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  1. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news Struggling families across Northumberland are set to benefit from new coronavirus funding which will help put food on the table. Northumberland county councillors will be able to provide Covid-19 -related support into their communities through a number of grants worth up to £2,000. Families in need will be able to access vital help such as food parcels or vouchers through recipient organisations such as town and parish councils and community groups. Leader of Northumberland County Council, Glen Sanderson said: "We recognise and understand the real difficulties and hardship that Covid is causing for some of our residents, and we are doing all we can to help them, and we will continue to do so. "From the very start of the pandemic, through our Northumberland Communities Together initiative, we have been connecting with residents in need, seven days a week to ensure they receive help and support to keep them safe and well. "In addition to this, we have just expanded the scope of our Members Small Grant Scheme to reflect the challenges local communities and groups are facing around the current pandemic."
  2. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news A Bedlington primary school has revealed when children will return to the classroom after being forced to close with more than 20 staff members self-isolating. Whitley Memorial Primary School closed its doors on Wednesday, October 7, after being plunged into a staffing crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Bedlington school initially closed over a two-day period to allow for a deep clean, citing that its catchment area had one of the highest areas of confirmed cases in Northumberland. But the school later revealed it could no longer continue to operate due to more than 20 members of staff being off work as a result of the virus. Whitley Memorial Primary School said it could not guarantee the safety and welfare of its children and staff, adding that it would not reopen until October 19 "at the earliest". It has now been announced that staff and pupils will now return on Monday, with the exception of Morpeth and Kielder classes who will be back in the classroom on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, following self-isolation.
  3. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news Tributes have been paid to a Northumberland man who was allegedly stabbed to death in Somerset. Stuart Noble, also known as Stuart Hopkin, was found dead at a property in Shepton Mallett, on Thursday. Police say he is originally from the Bedlington area. And today as a man appears in court accused of murdering the 52-year-old, Stuart's family, who still live in the North East, have told of their devastation. In a statement they said: "We as a family are truly heart broken and shocked beyond words that Stuart’s life has been taken away so tragically. “Stuart will leave a gap in our family but will remain in our hearts forever."
  4. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news A landlady claims she's been made to feel like a "plague" victim after police closed her pub because households were mingling. Officials claim customers at The Wharton Arms were ignoring the rules, strolling around without masks and refusing to socially distance. It was the first Northumberland pub to be ordered to shut under tough new coronavirus laws. However, furious boss Maxine Stubbs is fighting the closure, slamming the "over the top" allegations made against her Bedlington boozer. Rather than a bar awash with frivolity, she claims the pub had just 30 customers when police visited last Saturday night - and that she'd taken just £100 all day. "I feel like I'm in a dream world when I read what they've claimed has gone on," said Maxine, 42.
  5. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news A Bedlington primary school has been forced to close due to a staffing crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic with more than 20 staff members self-isolating. Whitley Memorial Primary School will be shut until October 19 "at the earliest", after it said it cannot guarantee the safety and welfare of its children and staff. The Bedlington school announced it was initially closing on Wednesday for two days for a deep clean, citing that its catchment area had one of the highest areas of confirmed cases in Northumberland. The county has seen its coronavirus infection rate rise in recent weeks with 583 cases recorded in the seven days to October 5, a rate of 180.8 cases per 100,000 people - climbing from 559 cases the week before (173.4 per 100,000). But now the school has revealed that pupils will have to wait before returning to the classroom due to more than 20 members of staff off work as a result of the virus. And due to those members of staff needing to quarantine for 14 days, Whitley Memorial Primary School will be closed until at least Monday, October 19, with a review of the situation to take place next Thursday.
  6. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news A Bedlington pub has been shut after police caught households mingling and customers without their masks in breach of coronavirus guidelines. Officers claimed there was no social distancing inside The Wharton Arms during a spot check on Saturday, October 3. The pub, in Burdon Terrace, must now potentially close for a fortnight as punishment for the breaches. It is the first pub in Northumberland to be closed for breaching Covid-19 regulations. All North East venues are currently subject to tough new laws aimed at c urbing the region's rocketing infection rate. Northumbria Police say multiple breaches at the pub also included not displaying a Track and Trace QR code, or enforcing a one-way system.
  7. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news For over a year bride-to-be Emma Wilson has been looking forward to her perfect wedding day. But sadly her wedding to partner Cole Moscrop on October 11 isn't going to be the one that she has dreamt of since she was a little girl. New coronavirus restrictions have slashed the number of people allowed to attend a wedding from 30 to 15 guests. The Northumberland couple is 'heartbroken' to not be able to be surrounded by all their family and loved ones on their special day. And now they are only able to invite both of their parents, Emma’s brother, Cole’s three grandparents, two bridesmaids, one best man and two groomsmen to share their day with them. The 27-year-old bride-to-be from Bedlington said: "We were heartbroken to find out that we had to cut our numbers to 15 after already being quite strict on our initial guest list, to begin with.
  8. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news Northumberland's public health chief has urged residents to follow the new North East lockdown restrictions with coronavirus 'spreading like wildfire' across the county. The tougher rules will come into force from midnight on Wednesday, affecting about two million people across Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham, in a bid to stop the soaring number of Covid-19 cases. The new measures will mean that people from different households will be banned under law from mixing indoors in any setting, including pubs or restaurants, and will face fines of up to £6,400 for doing so. However, it will not be illegal to meet up with friends from another household in a beer garden – though it will be against public health advice to do so. Latest figures revealed all seven authority areas in the region have recorded an increase with cases up 79% to 2998 in the week leading to September 25 from 1324 in the previous seven days. The number of Covid-19 cases in Northumberland more than doubled to 450 in the same week – the equivalent of 139.6 cases per 100,000 people. This is up from 196 cases (60.8) in the week previous.
