IN November, fast food chain Greggs was facing calls for a boycott after depicting a sausage roll as the baby Jesus in the nativity scene.

The bakery attracted criticism after releasing a Christmas advent calendar showing a sausage roll surrounded by three wise men in a straw-filled manger.

A Greggs spokesman said: “We’re really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention.”

Loading article content

The diocese of Durham said to single out Greggs over the Christmas period would be ignoring "the fantastic and generous work they do in communities across the North-East".

But Newcastle City Councillor Dipu Ahad, a spokesman for the North-East Islamic community, said: “It is disgraceful and quite literally distasteful. It is an absolute outrage and needs to be condemned. You are selling your product on the back of offending millions of people.”

And the Rev Mark Edwards of St Matthew's Church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert's Church in Brunswick said Greggs had been "disrespectful".

He said: "It goes beyond just commercialism, it's showing a total disregard and disrespect towards one of the greatest stories ever told, and I think people of all faiths will be offended by this."

DARLINGTON’S Hippodrome opened its doors to the public on November 17 after a multi-million-pound regeneration.

The Hippodrome, formerly known as Darlington’s Civic Theatre, underwent a £13.7m refurbishment which included the installation of more seats and bigger backstage areas.

Speaking ahead of the opening, Councillor Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and local environment, said: “I think the people in the town will be impressed and hugely proud of the great job that has been done on the theatre. It has been turned into a place fit for the 21st Century.”

Prior to the opening, Lynda Winstanley, the theatre director of the Hippodrome said that its order book was filled for the next 12 months.

She said: “We have got shows lined up until autumn next year, and we are even starting to talk about next year’s pantomime season.

“We have had people phone up who have never been here before, but when they see what we have done, they want to come.”

FOLLOWING allegations about his behaviour, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon resigned from his post.

The former Darlington MP was caught up in a sexual harassment scandal which swept through Parliament.

In his resignation letter, Sir Michael said: "In the past I have fallen below the high standards we require of the armed forces".

In her reply, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "I appreciate the characteristically serious manner in which you have considered your position, and the particular example you wish to set to servicemen and women and others."

DURHAM City welcomed thousands of visitors as the Lumiere festival of light took place.

The spectacle saw 29 light installations in and around the city which received rave reviews from the public.

Helen Marriage, chief executive of producers Artichoke, said this festival, the fifth, was her favourite show so far.

She said: “Part of the joy of programming this festival is thinking about ways to keep it fresh and new each time, and I think we really have achieved that.

“Of course, some pieces appealed to some more than others, but with 29 separate installations, I think Lumiere offered something for everyone.”

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “Lumiere has once again offered us the chance to showcase our beautiful city, our unique history and heritage and our wonderful people on a world stage.”

Visitors to the city saw installations including the “fire tornado” which took place on a demolition site at Milburngate House.

PEOPLE across the region paused during Remembrance Day events and services to remember the sacrifices of those killed in conflict.

In Darlington, more than 500 people attended the Cenotaph in the grounds of the Memorial Hospital following a church service in Holy Trinity Church.

Margaret Smith, 72, of Darlington, said: “This is the most people that I can remember seeing at a Remembrance Service in the town, it’s so good to see so many young and old paying their respects.”

In Sunderland hundreds of service personnel and veterans joined Mayor Doris MacKnight as the city paid tribute to its war heroes.

PRINCE Harry declared he was “thrilled” as he and bride-to-be Meghan Markle made their first appearance in public since the announcement of their engagement.

Harry and American actress Ms Markle stepped out briefly in front of the cameras hand in hand at an open-air photocall in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace.

Their long-anticipated engagement was announced by the Prince of Wales with a statement saying the couple – who have been dating for 16 months – will marry next spring.

A beaming Ms Markle, in a white belted coat, clutched Harry’s hand with both of her hands as they posed briefly for the press, and showed off her diamond engagement ring.

The prince said he was “thrilled, over the moon”.

FOLLOWING Chancellor Philip Hammond's autumn Budget, a bitter row erupted in the wake of his announcement that £123m will be invested in clearing and marketing the former SSI steelworks site.

One local Labour MP – Middlesbrough’s Andy McDonald – branded the plans as a ‘deceit’. His claim was described as ‘outrageous’ by Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, who challenged dissenters to speak to him directly to raise their concerns. “I’m actually gobsmacked with what some Labour MPs are saying,” he said. “I can categorically say that this money, announced today, is new money. Two members of the development corporation board who signed off the application in September are both Labour council leaders.

“I honestly don’t know why these politicians have allowed their comments to go so far – it’s outrageous really.

“This money will mean that we will be able clear areas of the site if a potential investor comes forward and wants to take over a particular piece of land."