THEATRES, museums, libraries and leisure centres owned by taxpayers were in talks to be handed over to be run by a charitable trust, under a radical shake-up being considered by council chiefs, in January 2012.

Facing cuts of nearly £150m over the following five years, the Labour-led Durham County Council was contemplating placing dozens of leisure and culture assets into a not-for-profit trust as early as next year.

The huge list, obtained exclusively by The Northern Echo, includes flagship venues such as Durham's Gala Theatre, Freeman's Quay leisure centre and Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Museum, Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Consett's Empire Theatre, Killhope: The North of England Lead Mining Museum, in upper Weardale, and Hardwick Park, Sedgefield.

In all, there were 39 libraries, 15 leisure centres, two theatres, two museums, an arts centre and an outdoor learning centre, in Middleton-in-Teesdale.

The council would retain ownership of the facilities but the trust would be responsible for managing and running them. It would be run by trustees and a management board, although who might sit on such bodies remains unclear.

A North-East town paid a silent tribute on January 17, 2012 to a teenage soldier who was one of the youngest to die serving Queen and country in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of people attended a service in St Cuthbert's Church, in Darlington town centre, to pay their respects to 19-year-old Private John King. Mourning alongside family and friends were civic dignitaries, Second World War veterans and members of the Royal British Legion.

Pte King, of 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed on December 30 when an improvised explosive device detonated as his patrol went to the aid of an Afghan National Army unit that had come under Taliban attack.

A grandmother from the North-East was fighting for her life after a static caravan blown by high winds crushed her own as she was in her bedroom, in January 2012.

Kathleen Sunley, 56, was visiting family in Scotland when the accident happened.

She was in her sister's static caravan when winds of up to 100mph picked up a neighbouring caravan and smashed it down onto her bedroom.

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