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Summary

  1. Updates on Wednesday 18 March 2015
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates return at 08:00 Thursday

Live Reporting

By Julie Cush

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good evening

Today's Local Live updates have now finished. We will be back with more news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 tomorrow.

A cloudy night

Lisa Gallagher

Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

A few clear spells then mainly cloudy tonight, with some mist and fog patches in places particularly towards the coast.

A chilly night with a slight frost where skies clear for a time.

LISA
BBC

Minimum Temperature: 2C (36F)

On tonight's Look North

Carol Malia

BBC Look North presenter

Our Political Editor Richard Moss has been looking at what the Budget might mean for us and he will join me to explain it.

CCTV footage has been released which shows the dramatic moment when a shopkeeper in County Durham put his own life in danger to protect his employee.

And we'll find out how we can enjoy the spectacle of Friday's partial solar eclipse without risking our eyesight.

Join me for this and all our other stories on BBC One at 18:30.

Gallery of shimmering Northern lights

We have been inundated with outstanding pictures of last night's "shimmering visual feast" of the Northern Lights that burst on to the skyline.

Jacqui Mair, who took this spectacular snap in Slaley, Northumberland, said it was well worth waiting for the cloud to clear.

Northern Lights at Slaley, Northummberland
Jacqui Mair

Also known as the Aurora Borealis, the phenomenon was caused by electrically-charged particles from the sun entering the earth's atmosphere.

Increased solar activity meant that thousands of people in the northern hemisphere caught a glimpse of the coloured lights.

Here are some of the best ones from the North East.

Arrests in armed robberies probe

BBC Tees

Police investigating armed robberies at Market Cross Jewellers in Yarm and Middlesbrough arrest two men in Stockton.

Armed robbery at jewellers
BBC

Thousands raised in memory of South Shields mother Melissa Liddle

The Shields Gazette

A picture of mum Melissa Liddle is being used to front

a campaign which has already raised £3,000 to support her sons.

The 23-year-old, who was mum to Lewis, five, and baby Ollie, was found dead at her home in Oak Avenue in Cleadon Park, South Shields, on Sunday.

Her partner Anthony Edward Ross, 24, stood before South Tyneside Magistrate's Court yesterday, charged with her murder.

He was remanded and will appear before Newcastle Crown Court tomorrow.

Johnson eligible to play

BBC Sport

Sunderland's Adam Johnson will be available to play for new manager Dick Advocaat this weekend after

the club lifted his suspension following his arrest.

The 27-year-old England international had been suspended by the club after he was arrested on suspicion of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

adam johnson
Getty Images

His police bail was extended and Durham Police says: "The police investigation remains very much live and ongoing and a man remains on bail while enquiries continue.

"We would once again urge those posting on social media to be aware of the effects their comments can have. We accept rumour and speculation may be inevitable, but many of the comments have been distressing to the complainant, her family and people connected with the investigation."

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 17:00 include:

  • BBC Newcastle: Sunderland lift their suspension of midfielder Adam Johnson following an extension to his police bail
  • BBC Tees: Six years after chef Claudia Lawrence vanished, police promise further arrests.

Budget 2015: Local reaction

George Osborne spoke of some new investments for manufacturing

during the Budget.

However, Pamela Petty, who is the Managing Director of Ebac in County Durham, which makes washing machines, said she'd hoped for more:

pamela petty
BBC

She says "There's a massive emphasis on doing more exports but there's a lot of things that we use everyday that we could make here in the UK."

Sunderland statement about Adam Johnson's return

BBC Sport

In its statement about

Adam Johnson returning to training, Sunderland said it had discussed the situation with both the Professional Footballers Association and the player's representatives.

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson
Getty Images

It said: "In line with those discussions we recognise that the player is entitled to re-commence his duties with the club while the legal process continues. He will therefore return to training.

"The club's own investigation cannot continue until the conclusion of the legal process.

"Sunderland AFC will make no further comment on the matter due to the ongoing police investigation."

BreakingJohnson back training at Sunderland

Adam Johnson is to return to training at Sunderland after the club announced his suspension has been lifted.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 16@00 include:

  • BBC Newcastle: More local reaction to measures announced in the budget.
  • BBC Tees: Six years after chef Claudia Lawrence vanished, police promise further arrests.

