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  1. Updates on Thursday 29 June 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

That's all for today - thank you for joining us.

To keep up with what's happening overnight, head to BBC Tees, BBC Newcastle, Look North, and online.

You can tweet your photos to @BBCNewsNE, email them, or contact us via our Facebook page.

We'll be back tomorrow from 08:00. Have a great evening.

We'll leave you with this photo of a wild sea at Tynemouth taken by Press Association photographer Owen Humphreys.

Sea at Tynemouth

Weather: Staying clouding and damp with drier spells later

It will remain generally cloudy and damp through the evening and overnight, with further spells of mostly light rain and drizzle.

Some lengthier drier spells should develop towards the end of the night, but it will remain cloudy.

Minimum Temperature: 13C (55F).

Fischer leaves Middlesbrough

BBC Sport

Mainz have signed winger Victor Fischer from Middlesbrough on a four-year contract.

The 23-year-old Denmark international, who joined Middlesbrough from Ajax at the start of last season, made just 13 Premier League appearances as the Teesside club were relegated from the top flight.

"Sporting director Rouven Schroeder and head coach Sandro Schwarz absolutely convinced me about the path Mainz is on," Fischer said. "I want to become a part of this team and this club quickly, find my form and show my qualities as an attacking player."

Victor Fischer
Getty Images

Inside Sunderland's women's refuge

Diane says she'd be dead without the women's refuge Wearside Women in Need (WWIN), near Sunderland.

The organisation helps women who've experienced domestic violence but Sunderland City Council failed to renew its contract in a recent round of cost-cutting measures.

Instead, the council is making some funds available for a new set-up and WWIN, which has operated in the area for decades, says it will be putting in a bid.

Inside the secret world of a women's refuge

St Cuthbert's coffin on the move

Coffin transported to new home for exhibition opening.

View more on twitter

Part-time Cleveland firefighters plan sparks row

BBC Tees

Cleveland Fire Brigade insists lives won't be put at risk by plans to appoint part-time firefighters.

They would provide an on-call service at eight stations across its area - and would need to live within five minutes of their station.

But the Fire Brigades Union says the number of firefighters in Cleveland has been reduced from 500 to 300 over the last decade and adds the move will risk the safety of the public and firefighters.

Community helps remove fallen tree

"Great community effort here after a tree blocked a road in Jesmond. Local roofing company coming to the rescue with their Stihl saw!" Northumbria Police said.

View more on twitter

There were also issues in Bishop Auckland...

View more on twitter

Man confronted by paedophile hunters

Sunderland Echo


A man was confronted by paedophile hunters after he arranged to a meet a 13-year-old girl.

Michael Nevin
Sunderland Echo

Six Darlington players named in England women's rugby squad

BBC Sport

Six players from Darlington Mowden Park Sharks have been named in the 28-player squad for August's Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland.

The squad includes Zoe Aldcroft, Heather Kerr, Abbie Scott, La Toya Mason, Tamara Taylor and Katy Mclean.

View more on twitter

Coast-to-coast walk raises fostering funds

Fostering experts in Middlesbrough have donned their walking boots for an 11-day coast-to-coast fundraising trek.

Beginning at St Bees, in Cumbria, last Friday, the 187-mile (300km) adventure will end at Robin Hood's Bay, North Yorkshire, on Monday.

Middlesbrough Council's family placement team is aiming to raise awareness of the need to recruit foster carers in the Tees Valley area.

It certainly looks picturesque if this photo of walk leader Brian Foulger and his wife Karen at Lining Crag above Borrowdale is anything to go by.

Brian Foulger and his wife Karen at Lining Crag above Borrowdale
Middlesbrough Council
Jermain Defoe

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe re-signs for former club Bournemouth on a free transfer.

Read more

New operating theatres close to open

BBC Tees

Patients at Darlington Memorial Hospital will soon receive treatment in six new state-of-the-art operating theatres.

Development work is almost complete and surgical teams will begin using them shortly.

It's all part of a £20m investment in the hospital.

View more on twitter

Bournemouth sign Jermain Defoe on three-year deal

BBC Sport

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has re-signed for former club Bournemouth on a free transfer.

The England international, 34, joined the Black Cats in January 2015, scoring 15 league goals last season.

The former Tottenham, Portsmouth, West Ham and Charlton player is seventh on the Premier League all-time goals list with 158 in 468 appearances.

A teenage Defoe spent the 2000-01 season on loan at Bournemouth from West Ham, scoring in 10 successive matches.

Defoe moved to Sunderland after a brief spell at MLS side Toronto and after saving the club from relegation in the 2015/16 season with 15 goals, he signed a contract extension until 2019.

Jermain Defoe
Getty Images

Cricket: Durham v Worcestershire abandoned in the rain

Martin Emmerson

BBC Newcastle

The umpires have abandoned play in Chester-le-Street following a 14:00 inspection. The covers are saturated and it appears some water may have got under them and on to the square as well.

It has been raining for more than 24 hours and the last play at the ground was at 17:25 on Tuesday.

It means Durham take eight points from the draw and Worcestershire 12.

As an experiment the pink ball match attracted slightly more supporters through the gate on the first day than normally expected, but since then it's been a damp squib.

Who knows? If this had been played last week, or the week before in the heat, it could have been a great success. But the consensus from BBC commentators across the country this week seems to be that it's an experiment they should not repeat next year.

Your photos: Tree sparrows on fence

Birds don't seem to mind the bad weather we are having.

Daz photographed theses two tree sparrows on his fence in Acklam.

Have you got any photos you'd like to share with us? In that case you can tweet them to @BBCNewsNE, email them, or contact us via our Facebook page.

