• Put backbone into your garden

    CONIFERS offer us colour, contrast and interest throughout the winter months. They are available in a wide range of forms, shapes and sizes, from the tiny bun-like mounds of the rock garden cypress to towering redwoods and scrambling junipers. Most gardeners

  • Probe into water and sewage system

    AN INQUIRY has been ordered into water quality and sewage discharges in Sunderland. Despite a £100m investment to improve sewage provision, Environment Minister Michael Meacher has called in Northumbrian Water Company plans and ordered the inquiry after

  • Police concern as robbers target pensioners

    DETECTIVES have expressed their concern after two incidents where women were robbed in broad daylight, in the Darlington town centre area. In one incident, a pensioner was approached from behind and had her handbag snatched. In the other, two young women

  • 'Start as you mean to go on' - Tait urges Quakers

    Darlington assistant manager Mick Tait is demanding that his team start positively in their crucial home game with in-form Scunthorpe United this afternoon. With Carlisle drawing level on points with the Quakers after a 1-0 win over Torquay last night

  • Not the real thing, but it's magnificent

    I HAVE a list of things I'd like to see before I pop my clogs, and one of those things is the golden death mask of Tutankhamun. The trouble is that the treasures from the boy king's tomb, discovered in 1922 by Englishman Howard Carter, rest in the Cairo

  • New road surface rapped by residents

    A KIND gesture to improve an unmade road has turned sour after residents criticised the work. People in William Street, Auckland Park, near Bishop Auckland have been campaigning for a proper road surface for more than 30 years. But recent work to resurface

  • Parking permit plan to lift trade

    A parking plan designed to boost flagging businesses in Bishop Auckland is being put to councillors. Traders have complained that customers will stay away if they cannot find free parking places near the shops. After years of wrangling, Wear Valley District

  • Families' traffic protest heats up

    FAMILIES have petitioned Hartlepool Borough Council to have waiting restrictions placed on their road. People living in West Park, Hartlepool, say their road becomes congested with waiting cars when parents come to collect children from High Tunstall

  • Backing for radio station

    DARLINGTON Hospital Radio will be able to buy new headsets, thanks to a generous donation. John Shuttleworth, representative for the Province of Durham Freemasons Society, handed over a cheque for £750 to radio staff. Simon Randolph, fundraising officer

  • Food firm promises new jobs if schools contract approved

    MORE jobs will be the icing on the cake if a Teesside food firm secures a contract to supply school meals to Grimsby. Middlesbrough's Brambles Foods are the "favoured'' contractor for the job. A company spokeswoman said: "We are just in the centre of

  • It's not yet in the can with the digicam

    DIGITAL camcorders may already be a thing of the past. Although the technology has only just taken off in this country, Hitachi has already shown us a glimpse of the future. The DZ-MV10 uses DVD discs to record sounds and pictures that can be played back

  • Youngsters spreading the easter message

    A SERIES of Easter concerts is under way at a Darlington primary school. After weeks of preparation, nursery pupils at Raventhorpe Preparatory School, in Carmel Road North, put on a show, entitled The Shape Wizard, for their parents yesterday. The performance

  • Fahey looks forward to a Vintage performance

    PROVIDED the draw does not have a profound effect on the result of today's £50,000 Lincoln Handicap, in my book Vintage Premium (3.45) is the one they all have to beat. Whichever way you look at the equation, Richard Fahey's useful four-year-old must

  • It's not yet in the can with the digicam

    DIGITAL camcorders may already be a thing of the past. Although the technology has only just taken off in this country, Hitachi has already shown us a glimpse of the future. The DZ-MV10 uses DVD discs to record sounds and pictures that can be played back

  • Singing to the big hymn sheet

    PERHAPS the most instantly obvious change in Britain's churches these past 25 years has been the warmth and width of their welcome. Gone are the half-frozen handshake, the brimstone black back row bouncers. In their place, smiling faces like Anne Gilmore's

  • Drama students double efforts

    DRAMA students have got round the problem of presenting two plays at the same time. Teenage set designers have invented a custom-built revolving stage, divided into two sets. The A-level drama group at Stokesley School came up with the stage idea when

