Plymouth University 'in crisis' over boardroom battle

Vice-chancellor Wendy Purcell Wendy Purcell has been vice-chancellor and chief executive of the university since 2007

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A power struggle at the heart of Plymouth University's boardroom has left it "in crisis", according to confidential reports to the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE).

University chief executive and vice chancellor Wendy Purcell was suspended from her £288,000 a year post in June.

The HEFCE has called for an independent review of governance after hearing allegations against both Prof Purcell and Chairman William Taylor.

The university has refuted the claims.

A spokesman said HEFCE had found "insufficient evidence" to investigate the complaints it had received.

'Detriment of university'

On Tuesday it released a statement saying the board of governors were "united" behind the investigation that led to Prof Purcell being suspended.

The statement also said that the HEFCE's call for a review of its governance pre-dated the vice-chancellor's suspension.

However, an HEFCE preliminary report, seen by the BBC, says one of the purposes of an inquiry would be to understand the circumstances that led to the investigation into the conduct of the vice chancellor.

Analysis: Neil Gallacher, BBC Spotlight's Business Correspondent

This gives a vivid insight into an extraordinary situation.

We now know that this breakdown in personal relationships at the top of the university has been dragging on since at least May.

The Times Higher Education publication was evidently just describing the tip of the iceberg when it pointed out last week that the degree of "senior management turbulence" seen at Plymouth is unusual for a major university.

Prof Purcell has not given any comments or interviews but I understand that she does still want to resume her role as vice-chancellor, in practice as well as in name.


Another purpose is to establish whether allegations about the conduct of Mr Taylor, a retired senior circuit judge for Plymouth, fall within the remit of HEFCE.

The report says the HEFCE was contacted with claims of a "governance crisis" more than two months ago.

The nature of the allegations are not revealed in the report, which says that a breakdown in personal relations between the pair "appears to have exacerbated matters to the detriment of the university".

Timeline of events
  • 29 May 2014 - HEFCE was notified by the university of an internal investigation into the conduct of the vice-chancellor
  • In early June the council was contacted by the discloser about a "governance crisis" at the university and requested HEFCE's intervention
  • Also in early June the council received allegations about the conduct of the chairman
  • 18 June - HEFCE head of assurance visited the university to review documentation from the discloser
  • In July a brief report following the enquiries was prepared for the HEFCE

Sources: Preliminary report and BBC News


Neither Mr Taylor nor Prof Purcell have responded to requests for comment.

The report recommends the university should "commission an independent external review of its governance arrangements to include lessons learned from the recent governance events".

The university has repeatedly refused to reveal the reason for Prof Purcell's suspension.

In Prof Purcell's absence, the university is being led by deputy vice-chancellor, Prof David Coslett.

Alan Qualtrough, executive member of the Plymouth Area Business Council, warned the reputational damage to the city is becoming "irreparable" and the university's standing could suffer permanent damage.

The report says that, with hindsight, the university may have been better to "commission a shorter, more focused investigation" into the complaints against Prof Purcell, rather than set up a special committee.

Mr Qualtrough said: "The special committee is known as the committee of last resort and the moment it was set up signalled the institution was in crisis.

"Yet this was not the case; Plymouth University has been an exemplar in the maritime and enterprise fields. It is a community leader, and has been rising up the rankings.

"There had to have been a better way of resolving the matter, not least because the reputational damage to the university and the city is becoming irreparable."

A university spokesman said: "The university and its board categorically refute any assertions made to HEFCE that governance at the university is 'in crisis'.

"HEFCE visited the university on 18 June and in its assessment found 'insufficient evidence' to investigate the complaints it had received.

"Furthermore, while HEFCE has recommended that it would be 'good practice' given the current circumstances for the university to conduct an external review of governance arrangements, it confirmed that the ongoing investigation of complaints against the vice-chancellor was 'properly a matter for the university and its governing body to determine'."

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BBC Devon



Min. Night 2 °C

BBC Local Live

    18:00: Goodnight

    That's all from the BBC Local Live Devon & Cornwall team for today.

    Have a good evening. We'll be back on Friday with a full round-up of the day's news, sport, weather and travel.

