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Battle to restore power after storm hits north-east

Lightning strikes near the Angel of the North yesterday Credit: Owen Humphreys / PA Wire

Engineers are being forced to brave the heat today in a battle to restore power lost in thousands of homes across the north east after a storm yesterday.

The thunderstorm left around 57,500 homes without electricity in parts of North Yorkshire, County Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.

Power was returned to most homes by about 7pm, but around 1,700 are still without.

Northern Powergrid says it hopes to have normal service resumed by midday.

A spokeswoman said: "We're sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers as a result of the storm damaging our network and we thank them for their patience while our team works hard to carry out the necessary repairs."


Clegg urges action on green energy ahead of visit

Nick Clegg said Britain must "put the foot down on the accelerator" in developing renewable energy as he prepared to launch a new Government strategy for offshore wind power.

The strategy, to be unveiled by the Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Secretary Ed Davey in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, later today will set out plans to help make Britain "the most cutting-edge green economy in the world".

A general view of the Inner Dowsing offshore wind farm in the North Sea. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Mr Clegg said yesterday that the sector "has the potential to create 30,000 jobs and contribute a further £7 billion to the economy by the end of this decade".

Clegg visits North East after peer's 'desolate' remarks

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will visit the North East of England today to show the area is not a "desolate" part of the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will visit the North East of England. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The visit comes after Conservative peer Lord Howell said fracking could take place in the "desolate" North East of England, and then suggested he had actually meant the North West.

Mr Clegg and Energy Secretary Ed Davey will launch a new Government offshore wind farm strategy at Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

Peer urges fracking in 'desolate' North East

Lord Howell of Guildford drew gasps of astonishment from the House of Lords when he suggested fracking could take place in the North East without any impact on the surrounding environment.

He said during Lords Questions:

Would you accept that it could be a mistake to think of and discuss fracking in terms of the whole of the United Kingdom in one go?

I mean there obviously are, in beautiful natural areas, worries about not just the drilling and the fracking, which I think are exaggerated, but about the trucks, and the delivery, and the roads, and the disturbance, and those about justified worries.

To stunned exclamations, the southern-based peer added:

But there are large and uninhabited and desolate areas. Certainly in part of the North East where there's plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody's residence where we could conduct without any kind of threat to the rural environment.


Alcoholic liver disease up by 400% in the North East

The number of hospital admissions for people under 30 with alcoholic liver disease has increased by 400 per cent in the North East, experts have warned.

Compared to an overall increase of 117 per cent across the UK, health consultants say the figure is "extremely worrying".

"Extremely worrying" number of hospital admissions for people under 30 Credit: Katie Collins/PA Wire

Research by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, has shown that 115 people under the age of 30 were admitted to hospital for alcoholic liver disease last year, compared to 23 ten years ago.

Dr Steven Masson, Freeman Hospitals Liver Transplant Unit, said: "We need to ensure that people are aware of the dangers. The earlier the age at which people drink, and the more they drink, the greater the chance of developing terminal liver disease in adult life."

'Gross levels of inequality' in every UK region

The child poverty map reveals the depth and breadth of child poverty across the country showing the gross levels of inequality that children face in every region. Far too many children whose parents are struggling to making a living are having to go hungry and miss out on the essentials of a decent childhood that all young people should be entitled to.

The huge disparities that exist across the country have become more entrenched and are now an enduring reality as many more children are set to become trapped in long term poverty and disadvantage.

Local authorities are having to deal with reduced budgets but they have critical decisions to make. Were calling on authorities to prioritise low income families in the decisions they make about local welfare spending, including spending on the new council tax benefit, and on protecting families hit by the bedroom tax.

This week we have written to local authority leaders in the local authorities with the most child poverty, asking them what they will do to tackle child poverty in their local area.

– Enver Solomon, Chair of the End Child Poverty campaign
  1. Tyne Tees

Nativity finger-biter sent to jail

A father who bit off part of a love rival's finger at a children's nativity play in South Shields has been sentenced to 11 months in jail.

40-year-old Lee Wilkinson fought with Michael Dent at Harton Primary School in December 2011 during which he bit off the tip of Mr Dent's left little finger.

The court heard that the pair had been involved in a long-running feud after Mr Dent had an affair with Wilkinson's wife while he was working away.

"They both attended the school, with Mr Dent arriving in the queue behind the defendant.

When they saw each other, words were exchanged and Mr Dent suggested they go outside to have a fight.

A scuffle broke out and during the fight Mr Dent put his hand in the defendant's mouth.

The defendant then bit hard on the finger. Mr Dent forcibly pulled his hand away and the injury then occurred."

– Bridie Smurtwaite, Prosecutor

Passing sentence Judge Simon Hickey said he was unable to suspend sentence because of the nature of the offence.

Wilkinson admitted wounding and a public order offence.

"I can't suspend the sentence, it must be immediate, although I am very conscious that it will impact on your life and your children.

That is the least I can impose given my duty and what the public must view as a very serious offence."

– Judge Simon Hickey