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Live News: October 25, 2012
9:44am Thursday 25th October 2012 in News
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- Our reporters will be sending updates throughout the day keeping you informed about what's happening around the North-East and North Yorkshire.
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Georgie Cameron, managing director, Admiral PR says:
“Today’s figures are a much needed piece of good news for businesses large and small, but we are not out of the woods yet and many challenges remain especially here in the North East. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy and are playing a major role in the recovery so the more that can be done to support them, the better.”
Professor Bernie Callaghan, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Law at the University of Sunderland says:
“The news that we’re technically out of recession is very welcome but the economy remains very fragile.
Part of the recovery programme will be a drive for exports but as the north east region exports 55 per cent of its goods and services to the Eurozone, we’re dependent on other economies not just our own. I think cautious optimism is the sentiment of the day.”
SOLDIER KILLED: Flags are flying at half mast at Catterick Garrison after news that a female soldier serving with 3 Medical Regiment, which is based at the North Yorkshire army base has died alongside a Royal Marine while on patrol in Afghanistan. The Royal Marine was from 40 Commando. The units are part of Catterick Garrison-based 4 Mechanized Brigade, which took over responsibility for Task Force Helmand earlier this month.
Labour shadow policing minister David Hanson is in Darlington this afternoon.
He travelled up from Westminster to join the party’s Durham Police Crime Commissioner candidate Ron Hogg on the campaign trail around the town centre.
Mr Hogg said that tackling anti-social behaviour, alcohol and substance abuse are the key challenges facing Darlington's police officers.
Mr Hanson said that the region needed a "strong voice" on policing issues to stand up against government cuts.
David Elstob, business development manager at Thomas Watson Auctioneers and Valuers, the oldest auction house in the North-East , has started to see the signs of increased consumer confidence over the past few months, so much so that the company added quarterly high-value auctions to its calendar earlier this month.
He says: “During the recession, we certainly saw that there was very little confidence in the market, and as a company that relies on people both entrusting us to sell their items, and buying from us, the doom and gloom of the past few years certainly had a knock-on-effect.
“Certainly over the last few months, we have seen a change in both buying and selling attitudes. There is a confidence that simply wasn’t there before. And this provided us with the impetus to launch a new auction, sourcing and selling on high value items – most worth in excess of £1,000.”
He added: “The success of the first auction of this kind, held here on October 13, showed that people are becoming more willing to both sell on their items and know they will get a good price for them, and to put their hands that little bit deeper into their pocket to spend money on what are essentially luxury items.
“The announcement that Britain has emerged from the double dip recession can only serve to further grow confidence, and this can only be good news for businesses like ours.”
Dominic Gardner, a director of Sunderland-based road repair and maintenance specialists Velocity, part of the Reece Group, said:
“Despite today’s promising news, there can be little doubt it will be a long road to recovery for the UK economy. But the last few months have been very positive for Velocity. We are seeking to expand both in the UK and overseas. In this country, we are helping local authorities make their declining budgets go further.
“Thanks to the confidence and funding of the Reece Group, Velocity are also looking into the overseas market. We are spreading a similar message in the US as we are over here, as infrastructure such as their road network is in a bad state and there is a shortage of maintenance funding.
“Our Velocity road repair and maintenance process, combined with the fact that we are offering a service rather than simply supplying equipment, is being very well received. We have also signed a distribution agreement with a company in Mexico for the supply of 12 machines a year into Latin America.”
Match report landed from Bishop Auckland under-13s. It is 1,403 words. Sunderland v Newcastle last weekend was 928 words— @loughlinecho 25 October 2012
Tony Wyatt, director at urban design consultancy +PlusUD says:
"The news that the UK is out of recession is very welcome and will be a boost to businesses in the North-East but there is no doubt that many challenges remain.
"Sustained growth is what we all want to see so we welcome efforts to carefully remove unnecessary red tape from the planning system whilst maintaining design quality."