    17:59: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 18:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: The government has confirmed that Cornwall will NOT have a direct role in decision-making on future projects that are funded out of the county's top-level European grant programmes.

    BBC Radio Devon: An inquiry has been unable to confirm if Jimmy Savile sexually assaulted a boy at the Colleton Lodge Children's Home in Exeter in the 1980s.

    17:55: Poldark - then and now Andrew Segal Local Live

    The red carpet has been rolled out at a Cornish cinema for the first local premiere of the new Poldark drama series by the BBC.

    Robin Ellis and Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark

    The last series - a nationwide hit - ended 38 years ago, with Robin Ellis (L) playing the part of Ross Poldark. The new series stars Aidan Turner (R), who said Cornwall was a "real character in the show" and "very evocative".

    17:51: Cold overnight David Braine Weather forecaster, BBC Spotlight

    Tonight will be cold, with clear spells developing and winds easing. This will lead to a risk of frost and some localised icy patches, especially in the countryside and moors. Minimum Temperature: 0 Deg C (32 Deg F).

    Weather graphic

    Tomorrow will be generally fine with plenty of sunshine, especially in the morning. However cloud and rain will spread in from the west by dusk. Winds will strengthen overnight. Maximum Temperature: 8 Deg C (46 Deg F).

    17:49: A30 partial closure BBC Travel South West

    The A30 eastbound will be closed overnight between the Innis Downs and Bodmin junctions.

    It's because of drainage works. The road will be shut between 20:00 and 06:00 but diversions will be in place.

    17:47: Uni in disabled sacking row

    A students' union has been criticised for allegedly sacking a disabled woman without warning.

    Plymouth University

    Unison said the unnamed employee from the University of Plymouth Students' Union (UPSU) was dismissed by letter. UPSU said it "would never dismiss an employee on disability grounds".

    17:43: Cornwall will star in TV serial BBC Radio Cornwall

    Cornwall will be one of the stars of the new BBC One adaptation of 'Poldark', says the man playing the villain, George Warleggan.


    Actor Jack Farthing said: "It's the expanse of the drama of the landscape that allows the actors to work around this and they all match; the adventure and the romantic coastline. It was interesting to understand just how big the landscape is, and all the factors that played into why people behaved the way they did at the time."

    17:41: Football coach jailed

    A former Exeter football coach has been jailed for 21 years for drugging and raping young boys in his team during the 1970s.

    Exeter Crown Court heard how some of Anthony Mitchell's victims only came forward after the Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris scandals.

    The 78 year old was a night shift worker at the time - and persuaded his GP to prescribe him huge quantities of the strong sleeping pill Mogadon which he used to drug his victims.

    17:38: Chef pins hopes on £230 pasty BBC Radio Cornwall

    A chef is to create a luxurious Cornish pasty costing £230 - using Wagu beef from Japan, peppercorns from India, potatoes from the Untied States; onions from France and swede from Scotland - for his entry in the World Pasty Championships this weekend at the Eden Project.

    Pasty. Pic: Thinkstock

    Richard Shaw, who runs Southwick Village Stores in Hampshire, said he hoped to "beat the Cornish on their own doorstep", telling Radio Cornwall: "I've got the worlds best ingredients. Hampshire's coming for you, so you'd better be ready."

    17:31: France move councillor 'can still serve' Andrew Segal Local Live

    The leader of Devon County Council says he has been assured a councillor who has moved to France can still represent her constituents.

    Newton Abbot councillor Eve Barisic moved to Roscoff seven months ago. John Hart said she was still in her ward regularly and she "has assured me she can continue to serve her electors".

    17:26: Appeal over beach body

    Police are appealing for information following the death of a man whose body was found on a beach in south Devon.

    Steven Bennett. Pic: Devon and Cornwall Police

    The body of 37-year-old Steven Bennett, from Bristol, was found on Goodrington Beach, Paignton, on 17 February. He was last seen in the Foxhole area of the town on 13 February. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

    17:20: Army officer rewarded

    An Army officer based at RMB Chivenor is to be given the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) for helping in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

    Lt Col Benedict Campbell-Colquhoun, of The Corps of Royal Engineers, developed plans for delivering humanitarian aid to those on the ground. His citation mentions his exemplary conduct and dedicated service, adding: "His energy, leadership and professionalism were conspicuously instrumental in ensuring the success of Operation Patwin."

