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  1. Updates from across the West of England on Friday, 23 December 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Mainly dry and bright on Christmas Eve

Watch: Ian Fergusson with the weather for the West

That's all from BBC Local Live for tonight and indeed until after the Christmas holiday weekend.

We'll be back bright and early on Wednesday morning with more live news, sport, travel and weather for the West.

Looks like we'll have a mild Christmas Day on Sunday.

Happy Christmas!

Our tips on how to win at Monopoly

Watch: There are certain ways to make the game work in your favour

You might be tempted to reach for some of those board games sitting in the cupboard over Christmas.

So how about that old favourite Monopoly?

If you feel like annoying your relatives, here's some top tips on how to play the game to your advantage. 

Use this information wisely!

(Please note: The BBC cannot be held responsible for any massive family feuds which result from this information...)

Strange white powder 'did not poison dog'

Cambrian Drive

A mystery white powder found scattered on pavements and at the foot of lamp posts in Yate, South Gloucestershire, was not hazardous, police have said.

The substance was found in the Cambrian Drive and Wellington Road area, according to Avon and Somerset Police.

The force said reports on social media had linked the incident to the death of a dog, but tests have revealed the powder was not toxic.

We believe this to be a non-hazardous substance connected to a runners’ game, but as it has not yet been positively identified we would be glad to hear from anyone who knows for sure what it is and why it has been scattered.

Sgt Terry MurphyAvon and Somerset Constabulary

Rugby: Bristol v Worcester Warriors (Monday)

Tusi Pisi
Rex Features

Samoa international Tusi Pisi returns from injury for Bristol, who make four changes to the side which beat Pau for Monday's Premiership game at home to Worcester.

Olly Robinson and Nick Fenton-Wells start in the back row, while Dan Tuohy makes his debut at lock.

Click here to read more.

Grave gift mystery still not solved

It has become a modern mystery in Cheltenham - every year flowers and gifts have been left on the grave of a boy who died, aged 12, in 1947. 

His sister Ann Kear noticed that each Christmas, the tributes would appear.

Earlier this year Ann thought she had solved the mystery of who was leaving them. 

Or so she thought...  

Watch: Grave mystery still not solved

Airport says no thanks to Christmas crackers

View more on twitter

Bristol Airport says it's expecting more than 260,000 passengers through its doors from now until the new year.

If you're one of them, you may want to leave your Christmas crackers and wrapped presents at home.

Read more on their website.

Bird flu confirmed in dead duck in Somerset

A wigeon

Following news that two wild birds in England have tested positive for H5N8 strain ofAvian Influenza, the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer has offered reassurances that the public risk is "very low".

Two dead wigeon, found in Leicestershire and Somerset, tested positive for bird flu.

This is far from unexpected and reflects our risk assessments and the measures we have taken including introducing a housing order for poultry and a ban on gatherings. We’ll continue to work with ornithological groups to further strengthen surveillance and our understanding of the extent of infection in wild birds. The risk to kept birds cannot be eliminated by housing alone. This virus can be carried into buildings on people and things to infect birds. Good biosecurity measures are essential. We also need people to continue to report findings of dead wild birds so that we can investigate.

Nigel GibbensChief Veterinary Officer

Thangam Debbonaire MP's Christmas

Watch: Thangam Debbonaire MP says it's difficult to switch off

Can an MP really switch off at Christmas?

We asked Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire whether it was possible.

"You turn the dial down a little bit on Christmas Day," she said.

Fancy taking a seasonal seaside swim?

Christmas shopping done. Check.

Turkey bought and plucked. Check.

Just time for a dip in the chilly sea in Somerset before the proper Christmas celebrations begin.

These hardy swimmers were filmed taking the plunge at Clevedon Pier earlier.


Watch: Swimmers in the sea at Clevedon

Church attendance triples at St Bartholomew's at Christmas

Watch: The increase in people going to church at Christmas is noticeable at this small chapel

Across the West, churches will be holding special Christmas services on Saturday including at St Bartholomew in Rodhuish, on Exmoor, which is one of Somerset's smallest churches. 

There are normally just 15 people who attend the chapel's fortnightly services.

Rugby: Harlequins v Gloucester (Tuesday)

Greig Laidlaw
Rex Features

Gloucester make five changes from the eleven who lost to La Rochelle for the trip to Harlequins on Tuesday.

Captain Greig Laidlaw returns at scrum-half, centre Billy Twelvetrees, prop Paddy McAllister, lock Mariano Galarza and flanker Ross Moriarty are also back.

Click here to read more.

'I love Christmas' says Ben Howlett MP

Watch: Ben Howlett MP on Christmas

We've been getting the views of some West Country MPs about Christmas.

Bath MP Ben Howlett says it's one of his favourite times of year.

"I love Christmas, it's brilliant," he says.

