NPower to close Peterlee site

NPower is to close it's site in Peterlee affecting 500 workers. Jobs are being transferred to Sunderland.

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Archbishop of York says Living Wage is a moral issue

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has called for the government to pay all its employees, including care workers, the so-called living wage. He called for the number of low-paid workers to be cut by one million by 2020.

The living wage is currently calculated a £7.65 per hour, outside London. Dr Sentamu said it would be morally justified and could make financial sense for the country.

New charge for car charge

Durham County Council is introducing a fee for drivers of electric cars to use its chargepoints, to try to stop people hogging the spaces.

Until now, charging an electric car has been free, and any electric car can occupy a space as long as it is plugged in, even if it already has a full battery.

From now on, it will cost £1 per visit to use the standard parking sites and £5 to use a rapid charging point at Belmont park and ride.

The new fee introduced to stop space-hoggers

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Business leaders welcome high-speed rail "good start"

The North East Chamber of Commerce *(NECC) *has welcomed the Chancellor George Osborne's call for a new high-speed rail network between Manchester and Leeds, even though there was no suggestion of extending it to the North East.

The organisation, which represents businesses, said the plan was a "good start" but warned that the government should ensure it amounted to more than a just words.

“The Chancellor’s speech is good news and provides an indication that effort is being put into connecting the North of England. High speed rail will increase capacity and speed up our vital rail links and as such we welcome its development.

“The prospect of a high-speed east-west link across the North is a good start, but the North of the country does not stop at Leeds. This announcement must be part of a larger effort to create a full high speed northern rail network.

“The Chancellor’s ambition for a Northern ‘HS3’ is positive and this project could play a large part in strengthening and balancing growth across the whole of the country

“Of course we want to see a firm commitment from to include the North East in future plans for high speed rail, but for now the Government must ensure that the Chancellor’s words amount to more than just a political speech. They must form the basis of a regional strategy that has been missing in recent years.”

– Ross Smith, Director of Policy

Think-tank dismisses high-speed rail "vanity project"

The Institute of Economic Affairs *(IEA) *has dismissed George Osborne's idea of a new high-speed rail network for the North, calling it a "costly vanity project".

“The relatively short distances between northern cities mean high-speed rail is an expensive and inefficient way of linking them. Because northern conurbations are spread out geographically and include numerous different towns, high-speed trains between the largest city centres would make little difference to door-to-door journey times for a high proportion of travellers.

“The Chancellor should focus on smaller-scale schemes that deliver high returns for the taxpayer or, better still, that can be financed privately, rather than concocting a headline-grabbing vanity project to attract votes.

“Not content with wasting tens of billions on the loss-making HS2 scheme, George Osborne is now threatening to compound the error by forcing taxpayers to fund HS3.”

– Dr Richard Wellings, Deputy Editorial Director

Read full story: Osborne says new Manchester-Leeds rail link would 'boost' the North

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5000 jobs heading to Sunderland and South Tyneside

The City Deal includes plans to develop an International Advanced Manufacturing Plant on land near the Nissan site.

The official signing of a deal that could help to crate 5000 high tech manufacturing jobs takes place later today. Sunderland and South Tyneside have been awarded City Deal status, unlocking millions of pounds of Government money.

National

Half a million passports delayed, MP claims

The government owes apologies to "tens of thousands" of families who face having their summer holidays ruined by delays at the passport office, an MP has claimed.

Geoffrey Robinson, Labour MP for Coventry North West said delays at the Passport Office now ran to 500,000 applications.

"Call them delays, call them in process, call them whatever you want... people in their constituencies are not getting their passports in anything like [the normal time].

"The Government has left it so late in its reaction to this burgeoning problem there is probably no time left to deal with it in the relatively short period we have building up to the holidays - that's one of the tragedies of the situation.

Read: Passport Office 'working seven days a week' amid delay complaints

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