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  1. News, sport, travel and weather updates for the West of England on Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Severe disruption: M5 Somerset southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Somerset southbound severe disruption, between J24 for A38 and J25 for A358.

M5 Somerset - One lane closed on M5 southbound between J24, A38 (Bridgwater South) and J25, A358 (Taunton), because of a broken down coach.

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

Goodnight and thanks for joining us today

We'll be back again tomorrow morning at 7am. 

Here's Ian Fergusson to take you through the weather for the next 24-hours.

Weather for the West on April 12 2017

Fond farewell to Gloucester store

Watch: Inside Kwik Save, Gloucester, before it's demolished for affordable housing.

Here's a trip down memory lane for the people of Gloucester.

The former Kwik Save store is being demolished and we've been invited in for a last look round.

For those with longer memories - it used to be the St Aldate Garage.  

England Head Coach Eddie Jones gives village rugby team some top tips

The man who led the England team from the disaster of the 2015 World Cup, to winning 18 matches in a row, was training a local side in Bathford today after they won a competition.

Here are his tips on how the team could improve.

Bristol's Pliosaurus given a new name

Shepton Mallet musician's cancer appeal tops target

It's good news for musician Stephen Sykes from Shepton Mallet. His fundraising appeal for a new type of cancer drug has beaten its £90,000 target.

Stephen has been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, and after six rounds of chemotherapy he was told this drug may be his only chance to reduce his cancer enough for a stem cell transplant.

Appeal page

When Stephen was diagnosed, his family started the 'Swab4Sykes' appeal, inviting new donors to join the stem cell register.

Parachute collision death an accident

Beachley Barracks in Gloucestershire
L/Cpl Ali Woodford was based at Beachley Barracks in Gloucestershire

The death of a soldier who collided with a colleague during a parachute exercise at a training centre has been ruled as an accident.

L/Cpl Ali Woodford, 26, died in 2015 in Germany after his reserve parachute failed to deploy fully in time.

The inquest heard L/Cpl Woodford and the unnamed private had been put on a "collision course" by instructors after the wind changed direction.

The coroner said the accident was "potentially avoidable".

You can read more about the story here

'We are investing nationally' - NHS England adress trend of GPs leaving medicine

Watch: Linda Prosser from NHS England South West says work pressure is to blame.

BBC Sports Forum live from Bristol's County Ground

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Want to hear more about the big issues in sport?

Join Richard Dawson (head coach, Gloucestershire CC), Sarah Hunter (Bristol Ladies Rugby), Peter Trego (Somerset CC), Annie Heatherson (Yeovil Town Ladies) and Greg Streete (Bristol Flyers) are live at the BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Radio Somerset Sports Forum with presenter Geoff Twentyman.

Severe accident: M48 Gloucestershire westbound

BBC News Travel

M48 Gloucestershire westbound severe accident, between J1 for A403 and J2 for A466 Wye Valley Link Road.

M48 Gloucestershire - One lane closed and slow traffic on M48 westbound between J1, A403 (Aust) and J2, A466 (Chepstow), because of an accident involving motorbike.

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

England coach Eddie trains Bathford team

Watch: England Rugby's Eddie Jones coaching an amateur team near Bath

He's the straight-talking Aussie who's turned round the fortunes of England Rugby. But tonight - for one night only - Eddie Jones is coaching an amateur team near Bath.  

One of Avonvale's players entered a competition last year where the top prize was to have the England head coach take training - and he won. 

So, this evening Eddie has swapped Twickenham for Bathford. 

Points West Sports Editor Alistair Durden snatched a quick chat with him.

Beth French nears half way point of her long-distance challenge

The Oceans 7 challenge is like the swimming equivalent of climbing some of the world's highest mountains.

It challenges swimmers to swim in all seven oceans of the world. Only six people have ever completed the challenge in their lifetime.

Now Wellington's Beth French wants to be the first person to do them all in a year.

She's half way through her challenge, we went to catch up with her in training. 

Watch: Wellington's Beth French is getting ready to cross the Strait of Gibraltar

Police report criticism 'sends out wrong message'

Gloucestershire Police is playing down criticism of its operations in the county 

A report from Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary says the force needs to improve its approach to crime prevention, anti-social behaviour and protection for vulnerable people. 

It also says it's deeply concerned it lacks the fundamental arrangements to tackle organised crime.

But Chris Brierley, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire Police, says the picture is not as bad as has been painted.

Watch: Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner Chris Brierley says there isn't a big problem

The Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire Police forces were rated as 'good' in the three main inspection categories.   

Severe disruption: A4 Bristol both ways

BBC News Travel

A4 Bristol both ways severe disruption, at A4176 Bridge Valley Road affecting A3029 Brunel Way.