The comedian who can't speak

Lee Ridley is a comedian with a difference.

He has cerebral palsy and, as a result, isn't able to speak. He has to tell his jokes through a communication aid - rather like the one used by the scientist Prof Stephen Hawking.

Lee Ridley
BBC

He has been

speaking to Joel Cox, of the BBC World Services' Outlook, from his home town of Newcastle.

Motorcyclist 'critical' after swerving off road

A motorcyclist is in a critical condition after swerving off a Nothumberland road.

Northumbria Police officers are

trying to piece together what happened after the 19-year-old was found injured near the C154 road between Whalton and Meldon, west of Morpeth, on Monday evening.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 15:00 include:

  • BBC Newcastle: Ed Miliband claims 75% bigger cuts to councils in the North than other parts of the country.
  • BBC Tees: Six years after chef Claudia Lawrence vanished, police promise further arrests.

Indoor food market for 'rundown' town

Council chiefs in Middlesbrough have announced plans for an indoor food market they say will transform a rundown area of town and attract visitors.

An artist's impression of the proposed indoor food market in Middlesbrough
BBC

It will be modelled on London's successful Borough Market.

A scheme has also been unveiled to regenerate the Gresham area after plans to demolish 1,500 homes there had to be scrapped because of funding problems.

Northern Lights cast 'celestial' light

Skygazers were treated to another spectacular display of the Northern Lights over the North East.

Aurora
Graeme Bowser

Increased solar activity caused the colourful phenomenon in the early hours, the Met Office said.

Graeme Bowser took this spectacular snap from one of the best vantage points - Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland.

Woman remains in hospital after Sunderland arson attack

Sunderland Echo

A woman remains in hospital after

a Sunderland home was targeted in an arson attack.

The 36-year-old and a 35-year-old man had to be rescued by firefighters from a terraced cottage in Hendon Burn Avenue after it was set alight.

Both were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

More on ruptured gas main in Mickley

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

Nine houses and a garage in West Road, Mickley, have been evacuated, police said.

A cordon remains in force and a section of the A695 between New Ridley Road and West Road is still closed to traffic.

Police say they are working with other agencies to get the incident resolved as soon as possible.

Anger at 70-minute wait for ambulance

News Post Leader

A mother has called it a disgrace that her son

waited more than an hour for an ambulance after he was injured in a collision with a car.

Ten-year-old Mason Chrisp, from Blyth, was injured in the incident in Renwick Road, following which there was a 70-minute wait for an ambulance that failed to materialise.

Suffering a broken collar bone, cuts and bruises, the youngster was eventually taken to hospital by a paramedic in a rapid response car.

Ex-home of Bishop revamp plan approved

The first stage of a multi million-pound project to transform the former home of the Bishops of Durham has been approved by planners.

A £2.5m Welcome Centre, featuring a 95ft (29m) tower, to be built in the centre of Bishop Auckland has been backed by Durham County Council.

Artist's impression of revamp
Durham County Council

It will be the gateway to a proposed £17m museum at Auckland Castle - home to the Bishops of Durham for 800 years.

A year-long construction programme is due to begin in August.

Consideration over Advocaat's replacement

Northern Echo

Sunderland are already weighing up Dick Advocaat's successor just 24 hours after the experienced Dutchman started work as the club's new head coach.

Advocaat has told the Black Cats that he is willing to take on the task of keeping them in the Premier League but he is not interested in staying in the role beyond this season at this stage.

Durham duo picked for West Indies

BBC Sport

The Durham duo of Ben Stokes and Mark Wood have been called up for England's forthcoming test tour of The West Indies.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes (centre)
Getty Images

22-year-old Stokes (pictured) has played six tests and 24 one day internationals but spent January and February with the England Lions after being left out of the world cup squad.

Wood, who is 24, was on the same England Lions tour but has not played for the senior England side in any format.

The test series begins on 13 April in Antigua.

It means neither player will be available for Durham for at least the first month of the domestic season.

What will the Budget mean for the North East?

George Osborne is due to deliver the final Budget of this Parliament at 12:30.

