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Metro Prices Set For 10% Rise

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Some Metro ticket prices are due to go up by more than 9% in April, but travellers are being urged to swap paper tickets for a smartcard to avoid such a steep rise in fare.

Crisis-hit Metro operator Nexus has announced plans to up its prices from April, as it tries to tackle a forecast £20m deficit. This is mainly due to lockdown and most of its commuters working from home the last two years.

The cost of single and day paper tickets purchased at Metro stations could jump by as much as 9.5% under proposals which will be put before councillors next week, while frequent travellers using weekly, monthly, and annual season tickets will see their costs rise by around 3%.

Single and day ticket prices are also set to increase on the Shields Ferry by 10%.

However, there is some relief for travellers with a Pop Pay As You Go (PAYG) smartcard, as its prices will be frozen for all single and daysaver passes. The cost of corporate season tickets is also being kept at its current level, as are prices on the 19-21 Pop card for young people.

Nexus chiefs have urged people to switch to the PAYG card, which can be topped up online and at stations, hoping that freezing its prices can help bring Metro patronage closer to pre-Covid levels and cut costs associated with printing tickets.

There will also be a rare Metro zone boundary change, with the zone B/C boundary moving from Seaburn to East Boldon – meaning it will cost more to travel towards Newcastle from Seaburn, though there would be a reduction in costs for people going towards Sunderland from East Boldon.

Chief operating officer at Nexus, Martin Kearney, said that overall fare prices needed to go up “in order to help us to meet our running costs at a time when Nexus faces enormous financial challenges”, but hopes that the smartcard offer will come as some comfort.

He added: “We hope this will encourage people to make more frequent journeys, for a combination of leisure travel and commuting.

“There’s a great price incentive to make the switch to smart travel, and it’ll be even easier to use PAYG when it becomes available as an app on android phones. By making travel easy we hope to encourage customers to travel more often with Metro.”

Will the dramatic price increase put you off from using the Metro? Let us know!

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Man denies 1992 murder of Sunderland schoolgirl Nikki Allan

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A man accused of the murder of a schoolgirl who was stabbed to death 30 years ago has denied the charge.

Seven-year-old Nikki Allan vanished on Wednesday, October 7, 1992 after leaving her grandparents’ flat in Wear Garth, Sunderland.

The next morning, Nikki’s school shoes were found a few hundred yards away outside of the Old Exchange building. Her body was discovered lying in a pool of blood inside the derelict building by a neighbour who was helping the police with their search for the missing youngster. She had been stabbed 37 times.

David Boyd, of Chesterton Court, Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on the morning of Monday, June 20, where he faced a charge of murder.

The 54-year-old appeared via video link where he pleaded not guilty to the offence during the short, 25-minute hearing.

A trial had originally been listed to start on January 11 next year but the court heard it may now be put back until April 19. Any trial could last up to six weeks.

Boyd was remanded in custody in the meantime.

Judge Paul Sloan QC informed the court that a further pre-trial hearing will now take place on Monday, November 7.

The judge told Boyd: “I am adjourning your case to trial. The precise trial date will be confirmed, hopefully in the next few days.

“There will be at least one further pre-trial hearing before the trial date.

“In due course you will be required to provide a defence statement, setting out in detail your defence to the charge you face.”

Nikki’s mother Sharon Henderson sat in the public gallery for the hearing. She burst into tears when the charge was read out, was consoled by supporters and the court usher gave her a tissue.

After Boyd was charged, Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable David Felton said: “This is an extremely tragic case and our thoughts very much continue to be with the family and friends of Nikki Allan.

“A significant investigation has been ongoing ever since Nikki’s death 30 years ago.

“As with any unsolved cases of this nature, they are never closed. Our dedicated teams constantly review the evidence and follow any new investigative leads that may come to light.”

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Concern over school meals at Darlington school

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Vegetables placed onto a school dinner
Image credit: Instagram (@schoolhealthuk)

Wyvern Academy, a secondary school in Darlington, County Durham, has recently received complaints from many concerned parents over the quality and quantity of their school dinners.

 

Parents have complained that their children are going hungry as the meals the school provides are too small. On occasion, the school reportedly has even ran out of food supplies leaving some pupils without lunch.

 

A parent, who wished to remain anonymous, reported to the Chronicle Live that “they regularly run out of food,” and her daughter now takes a packed lunch “so she isn’t hungry for the rest of the day.”

 

These claims of insufficient portion sizes and quality have worried parents. This is particularly worrying for parents whose children are on free school meals. Another parent told Chronicle Live “my child, along with other’s are eligible for free school meals [but] now I’m having to provide her with a packed lunch.”

 

The Government’s Free School Meals scheme offers children free lunches at school if their parents are eligible and meet the criteria. This criteria includes those who receive income support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Universal credit.

 

These claims about inadequate quantity of school dinners are disappointing and distressing for parents/guardians who were promised free school meals for their children.

 

According to The Guardian, one in three children in North-East England are on free school meals. This follows an increase this year of 160,000 more children being eligible for free school meals, taking the total to 1.9million, according to January figures.

 

The north-east of England has the highest rate, with 29.1% of school pupils eligible for free school meals whereas the south-east of England comparatively has the lowest rate with 17.6% eligible.

 

Wyvern Academy, who were rated “requires improvement” by Ofsted in all areas on their latest inspection in November 2019, released a form for parents on their twitter account on Monday 6th June.

 

This form includes questions on the quality, quantity, availability, and choices of school dinners as well as questions on further dinner arrangements and time allocated for meals with a 5-star system. It also provides a comment box for parents/guardians to suggest improvements to the school meals.

 

What are your thoughts, follow us on Facebook and join in the conversation….

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Convicted murderer who stabbed friend to death after escaping open prison dies at HMP Frankland

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A convicted murderer who stabbed his friend to death after escaping from an open prison has died behind bars.

Joseph Turnbull was given four life sentences after he admitted murdering Paul Wharton, 37, by stabbing him in the heart, and robbing betting offices and off-licences.

The prisoner, who was 53 years old when he was jailed at The Old Bailey in 2006, committed the offences during a five-month period the previous year, after absconding from Leyhill prison in Gloucester.

Turnbull, who had been in HMP Frankland for 14 years, died at the prison on October 12 last year, aged 68. An independent investigation into his death has revealed how he had been diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to his lower spine.

The murderer was previously jailed for seven years in 2000 for theft and robbery and was due to be released seven months after he walked out of Leyhill in May 2005. During that time, Turnbull travelled to London and worked as a Big Issue seller, earning £50 a day. But the money was not enough to fund his drug habit of five different drugs a day, including methadone prescribed by a doctor.

Turnbull met Paul Wharton after falling in with addicts in north London. Mr Wharton’s body was found in his flat in October 2005. He had been stabbed in the heart. The Old Bailey heard in 2006 how the victim’s hands and legs were tied with shoe laces and a tea towel had been placed in his mouth as a gag.

Turnbull had used his card and pin number to withdraw Mr Wharton’s benefits from a local post office. He was captured on October 18 for robbery after being caught on CCTV.

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