A4 Bristol - A4 Portway in Clifton blocked and queuing traffic in both directions at the A4176 Bridge Valley Road junction, because of a police incident. Congestion to the A3029 Brunel Way junction.

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

Salisbury's Victoria Park opened after refurbishment

Making the headlines across the West

Gloucestershire Police force 'requires improvement', according to Her Majesty’s Inspector

While Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams, was satisfied with parts of Gloucestershire Police’s overall performance, she identified several areas of serious concern as part of the 2016 HM Inspector of Constabulary Force Assessment. 

She says that the force needs to improve its approach to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, its investigative standards, and the protection it provides to vulnerable people. 

"It lacks fundamental arrangements for tackling serious and organised crime and this must be addressed urgently," says Wendy Williams.

"Although some improvements have been made in response to previous recommendations by HMIC, progress in other areas has been slow, and some aspects of the force’s position has declined."  

Gloucestershire Police have been criticised in an independent report

Great Western Railway to launch smartcard

Travellers on the Great Western Railway's (GWR) Severn Beach line will soon be able to use smart cards as part of a trial project taking place in Bristol.

The planned scheme will allow people to add weekly, monthly and annual tickets to an electronic swipe card, similar to London's Oyster card.

Oyster card
Getty Images

Although only longer train journeys will be permitted at first, GWR's owner, First, hopes to eventually include buses in the scheme. 

Before the smartcards start in May, GWR will install platform validators at all the Severn Beach Line stations, as well as improving ticket gates at Temple Meads station.

Integrated transport options in Bristol have been discussed by the West of England Mayoral candidates.

Severe accident: A436 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A436 Gloucestershire both ways severe accident, near A435.

A436 Gloucestershire - A436 in Seven Springs blocked and very slow traffic in both directions near Seven Springs Inn, because of an accident.

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

Introducing Graff Morph - coming soon to Bristol

Graff Morph

Morph is turning 40 this year and as part of the celebrations street art and graffiti festival, Upfest, has partnered with Aardman to create the above portrait of the much-loved character.

The mural, designed by Bristol graffiti artist CHEO, will be sprayed live at the festival on the 29–31 July.

I’m so happy that Morph will be taking part in Upfest this year – it’s a fantastic local event celebrating the creativity at the heart of Bristol. And I love CHEO’s version of Morph, it fits so well with his artistic and mischievous nature!

Peter LordAardman Creative Director and co-creator of Morph

Somerset man wins uk 'getting in shape' competition

Watch: Wayne Martin is Pure Elite's UK Body Transformation Champion 2017

A 39-year old man from Minehead has been crowned UK Body Transformation Champion after losing a total of nine stone (56KG) and embarking on a weight-training programme over several years. 

Wayne Martin had suffered two suspected heart attacks by the time he was 32 years old.

Sea Mills fire confirmed as accident

A woman has died in a house fire in Bristol

Avon Fire & Rescue have confirmed that a fire that took place at a house on Sylvan Way last night was started accidentally.

A 91-year old woman was rescued from the house fire, but died at the scene

Four crews were called out to deal with the fire, which caused serious damage to the ground floor of her house.

Severe disruption: M32 Bristol northbound

BBC News Travel

M32 Bristol northbound severe disruption, between J1 for A4174 and M4 J19 affecting J3 for A4320 Easton Way.

M32 Bristol - One lane closed and queuing traffic on M32 outbound between J1, A4174 (Hambrook) and M4 J19, Bristol, because of two broken down vehicles. Travel time is 20 minutes. Congestion to J3, A4320 (St Pauls).

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

Concerns over closure of park paddling pool

People who live near St Andrew's Park in Bristol say they're worried that council cuts will mean its popular Victorian paddling pool is closed at weekends. 

The group Friends of St Andrew's Park says the toilets are also now closing at 3pm every day, leading to people urinating in public. 

Paddling Pool at St Andrew's Park
Geograph/ Sharon Loxton

Entry fees at Roman Baths could increase

Roman Baths

A significant increase in the admission costs to the Roman Baths could be approved by the council today.

BANES will discuss increasing entry fees for 2018 with further large increases every year for the following four years.

It's part of the authority's latest business plan and attempts to increase the profits being made from its attractions.

'Champing' - camping in churches - will bring in revenue to sacred sites

Watch: All Saints in Langport is the only venue to offer 'Champing' in the West

Forget glamping, this year it's all about "champing" - the chance to stay in a small number of churches across the country.

Run by the Churches Conservation Trust, champing is a way of bringing in revenue for the upkeep of over 350 closed sacred sites.  

At the moment All Saints in Langport is the only place in the West region to offer it.

Large Blue butterfly thriving after reintroduction

Large Blue butterfly

Conservationists say a butterfly once declared extinct in the UK is doing well in Gloucestershire this year. 

