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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Devon council vote on free school meals expected

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Devon County Council will be asked to ensure all eligible children receive free school meal vouchers for the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

    The council this week said it will continue to work with district councils to ensure hardship support is available to vulnerable children and families across the county this winter and pledged extra funding to ensure no child goes hungry.

    But Liberal Democrats group leader Councillor Alan Connett had said the announcement was "smoke and mirrors" and the Conservatives running the council were playing politics with hungry children this half-term and for the holidays to come.

    Now Labour group leader Councillor Rob Hannaford has put forward a motion to December’s full council meeting that would see the council resolve to use some of the allocated hardship funding to ensure that all eligible children receive free school meal vouchers for the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

    Mr Hannaford said: "I hope that this motion will clarify that we need leadership on this key issue from the county council directly.

    "We will obviously work closely with our district colleagues and others, but at the end of day we are the education authority.

    "The government has totally misread the mood of the country on this problem, and it has now become a symbolic issue that has starkly highlighted again the widespread poverty and hardship that continues to blight our nation through the plight of hungry children."

    The motion will be debated at a full council meeting on 3 December, as will a petition started by East Devon councillor Joe Whibley, if 6,000 signatures are reached by 24 November .

  2. More than 13,000 Cornish children on free school meals

    Richard Whitehouse

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    More than 13,000 children in Cornwall currently get free school meals to ensure that they don’t go hungry.

    That is 16% of all schoolchildren in the Duchy having parents who qualify – although it is widely believed that many more are also eligible but choose not to apply.

    And that number is already rising with more and more families finding themselves struggling to make ends meet as the impact of coronavirus leads to more redundancies across Cornwall.

    Free school meals is a hot topic across the UK – helped by a high profile campaign by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.

    The striker, who himself was a beneficiary of free school meals when growing up, has been campaigning tirelessly to get the government to provide food for children in school holidays as well as term time.

    And, after MPs voted against a motion to extend free school meals, he has championed the legion of businesses all over the country that have stepped in to provide food for children.

    This includes many across Cornwall who have offered their help, despite the hospitality industry being one of the hardest hit by the economic downturn caused by Covid-19.

    Sally Hawken, Cornwall Council Cabinet member for children and families, is pleased that the issue of free school meals has become a national debate but also hopes that the conversation will continue on a long-term basis.

    As of last Friday there were 13,362 children in Cornwall getting free school meals.

    Councillor Hawken said: "Cornwall is not just cream teas and surfing, there is extreme poverty here.

    "People shouldn’t be surprised by that number, but maybe for some the penny hasn’t dropped."

  3. Council blames surfers for slowing nappy clean-up

    A council has blamed delays to cleaning up incontinence pads polluting the coast in North Devon on surfers.

    Torridge District Council said the efforts at Bucks Mills could be suspended due to a "small number of surfers ignoring the warning signs" and "refusing to make alternative arrangements".

    The pads have been spreading along the coast after a container washed up near Hartland Point on Wednesday.

    View more on twitter
  4. Big wave surfer's 'fastest ever wave'

    Jonathan Morris

    BBC News Online

    Devon-based big wave surfer Andrew Cotton takes on a huge swell at the Nazare Challenge in Portugal.

    Video content

    Video caption: Brit big wave surfer's 'fastest ever wave'
  5. 'Second wave' of Devon homelessness expected

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    East Devon District Council is preparing to deal with the “inevitable second wave of homelessness” over the winter now that the ban on landlords evicting tenants has ceased.

    Wednesday’s cabinet meeting heard that during the coronavirus pandemic, the council has seen a huge increase in demand for people requiring temporary accommodation, with high numbers of approaches being received from people fleeing domestic violence, those needing accommodation for health reasons, hospital discharges and those with a need to shield.

    There had also been a large increase from people who had previously freely moved between properties, known as ‘sofa-surfers’, no longer being free to do so.

    Homeless man in Exmouth

    Andrew Mitchell, housing solutions manager, said that while actions have been taken to address the homelessness situation throughout the pandemic, the economic situations created - including people losing jobs and income being reduced - have created barriers to the affordability of rent and mortgage payments, and need to be factored in.

