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Gateshead Council Stops Taking Cash For Tyne Tunnel Tolls On November 8th

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Tyne Tunnel Now Cashless
Image: Tyne Tunnel

The local authority made a historic change and committed to going cashless.

The new ‘open road tolling’ system means the removal of barriers and traffic lights and the installation of cameras to automatically register journeys instead.

 

Now vehicles will drive straight through the tunnels instead of stopping on their north side to pay at the toll booths.

 

Motorists can now pay the fee using a prepaid account with the tunnel operator TT2, or settle the fee before midnight the night after their journey using an online pay later service, an automated phone line or at a PayPal point.

 

There is now no way of paying to cross the tunnel with cash or contactless cards, with bosses promising that because of this customers will experience faster journeys with far less queueing. Bosses also claim the change will save up to 1,944 hours a week in queueing time, as well as a reduction in C02 emissions by up to 90% with traffic no longer waiting at a standstill.

 

The change to the toll payment system is the biggest switch up drivers will have seen since the opening of the second tunnel in 2011.

 

The local authorities have already been faced with many complaints since the ‘pay later’ ticket option that was introduced last year, at one point nearly one in five drivers received heavy fines when they were unable to pay their toll by midnight the following day. The penalty notice can rise up to £100 as well as the £1.90.

 

Phil Smith, chief executive of TT2 commented ‘We are incredibly excited to see open-road-tolling go live – it’s a historic moment and a key move into modernising the tunnels.

 

“For the millions of customers who use the tunnel each year, gone are the days of scrambling around for change and waiting in queues. This will greatly improve their experience and make it easier and more convenient for them to pay. And, in the case of those who pre-pay, this makes their journeys cheaper too.

 

“We have undertaken a gradual, phased approach to changing the tunnels over to open-road-tolling to give drivers time to adjust and understand the changes to the way the tunnels will work from now on.”

 

He added that around 70% of tunnel users already used a pre-paid account and only 20% currently used cash.

 

Martin Gannon, the leader of Gateshead Council, who also chairs the North East Joint Transport Committee, added that the scheme will “deliver major environmental benefits for our region”.

 

“The investment in a more modern operation will provide major journey time savings, alongside the significant environmental benefits of the scheme. This is a positive step towards the decarbonisation of the transport network and achieving our vision of moving to a green, health, dynamic and thriving North East as outlined in the North East Transport Plan.”

 

What are your thoughts? Have you used the new system yet- Join the conversation on our social media..

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Seaburn and Roker Beaches Named Best Beaches in the Country in 2022

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Sunderland’s beaches have been named among the best in the country for the 11th year running.

Seaburn and Roker were both named as winners of the Seaside Award by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. The pair were once again handed Blue Flags, marking them out for their for their excellent water quality, cleanliness and attempts to constantly improve visitor amenities.

The Blue Flag awards, now in their 35th year, are issued by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and act as ‘a quality mark so visitors can be sure the beaches boast top-notch facilities and meet the highest environmental standards’.

Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Vibrant City, said: “It is fantastic to see Sunderland’s beautiful beaches once again awarded the prestigious Blue Flag and Seaside Award.

“Flying these flags at Roker and Seaburn shows everyone who visits that our seafront has excellent quality bathing water and first-class facilities.

“We’re very lucky to have fantastic beaches with beautiful, clean water to swim and bathe in, and this national recognition is testament to the hard work of everyone involved in keeping our beaches clean, tidy and well-maintained.”

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Family’s bid to bring home body of Gateshead lad who drowned while rescuing his dog in Spain

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Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, who has been living in Spain, was pulled from a river near Benidorm by ambulance crews on Monday.

A Gateshead family is appealing for help to bring an ‘amazing, selfless’ 25-year-old home, after he drowned in Spain while rescuing his dog from a river.

Paul Lebihan, from Leam Lane, died on Monday after getting into trouble in the Bolulla River, near Benidorm, after successfully freeing the dog from the current. Now his family has launched a fundraising appeal to help bring Paul’s body back home and give him the memorial he deserves.

Paul’s cousin, Kallym Bell, launched a GoFundMe page in support of Paul’s parents, Deborah and Paul Snr. In less than 24 hours the page had already raised over £7,000, with hundreds of people leaving comments paying tribute to ‘one of nicest men you could ever meet’.

Keen amateur boxer Paul was well known by many people across the Leam Lane Estate, and beloved by colleagues from the several years he spent working in the navy. Kallym, 19, called Paul: “An amazing, selfless man with a heart of gold, always the biggest laugh and the very best to be around.”

Donations can be made to help bring Paul home at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-remembrance-of-paul-lebihan

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Disabled Teen Denied Wetherspoon’s Entry With Assistance Dog

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A disabled teenager said he felt ‘absolutely humiliated’ after he was refused entry to a Wetherspoons with his assistance dog. 19 year old River Cartledge, who has autism, fibromyalgia and arthritis – takes his assistance dog Chico most places with him.

Video footage below from Instagram shows him pleading with security guards and the manager of The Five Swans in Newcastle to let him inside the pub with his harnessed up Shih Tzu on Saturday night.

River said: “Their issue was the fact he was an assistance dog, and not a guide dog.

“I quoted the Equality Act 2010, and the guide for all businesses, both of which any business that’s open to the public like any Wetherspoons is, have to abide by legally, regardless of any “policy” they may have in place,” he added.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits service providers, including taxis and restaurants, from discriminating against those who need an assistance dog with them. It also requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments for disabled customers.

River claimed he had a ‘severe meltdown and panic attack’ after the interaction. ‘I have never had an experience like this and it caused me to have a medical episode.’

Chico has belonged to River for eight years and was trained as an assistance dog two years ago. River said: “Assistance dog handlers such as myself get denied in public places more often than it’s talked about, and it always makes us feel like this, and like we’re the ones causing problems for ourselves by needing a dog, when in reality it’s the ableism and ignorance of other people, not the disabled person.”

He also added “‘I was straight up told that they only allowed seeing eye dogs and they didn’t allow assistance dogs, because of their “policy”.

According to Guide Dogs UK ‘75% of all assistance dog owners surveyed [in 2015] said they had been refused access to a service at some point because they had an assistance dog with them’. 

Five Swans: sign saying they allow assistance dogs *face palm*

Wetherspoons’ policy states: “We do allow registered assistance dogs.

“In these circumstances, and to avoid any confusion or unnecessary upset, ensure that your dog is wearing its recognisable leash/collar or harness. 

“It would also be helpful if you could bring along suitable documentation to explain your dog’s purpose.”

River said he had ID from Assistance Dogs UK, a certification body, with him but was unable to show it at the time. Chico was however wearing a harness.

Following the complaint to the pub chain, Wetherspoon’s spokesperson Eddie Gershon said: “It was an error not to let them in with the assistance dog.

“It was a genuine error and we apologise wholeheartedly.

“We can understand the fact they would have been upset and frustrated by the situation.

“Assistance dogs are allowed into Wetherspoon pubs and we will reiterate this to staff at the pub and the company’s pubs in general.

“They are more than welcome to visit the pub with the dog.”

Good dog Chico. Check out River and Chico’s adventures here!

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