The Large Blue, which is one of Britain's rarest butterflies, has recorded its second best year on record, according to Butterfly Conservation.

Numbers were up 38% from 2015.

GP quit because of 'strain on family'

Watch: GP Michael Sproat quit because of "strain on family"

About 40% of GPs in the South West say they intend to give up their jobs in the next five years, according to a new survey.

For Michael Sproat, that has already happened. The former GP is starting a new life this week which he hopes will mean seeing more of his family. 

He's just given up his GP partnership at his surgery in Downend and he will now be doing endoscopies for a private company as well as some locum work. 

It's all to get a better work-life balance, he says.

The University of Exeter surveyed 2,000 family doctors and found seven in 10 plan to change their working patterns so they can have less contact with patients.

Firearms dealer jury discharged

Paul Edmunds - artist's impression
Helen Tipper

The jury has been discharged in the trial of a firearms dealer accused of making and supplying homemade bullets used in fatal shootings by criminal gangs in the 2011 riots.

Paul Edmunds, of Hardwicke, Gloucestershire, has denied conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition.

Prosecutors said he used his "almost encyclopaedic" knowledge of firearms laws to smuggle hundreds of guns.

Jurors were discharged after failing to reach a verdict.

A retrial has been ordered at Birmingham Crown Court for the autumn.

Live at the VR World Congress in Bristol

Watch: Business correspondent Dave Harvey live at the VR World Congress

The third VR World Congress, Europe’s biggest virtual reality festival, is taking place in Bristol.

About 2,000 programmers are showing off the latest games and gear at the expo in Millennium Square.

BreakingFirearms dealer trial: Jury discharged

The jury at the trial of firearms dealer Paul Edmunds, from Hardwicke in Gloucestershire, has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict.

Mr Edmunds, 65, denied conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition.  

There will be a re-trial in the Autumn but no date has been set yet.

Severe accident: A48 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A48 Gloucestershire both ways severe accident, between Rosemary Lane and Church Lane.

A48 Gloucestershire - A48 in Stroat blocked and very slow traffic in both directions between Stroat Church and the Church Lane junction, because of an accident.

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

Next wave of free schools approved

School children in a playground

Another 131 free schools have been approved to open in England, creating about 69,000 places. 

The Education Secretary Justine Greening said they would help to "give parents more choices".

The latest wave of approvals includes the following schools in the West of England:


  • Bishop Hancock Primary School


  • Abbey Farm Educate Together Primary        
  • Badbury Park Primary School   


  • Learn@ Specialist Academy
  • North Star Academy
  • Oasis Academy South Bristol
  • Oasis Academy Temple Quarter


  • The Isambard Kingdom Brunel Primary School (IKB)

Illegal elvers worth more than caviar

David Gregory-Kumar

Science correspondent, BBC Midlands Today

Elver fishing in the Severn

This is peak elver fishing season on the River Severn but there are worries about illegal poaching and smuggling of these baby eels to the Far East.

So I spent a night out on the banks of the river to see how the problem is being tackled.

Elvers are amazing creatures. Small, transparent worm-like fish that arrive in the Severn from the Sargasso Sea in their millions. They work their way upstream and after five to 20 years living in the Severn they head back out to sea to breed.

Right now, it's full moon which means big tides and a huge bore, a surge wave, coming up the Severn at night.

Click here to read more from David's blog.

Metro Mayor hustings - watch again

Last week Bristol24/7 hosted a hustings ahead of the West of England Mayor elections next month.

The event was streamed live on Facebook and can be watched again below:

View more on facebook
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Rough sleeping scheme to be rolled out

Watch: Former rough sleeper Clive described his experience as a "trial"

Homeless charity St.Mungos is hoping to expand a scheme in Bristol that's offering rooms in converted council buildings to former rough sleepers.

Those free of drink and drugs, who can't afford the city's high rents, can rent out one of the 19 rooms on offer. 

It's hoped the number of spaces will more than double in the next year and be rolled out to other parts of the West Country.

Severe accident: A358 Somerset both ways

BBC News Travel

A358 Somerset both ways severe accident, between Bickenhall Lane and A378.

A358 Somerset - Very slow traffic on A358 in both directions in Hatch Beauchamp between the Bickenhall Lane junction and the A378 junction, because of an accident earlier on. All lanes have been re-opened.

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

Growing up fast

Meet some of Longleat's newest members.  

Watch: BBC Wiltshire was give access to meet the cubs

Like moving from nursery to reception, cheetah cubs Winston and Poppy have just started going out into the safari park 'full-time'. 

Performing in front of their adoring fans is hungry work!  

'Great progress' at Bath Spa railway station

Who's that walking an alligator?