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Darling 'confident' the UK will survive

The leader of the unionist campaign, Alistair Darling, has insisted he is "very confident" that Scottish voters will reject independence.

His comments follow a YouGov poll which put the Independence campaign ahead of the unionists.

The pound has dropped to a 10-month low and some Scotland-based financial institutions have seen shares drop by more than 2%.

Crisp firm 'regrets' closure plans

KP Snacks, the owners of the Phileas Fogg crisp brand, has confirmed proposals to close it's Medomsley Road factory in Consett.

The firm took over the brand when Derwent Valley Foods was bought by United Biscuits in 1993.

103 people are employed at the site. The firm also has a factory at Billingham on Teesside.

“KP Snacks can confirm that we have informed our colleagues at our Consett and Corby factories that, regrettably, in order to develop a sustainable and competitive manufacturing operation, we are proposing to close the sites and to transfer the production to other sites in our network.

“We operate in an increasingly competitive market and need to focus on our cost base in order to develop a sustainable business. Unfortunately, despite plans to grow our POM-BEAR business, our Corby factory is capacity constrained and has been for some time. Now KP Snacks and Intersnack UK have integrated to form a larger UK business, we have the opportunity to expand our POM-BEAR business in the most cost-efficient manner at our larger Teesside site. In addition, after many years of working hard to try and grow our Consett volume, and despite the growth of Phileas Fogg, the under-utilisation of the site has created an unsustainable situation.

“We have 1,800 employees in the UK and have invested £30m across our sites over the past 18 months. We are committed to keeping a manufacturing base and maintaining as many jobs as we can in the UK and we are working to ensure we do this in the most effective way, allowing us to ensure a sustainable future for our overall business.

“We very much appreciate the hard work, commitment and focus on quality of our Corby and Consett colleagues during this difficult time and we will work closely with them as we consult on this proposal in the coming weeks. These are only proposals at this stage and are subject to the appropriate consultation with our colleagues. No final decisions have yet been made.”

– Nick Bunker, CEO, KP Snacks

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65 Jobs to go in Guisborough

Guisborough Foundry is to close by the end of November with the loss of 65 jobs.

Staff at the foundry, which is run by US firm ESCO Corporation, were told the news yesterday.

“I am extremely disappointed at this announcement. This closure will be a huge loss for East Cleveland and my priority will be to support those employees who have been hit by this announcement any way I can.

“Since hearing the news I have written to the firm offering whatever assistance I can give to help the workforce. We cannot write off any possibility at this moment, and I'll be making my own enquiries into how we can help in conjunction with the workforces elected trade union representatives. It is vital that we ensure that opportunities are provided for the retraining of the employees, so that they will have a chance to apply for jobs elsewhere.”

– Tom Blenkinsop MP

Landlords face fines of £2,500 for using 'to let' signs

Signs advertising properties for rent have become a familiar site on almost every urban street.

Lettings agents say the boards are a necessary way to advertise but homeowners argue they spoil the appearance of their suburbs.

They have caused so much controversy in Newcastle that the council has now successfully applied to ban all 'to rent' signs across large parts of the city.

From January, any landlord who doesn't comply faces fines of up to £2,500.

Katie Oakes reports:

Letting boards 'affecting the character' of Jesmond

Newcastle City Council has successfully applied to ban signs advertising rental properties in some areas of the city.

It follows years of complaints from residents who say the boards lower the quality and appearance of their streets.

From January, any landlord or letting agent displaying boards without permission in Jesmond, Heaton, Gosforth and Sandyford could face fines of up to £2,500.

Kath Lawless, of Newcastle City Council, says the boards have "brought the area down":

But John Henderson, of Acorn Properties, has spoken of the inevitable affect on business:

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