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  1. Updates on Wednesday 1 February 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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  1. Our live coverage across the day

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

    You can find the latest news tonight on BBC TeesBBC NewcastleLook North and online.

    We'll be back with more news, sport, weather and travel at 08:00 tomorrow.

    You can get in touch using TwitterFacebook, or via email at

  2. Weather: Turning drier and brighter

    BBC Weather

    It will gradually turn drier and brighter from the west during this afternoon with perhaps a few spells of sunshine.

    Turning milder with a southerly breeze.

    Weather forecast

    Maximum temperature: 9C (48F). Check the forecast near you.

  3. Water charges set to rise

    Northumbrian Water has announced a charge increase which will put £12 a year on the average household bill.

    The company says that with an average annual charge of £390, it will still be charging consumers less than the national average.

    Northumbrian Water says it is continuing investment in the pipe network and maintaining and improving drinking water quality.

    It is also spending £180m this year on essential pipework renewal, including the sewer network in Sunderland and Whitburn.

  4. Weather: Brollies and hair spray might be needed

    Owain Wyn Evans

    Weather presenter, BBC Look North

    It's going to turn unsettled - here's a little update about how the rest of the week is looking.

    View more on twitter
  5. North East trial date for easier and cheaper train tickets

    Passengers using cross-country train routes could save up to £260 a journey, under a trial scheme to simplify fares.

    The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, says the 16 million fares currently on offer are "baffling" for passengers.

    It wants to ensure passengers are offered the cheapest possible fares.

    A trial is starting in May on cross country and Virgin trains - both of which operate in the North East.

  6. Hoarding history

    Middlesbrough Town Hall is having a facelift - and the council's taking the opportunity to put the town's history is on show during the work.

    Large hoardings around the building follow a timeline of Middlesbrough's history - from the small hamlet of 1801 to the major town it is today.

    Councillor Lewis Young says he hopes the history trail will whet the appetite of passers-by to find out more about the town's history and think about its future.

    Councillor Lewis Young with the town hall hoardings
  7. Consett smell investigation to take place in March

    BBC Newcastle

    People in Consett have told us an unpleasant smell coming from an eco-friendly energy plant is making their lives a misery.

    Residents say an anaerobic digester - which converts grass and crops into power - is causing a smell of rotten eggs.

    They say it's been going on for two years and they're frustrated by the lack of communication from its owners Generation X.

    The company says it is "actively engaged with the local Environmental Health Office in order to resolve this issue and has invited it to inspect the site in March".

  8. Finley Ingles and his family are on their way to Anerica

    Stuart Whincup

    BBC Look North

    I've been with the family of Finley Ingles today as they set off from Middlesbrough for America where he will have treatment.

    The five-year-old has a rare brain tumour which means he can suffer many seizures a day.

    His only chance of a normal life is to undergo laser surgery in Texas and his family raised £200,000 to pay for the trip and the treatment.

    View more on twitter
  9. The storm which left a Hartlepool road covered in boulders

    Hartlepool Mail


    In 1978, Hartlepool experienced a storm which pretty much threw a lot of everything at the town.

    The damage on the Central Estate
  10. AEI Cables redundancy bill to be paid by taxpayer

    Mark Denten

    BBC Look North

    Creditors of AEI Cables in Birtley have voted to approve plans which mean the firm won't have to pay more than 200 workers redundancy money.

    The firm, owned by Dubai based Ducab group, has a Company Voluntary Arrangement meaning taxpayers pay the redundancy bill so workers will get reduced payouts.

    It says the CVA process means work can continue until March and creditors can be paid and 13 sales jobs will be retained.

    The redundancy bill is thought to be £3m.

    In January, a letter sent to employees said attempts to find a buyer had failed and that contracts had been terminated.

  11. Norma Bell death: Foster mother had 'heart as big as a lion'

    The family of murdered Norma Bell have paid tribute to her, saying the pensioner had a "heart as big as a lion".

    Outside Teesside Crown Court where her killer Gareth Dack was convicted of murder, they made an emotional statement to the dedicated foster mother who, with her late husband John, looked after more than 50 children in Hartlepool.

    Norma Bell

    The family statement said: "Norma Bell was our confidant, our friend, our crutch to lean on, our shoulder to cry on and, not least, she was our mam."

    The family said she dedicated her adult life to fostering "looking after children in need, giving them a home, love and a little hope.

    "Gareth Dack brutally murdered our mother in the place she should have been safest and then burnt out the family home, destroying everything she had for a few quid to feed his drug habit and his actions have left us all in pieces", it said.

  12. Murderer wanted to cause explosion in victim's house

    A "penniless" thief has been found guilty of murdering a foster mother and setting fire to her house to destroy the evidence.  

    The father-of-four started fires in Mrs Bell's terraced home and turned on the gas in a bid to cause an explosion.

    Dack, who had borrowed £10 from his victim the weekend before, claimed he was not responsible and told the court she was a "wonderful woman".

    Living Room

    DNA matches were found inside the property, which Dack claimed were a result of him carrying out odd jobs for the pensioner.

    When he was asked why he did not answer detectives' questions after he was arrested, he could only say he thought the police were corrupt and had not wanted to help.

    He was found guilty of murder and arson.

  13. Footie fan nets 56 train tickets to save £56

    A football fan from Washington was surprised to receive 56 separate tickets when he booked a split ticket between Newcastle and Oxford for an FA Cup match on Saturday.

    Jonny Heywood used a split ticket to cut the cost of his trip, saving £56.

    His tweet prompted other people to tell of their own thriftiness, including one football fan who posted a picture of a mound of tickets for a trip to see Southampton, which he said saved him £30.

    The 56 tickets
  14. Premature baby's parents weigh in for hospital

    Russ Ward

    BBC Newcastle

    The Sunderland parents of a premature baby have launched a fundraising appeal for the hospital that saved his life.

    Theo Dawes was born 10 weeks premature and weighed 2lbs (0.9kg).

    Cared for at Sunderland Royal's neonatal intensive care unit, 15-week-old Theo now weighs 10lbs (4.5kg) and is recovering at home.


    His parents are holding a fundraising day at the Alexandra Hotel in Sunderland on 24 February in the hope of raising £21,000 to buy an incubator for the neonatal unit.

    Theo with his parents
  15. Murderer used victim's phone to call sex chat line

    Fiona Trott

    BBC News

    A small-time cocaine dealer from Teesside has been found guilty of "the brutal and unnecessary murder" of a grandmother and setting fire to her home.

    Norma Bell, 79, was well known in her community, because she'd fostered more than 50 children during her life.

    Mrs Bell was generous and kind. So kind, that Teesside Crown Court heard she'd loaned money to the man who days later, strangled her with a cable.

    Then, as she lay dying or dead, father-of-four Gareth Dack, 33, used her phone to call a sex chat line.

    He then tried to cover his tracks and set her Hartlepool home on fire. But his DNA was found at the scene.

    He told the jury it was because he did odd jobs for the widow shortly before she died. They did not believe him and today found him guilty of murder and arson.

    He will be sentenced on Thursday.

  16. Man guilty of murdering foster mother

    A drug dealer murdered an elderly woman and set fire to her house, a jury has found.

    Norma Bell's body was found in her burning home in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, in April.

    The 79-year-old had been strangled with a cable.

    Gareth Dack was found guilty at Teesside Crown Court.

    Normal Bell