Local traders are being invited to a gathering at Northallereton's town hall at 6pm tonight to discuss whether to set up a new business forum to give themselves a unified voice - as the town's old chamber of trade has now been dormant for years.
The economy may be recovering, but people visiting Northallerton's Job Centre Plus today didn't hold out much hope that this would mean they would be back in work any time soon.
Alan Greg, 41, said it might be good for businesses but not individuals; and Sarah Gardner, 35, said she thought it was a "load of codswallop."
Andy Preston, a former hedge fund manager who invests in businesses across the North-East through Middlesbrough-based Green Lane Capital, says:
“While there’s no doubt that times remain tough, it is definitely the case that there have been a lot of tentative but encouraging signs over the last six months.
“As a major part of what we do is investing in other people’s businesses, it’s important that I have my finger on the pulse of the regional economy as much as possible and I do know there has been an increase in companies looking for office space, while I know people in the restaurant business who have seen a modest but real pick-up in business.
“I also know that the housing market, while still very subdued and challenging, has been showing some signs of improvement.
“Ultimately, while there’s no question that many businesses and people are struggling, there are lots of signs that things are looking a little bit better. We’re starting a healing process and the next two years will definitely be better than the last two years.”
Ian Smith, Managing Director of Surreal Creative based at Rainton Bridge, Houghton le Spring, says:
“Surreal Creative are brand consultants and our work is equally split between the UK and the Eurozone. I think judging GDP after one period of improvement is premature and would want to see improvement
for at least another quarter before thinking it signals any meaningful change especially in what has been an extraordinary summer with the Jubilee and Olympics.
“Our sector is often classed as barometer industry but we are not getting the feeling of any significant swing in business confidence in terms of international companies becoming more comfortable to make
significant investments. Many of the companies we deal with in the UK and Europe are still belt tightening and we have seen some multinationals’ become more focussed on building cash reserves.”
James McFadden finally set to sign three months deal at #safc before Saturday. But he won't face Stoke. #echosport— @paulfraserecho 25 October 2012
George Rafferty, Chief Executive of NOF Energy, which represents the North-East power industry, says:
“There has been cautious optimism in the energy supply chain for some time and the prospects for future oil & gas developments will deliver a further boost to the sector and, in turn the wider economy. These figures confirm the growth that our members are reporting and will hopefully spread confidence across other areas of the economy, which can follow suit.
“The oil & gas industry, in particular, plays a massive role in the economic strength of the UK and opportunities, such as the Chancellor’s Brown Field Allowance, which will extend the life of existing oil fields and provide additional opportunities for the supply chain, will ensure it continues to be integral for many years to come.”
Dave Nicholson, Managing Director of Billingham transport and warehousing business Nicholson's Group, says:
"We have noticed an upturn in our business over the last six weeks and we will have to wait and see if that is a sign of the economy turning around or if it is just seasonal. It may be the case that we are being used to transport a lot of deliveries to shops as they stock up for Christmas, we just need the public to go out and spend this year so there will be more need for transport services as the retail outlets continue to restock."
I've been patiently waiting for an opportunity like tonight...finally #nufc— @Sammy_Ameobi 25 October 2012
FOOTBALL: Thousands of Club Brugge supporters are congregating in Newcastle City Centre ahead of this evening's Europa League Group D game at St James' Park.
As revealed in this morning's Northern Echo, brothers Shola and Sammy Ameobi are both set to start for the Magpies.
A win would leave Newcastle in a very strong position at the halfway stage of the group phase, but Club Brugge currently top the Belgian League and beat Maritimo 2-0 in their most recent European outing.
Alan Foster, boss of Design 365 in Newton Aycliffe, says:
“The thing that I have found is that during the recession word of mouth recommendations and businesses that have remained true to one area of expertise are the ones that have succeeded. This has indicated to me that when money is tight, the trust in using the right business and getting it right first time has never been more apparent.
