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Summary

  1. Updates from across the West of England on Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

That's all for today - a cold night's on the way

Watch: Bee Tucker with the weather forecast for the West

That's all from us for tonight. Thanks for being with us.

We'll be back from 7am tomorrow with more news, sport, travel and weather from the West of England.

Cricketer Tom Abell talks about being named Somerset CCC's captain

Watch: "He's a natural leader of men"

Somerset CCC have named 22-year-old batsman Tom Abell as their new captain in four-day cricket, with Jim Allenby remaining in charge of their limited-overs side.

Abell replaces Chris Rogers as skipper, following the former Australia Test opener's retirement in September.

Winter solstice: 38 minutes of daybreak in 38 seconds

Watch: Day breaks above Glastonbury Tor

The sun didn't want to come out to play, but this is what daybreak looked like above Glastonbury Tor this morning.

The speeded up footage was filmed on the shortest day of the year - the winter solstice.

BBC Sports Personality award arrives 'in fancy box'

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It has been engraved, posted and now a trophy given to Ben Smith at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show last weekend has finally arrived at his Bristol home.

Ben ran 401 marathons in 401 days for charity earlier this year.

He was presented with the Helen Rollason Award for achievement in the face of adversity.

Council asks public not to give beggars food or money

Watch: "Don't give beggars food or money" - message from Gloucester City Council

The number of people begging on the streets of Gloucester has been cut dramatically since a new campaign in the summer.

Financial and housing support has been offered to nearly 40 people but there have also been arrests of so-called "professional beggars" - those who ask for money despite being on benefits and having somewhere to live.

Emily Jones, senior community safety officer with Gloucester City Council, is asking people not to give food or money to beggars, and Sergeant Matt Puttock from Gloucestershire Constabulary says the force is targeting those he describes as "cynical beggars".

Gang jailed over petrol station blasts

Four men have been jailed over a series of cash machine explosions at petrol stations and other places.

At least 10 ATMs were targeted, including one in Marlborough, according to detectives.

Two men pleaded guilty to recklessly destroying or damaging the machines, mainly in the London area, by pumping gas into them and igniting it.

All four admitted conspiring to steal from cash machines in August and September.

Click here for more.

James Cracknell to organise Cheltenham half marathon

Listen: James Cracknell explains why he wants to organise the event

The double Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell has taken over the reins of the Cheltenham Half Marathon.

The former rower has teamed up with Run Joy Ltd as the event's new organisers.

After problems this year with competitors getting held up in traffic and unable to make it to the start line, he's promising things next year will be different.

It'll take place on Sunday 1 October 2017.

Bristol Rovers step closer to new training ground

Bristol Rovers badge
BBC

Bristol Rovers are a step closer to moving to a new training ground, after their planning application to develop a site at Colony Farm in Almondsbury was approved on Tuesday.

Chairman Steve Hamer told the club website: “We are delighted with the outcome of the planning application to develop a new training ground and look forward, as a club, to progressing the acquisition.”

Rovers' first-team squad have trained near Henbury since 2012.

Travel: Traffic moving again on M4 near Bristol

Thousands flock to stones for solstice

Watch: Thousands flocked to celebrate winter solstice at Stonehenge

Thousands of people flocked to Stonehenge this morning to celebrate the Winter Solstice.

The cameras captured some of the colourful characters and sounds of the celebrations.

Travel: Several vehicles involved in M4 crash near Bristol

A&E scheme on hold after patient death

Watch: The BBC's Matthew Hill explains more

Earlier we told you about a new service, designed to reduce pressure on A&E at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, being suspended following the death of a patient

The Front Door scheme assesses if people turning up to casualty need to be seen in the emergency department.

Last month a man was treated but not admitted to hospital. He died two days later.

BBC Points West's Health correspondent Matthew Hill said an investigation had been launched.

MP reacts to bail refusal for Marine A

Watch: Richard Drax MP gives his reaction

More now on the news that former Royal Marine Alexander Blackman, known as Marine A, who is serving life for the murder of an Afghan fighter, has been refused bail ahead of an appeal.

The 42-year-old from Taunton was sentenced to life by a court martial in 2013 and had an appeal dismissed in 2014.

The case is due to be heard by the Court Martial Appeal Court for a second time next year.

Richard Drax, Conservative MP and former army officer, said he had got to know Blackman through prison visits and he is "an extraordinary man".

