Should Benefit Street come to Stockton?

dixon streetProducers of controversial reality TV show Benefits Street have turned their attention to Stockton – just weeks after sizing up locations in nearby town Middlesbrough.

The TV show that showcased the residents of James Turner Street; caused great debate amongst social media and throughout the UK due to the lack of motivation for the residents to get  jobs and to just “sponge” off the country and live on benefits.

Cameras from the Channel 4 show were caught filming for two days on Dixon Street, Stockton.

Stockton Council say the show could damage the area’s reputation. However many residents have a different outlook.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said: “Like I’ve previously said, anyone who saw any of the first series will have seen how the programme makers aim to exploit people, their families and community and the problems and challenges they face – just to entertain other people.


“I think it will be largely negative”.

Nasser Din, a business developer currently building flats in the surrounding areas of Dixon Street had a lot to say on the topic.

“It’s degrading for the town for them to bring this here, it’s making a mockery of these people- most people are uneducated, suffering from low self esteem. This show will take this information- edit it- and make the residents of Stockton a laughing stock.

“If you look around Stockton, the buildings the heritage of this town, We’ve invested millions into developing this area; The Council are working hard to help the poverty stricken areas of this town, it’s just going to tear their efforts to the ground”.


However, the people of Stockton on tees do have a different view on the show coming to the area. Many residents are currently residing in the Job Centre and living off benefits; they feel that the show could bring jobs to the area and help to get people back to work.

Our reporter, Courtney Blakey took to the streets and spoke to the people of Stockton about what they really think of this “poverty porn” show coming to the area.


from Tside

Pools fans enjoy a surprise at Annual Awards Night

Hartlepool United held an their annual end of the season awards event on Tuesday night, with a number of players given awards for their efforts over the season.

The night proved to be very popular with supporters who had the opportunity to meet the players as well as thanking them for their efforts over the season.

The full team were in attendance for the event at the Staincliffe Hotel, as fans piled in to congratulate the team for securing League 2 football for another season.

The night saw awards go to Luke James, Bradley Walker, Michael Duckworth and James Poole for their own individual achievements.

Top scorer, Luke James, claimed both the Supporters’ and the Player’s Player of the Year honours.

Central midfielder, Bradley Walker, also bagged himself two awards after he was given Young Player of the Year and Goal of the Season for his superb strike against Southend away.

Full back, Michael Duckworth, was voted as the Away Player of the Year and James Poole was given the Community Player of the Year prize.

But the awards were not the only thing that were set to be revealed on the night.

There was a surprise for guests at the Awards Event as Pools unveiled their new home and away kits for the 2014/2015 campaign.


The home kit, worn by Luke James,  keeps United’s traditional blue and white stripes but goes without the collar from this season.

The away kit was one which caused a lot more surprise.

Young Player of the Year, Bradley Walker modelled the away shirt, a pink bodied shirt with black side panels.

Both kits will be available for purchase during July.

Luke James models the 2014/15 home shirt.

Luke James models the 2014/15 home shirt.


Bradley Walker models the 2014/15 away shirt.

BradWalker models the 2014/15 away shirt.



from Tside

Local Cafe Continues To Help Charities

A LOCAL eatery in Redcar hopes its business expansion will boost the help it gives to charity.

Sophellie’s Eatery first opened in 2011, and is now expanding into Kirkleatham.

Claire and Philip Green on Sophellie's opening day. Source: Evening Gazette

Claire and Philip Green on Sophellie’s opening day.
Source: Evening Gazette

The family run business, which uses local produce in many of its dishes, have personal reasons for its links to charity after owner Claire Green donated a kidney to husband Philip five years ago.

As a result, the eatery offers a special chilli kidney bean dish, with 15% from each dish’s profits going to Kidney Research and the couple also support a range of local charities too.

Philip explained that he had suffered from kidney problems and that the couple’s 10th anniversary was marked with the transplant.

He said: “I still go for my three month checks but everything seems ok.”

Claire added: “We like to do our bit to help out with local charities, we make regular donations and it’s our way of helping.”

