A MAN has appeared in court charged with helping to steal three miles of railway track worth £250,000.

The track was taken from disused Leamside line, near Penshaw, on Wearside, between Chester-le-Street and Sunderland. Glen Pendleton, 49, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday facing a charge of theft between January 16, last year, and January 16 of this year. No pleas were taken during the short hearing and Mr Pendleton, of Williams Street, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, will be back before the court on April 29.

CABBIE'S BAN: A taxi driver faces having his licence revoked next week after being found guilty of drink-driving. Arthur Stuart Turner, 44, of Faverdale Road, Darlington, was banned from driving for a year by the town's magistrates. Darlington Borough Council's licensing committee will consider his licence next week, although Mr Turner has asked to speak at the meeting. He will be able to reapply for his licence when his driving ban is over, in April next year.

BRIDGE WORK: Two railway bridges are to be improved in a project announced by Darlington Borough Council. Work on the bridges, at Parkgate and North Road, and the ramp leading from Parkgate to Bank Top railway station, willl cost about £50,000 and Network Rail has indicated that it will make a limited financial contribution.

COLLEGE ROLE: St John's College, an independent college of the University of Durham, has appointed Dr Campbell Grant, 46, from Gateshead, as its new bursar. The college combines St John's Hall, a typical university hall with university students studying a wide range of subjects, and Cranmer Hall, a theological college of the Church of England.

RIDERS QUALIFY: Nine riders from the North-East have qualified for the Blue Chip Winter Horse Riding Championships in Solihull, West Midlands. Angela Bell, Sarah Russell, Rebecca Walker, Jackson Reed-Stephenson, Emma Wright, Donna Mewse, Emma Denton, Robert Shields and James Taylor will compete in the event between April 8 and 13.

NEW HOME: The new office of the North-East Constitutional Convention Women's Forum, at Forth Banks, Newcastle, will be opened tomorrow by Joyce Quin, MP for Gateshead East and Washington West.

RAFA meets: The Royal Air Force Association Redcar and District Branch will hold its annual meeting at branch headquarters, at 34, Newcomen Terrace, Redcar, east Cleveland, at 11am on Sunday.

TEEN FOUND: Michael Simmonds, 16, who disappeared from the home he shares with his father and brother, in Etal Place, Gosforth, Newcastle, on Tuesday, February 25, has been found safe.

CHARITY APPEAL: Cerebra, a charity for brain injured children, is urging people to support a coin collection card appeal with the aim of raising £25 per card. For details, call 0117-940 1111.