The A1M southbound at Country Durham (J60) has reopened after being closed because of a jack-knifed lorry.
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Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service has added a new aerial ladder platform (ALP) vehicle to its fleet to improve safety.
A number of projects across the region have received a grant totalling over £1.5m.
Higher food and petrol prices are expected to send inflation to its highest level in 28 months when official figures are released later.