THE North-East suffered a “political earthquake” on Friday, May 5, 2017, when Conservative businessman and councillor Ben Houchen swept to power as the first mayor of the Tees Valley.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Houchen, who vowed to buy Durham Tees Valley Airport into public ownership and scrap Cleveland Police, defeated Labour rival Sue Jeffrey, despite all five council areas in the Tees Valley being Labour led.

Speaking just moments after his shock victory was confirmed, he said: “I think today we’ve caused a political earthquake across the Tees Valley.

“We are going to see a massive difference – we are going to grow jobs, grow the economy and make a better life for people.”

The Northern Echo:

The Conservatives won in Stockton and Darlington, while Ms Jeffrey came out top in Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, and Redcar and Cleveland, where she leads the borough council.

Asked why he felt voters backed him, Mr Houchen said: “People bought into the idea that something needs to be done about Teesside Airport,”

Mr Houchen also pledged to abolish scandal-hit Cleveland Police.

In Durham, crowds of comic book lovers and would-be celebrity spotters have arrived for the start of filming on an all-star superhero blockbuster.

Speculation was rife among the crowds gathered outside Durham Cathedral, on Thursday, May 4, 2017, as to which celebrity actors were in town for the filming of Avengers: Infinity War – the latest in the Marvel franchise.

But while some fans waited for hours outside the cathedral, the action remained top secret, with the cathedral only able to confirm that a “major project” was taking place.

Blacked out vehicles were seen arriving and leaving on the Bailey at the rear of the cathedral, with some of the fans clustered outside claiming to have seen Thor actor Chris Hemsworth. Tessa Thompson, his Thor: Ragnarok co-star was also rumoured to be on set.

The film, which was released in 2018, had an all-star cast which also included Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana.

The cathedral had to be closed about 40 minutes before schedule because of safety concerns, with filming continuing until Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

Finally, a famous Whitby fish and chip café regarded as one of the best in the country was struck by fire twice in 24 hours.

Smoke was seen billowing from The Magpie Café’s roof on Monday, May 1, 2017 – just hours after firefighters had extinguished a large blaze in the roof area which broke out on the night of Sunday, April 30, 2017.

No one was injured as a result of either fire, but the roof of the 18th Century building was badly damaged.

It took 25 firefighters from five crews from Whitby and the surrounding areas around three hours to contain the second blaze, which broke out at around 3.30pm on Monday, May 1.

The cafe had been closed as a result of fire on the night of Sunday, April 30, but the takeaway was open for business and had been busy earlier in the day with queues stretching along Pier Road.

Sunday’s fire was reported at 10.15pm and fire crews battled throughout the night to bring it under control.

Witnesses reported seeing flames coming out of the roof of the distinctive white building late into the night.

It took crews from eight engines several hours to contain the fire in the early hours of Monday, May 1, 2017.

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