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Summary

  1. Updates on Wednesday 21 January 2015

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening

That's all from BBC Local Live this evening. We'll be back on Thursday from 08:00. We've mostly been lucky with the weather today, but this robin stood out among the snowy landscape in County Durham.

There's more photos here.

A robin in County Durham
PA

On the programme tonight

BBC Look North

It's costing taxpayers not far short of a million pounds. But a Tyneside council making budget cuts has admitted a crane it bought after a legal wrangle will remain idle for another year.

It's already been on the site of the former Swan Hunter shipyard for almost two years. Critics say the delay is putting the redevelopment of that site in jeopardy.

BBC Newcastle's political reporter Fergus Hewison has an exclusive report at 18:30 tonight on BBC One

or catch up here on the iPlayer.

Cold through the evening

Lisa Gallagher

Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

Patchy rain, sleet and snow this evening, the snow mainly on hills, will gradually peter out with most places dry by midnight. A cold night, particularly under cloud breaks and where snow is lying, and icy patches on untreated surfaces.

Weather forecast
BBC

Check the forecast near you.

'Panda onesie' thief hunted

A woman wearing a panda onesie is being hunted by police investigating a series of cash thefts from stores.

Thief in panda onesie
Northumbria Police

Northumbria Police want to speak to the woman in relation to an incident at an Asda store in Benton, Newcastle.

Officers are trying to track down a number of people after a spate of cash thefts in the Benton, Killingworth and Whitley Bay areas dating back to June last year.

News on the hour

The top headlines at 17:00 include:

  • BBC Tees: The Prime Minister David Cameron has told BBC Tees there is an economic North and South divide - and he wants to rebalance it.
  • BBC Newcastle: The trial of former television weatherman Fred Talbot hears more evidence from one of the former schoolboys who claims he sexually assaulted them.

Recall to prison appeal

Cleveland Police has issued an appeal on behalf of its
counterparts in London for a man wanted for a recall to prison.

Aaron Robinson, from Norwood in South London, who is also believed to have connections in the Hartlepool area, failed to reside at an approved premises.

Aaron Robinson
Metropolitan Police

The 23-year-old has ginger hair and a beard, a white dot in his left eye, and a tattoo of handcuffs on the left side of his neck.

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Green light for community bank

A community bank will open in Middlesbrough after the

council gave the green light to a £85,000 grant.

Moneywise Community Banking will run the project from a yet-to-be identified premises in the town centre.

Sterling
PA

Councillor Dave Budd, the deputy mayor, said: "You only need to look at the amount repayable on a loan from Moneywise compared to those offered by doorstep lenders, loan sharks and internet payday loan services to see why this issue is so important."

News on the hour

The top headlines at 16:00 include:

  • BBC Tees: The Prime Minister David Cameron has told BBC Tees there is an economic North and South divide - and he wants to rebalance it.
  • BBC Newcastle: The trial of former television weatherman Fred Talbot hears more evidence from one of the former schoolboys who claims he sexually assaulted them.

Winter bites

Hartlepool Mail

Community nurses are drafted into key roles on Teesside hospital wards as pressure mounts due to winter weather.

University Hospital of Hartlepool
Hartlepool Mail

District nurses and non-clinical staff who work in schools or in the community are being employed on wards to help cope with an increase in patients.

'Like a little stealth bomber'

Neil Oxley, Look North

Filming with one of Lord Sugar's apprentices,

Katie Bulmer-Cooke, today. It's a bit fresh at the seaside though.

Neil Oxley and Lord Sugar's apprentice candidate
BBC

Fire service response changes

The

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service is changing the way it responds to some fire alarms to stop wasting resources on false call outs.

Crews will no longer respond to automatic fire alarms in shops and business premises during working hours, unless a back-up call confirms a physical sign of fire.

However, the service said the changes do not relate to residential properties, which will always be attended immediately.

Mike Ashley's share sale in focus

So the numbers surrounding Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley's decision to sell some of his stake in Sports Direct are quite large - so we've tried to break them down a bit.

The billionaire made £110,880,000 in a day by offloading 15 million shares -

that means he could buy nearly 70 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport hypercars (yours for just £1.6m each).

Bugatti Veyron
Other

Failing that, if he's feeling peckish, he could buy 138,600,000 Greggs sausage rolls at 80p a pop - that's enough to have one every second for the next four years and three months. Tasty.

News on the hour

The top headlines at 15:00 include:

Sunderland jewellers robbed

Cash and jewellery were stolen during a robbery at a jewellers in Sunderland city centre.

A member of staff at the store in Athenaeum Street also suffered minor injuries during the raid yesterday morning.

Burning vehicle
Northumbria Police

Northumbria Police said the offenders made off in a silver Mazda MX5 that was later found abandoned and set on fire in Sheepfolds Industrial Estate.

Apology over Coast Road delays

Northern Gas Networks has thanked drivers for their patience during emergency repairs to a pipeline on a major Tyneside road.

The work has been leading to long delays on both carriageways of the A1058 Coast Road around Wallsend.

Barry Watson, customer operations manager for the company, said: "We need to excavate on the leak itself, repair it then fully reinstate the crash barrier, which could take three days. I do apologise and thank the general public for their patience."

Grab a glitter ball

Disco divas will be able to grab a slice of nightclub history as a venue in Hartlepool sells off its fixtures and fittings.

Zeus in Whitby Street closed its doors in October and its glitter balls, bar stools and music system are going under the hammer.

