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Le Tour brings in record number of holidaymakers

A record number of tourists visited Yorkshire last year, due in no small part to the county hosting the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

Le Tour brings in record number of tourists

From January to September overseas visits to Yorkshire went up by 12 per cent to 1.08 million and these tourists spent a total of £465 million. The strongest growth in visits came from Australia, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and USA.

Holiday visits in particular, across the first nine months of 2014, saw a significant jump of 32 per cent and the amount spent by tourists whilst holidaying went up by 70 per cent. Strong holiday visit growth came from France, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Spain and USA.

In the third quarter, covering July, August and September, there were 472,000 overseas visitors to the county, breaking previous records and up 19 per cent on 2013. A total of £230m was spent during this three-month period up one per cent on 2013.

Yorkshire is playing a big part in helping to drive Britain's record tourism boom. Last year's Tour de France Grand Depart showcased the best of this wonderful region to the world and now it is about keeping up that momentum. It is why we have launched a £10 million fund to help strengthen tourism in the North and why the Deputy Prime Minister and myself have met key stakeholders in Sheffield, including Welcome to Yorkshire's Gary Verity, to discuss what more can be done to help further growth in the region.

– Tourism Minister Helen Grant

Yorkshire’s global profile has never been higher – and this is further evidence of the huge beneficial impact of bringing the world’s largest annual sporting event to the county. We know when visitors from around the world come to Yorkshire to see it for themselves they fall in love with the county, which in turn helps drive up repeat visits. The new Tour de Yorkshire international cycle race starting this May will help us capitalise on the foundations already laid.

– Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire

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Remote petrol stations could claim back 5p a litre in tax

Rural petrol stations could claim back 5p per litre in tax. Credit: PA

Petrol stations in two of the North East's most remote areas could claim back up to 5p per litre in tax within a few months.

The government wants to bring down fuel prices in Hawes in North Yorkshire and the area around Bellingham and Wark in Northumberland.

The proposals need approval from the European Council before they can be implemented.

Disruption warning as more roadworks set to start in Newcastle

Cowgate roundabout, Blakelaw, Newcastle is one of the city's busiest. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Drivers are being warned of disruption on one of the busiest routes in and out of Newcastle as the council start a £4m project aimed at easing congestion.

Work will start on Monday on the Cowgate roundabout near Blakelaw and is not expected to be completed until Autumn 2015.

In an attempt to alleviate disruption to commuters, the council say, where possible, no lanes will be closed during peak hours. But this means the work will take longer to complete.

“Cowgate roundabout is one of the main routes into our city-centre and across the city, but this busy junction has many issues with congestion, safety and poor signalling that we want to put right which is why we are carrying out this work.

“We appreciate Cowgate is a heavily-used route and whilst there may be some delays while works are underway, we plan to minimise any disruption by only closing lanes during off-peak hours where possible.

"This means that the work will last longer, but we will be able to keep traffic moving during peak hours, reducing the level of disruption.

“When these works are complete it will be better, safer and easier for everyone to get around so we are asking the public to please bear with us during these key improvements.”

– Cllr Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council
Disruption is expected from Monday when work starts. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The major improvements planned are:

  • The mini roundabout and large roundabout will be made into one junction
  • Better and more joined-up signalling
  • Priority lanes for buses
  • Removing the subway and creating street crossings
  • Providing better access to shops and services
  • Creating cycle routes
  • Revising the slip road to access lower Cowgate and shops from A167.

It's the latest project in works and around Newcastle that have started in recent weeks and are affecting drivers.

Northumbrian Water is cleaning pipes underground to maintain the quality of our tap water. Work started this morning (Thursday 15 January) in the area close to Central Station, which has already had eighteen months of roadworks. The firm says it is doing all it can to keep traffic running smoothly.

MORE: Newcastle water pipes cleaning - find out affected routes

Work begins on controversial housing development

Work is starting on a controversial development in Gateshead, a decade after plans were first put forward.

Three and four-bedroomed homes will be built on land in Bensham and Saltwell. Hundreds of Tyneside flats were demolished to make way for the new properties.

The Saltwell and Bensham Residents Association had fought the plans, arguing that good homes were being knocked down.

But the leader of Gateshead Council said the new scheme offered more choice to families.

'Most people who want to move, perhaps from a Tyneside flat or a first home, they want to do it for good reason.

"I think the benefits offer more choice, a more interesting environment, more varied, and that's a good thing.

"It's a great area with lots of good facilities around. Now it's going to have an even wider choice of homes."

– Gateshead Council leader, Cllr Mick Henry

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Barbour staff return to work

The dispute was over a proposed change to shift times. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Workers at Barbour are due to return to work as usual this morning.

They voted to accept a new offer from the famous clothing company, bringing an end to a planned four week strike. The dispute was over a proposed change to shift times.

Barbour is based in South Shields but the dispute involved staff at a distribution centre in Gateshead.

Barbour workers end strike

Workers at the Barbour distribution centre in Gateshead have ended their industrial action after seven days.

Staff were balloted earlier today and have accepted the deal proposed by the company.

The ballot was the culmination of eight months of negotiation in order to reach an agreement to introduce a two-shift system in the warehouse.

“We are delighted we have reached agreement. The industrial action has been difficult for everyone as we have historically enjoyed very good relations with our staff.

"It is essential we have the flexibility to manage the business to the good of our entire workforce and the acceptance of the new deal is indicative of the company’s determination to be fair in order to achieve this satisfactory outcome for all.”

– Brenda Readman-Bell, Finance and IT Director, J. Barbour & Sons Ltd
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