North Yorkshire Police u-turn on new HQ

North Yorkshire Police say that a u-turn on proposals to build new headquarters near Thirsk will save the tax-payer millions of pounds.

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Train operators shortlisted for rail franchises

Six train operators have been shortlisted for two franchises covering the North of England.

The Government has promised a 'a world-class rail network' for passengers, but added that the franchise bidders would need to improve customer service and passenger satisfaction on the two networks.

The franchises connect passengers travelling into and between Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle, and onwards to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Those competing for the Northern franchise are Abellio, which is currently running Northern, Arriva and Govia. The three shortlisted for TransPennine Express (TPE) are FirstGroup, Keolis and Stagecoach. FirstGroup and Keolis currently operate TPE in a joint venture.

The Campaign for Better Transport and the RMT transport union have expressed concern that rail services in northern England could be cut.

The Government said bidders will be expected to show how they will make the most of the Government's £1bn investment programme for the rail network in the North of England, which will provide faster and more reliable journeys, more capacity, better trains and improved connections for passengers across the region.

"Building a railway that is fit for the 21st century is a vital part of our long-term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth, and we need strong private sector partners to help us achieve this ambition."

– Rail Minister Claire Perry

'Government's plan in North East is working'

The Work and Pensions Secretary says that the drop in unemployment in the North East is evidence that the Government's plan is working.

"The Government's long-term economic plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society is working – the North East has seen the largest annual increase in the employment rate of any UK region with 54,000 more people in work in the last 12 months.

– Iain Duncan-Smith, Work and Pension Secretary


Train cleaners to strike over pay dispute

East Coast train
A union spokesman said ISS cleaners had not received a pay rise since 2011 Credit: Martin Keene/PA

Cleaners working on the East Coast line, running through the North East, are to stage a fresh strike in a row over pay.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said cleaning staff employed by contractor ISS on the East Coast line will walk out for two days from Friday over pay.

Acting general secretary Mick Cash said ISS cleaners had not received a pay rise since 2011.

Fans ask for bigger say over changes at St James' Park

St James' Park
St James' Park supporters said they should have a say on future changes to the stadium Credit: PA

A group of Newcastle United have submitted a bid to be given a bigger say in any future changes to the club's ground, St James' Park.

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust applied to the city council for the stadium to be designated an 'Asset of Community Value', which would place a requirement on the club to consult with local people if any significant changes were proposed.

Earlier this year the same group expressed concerns about plans to sell off land beside the club for development.

Hartlepool nuclear plant shut down for safety tests

Hartlepool's nuclear power station has been shut down and will remain closed for an estimated eight weeks while safety tests are carried out, after a defect was found at a similar plant in Lancashire.

Hartlepool nuclear power station
Hartlepool nuclear power station normally generates enough electricity for two million homes

EDF Energy, which runs both plants, said the tests were a precaution and no problems had been found so far with the plant in Hartlepool. Staff will continue to go into work but no electricity will be generated while the plant is shut down.

A defect was discovered in a boiler unit at the company's plant in Heysham, Lancashire, which has the same design at the 30-year-old power station in Hartlepool.


Rural crime: "Devastating for families"

Rural scene
Rural crime effects victims emotionally as well as financially Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"The cost of claims is increasing as a result of more high-value items being stolen. That's why it's important to stay vigilant and fight rural crime. Our experience with people who live and work in rural areas of the North East clearly shows that theft is more than just a setback - it can be devastating for businesses and families.

"One of the rural community's best assets is its people who can work together to safeguard the local neighbourhood. "

– Cath Reed, NFU Mutual Agent, Hexham

Top 10 targets for rural crime

Rural crime in Northumberland and County Durham rose by 12 per cent last year and cost the regional economy £840,000. Among the items stolen were quad bikes, metal and horse equipment.

The figures are from NFU Mutual's annual Rural Crime Survey. Nationally the cost of rural crime totalled an estimated £44.5 million in 2013, a rise of 5.2% on the previous year.

Tractor theft
Despite the increase in crime the theft of tractors fell by 32% nationally Credit: PA

These are the top 10 items targeted by thieves last year.

  • Tools
  • Quad bikes
  • Oil/Diesel
  • Machinery
  • Garden equipment
  • Livestock
  • Vehicles
  • Metal
  • Tractors
  • Trailers
Quad bikes
Quad bikes are the second most targeted item by thieves Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The NFU says many farmers are repeatedly targeted. Although high-value thefts may be highly planned the number of garden tools and ornaments being stolen indicates opportunist thieves continue to target gardens and outbuildings.

sheep rustling
Nationally there was a slight rise in livestock theft Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"Northern Economic Powerhouse" - promise of action

According to the Chancellor George Osborne, Treasury figures suggest that if the northern economy grows in line with the rest of the UK over the next 18 years, it would be worth an additional £44bn in real terms. That’s the equivalent of over £1600 for each person living in the north.
Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, set out what action the government would now taker to make his vision of a "Northern Economic Powerhouse" a reality. Here is the plan the government set out today:

  • HIGH SPEED RAIL: The Chancellor has commissioned Sir David Higgins, the chairman of HS2, to look specifically at a high speed East-West connection.

  • ROADS: There will be feasibility studies looking at improvements for the A1 North of Newcastle and the A1 Newcastle and Gateshead western bypass.

  • SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY: The Chancellor has asked Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, to develop a proposal for a major new science facility in the North of England, which draws on the strengths of Northern Universities and is global in its ambition.

"This will all be brought together in the long term economic plan for this Northern Powerhouse he will set out in the Autumn Statement – a plan to build, with a plan to pay for it."

– George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
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