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Talks to resume in bus drivers' pay row

Further talks will begin later to try to resolve a pay dispute involving Arriva bus drivers in the North East.

Drivers in Teesside, County Durham and parts of North Yorkshire held a week-long strike earlier this month and are set for a 10-day stoppage from 27 January.

The drivers are seeking an increase of £1 per hour as the Unite union says they are among the lowest paid among Arriva's national operation.

However, the company says its pay offer is already generous.

Two Arriva buses
PA

PM questioned about County Durham health budget

Richard Moss

Political Editor, BBC Look North

At Prime Minister's Question time earlier, Theresa May was asked about planned cuts in public health budgets in Durham.

Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods warned they will not only worsen health but end up costing the NHS more overall.

In her response, Mrs May said public health budgets are not the only way of tackling obesity and other health problems, as the NHS plan has an emphasis on prevention.

Night shelter bid to tackle homelessness

BBC Newcastle

A night shelter is being piloted in Durham to get rough sleepers off the streets.

Run by the Salvation Army's Sanctuary 21 with four of the city's churches - including St Godric's and Old Elvet Methodist Church - it will operate when the temperature drops below zero.

The project aims to provide a place of safety, a bed and some food for those who normally go without during the winter months.

Alistair Taylor is a student and and is one of the leader's of the night shelter project.

Homeless generic
BBC

We'd love to see homelessness ended in Durham in the next three to five years. Hopefully this is the start of the process and we'll be able to grow it and build in different services and find a permanent solution."

Alistair Taylorfrom the night shelter project

Tweet of the day: Courtney Hadwin debuts her original song

Lucy Moody

Journalist

Courtney Hadwin... it's a name that many of us will know and it's currently trending on social media.

The teenager from East Durham debuted her new music on America's Got Talent: The Champions last night.

The 14-year-old shot to fame after reaching the final of the main show last year, before signing a record deal with judge Simon Cowell in December.

Click on the video below and see if you loved her original song as much as Simon Cowell did.

View more on twitter

Severe accident: A1(M) County Durham southbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham southbound severe accident, from J61 for A688 Tursdale Road to J60 for A689.

A1(M) County Durham - Queuing traffic on A1(M) southbound in Durham from J61, A688 (Bowburn) to J60, A689 (Bradbury), because of people slowing to look at an accident.

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

Severe disruption: A1(M) County Durham northbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham northbound severe disruption, from J60 for A689 to J61 for A688 Tursdale Road.

A1(M) County Durham - Queuing traffic on A1(M) northbound in Durham from J60, A689 (Bradbury) to J61, A688 (Bowburn), because of all traffic being temporarily held and a vehicle fire.

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

Severe disruption: A1(M) County Durham northbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham northbound severe disruption, from J60 for A689 to J61 for A688 Tursdale Road.

A1(M) County Durham - Queuing traffic on A1(M) northbound in Durham from J60, A689 (Bradbury) to J61, A688 (Bowburn), because of all traffic being temporarily held and a vehicle fire.

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

Travel: Saturday rail strikes continue on Northern trains

BBC News Travel

The train company Northern has warned once again of severely reduced services tomorrow because of a strike my members of the RMT union in the dispute over the role of guards.

The company says trains that do run will be very busy, and most will stop before 17:00.

Two in court over Milnthorpe ATM ram raid

Two men from County Durham have appeared in court after a ram-raid on an ATM at Milnthorpe early yesterday.

ATM outside Milnthorpe shop
BBC

Michael Campbell, 37, of Wooley Meadows, Stanley Crook, Durham, and Jason Brazauskas, 30, of Church Street, Toronto, Bishop Auckland, were both remanded in custody when they appeared before Barrow Magistrates’ Court today.

Both men are charged with burglary, two counts of taking a vehicle without consent and two charges of criminal damage.

They are due to appear at Carlisle Crown Court on 11 February.

Severe disruption: A1(M) County Durham southbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham southbound severe disruption, from J58 for A68 to J57 for A66.

