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Twelve adult day centres to close across Co Durham

Bracken Hill Centre in Peterlee is earmarked for closure. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Councillors in County Durham have agreed to close 12 of their 17 adult day centres, because of falling numbers of people using them and budget cuts.

"Young people are choosing to go to other places within their local community such as theatre, cinema etc and the cost of running these centres is another look at.

We have to save £1.59 million and what we will do is work with people who have been using these services on a one to one basis and offer the support that is required."

– Councillor Lucy Hovvels, Cabinet Member for Adult Services at Durham County Council

The council has said it will offer support to find alternatives for those affected, and will keep five centres open to provide specialist services for people with complex needs.

These five centres will be: Durham Pathways, Pity Me; Spennymoor Pathways, Spennymoor Leisure Centre; Newton Aycliffe Pathways, Aycliffe Leisure Centre; Peterlee Pathways; and Stanley Pathways, Louisa Leisure Centre.

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Thousands brave heavy rain and winds to queue for Boxing Day sales

Credit: PA

Thousands of bargain hunters braved the wind, rain and cold temperatures to queue from the early hours for their annual Boxing Day tradition - the Next sale.

A huge snake-like queue of thrifty shoppers stood at Silverlink shopping park in North Tyneside, waiting for the store to open at 6am.

Many queued behind the barriers shivering in hats, scarfs and fur boots and were armed with plastic carrier bags.

The first 600 who arrived in the early hours of the morning were given a raffle ticket to guarantee their place in the queue.

The first shopper to arrive at an impressive 3.15am was Stacey Johnson, 29, from Blyth in Northumberland, who was there to buy clothes for her five-year-old son Jenson.

The care worker said: "I come here every single year because the discounts are excellent for such good clothes.

"I am heading straight to the children's section, I get all of Jenson's clothes here.

Another shopper queuing eagerly behind her was 31-year-old Gemma Moore, from Wallsend, Newcastle, who called the sale "better than Christmas Day".

Gemma said: "This day is my Christmas, I absolutely love it. I have an early night the day before so I am awake and raring to go on Boxing Day. You get so much value for money I sometimes even hold off buying the kids clothes for Christmas because I know they will be in the sale today.

Debt still a real problem in North East, charity warns

Many North East residents are still facing a daily struggle with debt despite the UK’s gradual economic recovery and a fall in the number of people seeking advice, a leading debt charity has warned.

Figures released today by StepChange Debt Charity show that 4348 people in the North East area called its helpline for advice in the first half of 2015.

The release of the figures coincide with StepChange's new report, Navigating the New Normal, which shows that more than 1 in 5 Britons are currently showing at least one sign of financial difficulty and 2.6m of them are in severe problem debt. Of those 2.6m, 73% suffered at least one ‘income shock’ in the last year, such as job loss or a reduction in hours.

People on low and middle incomes 20 times more likely to fall into problem debt than those with higher earnings Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The charity says that people on low and middle incomes are particularly at risk after an income shock, with the combination of having little to no savings and an unresponsive welfare system leaving them unable to meet their basic costs. Shocks to their income often see them turn to credit to cope, which makes them 20 times more likely to fall into problem debt.

The report comes after the latest Bank of England figures showed the highest annual increase in borrowing on credit cards and personal loans for nine years, sparking fears of a return towards the high levels of unmanageable credit seen in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

Everyone faces ups and downs in life, but more than 11m people in Britain are now experiencing some financial difficulty and a quarter of those are in severe problem debt. North East is no exception and although the economy is beginning to recover, millions of households remain vulnerable to shocks to their income over the next year and many could find they have no alternative but to turn to credit to cope, which can quickly make the problem much worse. Debt can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, including sleepless nights, anxiety and mental and physical health problems with knock-on effects for their families. We would urge anyone who is experiencing debt problems to call us for free, impartial debt advice and take that first step as early as they possibly can.

– Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive, StepChange Debt Charity

Black Friday: has it changed your shopping habits?

Thousands of people visited shopping centres across the North East today, many lured by extended Black Friday weekend bargains.

There was brisk trade at the Metro Centre in Gateshead, though not all shoppers said they had been tempted by cut price offers.

And, while the large retailers advertised their Black Friday bargains, one independent shop said its takings were up 25 per cent on the first day of the promotional weekend.

Watch Helen Ford's report here:

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Saturday shoppers continue to enjoy 'Black Friday'

Retailers said on Saturday that they were reaping the benefits from the Black Friday sale event.

Although a great deal of business appears to have taken place online, our shopping centres are reporting brisk trade.

Many stores are offering discounts across the weekend, as part of extended Black Friday promotions.

The Metrocentre on Saturday. Credit: ITV News

Shoppers are expected to spend more than £3 billion by the end of Cyber Monday, despite a "muted" Black Friday on the high street prompting suggestions the American phenomenon has already peaked in the UK.

Saturday shoppers at the Metrocentre in Gateshead told ITV Tyne Tees that they were hoping to bag bargains during the extended Black Friday phenomenon, while many retailers reported a big rise in sales.

Retail giant Amazon reported record figures on Friday, with more than 7.4 million items ordered, leading to its biggest sales day ever in the UK.

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