    The cabinet agreed to the request for funding to increase staffing levels within the housing team, as well as agreeing to write to MPs and the government to lobby them to reinstate the ban on evictions.

    Mr Mitchell said that for the first six months of 2020-21, between April and September, there have been 432 homeless approaches recorded, which actually was a lower figure than for the same period last year of 555.

    But he said: "This figure has been reached without the usual high number of homeless approaches from people losing accommodation in the private sector."

  6. Original Poldark actor backs saving 'iconic' house

    The actor who played Poldark in the original series has backed a campaign to save the "iconic" house which featured in the programme as it’s now fallen into disrepair.

    Video content

    Video caption: Robin Ellis, who played Ross Poldark in the original series, is backing calls for action
  7. Plymouth Covid-19 cases double in three weeks

    Coronavirus cases in Plymouth have doubled since 8 October, Plymouth City Council has announced.

    The council has revealed the city has passed 2,000 infections on Friday, 22 days after reaching 1,000.

    However, despite the increase, Plymouth's Covid-19 case rate is 154 per 100,000 people - lower than the England average of 226.

    View more on twitter
  8. Volunteers feed 500 families over half-term

    Charley Adams

    BBC News Online


    Volunteers have provided free lunches for 500 families over half-term in Cornwall.

    Babs Rounsevell from the Chaos group said she was "fuming" when MPs voted against providing funding for free school meals during half-term and wanted to do something.

    "I was determined that children in Cornwall would not go hungry,” she added.

    Chaos has provided a range of community services to vulnerable people since lockdown started.

    The managing director posted on the group's Facebook page on Friday and said "there was an incredible response" with lots of people volunteering to help.

    With Russell Keeble from the Threemilestone Methodist Church, they hope to have delivered 500 meals to children and families in Cornwall before the end of half-term.

    Mr Keeble and Ms Rounsevell said: "We ended last week feeling angry at the thought of children going hungry.

    "Thanks to the community joining together we will end this week having been able to help hundreds of local families."

    lunch bags
  9. Theatre Royal Plymouth to reopen with Christmas programme

    After closing at the beginning of lockdown, the Theatre Royal Plymouth is planning to open its doors for socially distanced performances at Christmas.

    Following the success of its culture recovery fund application and help from the national lottery, the theatre is opening with a full socially distanced programme.

    Chief executive, Adrian Vinken said this announcement marks an "exciting and really important moment" in the life of the Plymouth theatre.

    He thanked the loyal supporters for their help during the coronavirus pandemic.

    In June, the theatre announced 100 jobs were at risk as a direct impact of the coronavirus.

    View more on twitter
  10. Firefighters work on fine motor skills with Jenga

    A specialist team of firefighters in Cornwall are working on their equipment and fine motor skills with an oversized Jenga game.

    View more on twitter
  11. Hospital beds closed after positive Covid-19 test

    BBC Radio Devon

    A hospital had to close more than 200 beds following incidents of two or more patients testing positive for coronavirus, in non-Covid-19 wards.

    The Health Service Journal has revealed Derriford Hospital in Plymouth had to close the beds this week.

    Since being cleaned, 130 of the beds have reopened.

    The Trust says the beds were closed to new admissions, rather than being empty.

    There are currently three restricted wards at the hospital.

    Meanwhile, patients at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital will not be allowed visitors from 19:00 on Friday.

    The hospital said it had made the difficult decision to ban visitors due to the rise in Covid-19 cases.

  12. Honiton swimming pool to get £380k refurbishment

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    A £380,000 revamp has been approved for Honiton Swimming Pool after councillors were told it remained "in a very poor state".

    East Devon District Council was told the pool may have to close if nothing was done to resolve its damp problems.

    Extensive refurbishments have been suggested including removing wall and floor tiles, as well as work on the shower rooms, toilets, and reception area.

    Councillor Paul Hayward, cabinet member for economy, said: "This is supposed to be an amenity for the people of Honiton, but it is not performing.