Boundary 500 Motorcycle Group Charity Meeting

Boundary 500 Motorcycle Group Charity Meeting

Sophellie’s, named after Claire and Philip’s daughters, also host The Boundary 500 Motorcycle Group’s charity meetings.

The Boundary 500 group support and raise money for Zoe’s Place and the Great North Air Ambulance.

Claire said: “The club meet here every Tuesday evening and we get involved with the meetings. They raise money for local charities so it’s another way for us to offer our support.”

Sophellie’s have also supported and helped out with many other charities from the local area.

In 2013, Claire and Philip were asked to produce a range of tarts to help raise funds for Blind Veterans UK.

Claire Green and Local Veteran sampling Teesside Tarts. Source: Evening Gazette

Claire Green and Local Veteran sampling Teesside Tarts. Source: Evening Gazette

Philip said: “Blind Veterans UK wanted something made local to the area, so we created a savory parmesan tart.”

And for those with a sweet tooth, they came up with a lemon-top and Redcar rock tart.

The restaurant also supports local businesses, using produce from Miller’s Fruit and Veg, and meat from Ellison’s Butchers, both situated in Redcar High Street.

The couple hope to expand further in the future, with Philip adding: “If the opportunity arises you have got to take it, and we now have the confidence after managing the two places.”

from Tside

7ft Whale Jawbone on Display in Redcar

THE whale that beached in Redcar in 2011 will forever be remembered as its huge jawbone goes on display.

The 45ft  sperm whale beached itself on Redcar beach in May 2011 and despite desperate attempts to save the animal, it was pronounced dead after several hours.

Sperm Whale beached in Redcar 2011

Sperm Whale beached in Redcar 2011

Three years later the whale’s 7ft lower jawbone is revealed in a display at The Zetland Life Boat Museum in Redcar.

Redcar’s Mayor Vic Jeffries said: “It was always the council’s intention to make a lasting memorial of the magnificent animal.”

Whale teeth can be used for Ivory and with 18 teeth on either side the jawbone, it’s highly valuable due to its condition.

Fred Brunskill, chairman of the Zetland Museum said: “Thousands of people came to Redcar seafront to see the whale, and I would like to welcome them all back to see the jaw bone.”

7ft Lower Jaw Bone from Sperm Whale

7ft Lower Jaw Bone from Sperm Whale

Following advice from the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts, the whale’s lower jawbone was buried in order to allow the oils and fats to drain away.

The teeth were then covered in a solution of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide before being set back into place.

The jawbone joins several attractions at the revamped museum, including the stern board that was attached to the barque of Lord Byron, which  washed ashore on Redcar beach in 1848.

The museum is also applying for lottery funding to restore the Zetland lifeboat, which is the oldest lasting lifeboat in the world.

Last year the museum attracted over 11,000 visitors and is hoping to see more this year with the arrival of the much anticipated jawbone.


from Tside

The Walking Dead Mid-season finale: “Too Far Gone” Review

Series Title: The Walking Dead – “Too Far Gone”
Publisher: AMC
Tside Rating: Tside Rating: 5 out of 5Tside Rating: 5 out of 5Tside Rating: 5 out of 5Tside Rating: 5 out of 5Tside Rating: 5 out of 5


WHAT an incredible episode.

It may have been a frustrating wait to get to this point, but the end of the series finally brought a conclusion to the “Rick against the Governor” saga. The question that now remains, is at what cost?

The episode provided the perfect end to the group’s time inside the safety of a prison, as a number of variables fell into place which made it too chaotic and exposed to stay in. However, this couldn’t have been pulled off without a small number of events, which didn’t quite add up.

It all starts with the Governor’s speech to his group as he attempted to gain their support to overthrow the prison. During the speech, we learn that he managed to capture two of the main characters (Hershel and Michonne) who would help them to take the prison “as peacefully as possible.”

Once gaining their support, we are taken to a scene where Hershel attempts to talk to “Brian” alone about everybody living inside the prison together. “Brian” completely shoots the idea down and promises that nobody is going to hurt him. (I could sense that this was a lie, but I really hoped that I was wrong.)

The action slowly builds up to the point where the Governor arrives at the prison with hostages Hershel and Michonne and asks Rick to discuss handing the prison over. At this point, we have Rick on one side of a fence with his trusty pistol and the Governor on the other side with an army of 40 plus armed people and a tank!

