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  1. Updates on Thursday 14 December 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

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

You can stay in touch with the latest news overnight on BBC Tees, BBC Newcastle, Look North, and online.

If you've got a story or a picture you'd like to share with us you can tweet us @BBCNewsNE, email or contact us via Look North's Facebook page.

We're back tomorrow from 08:00.

Sir Ian Botham named president of Scunthorpe United by chairman Peter Swann

United says former cricketer and player recognised for charity work
Cabbie risks licence for Christmas cheer
A taxi driver has been asked to remove festive car stickers which he says spread Christmas cheer.
Bridge collapse

Heavy machinery on the back of Alan Austen's lorry struck a pedestrian bridge on the M20.

Read more

Extra role for Durham's chairman Sir Ian Botham

BBC Newcastle

The new Durham chairman Sir Ian Botham has landed another role.

He has been appointed president of League One football club Scunthorpe United.

The 62-year-old former England all-rounder had a brief career as a footballer, back in the days when professionals were allowed to play both sports and featured for The Iron 11 times between 1980 and 1985.

He took over as chairman of Durham Cricket Club earlier this year after the side was relegated by the ECB over financial issues.

Lorry driver pleads guilty to M20 bridge crash

A lorry driver from Darlington has been spared jail after he admitted dangerous driving by crashing into a motorway bridge and causing £1.5m of damage.

Heavy machinery on the back of a lorry being driven by 64-year-old Alan Austen struck the M20 footbridge on August 27 last year.

Aerial view of M20 footbridge collapse

The impact caused the bridge, between junctions four and three, to collapse on to the London-bound carriageway at Ryarsh in Kent.

No one was killed but a pensioner broke three of his ribs when he fell off to avoid the fallen bridge.

Austen began to shake as Judge Philip Statman handed down the 12-month suspended sentence that included 200 hours of unpaid work which he must complete within a year.

Austen must also pay £500 in costs and was banned from driving for three years.

Severe disruption: A19 County Durham southbound

BBC News Travel

A19 County Durham southbound severe disruption, between Shotton Bank and A181.

A19 County Durham - Slow traffic and a lane closed on A19 southbound in Shotton between the Shotton Bank junction and the A181 junction, because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Newcastle racecourse donates unwanted snacks to the People's Kitchen

We spotted this lovely gesture from Newcastle Racecourse:

View more on twitter

Student becomes one of the youngest councillors in the country.

Jack Cunningham may only be 19 but he's already got his sights set on a future in politics.

He's just been elected as a councillor for Hetton Downs ward in County Durham.

Jack Cunningham
University of Sunderland
Jack Cunningham

I don’t think your age should be an issue, it’s what someone can give to a role and what expertise they have that matters, not age.”

Jack CunninghamCouncillor, Hetton Downs

This means he's now one of the youngest councillors in the country.

He's going to busy though as he's currently studying politics with sociology at the University of Sunderland.

Newcastle 0-1 Everton: Rafa Benitez believes that the mistakes were avoidable
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez says his side's 1-0 defeat at home against Everton could have been avoided after making several mistakes.

Trauma teds are latest police recruits

You're only little and you've just been involved in a car accident.

What would make you feel better? A teddy?

Police officers have been giving out cuddly toys to young children during a pilot scheme that just covered Newcastle.

It's proved so popular that now all Northumbria Police patrol cars will have knitted "trauma" teddy bears on board just in case any little passengers need a cuddle.

Trauma Teds at front desk in Washington police station
Northumbria police

"This is a really fantastic scheme that has already had a number of success stories in Newcastle during the pilot."

Chief Inspector Clare LangleyNorthumbria police
"Skeleton 22"

The Scottish soldier's skeleton, dating from 1650, was found in a mass grave near Durham Cathedral.

Read more

Row, row your boat very quickly across an ocean!

They've done their training. They're on the start line. Not long before their challenge begins.

Three friends from Northumberland and Cumbria are taking part in this year's Transatlantic rowing race.

View more on twitter

The Four Oarsmen will be rowing more than 3,000 nautical miles across the world’s second largest ocean as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Once they leave the shores of La Gomera in the Canaries, the elements, ungodly sleep patterns and stormy seas will slowly impact on them both physically and mentally.

Doctor Who Christmas grand tour begins in Hartlepool tonight

Doctor Who fans who can't wait until 25 December to see the annual Christmas special can enjoy a preview tonight in Hartlepool.

Peter Capaldi as Dr Who
Peter Capaldi as Dr Who

The last few moments will still be kept a surprise until the BBC One broadcast on Christmas Day.

The ticket-only event is part of a Christmas grand tour of the North.

This year's episode will feature Peter Capaldi as the Doctor for the last time.

Newcastle 0-1 Everton: Sam Allardyce is baffled by Everton's previous defensive problems
Everton manager Sam Allardyce believes his players had the drive to grind out a 1-0 win over Newcastle and is baffled as to why Everton conceded so many goals with this defence before his arrival.

Moody start to Thursday morning

Joanne Carter

Video Journalist

Can you guess the beach where this lovely shot was taken this morning.

Clue? It's in South Shields...

If you've got any photos you'd like to share with us - get in touch.

You can tweet them to @BBCNewsNE or post them via Look North's Facebook page.

A beach in South Shields
Wayne Rooney and Mohamed Diame challenge for the ball

Greg O'Keeffe

BBC Sport

Wayne Rooney's solitary goal is enough for Everton to win their first Premier League away game since January against luckless Newcastle.

Read more

Ashley's Sports Direct sees profits slump

Mike Ashley's Sports Direct has seen half-year profits dented as the retailer signalled sales in the UK fell following store closures, reduced online promotions and as a result of the weak pound.

The retailer said pre-tax profits plunged 67.3% to £45.8m in the 26 weeks to October 29, which the Newcastle United owner put down to "transitional factors such as the disposal of assets".

The retailer said underlying profits were still healthy - up 22.9% to £88m.

Mr Ashley also said its new flagship stores, designed to move the discount brand up-market, were trading well.

Sports Direct store

Lead thieves cause £30,000 damage to church

BBC Tees

Lead thieves have caused damage estimated at £30,000 to a County Durham church.

Durham Police said St Edmund's Church in Sedgefield was targeted by metal thieves who caused damage to the roof and the building's interior.

St Edmund's Chruch
Sunderland Civic Centre

The organisation defends its spending as part of its efforts to turn around services in Sunderland.

Read more

MP welcomes plan for tougher animal cruelty sentences

BBC Tees

Redcar Labour MP Anna Turley has welcomed a draft bill that would see tougher animal cruelty sentences.

The legislation could increase the jail term for animal welfare offences increase from six months to five years.

Ms Turley has already called for the increase in a Private Members' Bill.

A consultation on the legislation ends on 31 January.

Anna Turley
Getty Images

Wintry showers over hills. Sunnier in the east.

Abbie Dewhurst

Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

Showers will be mainly confined to higher ground and falling as snow on hills.

Sunny spells are likely, the best of which will be towards eastern coastal areas.

Weather map

It will remain cold with brisk winds over hills, but these should ease later into the afternoon.

Maximum temperatures should peak at 4C (39F).

Check the forecast where you are.

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.

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In that case you can tweet them to @BBCNewsNE, email or post them via Look North's Facebook page.