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Seal Attack Incidents Sweep the Nation

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A team of medics tending to a seal have been verbally abused in Northumberland as the number of seal attacks across the country have dramatically increased.

The team were tending to a seal that had been chased by an out-of-control dog at Druridge Bay when they were faced with abusive language by the same people who were allegedly abusing the seal. It is part of a wider spate of incidents across the UK according to wildlife charity British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR).

On Good Friday, there were five incidents reported to BDMLR before lunch time, the most it has ever had in such a short space of time. The charity also received reports of violence against deals in Essex, Norfolk, Kent and Yorkshire.

During the spring, there are often young seals on beaches, only recently independent of their mothers, who may be more vulnerable. Seals need to rest on land to digest, socialise and feed their pups. However, some may be sick, injured and/or weak and are less able to escape or defend themselves.

But that hasn’t deterred people from abusing the animals, with police receiving reports of young people throwing stones at a seal at Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex and kicking a seal on Roker Pier in Sunderland.

A post on the BDMLR Facebook page said cases across the country included seals being repeatedly kicked and chased into the sea by both dogs and people all along the east coast of England up to Northumberland. One responder on Facebook said they had witnessed a dog attack a seal at Low Hauxley beach, with the owner unable to get control of their pet. Fortunately, the seal managed to escape into the sea.

Dan Jarvis, director of welfare and conservation at BDMLR, said: “It’s hard to say why some people think it is OK to stone seals, drag them around by their flippers or intentionally set their dogs on them. Clearly they do not care about the welfare of the animal and only what they can get out of doing such cruel actions.

“Some of these seal pups have actually already been weak, sick or injured and have been less able to defend themselves or escape back into the sea, which makes these attacks doubly harrowing to hear about and deal with for our team.”

The BDMLR encourages anyone who witnesses attacks on seals or other wildlife to report them to the Police on 999 in an emergency or otherwise on the non-emergency number 101.

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Michael Gove proposes House of Lords sit in Sunderland during Parliament refurbishment

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Sunderland has been suggested as one of several locations for the House of Lords to relocate to while Parliament undergoes refurbishment.

York had been previously been proposed but the Government vetoed the plans.

Michael Gove, who is Levelling Up Secretary, is said to have written to Lord McFall of Alcluith suggesting locations including Stoke-on-Trent, Burnley and Sunderland.

In the letter, Mr Gove said he knows “cities and towns across the United Kingdom would be pleased to extend their hospitality to peers”.

He is quoted as saying that having “carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements”, he “will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location”.

The Queen Elizabeth II Centre conference and exhibition space is just a few minutes’ walk from the Palace of Westminster in London.

In the letter, which the Sunday Times said was also sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Mr Gove suggested a move elsewhere in England, Scotland or Wales.

He is reported to have written: “As the minister responsible for levelling up, it is clear to me that the House of Lords moving elsewhere, even for a temporary period, would be widely welcomed.

“I have carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements and…I will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location.

“I propose to establish dedicated liaison points for you in my department to support you in identifying a suitable location for the House of Lords in the North, Midlands, South West, Scotland or Wales. I would, of course, be happy to meet you to discuss this.”

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Tyne Bridge to Close for Several Weeks for £41m Restoration

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Several weeks of overnight closures are planned in order to allow engineers to assess how bad a state the Tyne Bridge is in, before it can be restored to its former glory.

The long-overdue restoration is estimated to cost £41m in order to restore the bridge and refurbish the Central Motorway.

According to a local authority report, the inspection is expected to require the famous crossing to be closed from 10pm to 6am from June 13 to July 1. A number of roads underneath the bridge on the Newcastle Quayside are also due to be affected by the works – with closures due between May 16 and June 10 on Quayside, Lombard Street, Queen Street, and Akenside Hill from 8pm to 6am.

A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “We submitted a bid for £41.4 million to Government which, if approved, will enable a four-year maintenance programme for the Tyne Bridge and the Central Motorway to go ahead. As part of the funding process, we are required to carry out some initial works on the Tyne Bridge.

“This includes a full inspection of the bridge, so we can assess its condition and the scale of works required to finalise the costings and project plans to fully restore and refurbish this major structure. This needs to be completed ahead of funding being approved.

“As we need to inspect the entire span of the bridge, overnight closures may be required on the bridge and roads underneath it, so engineers can complete this work safely. Details on the programming are being finalised.”

The Tyne Bridge has not had any major maintenance for two decades and its much-needed refurbishment has been at the top of council officials’ to do list for years, in the hope of ensuring it is looking its best once again by its 100th birthday in 2028. However, it has been warned that the grade II* listed structure may have deteriorated into a worse condition than currently known and council bosses have warned that, like on other major projects like the Grainger Market’s roof repairs, the refurbishment may take longer than expected.”

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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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