• Christmas crime crackdown begins

    POLICE in County Durham have launched a crackdown on crime in the run-up to Christmas. Operation Bullseye will target drug dealers, robbers, burglars, thieves and yobs caught up in town centre disturbances. Detective Superintendent Ian Scott, head of

  • Job Search 2000

    MORE details about the jobs below are available from the Employment Service Direct on (0845) 606 0234. Mail room operators, Catterick Garrison. £9,143pa, 42hrs pw. Must be able to lift 11kg unassisted. Must have current full UK driving licence (manual

  • Bannatyne launches £10m scottish investment

    BANNATYNE Fitness has revealed details of a major investment North of the border that will see £10m pumped into four Scottish towns. The Darlington-based company has unveiled plans to launch a new brand of fitness club in Dundee, along with three new

  • Uniformed exhibits are brought to attention

    ONE of the rarest uniforms in the collection of the region's Green Howards Regimental Museum got its annual smartening up yesterday. The uniform, which dates from about 1854 and was worn during the Battle of Alma, in the Crimean War - when the Green Howards

  • Pantomime stars hand over minibus

    THE Variety Club of Great Britain has bought a minibus for a centre for disabled Teesside youngsters, with help from Parcel Line. South Cleveland Garages, Middlesbrough, will maintain it free for the next ten years. The bus was presented to the Gleneagles

  • New help group to support parents

    PARENTS of children involved in substance misuse and anti-social behaviour are being urged to take advantage of a new service in Darlington. On Track Family Support in Darlington, is a support group for parents of children and young people. It offers

  • Girlfriend tells of shot man's drugs cash fears

    THE fiancee of a man shot dead on a North-East showground told a court yesterday that he had spent his last day worried about getting hold of some money for a drug deal. Nicola Cobb said Bryan Scott had been involved in supplying drugs and, a few days

  • Curfew powers may be extended

    All-night curfews for under-16s that could help combat crime in blighted areas are being planned. Plans to extend existing curfews for under-tens will reportedly be contained in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday. The curfews could help residents whose lives

  • Pool boss is hoping for third time lucky

    HARTLEPOOL United boss Chris Turner tonight tries to get the better of Scunthorpe at the third time of asking. Pool entertain Brian Laws' side at Victoria Park in the LDV Vans Trophy on the back of defeats at Glanford Park in both Division Three and FA

  • Bennett opts for a strong LDV line-up

    Darlington manager Gary Bennett intends fielding his strongest possible team for the LDV Vans Trophy game at York City tonight. Bennett wants another win to follow the victory against Mansfield, but he doesn't want to risk some players ahead of the FA

  • Rae sets up Sunderland for leap into sixth place

    SLICK Sunderland completed a hat-trick of Premiership victories last night to move into sixth place with a well-deserved win over Everton at the Stadium of Light. Only the woodwork and an inspired performance by visiting goalkeeper Paul Gerrard kept the

  • Murder appeal expected

    A MAN convicted ten years ago of murdering a teenage girl in a nightclub is expected to launch a challenge to his conviction at London's Criminal Appeal Court today. Stephen Craven, now in his early 30s, is serving a life sentence for killing 19-year-old

  • Library lays on coffee and carols

    VISITORS to Roseworth Library, Stockton, next week will find Christmas cheer a-plenty at a coffee morning with carols. Pupils from Harrow Gate Primary School will be on hand from 10am, next Tuesday, to sing carols. Library goers young and old, including

  • 200 jobs fear at aerospace company

    THE jobs of more than 200 workers were hanging in the balance last night, after it was revealed a North-East aerospace firm was in the hands of receivers. Aerospace Systems and Technologies, of Consett, (AS&T) has hit problems only a year after it

  • Thieves strip new fitness shop

    DESIGNER label thieves have "cleaned out" a fitness shop. The gang smashed their way into the Bodyzone fitness club in Guisborough, east Cleveland, and stole every article of clothing in the shop. The shop opened just six months ago. The thieves used

  • Card helps youngsters get connected to learning

    A NEW "loyalty" card designed to encourage teenagers to stay in education is being piloted in the North-East. The Government aims to get more young people to gain qualifications after they reach 16. It has launched the Connexions Card, which offers discounts

  • Advice on thwarting the seasonal thieves

    IT may be the season to be jolly, but police are warning people not to be victims of the seasonal rise in crime. Every year, the run-up to Christmas brings a rise in burglaries, as thieves target expensive presents. This year, police hope the usual Christmas