Bird flu found in first wild English birds

A wigeon

Two wild birds have tested positive for bird flu - the first cases in the wild in England, the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed

The H5N8 strain of avian flu was found in Leicestershire and Somerset in two dead wigeons, a type of duck. 

It follows the discovery of the virus in the wild in Scotland and Wales and on a Lincolnshire farm last week.

M48 Severn Bridge now fully open

Cyclist dies after crash on A338

Police accident sign

A 65-year-old man from Tidworth has died after being involved in a traffic collision last night, police have said. 

The crash happened on the A338. The man was riding a push bike which was in collision with a red Suzuki Swift.

A 23-year-old man from the Tidworth area has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. 

He was taken to Swindon Gablecross Police Station where he currently remains in custody.

Wiltshire Police have appealed for anyone with information about the collision to get in touch.

Christmas with Jacob Rees-Mogg MP

Watch: Jacob Rees-Mogg's children "excited" by Christmas

Christmas is a time for everyone - even our MPs - to try to switch off and enjoy.

We've been speaking to some of our West Country MPs to ask them how they'll be spending the festive season.

North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg says his young family is full of excitement about Father Christmas's impending visit.

M48 Severn Bridge now partially open

Therapy horse cheers up hospital patients

Watch: Lofty's visit helped to cheer up hospital patients

He's not so much a festive foal as a helpful horse.

Lofty the four-year-old therapy horse visited Yeovil District Hospital to help cheer up patients in the run-up to Christmas.

We particularly like his antlers.

Pub fire in Yeovil closes road

Ilchester Arms Hotel in Yeovil

Fire crews are attending a fire at the Ilchester Arms Hotel in Yeovil.

Church Street, which runs past the pub, has been shut by Avon and Somerset Police to allow emergency vehicles to gain access to the building.

Two fire engines and an incident support vehicle were sent by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

Fatal hit-and-run van driver jailed

Noah Chapman
Hampshire Constabulary

A van driver who drove off from a crash scene leaving a cyclist from Salisbury fatally injured has been jailed for three years.

Noah Chapman, 23, hit cyclist Richard White, 70, on the A338 north of Fordingbridge, Hampshire on 28 April. 

Click here to read the full story.

M48 Severn Bridge shut due to strong winds

It's all quiet on the M48 Severn Bridge at the moment after it was closed due to high winds.

Severn Bridge
Highways England
View more on twitter

Rugby: Rokoduguni back for Bath

Semesa Rokoduguni
Getty Images

It'll be third in the league playing second in the Premiership on Saturday.

Bath are away at Wasps at the Ricoh Arena, and Winger Semesa Rokoduguni is back for Bath after missing the Champions Cup win over Cardiff.

Prop Nathan Catt, lock Luke Charteris and flanker Matt Garvey are also named among the starters.

Click here to read more.

Lord Ashdown says Yeovil's aerospace future at risk

Watch: Lord Ashdown says as much aerospace work needs to be kept in Yeovil as possible

The former Yeovil MP Paddy Ashdown says he's discovered equipment which was being used to manufacture helicopters at GKN in Yeovil is being taken to Poland.

GKN is to close at the end of the month with the loss of more than 200 jobs.

Lord Ashdown says he wants the government to do more to stand up for the industry.

GKN is yet to comment.

'Auntie Kerry' in charge of Christmas party games

Believe it or not, MPs are real people too and they also get quite excited about Christmas.

It's one of the few times of the year when they can just about switch off - and you might be surprised by what they get up to. 

Labour MP Kerry McCarthy says her family circle is so big they have to hire a local church hall for their celebrations. 

Ms McCarthy, who represents Bristol East, says "Auntie Kerry" is also responsible for organising the party games.

Watch: Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy describes her family Christmas as 'absolute chaos'

GWR train cleaners in second strike over agency contracts

GWR trains

A second 24-hour strike by contract cleaners on the Great Western Railway is under way.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union employed by Servest UK began the industrial action at 6am.

The union claims agency workers should be made permanent GWR staff and that there is currently a "two tier" system.

GWR said it was aware of the strike and that rail services were expected to run as scheduled.

Read more on this story.

Man and his dog working to keep us safe on Christmas Day

Nick Blackwell: Boxer out of coma after sparring injuries

Boxing match
Rex Features

Ex-British middleweight champion Nick Blackwell has woken from a coma after being injured in a sparring session.

Blackwell, from Trowbridge, had surgery to reduce swelling on his brain following a return to sparring in November.

The 26-year-old retired earlier this year after being placed in an induced coma following a stoppage defeat by Chris Eubank Jr.

A British Boxing Board of Control hearing into the unsanctioned sparring session will be held in January.

Read more on this story.

Pupils create carnival masterpieces of the future

Competition winners
Dave Stokes

Three budding "carnivalites" from Bridgwater have won a competition to design and build futuristic carnival carts.

Samia Prette Holdom from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School and Lucy Halley and Harley Potter from St John and St Francis Church School, beat competition from more than 100 other pupils to take the top prizes. 

