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  1. Updates from across the West of England on Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Sparks fly as Freddie, 8, displays his scooter moves

Freddie Aplin came into this world by literally kicking his way out.

Born 11 weeks premature there were initial fears for his health, but as a toddler he took to doing stunts on his scooter like a duck to water.

Now at just eight years old, this bold little boy from Tetbury in Gloucestershire has been crowned the UK scooting champion.

Watch Freddie Aplin display his scooting skills

And that is all from BBC Local Live for today. Join us again tomorrow from 7am for more live news, sport, weather and travel from across the West of England.

New Metrobus bridge takes shape

New Metrobus bridge

The first beams of the new MetroBus bridge on Winterstoke Road in south Bristol have been lifted into place.

When complete the bridge will allow MetroBus to cross the Portbury freight railway line on a guided busway, avoiding congestion on Winterstoke Road and the Cumberland Basin.

Football: But Yeovil score four to keep their trophy hopes alive

Football: Swindon Town are out of the Checkatrade Trophy

Lost painting funds £2m church revamp

Watch: Will Glennon reports from the church for BBC Points West

A church has undergone a £2m refit thanks to the discovery of a long-lost Flemish masterpiece in a side-aisle.

The apparently unremarkable painting was found hanging in Holy Trinity in Bradford-on-Avon in 2006 and identified as Quentin Metsys' Christ Blessing.

Given to the church in 1940 by a couple from the nearby village of Holt, the small oil was sold a couple of years ago for about £1.5m.

The church has now reopened after the year-long revamp.

Quentin Metsys' Christ Blessing and Holy Trinity in Bradford on Avon

Jailed marine's wife 'delighted' at appeal news

Alexander Blackman

A former Royal Marine jailed for murdering an insurgent in Afghanistan is to have his case heard by the Courts Martial Appeal Court for a second time.  

Following an 11-month investigation, the Criminal Cases Review Commission said it had decided to refer the conviction of Sgt Alexander Blackman.

“We are obviously delighted with today’s news. It is an important first step.”

Claire BlackmanWife of former Colour Sgt Alexander Blackman

He had applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission after his earlier appeal was dismissed in 2014.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said they would "continue to co-operate fully with any legal process involving Sergeant Blackman's case".

Animal cruelty cage fight gang sentenced

Dead animals

A group of men, including two from Somerset, have been sentenced for their part in a gang which used dogs to hunt and kill wild animals. 

A court heard the men would frequently meet-up to chase and kill badgers, foxes and deer, and then captured their cruel activities on mobile phones.

The two from Somerset are: 

  • Kenneth Danes, 29, from Culmhead, Taunton, admitted two counts of killing a deer at night. He was sentenced to eight weeks in jail suspended for 12 months
  • Brian Forrest, 40, from Kingston St Mary, Taunton, admitted one charge of killing a deer at night. He was sentenced to six weeks in jail suspended for 12 months

Click here to read more.

Council 'disappointed' at court ruling on pupil absence

Kids on holiday

Three families who took their children out of school so they could go on holiday have won their case against Swindon Borough Council.  

The authority had issued fines for unauthorised absence but a judge overturned the penalties because the children's attendance record was otherwise good.

The council said it was disappointed with the outcome and will now need to reconsider the instances in which penalty notices are issued.

Click here to read more.

Football: Yeovil Town also losing at half-time

Honeymooners return to find festive 'wrapped' home

Imagine coming back from your honeymoon to find your house has been decorated with Christmas wrapping paper. 

That's what happened to newlyweds Faye and Karl Gilbert from Yate in South Gloucestershire. 

While away in Mexico, their friends and family went to town on wrapping everything from their kitchen to their bathroom and dining room.

Major power failure on South West trains leads to disruption

South West train

Severe delays are still being experienced on South West Trains services after an earlier power failure at the Basingstoke signalling centre led to disruption on all lines. 

Trains are currently not running between Bournemouth and Weymouth and Salisbury and Exeter. 

