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  1. News, sport, weather and travel updates for the West of England on Thursday, 2 March 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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That's it for tonight - we're back from 7am tomorrow

Thanks for being with us today. 

Here's how the weather will be shaping up for the next few hours - and it's looking rather wet.

Watch: Rain will dominate the next few hours across the West.

We'll see you tomorrow from 7am, with an umbrella.  

A new heron hide at RSPB reserve

A new, bigger, heron hide has been built at the RSPB's Swell Wood reserve near Taunton.

Children from Curry Mallet School helped make one of the walls and a mural.

The reserve has the South West's largest colony of breeding grey herons.

Estate agents fined for price-fixing


A price-fixing cartel of estate agents in Somerset has been fined more than £370,000.

The firms colluded to set minimum commission rates for residential property sales at 1.5%, denying vendors the chance of a better deal.

They were fined following a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) probe.

You can read more about the story here .

Hospital trust leaps to outstanding rating

Watch: Robert Woolley says he listened to staff member's ideas for improvement

The main teaching hospital in England has jumped from 'requires improvement' to 'outstanding' in a new CQC report.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust has made the transformation in just two years.

It runs the Bristol Royal Infirmary and seven other hospitals.

Robert Woolley, the trust's chief executive, says the trust has experimented with new ideas to prevent common hospital afflictions such as bed-blocking and a lack of staff for operations.

Severe disruption: M5 Somerset northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Somerset northbound severe disruption, at J25 for A358.

M5 Somerset - M5 lane closed on entry slip road northbound at J25, A358 (Taunton), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Concern growing for deer trapped in allotments

Watch: "I don't think they're happy stuck in here," said Diana Benjamin, an allotment keeper

Oh deer. Two of them have been stuck in Stapleton allotments for nearly two months, after contractors working on Bristol's Metrobus project accidentally fenced them in.

The pair have been living off the food people are growing there, but local holders are starting to get concerned about the welfare of the animals.

Today a dinosaur drove to school

Strange things appear to be happening as a result of World Book Day.

This was the scene earlier today at Bishop's Cleeve Primary School near Cheltenham...

View more on facebook

Old cinema transformed into arts venue

Watch: See inside the former cinema

An old cinema in Swindon is being given a new lease of life.

The Palladian, which has been a feature of the town since the 1920s, has now been restored as a multi-purpose arts venue. 

Hugo the hippo compared to a heap of muffins

This is Hugo, one of Bristol Zoo’s most endangered youngsters, with his mum Sirana...

Baby pygmy hippo
Bristol Zoo

He was born six months ago and now weighs about the same as 300 blueberry muffins, according to the zoo.

His father Nato died earlier this year after a long battle with arthritis and suspected skin cancer. 

"Both Sirana and Hugo are said to have coped well with his loss, with Sirana focusing on bringing up her little calf," the zoo said.

Baby pygmy hippo
Bristol Zoo

Hugo’s favourite thing to do is to play with mum as he is a boisterous boy. Sirana will often playfully nudge Hugo around when they are both in their heated pool. Hugo is getting quite big now. As he grows he becomes more and more independent and is choosing to spend time on the other side of the pool from Sirana.

Sarah Gedman Mammal section team leader, Bristol Zoo

BBC Points West 60: Remember when 'hotpants' were new?

Watch: Archive film from the 1970s

Back in the 1970s hotpants were all the rage - but it wasn't just the women who were wearing them.  

The above archive film was found as part of celebrations to mark BBC Points West's 60th birthday.

Writer's first book in line for big prize

Watch: "I've been very fortunate in that I've met the right people," said Laura James

A writer from Wiltshire whose first book was snapped up by the same publisher as J K Rowling has now been shortlisted for a prestigious book prize.

Laura James, from Biddestone, walked straight off a children's writing course and into a three-book deal with one of the biggest publishers around.

Travel: Disruption continues on the M4 after crash

Brothel-keeper escapes jail

Swindon Crown court

A woman who kept a brothel in the centre of Trowbridge for over 10 years has avoided a jail sentence. 

Marion Meyer-Smith ran the brothel from a flat in Norwood Court, off Fore Street.

In December she pleaded guilty to keeping a brothel between January 2002 and June 2016.

Earlier today, a judge handed her a 12-month suspended sentence and community service for 80 hours. 

A Proceeds of Crime hearing will take place on the 16th June, seeking to confiscate any money she made while running the brothel.

Heirs to £325,000 found by BBC One show


A Staffordshire man is set to receive a share of an estate worth around £325,000 after being tracked down by the BBC One show, Heir Hunters. 

Percival Overbury from Gloucester died in a nursing home aged 96 with no will and no next-of-kin. 

Robert Meek, from Rugeley, was one of 46 heirs discovered and featured on the BBC programme. 

The show also revealed a family link to the legendary 1960s record producer, Joe Meek, who was Robert's uncle.

Museum prepares for helicopter goodbye

Crews standing next to a helicopter
RNAS Yeovilton

A special air display to mark the final flight of the Lynx helicopter is to be held at Yeovilton's Fleet Air Arm Museum.