    17:16: Boardmasters plans to increase capacity Andrew Segal Local Live

    Cornwall's Boardmasters festival is applying to increase its capacity to 40,000, with 35,000 of those attendees being allowed to camp.

    Boardmasters 2014 Pic: Sam Neil

    The 2014 event had a planned arena capacity of 29,999 and a camping capacity of 25,000. However, its last day was cancelled due to bad weather. Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee will discuss the decision on 5 March.

    17:10: Ex-teacher jailed for abusing Kenyan children Trystan Jones BBC News

    A British charity boss and former Devon teacher who abused Kenyan street children after luring them to his home has been jailed for more than 17 years.

    Simon Harris

    Simon Harris, 55, was convicted at Birmingham Crown Court of eight counts of indecent and sexual assault on boys in Gilgil and possessing indecent images of children. Before the trial, Harris also admitted indecently assaulting boys when he was a teacher at Shebbear College in the 1980s.

    16:58: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 17:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: A elderly man has been treated for the effects of breathing in smoke following a fire in two static caravans in Troon near Camborne. Firefighters say a woman has been left homeless following the blaze.

    BBC Radio Devon: A former teacher from Devon has been jailed for 17 years and four months today after being found guilty of indecent and sexual assaults on boys in Kenya while working for a charity.

    16:52: Tower of lights

    Plans have been submitted to install LED lighting in and around Plymouth's historic Grade I listed lighthouse, Smeaton's Tower, the city council says.

    Smeaton's Tower

    If the planning application for listed building consent is approved, the work will include installing spotlights from the ground, as well as around the balcony, costing £32,000.

    16:45: Cricket joy for England's women BBC Sport

    England's women's cricketers have set up a one-day series decider against New Zealand after winning their latest game by nine wickets.


    Vice Captain Plymouth's Heather Knight was the only wicket to fall as her side chased down a total of 169 against the White Ferns.

    16:32: EU cash control concern in Cornwall Neil Gallacher Correspondent, BBC South West

    The government has confirmed that Cornwall will not have a direct role in decision-making on projects funded out of the top-level European grant programmes, despite lengthy negotiations.


    The European Commission has insisted that Cornwall's Local Enterprise Partnership will only play an advisory role - Cornwall councillor Julian German has criticised the news that the process will be led from London, saying businesses and communities of Cornwall know best.

    16:23: Pilgrims' progress?

    An MP has said in Parliament the Pilgrim Fathers were from Essex as Plymouth was handed £35,000 of government cash to promote the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the Mayflower setting sail for America from the city, the Western Morning News reports.

    Colchester Liberal Democrat MP Sir Bob Russell told the House of Commons the ship's journey began at the Essex port town of Harwich and that the pioneers "merely stopped off at Plymouth en route".

    16:10: Councillor's work in France 'stuff of Monty Python' Andrew Segal Local Live

    The case of a Devon councillor who claims she can work for her constituency from France has been described as "a disgrace and the stuff of a Monty Python sketch" in a petition calling for her to step down.

    Councillor Eve Barisic

    Conservative Eve Barisic moved to Roscoff seven months ago, a commute of more than 150 miles (240km) by ferry and road to her ward in Newton Abbot. She has declined to comment.

    16:05: Plymouth delays BBC Travel South West

    Crownhill Road in Plymouth is still closed between Jubilee Road and Budshead Way because of an earlier accident. The road is likely to remain shut closed for some time.

    Meanwhile a lane on the Embankment has been closed inbound after subsidence.

    16:02: Grampound crash BBC Travel South West

    There's been an accident at Grampound on the A390 near Mill Lane.

    15:59: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 16:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Fire crews are tackling a blaze involving two caravans and a building at Troon near Camborne. Sixteen firefighters from Camborne and Helston are at the scene.

    BBC Radio Devon: A former Exeter football coach has been jailed for 21 years for drugging and raping young boys in his team during the 1970s.

    15:41: Troon fire

    Cornwall Fire Service tweets: Crews from #Camborne and @HelstonCFRS are at an incident in #Troon - 2 caravans and adjoining building containing timber are well alight.