A1(M) County Durham - One lane closed on A1(M) southbound from J58, A68 (Burtree) to J57 A66(M) Darlington, because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

Tributes to 'kind-hearted man'

Lucy Moody

Journalist

He was a "loving and kind-hearted man" - those are the words of the family of a man who died in a motorcycle crash in Gateshead.

Paul Gardner, 49, of Finkle Street, Bishop Auckland, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics after the motorcycle he was riding veered off the road on Tuesday.

It is understood no other vehicles were involved in the collision, which happened on Handy Drive in Gateshead.

Paul Gardner
FAMILY HANDOUT

A statement issued by Mr Gardner's family said: "Paul was a loving and caring person with a big smile and a big heart. He was a very kind-hearted man.

"He will be truly missed by us all. We ask that you respect our privacy at this difficult time."

Council considers buying empty houses for homeless

BBC Newcastle

Ten empty properties could be brought back into use so they can be used to house people facing homelessness.

Durham County Council's Cabinet will decide next week whether to buy and refurbish the properties at an estimated cost of £500,000.

If the proposal is approved, the renovated houses would be leased to organisations that specialise in helping people affected by homelessness to secure and maintain tenancies.

This is a really worthwhile project as it has the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives. It not only helps those in housing need, including families in crisis, but it will reduce the number of empty homes in County Durham. These are both key priorities for us.”

Cllr Kevin ShawDurham County Council

Council considers bus lane cameras

BBC Newcastle

Cameras could be introduced to monitor bus lanes in County Durham, Durham County Council has said.

People caught on CCTV contravening bus lane restrictions could face a £60 penalty which would be reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

A report will be presented to County Durham Councillors next Wednesday.

Bus lane
Durham County Council

Cabinet will hear of proposals to introduce a redeployable camera which would work through an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system.

The camera would initially be placed on North Road in Durham City.

In the first month, the council would issue warning notices for first offences rather than penalty charges.

Reducing the number of unauthorised vehicles on North Road will both improve road safety and also help our public transport operators by reducing bus journey times and improving the reliability of the network, which will in turn increase use of sustainable transport and help the environment by reducing pollution.”

Cllr Carl MarshallDurham County Council

Council asked to celebrate heritage with new centre

BBC Newcastle

A grade two-listed building in County Durham is at the centre of a £17.7m proposal to build a Durham History Centre.

Durham County Councillors will be discussing the plans on 16 January to restore and refurbish Mount Oswald Manor.

Mount Oswald Manor in County Durham
Durham County Council

Last year, the council submitted a bid for funding to cover part of the cost of the project to the Heritage Lottery fund but was unsuccessful.

The authority is now hoping to still go ahead with the project and will explore the feasibility of meeting the core capital costs itself.

Firefighters in Durham could be shifted out of the city permanently

Local Democracy Reporting Service

James Harrison

Firefighters in Durham could be shifted out of the city permanently under cost-cutting plans backed by council chiefs.

Under the proposals, the second crew based at Durham Fire Station, in Lanchester Road, would be moved to Spennymoor.

It would also see a shake-up of staffing arrangements in Seaham and Newton Aycliffe which is hoped will save about £450,000.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is consulting on the scheme as it tries to plug a gap in its finances left by government funding cuts.

Chief fire officer Stuart Errington said: "I'm still lobbying with the Home Office really hard to stop the cuts because we're getting to the point where we're going to see some really big cuts which will increase the risk to the public.

Durham Fire and Rescue Service HQ
BBC

"I think we've done as well as we can to get to this point."

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) has set a target to cut £448,000 from its budget in 2019-20.

CFO Errington said the changes were needed, but also stressed no decision had been made yet.

A consultation on the changes started in November and the public have until 4 February to submit comments.

A report on the survey's findings is expected to be debated by the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority on 22 February.

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action have got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take our word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action has got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take out word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

Multimillion-pound railway station given the green light

Plans to build a new £10.5m railway station in east Durham have been given the go ahead.

