• Shake-up of health power is confirmed

    TWO-THIRDS of the regions health authorities will disappear in April after details of the latest NHS shake-up were confirmed. Three large Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) will replace familiar health authorities (HAs) from Berwick to Scarborough. The

  • Police claim success in bid to arrest drug dealer a day

    A POLICE chief said yesterday that his vow to arrest a drug dealer a day is working. "The dealer-a-day campaign is working - and working well," said Detective Superintendent Adrian Roberts, of Cleveland Police. "Public reaction to our operations has been

  • Renewed hope for harbour development

    hopes of a multi-million pound development going ahead on Whitby's upper harbourside have been revived following the rejection last year of a £10m scheme. A public consultation exercise has been staged, under which residents put forward their own ideas

  • Pupils can't wait to see decorations

    YOUNGSTERS at a North-East school have been waiting excitedly for Anita Bainbridge to switch on her Christmas lights. Mrs Bainbridge, a lunchtime supervisor assistant at Timothy Hackworth Primary School in Shildon, County Durham, and her husband, Dale

  • Make the evening go with a fizz

    WHEN they said it was the season to be jolly, over-indulgence in drink probably wasn't what they originally had in mind. But, just as Christmas dinner is not the same unless each plate is whimpering under the weight of sprouts, so there is a festive obligation

  • Home-made with love

    JUGGLING snowmen and a racing Rudolph are some of the Christmas creations made by retired electrician Russell Leggott. Byerley Road has become a big attraction in Shildon, County Durham, where one home has been transformed with fairy lights and hand-made

  • Footballers take gifts to sick children

    MIDDLESBROUGH FC players brought Christmas cheer to dozens of sick youngsters yesterday when they visited the children's wards of local hospitals. The stars distributed presents given by supporters on behalf of Roary's Children's Charity at the James

  • Heart patient battles back with coast to coast ride

    HEART attack victim Philip Toms went coast to coast in his efforts to raise money for charity. Less than a year after his coronary, the Darlington man raised £600 for the British Heart Foundation with his cycle ride from Workington to Wallsend. He carried

  • Badger charges dropped against farmer

    CHARGES against a farmer, accused of interfering with a badger set on his land, have been dropped, a court was told today. Mark Simpson, 45, pleaded guilty in November to two charges under the Protection of Badgers Act, which alleged he blocked the run

  • We're watching - police warn seasonal burglars

    POLICE in Durham and Chester-le-Street are warning burglars they will not be taking a holiday over the festive season. A crackdown on thieves is running to try to counter a 60 per cent rise in house break-ins across the division. So far more than 40 suspects

  • Care centre plan awaits Government approval

    A care centre could be built on Teesside to provide a one-stop support facility for the elderly. The planned intermediate care centre of excellence, in Middlesbrough, would be geared to reducing the number of older people who would otherwise be admitted

  • Putting on a light show is a family affair

    MOTHER-of-six Linda Hardy makes hers a Ho Ho Home to entertain her brood. Mrs Hardy, of Front Street, Hesledon, near Castle Eden, County Durham, started decorating the house three years ago. Since then, it has looked more spectacular every year, and this

  • Refugee joins hospital staff in landmark training move

    A REFUGEE has become the first asylum-seeking doctor to join the region's health service. The male doctor, who has not been named, is working at a hospital on Tyneside after passing the necessary examinations. More than 35 refugee doctors are undergoing

  • Gym owner stretching out

    THE owner of a gym is hoping to set up a second branch of his business in Darlington. Jeremy Grant, who owns Grants Gym, in St Helen Auckland, is hoping to expand to a second gym in the New Year. He has submitted a planning application to Darlington Borough

  • Gordon's praise for North-East councils

    CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown has praised two North-East councils for their demonstration of "pioneering local government". For Darlington Borough Council, Mr Brown's comments, at the Local Government Association (LGA) annual conference in London yesterday,

  • Brightwell aims for play-off spot

    Darlington's David Brightwell says the Quakers still have a great chance of reaching the play-offs this season, despite falling to 12th position having occupied seventh at the beginning of October. Quakers are now six points adrift of seventh position

  • Line up of festive seasonal walks

    A SERIES of bracing walks to burn off festive over-indulgence has been lined up for Christmas and the New Year. More than 60 guided walks have been planned by Durham County Council to provide walkers with exercise and an insight into the county's landscape

  • Tributes to a 'gentleman' of music

    TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular music shop owner who has died at the age of 44. David Edkins, who established the Top Sounds music shop in Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, ten years ago, was described as a "true gentleman". He was found dead by his

  • Students raise voices for needy

    YOUNGSTERS touched by the plight of Afghan refugees have recorded a CD as a tribute. Students at Springwell Dene School, in Plains Farm, Sunderland, wrote Footprints in the Sky after hearing of the situation in the war-torn country. They devised the CD

  • Bridge crash driver sacked

    A driver who drove a double decker bus into a low level bridge, ripping off its roof, has been sacked. Bus company Stagecoach North-East, yesterday confirmed it had dismissed the driver, who has not been named, after a disciplinary hearing last week.