  • Festival big draw for visitors

    DURHAM'S fourth Christmas Festival has proved the biggest yet, attracting an estimated 30,000 visitors to the city. The weekend event attracted coach parties from outside the region and meant a sales boom for local stores. It featured music, street entertainment

  • Judge sees positive side in guilt of GM crop protestors

    FIVE activists were yesterday found guilty of destroying genetically modified (GM) crops at a North-East farm. But the judge who convicted them said he accepted they honestly believed they had "positive motives". A four-day trial at Darlington Magistrates

  • Sarsfield saga links Bassedas with former mayor of Durham

    Even by Backtrack column standards, it was a pretty improbable rabbit to set away. Was there a link, we wondered on November 17, between Newcastle United's £3.5m Argentinian midfielder Christian Bassedas and Norman Sarsfield, international swimming administrator

  • Village hall houses message for future generations

    A MESSAGE in a bottle found in the roof space of a village hall has inspired the community to launch another into the future. A note in an old lemonade bottle was found by contractors working on the refurbishment of the reading room at the Middleton Tyas

  • TEDCO boosts business

    TYNESIDE Economic Development Company's (TEDCO) new South Shields business centre is a winner when it comes to getting the region to work. TEDCO Business Works has been named as a winner in the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Northern Branch Year

  • Famous landmark no longer bone of contention at port

    A new set of whalebones are in line to replace one of Whitby's most famous landmarks. The existing bones, which form an archway on the West Cliff, in the shadow of the statue of Captain James Cook, are fast deteriorating. Now, leaders in Whitby's twin

  • Grants for clubs

    Thousands of pounds worth of grants can be applied for through the Sports Lottery Fund, and Hartlepool Borough Council is eager that groups in the area do not miss out. Sports groups which would like to find out more about applying for Lottery money are

  • Christmas shopping on the Internet

    A Amazon. The household name in online stores is now much more than just a book shop offering music, gifts and videos and more. Good service, punctuality and range of goods plus they send out gift wrapped if ordered. BBeeb. The Internet

  • Fake computer games seized in market raid

    THOUSANDS of pounds worth of counterfeit computer games and films were seized in a raid on Chester-le-Street market. Police officers acted jointly with officials from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact). They seized 500 compact discs and arrested

  • N-East patients test a leukaemia wonder pill

    A NEW "wonder pill" pioneered by North-East patients was last night hailed as a revolutionary cure for leukaemia in a move that could change the way cancer is treated forever. Doctors hope the experimental new treatment - known only as ST1571 - can be

  • Lending jump boost for bank

    NORTHERN Rock, the building society turned bank, has revealed its second half trading was running in line with expectations, as it showed strong lending growth in all areas of its business. The Newcastle-based company was announcing a trading update ahead

  • B&B float sees big windfalls for shareholders

    FORMER building society, the Bradford & Bingley, made its debut on the London Stock Market yesterday with policyholders opting to sell their shares immediately, landing £620 payouts. The City valued the business at around £1.73bn, based on its opening

  • Youngsters promise giant performance in school panto

    YOUNGSTERS at a Chester-le-Street school are getting in the festive spirit by staging a traditional pantomime. The pupils at Bournmoor Primary School, including Liam Grant, front, playing Jack, have been busy rehearsing their version of Jack and the Beanstalk

  • Pupils wake up to christmas with the sleepy shepherd

    YOUNGSTERS from Durham Choristers' School's pre-prep department are staging a nativity play this week. They will perform The Sleepy Shepherd today, tomorrow and on Thursday in the cathedral's Chapter House. Headmaster Stephen Drew said the sleepy shepherd

  • Jinglebell cheer . . . or jinglehell?

    IT'S enough to make you walk out. As if spending hours trawling around the shops is not bad enough at this time of year, the last thing you need is Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody belting out of every store. That is is the feeling of bosses at electrical

  • Nightclub expansion in Stockton

    THE latest addition to night-life in Stockton is set to expand in the new year. Springfields, the town's only gay nightclub, opened last weekend in Norton Road and already its owner Peter Cook is thinking about the future. Chartered accountant Mr Cook

  • Pensioner duped into two-hour phone call

    RESIDENTS are being warned to beware of unsolicited mail offering credit, after an elderly woman was duped into calling premium rate phone calls for almost two hours. The letters invite the named resident to call a "national rate" phone number and then

  • Councillor questioned after water-throwing

    A VETERAN councillor has landed himself in hot water - after throwing a bowl of tepid water over a toddler. The Crown Prosuction Service is to decide whether there are grounds to prosecute Chris Abbott, leader of the Liberal Democrat group of councillors

  • So why all this fuss over AIDS?

