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Newcastle’s 2021 Christmas market cancelled due to Covid uncertainty

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The Newcastle Christmas market has been cancelled after ‘ongoing uncertainty’ caused by the pandemic.

It was 2019 the last time the Christmas market took over Newcastle’s monument and Northumberland Street as 2020 celebrations were also cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Nottingham-based Mellors Group were chosen by Newcastle City council to run the festive event and agreed a 5 year deal but recently a Newcastle City Council spokesperson confirmed to many news outlets that a mutual agreement to terminate the contract early had been reached.

They said: “Newcastle City Council and James Mellor Limited mutually agreed to terminate the contract to run the city’s Christmas markets due to the ongoing uncertainty around Covid.

“The council and James Mellors Limited enjoyed a very positive working relationship, but it was accepted by both parties that the pandemic has changed the environment that we must operate in.”

Under the Mellors supervision he 2019 Christmas market ‘supersized’ and became the largest to appear in Newcastle with everything from a giant toboggan to increased numbers of food stalls.

However, local traders expressed their disappointment with the event as they faced increased competition from festive vendors.

This year, the council have set out plans to host smaller festivities that focus on the involvement and safety of local people.

The spokesperson continued: “Since then the council has been working with NE1 to plan a unique Christmas experience for the city, focusing on a locally delivered, good quality and family orientated offer.

“The Grainger Market and Quayside Market will again have central roles to play in this and we are currently considering different options to safely provide other festive events and animate the city. More details will be revealed when these have been confirmed.”

The news comes after Leeds announced the cancellation of their classic 2021 Christmas celebrations also due to the ‘ongoing uncertainty around the pandemic’.

Though Manchester councilor Pat Karney has stated that “Christmas is not cancelled” and the markets in Manchester will go ahead as in previous years.

She said: “It’s green lights for Manchester markets. Christmas is not cancelled, it’s my favourite time of the year and I am the Christmas spokesperson on the council, the only one in the country, so Christmas is definitely going ahead.”

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Best of North East

Best Day Date Ideas in the North East

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Bowling

If the weather is looking too grim to be outdoors, bowling is always a great idea. Who doesn’t love a bit of competition? No cheating though. By this we mean, putting the sides up or using the ramp! Scoring zero without them is better than scoring a strike with them. At least in our books anyways. Plus, if you lose, you can challenge your date to a game in the arcade centre afterwards to even the scores.

Credit: Ella Christenson

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Business

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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Plans for Sunderland’s Culture House Unveiled

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A unique cultural attraction in Sunderland city centre has been officially given the green light. Culture House – a multi-purpose cultural venue, packed with features and with a year-round programme of activities – has been approved at a Sunderland City Council planning meeting, paving the way for work to start within weeks.

The building, which will combine a state-of-the-art city library and a permanent home for local history and archive collections with spaces for exhibitions, storytelling, learning, gaming, media, arts and crafts, has been designed with heavy input from Sunderland residents, and will stand on the site of the Corner Flag pub, overlooking Keel Square.

A café, a roof garden and welcoming social spaces will make Culture House a “living room in the heart of the city”, and the building will offer an exciting mix of immersive digital experiences and traditional media. Plans were submitted to the planning authority at the end of last year and will now move forward, with a construction partner expected to be announced before the summer.

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “Culture House is a staple part of our Riverside Sunderland plan, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it rise from the ground, adding to the magnificent buildings we’re seeing take shape in and around Keel Square. 

“Our plan for the city centre is to create a vibrant new destination, where people can live work and play, and through venues like Culture House, alongside the magnificent Auditorium and our planned £80m Arena, we are delivering more and better places for people to visit and enjoy.”

Culture House has been designed by award-winning, international practice FaulknerBrowns Architects, who also designed the nearby City Hall. The £25m new building will provide more than 75,000sq ft of accommodation on four floors, and the project has secured funding from the Government’s Future High Streets Fund. 

The new building is expected to attract more than half a million visits a year and will draw people from across the city and beyond, contributing to city centre regeneration and enhancing Sunderland’s exciting cultural offer.

Culture House is a key part of the Riverside Sunderland delivery plan, which sets out a transformational vision to create a vibrant, mixed-use site. The plans will see 1,000 new homes for up to 2,500 new residents arrive on Riverside Sunderland, as well as a range of new places to enjoy – including parkland both sides of the river, connected by a new pedestrian crossing. The plans will boost the number of people living and working in the heart of the city, creating a stronger daytime and evening economy by doubling the resident population of the city centre from 2,500 to 5,000 and increasing employment by 50% to 18,000.

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