A BENEFACTOR has offered to pay Neasham's £1,124 legal bill to make the village green its own.

The parish council announced in October that it was to apply to Darlington Council for an interest-free loan to pay for land transfer.

If it failed to get the loan, it would add the cost to next year's precept which is part of the council tax.

At Monday's meeting, Coun John Weighell, chairman, revealed that an anonymous donor had offered to give them the money.

He told the D&S Times: "It was the best news I have ever had to give them. We were staggered.

"He had read the story in the D&S Times and told me he wanted to do this in memory of a relative, who used to live in the village. It said it was a gesture he could well afford to make, but he wanted his identity kept a complete secret."

Coun Weighell went on: "I told him he had taken my breath away. No-one has ever done anything like this for us before. Now we can pay up and really bring this 50-year saga to an end."

Time for pupils

to speak out

TEAMS from Darlington secondary schools take to the stage next week to compete for honours in the town's public speaking competition.

Branksome, Carmel, Hummersknott, Hurworth and Longfield schools are taking part in the annual event at Darlington College of Technology on Tuesday night.

Teams of three from each school will address the audience in the college's main hall on a subject of their choosing. Trophies and prizes are awarded for best team and individual performances.

The competition is sponsored by the college, the Darlington & Stockton Times and the Darlington Lecture Association. Peter Rowley, chief executive of Darlington Building Society, is the guest speaker.

Proceedings start at 7pm and refreshments will be served during the interval.