The event, on the 23rd March, will be a display by 815 Naval Air Squadron of RNAS Yeovilton.

Westland's Lynx helicopter  has been in service for the past 41 years, seeing action in the Gulf, Antarctica and the Caribbean.

Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire westbound severe disruption, at J16 for A3102.

M4 Wiltshire - M4 lane blocked on exit slip road and slow traffic westbound at J16, A3102 (Swindon West), because of a broken down vehicle.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Monkeying around during school's World Book Day assembly

Watch: A gorilla with a wheelbarrow interrupted the school assembly

There was a big surprise for pupils at Midsomer Norton Primary School today. 

Their head teacher was kidnapped by a gorilla! 

But don't worry - he was quite safe and they got to write about it for World Book Day.

Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire both ways

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire both ways severe disruption, between Leigh Delamere Services and J17 for A350.

M4 Wiltshire - One lane closed and very slow traffic on M4 in both directions between Leigh Delamere Services and J17, A350 (Chippenham).

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

What does Wells have to offer?

Wells wants to be in the running to become the UK City of Culture 2021, so we thought we'd share some of its famous cultural points.

Wells Market
Getty Images
  • Wells is the smallest city in England with about 12,000 inhabitants. It can call itself a city because of its famous 13th century Cathedral  
  • The Cathedral clock is one of the oldest clock mechanisms to still be functioning. Every quarter hour, jousting knights come out and a Quarter Jack bangs his heels
  • Market Place is a focal point of the city with a twice weekly market. Twice a year a funfair is held there including the annual charity boules competition  
  • Mary Rand, who lived in the city, won a world record in the long jump at the 1964 Olympic Games. A commemorative plaque showing the actual distance is engraved in the Market Place pavement
  • Wells is part of the annual West Country carnival circuit
  • The city has been used as the setting for several films including the 2007 comedy Hot fuzz

Hunt on for 'golden train ticket'

View more on twitter

Here's something a bit different for rail passengers.

GWR has announced it has hidden free train tickets - including one special golden ticket - around our region, for a new competition.

Locations include Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads stations and bookshops in Bristol.

Wells, City of Culture 2021?

Wells Cathedral

The city of Wells in Somerset is among 11 towns and cities to put their names forward to become UK City of Culture in 2021.

Whichever location is chosen will succeed the current City of Culture , Hull, and be given £3m by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

To be successful, the 2021 winner will have to prove its bid is centred around heritage, and that it will build on existing investment it gets from the lottery fund.

I am delighted to see so many bids from across the country, showing how many areas recognise the important role culture can play in the development and regeneration of communities. UK City of Culture helps boost tourism and raises the profile of arts and culture. The exciting funding commitment from the Heritage Lottery Fund is yet another incentive for towns to secure this prestigious title.

Matt Hancock Minister for Digital and Culture

A quarter of uni students 'suffer with mental illness'

Watch: "I got quite physically unhealthy," says Grace

One in four students at Bristol University has experienced mental health problems, according to the Students Union.

Figures reflect the national picture, where more young people, especially girls, need support. 

Grace, who works for a charity that helps young people - including Bristol University students - explains what it feels like to struggle with a mental illness.

Ow bist? Latest Korean Billy video tackles Bristol sayings

Watch: Korean Billy teaches his fans about the Bristol dialect

Yesterday we were introduced to internet sensation Korean Billy, who makes videos about UK phrases and sayings.

On YouTube alone he has more than 40,000 subscribers to his content and his videos have been watched millions of times.

Well he's now published his latest offering - and it's all about Bristolian lingo.

How well do you think he's done?

Man denies racially motivated assaults

Gloucester Crown Court

A Gloucester man who was accused of an alleged hate crime in the city last year has pleaded not guilty in court.

Jeffrey Warren, 46, of Willowleaze, Longlevens, is accused of the racially motivated assault on Petrus Undari, on Great Western Road last November.

He's also accused of the same offence against a police officer a fortnight later.

A trial at Gloucester Crown Court is due to take place in July.

Salisbury Plain 'Neolithic Marathon' called off

Sarsen trail and Neolithic Marathon
David Kjaer, WWT

This year's Sarsen trail and Neolithic Marathon has been cancelled.

The popular annual running, walking and biking event was due to take place on 30 April on the wilds of Salisbury Plain between Avebury and Bulford.   

Organisers from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust say the Army needs to use the area for a "major military exercise on Salisbury Plain".

They added they were only told on Friday that their application for a licence to use Salisbury Plain had not been approved, and no alternative date was possible.

Click here to read more on Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's website .

Rugby: Gloucester confirm new signing

Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire eastbound severe disruption, between J15 for A346 Marlborough Road and J14 for A338.

M4 Wiltshire - One lane closed on M4 eastbound between J15, A346 (Swindon East) and J14, A338 (Hungerford), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Bath producer 'delighted' with Oscar win

Oscar statue

A film producer who grew up in Bath says she is "over the moon" after a documentary she worked on won an Oscar.

The Bath Chronicle reported Abigail Anketell-Jones was "really tired" but "delighted" after returning from Hollywood.

