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North East endorses devolution deal

The North East Combined Authority has voted to accept an historic multi-million pound devolution deal for part of the region.

The move, which took place at Durham Civic Centre, will see the authority receive £30m a year over the next 30 years and given control over other investment.

The North East would also get a directly elected mayor.

Mike Ashley agrees to appear before MPs

Newcastle United owner, Mike Ashley, has agreed to appear before MPs next month to answer questions about conditions at his Sports Direct firm. The agreement is based on the condition that they visit the factory first.

Mike Ashley Credit: PA

The businessman had previously refused to give evidence in parliament over concerns about how workers were treated at the warehouse in Derbyshire. The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee says it will consider his offer next week.

"We can confirm that Mike Ashley has agreed to attend Westminster - provided that the committee members visit the Shirebrook premises in advance to see employment conditions and practices with their own eyes."

– Sports Direct

North-East devolution decision expected today

A decision on a historic multi-billion pound devolution deal is due today.

A decision on a historic multi-million pound devolution deal for part of the region is due later today.

If it's accepted, the North East Combined Authority would receive £30m a year over the next 30 years, and given control over other investment.

The North East would also get a directly elected mayor.

Nissan accused of manipulating emissions test results by South Korea

A Nissan Qashqai Credit: PA

Nissan has been accused of manipulating emissions test results by the South Korean Environment Ministry, according to Reuters press agency.

The accusation refers to the Nissan's Qashqai model, which is produced exclusively at Nissan's Sunderland plant.

The South Korean ministry alleges that the Qashqai uses a 'defeat device' to turn off its emission reduction system under normal driving temperatures.

It is normal for a car to turn off its emission reduction system at certain temperatures, to prevent overheating of the engine.

However, the Qashqai model allegedly stops emissions reduction at 35 degrees celsius, which is well within the normal range of engine temperature.

The ministry has said it would fine Nissan 330 million won ($279,920), and order a recall of the 814 new Qashqai vehicles sold in the country so far.

A spokesperson for Nissan's Great Britain operations said:

Nissan does not manipulate data related to our vehicles. The Nissan Qashqai has been correctly homologated under Korean regulations. Nissan has not and does not employ illegal defeat or cheat devices in any of the cars that we make. Furthermore, following stringent testing and using similar standards to the Korean tests, EU authorities have concluded that Nissan vehicles they tested used no illegal defeat device.

Although the conclusions reached by the Korean authorities are inconsistent with those of other regulators, Nissan will carefully assess and consider appropriate next steps.

Nissan is committed to upholding the law and meeting or exceeding regulations in every market where we operate. We are continuing to work with the Korean authorities.

– Nissan spokesperson

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"We are still a Premier League city"

Aston Villa fans hold up banners in the stands during the Barclays Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham (7th May) Credit: PA

Business Improvement District Company, NE1 Ltd has been assessing the economic impact of Newcastle United’s relegation.

They say it's not 'all doom and gloom' for Newcastle.

They point out that:

  • When Newcastle United was last in the Championship league, attendance at home games was on average 5,000 less per game.
  • However - there are more matches played in the lower league so over the course of the season an additional 100k visitors can be expected in the city.

“As a lifelong Newcastle fan, its hugely disappointing, but with my business head on I have to recognise that Football isn't the only string to our bow. The Club is a hugely important part of the city, but it's worth reminding ourselves that Newcastle is the number one retail destination in North East England.

It is also the number one culinary, cultural and hotel destination in the North East of England.

We can also boast the largest concentration of finance and professional services in the region.

Newcastle has a compelling programme of annual events, with highlights across the summer months including Magic Weekend, Newcastle Pride, NE1 Newcastle Motorshow, Monument Movies and NE1 Newcastle Restaurant Week giving hundreds of thousands of people reason to visit.

We are a premier league city and I have no doubt that we will, once again have a premier league football team in the not too distant future.

– Stephen Patterson, Director of Communications at NE1 Ltd

Tata steel: "We are determined to find a buyer for our assets"

TATA steel sign: the company say finding a buyer for their assets - including Hartlepool - is a priority

Steel giant Tata blames "structural weaknesses" in the UK for its decision to sell its assets - including the Hartlepool Pipe Mill site.

Bimlendra Jha, chief executive of Tata Steel UK told MP's he was "determined" to find a credible buyer, but stressed the government "will probably have to do more" to help secure a sale.

He went on to say that there was no set deadline for selling the company's loss-making assets, but made it clear that Tata could not continue to "bleed" indefinitely.

Jha, who oversaw the sale of Tata's Scunthorpe works earlier this month, said there is no "dead drop" deadline for the sale of Tata's steel assets, but stressed that is a "matter of urgency" for the company.

"We would not be selling the business if we were not losing money," said Mr Jha, adding that the UK had structural weaknesses around energy prices and business rates.

He said that if energy prices were the same as in Germany for example, Tata would be £40 million better off.

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