Budget live page
BBC

You can read live updates from BBC News before, during and after the speech

here.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 12:00 include:

Ruptured gas pipe forces road closure

A section of road in Northumberland has been closed because of a gas leak, police said.

Police sign on jacket
BBC

Just after 10:00, workmen in West Road in Mickley ruptured a gas main causing a leak and nearby properties had to be evacuated.

A cordon is in place and the emergency services are at the scene.

The A695 is currently closed between New Ridley Road and West Road Prudhoe and diversions are in place.

Thousands still jobless as figures fall

David Rhodes

Politics Reporter, BBC North East and Cumbria

The North East has seen the biggest quarterly fall in its unemployment rate of any region in the UK, according to North BBC Political Reporter David Rhodes.

However, that means there are still 99,000 people in the North East without a job.

Job centre
PA

The figures from the Office For national Statistics show that over the last three months 19,000 fewer people are now unemployed in our region.

That's a fall of 1.4% which is

the biggest quarterly fall of any region in the UK.

Our region still has the highest unemployment rate in the country - 7.7% compared to the national average of 5.7%.

Sunderlands reviews Adam Johnson suspension

Sunderland are to review their

suspension of midfielder Adam Johnson.

Adam Johnson
Getty Images

The 27-year-old England international had his bail extended following his arrest on suspicion of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.

In a statement, Sunderland said: "Following the police decision, the club will be reviewing its position."

Eating disorder group thrown a lifeline

A project aimed at helping young people in the north-east of England with eating disorders is among three in the region to receive Big Lottery funding.

Big Lottery Fund
presser

Newcastle-based NIWE Eating Distress Service will use the £353,493 to offer help to 3,000 vulnerable young people.

A scheme to turn a former library in Sunderland into a community hub receives £428,000.

Newcastle's Live Theatre gets £353,000 to develop drama projects for disadvantaged youngsters in the city.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 11:00 include:

Four more charged in 'sex abuse' inquiry

Four more men have been charged as part of Operation Sanctuary - a long-running inquiry into sex crimes against vulnerable women and girls on Tyneside.

Northumbria Police car
BBC

The accused - ranging in age from 23 to 41 - have been charged with various offences including rape, supply of mephedrone; as well as kidnap and false imprisonment.

This brings the total number of people charged in the Northumbria Police investigation to 25 - with more than 120 arrests.

All four will appear before Newcastle Magistrates' Court on March 30.

Ambulance bosses deny Hartlepool A&E closure is to blame for delays

Hartlepool Mail

Ambulance bosses have denied that the closure of Hartlepool's A&E department

has led to increased delays in their response times.

Latest figures from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) show it dealt with 36,650 incidents in the Hartlepool and Stockton area in the 12 months up to February.

Aurora Borealis bursts into life over Northumberland

Julie Cush

BBC News

People across the North East have been enjoying

the celestial display of the Aurora Borealis - or Northern Lights.

The phenomenon is caused by eruptions on the surface of the Sun, and this most recent activity has been unexpectedly strong.

The Aurora
Nigel Eve

Nigel Eve was lucky enough to catch this burst of colour in the early hours at Grindon Lough, near Bardon Mill, in Northumberland.

Did you see the Northern Lights last night? Send us in your pics via

email, or tweet us
@BBCNewsNE.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 10:00 include:

Middlesbrough up to second in the league

BBC Sport

Patrick Bamford's 16th goal of the season earned Middlesbrough victory against promotion rivals Derby County.

The on-loan Chelsea forward (pictured right) scored for the third time in two games to stretch the Rams' winless run to five matches.

Patrick Bamford
Getty Images

Bamford rounded goalkeeper Lee Grant to open the scoring against his old club from a narrow angle in the 64th minute.

Middlesbrough rise to second place after a fourth victory in six games, and are five points ahead of Steve McClaren's fifth-place Derby side.

Teacher sacked after allegedly texting pupil 'wish you were here' from bath

Northern Echo

A teacher has been sacked after

allegedly texting a pupil from his bath 'wish you were here'.

The male teacher from Richmond School is facing disciplinary action for having inappropriate contact with a female student who was aged over 16.