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  1. Lucy Taylor

Lee Hall calls for "direct action" to save Newcastle libraries

He made his name through his writing, as the creator of Billy Elliot, but Lee Hall indicated he is ready to move from words to actions to save ten Newcastle libraries earmarked for closure.

The playwright had people on their feet at a campaign meeting when he called for protesters to occupy libraries.

However, the council says it simply cannot afford to keep the libraries going, because of budget cuts.

Meanwhile in Middlesbrough, councillors discussed whether they can afford to freeze council tax. The mayor Ray Mallon opposes the proposal, saying it would leave a black hole in the council's finances.


North East cuts even worse than in Spain

The Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman has claimed that the scale of cuts being imposed in the region are even worse than those faced by the Spanish people.

Ms Goodman, who worked at the Treasury before becoming a MP, said the initial wave of cuts in 2010 took more than 7% out of the region's economy.

She also said the local councils here were facing cuts 3 times deeper than some councils in the South East.

Her remarks were challenged by the Conservative MP for Guy Opperman.

He accepted that there were difficulties ahead but pointed to recent falls in unemployment in the region.


Home repossessions increase

Home repossessions in some parts of the North East are more than three times the national average. Darlington and Durham had some of the highest numbers. Weak economic growth and austerity are blamed, with people being more affected by Government cuts due to dependency on public sector employment.

Military Cuts

Green Howards on patrol in Afghanistan Credit: ITV News

A dark cloud hangs over the region today with the news that more than a thousand armed service personnel are facing compulsory redundancy.

The Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond confirmed today that the bulk of the cuts will come from the Army. Overall the Ministry of Defence plans to shed 3,800 posts

A spokesman for MoD said there was "still some way to go" to bring the size of the Army down to 82,000 and confirmed that decisions on how to achieve those cuts "are yet to be taken."

Catterick Garrison Credit: Ministry of Defence

Details of exactly what regiments will be affected have still not been released. But the North East and North Yorkshire are traditionally areas where the Army recruits heavily. Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire meanwhile is the largest British army base in the World.

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