    15:34: Corset constriction for stars Matt Pengelly Local Live

    Filming the new BBC One adaption of 'Poldark' was hard work, says Ruby Bentall who plays Verity Poldark.


    Ruby said: "I seem to have the pain of corsets in all my roles. You can see why women couldn't do anything in those days because everything was such hard work - walking upstairs, lying down, eating! You look nice but it is so impractical."

    15:20: Hospital trust fined over skin problems BBC Radio Cornwall

    The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust has been ordered to pay £19,620 in fines and costs after failing to take measures to prevent or monitor cases of dermatitis among staff.

    Magistrates heard that health staff were at increased risk of developing skin issues like dermatitis as they needed to wash their hands often, use hand gels and wear gloves for some procedures. The Trust admitted a breach of health and safety legislation at Torquay Magistrates last Friday.

    15:08: Number 10 dilemma for Chiefs Brent Pilnick BBC South West Sport

    Exeter head coach Rob Baxter has admitted he finds it "difficult" deciding whether to select Gareth Steenson or Henry Slade at fly-half.


    Steenson is the Premiership's leading points scorer this season, having scored 174 points in 15 games, but Slade has started the last two games ahead of Steenson, kicking 36 points and scoring two tries.

    14:59: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 15:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: The Police Federation in Cornwall is warning that response times for 999 calls are only going to get worse if more planned budget cuts go ahead. Assistant branch secretary Steven Gardner added he was not surprised by recent deteriorations in the service.

    BBC Radio Devon: A Devon councillor who lives in France is facing calls to resign. Newton Abbot North Conservative councillor Eve Barisic has claimed more than £10,500 in allowances and expenses.

    14:48: Challenging attitudes

    A physical training instructor who has spent the past few years training women in Afghanistan has been recognised in the military honours.

    Staff Sergeant Kate Lord

    Staff Sergeant Kate Lord from Exmouth has been given the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for challenging the opinions of young men while mentoring them at the Afghan National Army officer academy in Kabul.

    Her citation says: "Nobody in this mission - male or female - has done more to further the standing of women in the Afghan National Army."

    14:40: Woolacombe view Kirk England BBC Radio Devon

    BBC Radio Devon's Kirk England tweets: A shot from #Woolacombe earlier this week

    14:32: New rescue choppers marked

    The launch of the civilian UK search and rescue helicopter (SAR) service has been marked in a ceremony held at the new SAR base at Humberside Airport.

    Search helicopter. Pic: Bristow

    Bristow Helicopters Ltd is to operate the service on behalf of HM Coastguard. The SAR service will fly from 10 bases, including Newquay in Cornwall.

    14:22: Police seek 'wanted man' Matt Pengelly Local Live

    Police are appealing for the public's help in tracing a Manchester man who they want to speak to as part of an investigation into a drugs conspiracy.


    Officers from the north-west regional organised crime unit 'Titan' say Glenn Phillip Madden has links to Devon and Cornwall, as well as Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire.

    14:16: Met Office strike BBC Radio Devon

    Staff at the Met Office in Exeter are staging their first ever strike as Prospect union members walk out for three hours in protest at an ongoing wage freeze.


    The union says it is unfair the government won't allow the Met Office to give staff a rise considering it does so much work for the private sector.

    Managers say they have contingency plans in place.

    14:04: Cornish accent 'hard to master' BBC Radio Cornwall

    The actor playing Demelza in the new BBC One adaptation of 'Poldark' has revealed how much effort the cast have invested in getting the Cornish accent right.


    Eleanor Tomlinson, who's originally from East Yorkshire, said: "I had never really ventured to Cornwall as a kid so that was a continual experience for me as well. I worked very hard with the voice coach who was fantastic and so helpful.

    "The accent is hard to master and the Cornish people are so passionate about Poldark, they're going to be listening for the accent and want it to be perfect."

    13:56: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 14:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: A Royal Navy pilot who avoided crashing an aircraft with a failed engine into crowds at Culdrose Air Day has been awarded the Air Force Cross.

    BBC Radio Devon: There'll be no hikes in council tax for residents in North Devon after the district council approved its budget at a full cabinet meeting on Wednesday night.

