FIVE years ago this week, tributes flooded in after former Darlington Borough Council leader John Williams died.

Mr Williams was first elected as a councillor in 1979 and became Labour leader in 1989. He was Darlington Borough Council leader up to his retirement in 2011 and received an MBE in 2008 for services to local government.

Aged 65, he had been suffering from ill-health and died peacefully having lost his battle with cancer.

Bill Dixon, elected council leader after Mr Williams, said: "Darlington will be the poorer for his passing, but the richer for his time here."

In other news, there was outrage as proposals were announced to raise MPs’ pay by 11 per cent, increasing their salary from £63,000 to £74,000.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman called the decision "inappropriate", adding: "There's no point asking if I'd accept it, because it's pie in the sky."

Stockton MP Alex Cunningham said: "MPs' pay should reflect wider economic circumstances and what is happening in the public sector."

Magistrates at a flood-hit court were forced to ask criminals to wait in the public foyer for up to two hours for a lift to prison.

The cells at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court, in County Durham, had been badly damaged by flooding earlier in the year.

One magistrate, who did not want to be named, said: "It is really embarrassing to sit there and say you are sending someone to prison, only to tell them they will have to wait in the foyer until we can get someone to pick them up.”

Bosses at Durham Tees Valley Airport said they were "stunned" by the Deputy Prime Minister's decision to reject its application for £4.65 from the Government's flagship enterprise fund.

It was the second time in less than a year that Peel Holdings had failed to secure Regional Growth Fund (RGF) cash for a scheme to develop the south side of the airport.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, approved ten of the 31 RGF bids from this region, told The Northern Echo the airport had failed to convince a scrutiny team led by Lord Heseltine that it could generate jobs and investment quickly enough.

The former chairman of Cleveland Police Authority was sentenced to eight months in prison for perverting the course of justice.

Dave McLuckie, 52, who was convicted after a week-long trial at Newcastle Crown Court, said the verdict had "destroyed everything" he had built up in his public life.

He was found guilty of persuading a friend to take three speeding points on his behalf to avoid being banned from driving in 2005.

And the young son of murdered soldier Lee Rigby joined thousands of mourners in remembering "a gentle soul" and "larger-than-life" character.

The heartbroken family of Fusilier Rigby were among about 800 people packed inside Bury Parish Church to honour the 25-year-old in a private funeral relayed via loudspeakers to large crowds.

He was killed in a terrorist attack near Woolwich barracks, South East London, that May.