The Governor on one side with guns, our main characters on the other with guns and Rick in the middle, we know that this is not going to end peacefully! At this point, you have no idea whether Rick will surrender the prison and live to fight another day or will call the Governor’s bluff and risk war.

Rick stands his ground at first, showing no sign of weakness and beckoning the Governor’s next move. At this point, “Brian” grabs Michonne’s sword and puts it within millimetres of Hershel’s neck. You could have cut the tension with that katana.

Rick’s last attempt to end the feud peacefully is with a speech from the heart, explaining that “it won’t be easy” but how everyone can come back from the past, be forgiven for their actions, pull together and be human again.

The trigger to set off the bloodbath was one that emotionally shocked me and left me devastated, even though I knew deep down that it was inevitable. The chilling whisper of the word “Liar” followed by a swift slice through human flesh left me shattered by the  loss of a much loved character as Hershel slumped onto his slide.

Rick reacts to Hershel's death.

Rick reacts to Hershel’s death.

At first I questioned why the Governor would have killed Hershel instead of his great nemesis Michonne but the heartless killer realised that Hershel’s death would have hit the group harder emotionally. Once one character was dead, you began to wonder how many more we were going to lose in this final battle.

The episode was difficult to follow after this as I was lost in the action somewhere between the tank smashing down the fence and Rick and the Governor’s fist fight to the death, as everybody scrambled about frantically, fighting to survive.

As each individual character fought in what would be the costliest of battles, more and more deaths became inevitable and more of the characters you had become attached to were lost in the fighting.

It was hard to tell how many of them had died and how many of them had truly escaped.

While Maggie, Glenn and several other survivors left safely through the use of an emergency escape vehicle (a school bus with blocked up windows), a severely beaten Rick and an emotionally scarred Carl escaped through the woods, leaving behind sanctuary once again and leaving viewers craving more.

All that we know for certain is that although the war with the Governor was brought to an end with one satisfying slice of a katana, each survivor’s individual battle was far from over.


from Tside

Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns Review

Game Title: Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix, Tri-Ace
Release Date: 14/02/2014
Tside Rating: Tside Rating: 3.5 out of 5Tside Rating: 3.5 out of 5Tside Rating: 3.5 out of 5Tside Rating: 3.5 out of 5Tside Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns


THE Final Fantasy series is one that has been going for quite some time – this new offering being the 15th game of the popular series.

With a range that large, not every game is going to be a masterpiece and some gamers were keen to dismiss the Final Fantasy XIII’s trilogy.

Personally, I enjoyed the first two outings into the world that Final Fantasy XIII presented, complete with its storyline and mechanics – even Square Enix’s apparent fetish for long and empty corridors!

Thankfully, in this latest offering, things have become a lot more open and Square Enix has almost completely moved away from the long and arduous corridor journeys. Instead the action now takes place in four locations.

Luxerion, – a small city standing as one of the last bastions of Humanity in a world that is slowly facing its own destruction. On your first journey to this place you will likely get lost countless times, but eventually you’ll start to learn the place like it was the back of your hand.

Yusnaan –  this is the city that Luxerion wishes it could be, with its glittering statues, enormous palace and all round air of majesty. In this city, the nights are a time for parties and just about anything is celebrated, regardless of how insignificant it is.

The Wildlands referenced as the last surviving wilderness in the game, this sprawling, open world environment is home to a vast variety of man and beast alike. Thick jungle-like environments lie to the west, mountainous regions lie beyond that, while the ruins of downed airships await you in the north. This is the place that has the most adventurous atmosphere to it.

The Dead Dunes a desolate and depressing place! The sands of time have worn away the traces of what had once settled here and now all that remains are structures, half buried in the sand, flanked by enormous skeletons of monsters slain in a time long forgotten. There’s not a lot more that can be said about this place, other than it is one of the places that, in a game centered around time, really hits home.

Across these four lands are the six ‘chapters’ that make up the story of the game. Each chapter is comprised of around six to 10 missions and upon completion of  all the missions for that location, that branch of the main story is complete. Each mission usually ends in a boss fight and unless you are prepared, these will chew you up and spit you back out again!

