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  1. Updates on Wednesday 24 December 2014

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Happy Christmas

That's all from the BBC Local Live team for Christmas Eve. We'll be back on Monday from 08:00 to bring you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates from across the North East.

Don't forget - you can still get in touch with the team, via

email, tweet us
@BBCNewsNE or join our
Facebook page. Have a merry Christmas.

Student ATM robber jailed

The Gazette

An alcoholic who robbed an 18-year-old student at a cash machine after

a mammoth drinking session has been jailed for almost two years.

Ranger in trouble yet again

More trouble for former Newcastle striker Nile Ranger -

Blackpool manager Lee Clark has asked for help in tracking him down, with the player not turning up for training for two weeks.

Clark, a former NUFC player himself, says the 23-year-old "appears to be back in London".

But he told the Blackpool Gazette: "If anyone can let us know where he is, send me a letter and we will go from there."

SFA rejects Ashley's Rangers bid

The Scottish Football Association

has rejected Mike Ashley's request to raise his shareholding in Rangers International Football Club to 29.9%.

The Newcastle United owner currently holds 8.92% and wanted to increase that in return for providing funding. Rangers need at least £8m of fresh investment to continue trading for the next 12 months.

The SFA board "unanimously" declined Ashley's proposal, a decision which has left Rangers "very disappointed".

Durham fee shool head resigns

BBC Tees

The head teacher of a problem-hit free school has resigned just weeks after it was criticised by a government body for irregular financial arrangements.

Peter Cantley has left his role at

Durham Free School after the Education Funding Agency issued a financial notice to improve.

Deputy head teacher Julian Eisner has been appointed acting head teacher.

Hospital makes jobs cuts two days before Christmas

The Gazette

Nearly 40 Middlesbrough hospital staff were told two days before Christmas

their jobs are being "outsourced" to Lancashire.

Karanka hails Agnew arrival

BBC Tees

Middlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka says it is a relief to get a new number two in the building.

Steve Agnew

Steve Agnew left his role as Hull City assistant manager to

return to the Riverside yesterday.

Meanwhile, Karanka says he wants his players to use the

Boxing Day clash with Nottingham Forest to prove that their defeat at Ipswich Town was a one off.

Green light for pony plan

Sunderland Echo

A controversial plan to allow wild ponies to roam a beauty spot in South Tyneside

could get the go-ahead in the New Year.

Thousands travelling for Christmas

BBC Newcastle

Thousands of people are taking to the roads and the railways today, with

East Coast Trains saying that they are experiencing their busiest Christmas Eve in recent years.

East Coast Train

John Gelson from East Coast Trains told

BBC Newcastle that since Monday, 120,000 people have booked with them to get home for Christmas.

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Family's heartache as Nick Dunn stuck in India for second Christmas

Simon Armstrong

BBC News

The family of a British man stuck in India, who was cleared of possessing weapons, say they are sad

he will spend another Christmas away from home.

Nick Dunn

Nick Dunn, 28, from Ashington, Northumberland, was one of six Britons accused of illegally possessing weapons while working on a private US-owned ship providing anti-piracy protection.

The charges were quashed in July. But as police have asked the supreme court to consider an appeal, the men's passports have not been returned.

Man exposed himself to women

BBC Tees

A man indecently exposed himself to three women in Middlesbrough.

The three women were in a vehicle parked in Bedford Street at about 08:00 on Monday when they noticed a man standing in a doorway. He then approached them and exposed himself before fleeing.

The man is white, aged in his late 20s, about 5ft 10in and of slim build with a large nose and stubble.

Fresh appeal for missing man

Police are continuing to appeal for help to trace a missing Washington man. Colin Pine, 55, of Ennerdale in Albany, failed to return home after going out to watch the Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday afternoon.

It is believed he watched the match at The Swan Pub in Heworth but where he went after this is unknown.

Colin Pine
Northumbria Police

Morpeth flood work completed

BBC Newcastle

Construction of

new flood defences in Morpeth town centre have now been completed as part of a £27m scheme.

Morpeth flooding

The Environment Agency says a new flood wall and three new flood gates will reduce the risk of flooding to homes and businesses in the lowest lying area of the town.

Hazardous driving conditions

Police are warning drivers about the A696 in Northumberland

because of hazardous driving conditions.

There were warnings of ice on the route and a car crashed near Ottercops.

The road was closed between Ottercops and Otterburn but has since reopened.

Lego Durham Cathedral survives 'sabotage'

Helen Burchell

BBC News, Cambridgeshire

A couple have

completed a Lego Durham Cathedral Christmas decoration despite "sabotage" by their children who wanted a Star Wars Death Star instead.

Lego Star Wars characters and cathedral model
Getty Images/Mike Addis

Mike Addis and Catherine Weightman used more than 250,000 bricks to create it.

They have built festive models for the last 20 years.