    WHAT would life be without its little ironies? On the eve of the so-called World AIDS Day, the health authorities warned that cases of AIDS in Britain are set to increase by 40 per cent over the next few years. What was the Government's response to this

  • Anger as thieves smash up 'irreplaceable' royal benches

    A SET of seats installed in Richmond nearly 100 years ago to mark Queen Victoria's golden jubilee have been smashed up in an attack which has angered local historians. Two benches at Burgage Pasture, at Westfields, were damaged and another was dismantled

  • Gateways to a slice of railway history

    SHILDON'S rail heritage has been highlighted with the installation of two millennium gateways to the town. The huge steel arches, which cost £10,000 each and feature the Timothy Hackworth Wheel design, were installed at either end of the main street,

  • Quakers shocked

    A FOOTBALL club has paid tribute to a young coach who died at the weekend. Stephen White was found dead at a house in Braemar Court, Darlington, early on Sunday. The 24-year-old, who worked as a coach at Darlington Football Club, had been drinking with

  • Foot care expert's campaign

    CHIROPODIST Pam Dwyer is conducting a tour of community groups throughout Middlesbrough to encourage people to take better care of their feet. She has taken up the post of community foot health educator, in a six-month project being funded by Teesside's

  • Building society strengthens its board

    *The Universal Building Society has strengthened its board with the appointment of a partner from a local accountancy firm. MAXINE POTT from Newcastle-based RMT is a chartered accountant. She is also treasurer of the North-East and Cumbria German British

  • How the porn industry may help Madonna

    A piece of Internet history was made this week when Madonna managed to get nine million people online for a live gig. It was the Material Girl's first live web concert as well as being her first UK concert for seven years. Visitors to

  • Rail passenger tells of nightmare journey

    A RAILWAY passenger has told of a nightmare journey which cost him two days pay and to add insult to injury, a £50 taxi fare. Kevin Busby, a baker from Darlington, found himself stranded in Bath for two days because of the current rail disruption. When

  • Sales girl stole from M&S

    A FORMER sales assistant refunded cash to her credit cards, using items for sale in the store where she worked, a court was told. Lucy Hughes stole more than £2,800 from Marks and Spencer, in Darlington, between November last year and May. Yesterday,

  • Home-made bombs found in school field

    POLICE had a full-scale bomb scare on their hands when two home-made pipe bombs were found in a school field. A passer-by discovered the rough-and-ready devices in the grounds of Oxclose Infant School, in Brancepeth Road, Oxclose Village, Washington,

  • Suicide bid man jailed

    A FATHER-OF-TWO who tried to steal a car so he could kill himself with its exhaust fumes, left it ablaze in the narrow street when failed to get it started, a court heard today. Ian McCallum, who took the car's radio cassette player, some tapes and sunglasses

  • Job Search 2000

    MORE details about the jobs below are available from the Employment Service Direct on (0845) 606 0234. Christmas Sales Staff, Darlington. £3.80ph. Age 19+, part-time temporary. Sales advisors' duties including serving customers and checking stock. Good

  • Job Search 2000

    MORE details about the jobs below are available from the Employment Service Direct on (0845) 606 0234. Plasterer, Billingham. Temporary, PT/FT, £6 per hour. Experience essential for damp-proofing and associated work. Clean driving licence preferred. Ref

  • Job Search 2000

    MORE details about the jobs below are available from the Employment Service Direct on (0845) 606 0234. Activities coordinator, Peterlee. £3.70ph, 21hrs pw, age 20-plus. Required to motivate elderly residents by arranging activities. Must be artistic,

  • Writer casts her eye over the postal service

    A NORTH-EAST writer who is working with postal staff on a new play has launched a new first class stamp. Tyneside playwright and novelist Julia Darling yesterday launched the 27p Year of the Artist stamp, part of the Royal Mail's Millennium collection

  • Judge sees positive side in guilt of GM crop protestors

    FIVE activists were yesterday found guilty of destroying genetically modified (GM) crops at a North-East farm. But the judge who convicted them said he accepted they honestly believed they had "positive motives". A four-day trial at Darlington Magistrates

  • Drugs action team launched to coordinate aid for addicts

    A NEW approach to tackling drug problems in Hartlepool has been hailed as very important for the community. Hartlepool's Drug Action Team was launched yesterday by agencies including the borough council, health authority and police. The team has been

  • MEP criticises firm's timing over closure

    A EURO-MP has blasted a firm's timing in closing a 450-job abattoir - just before Christmas. Dr Gordon Adam, MEP for the North-East, said closure of the Malton Bacon slaughter-house, in Middlesbrough, is a blow for the workforce, and for pig farmers who