    13:48: Chilly night ahead Kevin Thomas BBC Weather Forecaster

    This afternoon it's getting brighter with sunny spells developing and perhaps the odd shower later.


    Tonight it will be mostly dry and also cold as clear spells develop along with a slight frost in sheltered areas, becoming more cloudy in the far west. Moderate or fresh northwesterly winds will become light inland. Min Temp 2C (36F).

    13:37: Navy pilot talks of 'pure terror' crash BBC Radio Cornwall

    A Royal Navy pilot says he is 'shocked but extremely pleased' to be awarded the Air Force Cross for a crash landing in west Cornwall.


    Despite a serious engine failure, Lt Cdr Chris Gotke managed to land his Sea Fury on the grass away from the crowd at RNAS Culdrose Air Day last year.

    The commanding officer of the Historic Flight based at RNAS Yeovilton said: "It was a terrifying experience and there were conflicting thoughts in my head at first about what I should do, but once I decided I could get the aircraft down safely I knew that was the choice I was going to make. "

    13:28: Plymouth delays BBC Travel South West

    Crownhill Road in Plymouth has been closed because of an accident.

    The area between Jubilee Road and Budshead Way is affected. Diversions are in place and the road is likely to remain closed for sometime.

    13:20: Lifeboats in action

    The Cornishman is reporting two lifeboats were involved in the rescue of a fishing boat which suffered engine failure overnight.


    The crew of Sennen Lifeboat were called out after The Algria, lost power several miles off Cape Cornwall. Because of poor weather, the lifeboat was out on the call for eight hours before calling in the Penlee crew to take over.

    13:09: TV Licence debate Bill Buckley Presenter, BBC Radio Devon

    The TV Licence is £145 - that's roughly 39 per person per day. You could get a fifth of a cup of coffee for that - and almost a pint of milk.

    But some MPs say there should be another more modern way to pay for BBC TV and Radio. So would you be happy to carry on paying the licence fee or should BBC services be "pay to view"? I'm taking your calls now on 0345 3011034.

    12:59: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 13:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: The Police Federation in Cornwall is warning that response times for 999 calls are only going to get worse if the force goes ahead with planned budget cuts.

    BBC Radio Devon: An official report has been unable to confirm if Jimmy Savile sexually assaulted a boy at a children's home in Exeter.

    12:41: Savile allegation 'not proven' Hamish Marshall BBC Spotlight

    A Devon County Council investigation has been unable to confirm if Jimmy Savile sexually assaulted a boy at a children's home in Exeter.

    Jimmy Savile raised funds for Stoke Mandeville hospital

    The allegation was made by a boy living at Colleton Lodge in 1983, when he said Savile and another man were in the next door room occupied by a younger boy. He said he heard "haunting screams" and believed the boy had been sexually abused but didn't witness the incident.

    The inquiry - part of the official response to Savile's crimes - says the incident may have happened but it was unable to trace the alleged victim and have no evidence confirming Savile ever visited the home.

    12:31: Cary Green petition BBC Radio Devon

    Campaigners are calling for a covenant to protect a much loved green area in Torquay from being turned into a car park.


    They've gathered 1,400 signatures on a petition calling for Cary Green to be protected, it will be presented to the Mayor of Torbay at a meeting tonight.

    12:12: Homelessness - your views? Laurence Reed Presenter, BBC Radio Cornwall

    On today's programme we're talking about homelessness, as the government releases annual figures suggesting a dramatic increase in the problem, with more than 2,700 people on the streets of England and Wales. What have you seen in Cornwall?


    On a lighter note I kindly lent reporter Christine Butler my waterproof coat before sending her out in the rain to do a vox pop. What a gent!

    12:06: Plymouth motorcycle accident BBC Travel South West

    There's an accident between Parade Road and Little Dock Lane in Plymouth - the B3413 Crownhill Road is closed because of an accident involving a van and a motorbike.

    And a broken down car is causing problems on the A39 in Bideford near the B3236 Buckleigh Road junction.

    11:56: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 12:00 include:

    BBC Radio Devon: An official report has been unable to confirm if Jimmy Savile sexually assaulted a boy at a children's home in Exeter.

