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County Durham musician in the finals for arena gig

by Rachel Sweeney
Apollo Art Credit: Richard Smedley

An indie-pop musician from Country Durham could have the chance to perform in front of 10,000 people as he prepares for the finals of The Big Audition 2014. Richard Smedley, 25, is a session musician and songwriter. He will be taking part in the talent contest at Newcastle College on May 1.

If he wins, Richard will play Metro Radio Live at the arena in November - a show known for bringing top chart acts to the region. He has described the opportunity as 'the show of a lifetime'.

Richard said, 'For me, nothing beats the feeling of gigging. To be able to play for so many people in a place so close to my heart, would multiply that in a way that is hard to imagine... There's a real buzz in the North East and an incredible amount of musical talent, discovered and undiscovered.'

Museum wins award for wheelchair access

The National Railway Museum in Shildon is the most accessible attraction for disabled people, according to research by the charity Vitalise.

The National Railway Museum in County Durham is one of the most accessible in the UK

The venue has topped a list of over 80 attractions across England and Wales for wheelchair access, toilets, parking and other facilities.

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"Is money more important than human life?"

An independent councillor opposing the closure of care homes in County Durham asked whether the decision meant that money was being put before human life.

Councillor Anita Savory addressed the council cabinet as it voted unanimously to close five care homes, at Stanhope, Belmont, Ferryhill, Peterlee and Chester-le-Street.

"If it's fair and just to remove residents out of Weardale, where they have lived all their lives, to a place that's completely alien to them, where they could be alone, insecure and frightened, how can closing this service, which is vital to Weardale be deemed acceptable?

"Is money more important than human life?"

– Councillor Anita Savory

Decision to close care homes taken "with heavy heart"

Durham County Council's cabinet supported the closure of the authority's five remaining care homes "with a heavy heart", according to its Vice Chair Councillor Alan Napier.

"We are trying to deliver services to the best of our ability but facing savage cuts. We did not expect to be making these decisions, not just about care homes, but about libraries and sports centres too. It is with a very heavy heart that I support this closure."

– Councillor Alan Napier

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Councillors vote unanimously to close care homes

A cabinet meeting at Durham County Council has voted unanimously to close the five care homes, which remain in its control: at Stanhope, Belmont, Ferryhill, Peterlee and Chester-le-Street.

Mendip House is one of the care homes, which will now close

Councillor Alan Napier, the Vice Chair, said the decision was taken with "a heavy heart" but was necessary in the face of "savage" cuts. However independent Councillor Anita Savory asked if the decision meant money was more important than human life.

Final decision on closure of County Durham care homes

Councillors will take a final decision on the future of five care homes in County Durham at a cabinet meeting later.

Mendip House is one of the care homes under threat

The homes in Stanhope, Belmont, Ferryhill, Peterlee and Chester-le-Street are likely to close, to save money. Campaigners have said the stress of moving elderly residents could cost lives.

Man guilty of beating friend to death with hammer

A man who beat his friend to death with a hammer and left his body in a shallow grave has been found guilty of murder.

Daniel Dodsworth, 29, buried the body of 25-year-old Alan Youngson in woods at Branksome near Darlington in August 2013, where it lay undiscovered for nearly two months.

Dodsworth eventually admitted killing Mr Youngson but claimed he had been acting in self-defence, saying the victim had been threatening to attack him with a kitchen knife.

However, a jury at Teesside Crown Court have found him guilty of murder. Daniel Dodsworth will be sentenced this afternoon.

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