  • Festival big draw for visitors

    DURHAM'S fourth Christmas Festival has proved the biggest yet, attracting an estimated 30,000 visitors to the city. The weekend event attracted coach parties from outside the region and meant a sales boom for local stores. It featured music, street entertainment

  • Molester kept a shrine to girl, nine

    A man who lured girls to a playroom in his attic was jailed for seven years for indecent assaults on five youngsters. Frank Cousins, 35, had fallen in love with one of the girls, who was aged nine, set up a shrine to her in his home, and even after his

  • Victim's severed arm 'hung out of car'

    THE brother of an accused murderer, who cut up and disposed of a body, told a jury yesterday how one of the killers laughed about the killing to his girlfriend. Michael Stead told how James Lawlor, 26, joked about playing with the dead man's body parts

  • People give views on future of town's park

    PEOPLE have had their say on how Darlington's South Park should be improved. Darlington Borough Council asked for views on how the area of the park between the Skerne Park estate and Grange Road could be developed. The council says the consultations highlighted

  • School is given a sporting accolade

    A DARLINGTON school has become the first in the town to receive a new sports award. Heathfield Primary School was presented with its Sport England Activemark Award yesterday. The scheme rewards schools for their commitment to promoting the benefits of

  • Jobs blow to 75 workers

    A MANUFACTURING firm has announced plans to close one of its production facilities with the loss of 75 jobs. Negotiations with unions at Thorn Lighting are still on-going, with management hoping to transfer staff to different sites at its Spennymoor base

  • Town lights up at last

    CROOK'S first Christmas lighting display has been switched on. Earlier this year, the Crook Community Partnership and local traders raised enough money to decorate the town centre for the festive season. On Friday afternoon, shoppers could see the results

  • Patient in row over heart op delay has surgery

    AN elderly heart patient at the centre of a political row is recovering after heart surgery in the region. Claims that the 80-year-old patient had his urgent heart operation cancelled five times were made during ITV's Dimbleby programme on Sunday. Studio

  • Motorist had heart attack

    A 64-YEAR-OLD driver whose car careered into a garden in County Durham suffered a massive heart attack, a post mortem examination has revealed. Philip Blamire was travelling along the B6282 at Etherley Grange, near Bishop Auckland, with his daughter when

  • Jonny sits it out for Falcons

    NEWCASTLE Falcons have the chance to move up to second place in the Premiership tonight when they visit Reading's Madejski Stadium to play London Irish. They also face the Irish at Kingston Park on Sunday in the quarter-finals of the Tetley's Bitter Cup

  • Father and daughter on trial

    A FATHER and daughter went on trial yesterday accused of being involved in a street disturbance. Ian Colbeck and his 17-year-old daughter, Diane, are alleged to have been among a group of people who gathered in Bay Tree Road, Darlington, in April. Mr

  • Special day for special students

    THE magic of Christmas illuminated the lives of a group of special needs students during a visit to Santa's wintry home in Lapland. Braving temperatures well below zero, the seven students and four carers from Beaumont Hill School, in Darlington enjoyed

  • Coach seduced teenage athlete

    AN athletics coach abused his position to seduce an infatuated young runner. Arthur Pomfrey, 43, took advantage of the talented 13-year-old as she strove to do everything she could to be the best in her sport. Newcastle Crown Court heard how Pomfrey had

  • Boro win one at last - new coach Venables

    TERRY VENABLES finally linked up with Middlesbrough last night and admitted the fight to save the club from relegation is one of the biggest challenges he has faced in his colourful football career. The former England coach was unveiled at Boro's Rockliffe

  • New board for LSC announced

    THE board of Tyne and Wear's new Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has been announed by its chair, Ashley Winter. Council members will work together to encourage more people to take the opportunity to transform their lives through education and training

  • Hear all sides

    MILLIONAIRES I WAS amazed to read Hayley Gyllenspetz's comments in her column (Echo, Nov 27) about Judith Keppel winning a million pounds on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Is she seriously suggesting that all quiz show contestants should be means tested

  • Andrew's picture from the past is worth a lot

    A man was reunited yesterday with a portrait of himself as a boy which is to go under the hammer valued at £40,000. The portrait of Andrew Samson, painted when he was 13 years old, was owned by the late authoress, Lady Naomi Mitchison. Mr Samson, 58,