  • Collector robbed

    A woman was attacked as she collected money for an insurance company. The woman, who was working for Provident Insurance, was left shaken but otherwise unhurt after the thief grabbed money from her, in Killingworth, north Newcastle, at about 5pm on Monday

  • Fate of Kvaerner staff in balance

    HUNDREDS of workers at troubled engineering group Kvaerner are expected to learn their fate this morning. The Anglo-Norwegian oil and gas company is expected to release a statement this morning on the outcome of an extraordinary general meeting to vote

  • Coroner's criticism over death in Greece

    A GRANDMOTHER collapsed and died on holiday after hitting her head on railings. Now a coroner has criticised Greek authorities for their investigation into the death of Mary Hunter. The 63-year-old, from Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside, collapsed at her

  • Exports drop sees EU trade gap widen

    BRITAIN'S goods trade gap with European Union countries rose to its highest level for 17 months, in October, figures have revealed. A dip in exports saw the deficit at £625m, which was 26 per cent above the figure recorded by the Office for National Statistics

  • Residents fight tanks plan

    PEOPLE in an east Cleveland town are to petition a utilities company over plans to change the sewerage system. It follows an open day in Marske on Tuesday when Northumbrian Water engineers were on hand to explain proposals for storage tanks to hold excess

  • Oriental clue to body in suitcase

    A BADLY-DECOMPOSED body discovered in a suitcase which had been dumped in a hedge was that of an Oriental woman in her late 20s, police said today. Forensic tests confirmed the woman's ethnic origin and approximate age more than two months after her body

  • Offenders sign on line for better behaviour

    CONTRACTS between police and youngsters to prevent anti-social behaviour are being hailed a success. Acceptable Behaviour Agreements (ABAs) have been introduced in South Tyneside to solve nuisance problems. Following their success in other areas, they

  • Care worker who preyed on boys jailed

    A SENIOR residential care worker who "groomed" boys before sexually abusing them, and took one victim on trips to Africa, has been jailed for nine years. John Duncan, 48, of Guernsey Road, Grindon, Sunderland, subjected his victims to "prolonged and repeated

  • Action team set for work

    AN action team has been set up to help the over-50s and lone parents in Redcar and Cleveland to gain work and training. Action Team for Jobs will be run by a private sector provider, Reed in Partnership, to provide support and help find employment and

  • Jobs go as slowdown hits John Menzies

    DISTRIBUTION group John Menzies is cutting 1,200 jobs around the world. The cuts will be in John Menzies' aviation division, which has suffered from the slowing global economy and the September 11 terror attacks in the US. About 200 jobs are expected

  • School treat youngsters experience the magic of christmas

    YOUNGSTERS with severe learning difficulties have been treated to a Christmas show and a party lunch. Thirteen pupils from Wellbank School, in Donwell, Washington, visited the town's Galleries shopping centre. They watched the Christmas Animatronics show

  • Hear All Sides

    Letters from The Northern Echo RAILWAY BRIDGES I WAS interested to read your reports of the Selby rail disaster and your publicity about the state of the approaches to railway bridges. Late one night I was one of two passing motorists who prevented a

  • Mystery of girl's death plunge

    A COMMUNITY was in shock last night after a four-year-old girl fell to her death from an upstairs bedroom window on the eve of her mother's birthday. Police were still trying to establish how Lyndsey Churlish plunged 20ft from the open window at the back

  • Steer clear of 'fun' that can end in tragedy

    REVELLERS are being warned not to get caught up in alcohol-fuelled violence following a spate of killings. The warning comes from Durham Constabulary's chief homicide detectives after seven people died and several more were attacked in incidents during

  • Council's accountability pledge

    DURHAM County Council is promising greater transparency and accountability under its new constitution. The Labour-controlled authority has adopted a cabinet system, run as an experiment for 18 months, which will formally come into operation in the New

  • Investigation after pit death

    AN INVESTIGATION was launched yesterday following the death of a miner in an underground accident in the North Yorkshire coalfield. Anthony Poulton, who was 40 and from Sheffield, died after being struck by rock which fell from the roof of a tunnel he

