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  1. News, sport, weather and travel updates from across the West of England on Thursday, 27 July 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Goodnight from us

Watch: Ian Fergusson says it should be mostly dry tomorrow morning

Thanks for being with us today - stories have included:

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

Womad music and arts festival kicks off

Watch: BBC Points West's Will Glennon reported from the festival

Thousands of music and dance fans are heading to Wiltshire as this year's Womad festival kicks off.

Womad is short for World of Music, Arts and Dance.

It's Wiltshire's biggest music festival and is now 35 years old.

Tech could lead to ticketless rail travel

Watch: The project works by creating 3D images of faces

Technology being developed in Bristol could mean an end to crowded ticket barriers in stations.

Cameras create a 3D image of someone's face which is then matched to a database.

The technology will be tested for the first time on the London Underground later this year.

Can you work out where our police helicopter has been?

Graffiti film screening ends with Q&A

The premier of a documentary about the Bristol graffiti scene has ended with a Q&A with producers and those who appear in the programme.

The panel discussed the legality of the murals and how to encourage artists without it venturing into the criminal realm.

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Arriva Traincare 'disappointed' over strike action

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Arriva Traincare has reacted with disappointment over plans for further strike action.

The firm, which has a base at Bristol's Barton Hill railway depot, said it would put "robust contingency plans" in place to deal with the impact of the strike, set to take place on the 18th August.

Arriva TrainCare are disappointed in the RMT's continuation of an industrial dispute over a pay claim that was settled a couple of months ago with the company's recognised trade union Unite. The accepted pay deal was awarded to all staff in May, backdated to January 2017, and there is therefore no actual pay dispute and therefore no grounds for strike action. That said, Arriva TrainCare management and staff are determined to put in place robust contingency plans to ensure our customers are not impacted by this unnecessary strike action.

Arriva Trains spokesperson

Machines moving in to destroy viaduct

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The Stapleton Road viaduct in Bristol is being demolished this weekend with a new structure being erected in its place.

For more information on the works, visit the Network Rail website by clickiing here.

Dancing wheelchair helping students with movement

Watch: See the wheelchair being used

Technology is used for all sorts of things these days - but how about helping disabled adults to dance.

Students at the National Star College, near Cheltenham, have been working with Remap Gloucestershire, a charity which helps disabled people live more independent lives.

The result is possibly the UK's first dancing wheelchair.

Call for clarity over future leadership of criticised fire authority

Watch: Sue Mountstevens, police and crime commisioner, says she has been asked to join the leadership

There has been a call for clarity over the future leadership of Avon Fire and Rescue Service after a government report which heavily criticised the organisation.

Earlier today more than 60 recommendations were debated and passed by those at an authority meeting to improve the running of the service.

One recommendation was rejected - to explore whether governance should be handed to Avon and Somerset's Police and Crime Commissioner.

However, yesterday Sue Mountstevens and the leaders of four local councils said they intended to form a new and reduced size authority.

In the light of the announcement yesterday by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the leaders of the four unitary authorities there was a great deal of debate about the future constitution of the Fire Authority and how that can best serve local people. We need more clarity on that proposal as this came as a surprise to the Authority.

Cllr Donald DaviesChair of Avon Fire Authority

Guard honoured with train namesake

Watch: South West Trains honour guard with train named after him

A train has been named in honour of a South West Trains guard who died just before Christmas.

It's believed to be the first time a train has been named after a guard after colleagues wanted to pay tribute to Dave Gunson, from Tidworth in Wiltshire.

Mr Gunson, a father of three and grandfather of nine, died aged 65 after being hit by a car as her cycled to work.

The train was unveiled at a ceremony in Woking, attended by Mr Gunson's wife of 35 years, Chrystine, who said Mr Gunson had never held a driving licence and cycled everywhere.

Graffiti documentary given special screening

A special BBC1 documentary had its premiere at Bristol's Arnolfini tonight.

Vandals and Visionaries explores Bristol's graffiti arts scene, which gave birth to world-famous artists like Banksy.

It is being shown on BBC1 in the West tomorrow at 7:30pm.