    BBC Radio Cornwall: There's disappointment at Cornwall Council as it's revealed the county's leaders will not have the final say on European grants.

    11:45: Poldark 'brilliant' says star BBC Radio Cornwall

    The man charged with playing 'Ross Poldark' in the new BBC One adaptation says it's 'fantastic' to step into the boots of the legendary Robin Ellis.


    Actor Aidan Turner recalls: "I had never heard of Poldark but when I told my parents I was going to play Ross they nearly had a fit! The previous 1970s series was popular in Ireland, I guess because people could relate to it - the farming, the scenery, the horses - it is continually surprising meeting people who are so excited to hear we are making a new adaptation."

    11:34: A30 Devon accident BBC Travel South West

    The A30 at Sourton near Okehampton is blocked eastbound near Sourton Cross, because of an accident.

    11:26: Plymouth medal success

    Ben Moore from Plymouth won Britain's first Para-Snowboard World Championship medal with bronze in the snowboard-cross event in La Molina, Spain this week.

    The international federation for Paralympic alpine skiing and snowboard, IPC Alpine Skiing tweets:

    1st to receive their medals are the Men's ULI riders: 1) M.Pozzerle, 2) @SakuRoberto, 3) @BenMooreSnow #LaMolina2015

    11:09: New NHS role Alison Johns BBC Radio Cornwall

    A pioneering training programme is underway in Plymouth offering one answer to the staffing crisis in the NHS.

    New NHS role physician associates

    The 'Physician Associates' will be able to examine and treat patients under supervision. The first students have arrived at the Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine, with their fees paid by five local health trusts.

    10:58: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 11:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: The government has confirmed Cornwall will not have a direct role in decision-making on future projects that are funded out of the county's top-level European grant programmes.

    BBC Radio Devon: Campaigners are calling on the Mayor of Torbay to grant a covenant on a much loved green area in Torquay, to prevent it being turned into a car park.

    10:53: Devon councillor moves to France Jonathan Morris BBC News Online

    A petition's been set up to call for the resignation of a Devon county councillor who's moved to France.

    Route from Roscoff to Newton Abbot

    Councillor Eve Barisic who now lives in Roscoff, fulfills her duties as the representative for Newton Abbot by travelling the 325 miles back to Devon for meetings.

    Roy Freer who set up the petition, says her decision to "carry on regardless as a councillor until May 2017 is an insult to the people of Newton Abbot and to democracy."

    10:35: Flood alerts Claire Hawke BBC Local Live

    Flood alerts have been issued by the Environment Agency for the Upper River Tamar and Upper Torridge area.

    Flooding is possible for Bude, Helebridge, Bridgerule, Canworthy Water and Yeolmbridge along with the Rivers Torridge, Waldon and Lew, including Black Torrington, Milton Damerel, Hatherleigh areas, and coastal streams in the Hartland and Clovelly areas

    10:20: Poldark o'clock BBC Radio Cornwall

    Excitement is building in Truro ahead of a private preview screening of the new BBC One adaptation of 'Poldark' tonight.


    The new Ross and Demelza - actors Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson - will be among the stars turning out in Truro tonight.

    10:09: High waters BBC Spotlight

    If you're hoping to get out onto the shores of Devon & Cornwall today, here are the tide times.

    09:58: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 10:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: There's controversy over a minister's claims the NHS in the south west is "holding up very well" - campaigners have accused Dan Poulter of complacency.

    BBC Radio Devon: Police have seized a big haul of cigarettes after reports a man was making threats with a gun in Paignton.

    09:51: Firearms incident BBC Radio Devon

    A man's been arrested after reports of a man making threats with a gun from a car in Paignton.

    The police helicopter located the vehicle. Officers then searched a nearby house where large quantities of cigarettes were hidden. A Spanish national has been detained as he's believed to be wanted for drug production in Spain.

    09:40: Plymouth accidents BBC Travel South West

    In Plymouth, Budshead Way is partially blocked due to an accident near the police station at Crownhill Road.

    Also in Plymouth, Lulworth Drive is partially blocked because there's been a crash near the primary school at Southway Lane.