Glitter ball - generic
BBC

Stokesley-based specialists

Lithgows, which is holding the auction, says there has been interest from people all over the country.

Police raids yield five arrests

Five man have been arrested in a series of raids across County Durham.

Durham Constabulary targeted seven addresses in Peterlee, Easington, Easington Colliery, New Brancepeth and Langley Moor.

The men, aged between 26 and 34, are being questioned on suspicion of sexual offences and harassment. Supt Andy Huddleston, of

Durham Police, said: "This operation comes on the back of information from local residents."

Fire death jury out

The Gazette

A jury has retired to consider its verdict in the trial of a man accusing of murdering a vulnerable woman in her North Ormesby home.

Heroin addict David McCabe is accused of starting a fire in which Teresa Ryan died.

Teresa Ryan
Gazette

The 32-year-old had admitted entering her home and stealing items, but said the fire must have started accidentally after he left.

Your photos: Snow wall

Kevin Redpath sent us this image of snow-covered Hadrian's Wall near Haltwhistle in Northumberland.

Hadrian's Wall
Kevin Redpath

You can send your pictures by

email or tweet us
@BBCNewsNE.

Jewellery robbery car appeal

Detectives investigating an armed raid at

Market Cross Jewellers in Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough, are appealing for information about a car which they believe may have been used by the robbers.

A light green Peugeot 307, with false registration plates, was found abandoned in the Gresham area shortly after the incident on Saturday 17 January.

Cleveland Police has linked that robbery with one at the Yarm branch in November. In both cases valuable items including watches were taken.

News on the hour

The top headlines at 13:00 include:

Labour 'disappointed' at UKIP defection

Labour councillors in Bishop Auckland say they feel "disappointed and let down" after

the mayor defected to UKIP.

Colin Race claimed the party he once knew "was no more".

Councillor Colin Race
Bishop Auckland Town Council

Ann Golightly said fellow Labour town councillors were not told of his decision until the meeting, which was "jammed full of UKIP members, which was very intimidating".

She said: "We feel now that the council is a stage for the dubious policies of UKIP."

NE unemployment hits five-year low

David Rhodes

Politics Reporter, BBC North East and Cumbria

The latest unemployment figures for the North East show that unemployment in our region has fallen to a five-year low.

The latest figures show that 110,000 people in our region don't have a job. That's a fall of 19,000 compared with the same period in 2013.

That means the unemployment rate for the North East now stands at 8.5%, which is still the highest rate in the UK. Nationally the UK unemployment rate fell as well to 5.8%.

Administration for Rex Hotel

The Chronicle

Newspaper

A landmark hotel in North Tyneside has gone into administration.

The Rex, in Whitley Bay, has been suffered from

"spiralling debts and difficult trading conditions".

Rex Hotel
Chronicle

However, after the administrators entered into a licence agreement with the purchaser of the building, trading will continue under new ownership.

Ashley's holding now worth £2.3bn

Mike Ashley has sold more than £110m worth of Sports Direct shares, but he still owns 330,000,000 of them, or 55.14% of the company.

If he got the same price for those as he did when he sold the latest tranche (720p), that would value his holding at £2.376bn.

Mike Ashley
AP

But that will remain a fortune on paper for the time being,

as he has agreed not to sell any more of his shares for at least the next 169 days.

Wrong number woe for firm

The Shields Gazette

A

South Shields company is being inundated with calls from irate pensioners seeking financial advice.

Control Networks provides IT and support services, but has a similar number to the hotline set up by the savings group selling Government bonds.

Paul Howden
Shields Gazette

Company boss Paul Howden said his staff are getting up to 30 of the calls a day, but are managing to remain patient and understanding.

Mike Ashley nets £110m windfall

Shares in

Sports Direct fell 4.7% at one point this morning after it emerged that the firm's founder, Mike Ashley, has reduced his stake in the company to 55%.

The Newcastle United owner

pocketed more than £110m after offloading 15,400,000 shares at 720p.

Sports Direct
PA

Man hurt in snowball attack

A man was left with facial injuries after being attacked by 12 people throwing snowballs.

The 55-year-old fell to the ground as he was attempting to flee the snowball attack near Stainton Way in Middlesbrough on Sunday, and was punched in the face when he tried to stand up.

Cleveland Police described it as unprovoked attack by a group of people in their mid and late teens.

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Two men charged over murder bid

Two men have been charged with attempted murder following a disturbance in Gateshead.

It comes after two men were taken to hospital, one with stab wounds to his back, the other with serious facial injuries, early on Sunday.

A 26-year-old man appeared before Gateshead Magistrates' Court yesterday and was remanded in custody, and another man, also 26, is due to appear later.

Newcastle 'can wait for right man'

Newcastle's managing director says the club is prepared to wait to the end of the season to appoint the right head coach.

Lee Charnley

told the Chronicle that although his preference was to find someone to bring in straight away, if necessary, he would wait until summer for the right individual.

Lee Charnley
Getty Images

John Carver has been the club's caretaker since 3 January, when Alan Pardew left for Crystal Palace.

Streets like 'Wacky Races'

Hartlepool Mail

A Hartlepool pub landlord has called on the council to take action over

vehicles that he says are clogging the streets and causing problems.

Alan Hay
Hartlepool Mail

Alan Hay, of The Ship, in Middlegate, has likened the situation to the TV cartoon Wacky Races.