"Coming out of recession I am seeing this trend continuing and people and organisations relying more on SMEs with good reputations than trusting in the multi-disciplined, corporate agencies to deliver.”
RUGBY UNION: Middlesbrough-born teenager Zach Kibirige will make his Championship debut when Newcastle Falcons entertain Rotherham Titans tomorrow.
Kibirige, who is a student at Yarm School, has been named in the side selected by director of rugby Dean Richards earlier today.
The youngster, who celebrates his 18th birthday this weekend, impressed as Falcons routed Cross Keys 52-5 in the British and Irish Cup two weeks ago.
MEDAL PRESENTATION: Darlington greengrocer and the face of the town's covered market, Robin Blair, was presented with his British Empire Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sir Paul Nicholson at a ceremony at Darlington town hall earlier this afternoon.
Speaking after the presentation, Mr Blair, who is also the vice-chairman of the Darlington Retail Market Stalls Association, said: "It was one of the most honourable times of my life.
"I am just doing what I love, and the thing I love most about Darlington is the people - they are wonderful."
Andrew Munro, boss of designer fireplace manufacturer CVO Fire in Newton Aycliffe, said:
“We are now achieving very high sales again- this month has been especially busy. There is definitely an appetite still for home improvement amongst the consumer market which wants something that bit different.
"Also there is definitely a sign that more designers and architects are willing to commit to projects which include buying more than one fire- this is a definite sign that we’re recovering from a recession as this hasn’t happened for some time now.”
SPORT: What do you make of Neale Cooper's Hartlepool departure? What can Boro do to get the Riverside crowds back? Impressed with KP being back in the England fold?
Let us know your thoughts and these and any sporting issues - email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will publish the best letters in Monday's Northern Echo Sport.
Great response to my request for local firms to give us an insight into how the recovery looks here in the North-East. Most bosses seem to be optimistic. What about workers or jobseekers? Please keep the comments coming.
Email me: email@example.com
Andy Richardson, Business Editor
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Sarah Pittendrigh runs Simply Bows and Chair Covers in County Durham and has 12 franchisees around the UK providing specialist table linen and accessories for weddings and events.
She says: “In some respects we’ve been very lucky as, since launching in 2008, we’ve grown each year but that’s down to the team’s tremendous hard work. However, in the last couple of months we’ve noticed consumer confidence returning as we’ve taken over a dozen bookings for events up to the end of 2014. Previously people were only booking up to 9-12 months in advance.”
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Sharon Hutchinson runs Splash Print Management in Newton Aycliffe.
She says: “We launched in a recession and people thought we were mad. But we found a niche in the market to help businesses save money. We've recently seen a leap in customers increasing their marketing spend who were previously being cautious with their budgets. Stationery is a staple product but businesses want to maintain their current standard of materials whilst reducing their costs.”
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Graham Howard, owner of Howard, a family-run bistro in Stokesley, says:
“Despite a non-existent summer, trade has definitely picked up in the last couple of months- turnover is higher and people are spending money again. But customers want real value for money and business is no longer consistent or guaranteed. Our peaks and troughs are no longer easy to predict”
Nick Holmes, managing director of Rockliffe Hall, says:
“The short-breaks and leisure market has remained strong albeit with people booking last minute and not planning ahead as much. That’s a definite recession-led trend. The industry as a whole is finding corporate and conferencing tough but this is now starting to pick up again as business confidence slowly returns.
"We need to act now and build on the momentum created by the Olympic Games. If the Government really wants to get behind this legacy and invest in tourism, it needs to consider reducing the rate of VAT in the hospitality sector to bring it inline with our European neighbours.”
LUMIERE 2013: The Lumiere light festival will return to Durham for four nights from November 14 to 17 next year, it has been announced.
Durham County Council backed the idea of a third festival, following those in 2009 and 2011, earlier this year.
Now it has been announced that creative company Artichoke has been commissioned to produce the festival - the firm having also overseen its predecessors.
Nicky Webb, from Artichoke, said she was absolutely delighted to have been re-commissioned to create a third Lumiere for Durham.