Child's first Christmas presents stolen from car

Christmas presents
BBC

Christmas presents bought for a young child have been stolen from a car parked outside a house in Salisbury, leaving the family "raw and upset".

Wiltshire Police said the theft happened in Methuen Drive overnight on Monday into Tuesday.

The mother, who doesn't want to be identified, said: "This is my little one's first Christmas and the presents were from Grandparents and an Auntie who are also very upset that their special gifts have been stolen. 

"I know my baby won't be aware but that is not the point.

"It feels very raw and upsetting, the car has been smashed and routed through by someone and the worst feeling is that they might come back.

"I am devastated that this has happened and ask that anyone who has information contacts the police please."

The Cotswolds caught on camera for competition

A montage of pictures
Cotswold AONB

Which is your favourite of these Cotswold scenes?

These ten finalists have been chosen for this year's Cotswolds Landscape Photographer of the year award. 

A montage of pictures
Cotswold AONB

More than 170 entries were received in the competition which is marking the 50th anniversary of the Cotswolds as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The overall winner will now be chosen by an online public vote.

A montage of pictures
Cotswold AONB

Former marine's wife 'disappointed' over bail refusal

Watch: Claire Blackman speaks outside court (Warning: video contains flashing images)

Claire Blackman, the wife of a former Royal Marine who will not be released on bail ahead of an appeal hearing, has said she is "obviously disappointed" with the decision.

Alexander Blackman is serving life for the murder of an Afghan fighter.

An appeal is due to be heard by the Court Martial Appeal Court for a second time next year.

Click here for more.

Man who murdered partner jailed for life

Vaclovas Liubavicius
Avon and Somerset Police

A man who murdered his partner has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years.

Vaclovas Liubavicius, 62, (pictured above) was found guilty of killing fellow Lithuanian national Nijole Sventeckiene, 61, (pictured below) following a trial at Bristol Crown Court.

The jury heard how Nijole, known locally as Nelly, died of knife wounds after being attacked by her partner of five years in her flat on Gadshill Road, in the Eastville area of Bristol on 21 June.

Click here to read more.

Nijole Sventeckiene
Avon and Somerset Police
Nijole Sventeckiene died after being attacked in June

Travel: Delays of an hour on the M4 eastbound

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Highways England says there's currently delays of an hour. Normal conditions are expected after 5.30pm.

Former Royal Marine from Taunton loses bail bid

Alexander Blackman
PA

More on the news that ex-Royal Marine Alexander Blackman has been refused bail ahead of an appeal.

The 42-year-old from Taunton was sentenced to life by a court martial in 2013 for the murder of an Afghan fighter, and had an appeal dismissed in 2014.  

His case is due to be heard by the Courts Martial Appeal Court for a second time next year.

Click here to read more.

Travel: Delays on M4 following crash near Swindon

More Stonehenge Solstice scenes

Here are a few more scenes from the Winter Solstice celebrations at Stonehenge.

Thousands of people gathered at the monument early this morning.

We've had an incredible morning at #Stonehenge celebrating #wintersolstice!
We've had an incredible morning at #Stonehenge celebrating #wintersolstice!
We've had an incredible morning at #Stonehenge celebrating #wintersolstice!

We've had an incredible morning at #Stonehenge celebrating #wintersolstice!

BreakingFormer Royal Marine refused bail

Alexander Blackman who is serving life after being found guilty of murdering an injured Afghan fighter has been refused bail pending a new conviction challenge at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.

The former Royal Marine from Taunton is serving a life sentence for murdering a wounded Afghan in 2011. He recently won the right to an appeal.

Severe accident: M4 Berkshire eastbound

BBC Travel

M4 Berkshire eastbound severe accident, at J14 for A338 affecting Membury Services.

M4 Berkshire - M4 blocked and stationary traffic London-bound at J14, A338 (Hungerford), because of an accident involving six cars and recovery work. Congestion to Membury Services.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Knitted angels bearing Christmas wishes appear on high street

Watch: Yarn bombing in Wroughton

Rows of little angels have been tied onto railings in Wroughton. 

The knitted decorations appeared overnight and all have personal Christmas messages. 

Severe accident: M48 Gloucestershire westbound

BBC Travel

M48 Gloucestershire westbound severe accident, near J1 for A403.

M48 Gloucestershire - An accident on M48 westbound near J1, A403 (Aust).

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Severe accident: A303 Wiltshire westbound

BBC Travel

A303 Wiltshire westbound severe accident, between The Cleeve and B3095 Chetcombe Road affecting A350.