  • Away day joy for Pool

    Hartlepool United's promotion charge continued with a 2-0 win over Plymouth at Home Park. In a game where chances were few and far between, Pool capitalised on two first half defensive errors to strengthen their position at the top of the Division Three

  • Businesses rally behind scheme to help city's unemployed

    businesses and individuals on Tyneside have inundated a scheme aimed at improving the lives of people in Newcastle, with offers of support. The Newcastle Employment Bond has produced a Roll of Honour containing the names of everyone who has contributed

  • Anger at golf club revamp

    GOLFERS are unhappy over plans to redevelop a municipal golf course in Darlington. They are particularly concerned at plans to refurbish the club house at Stressholme Golf Club, owned by Darlington Borough Council. The local authority is spending about

  • Mandelson goes online as The Echo's first Interview-e

    Hartlepool MP and former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson put himself online yesterday to take questions from readers as part of a ground-breaking initiative. The controversial politician launched an Internet feature called The Interview-e at

  • Science is made fun for youngsters at school fair

    YOUNGSTERS got to grips with the mysteries of science and technology at a fair. New Brancepeth Primary School held the event, the first one of its kind at the school, to mark National Science Week, which is designed to promote interest in scientific issues

  • Nurse removed from register

    A Gateshead nurse who called a resident a "dirty animal" at a Newcastle nursing home was removed from the nursing Register yesterday. Jean Turnbull appeared at a professional conduct committee hearing of the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and

  • Sickening acts confirm region as cruelty capital

    THE North-East has underlined its position as the animal cruelty capital of the country following three more acts of brutality. The most disgraceful act came to light yesterday after a cat was found beheaded in Darlington. It was first thought that the

  • Hear All Sides

    Reader's letters from The Northern Echo GM CROPS RECENT reports of proposed GM crop trials in County Durham add yet more worries to some farmers and others. The Government and some experts say there's no fear of GM crops affecting other crops, wildlife

  • Double despair

    DARLINGTON bowlers have suffered a double disappointment in national competitions. The Morrison Centre duo of Ann Anderson and Alan Moore went down 24-143 to their York opponents at Selby in the Inter Area Final of the National Mixed Pairs. Then, at York

  • Man found guilty of biting off rival's ear

    A MAN was found guilty by a jury yesterday of biting off a piece of an opponent's ear during a late-night street fight. The jury at York Crown Court found Lea Barker not guilty of intending to inflict grievous bodily harm on Stephen Lamb, but guilty of

  • Council tax rebate will increase

    Q Our joint State Pensions are £110.45 per week and joint company pensions of £257.53 a month. We have savings of £5,000. Can we have a rebate on our Council Tax of £640 a year? A You qualify for a rebate of about £1 a week currently, but from April an

  • High-rolling gamblers damage Stanley's profits

    GAMBLERS winning on blackjack are making life difficult for gaming group Stanley Leisure. Stanley Leisure said its Crockfords casino in London's Mayfair had seen profits affected by the success of "several high-rolling customers" winning on games such

  • Potter to give magic boost to market

    NEXT week, the City will be livened up by a touch of magic, jewellery and Wild Wild Racing - which will hopefully take traders' eyes off the volatile stock market. Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury paved the way for good full-year figures in November,

  • Treasurer who took church cash jailed

    A FORMER headmaster was jailed for six months yesterday after he fleeced more than £26,000 from his village church funds to pay off rising debts. Church treasurer Martin Wagstaff, 56, began dipping into the funds at medieval Ryton Parish Church after

  • School red-dy for the challenge

    AN east Durham primary school raised £330 for comic relief thanks to two daring adults. Haswell school pulled out all the stops last Friday when pupils had their noses painted red before tucking into red nose biscuits. The morning and afternoon nursery

  • Minister too calm in teeth of storm

    Respected local trainer Michael Dods, based at Denton, near Darlington, today joins The Northern Echo as a Saturday columnist, giving strong views and gossip from inside the racing industry. THE question on most people's minds as the new turf Flat season