Mark Tallentire, Durham reporter
Robbers who smashed in the frontage of a village store did not manage to squash the spirits of shopkeepers Tony and Alison Simms.
The burglars took a free standing cash machine from the Scorton Village Store just after 1am but it fell off the back of their pick-up before it was retrieved by police - and Mr Simms said there would have been very little cash in there anyway.
The couple were selling sandwiches and newspapers from the back of a van outside the crime scene and vowed to get back in the shop by the end of the day.
North Yorkshire Police were at the scene and said they would be conducting house to house enquiries later today.
North-East business angel Jeremy Middleton, of Middleton Enterprises, says:
"This demonstrates the robust fiscal decisions that have been taken by the Government are starting to get the economy back on track.
"However, we must not rest on our laurels and must continue to reign in public spending and drive down debt.
"While the GDP announcement is good news, the financial climate is going to be difficult for some time as it is going to be a slow recovery."
Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey says growth is too focused on London and does not reflect what is really happening in the rest of the UK.
He said the construction industry’s contribution to GDP - down 2.5 per cent - was a more realistic barometer of the true state of the economy.
“While any growth in the economy is to be welcomed, the picture is clouded by the artificial boost to the economy generated by Olympic ticket sales – a once-in-a-lifetime occasion - which was responsible for 0.2 per cent of this growth.
"David Cameron and George Osborne’s austerity polices are still causing serious problems to the economy which remains flat. If you strip away the economic fillip created by the Olympic ticket sales, you have an economy stuck on the starting blocks with anaemic growth, and you still have the food banks on the rise and long-term unemployment on the increase.
"With some 90 per cent of the cuts still to come, consumer confidence is what we really need to recover, but with crippling income and housing cuts heading for the low waged there will be little chance of hope spreading beyond the M25.
"Investment in the Olympic Park and other Olympic facilities across the UK are the type of public infrastructure project that can pull Britain out of the economic mire.
“We don't need complacency from David Cameron and George Osborne. What we do need is urgent investment in housing and infrastructure to ignite demand in the economy in terms of jobs and spending power.”
Robert Forrester, Chief Executive of Gateshead-based Vertu Motors which has dealerships across the North East including Darlington, says:
“Our strong first half year figures announced last week indicated much improved market conditions. For the official growth figures to reflect this positivity is excellent news and can only further boost confidence in the economy.”
Plenty going on today to keep the Darlington reporters occupied. Earlier, we had the Royal British Legion's annual Poppy Appeal being launched in the town.
Reporter Hannah Bryan has just gone to the town hall to see Darlington stalwart Robin Blair presented with his British Empire Medal.
We've also heard this morning about a road rage incident, in which a man was threatened with a metal bar in front of his wife and children.
Later, Labour's candidate for police and crime commissioner for the Durham Police area, Ron Hogg, will be campaigning in the town centre.
Finally, a reporter will be going to the annual meeting of Family Help, Darlington women's refuge, to hear about the work it does.
Andy Walker, Darlington chief reporter
Ian Miller, a director at Erimus Insurance Brokers, took time out of the company’s move to new purpose-built premises in Stockton, to say:
“Clearly, it’s good news. There are some green shoots of recovery, but I do think we need to be cautious at this stage to see whether the positivity spreads to the North-east region. The fact that Erimus have exciting expansion plans is because we feel there are better times ahead but, equally, we do know that pressures remain within certain industries."
@TheNorthernEcho I expect to see another month or two figures! Don't get over excited but encouraging #echorecovery— @boroboy2202 25 October 2012
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Nigel Willis, Managing Director of manufacturers First Choice Labels in Redcar, says:
“This month is on target to be our best ever month since the company began in 2002 and we are working additional shifts to complete orders so the signs are certainly good. This could well be partly due to an easing of the recession although we have also made huge efforts through recent times to move the business up a gear by targeting stronger markets and new sectors to compensate for the slow down.