    09:38: NHS crisis - your comments via Facebook

    The ongoing problems in health and social care across the South West have drawn many comments on the BBC Radio Cornwall Facebook page.

    • Heidi Killick says: I feel for the staff who are working hard, we need an investment in adult social care, not more cuts, so that people can return home.
    • Jan Pallett writes: Well my 90 year old Dad has finally received his appointment for Treliske pain clinic for March after being referred in September, following investigations at Derriford. Is it acceptable for anyone in severe pain to have to wait 6 months to be helped? I don't believe it is.
    • But Emma Sowden is angry about the coverage, saying: Just jump off the bandwagon please! It's ridiculous. This story goes on a loop every year, we know how stretched the NHS is! All this negativity from the press is not making people like myself who is going to hospital to have a baby in a few weeks feel positive!
    09:23: Health campaigner blasts Minister BBC Radio Cornwall

    A health campaigner in Cornwall says he's "shocked and angry" after a junior Health Minister claimed the NHS in the south west was "holding up very well" this winter.


    Dr Dan Poulter made his comments on a visit to Cornwall yesterday as the county's hospitals dropped from 'black' to 'red alert' - although the health system across the south west remains under severe winter pressures.

    The vice-chair of Health Initiative Cornwall, Graham Webster, said: "I was looking for the Minister to show some leadership on this and to offer some solutions to get our hospitals back to green and to stay there. Regrettably he came to Cornwall and offered nothing."

    09:07: Police defend 999 performance Simon Hall Correspondent, BBC South West

    A senior officer at Devon & Cornwall Police has told me meeting their 999 call response time targets is "very challenging".


    Figures obtained by the BBC show the police are failing to reach more than a quarter of 999 calls within the target time.

    The force's head of operations Ch Supt Jim Nye said: "The most important 999 calls are given priority. For others, we will still be there, but we may not arrive within our target time."

    08:57: News on the hour

    The top local stories at 09:00 include:

    BBC Radio Cornwall: Local health campaigners say minister Dan Poulter has shown a shocking lack of leadership, after saying the NHS in the south west is "holding up very well".

    BBC Radio Devon: Devon and Cornwall police is failing to reach more than a quarter of 999 calls within their target time, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

    08:41: A wet start Kevin Thomas BBC Weather Forecaster

    It'll be a damp start with outbreaks of rain clearing to the east to become brighter with sunny spells and the odd shower later. It will feel colder as moderate or fresh but locally strong southwesterly winds veer to the northwest as the rain clears.


    Tonight, apart from the odd shower to the west, it'll be dry and cold with a slight frost in places. Min temp: 2 Deg C (36 Deg F)

    08:31: A30 Launceston crash BBC Travel South West

    On the A30 westbound we've got reports of an accident between Launceston and Sourton Cross.

    One lane is closed there are warnings of delays in the area.

    08:18: Navy pilot honoured for bravery BBC Radio Cornwall

    A Royal Navy pilot has been awarded a medal for his bravery while crash landing a historic Sea Fury fighter plane at the RNAS Culdrose Air Day last summer.


    Lt Cdr Christopher Gotke has received an Air Force Cross, despite serving in the Royal Navy all his life. The commendation concludes: "His extraordinary and instinctive flying skills prevented the very real chance of a catastrophic civilian loss of life and minimised damage to a historically important aircraft in one of the finest examples of gallantry in the air during peacetime".

    08:05: Plymouth problems BBC Travel South West

    There's an accident on the B3238 Greenbank Road in Plymouth, it's partially blocked at the B3250 Mutley Plain junction, because of the accident, a traffic light failure and debris on the road.

    There's slow moving traffic on the B3413 Forder Valley Road and the A379 Laira Bridge Road in Plymouth.

    08:05: Police response times 'failing' Simon Hall Correspondent, BBC South West

    Devon and Cornwall police are failing to reach more than a quarter of 999 calls within their target time, according to figures obtained by the BBC.


    The force's performance in getting to the scene of an emergency has also dropped significantly over the past five years - 400 officers have been cut over the same period.

    08:00: Good morning! Matt Pengelly Local Live

    I'll be bringing you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for Thursday.

    If you have views on our new service, we'd love to hear them.



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