AS Darlington taxi drivers well know, the local council is fairly strict when it comes to applying the rules - and the penalties - so it wasn't surprising that its commercial licensing manager welcomed the prospect of a training school for such drivers.

Taxibank, now the owners of Station Taxis, already has a training school in Plymouth and wants to set up its second in the town.

Driving courses, uniforms, it all sounds fine, but Taxibank does not mention, nor does the council, the Highway Code offence every taxi driver in the town commits several times a day: sounding the horn while stationary. Early in the morning, late at night, at any time, the arrival of a booked taxi is announced not by a knock at the door but by an "I'm here; come on out" blast on the horn, waking babies, setting dogs off barking and generally disturbing the peace.

Destructive zeal

MR SANDMAN, the sand sculptor who took his skills to Darlington Community Carnival last weekend created the most topical image around at the moment: Spiderman and the Green Goblin.

It was not quite finished before his young audience began asking whether, when he had actually completed it they could kick it down. Having finished it, says an onlooker, Mr Sandman had no power to protect his work and the youngsters moved in, watched by their parents, to deconstruct it.

Hard luck on anyone who'd wandered off to look at other attractions and planned to return to see the finished sculture. And why such pleasure, apparently condoned by the watching parents, in destruction?

Chief can still drive

SPECTATOR doubts many people could re-take a driving test after 43 years and still pass with flying colours.

That said compliments must go to Durham Police's chief constable George Hedges who recently became the first officer to have his police driving re-assessed following new national guidelines.

Driving a police BMW up the A1, along some A-roads, down country lanes and eventually into Durham with siren and lights blazing, he was monitored all the way by the force's chief driving instructor .... and passed with room to spare.

A remarkable achievement considering his last test was back in 1959 and probably took place in a Ford Anglia or mini van.