  • Couples face rise in price of civil ceremonies

    THE cost of getting married in Hartlepool will increase if plans to increase attendance fees for civil ceremonies are approved. The Marriage Act 1994 allows civil marriage ceremonies to take place in premises approved by the local authority, provided

  • Poet gets safety message across to children

    POET Bernard Young put his literary skills to use when he visited youngsters at Darlington's Abbey Infant School. Mr Young, from Driffield, East Yorkshire, was invited by the school to pass on the road safety message through poetry. Children have been

  • Lowery hopeful of upset

    Bedlington joint manager Tony Lowery believes that his side still has a chance of reaching the FA Vase final when they go to Berkhamsted tomorrow . The Northern League club trail 3-0 after the first leg, and Lowery admits that they are rank outsiders

  • Ferryhill six set to play

    Ferryhill Athletic manager Jimmy O'Sullivan has been busy strengthening his squad ahead of today's visit to Windscale. Not only has he re-signed three former players but he has also snapped up another trio from local football. Alan Robson, who has had

  • Miners urged to confront minister

    FORMER pitmen and their widows are being urged to turn out in numbers when Government Energy Minister Peter Hain visits the North-East on Monday. Mr Hain will address a public meeting in Murton, County Durham, where he will face questions on the lung

  • Please spare Oscar's blushes

    After Red Nose Day, welcome to Red Face Day. The good, the great and the desperate-for-fame put on their glad rags and assemble in Los Angeles for the 73th Academy Awards Ceremony tomorrow. TV coverage of the show will be watched by millions worldwide

  • Pupils tackle scheme

    THIRTY year ten students at Red House School, in Norton, near Stockton, are embarking on the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The youngsters will follow a varied course of activities during the next few months, ranging from working with children to mountain

  • McGrath's resignation leaves Stephens fuming

    Furious Horden chairman Norman Stephens yesterday launched a scathing attack on the club's former manager Jim McGrath for walking out on the Second Division club. McGrath quit on Thursday saying that he wanted a 'fresh challenge', but Stephens is far

  • Development will split town in two, claim worried traders

    A POTENTIAL £100m development is almost certain to be scaled down. A senior council official told a public meeting that a scheme earmarked for King's Head Fields, in Stanley, had been replaced by smaller scale proposals. An unnamed development company

  • Tour success earns Pratt Durham deal

    DURHAM have offered a full-time contract to 19-year-old left-handed batsman Gary Pratt. They have also introduced development contracts as a stepping stone between the academy and the senior squad, and the first two have gone to seamer Mark Davies and

  • All fingers are crossed for Hope

    A PIONEERING operation on a girl's disfigured face finally went ahead last night. Five-year-old Hope Elliott, of the Redhouse Estate, Sunderland, on Wearside, suffers from a rare condition known as cystic lymphovenous malformation, and underwent surgery

  • Freedom for gang who kicked soldier to death

    THE mother of a British Army sportsman kicked to death outside an Austrian disco spoke of her anger last night after members of a Serbian gang accused of his murder were freed. Police had accused five men of murdering Corporal Derek Osborne, who died

  • Battle to save bushes taken to councillors

    COUNCILLORS will be asked next week to underline a commitment to save gorse bushes on a riverside walk. In January, Catterick Village residents linked arms to prevent contractors getting on to open land known locally as 18 Acres. They were angry they

  • Key opportunity for city in site

    UP to 6,000 jobs could be created through a major regeneration package for a key city site. The 60-hectare site just to the west of York station has been identified as a "once-in-a-millennium" opportunity for the city's economic future. At present, it

  • Swindling workmen warning

    COWBOY contractors have been knocking on doors in North Yorkshire, swindling homeowners and businesses who have agreed to have tarmac laid on drives and entrances. An 85-year-old woman was among the victims, paying a man who called at her Ripon home more

  • Mixed welcome for child orders

    HEADTEACHERS in the North-East gave a mixed response yesterday to Government plans to introduce parenting orders to curb unruly children. Education Secretary David Blunkett has announced plans to extend the orders, which were introduced last July, to