Before I delve into the story, let me just explain the battle system and how it has improved vastly since the first game.

The battle system through the first two games was the more traditional turn based style.

This meant that you would choose a method of attack,  execute that attack and then wait for the monster to attack you.

However in my view the greatest flaw attached to this was the ‘auto battle’ option. Essentially this feature selected all the best attacks for you to use and allowed you to execute them straight away – turning you into a zombie, mindlessly pressing away at the attack button. The only time you really needed to have any input in the action was if your health dropped below a certain level and you needed to heal.

Needless to say, many people really didn’t like that system at all and so for the third game it has been overhauled. The auto battle function is gone, instead replaced by three separate outfits, each with their own abilities so that you can pick and choose to your liking.

The outfits, called Garbs ingame, allow you to switch seamlessly between three types of character, each with their own ATB gauge, meaning that you can use up all your attack points on one  class and switch to another, whilst the points on the first class regenerate.

It’s also no longer turn based, meaning you can attack as many times as you want, and the enemy might only attack once or twice during your flourish of acrobatic moves.  Each battle feels exhilarating and exciting and the boss battles only serve to make them even better.


An example of the battle screen, showing a few of Lightning’s attacks and abilities.

As far as the main story goes, you play Lightning, a rose haired female and forced servant of the God, Bhunivelze, and protagonist of all but the second game (though she did appear in it.) Her God-given mission means that she has to take on the role of the Saviour.

In this role, she must walk on the surface of the Earth and save the souls of the people she deems worthy to escape from a dying world, so they can live out a new life on a new world created by Bhunivelze.

She is given a total of 13 days to complete her mission, as on the 13th day the world will end and all the souls not saved will be cast into the Unseen Realm. However even though the marketing for the game expressly states that you are given 13 days to save the world, you actually only start the game with seven!

Collecting souls from people you visit in the game world allows you to harness something called Eradia, which is referred to as the ‘life energy’ of the soul. Using this Eradia, Lightning can extend the time that she has up to the maximum total of 13 days.

However collecting this Eradia isn’t as simple as just talking to someone – instead you have to complete side-quests given to you by people you meet. These range from going out and defeating a certain monster enough times to collect a certain amount of spoils, or finding items that have been lost throughout the game world.

Ordinarily I would say that these fetch quests are both annoying and time consuming, but in this case they actually don’t feel that way. Throughout my time on the game, I found that whenever someone gave me a quest, I had usually found the item they were after, or had already killed the requisite amount of monsters.

This also meant that I had the required Eradia to extend the world’s time to the maximum 13 days, but therein lay a problem. By the time I managed to get enough time for the 13 days, I had completed all but one of the missions in the main story, the rest of which would take place on the final day.

However I was only on day eight of the mission, which meant I had five days left until I was able to complete the game!

As I didn’t really fancy filling the time sleeping at an Inn until I was able to continue, I went off in search of things to do. The problem was, there was nothing else to do.

Yes there were side-quests that still remained incomplete, but completing the bestiary didn’t really sound like an appealing quest, and nor did hunting the monsters of the world to extinction. So I just wandered, aimlessly wasting away my days until I could progress with the main story.

While I understand that the developers were likely faced with the quandary of how much content to include in the game, in this case it would have been extremely useful to have had the New Game+ mode.

The game advises you to try and finish any side-quests that you didn’t have time to do in the first playthrough, but the problem with that is when I had completed all but a few side-quests, I was left with a few quests that really didn’t interest me.

Whilst playing the main story it was like walking towards a beautiful bright horizon. I felt like I was part of something thrilling and exciting. Yet once I found myself waiting to continue on the main quest, it was like realising that the horizon I was walking towards had been painted onto a wall and I was merely walking on a treadmill.

It just didn’t go anywhere.

That’s not to say that once I was able to continue, it didn’t offer a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, because it offered a fantastic end. Whilst I didn’t feel as emotionally charged as I had with the endings of the previous two games, I don’t think I needed to.

The ending offered up something designed to tie up all the loose ends and make you certain that the adventure you started in the first game of the trilogy was now over. In a way it was a little bit saddening, but that soon gave way to a feeling a pride and accomplishment.