A spokesman apologised for the disruption and said: "We advise you NOT to attempt to travel between Bournemouth and Weymouth at this time, as replacement transport is likely to be sporadic or unavailable, and your journey time will be significantly extended."

Passengers are also advised not to attempt travel between Salisbury and Exeter St Davids.

Football: Home action for Yeovil Town as well

Kick-off is at 7.45pm as Yeovil welcome MK Dons to Huish Park for their Checkatrade Trophy fixture:

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Football: Swindon Town in Trophy action tonight

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Kick-off at the County Ground is at 7.45pm as Swindon Town and Luton Town do battle in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Chef sets sights on Masterchef crown

Travel writers view on school holiday court battle

Three families who took their children out of school so they could go on holiday have won their case against Swindon Borough Council. 

The local authority had issued fines for unauthorised absence but a judge overturned the penalties because the childrens' attendance record was otherwise good. 

Travel writer Simon Calder said he sympathised with both the families and the schools involved.

Watch: "The only solution is to spread the school holidays," said Simon Calder

Tribute to biker killed in collision

Michael John Dix

The family of a man killed in a motorbike crash in Oxfordshire a week ago have paid tribute to him.

Michael John Dix, 27, died on the 29th November.

His family, who said he was born in Swindon and raised in Marlborough and Didcot, described him as "a devoted and loving husband to Steph, doting father to their beautiful son Tommy aged three, and a loving son and brother."

Click here to read more.

Coins found at cathedral confirmed to be really, REALLY old

five old coins and a 50mm scale showing the size
Border Archaeology

Five coins unearthed at Gloucester Cathedral have been dated by a specialist.

According to the dig's website, two of them go back as far as the 3rd and 4th Centuries with the remaining three jettons (tokens) dated between the 16th and 17th Centuries.

The coins are among a number of things discovered at the historic site, including an unusual rosary bead.

Could jailed marine have murder conviction quashed?

Jonathan Beale

BBC defence correspondent

Alexander Blackman

This decision means there is now the possibility that Alexander Blackman (pictured) could have his conviction quashed. 

Three years ago he was found guilty by a military court of murdering a wounded Taliban prisoner. 

The incident, which took place on a tour of Helmand in 2011, was unwittingly filmed by a fellow marine on a helmet camera. 

It recorded Blackman firing his pistol and then telling his men he'd just broken the Geneva convention.  

The Daily Mail has led a high profile campaign raising funds to have his case re-opened. The commission found there was new evidence relating to Blackman's mental state at the time and questions why he was not given the opportunity to make an alternative plea of manslaughter.

At his original trial Blackman pleaded not guilty to murder - he said he thought his prisoner was already dead when he fired the shot. 

The appeal court will now reconsider the case.   

Fluffy baby cheetahs brighten up a grey day

These cheetah cubs are melting hearts at Longleat in Wiltshire:

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'New issues' arise in marine murder conviction

More on the news that ex-marine Alexander Blackman is to have his murder conviction referred to the Courts Martial Appeal Court.

Click here to read more.

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David James Smith, lead Criminal Cases Review Commissioner on the case, said: 

We have scrutinised this murder conviction in minute detail and after a thorough investigation we have concluded that there are new issues – principally relating to Mr Blackman’s state of mind at the time of the shooting – which in our view raise a real possibility that an appeal against conviction would now succeed. On that basis we are sending the case back to the Courts Martial Appeal Court so that a fresh appeal can be heard.

South West Train customers face disruption

Travellers using the Westbury or Castle Cary line this afternoon and evening are facing severe disruption.

South West Trains says that due to an electricity supply problem between Farnborough Main and Weymouth all lines are disrupted.

Train services running to and from these stations may be cancelled, delayed by up to 60 mins or revised, and disruption is expected until 20.00 GMT.

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Parents win court battle over term-time holidays

Kids on beach

Three families from Swindon have won their fight against being fined for taking their children on holiday during term time. 

Swindon Borough Council had taken the families to court after they refused to pay fines of £60. 

Earlier this year Jon Platt won a High Court battle after refusing to pay a £120 fine imposed by Isle of Wight Council after he took his daughter to Disneyland in term-time.

