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Severe weather warning issued in south west

The Met Office has issued a severe weather warning for tomorrow evening, with 20-30mm of rain expected to fall within three to four hours.

The yellow warning for rain stretches from 17:00 GMT to 23:59 GMT and is likely to affect drivers during tomorrow evening's rush hour.

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South West unemployment lower than UK average

BBC Business News

South West unemployment figures
BBC

Some 2.6% of “economically active” people - those aged over 16 - in the South West of England were unemployed in the three months to September, latest figures show.

The figure is lower than the UK figure of 3.8%.

However, UK wage growth has slowed and the figures showed the biggest annual drop in job vacancies in nearly 10 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS said this was down to falling numbers of people working in retail, after the collapse of several store chains and the implementation of shop closure programmes by other firms.

Armistice Day services are being held across the region today

Poppies at  Westminster cathedral
Getty Images

The 100th Armistice Day is being marked across the world today - with several services taking place at war memorials across the West.

Ceremonies will be taking place at 11am at places like Bath Abbey churchyard, Royal Victoria Park and the Radstock war memorial.

In Bristol, the annual service to remember rugby players who died in the First World War takes place at the Memorial Gates, and at Castle Park, there's a ceremony to remember the Sikh Soldiers who lost their lives in both World Wars and the Boer War.

World War One soldiers remembered in their old homes

Picture of WW1 soldier
BBC

A school in Somerset has come up with a creative way to remember soldiers from the area who lost their lives in World War One.

Staff at King Alfred Academy have made cards for every man from Burnham-on-sea and Highbridge who fought.

They are now being displayed in the houses where the men lived before going to war.

Rebecca Dalziel
BBC

People should know who lived in their old houses.

Rebecca DalzielTeacher

English teacher, Rebecca Dalziel, said she got the idea when she realised a soldier called Fred who was killed lived next door but one to where she lives, and her son is also called Fred.

"As I was calling to him as he came home from school I suddenly thought it was awful that her son never came home.

"It really struck home me that people should know who lived in their old houses in relation to the war."

Four crews fighting fire in Somerset

fire engine
Getty Images

Four crews are fighting a fire at a property on Market Street in Highbridge, Somerset.

The fire began shortly before 11:15 GMT after black smoke was spotted coming from a flat and storage area.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue sent four appliances - two from Burnham-on-Sea, one from Bridgwater and one from Taunton - and crews are still working on the first floor of the property.

Firefighters also gained access to neighbouring properties and are checking on nearby roof spaces to stop the further spread of fire.

Chemical incident training for emergency services takes place

Training incident
Avon Fire and Rescue Service

Training to test emergency services' responses to chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear incidents has taken place.

The exercise was designed to test how police, fire and ambulance services liaise and respond to incidents such as chemical spills and contamination.

Darren Kingston, from Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS), said: "While incidents like this are rare, when they do occur it, is crucial that we are able to respond in an effective and efficient way, helping to minimise the number of casualties and their injuries."

Avon and Somerset Police, AF&RS, South Western Ambulance Service, Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, National Resilience and other emergency services from across the South West all took part in the exercise.

Consultation opens on broadband gaps in Somerset and Devon

Fibre broadband cable
Getty Images

People in Somerset and Devon are being asked which areas have the biggest need for broadband, ahead of the process to appoint a new contractor.

In September Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) terminated its contract with Gigaclear as it significantly fell behind schedule.

CDS wants to establish which areas lack infrastructure and where the private sector has no future plans to invest.

A replacement contractor is likely to be in place by next November. 'Biggest impact' CDS is a partnership between Devon and Somerset county councils to deliver broadband to rural areas.

Responses to the consultation will help inform how the contract is shaped.

The procurement process is due to begin next month.

Devon County Council's cabinet member, and CDS board member, Conservative, Rufus Gilbert said the consultation would help them set out the proposed areas and where to focus efforts.

Somerset County Council has added that it wanted to ensure the public funding as the biggest impact in increasing coverage.

The consultation closes on 10th December.

Outdoor heaters could be banned from cafes in North Somerset

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Sass in Weston-super-Mare
BBC

Cafes in Weston-super-Mare could be banned from using patio heaters for the outdoor seating areas due to its environmental impact.

Licensing bosses at North Somerset Council have agreed that LPG-fuelled outdoor heaters should be banned from public land in North Somerset.

A small number of cafes will be affected but they can still use other, more energy-efficient options. Premises using their own land for these heaters will not be affected by the licensing rules.

Speaking at Tuesday's licensing committee meeting, councillor Stuart McQuillan said: "Every aspect of technology has to adapt to deal with this [the climate emergency].

"We could encourage change to different technology. This could be a positive.

"We need to allow flexibility for technology to evolve."

Principal licensing officer Sioux Isherwood said there are around 30 street cafes in North Somerset but only a few use portable patio heaters, such as Brunello Lounge, Sass and Olea in Weston-super-Mare.

She said the equipment was a contentious issue, and several people wanted it banned.