“We have had large companies go to the wall owing us money and customers are definitely more demanding on price but we have managed to increase our figures right throughout this time and achieved an 11 per cent increase last year.”
Popping over to Darlington town hall to see Robin Blair - the face of Darlington covered market - get his BEM. Lovely man.— @EchoPeterBarron 25 October 2012
Is this the best ever newspaper bill? http://t.co/frwuYgYQ— @EchoPeterBarron 25 October 2012
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Robert Gibson, Managing Partner of North-East-based Samuel Phillips Law Firm, says:
“I have seen and spoken to numerous businesses and I run one myself. The message is entirely consistent. There is work out there but it is harder to get, takes longer to conclude and you get paid less.
"The UK economy has stopped sinking, and is just about afloat, but one more wave and it is gone.”
ROAD RAGE: Police in Darlington are investigating a road rage incident, on Sunday, in which a man was threatened with a tyre iron in front of his family as they waited at temporary traffic lights.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Neil Stephenson, chief executive of Stockton-based IT firm Onyx Group, says:
“I am delighted to see the positive news on GDP today. The psychological return to growth and move away from recession is a real confidence booster and the quantum of growth at 1 per cent is a pleasant surprise. This mirrors the positive news in the jobs market which has been contrary to the previous GDP statistics and shows that general optimism is returning to the economy, albeit from a low base and with modest ambitions at present.
"We are not out of the woods yet, but the pain and medicine we have had to accept to correct the mistakes of the last government are bearing fruits.”
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Vikki Jackson-Smith, Managing Director of Hartlepool-based J & B Recycling, says:
"We have noticed an increase in enquiries about our services but that is as much to do with companies still trying to save money. I think businesses and organisations are all far more aware of their costs at the moment and we are getting a lot of calls about how recycling can make them more efficient and save money."
CRASH ARREST: Police have revealed that a 39-year-old woman who was driving a van which veered off the A690 near Durham City on Sunday night, rolling down an embankment, was arrested on suspicion of drink driving.
The woman, who has been bailed pending further enquiries, was one of four hurt in the accident.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Reacting to today’s news that the UK economy emerged from recession in the three months from July to September, North East Chamber of Commerce Policy Director, Ross Smith, said:
“The GDP announcement is reassuring as it confirms what we already know in the North East, which is that businesses have been doing well and performing much better than was reflected in GDP statistics earlier in the year.
“Hopefully this news will add to the positivity we have seen throughout the regional manufacturing, engineering and service sectors in our own Quarterly Economic Survey, which also demonstrates that businesses are increasing workforces at a rate not seen since 2008.
“There is undoubtedly a feel good factor attached to the UK officially emerging from recession, particularly as growth levels are in excess of those predicted with the best quarterly figures since 2007.
“While the GDP figures are welcome we must remain cautious in our optimism. The Olympics had a significant impact on Quarter 3 results and growth forecasts for 2013 remain modest, while today’s construction figures are a cause for concern.
“Hopefully the Government’s planning reforms will help stimulate the construction sector and we will see signs of recovery in the sector in early 2013.”
Is the growth in Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter of 2012 a sign the UK economy has turned a corner, or will it flatten off when the next set of figures come out next year? Tweet your thoughts #echorecovery
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Bryan Bunn, Managing Director of Nortech Group, the Stockton-based engineering design and project management company, said:
"Today’s figures are good news for the economy as a whole. While the energy sector is buoyant, many businesses generally have been badly hit during this long and bitter recession.
“I truly hope that these results mean that the economy is finally turning a corner and that this good news inspires confidence in businesses to invest and capitalise on their resources. I realise it’s a cliché but I really do hope that this means that those much-vaunted green shoots are finally starting to sprout.”
SOLDIER KILLED: A FEMALE soldier based at Catterick Garrison has died alongside a Royal Marine while on patrol in Afghanistan.
The woman was serving with 3 Medical Regiment. The Royal Marine was from 40 Commando.