And that’s the way it should be – a satisfying end for a story that would put many novels to shame.

from Tside

North East Turtle Rescue at maximum capacity.

Benji - One of Turtle Rescues Turtles.

Benji – One of Turtle Rescues Turtles.

THE NORTH EAST’S only turtle rescue and re-homing center is struggling to cope with growing numbers of abandoned turtles.

The Centre is based in County Durham and is part of Turtle Rescue UK.

It is the third Turtles Rescue Center to open within the UK, and is run by volunteers.

Due to lack of public awareness and inappropriate trading of turtles throughout the UK, the rescue center is currently caring for 94 turtles.

Jacque Bell founder of North East Turtle rescue said ” We currently have a real problem with turtles within the UK. People don’t know how to care for them correctly and often abandon them as they grow in size”.

The Center fears problems will increase in the run up to the release of a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie in October, fearing a wave of new turtles being bought throughout the country.

A campaign is being made by the rescue center to protect turtles welfare throughout the period.

North East Turtle Rescue recently opened ‘New To You’, a recycling shop in Langley Moor to help fund the sanctuary.

The Rescue Centre bought the shop just over a year ago, and houses 24 turtles at the back of the shop.

The shop houses a wide array of species of turtle such as African Side Neck TurtlesYellow Belly Sliders, Snake Neck Turtles and Florida Soft Shells.


Snake Neck Turtle in his ‘New to You’ home.

Jacque bell said “We take in lots of abandoned turtles, they come to us with burnt skin, malnutrition, stunted growth and all sorts of injuries

“Turtles often get abandoned because their owners get sick of them or fail to meet their needs.

“Turtles have specific nutritional needs as well as environmental needs and lots of owners are not educated on what they are.

“Turtles are easy to buy and cheap within the UK and are often bought when they are small”.

Often when the turtles grow bigger their owners are not equipped to look after them and they often get abandoned.

Jacque Bell said “Turtles are not able to survive in our climate and if they do it is by sheer luck, it is like abandoning a dog and thinking it will be alright in our climate”.

Turtles that can’t be taken in by Turtle Rescue UK are often destroyed by the RSPCA.


Two Male Yellow Belly Sliders at Turtle Rescue UK.

Turtle Rescue UK plans to expand in the future so it can take in more abandoned and mistreated turtles.

It hopes to move some encloses to petting farms so they can have more room and free up more space for turtles.

Jacque said “We are taking in as many turtles as we can but we need to expand, we offer advice to owners but sometimes this isn’t enough”.

The sanctuary is also campaigning to get trading standards changed for the trade of turtles and bring in laws to prevent the sale of any turtles under 4 inches.

This law has recently been past in America and has had a positive effect on turtle welfare, decreasing the level of abandoned turtles.

Jacque said “We need to make trading standards enforce the way turtles are being sold and make pet shops more aware and responsible for animals”.

For further information on turtle welfare or Turtle Rescue UK please contact Jacqui Bell by calling : 07855522262 or emailing her at:

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from Tside

Pools to repeat “Pack the Park”

Hartlepool United have today announced that the final home game of the season will cost just £5 to get in for both home and away fans.

The “Pack the Park” ticket deal proved a big hit in the Easter Monday clash a as approximately 4600 Pools fans witnessed a spirited fightback against fellow relegation strugglers, Morecambe.

The Shrimps were both a goal ahead and had a man advantage over the home side before Colin Cooper’s men pulled off an astonishing turnaround to effectively secure League football for another season.

Pools boss, Colin Cooper, had described the fans as “crucial” in that victory, saying that it gave the team “a real moral boost having a twelfth man.”

Pools fans were hoping to see the offer repeated due to how affordable it was for them and because it was the final game of a rollercoaster campaign.

The club have answered the fans calls and have reintroduced the “Pack the Park” deal for the final game against Exeter City on Saturday.

The deal means that all tickets for the game will cost just £5 for all fans in all areas of the ground, either from the Ticket Office in advance or on the turnstiles on the day of the game.

With both teams having nothing to play for, it should be an enjoyable clash for both sets of fans so get yourself to Victoria Park on Saturday at 3pm and make the 2013/2014 season finale a memorable one.

