FIVE years ago, this week, a councillor voiced his concerns after Durham County Council agreed a new street lighting policy which included removing lights from some rural areas and dimming lights overnight elsewhere.

The policy outlined that dimming would be by a quarter between 10am and midnight and by half between midnight and 5am in order to save £24m over 25 years.

However, independent councillor John Shuttleworth said the policy discriminated against rural areas and predicted crime would increase as the lights went out.

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, cabinet member for safer and healthier communities, said lights would only be removed where it was safe to do so, but street lights would not make a difference to crime levels.

The decision followed in the footsteps of Harrogate, Knaresborough and Scarborough councils.

Also that week, steel bosses outlined their ambitious plans to restore the region's position as a superpower in the steelworks industry.

Thai firm SSI announced further investment in its loss-making Redcar plant in a plan which aimed to create more jobs.

Win Viriyaprapaikit, SSI Group's chief executive, said: "Steel-making on Teesside has lasted for almost 170 years and we want that heritage to reach the 200-year mark.

“The infrastructure in this region is second to none in the world. We have a great site, a deep sea bulk terminal that is the biggest on the east coast of the UK, and a skilled workforce with engineering capability.”

However the investment was not to last, and the plant closed almost two years later with the loss of 2,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, a Christmas toy appeal in aid of disadvantaged children was met with a flood of donations.

The office of the Salvation Army was filled as toys ready to be delivered to 500 needy children in Darlington facing the prospect of a Christmas morning with no gifts to open.

The appeal won the support of the family of three-year-old Danny Wake, who was killed in a hit-and-run incident earlier that month.

Captain Colin Bradshaw said: "Since the appeal was linked to Danny, we've had a lot of toys brought into the centre. We've also taken a lot of phone calls from people making inquiries about how they can help and where they can drop things off.

"It's a really positive response from something so tragic."

And the exhibition of the Lindisfarne Gospels won double honours at the region’s tourism awards.

More than 100,000 visitors flocked to see the Gospels manuscript during its successful three-month stay in Durham City, on loan from the British Library.

The exhibition won the tourism event of the year and tourism experience of the year categories at the North-East Tourism Awards, held at St James' Park, in Newcastle.