BBC Radio Bristol are tweeting from the premiere:

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Battle of Passchendaele remembered

Watch: Carol Peace's grandfather Bill fought in the battle

On the 31st July 1917, the Battle of Passchendaele began.

It was one of the bloodiest battles in the First World War with around 325 Allied soldiers, and 260,000 German soldiers, dying.

Poor weather made the battleground so muddy that some soldiers and horses drowned in the water.

The battle saw British forces gain just five miles of land.

Carol Pearce's grandfather - who emigrated from Avonmouth to Canada - was one of those who fought in that famous battle.

Vulnerable mother left 'traumatised'

Shire Hall, Gloucester

A vulnerable mother, whose baby was removed from her unlawfully last month, has said she was traumatised and distressed by it.

She told the BBC the whole incident had been "incredibly traumatic and distressing" and that she hoped no other family has to suffer in the way she and her child has.

The child, who can't be named for legal reasons, was taken into foster care in Gloucestershire while on a supervised visit with its father.

A judge ruled the parents should have been given 14 days notice, and "serious errors" were made by Gloucestershire County Council.

The council has apologised unreservedly and says it has now updated its policies.

BBC Points West: The headlines

Alex Lovell and David Garmston

BBC Points West's 6.30pm programme is now live.

Here's its three top stories:

  • An attempt to rescue Avon Fire Brigade from it's own internal problems has ended in stalemate today
  • A motorist has been jailed after driving off with another man on the bonnet of his car
  • It has emerged that a fortnight before a highly critical report into children's services in Gloucestershire was published, the department unlawfully took a child away from its mother

Watch the programme live on the BBC iPlayer, or afterwards by clicking here.

Baby removed from mother 'unlawfully'

Gloucester family court

A baby was removed from its vulnerable mother unlawfully, a judge has ruled.

The child, who can't be named for legal reasons, was taken into foster care in Gloucestershire last month while on a supervised visit with its father.

The parents should have been given 14 days notice and "serious errors" were made by the local authority, a family court ruled.

Gloucestershire County Council has apologised and said it had now updated its policies.

Transgender former RAF pilot praises Trump response

RAF Tornados complete Afghanistan mission

A transgender woman who flew search and rescue helicopters in the RAF has praised the British military response to Donald Trump's proposed ban on transgender soldiers in the US.

Anya Holdom, 36, was born in Somerset and said her colleagues supported her when she began the transition in 2010.

Rear Admiral Alex Burton was one of those who criticised Donald Trump on Twitter.

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I've heard senior leadership talking before proudly about diversity and the need for diversity. I have heard that before, so I knew already that we had their support. But to do so publicly and in such quick defence like they did yesterday was actually very special. It would have been easy for them to say 'well you know that we support you' and leave it at that.

Ayla HoldomFormer RAF pilot

Upfest preparations begin

Bristol's North Street will be transformed this weekend as graffiti artists and crowds visit for this year's Upfest.

Here's a work in progress shot from the Tobacco Factory on North Street. We can't wait to see what it will become!


The annual event celebrates graffiti art with artists from around the world using various large buildings as their respective canvases.

Click here to visit the Upfest website.

Man shown clinging to car bonnet in dashcam footage

Watch: Dashcam footage courtesy of Gloucestershire Police

A motorist has been jailed after he was filmed driving off with another man clinging to the bonnet of his car.

Michael Seale, 29, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was banned from driving for 18 months, after the incident involving another driver, Radomir Seredynski, in Barton Street, Gloucester.

Michael Seale
Gloucestershire Constabulary

The court heard Mr Sarodynski was driven 160m along the street on the bonnet before Seale (pictured) finally stopped and let him jump off.

Mr Sarodynski had been trying to exchange insurance details with Seale.

Rail maintenance workers to stage another strike


Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union at Arriva Traincare are set to go on strike from the 18th August for 24 hours.

It comes as part of a continuing dispute over pay and conditions.

Mick Cash, the general secretary of the RMT, said another strike had been called because Arriva Traincare "did not table any improvements to their original pay offer".

The firm has a base at Bristol's Barton Hill railway depot.

In order to force the company to start treating our members with the respect and dignity they deserve, we have decided to call further industrial action.

