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Middlesbrough Mayor green-light's bus lane fine refunds

Boro mayor Ray Mallon give the green light to fine refunds Credit: PA

More than 2,500 motorists fined for using a bus lane on Newport Road in Middlesbrough will get their money back, or will not have to pay.

The policy U-turn means drivers wrongly entering the bus lane will now receive a warning for a first offence.

The result is that anyone who has paid a fine without receiving a warning letter will be given their money back and the remaining outstanding unpaid notices will be ripped up.

This means that Middlesbrough Council will pay back a total of £65,647 to motorists.

I believe that a proportionate intervention in any form of minor law breaking is the most appropriate policy. For example, if a person drops litter then the intervention should be to ask the person to ‘pick the litter up. If the member of the public abides by the request - that should be an end to the matter. If they fail, or repeat the offence, then they should be reported for summons and in some instances they can actually be arrested by the police. I hold the firm view that this Council does not abuse its authority, and in most cases, we are proportionate in our enforcement policy. In addition, we are not an organisation that is motivated by income generation at the expense of the public at large.”

– Ray Mallon, Middlesbrough mayor

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A69 tailbacks after 3 car collision

The A69 is partially closed westbound near Horsley in Northumberland, between Newcastle and Hexham, following a three-vehicle collision close to the Whittle Farm turn-off.

Diversions are in place though Heddon village.

It is not yet known whether there are any injuries. Drivers are reporting long tailbacks in the area.

Three new routes from Newcastle Airport

Three new routes will be available from Newcastle International Airport. EasyJet will fly to Split (Croatia), Corfu and Rhodes. More than 20,000 passengers expected to fly on the new routes next summer.

Newcastle to Split, Croatia is a summer service, flying on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 2 June 2015.

Newcastle to Corfu, Greece is a summer service, flying on Sundays from 7 June 2015.

Newcastle to Rhodes, Greece is a summer service, flying on Thursdays from 4 June 2015.

“This further strengthens their offering from Newcastle and I’m sure these sunny destinations will have many North East travellers rushing to book up.

“Croatia is an increasingly popular holiday destination. Split is the second largest city in Croatia and the largest on the Adriatic Coast. This lively city has spectacular views across the harbour and a wealth of cultural sights for holidaymakers, so it makes for a wonderful break."

– Chris Sanders, Aviation Development Director at Newcastle International Airport

East Coast contract signed by City Railways

The Department for Transport today confirmed it has officially signed the East Coast rail franchise contract with Inter City Railways, a venture between Stagecoach and Virgin.

A spokesman says the eight-year deal will give passengers between Edinburgh and London more seats, more services and new trains from March next year.

East Coaast trains stop at Newcastle, Durham, York, Darlington and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

East Coast services are coming under new ownership Credit: East Coast

“This is a fantastic deal which will give passengers on this vital route more seats, more services and new trains, and give British taxpayers outstanding value for money. With the signing of the contract, Stagecoach and Virgin are firmly on track to deliver these improvements. The new services have only been made possible by the government’s investment in the railways, a vital part of our long term economic plan.”

– TRANSPORT SECRETARY PATRICK MCLOUGHLIN

However the move has been strongly criticised by trade unions and some Labour MPs.

East Coast has been under public ownership since 2009.

Mick Cash from the RMT union described its privatisation as a "national disgrace" and said the current arrangement was earning the British people £1 billion:

It is a national disgrace and an act of utter betrayal that the government has confirmed that it is bulldozing ahead with the re-privatisation of the East Coast Main Line despite all the figures showing that the current public sector operator is handing over a billion pounds back to the British people while delivering huge improvements in service and customer satisfaction.

The decision to hand this profitable and successful public rail operation back to the vultures from Virgin/Stagecoach is based purely on hard-right political ideology and RMT is committed to continuing the fight to block this betrayal right up to polling day and beyond.

– MICK CASH, GENERAL SECRETARY RMT

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Delayed Rothbury road repairs to start next year

B6344 at Rothbury was closed after a major landslip on Boxing Day 2012 Credit: ITV News

Work is due to start in February to repair a Northumberland road, more than two years after it was closed because of a landslip.

The damage to the B6344 at Crag End near Rothbury happened on Boxing Day 2012.

Pepaira are not expected to be completed until Oct 2015 Credit: ITV News

The original budget for the scheme wast £7.6million, but this has risen to more than £9m.

The construction works is expected to be completed by October 2015.

I understand residents are frustrated about how long this has taken but the county council is fully committed to this road opening, hence the extra £1.5 million in funding. This cannot be like the previous repair jobs at Crag End, it has to be a lasting solution on this site as we will not get the opportunity or the funding to do this again."

– Cllr Steven Bridgett, Northumberland County Council

Metro station closed again due to power failure

Haymarket Metro Station Credit: PA

Haymarket Metro station in Newcastle city centre has been closed for the second time in a week due to a problem with the power supply.

Nexus, which operates the Tyne and Wear Metro, says the station was closed today just before 12.50pm.

Trains are still running through the station but passengers cannot board or alight for safety reasons.

There is no replacement bus service running.

It follows a similar closure due to power supply problems on Thursday December 4 which saw the station closed for around 20 minutes. Nexus engineers are investigating the cause of the problem.

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Scarborough Lifeboathouse to be demolished

Scarborough RNLI is going afloat today to prepare for the demolition of the lifeboathouse.

The two lifeboats will be moored in the harbour while the lifeboathouse is demolished and a new one built.

Artists' impression of the new Scarborough lifeboathouse Credit: RNLI

Two temporary portacabins will be placed in a corner of the harbour for the crew to use as an office, changing rooms, etc.

Today's closure of the lifeboathouse coincides with the 60th anniversary of the capsize in 1954 of the lifeboat ECJR, near the harbour mouth while returning from service.

RNLI crewmembers from yesteryear Credit: RNLI

Coxswain Tom Clark and other RNLI personnel will mark the station closure with a short service beginning at 3pm to remember all those who have not returned to shore.

The lifeboat will launch for the final time from the lifeboathouse, which will soon be demolished and replaced. The crew will lay a wreath in the harbour mouth in memory of the three crew members who died in 1954: coxswain John Sheader, Francis Bayes and John Cammish.

A bagpiper will play a lament as one of the longest serving crew members, Peter Billingsley, lowers the RNLI flag. Everyone is welcome to attend.

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