    "Let’s improve the facility and get people healthy and swimming. We cannot have a facility that is unsafe and not fit for purpose."

    The cabinet agreed to the refurbishment works and said they would be assessing the potential for solar panels and air source heat pumps for the pool to try and reduce carbon emissions.

  13. Torrington fundraisers splash out on bonfire boat

    BBC Radio Devon

    Final licks of paint are being applied to a replica of the Mayflower before it is set on fire for charity next year.


    Torrington Cavaliers’ bonfire with a difference had been due to take place on Torrington Common on 29 August but coronavirus has pushed that back to August next year.

    The event was set to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower, the English ship that transported English Puritans, known as the Pilgrims, from England to what became the USA in 1620.

    The group, which has spent two years building the replica ship, are known for their unusual bonfires which have included the Houses of Parliament, the Great Fire of London, HMS Victory, Torrington Castle and even Trumpton.

    Spokesman Stephen Blake said: "We will continue for a few more weeks then close down until around spring 2021 when the build will move into its final stages."

  14. Mount's Bay coast path upgrade set to begin

    Sections of the Mount’s Bay Coast Path will be closed from next week when work starts on improving resilience and accessibility for walkers and cyclists, Cornwall Council revealed.

    The upgrade will see a resurfaced path, a new path to take the route away from Longrock car park, more benches and improved access to the beach for people with mobility issues.

    The popular path is vulnerable to weather and storm damage, which creates uneven surfaces and forces sections to be closed, the council said.

    Construction will begin on 2 November and the project is due to run in sections until June next year.

    Mount's bay

    The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, which committed about £1.7m (1.9m Euros) to Cornwall Council as part of a wider development project of areas in France and England.

    The council invested about £800,000 (900,000 Euros) to the project themselves.

    Councillor Tim Dwelly said: "Mount’s Bay is one of the jewels in our crown, but the sea has not been kind to the coast path over the years.

    "This investment will not only protect the path for many years to come, but also contribute to the regeneration of the Marazion and Penzance area by encouraging people to visit all year round."

  15. Remembrance service to be streamed online

    Richard Whitehouse

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Remembrance events and services in Truro city centre are set to be invitation only this year due to Covid-19, with the main service to be streamed online so people can watch at home.

    Details of the arrangements for Remembrance Day and Remembrance Sunday were provided by Truro Mayor Bert Biscoe at a meeting of the city council this week.

    He explained that new arrangements had been made for all the traditional events in the city so they could follow coronavirus guidelines.


    Normally the city hosts one of the biggest Remembrance events in Cornwall with a full parade, wreaths being laid at the war memorial in Boscawen Street and a service at Truro Cathedral.

    Crowds of people gather in the city to watch the procession and to attend the service but the Mayor explained that it would all be very different this year.

    He explained that the Royal British Legion would be holding a private ceremony to lay its wreaths at the memorial which would not be able to be attended by the public.

    There will also be a small service held in the Garden of Remembrance at the back of the Cathedral which will again be invitation only.

    The main service held in the Cathedral will take place but only 100 invited guests will be allowed in.

  16. Disabled football player a 'hero' to teammates

    Emma Thomasson

    BBC Spotlight

    A disabled football player has been helping his teammates get through lockdown.

    Jack Littlejohns, who has a learning disability that affects his co-ordination, said: "Don't ever let a disability knock your ability to achieve greatness for yourself."

    A teammate from Barnstaple Ability Football Club described Jack as a "hero".

    Video content

    Video caption: Disabled football player 'hero' to teammates
  17. Council to crack down on business waste

    BBC Radio Cornwall

    Cornwall Council is launching a crackdown on businesses which use residential rubbish collection services to get rid of their waste.


    Concerns have been raised about businesses – particularly holiday let owners – that avoid paying costs for commercial waste services by leaving out rubbish and recycling at the kerbside.

    The cost to taxpayers for businesses using council services could be as high as £1m.

    A new waste service contract is set to be signed this week and the council will remind businesses that they have to pay for commercial waste services to dispose of rubbish and recycling.

    It will include Airbnb owners who run their lets as a business.