  • So-called healthy foods are bad for wealth

    SO-CALLED healthy foods do little for the wealth of people across the North, a consumer protection test revealed. A survey across the North of 200 everyday groceries, each deemed "healthy products", revealed they represent poor value for money compared

  • Looking to regain old glories

    THREE course Sunday lunch at the George in Piercebridge is £13.95, which may explain why a couple inquired, conferred and ordered two packets of plain crisps instead. It's a bit steep for a north countryman is that, worse still for a Yorkshireman - within

  • Training group focuses on Middle East market

    A TEESSIDE-based training consortium is predicting that it could pick up millions of pounds worth of business next year following a major drive to promote its services in the Middle East. The Teesside International Training Consortium brings together

  • Youngsters create model of future

    CHILDREN have mapped out a brighter future for their town, through a model and music. A year ago, youngsters from schools in the Hemlington area of Middlesbrough began thinking of how their community could be improved. With the help of volunteers from

  • Coaches to bridge the rail

    COACH company National Express promised last night to ride to the rescue of rail passengers facing a nightmare Christmas trip to the North-East. Bosses said they would be laying on scores of extra services to cope with the expected Christmas rush. Continuing

  • Appeal after club assault

    POLICE are appealing for witnesses to an attack in a Darlington nightclub which left a man with a serious face injury. The attack happened at 1.30am in the Mardi Gras nightclub on Sunday. The man was found unconscious on the dance floor and had no recollection

  • Couple killed in road crash are identified

    AN elderly couple killed in a road accident have been named by police. Edmond Pinkney, 82, and his 87-year-old wife, Kathleen, from Billingham, on Teesside, died when their Seat Ibiza was in collision with a Saab on the A19 at Dalton Lodge, near the A689

  • Helenlee to signal start of new year

    A 14-YEAR-OLD who helped nurse her terminally-ill mother has been chosen to signal the start of Newcastle's New Year's Eve celebrations. Helenlee Whaley will push the button to light the Millennium Beacon and herald a ten-hour programme of entertainment

  • Appeal to give asylum children a short break

    SITTING at their lessons in a classroom in Middlesbrough today are two youngsters who saw their family mercilessly gunned down. The boys, aged 13 and 15, were smuggled to Britain after spending two months as stowaways, hiding in the back of lorries. Officials

  • Forest extension scheme to change face of countryside

    THE landscape of a large part of north Durham is to change forever after councillors agreed last night that it could become part of a major forest extension. Derwentside District Council decided to accept an invitation from the Great North Forest Partnership

  • Crowbar robbers terrify shop girls

    POLICE believe two robberies in County Durham where a masked raider threatened shop assistants with a crowbar could be linked. In both incidents, in Shildon and Fishburn, a man wearing a balaclava burst into the stores and demanded money from cashiers

  • Soup that sticks to your ribs

    IN THE cold, drab days of winter a bowl of home-made soup is guaranteed to lift the spirits. The best soups at this time of year are the hearty ones which fill you with an inner glow or "stick to your ribs", as your granny might have said. Really thick

  • Union warns of food poisoning danger

    UNION representatives have warned that firefighters in Redcar are risking food poisoning because of the state of their station kitchen. At a meeting of the health and safety committee of Cleveland Fire Brigade, union representatives called for contract

  • Break-out on charity mission

    LAW officers will turn a blind eye to a mass breakout from a police station to help a five-year-old girl. The cell doors at the Southwick station, in Sunderland, will be accidentally left unlocked and an electronically-controlled side door will be half

  • Pool boss is hoping for third time lucky

    HARTLEPOOL United boss Chris Turner tonight tries to get the better of Scunthorpe at the third time of asking. Pool entertain Brian Laws' side at Victoria Park in the LDV Vans Trophy on the back of defeats at Glanford Park in both Division Three and FA

  • Scheme to modernise mental health care

    MENTAL health care is to be improved on Teesside with the creation of an acute admissions unit at St Luke's Hospital, Middlesbrough. There will be hotel-style sleeping accommodation in separate male and female areas on the first floor, with day rooms

  • Pay boost for GNER drivers

    BRITAIN'S fastest train operator - GNER - has handed a 20 per cent pay rise to its drivers. The deal, which boosts their salaries to £33,000, takes them to the top of the train drivers wage league. The deal affects around 250 drivers at GNER, which runs

  • Opposition voiced to phone mast scheme

    PLANS to replace a mobile telephone mast with a tower, antenna and dishes in Ferryhill have met with opposition. Sedgefield Borough Council says the proposal involves the replacement of a 15-metre mast at Mattinsons Bakery, Mainsforth Road, Ferryhill,