Hartlepool United fans celebrate "Pack the Park"

Hartlepool United fans celebrate “Pack the Park”


from Tside

How to get a great start to the gardening year.

Getting ready for the new gardening year.

Getting ready for the new gardening year.

SPRING is a very important and busy time for gardeners.

It is the beginning of the new gardening year and there are so many things you should do to give your garden the best start possible for the coming months.

Basically the three main areas of the garden you will need to prepare are the lawn, vegetable patch and flower beds.

It is said that grass is the hardest plant to grow successfully in your garden – the perfect lawn is a mere dream for most gardeners.

But here are a few tips to help you achieve a good looking lawn.

Firstly moss and thatch can become a problem in lawns, making them patchy and sickly.

Fortunately there is a simple and easy way to prevent this problem arising, called scarification.

All you need is a scarifying rake which you use to rake the lawn, removing all of the moss and thatch, making the lawn look much more attractive.

Half scarified, half not scarified lawn.

Half Scarified, Half not Scarified lawn.

Another great way to give your lawn a good start to the year is to add weed and feed. Weed and feed is high in nitrogen which will make your grass grow vigorously and give it a healthy green glow.

It also contains a selective herbicide that targets non-grass species, helping your lawn to stay weed free. However be careful not to spill any on your flower beds because it will kill or stunt flowers and other plants.

If your lawn is looking a bit rough around the edges, spring is the perfect time to edge it. This will make it easier for you to contain your lawn and make your garden more visually pleasing.

Simply dig around the edge of your lawn using a spade or an edging knife, removing the unwanted turf to give sharp lines and definition.

To get a perfectly straight edges on your grass, you can use a string line and then regularly trim with edging sheers to maintain.

Maintain grass edge with Sheers.

Maintain grass edge with Sheers.

During the spring, many plants, flowers and weeds start to grow in your flower beds, so it is important to correctly maintain them.

Firstly hoe the flower beds to remove the weeds, such as dandelions, buttercups, docs and nettles.

When removing the weeds it is important to remove the root too, especially with dandelions and docs to prevent them growing back. Do not use weed killer on the flower beds unless you are an expert, as it will kill most herbaceous plants that it comes into contact with.

After you have hoed the flower beds, you can add fertiliser, which will feed your plants and allow them to grow healthily and strongly through spring.

The best type of fertilisers to add to your flower beds is slow release pellets or organic waste, which will slowly release the correct nutrients into the soil for approximately half a year, unlike  powdered fertiliser, which must be added every few weeks, and watered in.

You can also get liquid fertiliser which starts to work immediately, which you can apply using a watering can.

Always make sure you read the instructions  and take into consideration the health and safety warnings.

Spring flowerbed.

Spring flowerbed.

Spring is also the perfect time to plant trees and shrubs and split up perennials, as the plant will be mostly inactive and the weather will be mild, so the newly planted plants will not dry out before their roots have become established.

Perennials such as primroses should be split up in spring as each plant will grow bigger and better by itself.

Vegetable plots are a popular feature in many people’s gardens and spring is the time to prepare your plot.

Firstly you need to remove all the old vegetables that have not been eaten over winter. Then you should roughly dig over the plot with a spade to bury the weeds and break up the compacted soil.

Once you have finished digging over your plot it is best to leave it for at least a week to allow the soil to break down naturally and the weeds to die.

Newly dug over vegetable plot.

Newly dug over vegetable plot.

You may wish to add  fertiliser or well rotted manure to your soil at this stage. Manure is a far safer and more environmentally friendly option. It also helps with dry sandy soil as it helps to trap moisture as it contains lots of organic materials that hold water.

Manure can be obtained from local farmers and usually delivered for a small fee.

Once you have your manure you should spread it onto your vegetable plot equally and then dig over the plot again with a fork.

This will break the soil down into a fine tilth and mix the manure in, ready for planting your new vegetables and seeds.

Bacteria in the soil will break down the ammonia in the manure and turn it into nitrate which your new vegetables can soak up through their roots to boost their growth.

By following these few tips, you can ensure you have a great start to the gardening year.

from Tside