  • Young gourmets on tastebud tour

    BUDDING gourmets cooked up a treat when they went on a tastebud tour of the world. Teams of pupils, aged 11 to 14, from six secondary schools, battled it out to see who could produce the most tempting two-course meals for £10, in an international masterchef

  • Drug addict locked up for burgling family home

    A drug addict whose father caught him burgling the family home was sentenced to three years in a young offenders' institution, yesterday. Robert Laver, 20, of Tennyson Avenue, Grangetown, had already burgled the homes of his girlfriend, a cousin and a

  • Mr Bean saves the day as his pilot collapses

    TELEVISION star Rowan Atkinson saved his family's life by grabbing the controls of a plane at 16,000ft when the pilot passed out, it was revealed last night. The North-East born comic, best-known for his role as the hapless Mr Bean, had chartered a private

  • Pearsons lifted by marketing account

    PEARSONS is continuing to strengthen its marketing communications division after winning an account with CTC Marine Projects. Middlesbrough-based Pearsons was chosen by the Darlington subsea fibre optics company to help celebrate the launch of its new

  • Best is yet to come from Aussie star

    AUSTRALIAN international Paul Okon insists Middlesbrough fans have yet to see the best of him,. Midfielder Okon, signed last summer on a Bosman free from Italian giants Fiorentina, said: "I'm getting closer and closer to my best form with every game.

  • A genius signs off for the last time

    WILLIAM Hanna didn't rate himself as much of an artist, but he helped create such popular cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear, Top Cat, Scooby Doo and the Wacky Races gang. The animation pioneer, who has died aged 90, and partner

  • Company boss faces ten-year disqualification

    A COMPANY director was disqualified for ten years by Durham County Court yesterday, because of his misconduct in relation to four failed firms. Ralph William Shaw, of Eden Grove, Middridge, Shildon, was banned as a result of his misconduct as a director

  • the face value of portraits as an artform

    THEY usually paint the great and the good - princes, presidents and prime ministers. But now the country's leading artists have turned their attention to the ordinary man and woman in the street. The result, 50 portraits of everyday folk, is being exhibited

  • Singing to the big hymn sheet

    PERHAPS the most instantly obvious change in Britain's churches these past 25 years has been the warmth and width of their welcome. Gone are the half-frozen handshake, the brimstone black back row bouncers. In their place, smiling faces like Anne Gilmore's

  • Roadworks put brake on sales say traders

    TRADERS have claimed roadworks being carried out in their town are having a serious impact on business. They say customers are being put off going to Pickering's main shopping area by county council signs saying Market Place closed. Victor Buchanan, chairman

  • Historians urged to help save battle site

    HISTORIANS are being urged to help preserve a reputed Civil War battle site. Efforts to have the Chapel Beck area of Guisborough included in the town's conservation area ran into problems over a lack of proof concerning its violent past. Officials require

  • Helen is the grand old lady of the toon army faithful

    SUPERFAN Helen McCendrick Crute is the grand old lady of British football after supporting her team, Newcastle United, for 86 years. The 90-year-old member of the Toon Army is a season ticket holder at St James' Park and rarely misses a Magpies game.

  • Old knee problem forces McCann to pull out

    Sunderland midfielder Gavin McCann yesterday suffered the heartbreak of having to withdraw from the England squad He returned to the North-East when it became clear a knee problem would rob him of the chance of a second cap following his debut in the

  • University concert by virtuoso

    Pianist Alexander Amatosi will perform a concert at the University of Durham at the end of the month. Mr Amatosi, one of the county's foremost interpreters of Carl Orff's piano works, is playing at the university's school of music in Palace Green, Durham

  • Unions in last-ditch bid to save steel jobs

    Union leaders yesterday gave the Government details of last-ditch plans aimed at saving some of the 6,000 steelworkers' jobs from the axe. The Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) contacted Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers, who has urged

  • Stalker sketched woman's gravestone

    A WOMAN left the country to escape a stalker who sketched a gravestone with her name on it, a court was told yesterday. Jane Tranter, 23, was a member of a Job Club working on her curriculum vitae when newcomer Gavin Smith, 28, grabbed it. He memorised