  • Axe falls on Persimmon workforce

    HOUSEBUILDER Persimmon is cutting more jobs following its takeover of Beazer. Following the £550m merger of the businesses, in March, 46 jobs were cut at operations on Tyneside. Now the York-based builder has revealed that it needs to cut another 81 jobs

  • Thumbs-up to help beat fraud

    Shoppers in York are to be asked to give their thumbprint when using cheque and credit cards, as part of a crackdown on credit card fraud. The scheme has been tried elsewhere and has already led to dramatic reductions in fraud in owns and cities, including

  • N-E universities miss student target figures

    UNIVERSITIES in the North-East are missing targets to attract students from deprived areas and to tackle drop-out rates. Performance indicators released by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) yesterday revealed that although popular

  • Higher council tax bills look likely for region

    HOUSEHOLDERS across North Yorkshire look likely to have to dig even deeper in their pockets to meet their council tax charges next year. Members of the county council yesterday decided to back revised budget proposals for their next year's budget. The

  • Jailed for insurance swindle over truck

    A MOTOR business operator resorted to an insurance fiddle after being pressured to repay mounting debts. Leonard Hallimond, 38, was jailed for eight months yesterday after Durham Crown Court heard he received a £21,750 insurance pay-out for a recovery

  • Burglar stole to feed drug habit

    A BURGLAR preyed on houses in a neighbouring community to fund his heroin addiction, a court heard. David Langley, who committed two break-ins in Framwellgate Moor, Durham, after his release from prison, was yesterday given a further three-year term behind

  • A Ha-Ha-Hall for defiant Doggy

    WEST Cornforth Community Centre, the column is said several years ago to have observed, must last have been painted at about the same time as the Mona Lisa. "I was rather annoyed about it," said Gwen Dodds, as well she might have been, though as shabby

  • Teesside news in Brief

    Man quizzed over mail van DETECTIVES last night questioned a man after a Post Office van was driven off from Eastbourne Road, Middlesbrough. A police spotter plane was brought in to track the van, and police on the ground moved in and arrested a man.

  • Readers rally to Giving Tree call

    READERS of The Northern Echo have been sent a huge "thank you" after making this year's Giving Tree Appeal the most successful ever. Families across the Darlington area and businesses around the region have swamped collection centres with presents for

  • Brain surgery patient died month later

    THE sudden death of a North-East woman a month after having brain surgery was the result of misadventure, an inquest heard yesterday. Amina Bibi, 63, of Victoria Street, Middlesbrough, was rushed to Middlesbrough General Hospital on February 9 after falling

  • Piped music at the museum

    MEMBERS of the Cleveland branch of the Northumbrian Pipers' Society will play a selection of carols and North-umbrian folk tunes in the museum's Period Street, between 3pm and 4pm, on Sunday. Standard museum charges of £1.20 for adults, 60p for children

  • £2.5m spending to improve college's technology block

    A SCHOOL is to get a new technology block and hall, thanks to more than £2.5m of Government cash. Carmel Technology College, Darlington, is among a number of schools in the North-East to receive a share of £24m for new classrooms and other buildings.

  • Last survivor's tribute to mates

    THE last survivor of the HMS Hood disaster bade a final farewell to his shipmates earlier this year. Former North-East man Ted Briggs was one of only three men to survive when the ship sank after her brief battle with the Bismarck. He recently returned

  • Business centre planned for brewery site

    A HIGH-TECH business centre is set to be built on the site of the famous Castle Eden Brewery in Peterlee. Beer production ceases on the site on December 31, when Castle Eden plans to transfer production to Cameron's Lion Brewery at Hartlepool. The takeover

  • Giant wind farm could be world's biggest

    ONE of the world's largest wind farms could be springing up in the region. Steel firm Corus and Northumberland-based Hexham Wind have asked Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for permission to site 19 massive 140m-high wind turbines on derelict Corus

  • Accreditation programme is a hit

    THE region's biggest training drive to develop the skills of manufacturing staff cont-inues, with more leading firms putting workers forward for accreditation. More than 1,000 employees of automotive and high volume manufacturers in the region have now

  • Cash awards boost science in schools

    FIVE North-East schools have been awarded grants for science activities. The schools received £750 each from the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Association for Science Education. The money is for projects such as science fairs

  • Woman may face prison over assault

    A WOMAN who admitted indecently assaulting a teenage boy could face prison, a court heard. Shirley Anne Allen, 53, of Stuart Avenue, Richmond, North Yorkshire, admitted two charges of indecent assault between 1995 and 1997 at Teesside Crown Court yesterday