For more on that story, click here.

Marine murder conviction referred to court martial

Alexander Blackman

The murder conviction of a jailed marine has been referred for appeal, the Criminal Cases Review Commission has said.  

Alexander Blackman, formerly referred to in the case as Marine A, was convicted of murder after shooting dead an injured captive in Afghanistan on 15th September 2011.

Following an investigation, the Commission has decided to refer the case back to court on the basis of new expert evidence about his mental state at the time of the offence.

Also, the Commission said an alternative verdict of unlawful act manslaughter was not available when it considered the case.

More to follow.

Bridge over foggy water

Clifton Suspension Bridge in the fog
Chris Kemp

Thanks to Chris Kemp for emailing in this eerie photo of Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, which he said he took this morning.

Your weather pictures are always very welcome. For our contact details, click on the Get Involved tab at the top of this live page.

Cars damaged overnight in Bristol

A number of cars were damaged in Hanham last night.

Avon and Somerset Police said officers arrested a man after a member of public reported him shouting in the street and damaging the cars.

Car with scratches to its bonnet

Officers were called to Hencliffe Way and Rowan Way at 11.40pm and a man was detained at the scene.

Inspector Andy Peppin said there were more than 20 affected vehicles, adding: "If anyone living in the Hencliffe Way area thinks they have been affected we’d like to hear from them."

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Student diagnosed with blood cancer achieves Doctorate

A postgraduate student who was diagnosed with terminal blood cancer has graduated from the University of Bath with a Professional Doctorate in Health.

Brian Melaugh graduating
University of Bath

Brian Melaugh, who is also a lecturer in Social Science at Maynooth University in Ireland, started studying part-time for his doctorate six years ago. 

But a month before taking his viva exam, he was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma.

After taking time out of his studies for intensive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, today Brian was finally awarded his degree.

Brian said: “It was a huge challenge but thanks to support from my tutors at Bath, the Department of Applied Social Studies at Maynooth University, my husband and other family and friends, I’m delighted to finally be collecting my degree.”

Dunster by Candlelight 2016

The annual Dunster by Candlelight event reached its 30th year this weekend - here's a little video of highlights:

Watch: A look back at this year's festive event in the village

The annual event attracts between 6,000-16,000 people over the Friday and Saturday.

Ground floor rooms of Dunster Castle were decorated to show to Christmas through the ages, in what has become a well-established tradition.

There were performances from the Taunton Preparatory School choir, Quantock Musical Theatre choir and local musicians Hazel Prior and Saffron Summerfield playing the Celtic Harp, acoustic guitar and singing in the Inner Hall of Dunster Castle.

A bit of the Amazon in the office!

People sit and stand in a room decorated like a rainforest

A Chippenham company has won an award after installing a rainforest in the workplace.

Good Energy got set designers to turn the office in to a jungle for the launch of a new product which supports projects working to save rainforests abroad.

Volunteers were also brought in to educate the firm's 350 members of staff about the project.

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations recognised Good Energy's approach to staff engagement, and awarded the company a Gold Award for Best Internal Communications Campaign.

Men and women stand on stage with a pink award

Could the winner of Britain's Got Talent be from Gloucestershire?

Open auditions are being held at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Gloucester until 5.30pm today.

The hit TV show is currently holding auditions all over the country for the 2017 series' talent pool.

Does Gloucester have what it takes to impress the BGT judges?

a group waits by some red barriers with a Britain's Got Talent stand in the foreground

All Aboard! Busiest, and quietest, train stations revealed

Pilning station sign

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has revealed the UK's busiest, and quietest stations.

Unsurprisingly, the busiest was in London - Waterloo had the highest number of entries/exits in 2015-2016 at 99,148,388.

Among the top 10 quietest stations was Pilning, South Gloucestershire at number three. It only had 46 entries/exits in the same time period.

Bath truck deaths prosecution finishes

Clockwise from top left: Mitzi Steady, Phil Allen, Stephen Vaughan and Robert Parker were all killed in the crash on 9 February

A truck driver involved in a crash which killed four people in Bath would have been able to see restriction signs, a court has heard.