  • Frozen food plant to close

    A FRESH jobs blow last night hit a part of the region struggling to recover from repeated knocks. Frozen meals firm Hibernia Foods announced plans to close its factory in Peterlee, County Durham, shedding 200 workers. The Irish firm said this followed

  • Beaten but unbowed by ordeal

    A MUGGING victim is injured - but unbowed by her experience. Ivy Cole, 80, had her arm broken when a teenager attacked her in Station Road, Eston, Middlesbrough. The defiant pensioner described the youth who knocked her to the ground as "rubbish". She

  • Man accused of stalking

    A FORMER security officer at York Magistrates' Court is accused of stalking his ex-partner. Lionel Eric Robson, 54, of Lang Avenue, Tang Hall, York, denied three charges when he appeared before Harrogate magistrates yesterday. He is accused of harassing

  • Prison for pair in club attack

    TWO men were jailed yesterday for terrorising a club after they were refused drinks. Thomas Connors, 37, and Lee Tyers, 28, challenged others to fight at the Preston and Eaglescliffe Club, Richard Scott, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court. They became

  • Officer hurt in rescue attempt

    A POLICEMAN suffered slight burns yesterday after dashing into a blazing flat to try to rescue two children, who eventually managed to get out by themselves. PC Mark Nicklin was on patrol with Paul Godfrey, 32, in Sunderland Road, Gateshead, at 8.20am

  • Big field at Redcar

    NORTH-EAST athletics comes out of its enforced hibernation tomorrow when a record entry of nearly 1,500 runners is expected for the annual Enron Redcar Half Marathon. But the long-standing Cleveland event has not been left untouched by the foot and mouth

  • Gun attack sex offender jailed

    A CONVICTED sex-offender who fired at two youths with an air rifle after their friends called him a nonce has been jailed. Mark Urwin, 36, snapped after months of torment from neighbours after his conviction for the indecent assault of a girl in July

  • Intertoto is no-go for Cats

    SUNDERLAND have rejected the chance to qualify for Europe via the Intertoto Cup competition this summer. And ace marksman Kevin Phillips last night urged his team-mates to make sure they open the door to a Continental adventure through their Premiership

  • Ten-day countdown to election verdict

    Tony Blair last night set himself a ten-day deadline to call a May 3 General Election. Mr Blair revealed his personal timetable when he was caught on camera chatting to EU Commission President Romano Prodi in Stockholm at the start of a two-day summit

  • Epidemic 'to top 4,400 cases'

    BRITAIN'S farmers faced more grim news last night after an official report predicted more than 4,400 cases of foot-and-mouth disease would be recorded by June. The report came as the number of outbreaks reached 514 and Tony Blair was said to have ordered

  • Market town police station safe from closure says chief

    A DALES market town has been assured its police station is safe from closure for the foreseeable future. Rumours began to spread that Leyburn could be on the brink of closure when it emerged that a civilian post is to be cut to help cover the cost of

  • Couple aim for charity boost with raffle

    CHARITY fundraisers say that the prizes donated to their raffle should be just the ticket. But so far, sales for next month's draw in aid of Action on Pre-eclampsia have not taken off. Sheila and Joe Thornton, of New Brancepeth, are holding the raffle

  • Williams the hero as Quakers march on

    Darlington took another step towards league safety with a deserved victory over Scunthorpe at Feethams on Saturday. Striker John Williams struck in each half and despite pulling a goal back late on, the visitors rarely looked like getting anything from

  • Automatic promotion is still the aim for Turner

    HARTLEPOOL United chief Chris Turner is refusing to give up the promotion ghost. Turner yesterday took his fourth-placed side to Plymouth for today's noon encounter aiming to close the ten-point deficit on Brighton and Cardiff, the two sides immediately

  • Minister announces scheme to help city

    A MULTI-MILLION pound project aimed at reviving the fortunes of Sunderland took a step closer to reality yesterday. Local Government Minister Hilary Armstrong announced her approval for the setting up of an urban regeneration company (URC) with a brief