  • Sterilised mum sues hospital over baby

    A PARTIALLY blind woman is attempting to make legal history by demanding compensation for giving birth to a healthy baby after she was sterilised. Karina Rees, 29, from Darlington, is fighting to overcome the historic legal precedent that healthy children

  • Referee right to see red, says Dyer

    KIERON Dyer last night sympathised with referee Graham Poll after Newcastle moved to the top of the Premiership. Mr Poll sent off Craig Bellamy of Newcastle and Ray Parlour of Arsenal during the Magpies' action-packed 3-1 victory at Highbury and handed

  • Comment from The Northern Echo - Yet another home defeat

    THE long-running, infuriating fiasco over the Millennium Dome may be over now that agreement has been reached to turn it into a 20,000-seater sports and concert venue. But the even longer-running and increasingly infuriating fiasco over the new national

  • Schools gets extension for Christmas

    A MAJOR extension to a town's primary school has been completed in time for Christmas, at a cost of more than £200,000. North Yorkshire County Council has just finished work on the project at Boroughbridge Community Primary School. Headteacher David Roberts

  • Workhorse of the air to get its wings as a museum attraction

    ONE of the great workhorses of the air was given a new home yesterday - but instead of flying in, it turned up on the back of a low loader. The Douglas Dakota is synonymous with the great airborne operations of the Second World War, and was once an almost

  • Barton to beat Docker in battle between Easterbys

    HANDLING Catterick's notoriously sharp track is a tricky business, but it holds no fears for previous course and distance winner Barton Dante (1.00). Mick Easterby's four-year-old won doing handsprings at the course in November, nipping around the top

  • Hospital wait cover-up is 'widespread'

    A LEADING North-East consultant claimed last night that covering up of waiting list figures was "widespread". Dr Bill Ryder's comments came as a National Audit Office report found that nine NHS health trusts across the country had inappropriately adjusted

  • Fears over potential child abductor

    PARENTS' fears about a potential child abductor have been rekindled a year after a series of attempts to snatch youngsters from a North-East town. Police are warning parents to be extra vigilant after a man tried to snatch a child, a year after similar

  • East Cleveland news in Brief

    Bid to grab boy of ten Police last night appealed for witnesses to the attempted abduction of a ten-year-old boy in Loftus, east Cleveland. The boy was walking in the West Road area at 3.50pm yesterday when a man grabbed his arm. He broke free and was

  • Fears of 'kangaroo court' threat to Mallon mayor bid

    A Home Office statement has raised fears that suspended senior detective Ray Mallon faces a kangaroo court at his disciplinary hearing next month, which will keep him tied to the force and unable to stand for mayor of Middlebrough. At an abuse of process

  • Pantomime magic at school

    DONKEYS and innkeepers made way for pumpkins and glass slippers when a school staged an off-beat Christmas production. Shildon Primary School decided to give parents a break from the traditional Nativity play and staged their version Cinderella, called

  • Council's accountability pledge

    DURHAM County Council is promising greater transparency and accountability under its new constitution. The Labour-controlled authority has adopted a cabinet system, run as an experiment for 18 months, which will formally come into operation in the New

  • Baird plea to secure future for shipyard

    A NORTH-EAST MP last night renewed her appeals for Government cash to help secure the future of a mothballed shipyard. The Cammell Laird yard, on the banks of the river Tees, at South Bank, Middlesbrough, has been silent since April when the company went

  • Darlington news in Brief

    New Year late pub openings Nine pubs and clubs in Darlington have been given permission to open late on New Year's Eve. Darlington Borough Council's special licensing committee met yesterday to grant permission for the nine premises to open late to welcome

  • TDC inquiry report due to be published

    A report into allegations of financial mismanagement at the former Teesside Development Corporation (TDC) will be published next month and examined by the House of Commons in February. The Government's financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, has

  • OAP died after stair fall

    A FRAIL pensioner died from multiple injuries after falling down the stairs at her home, an inquest heard. An inquest into the death of Enid Swinbank, 81, of East Block, Witton Gilbert, heard that despite being registered blind, having heart problems

  • International interest in park

    DUTCH students have inspected work to transform a local park into a multi-million pound landmark. The students, from Eindhoven College of Technology, visited Herrington Country Park, a former colliery site, which is being changed from a reminder of Sunderland's

  • Pressing matters

    HARTLEPOOL United manager Chris Turner has urged all of his fringe players to put pressure on his current starting 11. The Pool boss saw Pool reserves lose 4-2 against Avon Insurance League Division Two leaders Macclesfield at Seaham yesterday and he

  • £10,000 of festive cheer for charity

    CHRISTMAS has come early for a County Durham charity, which has received a £10,000 grant. The Durham Area Disabled Leisure Group will be given the grant tomorrow, from the Lloyds TSB Foundation - one for the country's largest grant-making trusts. The

  • Durham news in Brief

    Community has online future THE people of Tantobie have no excuse not to join to the information technology revolution after receiving almost £20,000 for a community online centre. North Durham MP, Kevan Jones opened the £19,839 on-line centre at Tantobie

  • Retirement presentation

    AN east Cleveland man has been honoured for his work with an organisation promoting marriage. Colin Proudler, from Saltburn, has retired after 17 years as chairman of the Cleveland branch of Marriage Care, which offers counselling to married couples.