Mitzi Steady, four, Robert Parker, 59, Philip Allen, 52, and Stephen Vaughan, 34, died in the crash in February 2015.  

The jury was told there was "no dispute" that signs were visible at the entrance to Lansdown Lane where two lorries, including the one involved in the fatal crash, entered the road.

But Bath and North East Somerset Council's highways manager, Kelvin Packer, said two other signs had been flattened in a previous accident and were waiting to be repaired.

Matthew Gordon, Peter Wood and Philip Potter face 14 charges between them in connection with their deaths. They all deny the charges against them. 

The prosecution case ended this morning with the defence due to start later. The case continues.

Public Health England asks hospitals to become totally smoke-free

We've all seen people outside of a hospital, some even clinging on to their drip, sneaking a quick puff.

Public Health England has now written to all hospitals asking them to make their sites completely smoke-free.

LISTEN: What do patients at the BRI in Bristol think of having smoke-free hospitals?

Despite declines in smoking prevalence over recent decades, around 15.5% of adults in the South West still smoke and tobacco use remains the single largest cause of health inequalities and premature death.

We understand that it cannot be done overnight and they're comprehensive about the pressure people go through when they are in the hospital or have a loved one there. However, we're just setting the standards for hospitals to work towards in the long-term.

Public Health EnglandSpokesperson

Your weather photos

Sunrise over a lake
Weather Watchers

It's been a foggy and grey morning in the West but that hasn't stopped some of you sending in your eye-catching snaps of the sky.

You can share your photos with the BBC via Weather Watchers.

Pink clouds
Weather Watchers
A frosty field
Weather Watchers
Moody clouds
Weather Watchers

'Self service' libraries 'to cut costs'


Five libraries in North Somerset could be introducing self service.

It'd be part of a cost-saving plan that North Somerset Council is expected to approve later today - it says reducing staffed library opening hours and sharing buildings will save £250,000 per year.

The equivalent of 11 jobs will be lost while some sites will also move and merge with children's centres, meaning a loss of six full time roles. 

If agreed the plans will come into operation in the summer and will cost £820,150 to implement.

Click here to read more.

Adventurer looking forward to Sri Lanka challenge

Watch: Kev Brady looks ahead to his latest challenge

Earlier we told you about adventurer Kev Brady, who's about to begin his latest charity challenge.

The 33-year-old from Gloucester will soon set off on an attempt to paddle board along Sri Lanka's longest river. 

Kev has already swum the length of the River Severn and canoed along the Mississippi

He says he's expecting the trip will be a difficult one.

Trego extends Somerset contract

Peter Trego
Rex Features

Somerset all-rounder Peter Trego has signed a new extension to keep him with the county until the end of the 2018 campaign.

The 35-year-old surpassed 1,000 Championship runs for the first time in his career last season, helping Somerset finish second to Middlesex.  

Newspaper headlines in your area

stack of newspapers

Bristol Post: Bank holidays in 2017 - everything you need to know - and how to get 19 days off by only using nine.

Bath Chronicle: Elderly Bath woman has "Christmas ruined" by youths who knocked her "flat out" in the street.

Gloucestershire Live: Call the mini-cops! Could "miniature police officers" help the fight against anti-social behaviour?

This is Wiltshire: Swindon families who took children out of school win court fight.

Somerset Live: Man holds Amazon drivers hostage by taking keys in row over mattress.

Wayne's Christmas Lunch in Wiltshire

Colour Sergeant Wayne Moss of 1 Royal Welsh in Tidworth, Wiltshire, has decided that rather than just collect food for one vulnerable family at Christmas, he's going to feed 160 people.  

An ambitious Christmas plan in Tidworth

It's his ex-partner's turn to have the children for Christmas so he decided to do something in his community for those people who are alone. 

He's just a few bits and pieces away from having everything he needs for the Christmas Eve event, which will take place at the Tidworth Community Centre. 

To learn more about how you can help go to: