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  1. Updates on Thursday 7 January 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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  1. Our live coverage across the day

    Live updates for the North East have now finished. We'll have more news, sport, weather and travel from 08:00 on Friday.

    We hope you can join us then.

    If you'd like to get in touch you can tweet us, email, or contact us through our Facebook page.

  2. Simon Donald: Controversy is what Charlie Hebdo do

    BBC Newcastle

    Simon Donald, the co-creator of Viz, has been speaking to us about the latest controversial cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which marks a year since 11 of its journalists were killed by extremist gunmen.

    The new cover depicts God, bloodied and carrying a gun under the headline "One year on: The assassin still at large".

    Mr Donald said: "Controversy is what (Charlie Hebdo) do, I'm not saying some people won't be offended but the magazine are saying sticks and stones, we can say what we want but it's just words.

    "You would struggle to find a reasonable Muslim who objects to someone feeling hurt when 11 of their colleagues have been murdered, someone's come into their office and shot their friends dead then they should have their say about it."  

  3. Bid to restore former theatre-turned car parts shop

    Campaigners are calling for help to breathe new life into a "historic" former cinema in County Durham.

    The Electric Palace - later renamed The Empire - opened in Crook in November 1910 but was turned into a bingo hall in the late 1960s.

    The outside of the shop

    The building is currently home to a car parts firm but retains many of its original features.

    A campaign called Save the Empire Electric Palace Theatre aims transform it into an arts centre.

    Inside the old theatre
  4. Ambulance attacker's actions 'unacceptable'

    Both the North East Ambulance Service and Northumbria Police have welcomed an 18-week prison sentence for Byker woman Zoe Wheeler after she admitted causing £7,500 worth of damage to an ambulance which had been sent to help her.

    David Edwards from the ambulance service said: “We have a workforce of people who have dedicated themselves to saving and protecting the lives of people in our community and it is not acceptable that they have to experience any kind of abuse whilst at work.

    “Wheeler’s actions resulted in an ambulance being off the road for 17 days in total, preventing it from being used for patients in need, and cost the trust a considerable amount of money to fix."

    Ch Insp Nicola Musgrove said: "The North East Ambulance Service respond to the most vulnerable in our communities in times of desperate need and carry lifesaving equipment on board their vehicles. Violence or abuse towards them will not be tolerated."  

  5. Students reminded of burglary risk

    Northumbria Police is warning students returning to Sunderland after the Christmas break not to let burglars ruin their studies. Temporary Supt Sarah Pitt said: "Leaving a door unlocked or window open, especially if a laptop or mobile phone is left near, is like playing Russian roulette with burglars - it is only a matter of time before it will get stolen. 

    Burglar looks at laptop

    "And, with a number of students all living in one house a burglar can potentially make off with a number of high value items. "It's important to reiterate that students are no more likely to be targeted in Sunderland than in any other city across the country - but taking a few very simple crime prevention steps and a few moments to consider security measures can reduce the risk significantly."   

  6. Teenager suffers head injuries in bus crash

    A teenage girl is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after suffering head injuries when she was hit by a bus.

    The 15-year-old was struck in Blyth at about 08:35 this morning.

    The Great North Air Ambulance took five minutes to fly her to the major trauma unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

  7. Chapman: Less Labour disharmony than claimed

    BBC Tees

    Darlington MP Jenny Chapman has played down reports of disharmony in the Labour party after being appointed shadow education minister.

    She told us she asked for the role and said although she disagrees with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on some issues, she agrees with him on many more.

    Ms Chapman said: "There is a lot less disharmony than I think it looks in the media, people are getting on very well.

    "Most of us are trying very hard to make this work and represent our constituents, that's what we ought to be focusing on."

  8. Production paused at Nissan after gas pipe fractures

    Production was temporarily paused at the Nissan plant in Sunderland today after a gas pipe fractured, the company has confirmed.

    Nissan said the damage occurred while a contractor was working on site but it is being repaired.

    A company spokesman said: "We expect both lines to resume production this evening." 

  9. Taxi driver who helped attack victim sought

    A taxi driver who helped a man after he had been robbed in Middlesbrough is being sought by Cleveland Police.