Councillors Davies and Petty supported the ban, along with Clevedon Town Council.

The licensing committee's recommendations will need to be approved by full council before it can come into force.

Burnham-on-Sea boy stars in this year's Iceland Christmas advert

Image of an Iceland superstore storefront
Getty Images

A 10-year-old boy from Burnham-on-Sea is starring in this year's Iceland Christmas advert.

Beau Plested plays the son in a family Christmas scene which features characters from the film Frozen.

The advert took four days to film and Beau even got his own dressing room.

Fire station could be turned into hotel

Local Democracy Reporting Service

An artist's impression of the new hotel
Phoenix Group

Keynsham’s old fire station could be demolished to make way for a 42-bed boutique hotel.

Plans from Phoenix Group also include nine two-bed flats, two shops, a 45-seat restaurant and offices in a fix-storey building, plus a new public space.

The single-storey Temple Street station closed in November 2015 as a result of its amalgamation with Brislington Fire Station into a new state of the art combined station at Hicks Gate.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service sold the building to Chewton Place Developments in 2017 for £750,000, more than twice the asking price.

Phoenix Group’s plans say: “The boutique hotel in this central position will be a great asset to the future of Keynsham and would act as a hub for access to both Bath and Bristol and encourage value-added areas of employment.

“In addition, 28 per cent of the ground floor will be given over for public use, enhancing the area around the civic centre development.”

The old fire station sits between the civic centre and the Riverside development.

The plans said they set “a high quality benchmark against which future proposals will be assessed and establishes a modern architectural character to this part of Temple Street”.

The proposals include a 20-space underground car park and parking for 36 bikes. Bath and North East Somerset Council will decide the fate of the application.

Plans to build velodrome in county town

Cyclist
Getty Images

Somerset could become a south west hub for cycling according to the team behind proposals for a velodrome in the county town.

Taunton Cycling Centre Associates has unveiled its plans for an indoor cycling and events centre on the Firepool site, along with the district council's latest scheme for the old cattle market.

Alcohol support centre gets £250k grant to expand

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Man drinking glass of whiskey
BBC

A charity which helps people turn their lives around has secured nearly £250,000 for a new alcohol treatment centre in Bath.

The Public Health England funding will allow Developing Health and Independence to create a more targeted approach to "supporting and motivating high impact dependent drinkers" and increase its number of alcohol clients by 40 per cent.

A DHI spokesman said: "We’re really pleased to have been awarded this grant from Public Health England in our 20th anniversary year.

"The funding will help us refurbish an empty building and bring it into use as a treatment facility, in particular for those who struggle with alcohol problems.

"This will enable more people to make the changes they need in order to lead a better life, and will ultimately save the NHS and taxpayer money.

"The building will also serve as our new charity head office."

DHI plans to use the funding to secure and refurbish a listed building in St James Parade.

The charity is based out of the Beehive in Walcot Street and The Hub in Midsomer Norton.

The former will be reconfigured into an "active change/maintaining recovery venue".

The £248,500 grant came via Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Police recruit new officers for apprenticeship course

Police officers
BBC

Avon and Somerset Police is recruiting new officers.

The force says it still has spaces available on the next Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship course which starts next year.

Anyone who is interested in applying has to complete an online eligibility test before they can be considered.

It's open until Monday next week.

Proposals for Firepool site in Taunton to go on show

Firepool site
BBC

The latest proposals for the Firepool site in Taunton will go on show to the public from today.

The former cattle market in the town centre remains largely derelict, but is home to the Viridor head office and some housing.

Conceptual drawings will be available to view at Deane House both today and tomorrow - with further events in the new year.

Thousands turn out to watch Bridgwater Carnival
Annual event ends with "squibbing" where fireworks are lit on the end of poles, showering sparks everywhere.

Over 50s urged to take HIV test

Hand receiving blood test
Getty Images

Over 50s in Somerset are being urged to consider whether they need an HIV test.

Age UK is running a campaign called "age is no protection" because HIV rates in over 50s are increasing, while in every other age group they are going down.

While Somerset has a small overall number of people living with HIV, the percentage of those diagnosed at a late stage of infection has been very high, meaning they could have transmitted it to partners, unknowingly.

John Truss from Age UK says treatment for HIV has come a long way from the 1980s.

Murder inquiry into death of man in Hartcliffe

Image of the word police on an officers stab vest
BBC

The death of a man at a property in Hartcliffe is now under investigation.

Avon and Somerset Police were called to a house in Bishport Avenue on 26 October at 4pm.

A man in his 30's was found dead from a stab wound.

A 45-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of murder remains in police custody.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact us on 101 and give the call handler the reference number 5219248273.

Cyclists prepare for Chile challenge

Cyclist
BBC

A group of young people are in the final stages of training for a 600-mile cycling challenge across one of the world's longest mountain ranges.

They're part of a programme, run by the Bath Rugby Foundation, designed to create opportunities for young people who have had the toughest start in life.

Ten 16-20-year-olds have been paired with business mentors, and at the end of November they will head off to Chile for the event.