  9. Want the top news headlines sent to your inbox daily? Sign up to our FREE newsletter below Almost two-thirds of residents feel the Government was too late introducing a local lockdown in the North East as Covid-19 cases continue to rocket, according to a ChronicleLive survey. Tighter restrictions were imposed across the region's seven council areas on September 18 in a bid to combat the spike in coronavirus cases. But numbers continue to soar at an alarming rate, with North East cases more than doubling to 2,524 in the week leading to September 21 from 1,107 in the previous seven days. According to Public Health England data covering the seven days to September 22, Newcastle now has the highest rate of infection in the North East and the fifth-highest in England – with the city’s numbers almost tripling. Newcastle recorded 632 new cases in that week, with an infection rate of 208.7 per 100,000 people. That was compared to 224 new cases and a rate of 74 in the previous 7 days. South Tyneside had previously had the second-highest rate in England, but is now eighth according to the latest figures. The borough recorded 301 new cases with an infection rate of 199.4 per 100,000.
  10. Want the top news headlines sent to your inbox daily? Sign up to our FREE newsletter below A further two coronavirus cases have been confirmed at a Northumberland school. The new infections come within 24 hours of a staff member at St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy in Bedlington t esting positive. In addition, a "small number of pupils" are now self-isolating after coming into direct contact with the confirmed cases. In a letter to parents, headteacher Kevin Shepherd accepts parents will find the latest development "concerning". "We are continuing to monitor the situation and are working closely with Public Health England," he added. The letter was sent to parents on Thursday, a day after it emerged two members of staff were self-isolating.
  11. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news Two members of staff at a Northumberland school are self-isolating after one of them tested positive for coronavirus. St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy, in Bedlington, has said the infected staff member is well but is spending two weeks at home in quarantine. The secondary school and sixth form has decided to not send any students home as a result of the confirmed case due to the employee's limited contact with pupils. However, another member of staff has also been asked to self-isolate for a fortnight following advice from Public Health England. A letter to parents and carers from headteacher Kevin Shepherd reads: "A member of staff at St Benet Biscop has tested positive for Covid-19 and is therefore self-isolating. The staff member is well and is self-isolating at home. "I have been in contact with the Public Health England Protection Team to discuss the situation and the potential risk to other students and staff.
  12. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news Police are investigating a Bedlington care home where inspectors say some elderly residents weren't kept safe. Medicines had allegedly gone missing at Baedling Manor Care Home, while the local authority was called in to monitor the home's safeguarding arrangements. The home's 49 residents "did not always experience safe care and treatment", inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said. The CQC said it had launched an inspection after being contacted with concerns about "safeguarding people, staffing, recruitment, medicines, infection control, consent, complaints and the governance of the service". Downgrading the home, run by Alcyone Healthcare, from 'Good' to 'Requires Improvement', the report said: "People were not always safeguarded from the risk of harm. Incidents were not reported or recorded properly, and action was not always taken to address matters. "The home was placed into organisational safeguarding by the local authority and there were police investigations in progress."
  13. Want the top news headlines sent to your inbox daily? Sign up to our FREE newsletter below More than three quarters of residents would back a local lockdown in the North East as coronavirus cases continue to soar, according to a ChronicleLive survey. However, less than 10% believe people would follow the rules if tighter restrictions were imposed in the region. Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from Monday in a bid to curb the rise in coronavirus cases. The new laws follow a sharp rise in infection rates which has prompted warnings from council leaders and public health experts that a local lockdown is a real possibility. Sunderland now has the second highest coronavirus infection rate in England after 209 cases were confirmed in the seven days to September 7 - a rate of 75.3 cases per 100,000 population. According to the same NHS data Gateshead now has the 13th highest number of cases in the country with 55.8 cases per 100,000 people.
  14. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news A £2.5m Government funding boost will help get Bedlington's stalled redevelopment works "up and running again," town bosses have said. A start date for the scheme is expected this year after the cash boost from Boris Johnson’s “Get Britain Building” fund - but some changes to the design have been announced. Northumberland County Council-owned company Advance Northumberland says the economic impact of Covid-19 on the high street retail market will mean some planned retail space will now be replaced by a swimming pool, relocated library and "enterprise hub". Chair of Advance Northumberland, Richard Wearmouth, said: "Works involving the anchor supermarket store remain unaffected as will the frontage onto the market square which will still include additional shops. It is anticipated that these works will start in 2020 as previously suggested. "However, the remainder of the scheme will be amended to provide a new leisure offer and will make use of space that had been earmarked for larger retail units, and / or the site held in reserve for a family oriented pub and restaurant. "In addition, the design work will look at relocation of the library to a town centre site and the creation of an enterprise hub. Both will encourage further spend in the town centre by increasing footfall.
  15. Sign up to our newsletter for the latest Northumberland news An honest drink driver confessed "I'l be over the limit" when he was approached by police officers in Northumberland. Police followed James Tinson after they spotted him driving erratically in his Vauxhall Insignia and watched as he was forced to come to a stop after he went down a dead-end street. The officers then walked up to the 31-year-old's vehicle and breathalysed him after they noticed he showed all the classic signs of being drunk, a court heard. Tinson failed the test and was arrested, later giving a reading nearly three times over-the-limit. Now, Tinson, of Merley Gate, in Morpeth, has been given a 18-month community order after he pleaded guilty to one count of driving with excess alcohol during a hearing at South East Northumberland Magistrates' Court. Prosecutor, Rehana Haque, said police began following Tinson after they spotted him driving erratically in Bedlington on July 31 this year.
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