Mick CashRMT General Secretary

50,000-year-old animal bones found in cave

Watch: A university team is excavating the site

Thousands of years ago, bears, hyena and reindeer roamed through Somerset.

Thankfully today's wildlife isn't as wild.

Evidence of those historical animals is being uncovered at a dig in a cave at Ebbor Gorge, near Wells.

The team of archaeologists, paleontologists and geologists is hoping to use the preserved animal bones to help understand how our climate changed and why some animals survived while others died out.

Fire authority meets to discuss restructure

Watch: Dickon Hooper from BBC Points West reports live after the meeting

The Avon Fire Authority has met to discuss its response to a damning government report.

A radical restructure is being planned which could include the police and crime commissioner joining a reduced size board.

Read more on the story by clicking here.

Plane crash victim's death 'surreal'

Gordon Davis

The family of one of two men killed when a light aircraft crashed in a field said his death felt "surreal".

Gordon Davis, 66, from Gloucester, died in the crash on 13th July at Brimslade Farm, south of Marlborough in Wiltshire.

His family said they are in "a state of disbelief" and need "time and space to grieve".

Paul Gunnell, 55, from Guernsey, was previously named as the other man killed in the crash.

You can read more about the story here.

Travel: M5 lanes reopen after lorry crash, but delays remain

Severe disruption: M5 Gloucestershire northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire northbound severe disruption, between J14 for B4509 Thornbury and J13 for A419.

M5 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M5 northbound between J14, B4509 (Thornbury) and J13, A419 (Stroud), because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

M5 queues continue following lorry crash

Traffic delays are ongoing on the M5 southbound from junction 9 near Tewkesbury.

It follows an earlier collision involving two lorries.

Two lanes between J9 and J10 are closed while the vehicles involved are removed from the motorway.

Highways Agency

The queues are snaking back into Worcestershire.

This is the scene at junction 8:

Traffic camera view
Highways England

Severe disruption: A420 Bristol eastbound

BBC News Travel

A420 Bristol eastbound severe disruption, between A4320 Barrow Road and B4467 Lyppiatt Road.

A420 Bristol - A420 Lawrence Hill closed and very slow traffic outbound between Lawrence Hill Roundabout and the B4467 Lyppiatt Road junction, because of a funeral procession.

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

Family pays tribute to 'experienced pilot' killed in air crash

Gordon Davis
Wiltshire Police
Gordon Davis' family said he was "passionate about flying"

A man killed in a light aircraft crash near Marlborough, two weeks ago, has been named as Gordon Davis.

Mr Davis, 66, from Gloucester, was killed with former RAF pilot Paul Gunnell, when their plane crashed in a field in Brimslade on 13 July.

Mr Davis' family said: "We are in state of disbelief as to how two highly experienced pilots found themselves in the position that resulted in this tragedy.

"Our dad was passionate about flying and has made some amazing trips as a result".

BBC local radio headlines across the West

Man at microphone
  • BBC Radio Bristol: Councillors that make up the Avon Fire Authority are meeting, a day after the announcement of a major shake-up over concerns about its leadership.
  • BBC Gloucestershire: Police say two lorries have collided southbound on the M5 in Gloucestershire.
  • BBC Somerset: Yeovil is to lose its NHS walk-in centre service.
  • BBC Wiltshire: Erlestoke Prison in Wiltshire has been downgraded by the watchdog that monitors safety and standards.

M5 lorry collision: Allow extra journey time

Drivers planning to use the M5 between junctions 9 and 10 southbound are being advised to allow extra time for their journeys after a collision involving two lorries.

Two lanes of the carriageway between junctions 9 and 10 (Cheltenham) are expected to remain closed while recovery of the lorries takes place.

Drivers can get up-to-the-minute travel information by phoning the Highways England Information Line on 0300 123 5000 or by accessing the website:

M5 traffic jam
Highways Agency
M5 traffic jam
Highways Agency

Teenage war victims remembered

Two teenagers who died in a WW2 attack on Trowbridge will be remembered today

The Royal British Legion is unveiling a headstone to mark the graves of two teenage girls killed when bombs struck its club in Trowbridge during World War Two.

