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No time off for police officers due to Brexit

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Pro-Brexit campaigner
PA Media

Police insist they are “better prepared” to tackle potential civil unrest around the Brexit deadline at the end of this month.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary has restricted officers’ time off for the weekend after the UK is set to leave the European Union on October 31 as it steps up its contingency plans.

It says the force is more ready than it was in the spring for any consequences of Brexit happening or not.

A police spokesman said: “As part of the planning for the end of the month we have been reviewing our staffing resources.

“A limited restriction on further leave and time off was put in place about four four weeks ago as contingency for the potential Brexit weekend and is subject to ongoing review.

“The bottom line is that we are well prepared — and better prepared than we were in March or April.

“We have been working closely with our colleagues across the country, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

“Our planning involves preparing for various scenarios and is based on our experience of well-rehearsed plans and tried-and-tested procedures.”

Roadworks for newly-finished Yeovil roundabout

Getty Images

A key Yeovil road will be closed for repairs less than a year after major work was carried out to improve it.

The stretch between the Bluebell roundabout and the Westlands throughabout was resurfaced as part of the Western Corridor upgrade scheme.

The scheme, led by Somerset County Council, was designed to increase capacity at key junctions and improve the flow of traffic.

But this short stretch will soon have to shut for nine nights to allow a “fault” with the original surface to be repaired.

The Western Corridor scheme concluded in June at a cost of £14.5m, of which £3m came directly from the county council.

The stretch between the Bluebell roundabout and the Westlands throughabout will be closed between 8pm and 6am for nine weekday nights (weather permitting), beginning on October 29.

Affordable homes plan to be cut down in Bridgwater

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Bower Lane homes
Thrive Architects

A total of 260 new homes will be built on Bridgwater’s eastern edge – but less than one in eight will be affordable.

Winters and Edward Ware Homes was granted planning permission in June 2018 to build the homes at the southern end of Bower Lane, near the A372 Westonzoyland Road.

The site forms part of a wider development of land to the west of the M5, with a new spine road being built to connect the A372 with the A39 Bath Road.

The committee met in Bridgwater on 15 October to approve revised proposals – which will see the number of affordable homes significantly reduced from 78 to 32.

Planning officer Adrian Noon said in his written report to the committee that the proposal was still “consistent” with the council’s Local Plan, insofar as it did not jeopardise either the spine road or the rest of the areas being developed.

More buildings added to the 'at risk' register

Beckford's Tower, Bath

Historic England has added Beckford's Tower in Bath and the Church of St Peter in Castle Park, Bristol to the 2019 buildings at risk register.

Standing at 120ft tall, Beckford's Tower is a much loved landmark with panoramic views.

It's height and position mean it is exposed to severe weather and water is getting into the building and features such as the grotto tunnel are in poor condition.

St Peters is a large 15th Century church which was reduced to a roofless shell in the first bombing raid on Bristol in November 1940.

Its ruins are maintained by the city council as a memorial to the civilian dead of World War Two in Castle Park.

The Grade II* listed church is thought to be on the site of Bristol’s earliest church.

It has been added to the register as high level stonework is deteriorating and large areas of internal paving need attention.

Across the region 62 sites have been saved but 1,435 historic sites remain at risk.

St Peter's Church, Bristol

Fewer burglaries across Avon and Somerset

A coordinated effort across the Avon and Somerset police force area has led to a drop in the number of homes being burgled, police figures show.

Operation Remedy has recorded 661 fewer burglaries - 9% less than the previous year.

In the six months since launching, officers have made around four arrests per day (493 total) relating to approximately 1,100 offences and 67 warrants.

Over the coming week in Worle, North Somerset, 500 homes will be given SmartWater security packs to help tackle residential burglary in the area.

SmartWater is an odourless and colourless forensic liquid with a unique chemical code.

Once dabbed onto valuables it allows police to reunite stolen property with the original owner if recovered.

The moment shots fired at armed police in Castle Cary
Footage from police officers' body-worn cameras shows the moment a man fired at them during a stand-off in Somerset.

BBC local radio headlines across the West


Radio Bristol: First Bus says it has deployed extra Metrobuses on the M1 route to address recent reports of over-crowding. Passengers have told the BBC they're frequently unable to get on the service because they're full up by the time they arrive at their stop.

BBC Somerset: A mother from West Somerset has been on hunger strike in Taunton to try and raise awareness of climate change. Penny Holmes - who's a member of the group Extinction Rebellion - hasn't eaten since Sunday lunchtime and has been peacefully protesting on the high street.

BBC Gloucestershire: A secondary school in Gloucester is warning parents about the dangers of fake social media accounts.It follows several reports of pupils at Severn Vale School in Quedgely being contacted by an adult posing as a teenager online.

BBC Wiltshire: A warrant's been issued for the arrest of a man for the manslaughter of a woman at a slapping therapy workshop in Wiltshire. Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, died at Cleeve House near Melksham in 2016 during the controversial therapy - to help her deal with her diabetes.

