auckland

You can see there's lots of scaffolding down there and new investment, the City financier Jonathan Ruffer has come in here and saved the castle and the precious artwork inside.

Lots of people coming back to the town to have a look, it was newly reopened just the other week.

But when you come around here to the main drag in Bishop Auckland, you get a very different feel about the town.

At the top end here you can see some of the businesses have shuttered, even Poundworld has gone. Local businesses are really struggling to survive.

Bishop Auckland

The 250-mile definition gap

BBC Radio 5 Live

For people in Bishop Auckland, the floods in South Yorkshire are close enough to home to be a worry.

But local farmer Yvonne Scales thinks the distance between here and Westminster makes a big difference in perception.

“If the floods were in London I think it would be a national disaster," she says.

"But because it’s Doncaster it’s not such a national disaster.”

Fishlake, South Yorkshire

Police in Bishop Auckland 'up against it'

Lucy Moody


Out on the streets of Bishop Auckland, one woman has told me law and order should be a big issue for politicians.

Joyce Dowson, 88, a retired lady from the town, thinks politicians should be doing more for the police.

She said “We haven’t got enough police in Bishop Auckland. I feel sorry for them because they’re up against it.

Mrs Dowson said she saw some young boys throwing things at a bus and since there was only one police officer she waited to make sure he was ok.

Joyce Dowson

Manufacturing and agriculture rule the employment roost

The Bishop Auckland constituency includes the towns of Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle, Shildon, Spennymoor, and Middleton-on-Teesdale.

Some of the smaller towns were built in the era of coal mining, but now manufacturing - including food processing and packaging - public sector, and retail are the main sources of employment.

The rolling landscape, some of which forms part of the Pennines, also supports agriculture, particularly hill farming.

Farmer in Middleton-in-Teesdale

Call to bring big brands to Bishop Auckland

Lucy Moody


An issue with the number of shops in Bishop Auckland seems to be forefront in people's minds when we ask them what politicians could do to improve the town.

Anne Robson, 79 and her husband Neville Robson, 82, from Bishop Auckland said they’d seen a number of shops closing.

Anne said: “They need to open more shops and spend more money in the town because it’s going down hill.

“I was born here, it’s horrible to see, it used to be a lovely town."

Neville agreed and said “one or two large shops might help”.

“I suppose you could some of the big retail brands here,” he added.

Anne Robson, 79 and her husband Neville Robson

'Boris Johnson is the epitome of disingenuous'

John Emmerson, a hill farmer from Bishop Auckland with 400 acres of sheep and cattle, said: "I'm going to vote Labour, and the reason for that is, Boris Johnson is the epitome of disingenuous, and people such as Ress-Moog don't in any way represent myself.

"The Conservatives are coming up here, they're putting a candidate, and the only reason for that is they have no interest whatsoever in the local area, is to see if they can get another seat in Parliament, which will make the position of the people of the North East worse not better.

"At the moment [Brexit] is not really affecting [my farm] but the possibility is disastrous, you're going to lose your major training partner, which is Europe for sheep, 40% of all sheep go to Europe, if we haven't got that trade, you'll find that the sheep will collapse, and that's noted by the Conservatives as they have put forward certain measure to protect sheep farmers."

John Emmerson

'My vote is swaying towards the Conservatives'

Pauline Smith, a hairdresser in Bishop Auckland, said: "I usually vote Labour, I don't claim to be an expert in politics, however my vote is swaying towards Conservative.

"I feel they've given a lot more to small businesses, understanding what they do for taxation, corporation tax. I'm not hearing anything from Labour, that's the reason I'm going that way."

Pauline Smith

Before and after - getting the vote after the referendum

BBC Radio 5 Live

Bishop Auckland is not alone in having a contingent of young people who have joined the Brexit debate half way through.

Not old enough to vote in the referendum but faced with a general election, they're now having to decide what they want and which party is likely to provide it.

Alex Robertson, who runs an eco-friendly gift shop in the town, is finding it "difficult trying to catch up on everything now that I am old enough to vote".

She's "mainly green" but, as they haven't done well in her nearby constituency, is considering tactical voting.

“I’m mainly Green but tempted on Labour just as a tactical vote to get the Tories out," she says.

"I feel like my vote could more of an impact if I voted Labour than if I voted Green."

'The cafes are struggling because there aren’t any people'

Latest from BBC election special in Bishop Auckland, County Durham...

Lucy Moody


Investing in more shops seems to be a popular answer in Bishop Auckland to the question: "What could politicians do to improve your town?"

Stacey Spindley, 41, from Howden-Le-Wear, said more stores need open in the town to encourage people to visit.

The charity volunteer said it was “dying for trade at the moment".

“In the 13 years I’ve lived here there have been hundreds of shops closed, there’s just cafes now and the cafes are struggling because there aren’t any people. It’s not fair on them."

Stacey Spindley

Call for politicians to focus on repairing local roads

Lucy Moody


Daniel Thomson, 24, from the town, told me he thinks more should be done to improve the roads around Bishop Auckland.

He said: "Some of the roads are pretty bad, especially where I live. There’s cracks and holes."

Daniel Thomson

Services 'stretched so thin' in Bishop Auckland

BBC Radio 5 Live

Carl Howe used to be a bus driver but now runs an axe-throwing centre and describes himself as "Bishop born and bred".

He's worried about cuts.

"Bishop Hospital cost £66m in 2002 and, since then, it’s been department closed after department closed after department closed," he says.

"My sister’s a police officer. She’s stretched thin - a 28-year-old female out on her own.

"Sometimes the nearest back-up is six minutes away by blue light. It’s worrying every time she goes to work for her family.

"Services are being stretched so thin in this area.”

Bishop Auckland winner 'basically a coin toss'

David Rhodes

BBC political reporter

There is a good chance of a Tory victory here, this seat is basically a coin toss, that's how close this constituency is.

Five hundred and two votes made the difference last time, and it's vital for both Labour and the Conservatives - for Labour they need to hold on to seats like this, if they want to be the party of government.

And as for the Conservatives, if they can win here, maybe Boris Johnson can start looking towards having a majority in the House of Commons.

It is a vital seat and we will see a lot of campaign activity here in the coming weeks.

David Rhodes