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Couple to create Middle Earth campsite in Cleveland

Carol Hopkinson and Karl Wragg with (left) Rosalie, Holly and baby Poppy, three of their five children who inspired their business Credit: Redcar and Cleveland Council

A couple from Cleveland are turning their campsite into the fabled Middle Earth, complete with hobbit homes.

Carol Hopkinson and Karl Wragg received £10,000 from Redcar & Cleveland Council’s Coastal Communities Fund for the first of seven underground hobbit houses at their Liverton campsite.

Based on the Hobbit Shire, in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels, the couple will provide unique accommodation on Golden Hill Farm, the former Bunny Land site, creating four jobs.

Carol said: “When we opened the campsite we wanted to create a place where families and particularly children could enjoy nature instead of being glued to the telly. We aim to create an environment for wildlife to thrive and the new project is an extension of that ethos. The North York Moors National Park Authority recognises this and has given the go ahead, which is a fantastic endorsement.”

North Shire will cost £200,000 to build and will operate alongside the couple’s existing family campsite which features two traditional gypsy caravans.

Each wheelchair accessible subterranean hobbit house will have two bedrooms, a lounge, cooking facilities and a wood burning stove.

Grants of up to £10,000 in match-funding are available to support tourism and leisure businesses, like in the borough through the Coastal Communities Fund.

Carol Hopkinson and Karl Wragg with three of their five children who inspired their business Credit: Redcar and Cleveland Council

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  1. Rachel Bullock

Full Report: North East UKIP in Stephen Lawrence row

The secretary of the Redcar UKIP branch faces being expelled from the party after she posted derogatory remarks about the media coverage of the racist murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Pamela Preedy wrote in a UKIP online forum last year that the image of the murdered teenager has been "promoted to sainthood".

The party's North East chairman has launched a full investigation into the comments which he says entirely contradict UKIP's policies.

Rachel Bullock reports.

Regional UKIP chairman condemns Stephen Lawrence remarks

Richard Elvin, the regional chairman of the UK Independence Party says a branch secretary may be stripped of her party membership after she made derogatory remarks about the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Pamela Preedy is secretary of UKIP's Redcar and Cleveland branch. Last year on an online UKIP forum she said: "the image of Stephen Lawrence has been promoted to sainthood " She also accused David Cameron of "worshipping at the shrine of Saint Stephen".

Mr Elvin told ITV Ms Preedy's views absolutely contradict UKIP's policies, he condemns them and has apologised to the Lawrence family.

Redcar UKIP Secretary in Stephen Lawrence row

Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in 1993 Credit: PA

Redcar and Cleveland's UKIP secretary Pamela Preedy is caught up in a racism row over remarks about Stephen Lawrence. Mr Lawrence was murdered in 1993 and his family have fought for justice ever since.

A conversation on a UK Independence Party internal forum around the 20th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence's murder last year, which Pamela Preedy took part in, has been uncovered.

PAMELA PREEDY SAID:

"It is absolutely true that the image of Stephen Lawrence has been promoted to sainthood."

"In Monday's news, there was Cameron and other high politicos worshipping at the shrine of Saint Stephen as they stood before his picture for a minute's silence."

"His death is supposed to have changed Britain, revealing how we are all institutionally racist etc. Please give it a rest! I'm sure that Stephen was an ordinary boy with all the typical virtues and flaws of any teenage human being, not a saint in the making."

"I'm sure that his mother still grieves for him, but it's time she did it privately without setting him up as some kind of media icon. She risks losing any sympathy for her cause (getting the other three killers in jail presumably) and boring us all to tears."

"Poor Stephen; he didn't deserve his awful death and he doesn't deserve his name being endlessly touted around like this either."

Council tech boss defrauded Vodafone

A Redcar and Cleveland Council IT boss who defrauded Vodafone out of £724,000 and used the money to buy a hot tub and a caravan has been jailed for three years.

Steven Topham, 36, manipulated the company's credit system to order 1,700 handsets - most of which were then sold on.

Topham, from Coronation Green, Park End, Middlesbrough, could not tell police how many phones he had sold or how much he had made.

He told police he had bought a hot tub, sauna, holiday caravan, electrical goods and paid off his substantial debts.

Judge Howard Crowson said Topham, who pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and converting criminal property at an earlier hearing, was guilty of a breach of trust.

"You set out on what was clearly a professional fraud," he said.

A proceeds of crime hearing will take place next year.

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Lindsay Sandiford 'incredibly grateful' for donations funding final appeal

The charity Reprieve have tweeted that a Redcar grandmother, whose final appeal will be paid for using donations from the public, is "incredibly grateful."

Lindsay Sandiford is facing death by firing squad for taking £1.6 million of cocaine into Bali.

  1. Rachel Sweeney

Full Report: Enough raised for Sandiford to make final appeal against death sentence

A charity fundraising site has raised the £8,000 needed by a woman from Redcar who is on death row in Indonesia. Lindsay Sandiford needs the money to make a final appeal against the death sentence for drug smuggling.

It comes after the British courts threw out Mrs Sandiford's bid to force the government to pay for her case on the grounds that she is now penniless.

There is flash photography in this report.

More than £8000 raised for Lindsay Sandiford's appeal

Donations through the charity site Just Giving have raised over £8000 to help pay for Redcar grandmother Lindsay Sandiford's appeal against her death sentence in Bali.

The 56-year-old lost her appeal over a UK Government refusal to fund her legal challenge yesterday.

She had previously said that she did not have the £8000 figure needed to pay for a final appeal against her death sentence by firing squad.

The charity Reprieve, who have been campaigning for support for Lindsay Sandiford, have confirmed that the money donated through Just Giving will be used, through them, to fund her upcoming appeal at Indonesia's Supreme Court.

Foreign Office concerned over Lindsay Sandiford's fate

A Foreign Office minister said today that the Government remained "deeply concerned" about the fate of British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, who faces the death penalty in Indonesia, but warned her legal bills would not be covered by the Government.

Hugo Swire said British diplomats had worked closely with Sandiford's legal team but speaking at Foreign Office questions in the Commons, he rejected a plea from her former MP Martin Horwood for financial aid.

Sandiford was sentenced to death by firing squad by a court in Bali for taking £1.6 million of cocaine on to the island.

Earlier this month Sandiford, originally from Redcar, lost the first appeal to the Bali High Court but is expected to take her case to Indonesia's Supreme Court.

We continue to be deeply concerned for both Lindsay Sandiford and Gareth Cashmore who have been sentenced to death for drug taking offences.

"We are seeking reassurances Indonesia will not seek to carry out the death penalty in both cases."

– Hugo Swire, Foreign Office

"I thank the Foreign Office for the support they have given to my former constituent Lindsay Sandiford.

"But given the concerns about the adequacy of translation in the initial trial and the adequacy of legal representation going forward to the Supreme Court stage, will the Foreign Office re-consider its position and follow Indonesia's own example which provides support for translation costs and legal costs for its nationals facing the death penalty abroad?

"Will it actually support Lindsay Sandiford through that process even though it is not legally obliged to do so?"

– Martin Horwood, MP for Cheltenham

"You are right to raise the concern but it is true to say the Government does not pay for legal representation for British nationals overseas.

"We have been working extremely closely with Lindsay Sandiford's lawyers and in identifying a lawyer for her.

"We are prepared to assist her with anything beyond actually having to meet some of these bills, which we just simply don't do."

– Hugo Swire, Foreign Office
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