Decision to close Weston A&E will not be referred to Government

Weston General Hospital

The planned shake up to healthcare in North Somerset - which will see the continued overnight closure of Weston General's A&E - will not be referred to the Government.

Members of the health scrutiny panel had said they wanted the whole of North Somerset Council to take a vote on whether the project should be referred to the Health Secretary.

Health managers said they had the potential to delay the process for several months.

But after meeting again today, and securing a promise that the whole programme will be reviewed after a year, they've decided not to call for the referall to ministers.

54 new homes will replace supermarket

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Artist's impression
Radstock Co-operative Society

Updated plans to replace a Radstock supermarket and build up to 54 homes have been recommended for approval.

Bath and North East Somerset Council officers said the public benefits from the Radstock Co-operative Society (Radco) scheme outweighed the harm to the conservation area, the lack of affordable housing and the loss of two-thirds of the parking spaces.

Radco chief executive Don Morris said its flagship store was its only branch to make a loss last year and the “only solution is to replace the store with a smaller, better designed building”.

Recommending approval of the plans, council officers said: “The public benefits of the proposed development are clear and substantial.

Search for a home for Britain's 'loneliest dog'

Bath Cats and Dogs Home

Bath Cats and Dogs Home is trying to find a home for a three-year-old Staffie called Faith, who's been labelled Britain's loneliest log.

Faith was brought to the centre after she was found dodging traffic in Bath by the actor Anthony Head.

She's now been at Bath Cats and Dogs Home for nearly 1,000 days - and the centre wants anyone interested in adopting her to get in touch.

Legal aid call from bereaved daughter

Becky and Julie Montacute
Becky Montacute

The daughter of a woman, whose body was found in a Somerset lake, is calling on the government to give legal aid to bereaved families to pay for representation at inquests.

The coroner found nine failings in Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership's care for Julie Carter-Montacute, who was found drowned in a lake in the Chew Valley last year after suffering from depression for many years.

Her daughter Becky Montacute said the failings were only recorded because she got help at the inquest from a friend who is a lawyer.

The Ministry of Justice said: “Bereaved families are supported by coroners who can ask questions on their behalf, and we are making wider changes to offer them more help at such a difficult time.”

Kenyan man wants to find Portishead family who sponsored him as a child

The postcard from the Rogers family, who lived in Portishead when they sponsored Kenyan Marko Wekesa
Marko Wekesa
The postcard from the Rogers family, who lived in Portishead when they sponsored Kenyan Marko Wekesa

More than 30 years after their kindness paid for his accommodation, a Kenyan man wants to track down the Portishead family that sponsored him.

Marko Wekesa still has the postcard sent to him by the Rogers family in September 1985 when they began sponsoring him through a charity called Action Aid Kenya. Their donations helped pay for the orphanage where he stayed.

The sponsorship ended in 1991 and now Marko wants to reconnect with the Rogers to thank them for their support.

"I would love to reconnect with them because they are a wonderful family," said Marko, who now works as a forest ranger in Kenya.

Anyone who can help with the whereabouts of the Rogers family, who had two sons called Simon and Michael, should contact BBC Radio Bristol.

Marko Wekesa, who was sponsored by a family from Portishead when he was a child in Kenya
Mr Wekesa
Marko Wekesa, who was sponsored by a family from Portishead when he was a child

Rugby stars to compete in Celebrity X Factor

Levi Davis

A Bath rugby player is going to be competing in the upcoming series of Celebrity X Factor.

Winger Levi Davis is one of the contestants on the popular talent show, of which a new series starts tomorrow night.

He'll be singing with fellow rugby players Ben Foden and Thom Evans as part of group Try Star, and they'll be competing against the likes of Martin Bashir, Riki Lake and Vinnie Jones.

Parents urged to take up children's flu inoculations

Flu spray

Public Health England is urging parents in the West to take up the offer of free childhood flu vaccinations in school this year.

Immunisation is now being offered to all primary-aged children for the first time.

The vaccine is administered through a free nasal spray in schools and parents are being advised to make sure they sign and return consent forms

St Margaret's Hospice to close inpatient beds

St Margaret's Hospice

St Margaret's Hospice in Yeovil is set to close its inpatient beds.

In August, managers announced a proposal to close the in-patient unit in Yeovil, with the possibility of 50 redundancies.

An online petition against the proposal attracted more than 14,000 signatures.

Trustee members announced the decision to staff earlier this afternoon.

Armed police deployed to reports of man with sword

Armed police were called to reports of a man brandishing a sword in Yeovil this morning.

A witness reported a man with a sword getting into a vehicle in Sherborne Road.

Armed officers were deployed and supported local police in arresting a man from an address in Monmouth Road at about 09:20 BST.

The man remains in police custody. Police have also seized a Mercedes A200 from Sherborne Road and a sword as part of their investigation.