The scheme, at Horden, near Peterlee, will see the creation of two 100m platforms connected by an accessible footbridge, shelters, a 139-space car park and bus stops.

A new access road, footpath and cycleway will also be created.

Durham County Council has been working closely with Network Rail on the project, which will be funded by the authority, with £4.4m from the Department of Transport and a grant from the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Artist's impression
Durham County Council

Severe disruption: A1(M) County Durham southbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham southbound severe disruption, from J59 for A167 to J58 for A68.

A1(M) County Durham - One lane closed on A1(M) southbound in Durham from J59, A167 (Aycliffe) to J58, A68 (Burtree), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

We've seen Pete Wild living the dream, now it's your chance.

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action has got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take our word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

Severe disruption: A1(M) County Durham northbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham northbound severe disruption, at J61 for A688 Tursdale Road.

A1(M) County Durham - One lane closed on A1(M) northbound in Durham at J61, A688 (Bowburn), because of maintenance work. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe accident: A1(M) County Durham southbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham southbound severe accident, at J61 for A688 Tursdale Road.

A1(M) County Durham - A1(M) in Durham lane closed on exit slip road and slow traffic southbound at J61, A688 (Bowburn), because of an accident involving four cars.

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

Florence celebrates her 106th birthday

The Northern Echo

Newspaper

A woman who always looks on the bright side of life has celebrated her 106th birthday.

County Durham schoolchildren learn about stray dogs
Schoolchildren in County Durham received a special visit from Toffee the dog to learn about strays.

From Romania to County Durham...

BBC Tees

Here's an incredible Christmas story for you!

Most of us will have sent a shoe box parcel to someone in need at some point - especially at this time of year.

A woman's described how she left an impoverished life in Romania thanks the the generosity of a County Durham family.

Maria Garl was given a gift box with toys and sweets when she was a child in a Romanian orphanage, by the family who live in Middleton St George.

After she wrote to them to thank them, they kept in touch and Maria is now engaged to the family's son Mark.

Christmas Present
BBC

Tributes paid to man hit by car

Tributes have been paid to a pedestrian who was killed when he was hit by a car in County Durham.

Matthew Carty – also known as Matty – was struck by a vehicle which was travelling towards Fencehouses on the A1052 in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The 36-year-old postman, of Lambton, Washington, was taken to hospital but died from his injuries.

He leaves behind his mum Mary, sister Sharon, brother Michael and partner Tracy.

His family said: “Matty was kind-hearted, always smiling, always trying to cheer people up and would always put others before himself, especially his mam Mary.

Matthew Carty
Durham Police

“He would often be singing – a lot of the time he sang silly songs and would often be singing at work.

“He was just amazing. We will miss him so much.”

A 39-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.

The woman has been released while investigations continue and the man was taken to hospital.

Binmen make festive delivery to their biggest fan

BBC Newcastle

Now you might not think much of it when the binmen turn up, but for one boy from County Durham it means his friends have arrived.

Ryan, 10, of Annfield Plain, has a rare genetic condition. The highlight of his week is when the binmen come on a Thursday.

He's made friends with Durham County Council crew members Gary Robson, Lee Draper and Paul Foster and for the last four years they've clubbed together to buy him a present.

This year Ryan returned the gesture and got them a gift back.

His mum, Jacqui, told us: "He gets dead excited on a Thursday morning. He's straight away looking for his hi-vis jacket then he's at the kitchen window looking for them."

Severe disruption: A1(M) County Durham northbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) County Durham northbound severe disruption, from J61 for A688 Tursdale Road to J62 for A690.

A1(M) County Durham - One lane closed on A1(M) northbound in Durham from J61, A688 (Bowburn) to J62, A690 (Carrville), because of a police incident. Traffic is coping well.

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

Travel: Another Saturday strike to hit Northern trains

BBC News Travel

Train services operated by Northern across Cumbria will be badly disrupted again tomorrow by the 41st strike in the long-running dispute over the role of guards, and the 19th consecutive weekend..