The units are part of Catterick Garrison-based 4 Mechanized Brigade, which took over responsibility for Task Force Helmand earlier this month.
The pair were on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province when they were killed on Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. Their families have been informed.
BOUNDARY COMMISSION: Working on a story about the Boundary Commission's latest proposals on re-drawing the region's parliamentary constituencies.
The latest suggestions seem to have pleased more people than a previous attempt.
But the Lib Dems have said they'll vote against them in Parliament, so what chance do they have of coming into force?
Mark Tallentire, Durham reporter
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, says:
“These figures are deceptive. Our economy is still scraping along the bottom. Much of this growth can be attributed to the Olympics effect.
“Thousands of families struggling with unemployment or frozen pay that has plunged them into poverty are still feeling the cold winds of recession. With prices high, job insecurity rife and Christmas just around the corner, for many hardworking people this still feels like an economic depression made in Downing Street.
“Vital industries such as construction are struggling and more than 2 million people cannot find a job. The UK urgently needs the Tory-led coalition to ditch austerity and put in place a pro growth, pro jobs sustainable growth strategy.”
Robbers target Scorton Village Store cash machine
HARTLEPOOL UNITED: Neale Cooper left Victoria Park yesterday, but today's usual Thursday morning press call won't be taking place as Micky Barron prepares the players for Saturday's trip to Brentford.
Hartlepool v Crawley Town: Neale Cooper looks for some divine intervention that never came as Mickey Barron looks on. Hartlepool went on to lose the game 1-0 taking the team to their third home defeat of the season and 11 games without a win.
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: John Cridland, CBI Director-General, says:
“It’s really encouraging news that growth has snapped back so strongly in the third quarter. Although the Olympics and Jubilee have made up the majority of that growth, these numbers do also seem to point to some acceleration in underlying momentum.
“We expect conditions to remain positive going into the fourth quarter, reflecting some easing of the pressure on household budgets from lower inflation. But the global economic environment remains challenging.”
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Small firms body The Forum of Private Business says: "While great news, 1 per cent is still weak growth, particularly as it's likely the Olympic boom will have positively distorted that figure.
“We’ve just come out of a double dip recession, no one wants to see a triple dip materialise, so the Government has to act now – the time for talk is over. The Coalition must slash business red tape: we need to deregulate, deregulate, deregulate to keep this growth momentum going.
“The UK economy must now be tweaked for sustained growth into the months and years ahead, and this must be achieved in part by helping small firms grow and to continue creating more jobs for the private sector.
"We also need Government to continue exerting pressure on the lenders to do their job, because only when the banks resume lending to SMEs can the economy truly recover at a decent pace.”
We are getting reaction from throughout the North-East to the fact that Britain is officially out of its double-dip recession. Does it feel that way to you? Assistant news editor, Matt Westcott
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: Prime Minister David Cameron, commenting on today's figures which showed the UK economy grew by 1.0 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, said: "We are on the right track, we have got the right approach."
Is the growth in Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter of 2012 a sign the UK economy has turned a corner, or will it flatten off when the next set of figures come out next year?
Tweet your thoughts #echorecovery
ECONOMIC RECOVERY: The UK economy grew by 1.0 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, it has been annouced today.
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: "Stronger economic growth than most forecasters expected over the summer is extremely welcome news.
"One quarter of growth doesn't change the overall picture of a weak and vulnerable recovery. The first estimate for each quarter's growth should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but the new figures suggest that all those people working hard at companies struggling out of the recession are starting to get results.
"If the Government wants more of this kind of good news then they need to reform our dysfunctional tax system and create the right incentives for people to work, save and invest in Britain."
Is the growth in Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter of 2012 a sign the UK economy has turned a corner, or will it flatten off when the next set of figures come out next year?
Tweet your thoughts #echorecovery
Force performance in relation to crime and anti social behaviour reductions put us nationally at the top of policing - premier league!— @Darlo_Police 25 October 2012