Tree sparrows on fence

Sunderland takeover discussions end

BBC Sport

Along side the Grayson announcement, Sunderland have also confirmed that the proposed sale of the club is off.

The Black Cats say owner Ellis Short will "continue his commitment, financially and personally", after talks with a German consortium ended.

Sunderland are looking for a new manager to replace David Moyes.

The Scot resigned in May after the club's relegation from the top flight.

Sunderland said earlier in June that their search for a new manager was on hold while talks over a potential sale of the club were ongoing.

Kidney op girl Alice Skinner celebrates prom night
"It's quite exciting after everything I've been through."

Funeral announced for Olympic Torch hero Kieran Maxwell

The funeral of teenager Kieran Maxwell, who fell over when carrying the Olympic Torch and lost his battle with cancer earlier this month, is to take place on 3 July.

Kieran, 18, from Heighington, County Durham, was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma six years ago and lost part of his left leg.

In 2012, he stumbled to the ground and dropped the torch in Bishop Auckland, but carried on after being helped up.

Kieran Maxwell

His mother announced his death on 24 June, saying he had now "gained his wings".

In a statement his family said a private funeral would take place at St John’s Church in Shildon on Monday, followed a private cremation at Wear Valley Crematorium after the service.

Preston give permission to Grayson to speak to Sunderland

BBC Sport

Sunderland have approached Preston for permission to speak to manager Simon Grayson.

A Preston statement read: "Preston North End have today been contacted by Sunderland Football Club to ask permission to speak to Simon Grayson in relation to their vacant managerial position.

"Having spoken to Simon, he has asked permission to speak to the Black Cats and therefore the club had no option but to allow these conversations to take place, with a compensation package already guaranteed in his contract.

"Whilst these talks are ongoing, Steve Thompson will be in charge of first team affairs. The club will make no further comment at this stage."

David Moyes stood down as Sunderland boss following their relegation from the Premier League last season.

Sunderland given permission to speak to Simon Grayson

Sunderland have been given permission by Championship rivals Preston to speak to their manager Simon Grayson about their managerial vacancy.

The Black Cats are looking to replace David Moyes, who resigned in Mayfollowing Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League.

It's looking a little soggy at the Riverside

Martin Emmerson

BBC Newcastle

So things aren't looking good for the Durham v Worcestershire match today.

I think it's safe to say this one will be a draw.

View more on twitter

Severe disruption: A68 County Durham both ways

BBC News Travel

A68 County Durham both ways severe disruption, between B6275 and A688.

A68 County Durham - A68 in Bildershaw closed and slow traffic in both directions between the B6275 junction and the A688 junction, because of an overturned car.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Sunderland's Borini has AC Milan medical

Sunderland striker Fabio Borini is on his bike - and heading for a deal in Italy.

View more on twitter

Stagecoach hit by Virgin East Coast losses

Bill Wilson

BBC business reporter

Rail and bus operator Stagecoach Group has reported a 15.3% drop in full-year pre-tax profit after being hit with a £84m charge at its unprofitable Virgin East Coast rail franchise, of which it owns 90%.

Chief executive Martin Griffiths said revenue growth on the line had not met the expectations envisaged when it bid for the franchise in 2013-14.

Virgin train
Virgin Trains

After the announcement, Stagecoach's shares were trading down 11% at 180p, the lowest level since December 2009.

The group said it was making provisions to reflect losses over the next two years on the East Coast Line, which connects London and Edinburgh.

Tower block cladding 'passed fire safety checks'

Colin Briggs

Look North

Newcastle City Council has said cladding from five of its 38 tower blocks has passed fire safety checks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Residents have been critical of Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), which runs the properties on behalf of the authority, claiming fire risks are a threat to lives.

But the council released footage of tests on cladding from high rise blocks at Riverside Dene, which were done under the supervision of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

Newcastle City Council cladding fire test
Newcastle City Council

YHN has acknowledged that some fire doors in the blocks may not now be up to regulations and also pledged to consider installing sprinklers.

Angry protesters gathered at Newcastle Civic Centre last night to campaign for more action on fire safety in council-owned tower blocks.

YHN said it would continue to carry out further checks to reassure residents.

Rather cool and cloudy with persistent rain

Abbie Dewhurst

Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

It will stay cloudy, cool and wet pretty much throughout the day, with a northerly breeze, extensive low cloud and persistent rain.

The rain will be heaviest during the morning, becoming lighter and more intermittent as the day goes on.

Maximum temperatures are only likely to reach about 14C (57F).

Weather map

It will remaining generally cloudy and damp into the evening, with further spells of rain.

Some lengthier drier spells should develop towards dusk.

Rubbish blocking A19 at Seaham

Terminally ill Bradley Lowery 'deteriorating fast'

BBC Tees

The family of Bradley Lowery has revealed the six-year-old terminally ill youngster is "deteriorating fast".

Avid Sunderland fan Bradley, from Blackhall, near Hartlepool, has neuroblastoma and doctors have previously said there is nothing more they can do but give him palliative care.

His family has said his temperature is very high, his breathing very fast, his oxygen levels low and he is sleeping most of the time.

Bradley Lowery and Jermain Defoe

Bradley developed a firm friendship with former Sunderland star Jermain Defoe, who has pledged to keep in touch with the family despite his move to Premier League Bournemouth.

In a statement released on social media, Bradley's family said: "We knew this was coming, but we are heartbroken beyond words.

"We have been told he could be like this for days, it just depends on him and his body."

Welcome to our live coverage

Good morning and welcome to BBC Local Live.

We'll be with you throughout the day to bring you the latest news, weather, sport and travel updates from across the North East.

Have you got any photos you'd like to share with us? In that case you can tweet them to @BBCNewsNE, email them, or contact us via our Facebook page.