TEN years ago, this week the five-year long "ghost ships" saga came to an end after the final go-ahead was given to scrap toxic vessels in the North-East.

Able UK received final approval for its plans to scrap four former US naval ships, which because of legal and planning wrangles had been tied up at its yard near Hartlepool since 2003.

The company was granted a waste management licence by the Environment Agency, to allow it to keep, treat and dispose of controlled waste from decommissioned ships.

Able said it was "all systems go" in its attempt to create a world-class ship recycling centre at Graythorp, and said as many as 1,500 jobs could be created over two years.

Chairman Peter Stephenson said: "This common-sense decision marks the culmination of almost five years of hard – and at times frustrating – effort.

"I'm thankful because it means that, within a matter of weeks, we can start work, creating jobs and expanding the local skills base in the process."

In other news, it was revealed almost 100,000 struggling families needed help after the 10p tax rate was scrapped.

Treasury select committee members said the ‘emergency budget’ set up to compensate the worst off after the tax changes did not go far enough.

Its report warned that 1.1 million low-income families across Britain would still lose out. People earning £7,750 a year were worst hit, losing more than £2 a week from their pay packets.

Less than a month after revealing his memories of the pit-disaster, a 93-year-old former miner died.

Tommy Houghton, of George Avenue in Easington Colliery, shared his memories of the 1951 explosion with The Northern Echo.

Among his recollections, Mr Houghton recounted how he had been alerted in the early hours of May 29 and described the moment as he approached the colliery and saw crowds gathering at the pithead.

Mr Houghton’s family said that they were gratified that the proud old pitman had been able to tell his story before he died.

Also that week, the health secretary Alan Johnson, announced that the NHS would end the postcode lottery which denied patients access to vital drugs.

This meant there would no longer by unequal access to life extending medication as patients across the North-East often had to wait years before receiving new medicines, available elsewhere in the UK.

And the teenage brother of a TV soap star died after being stabbed in a row with youths.

Ben Kinsella, 16, brother of former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, was knifed in a north London street at about 2am and later died in hospital.

Miss Kinsella, 24, said she was "devastated" by the tragedy in a statement issued through her publicist. She went on the campaign against knife crime.