    The 21-year-old victim was attacked by two people on bikes who hit him in the face and made off with money at about 12:30 on Sunday.

    A male taxi driver assisted the victim after the attack and police would like to speak to him.

    A 17-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of robbery and has been released on bail.

  10. Northumberland businessman backs flooding farmers' fields

    BBC Newcastle

    Farmers could be offered money if they allow their fields to flood in an effort to prevent greater damage downstream.

    The government says it's giving the idea some serious thought. One man in Northumberland who thinks it would work is Michael Flannagan.

    He runs the Border Forest Holiday Park, near the Scottish border, where a local burn runs into the River Rede and towards Corbridge.

    He said: "It would restrict the water when it built up and this valley would hold probably millions of gallons. If they did it in other valleys I'm sure farmers would co-operate to save people further downstream."

  11. Newcastle scientists prove 3D vision in praying mantis'

    Scientists at Newcastle University have created a pair of miniature glasses which proves the praying mantis can see in 3D.

    In a report published today, the academics said their findings, - which furthered work originally carried out in the 1980s by Samuel Rossel - could help develop 3D computers.

    Praying Mantis

    Professor Jenny Read said: "Despite their minute brains, mantises are sophisticated visual hunters which can capture prey with terrifying efficiency. We can learn a lot by studying how they perceive the world."

    In the experiments, mantises fitted with tiny glasses attached with beeswax were shown short videos of simulated bugs moving around a computer screen. 

    The mantises didn't try to catch the bugs when they were in 2D but when the bugs were shown in 3D, apparently floating in front of the screen, the mantises struck out at them. 

    Praying mantis
  12. Travel: A19 lane closed due to broken down vehicle

    BBC Travel

    One lane is closed and there is slow traffic on the A19 southbound between Herrington Interchange in Sunderland and the A1018 junction in Seaton because of a broken down vehicle.  

    For the latest updates visit the BBC travel website.

  13. A1 resurfacing work starts on Monday

    Work to resurface about four miles of the A1 in Northumberland will start on Monday.

    The southbound carriageway will be closed between Alnwick and Newton on the Moor so a contraflow system will be in place on the northbound side of the road.

    Highways England project manager Steve Bishop said: “Every effort is being made to ensure disruption to traffic and residents is kept to a minimum, and we’ll be using a contraflow system on the northbound carriageway to keep vehicles running in both directions.”

    The X15 Arriva bus service will be affected by the work but a shuttle bus has been arranged with Arriva to serve the villages of Hampeth and Shilbottle.

  14. Elderly woman hurt in Langley Park car crash

    An 73-year-old woman is said to be in a "poorly" condition in hospital with leg, hip and head injuries after being hit by a car in Langley Park yesterday.

    Durham Police is appealing for witnesses to the incident which occurred on Front Street at about 15:30.

    An 18-year-old man driving the blue Vauxhall Corsa was unhurt. 

    Acting Sgt Mark Sheppard said: “The area was very busy at that time of day and I would hope there will be witnesses who saw what happened.”    

  15. Woman jailed for £7,500 ambulance damage

    A woman who caused £7,500 worth of damage to the back of an ambulance during a midnight rampage has been jailed for 18 weeks.

    The damage

    Zoe Wheeler, 30, of Denmark Street, Byker, was sent an ambulance to Wallsend on 15 November but she became violent and ripped equipment away from the ambulance walls, scrawled graffiti on cupboards, and let off the vehicle’s fire extinguisher.

    The incident caused the crew to be off the road for several hours and resulted in the ambulance being off the road for 17 days.

    Wheeler admitted causing criminal damage and assaulting a police officer when she appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court. 

    She was also ordered to pay £500 compensation to the North East Ambulance Service.

  16. Gateshead vicar to appear on The Voice

    A vicar from Gateshead will appear on BBC show The Voice this Saturday.

    Revd John Barron, vicar for High Spen and Rowlands Gill, is a keen singer who regularly uses his musical talents in his day job.

    John Barron

    He said: “I have always enjoyed singing and it has something that has been with me long before I was ordained into the Church of England.

     “As well as singing hymns in church each Sunday, I enjoy singing musical theatre, classical, folk and opera  - I’m open to singing all genres."