Seven-day catch-Up: December 2-8

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WELCOME to our regular Sunday morning round-up of the stories that have been making the news in South Tyneside this week.

On Monday, council bosses apologised after writing to families demanding £400 for them to keep memorial trees dedicated to loved ones.

Letters were sent to about 150 people who previously paid for trees at South Shields Crematorium, saying the 10-year ‘sponsorship’ had expired – and that unless the new payment is received by January 31, memorial plaques will be removed and the trees made available to others.

Catch up with that story here.

On Tuesday, a league table of death rates in hospitals puts South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust second from bottom.

Death rates for 145 hospital trusts in England were published in the latest report by health service analysts Dr Foster.

But an alternative report by the Royal College of Nursing , which used its mortality indicators, made South Tyneside second-worst in the North East.

Read all about the row which ensued here.

On Wednesday, we told how a woman was dragged along a South Tyneside Metro station platform when her arm became trapped between faulty train doors.

The commuter had thrown her arm between the doors after making a late bid to board the train at Jarrow Station.

Read here what the Rail Accident Investigation Branch said about the incident in a just-released report.

Meanwhile, snow returned to South Tyneside on Wednesday as the North East was blanketed in a carpet of the white stuff.

Our photographers Tim Richardson and Stu Norton were out and about snapping people trying to go about their business as usual.

Watch a slideshow of their excellent pictures here.

Non-league Hebburn Town FC are mid-table in an offensive language football ‘league’ – despite being highlighted for criticism in a TV report.

The football club’s hierarchy had been angered at a report on BBC’s Look North in October that showed manager Paul Bennett secretly filmed delivering a stream of bleeped-out expletives at pitchside.

Now the Northern League’s first ‘Secret Shopper’ has been released. Read who are the real bad boys here.

Thursday night marked the latest chapter in the amazing success story of Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer Josef Craig.

The 15-year-old from Jarrow, who holds two world records, was named BBC North East Sports Personality of the Year. Read all about his latest achievement in an amazing year here.

The week ended on a solemn note as we reported how a sea tragedy off the Dutch coast has cast a shadow over Christmas celebrations at a South Tyneside maritime charity.

The Baltic Ace, a 23,000-tonne car carrier, which sank after colliding with the container ship Corvus off the coast of Rotterdam on Wednesday, was a regular visitor to the Tyne.

Christmas presents for her crew had already been prepared at the Mission to Seafarers, in Mill Dam in South Shields.

Five bodies have so far been recovered, and hopes of finding anyone else alive faded last night as Dutch coastguards called off the search for survivors. Six men are still unaccounted for.

Catch up with that grim story here.