The competition aims to encourage young people to take an interest in the area's carnival tradition as well as learning practical skills.

Festive donkey brings joy to care home

Watch: Charlie the donkey visits a care home

People in a care home in Wiltshire got a festive treat when a donkey came to visit them. 

Charlie, dressed in his Christmas coat, even had to take the lift up to see residents in the Orchid Care Home in Swindon. 

The care home regularly use animals to cheer up the residents. 

Severe disruption: M5 Somerset southbound

BBC Travel

M5 Somerset southbound severe disruption, between J25 for A358 and J26 for A38.

M5 Somerset - One lane closed on M5 southbound between J25, A358 (Taunton) and J26, A38 (Wellington), because of a broken down lorry and recovery work.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Cyclist receives life-threatening injures in 'hit-and-run'

A 65-year-old cyclist is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after being hit by a car on the A338.

Wiltshire Police said the driver of the red Suziki Swift fled the scene - just south of Tidworth - and officers are trying to locate the driver.

The victim, who lives locally, is being treated in hospital in Southampton. His family has been told.

Anyone who witnessed the collision which happened at 10.15pm on Thursday should contact police.

Guscott's Premiership half-term report

Watch: Jeremy Guscott rates the Premiership title contenders

As the Premiership season approaches its halfway point, former Bath centre Jeremy Guscott gives his views on how the early title contenders are doing.

Champions Saracens, Wasps and Bath lead the way with eight wins apiece, but clubs such as Leicester and Exeter are not too far behind.

Severe disruption: M48 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC Travel

M48 Gloucestershire both ways severe disruption, between J1 for A403 and J2 for A466.

M48 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M48 Severn Bridge between J1, A403 (Aust) and J2, A466 (Chepstow), because of strong winds and restrictions. Matrix sign set to 40 mph.

Check local traffic and travel reports for:

Wiltshire singer collaborates with worldwide virtual choir

Watch: Virtual choir created by Wiltshire man

A Wiltshire man has collaborated online with singers from around the world to form a virtual choir. 

Patrick Williams, from Great Cheverell, sings bass along with singers from Australia, America, Scotland and Italy. 

They all sang their parts over Skype and the pieces were stitched together to make the final edit - with a backdrop of Edington Priory, near Westbury. 

Wolves v Bristol City: Team news

Frank Fielding

Bristol City goalkeeper Frank Fielding and midfielder Korey Smith remain doubtful for Lee Johnson's side with rib injuries.

But defender Joel Ekstrand (ankle) is fit again and could make his first appearance since 17 September.

Wolves midfielder Prince Oniangue could feature for the first time since October after recovering from injury.

Centre-half Mike Williamson is also close to a return from injury after almost a year out of action.

Read more here.

Making the headlines in your local newspapers

Christmas lunches to combat loneliness

Christmas lunch

Hundreds of volunteers in the West are getting ready to prepare Christmas Day lunches for people who'd otherwise be on their own. 

The Marmalade Trust expect to host around 100 people on Sunday, at five venues in and around Bristol. 

It's estimated a million people in the UK are suffering from chronic loneliness. 

Some experts say isolation can be just as risky to a person's health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Watch: Safia Wiggram is one of those who has enjoyed a Christmas lunch from the Marmalade Trust

Taz the terrier rescued from under Twerton Park stand


A Patterdale terrier had to be rescued by firefighters after getting stuck under a stand at Bath City's Twerton Park ground.

Taz found his way into the stadium but got stuck. When his owners couldn't find him they called the fire service. 

Crews located him and then had to remove sections of concrete to get him out, they found him wedged in so had to dig a gap to pull him out.

Thankfully he was unharmed by the whole incident and was reunited with his "extremely grateful" owners.

Taz and his rescuers

Making the headlines on your BBC Local Radio station

Radio studio

Radio Bristol: A day after two men were found guilty of manslaughter after the Bath tipper truck crash that killed four people, a campaign's begun to improve safety on the stretch of road where the crash happened.

BBC Somerset: A Royal Marine from Taunton who contracted a debilitating fever after serving in Afghanistan will have to wait to see whether he's entitled to compensation.

BBC Gloucestershire: Extra police patrols are being mounted on the county's roads tonight as a deterrent to people who might be tempted to get behind the wheel after having a drink or taking drugs.

BBC Wiltshire: A cyclist has been left with life-threatening injuries after a suspected hit-and-run in Wiltshire overnight. Police say it happened on the A338, south of Tidworth. 

The calm before the storm on the West's roads?

M4 east of Swindon
Highways England

These pictures were taken a few moments ago on the M4 and M5 around the West country and show how quiet it is on the roads at the moment.

M5 near Taunton
Highways England

But don't be fooled.

Motorists are warned to expect the busiest day of the festive season on UK roads as the Christmas getaway coincides with the end of the working week.

M5 near Gloucester
Highways England

The AA motoring group estimates that about 12 million cars will drive at least 20 miles each today.