A303 Wiltshire - A303 in Mere blocked and queuing traffic westbound between The Cleeve junction and the B3095 Chetcombe Road junction, because of an accident involving a lorry and a car. Congestion to the A350 junction.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Severe disruption: M5 Bristol southbound

BBC Travel

M5 Bristol southbound severe disruption, at J19 for A369 Portishead.

M5 Bristol - M5 exit slip road partially blocked southbound at J19, A369 (Portishead), because of a broken down car.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Trap Door creator's final work to be finished

Watch: Dave Brain talks about his father's work

A new show from the late Bristol animator Terry Brain is to be completed by his son. 

Terry was the creator of the 1980s children's TV favourite Trap Door.    

When he died he left his son Dave with a computer full of unfinished stories called Weirdy Rhymes.

Travel: Crash on the A303 in Wiltshire

Nice Christmas tree for ducks

Ducks and a Christmas tree
Angie Sun

A fully decorated Christmas tree has been spotted by the side of a river in Wiltshire. 

The tree was photographed by Weather Watcher Angie Sun on the bank of the River Avon in Durrington. 

We assume the ducks didn't have anything to do with it, so do get in touch if you know why it's there.

Baby gorilla moves in with new mother

Baby gorilla moves in with new mother

A hand-reared baby gorilla which was born 10 months ago has moved in with a surrogate mother. 

Afia, a Western lowland gorilla, was left fighting for her life after being born by emergency caesarean and had to be cared for by Bristol Zoo staff. 

Her reintroduction to the gorillas began in October when Afia started bonding with her surrogate mother Romina. 

Her birth mother Kera was too ill to look after Afia, the zoo said. 

Footage courtesy of Bristol Zoo.

Weather Watchers capture Solstice sunrise

The rain stopped just in time for the BBC Weather Watchers to photograph the Winter Solstice sunrise around the West.

Sunrise
westondoggiewalker
Weston-Super-Mare
Sunrise
Angie's attic
Long Sutton, Somerset
Sunrise
Weather Gran
Nympsfield, Gloucestershire
Sunrise
Hippychris
Marshfield, Bristol

Headlines in your local papers around the West

Abell named Somerset captain

Somerset Cricket have announced that Tom Abell will be the club's new club captain.

The 22-year-old was born and bred in Taunton and has opened the batting for the Matt Maynard's side for three seasons in the first class game.

Tom Maynard
Rex Features

A product of Taunton School, he was named as Young Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year for 2013 and awarded the County Championship's Breakthrough Player Award in 2015.

He takes over the captaincy from Australian Chris Rogers, who retired at the end of last season after leading his side to second in the County Championship.

Jim Allenby will remain as captain in the T20 Blast and the One-Day Cup.

Peter Andre makes Burnham-on-Sea pit stop

Peter Andre was spotted at a Burnham-on-Sea petrol station, making the staff's afternoon.

Staff member Ema Parish told Burnham-on-Sea.com: "He bought some doughnuts and a chocolate bar and asked whether we sell magazines.

"He was really friendly and was happy to pose for photos with us which was great!"

View more on twitter

Subsidence closes part of Chocolate Path

A temporary diversion is in place on a 100m section of a well-used cycle and pedestrian path in Bristol after subsidence was spotted.

Bristol City Council is monitoring the height of a stretch of the Chocolate Path, which runs along the Cumberland Road between the heritage railway and the River Avon, after it dropped "very quickly" in recent weeks.

Those using the path are urged to take care and follow the diversion along the railway track, the railway will not operate along the section until the works are completed.

Section of the Chocolate Path in Bristol
Bristol City Council

Commuter thanks #merrystranger for brightening his journey

A rail commuter to Chippenham has thanked a fellow passenger for spreading Christmas cheer among complete strangers.

Earle Thomas takes the train every day for work and he and about 10 other people who share his journey were given a Christmas card by a young woman they see most days.    

She wrote "dear man who grew an epic Movember moustache, from a #merrystranger," Earle says "she had a beaming smile but was so nervous, bless her".

Christmas card
Earle Thomas
Facebook post
Earle Thomas

Animation brought to life after Bristol creator dies

A Bristol animator who died while working on a new series of a children's animation is to have the project realised. 

Terry Brain was the creator of children's TV favourite Trap Door. 

When he passed away his son was left with a computer full of unfinished stories which his father had called Weirdy Rhymes - and now they're being brought to life.  

Watch: Dave Brain talks about his father's work