Northern Lights over North East

The Northern Lights were seen across parts of the North East last night.

Known as the Aurora Borealis, colours of green and pink danced across the sky. The natural wonder is caused by charged particles colliding in the Earth's atmosphere above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemisphere.

Aurora over keilder

Press Association photographers Owen Humphreys and Tom White braved the cold to capture this great photo near Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. We've used it as the big image on this page.

HMP Northumberland: A year on from privatisation

Robert Cooper

BBC News Online

An MP has described a North East prison, privatised a year ago, as a

"powder keg" after a series of incidents including a small riot and assaults on guards.

HMP Northumberland

HMP Northumberland, which cut its staff by a third, has been at the centre of controversy since it was taken over by the security firm Sedexo.

Ian Lavery, the Labour MP for Wansbeck, says he fears a member of staff could be seriously harmed. Sedexo says it has recently taken on 27 additional staff and will never compromise on safety at the jail.

Asda theft 'because of long queue'

The Shields Gazette

An impatient thief raided a South Tyneside store of goods for a fishing trip

because he didn't want to wait in a 'long queue'.

Facebook fundraising buys community tree

via Facebook

The story of one Sunderland man and his quest to get his community a Christmas tree to be proud of has been shared around the world on


Christmas Tree
Martin Corleone

Chris Young wanted to bring some holiday spirit to his hometown of Ryhope, so he set up a community fund to raise money for what had initially been a drunken idea.

Within five weeks he'd raised £5,000 and bought a 30ft (9m) tree.

Festive address

Andrew Humphrey

BBC Local Live

The Royal Mail has

carried out a study and found that the UK has 3,369 Christmas themed street names.

Christmas Pie Avenue
Royal Mail

Holly Street is the most common, but other festive street names include Christmas Street, Christmas Pie Avenue, Reindeer Road and Rudolph Road.

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We've introduced BBC Local Live, which is written by reporters across the North East, to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place.

Tell us what you think.

Yuletide Yarn bombing

Catherine Lee

BBC News

Knitted angels have appeared on fences, railings and lampposts in Tynemouth.

Tynemouth yarn bombs

Members of seven Methodist churches in the area have made 2,000 of them.

Each bears a Christmas message inviting people to take them away and give them as a gift to friends or themselves.

Soldiers' letters tell of 'Christmas Truce'

BBC Look North

A century ago British and German soldiers met in no man's land in what has become known as the Christmas Truce.

Christmas Truce
(C) British Broadcasting Corporation

Men from the Border Regiment were among those in the trenches who sent home first hand accounts of what it was really like.

Look North's Gerry Jackson

spoke to Alan Cleaver, author of Not a Shot Was Fired.

Man charged over crash injuries

BBC Newcastle

A man has been charged after a woman was found with serious injuries inside a car in Newcastle.

The car crashed into a concrete post on the central motorway in the underpass at the Jesmond exit on Monday. A 50-year-old woman was found inside badly hurt.

A 44-year-old man from Newcastle has been charged with attempted murder and dangerous driving. He will appear before Newcastle Magistrates' Court today.

Strike broken to save man's life

Phil Connell

BBC Look North

A Darlington man whose life was saved by striking firefighters has

returned to thank his saviours.

Mike Johnson thanks firefighters

Mike Johnson suffered a heart attack while passing Darlington Fire Station in November. Six firefighters, who were outside the station on strike, crossed the picket line to save his life.

BBC Newcastle's Phil Connell joined the reunion.

Police probe suspicious fire

BBC Tees

Police are investigating a suspicious house fire in Middlesbrough.

Emergency services were called to Percy Street in the early hours of this morning. There are no reports of any injuries.

Rusting Thornaby bridge replaced

Julie Cush

BBC News

A new footbridge has opened to

replace a 125-year-old one on Teesside.

Old Thornaby Bridge

Stockton Council has been trying for a number of years to secure funding for the £1.1m Thornaby bridge project and managed to get £250,000 from the Department for Transport.

The old bridge, at the entrance to the railway station, was rusting and did not have wheelchair access.

Network Rail and Tees Valley Metro also helped pay for the new bridge, which has taken five months to complete.

In the news today

Northern Echo editor Peter Barron

Here's the Christmas Eve Northern Echo front page.

An inspirational story from a tragic mum.

Northern Echo front page
Northern Echo

A mixed day to come

Lisa Gallagher

Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

We are going to see a mixture of sunny spells and

scattered showers as we go through the day.

Lisa Gallagher

Many of us will avoid the showers and stay dry, with a decent amount of sunshine, but it's colder than yesterday with highs of 6C (43F).

Check the forecast where you are.

Good morning

Andrew Humphrey

BBC Local Live

Welcome to BBC Local Live. I'll be bringing you news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East on Christmas Eve.

If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by

email, tweet us
@BBCNewsNE or join our
Facebook page.