The bombs had been discarded by an enemy aircraft after a raid over Bristol.

Rose Kathleen Sheehan, aged 17, and 16-year-old Rene Read were buried in unmarked graves. This afternoon a headstone will be dedicated to them.

They had both taken shelter in the club at the start of the air-raid warning.

These pictures of the devastation 75 years ago are courtesy of the Wiltshire times.

American detectives return Victorian police helmet to UK

Old helmet

A Victorian police helmet - dating back to the 1890s - has been returned to Bristol by Washington DC police department.

An American officer was given the helmet as a gift from his brother, after he he found it on eBay. The US officer then went on "a mission to learn the story behind the helmet".

He discovered it had orginally belonged to Frank Bussey, who worked for the Bristol Constabulary river police between 1891 and 1917, before he retired and emigrated to USA.

Chief constable Andy Marsh said a "huge thanks to this officer in Washington for returning a relic of one of our departed officers home. It is now proudly on display in my office".

Editor remembers gay magazine with 'camp boy's name'

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A former editor of a gay magazine has been speaking about the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales 50 years ago.

Tim Hughes, from Amesbury, was the associate editor of now defunct gay publication Jeremy.

"I don't know why it was called Jeremy - it's a bit camp isn't it, like a camp boy's name," he said.

He's also taking part in 'Prejudice and Pride: The People's History of LGBTQ Britain' tonight at 9pm on BBC Four.

Severe disruption: M5 Somerset northbound

BBC News Travel

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

M5 Somerset - One lane closed on M5 northbound between J26, A38 (Wellington) and J25, A358 (Taunton), because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

Marine Ciarán Maxwell sentencing continues

BBC News Northern Ireland

Ciarán Maxwell

Here's a round-up of yesterday's hearing...

  • Ciarán Maxwell made 14 pipe bombs which were to be used by dissident republicans to attack police, the Old Bailey heard
  • The court heard that four of the pipe bombs were used in Northern Ireland - and two detonated
  • In February, Maxwell, 31, admitted a number of offences, including bomb-making and storing stolen military weapons
  • On Wednesday, the court heard that documents found on a memory card of Maxwell's included a Mujahideen explosives handbook and the IRA's Green Book - or rule book
  • It also contained images of Larne police station marked manually with a blast radius graphic
  • Maxwell lived in Exminster in Devon, and was based with 40 Commando in Taunton, Somerset. He never served in Northern Ireland
  • The sentencing continues

Long queues on M5 after lorry collision

Traffic jam on M5
Highways Agency

Expect long delays on the M5 in Gloucestershire southbound after an accident involving two lorries.

It's between Junction 9 for A46 (Tewkesbury)and Junction 10 for A4019 (Cheltenham).

Local newspaper headlines across the West

Getty Images

Graffiti photographer on the Bristol-New York connection

Watch: Graffiti photographer Beezer remembers 1985 show

Bristol photographer Beezer has been remembering Bristol's graffiti history and its links with New York.

He's telling the story as part of a BBC One documentary looking at the debate surrounding the creativity and criminality of graffiti.

'Vandals and Visionaries' is on BBC One at 7.30pm on Friday, 28th July.

Severe accident: M5 Gloucestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire southbound severe accident, at J9 for A46.

M5 Gloucestershire - M5 exit slip road closed and slow traffic southbound at J9, A46 (Tewkesbury), because of an accident.

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

Severe accident: M5 Gloucestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire southbound severe accident, between J9 for A46 and J10 for A4019 affecting J8 for M50.

M5 Gloucestershire - Two lanes closed and queuing traffic on M5 southbound between J9, A46 (Tewkesbury) and J10, A4019 (Cheltenham), because of an accident involving two lorries and an oil spillage. Travel time is 30 minutes. Congestion to J8 M50.

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

Jailed for being gay

Keith Biddlecombe talks about being jailed for being homosexual

Keith Biddlecombe, now 81, was jailed in 1956 for being gay. He said the memories of that time still haunt him.

The law changed 50 years ago when homosexuality was partially decriminalised in England and Wales.

Keith spent time in Shepton Mallet prison. He tells his story here - please be warned some of what he describes is upsetting.