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River Wear safety report press conference: latest

River Wear safety report: Spend money to reduce death risk

River Wear. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A report into river safety in Durham after the deaths of three students has recommended money is spent to reduce the risk of future accidents.

The charity ROSPA has made a number of recommendations after it inspected the riverbank at different times during a number of days and nights last month.

It suggests additional lighting, improving pathways, fencing in some areas and upgrading public safety equipment along the River Wear.

The report for Durham County Council was commissioned after a number of other mesaures were put in place to stop people who have been drinking heavily, getting close to the river.

  1. National

Warning as 'very high' pollution levels to hit parts of UK

Air pollution levels are set to become 'high' and 'very high' in parts of central, eastern and northern England today, experts have warned.

A combination of pollutants trapped near the ground, a small amount of Saharan dust and winds bringing across pollution from Europe has damaged air quality across the country.

Pollution levels will become 'very high' in some parts today Credit: Defra

By tomorrow, however, sharper winds from the Atlantic are expected to clear some of the toxic elements, bringing air pollution levels down to moderate or low.

The latest information on pollution levels can be found on the Defra website.

Concern over A&E waiting times

The latest NHS England figures show that the majority of health trusts in the North East have failed to deal with A&E patients within the targeted time of four hours.

The statistics show that it is part of a national trend, as more and more people have been using the service.

Our cameras were given access to Newcastle's RVI to see its busiest department in action.

The political parties have been commenting on those figures today.

Labour said the figures were partially due to difficulties in getting to see your GP, while UKIP said they weren't surprised the Conservatives didn't want to talk about the NHS.

The Conservative said, however, that the NHS had had a difficult winter and things were getting better.

The Liberal Democrats said that they were promising extra investment into the NHS.

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Oil spill dangerously close to drainage systems

Ray Morris keeps an allotment at Bloemfontein in Stanley.

He says that the oil spill that has contaminated an allotment near to his own is in danger of contaminating a drain that leads to the River Wear.

Locals say that the drain currently blocked and that the blockage could be all that is stopping the oil spill spreading.

Oil spill contaminates allotments

Oil has contaminated the allotments in Stanley Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

An oil spill has contaminated allotments in County Durham.

An estimated 45 gallons of oil was dumped at Bloemfontein Allotments in Stanley.

The oil has seeped into one of the plots and a goose and hens have been covered.

The RSPCA have taken the birds to a vets to assess their health.

Swan samples could solve poisoning mystery

Swans are thought to have been poisoned. Credit: ITV News

Samples have been taken from swans at a park in County Durham following the unexplained deaths of more than 20 birds.

The RSPCA visited the Riverside Park in Chester-le-street to compete the difficult task of taking blood samples from the birds there.

The charity hopes that the samples will shed light on the mystery deaths.

The park has a flock of more than 40 swans and some of the birds that have died were found to have high levels of lead.

For a while now we have had a number of swans in this area die and we are trying to get to the bottom of what is happening. We have a team from the RSPCA here today to catch them, and blood test them and see if they are healthy or if they aren’t healthy. The number of swans here varies but we are just trying to test a sample, working with vets to try to work out what is happening.My understanding is that there are some birds at Ashington that have been affected as well. It entails catching the birds, blood testing them and releasing them, without causing them distress."

– Geoff Edmond, RSPCA Inspector

Mr Edmond added that the blood samples would be sent away for analysis.

The seven-strong RSPCA team was assisted by three vets, one from the charity, one from DEFRA, and the other from a local practice.

Linda Charlton, of the Swan Trust, who has been looking after the Riverside birds for 20 years, said it had been a worrying time but she was encouraged that action was being taken to find the cause of the deaths.

We didn’t know what was happening at first and then the vet and realised in December, because the birds were dying one after the other, that we had better do something about it. They were sent for post-mortems and they were found to contain very, very high levels of lead. We don’t know where it is coming from. We don’t know if it’s environmental – all the water has been tested, everything has been tested - or if this is deliberate. We are hoping that these tests will get to the bottom of it.”

– Linda Charlton, the Swan Trust

North East doctors ask all parties not to use the NHS as a 'political football'

Doctors in the North East have released an open letter asking all political parties not to use the NHS as a political football during the General Election campaign.

The message is being backed by GPs and hospital consultants from the British Medical Association, who have also launched a campaign called "No More Games".

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