Very few trains will run after 17:00, and only a limited number of services during the day.

The RMT union has already announced that the strikes will continue every Saturday into the new year.

Northern train
BBC

Passenger groups back Acas talks in Northern dispute

Three groups representing passengers and businesses said today they would like to see an independent inquiry by the conciliation service Acas into the long-running Northern dispute over the role of guards.

Northern train
BBC

Northern has already asked Acas to set up such an inquiry and Travelwatch Northwest, a passenger group that supports having a second crew member on trains, said it was surprised the RMT union had not yet agreed.

The RMT says the call for an inquiry is 'a publicity stunt', and said a government assurance that a second person on trains would be supported was worthless because it was not supported financially.

North of Tyne Mayoral election: Liberal Democrats choose their candidate

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

A former Newcastle councillor has been chosen as the Liberal Democrats' candidate in the race to become North of Tyne Mayor.

John Appleby will contest the region's inaugural mayoral election next May.

He was appointed by party members across Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.

He has previously stood as a parliamentary candidate for Tynemouth and as a mayoral candidate in North Tyneside.

The other parties are yet to confirm their candidates.

The election is in May.

Welcome to our live coverage

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage.

We've got all the news, sport, travel and weather through the day.

If you want to get in touch with any news or send us photos you can tweet us, contact us via our Facebook page or email us.

MP highlights cuts to disability benefits

Andrea MacMillan

BBC Tees

MPs have been told the residents of County Durham are suffering more than most because of cuts to disability benefits.

The Labour MP for Bishop Auckland, Helen Goodman (pictured), told the House of Commons that many of her constituents are in need of support:

The MP said many disabled constituents had come to see her with serious problems and she called on the government to reassess the impact of benefit cuts on disabled people.

A government spokesman said independent assessments showed the number of disabled people in poverty had fallen since 2010.

Helen Goodman
PA

Mainly dry and breezy

Lisa Gallagher

Weather presenter, BBC Look North

After a fairly bright and chilly start it should be a mainly dry day.

There may be the chance of the odd shower in areas close to the Pennines or the east coast.

Maximum temperatures should reach about 7C (45F).

Weather map
BBC

County Durham boy receives a heart-warming gift

Lucy Moody

Journalist

So if any story could put a smile on Scrooge's face it has to be this one.

Honestly, if you're not feeling the festive spirit you will after reading this heart warming story about 10-year-old Ryan Cunningham.

Ryan, from Consett, is a massive fan of his local bin men and for the past three years the bin crew, Gary, Lee and Paul have taken it upon themselves to club together to buy their biggest supporter a present.

Ryan receiving his present
Durham County Council

And last Thursday they did exactly that...

The team got together to deliver a Christmas card and present for Ryan that was left with them by Santa.

As you can see from the photograph above, Ryan’s mum Jacqui, was overwhelmed by their generosity and said: “What the crew do for Ryan is unbelievable.

"I just think it’s something that they should be recognised for. It’s really nice that they take time to speak to him and it makes his day. I can’t speak highly enough of the three bin crew, they’re fantastic.”

Ryan and the bin crew
Durham County Council

Wet and windy, but feeling mild

Lisa Gallagher

Weather presenter, BBC Look North

It will be a rather windy with plenty of cloud and the growing chance of some rain and drizzle.

Later there is a chance of heavier rain edging its way slowly eastwards.

Despite the strong winds it will feel mild with maximum temperatures reaching about 10C (50F).

Weather map
BBC

Welcome to our live coverage

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage.

We've got all the news, sport, travel and weather through the day.

If you want to get in touch with any news or send us photos you can tweet us, contact us via our Facebook page or email us.

Severe accident: A1(M) North Yorkshire northbound

BBC News Travel

A1(M) North Yorkshire northbound severe accident, between J57 for A66 and J58 for A68.

A1(M) North Yorkshire - One lane closed and queuing traffic on A1(M) northbound between J57 A66(M) Darlington and J58, A68 (Burtree), because of an accident.

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