She was assistant producer on the film The White Helmets, which won the Oscar for the Best Documentary Short.

Click here to read the full story .

Bristol NHS trust jumps from 'requires improvement' to 'outstanding'

Bristol Royal Infirmary

An NHS trust in Bristol has been praised by the health watchdog for drastically turning around its service.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust was rated as "requiring improvement" by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) two years ago.

Now it is one of the highest rated in England and the first to have jumped to "outstanding" between two inspections.

Click here to read the full story .

Wells: UK City of Culture?

Wells Cathedral

Could Wells become the UK City of Culture 2021?

The Government has announced the 11 candidates now bidding for the title.

Wells, the smallest city in England, is on the list and has started the process of putting together its bid.

Click here to read more .

We are very excited to be working with the Medieval City of Wells in bidding for the City of Culture 2021. Wells is an incredible example of the UK’s finest history and heritage.

John Turner, CEO of Visit Somerset

World Book Day: More outfits

Here are some more fantastic World Book Day outfits.

You can send in your photos via the BBC Points West Facebook page .

This is six-year-old Tallulah from South Gloucestershire dressed as Moana.

Girl dressed a Moana

And this is Lily dressed as Slappy the Dummy from Goosebumps.

Girl dressed as Lily Slappy the Dummy from Goosebumps

A.P. McCoy statue to be unveiled at Cheltenham Festival

Watch: Statue of A.P. McCoy being worked on

The finishing touches are being put to a statue of champion jockey A.P. McCoy.

The bronze sculpture will be unveiled at the forthcoming National Hunt Festival in Cheltenham later this month.

Sculptor Paul Ferriter said Sir Tony was a "brilliant subject".

Plans to extend shopping mall by 50% suspended

Plans for an expansion of The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, have been called in by the government.

Approval to increase the size of the shopping centre - to include an indoor ski centre - was given last year.

The final decision will be made by the Secretary of State after an inquiry.

We are extremely disappointed [but] remain optimistic that the £300m investment ... could still go ahead."

South Gloucestershire CouncilSpokesperson
Cribbs Causeway
Geograph/Brian Robert Marshall
Plans are to expand Cribbs Causeway by 50%

Severn Crossing reopens

M48 Severn Crossing now open again.

View more on twitter

Hospital trust praised for improving services

Watch: How the BRI made improvements

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust has been praised for drastically turning round its service. 

The trust is now deemed to be "outstanding" by the Care Quality Commission, when just two years ago it was classed as requiring improvement.  

Concerns then included A&E being too crowded and not enough staff being available for operations.

Georgina Prescott, theatre manager at Bristol Royal Infirmary, explained the turnaround was due to a number of changes.

'Window' installed in birthing unit

"Sky tiles" have been installed at the Stroud maternity Unit, to try and offer women a more relaxing birthing experience.

The light fittings, as the name suggests, give the impression of a window looking out into the sky.

The £4,000 fixture, which replaces four ceiling tiles in the Mulberry Birthing room, was paid for by the Stroud Hospitals League of Friends.

Sky tiles
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Our aim is to keep lighting low and draw the curtains but this does mean the mums in labour could not look outside. Now, they can be in the birthing pool and can look up and see the trees and sky.

Bobbie Cullimor Stroud Maternity Unit Lead Midwife

Police force 'requires improvement'


Gloucestershire Police has been rated as "requires improvement" in a new report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The report showed most of the 43 police forces in England and Wales were providing a good service, but it warned others were not doing the basics, leaving victims let down.

Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire Police were both rated as "good".  

Click here to read the full story .  

King George VI’s jacket up for auction

A World War Two field marshall uniform jacket that belonged to King George VI, is being auctioned in Clevedon next week.

The khaki service dress jacket was given to society portrait artist Maurice Codner R.P, after he was commissioned to paint a portrait of King George.

His Majesty had taken it along to the sittings with a wardrobe of uniforms.   

Estimated at between £4,000 and £6,000, the jacket is due to go under the hammer at Clevedon Salerooms next Thursday.

His Majesty King George V1 WW2 Field Marshall uniform jacket
Clevedon Salerooms

This is the most extraordinary item I have ever found in a wardrobe and it has caused immense interest from within the UK and from abroad

Marc Burridge Senior auctioneer at Clevedon Salerooms

New crematorium revealed for North Wiltshire

Plans for a new crematorium between Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett are going on show today. 

A private company - the Westerleigh Group - wants to build on land just off the A3102 near junction 16 of the M4.

The company says it will ease pressure on the Kingsdown Crematorium in Swindon. The plans are on show at the Royal Wootton Bassett Rugby club this afternoon.

New crematorium between Swindon and Royal Wootton Bassett
Westerleigh Group

Couple marry almost 50 years after first meeting

Watch: Alison Blackwell and James Hodges discovered they had a lot in common

Alison Blackwell and James Hodges have quite a lot in common. They were born in the same hospital, on the same day, and they also went to the same school.

James lost his mother at the age of eight, and moved away, but in 2013 he decided to message Alison on Facebook, and love quickly blossomed.