  • Who is next in the firing line?

    As US-backed forces close in on the remaining members of al Qaida in Afghanistan, attention is turning to where the war on terrorism might move next. Nick Morrison reports. EVEN as the first British troops are preparing to play their part in the peacekeeping

  • Authors left in the lurch as Press grinds to halt

    THE collapse of a North-East vanity publishing company has left dozens of disappointed authors thousands of pounds out of pocket. Publishers Pentland Press, which operated from offices in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, went into liquidation two weeks

  • I'm not marrying Sir Paul for his fortune

    Sir Paul McCartney's North-East fiance Heather Mills has denied she is a gold digger, saying the star's fortune would only have been appealing if he was much richer. The 33-year-old former model, who was born in Washington, Wearside, rejected suggestions

  • Hospital services boost

    PATIENTS at the Gateshead's Queen Elizabeth Hospital are set for a welcome boost following the announcement of a major new investment to help improve stroke and cancer services. Thanks to funding from the New Opportunities Fund, the hospital's Diagnostic

  • Training paves way to plum job for Jenny

    JENNY Wayman's dedication to training has helped her land a dream job at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham. Jenny, 17, from Baldersdale, Teesdale, left school at 16 determined to ensure she had the qualifications for a career in administration

  • Agency rides to stables rescue

    A RIDING stables has been given a boost after receiving one of the region's first foot-and-mouth recovery grants. Eleanor Anderson, of Norwood Stables, in Ramshaw, near Etherley, County Durham, has been given a £6,000 grant from the Business Recovery

  • Stun guns to get first tests in North-East

    NORTHUMBRIA police has become the first force in the region to volunteer officers to trial controversial electronic stun guns. The force says it recognises the importance of providing armed officers with as "wide a range of weaponry as possible" including

  • School building on good Ofsted report

    A SCHOOL is looking forward to a good New Year after being removed from the special measures list. Last month, The Northern Echo reported that Rise Carr Primary School, Darlington, had been given a glowing report by inspectors from the Office for Standards

  • Win or not, Zoe's a star in readers' eyes

    THE people of Darlington are getting right behind their very own Pop Idol. Readers of The Northern Echo have continued to call in with messages of support for 16-year-old Zoe Birkett, who is down to the last nine in the ITV Pop Idol competition. On Saturday

  • Footpaths open after foot-and-mouth

    MORE footpaths are to reopen in the Yorkshire Dales as foot-and-mouth disease loosens its grip on the region. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has given consent to farmers to reopen their land if they have completed secondary cleansing

  • Search for missing gambler

    Police are trying to trace a regular visitor to casinos and bookmakers who was last seen in the North-East. Carl Vernon Lord, of Blackpool, Lancashire, left his home on Monday, December 3, but is thought to have visited a casino in Newcastle since. He

  • North Yorkshire news in Brief

    Bear necessity for Christmas A PANTO version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears goes on stage at Richmond's Georgian Theatre Royal following the successful revival of the festive tradition last year. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs proved a hit last December

  • Tributes to a -gentleman' of music

    TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular music shop owner who has died at the age of 44. David Edkins, who established the Top Sounds music shop in Newgate Street, Bishop Auckland, ten years ago, was described as a "true gentleman". He was found dead by his

  • Whelan seeking fresh start

    MIDDLESBROUGH manager Steve McClaren could be about to hand striker Noel Whelan a rare Premiership start. Whelan, who returned from injury as a substitute in the defeat by Manchester United last week, is pressing hard to make the first 11 against Fulham

  • Business centre planned for brewery site

    A HIGH-TECH business centre is set to be built on the site of the famous Castle Eden Brewery in Peterlee. Beer production ceases on the site on December 31, when Castle Eden plans to transfer production to Cameron's Lion Brewery at Hartlepool. The takeover

  • Physiotherapy society elects vice-president

    THE head of a Teesside hospital's physiotherapy team has been re-elected as vice-president of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Katie Bosworth, head of physiotherapy at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, is only the second person in the North-East