Warning to dog walkers after coastguard call-outs

The coastguard crew on their boat

Burnham-on-Sea Coastguard say they've had nearly 20 dog related call-outs to incidents on Brean Down and Brean beach in less than three years.

They're now encouraging dog walkers to take care and put their dogs on a lead if they go on Brean Down.

The beach is one of the longest in Europe and has the second highest tide in the world.

Taunton flat linked to drug dealing closed by police

Image of police officer next to the property in Taunton which was closed due to county lines drug dealing activity on the front door
Avon and Somerset Police
PC Steve Linton outside the recently closed flat

Avon and Somerset Police have closed a flat in Taunton for three months after it was linked to county lines drug dealing.

Police say the flat, in Ladysmith House, Crescent Way, was a focal point for anti-social behaviour including an incident where a woman was chased down a corridor by a man with a knife.

Somerset anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, Cerwyn Pritchar,d said: "This order hopefully sends a clear message that drug misuse and all forms of anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.".

The application was submitted by Avon and Somerset Police but supported by the property owners Sanctuary Housing.

Every Mind Matters wants to beat stress with simple changes

An individual care plan is tailored to overcome stress and anxiety.

Simple changes to help deal with stress and anxiety are at the heart of a new platform designed to get people through life's ups and downs.

Every Mind Matters invites users to answer multi-choice questions then creates a personalised action plan.

It's been created by Public Health England and the NHS as a new way of empowering people to manage and improve their mental health.

In the South West 22% of people who experienced signs of poor mental health waited at least six months before taking steps to manage their mental health.

Mark from Weston-super-Mare was in his 20s when he lost a daughter which resulted in his relationship with the mother breaking down.

"When I was depressed I really hit rock bottom," he said.

After struggling with depression and low self-esteem Mark started taking illegal drugs to cope with the pain.

"I found it difficult to talk to anyone about what I was going through," he said.

Mark saw a GP who told him he was suffering from depression and prescribed anti-depressants which reacted badly with the illegal drugs that he was still taking at the time and he had to give up work.

In 2012, he went into recovery which helped him turn his life around.

Part of the recovery involved getting fit with regular trips to the gym.

Mark has continued with his fitness and ran the Bristol Half Marathon in September 2019.

He is now working as a support worker in supported housing.

To mark the launch of the platform, a short film written by Richard Curtis and directed by Rankin, has been made featuring celebrities including Gillian Anderson, Davina McCall, Glenn Close, Freddie Flintoff, Professor Green and Nadiya Hussain talking about their own experiences.

Purse snatcher took elderly woman's silver crucifix

A thief who snatched an elderly woman's purse in Clevedon stole a silver crucifix which was given to her by her grandfather on her wedding day.

The four-inch cross has been carried by the woman in her purse every day since.

The theft happened in Lidl on Great Western Road at about 12noon on 1st October.

Police have made the appeal for help to find the cross which has "great sentimental value" to the woman.

Second-hand shops and jewellers have been asked to contact the police if they are offered a silver crucifix.

Every Mind Matters: Help with stress, low mood or trouble sleeping

Every Mind Matters
Public Health England

Every Mind Matters is a new platform which aims to show people simple steps they can take to be better prepared for life’s ups and downs.

It's been created by Public Health England and the NHS.

Users are invited to answer some multi-choice questions before a personalised action plan is created.

In the South West new data from a survey reveals more than 84% of people have experienced early signs of poor mental health in the past 12 months.

These include feeling anxious, stressed, having low mood or trouble sleeping.

Car 'deliberately' driven at man in Bristol

Getty Images

A man has been injured after a car was 'deliberately' driven into him.

A man driving a silver Vauxhall Insignia drove towards another motorist three times, hitting with twice, before fleeing the scene at speed on Air Balloon Road.

The incident happened on Saturday between 11:00 and 12:00 BST, on Hillside Road in St George. The victim was taken to hospital and then discharged.

Detective Inspector Kristina Windsor said: “This incident could have been much worse and the victim was extremely lucky to escape with the injuries he did.

“It appears the offender has driven his vehicle deliberately at the victim after he got out of his car. If you witnessed the incident, or have any dashcam footage of it, please get in touch.”

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and remains in police custody while enquiries continue.

Fire service plan: Decision delayed due to 'high response'

A consultation on plans to close fire stations in Devon and Somerset has received about 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions and five petitions.

The "high response" means the decision will now take place on 18 December - instead of November.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority consulted over the summer on proposals to "modernise" the service. It said the proposals aimed to reduce fire appliances and stations in areas of low risk and low activity so the service could reinvest in prevention work to reduce the risk of incidents occurring.

However, unions have been critical of the plans and protests have taken place across the counties.

Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer. said: "I appreciate that moving the decision extends the uncertainty for our staff and communities who are affected by the proposals. We don’t take any proposals to close stations or remove fire engines lightly which is why it is vital that we take time to thoroughly analyse and carefully consider the responses.”