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Watch out for bogus builders, officers warn

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Credit: Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

The region has been battered by storm and after storm in recent months, and officers are concerned about bogus builders looking to take advantage of the situation.

Northumbria Police have said to be aware of cowboy contractors lurking in the shadows as the North East prepares for more stormy weather.

As people look to fix broken roof tiles, smashed windows and damage from fallen trees, they could be plotting to scam money from vulnerable and unsuspecting members of the public.

The public are being told to be cautious of doorstep traders, who might actually have no trade background and provide vastly inflated quotes to homeowners for unrequired repairs.

They work by gaining the trust of victims and, on occasion, even enter their house to steal other items whilst the homeowner’s back is turned.

They also convince victims to hand over money for work which is either never completed or not done to the quality previously agreed.

Detective Sergeant Phil Thoburn, from Northumbria Police’s Complex Fraud Investigation team, has encouraged people to be wary of doorstep traders, and urged them to continue reporting their concerns.

He said: “Sadly we know that scammers will use every trick at their disposal to try and make money by exploiting people and we will continue to do all we can to help protect people from this.

“Where possible we urge the public to use a recognised tradesperson and conduct background checks on their business and previous reviews.”

He added: “Beware of strangers canvassing for work at your door, remember you are well within your rights to ask for identification, take your time, and don’t be rushed into agreeing to any work, or paying for any services. Discuss quotes with family and friends before you agree a price.

“No professional organisation should ever get annoyed or frustrated with you for taking your time – only fraudsters will rush you.

The Detective Sergeant stressed that the police “will never judge anyone who has fallen victim.”

He urges anyone who has to not be embarrassed and contact the public immediately.”

For help and advice about bogus builders and trader, visit the Northumbria Police website or search Action Fraud.

To report a crime or suspicious activity, visit the Northumbria Police website and the Tell Us Something page.

 

 

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Beyoncé to play Sunderland Stadium of Light in this year as part of Renaissance world tour!

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The multi-million record-selling singer and songwriter announced on her website she will be returning to the home of the Black Cats on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.

It’s one of only four UK dates on the tour, with the star also playing Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Murrayfield in Edinburgh and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Ticketing will begin on Monday, February 6, 2023, starting with an exclusive presale to BeyHive members.

The global superstar, 41, returned to the stage in January with a show in Dubai, which made headlines around the world. There’s been rumours for weeks of a tour after the star released new album Renaissance last summer, featuring tracks including Break My Soul and Cuff It, her first solo studio album since Lemonade in 2016.

The 2023 tour, produced by Parkwood Entertainment, and promoted by Live Nation, kicks off on May 10, 2023, at Friends Arena in Stockholm, SE, making stops throughout Europe in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Sunderland, Paris, London, Marseille, Amsterdam, Warsaw and more.

The tour then continues across North America with shows in Toronto, Chicago, East Rutherford, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Houston and more.

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Metro penalty fare rise from £20 to £100 supported by public, Nexus survey finds

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The penalty for fare evasion on the Tyne and Wear Metro has now increased to £100, with commuters largely supporting the change.

But despite the steep increase in the penalty fee, a survey conducted by Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, found that 72% of people supported the increase. And 88% of people surveyed said that other passengers were the ones who were the real victims of ticketless Metro travel.

The survey, conducted through Nexus’ customer insight panel revealed that respondents regard fared evasion as seriously as handling stolen goods, tax evasion or weighing a cheaper item at a self-serve check-out.

It increased penalty fare comes after The Department for Transport (DfT) decided to raise the penalty for rail fare evasion in England and Wales as part of a new effort to crackdown on fare evasion across Britain’s railways. Metro is part of the Government’s national penalty fare regime, so it is included in the change.

Fare evasion on Metro costs Nexus £1m a year in lost revenue on what is a vital public service which does not make any profit.

Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “The penalty for fare evasion on Metro has gone up to £100 from today and this is something that the overwhelming majority of our customers support.

“This is the first change since 2005 and reflects feedback from customers who want to see a strong deterrent against fraud. Anyone who is issued with a £100 penalty fare will pay £50 if it is paid with 21 days of it being issued.

“The Government consulted the whole rail industry and Nexus was among those keen to see an increase. Our customers tell us they want tougher penalties for those who decide not to pay their fare.

“The simple message for Metro customers is to buy a ticket every time you travel, that is a lot more affordable than risking the £100 fine.

“It’s never been easier to pay for Metro travel with a Pop Pay As You Go card and Android’s Google Pay. One in four customers are now accessing Metro this way and getting the lowest fares we have on offer.”

The penalty for Metro fare evasion, which is always set by the Government, has been £20 since May 2005.

If paid within 21 days, however, the £100 penalty is reduced to £50. But anyone who fails to pay the penalty fare will be taken to court, where a conviction results in much steeper fines.

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‘Sex party’ in Newcastle cathedral under investigation by Vatican

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St Mary’s Cathedral Newcastle upon Tyne

Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral alleged to have invited worshippers to his living quarters during lockdown.

The Vatican is investigating rumours of a “sex party” at a British cathedral which is alleged to have happened during lockdown.

As part of an investigation into the circumstances of Robert Byrne’s resignation as the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, the Catholic church is looking into claims one of his priests invited worshippers to a private party at his lodgings.

Multiple people are said to have complained that Father Michael McCoy, dean of Newcastle Cathedral, approached them to attend a party at a time when gatherings were not permitted.

A diocese source told the Sunday Times said: “A number of complaints were made by individuals within the diocese after information came to light about a sex party taking place in the priests’ living quarters attached to Newcastle Cathedral.”

McCoy, 57, killed himself in April 2021 four days after finding out he was subject to an investigation by Northumbria police’s child and adult protection department for child sexual abuse.

He had been appointed by Byrne in 2019, replacing the popular Father Dermott Donnelly, the older brother of TV presenter Declan Donnelly. Father Donnelly has since died after an illness in July 2022.

While there is no suggestion Byrne attended the party, he resigned as bishop in December, telling worshippers his office “has become too great a burden”.

In a letter to clergy, which he read in St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, he said: “My own discernment has caused me to recognise that I now feel unable to continue serving the people of the diocese in the way that I would wish.”

He was appointed in 2019, after previously serving as an auxiliary in the archdiocese of Birmingham and as provost of the Oxford Oratory from 1993 to 2011.

In a letter seen by the Sunday Times, the archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon who is running the diocese until Byrne’s successor is appointed and is leading the investigation into his resignation, said he has been asked by the pope’s advisers to prepare “an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”.

The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) last week began an “unscheduled safeguarding audit” at the diocese.

Steve Ashley, the CSSA chief executive officer said the body was independent and had “full autonomy”. He said: “The scope of the investigatory work will cover any reported abuses, alleged abuses, safeguarding concerns and the culture of safeguarding in the diocese as a whole.”

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