Swindon

England, United Kingdom

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Rough sleepers get homes without question over addictions

A radical new way to get rough sleepers off the streets is being introduced in Swindon.

Under a new scheme called "Housing First", rough sleepers in Swindon will not have to prove they are free of drug or alcohol problems before getting somewhere to live.

Until now - homeless people have had to show they are no longer addicts before they can get any accommodation.

Cathy Martin, from Swindon Borough Council, says a focus on new strategies has already been making a difference:

War memorial vandal in court

A 54-year-old homeless man has been jailed after a war memorial was vandalised in Swindon at the weekend.

Ashwani Kumar, of no fixed address, appeared at Salisbury Magistrates' Court this morning charged with outraging public decency,

Fifty wreaths were thrown across the road near the Cenotaph at Regent Circus in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Mr Kumar - who pleaded guilty to the charge - was said to be drunk and "had no memory of the incident" in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He received an eight week jail sentence.

Vandalised wreaths at the scene
Wiltshire Police

St Lucia death thought to be Wiltshire man

Press Association

Tess de la Mare

A murder investigation's been launched following the death of a British man on St Lucia who is believed to be from Wiltshire.

The victim has been named by local news reports and friends as marina owner and manager Robert Hathaway, whose Facebook page says he's from Codford St Peter on Salisbury Plain.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "Our staff are supporting the family of a British man following his death in St Lucia, and are in contact with the St Lucian police."

The man was understood to have been found dead at his home on the Caribbean island at around midday on Sunday (13 January).

A police spokesman in Gros Islet said investigators were awaiting the outcome of a post-mortem examination.

"We are treating his death as a homicide."

Mr Hathaway, 66, founded the Marigot Sunshine marina catering for smaller sailing yachts and superyachts.

His business website says he studied engineering at the University of Cambridge before going on to a career in local government.

Swindon hospital accused of 'conflict' over Vienna visit

Great Western Hospital
Michael Dibb/Geograph

A hospital has been accused of a conflict of interest after senior staff accepted a trip from a private firm to Austria, to see a rehabilitation centre.

Circle Health wants to build a rehab unit at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and paid for the trip.

The hospital is one of several in the UK to have overseas visits paid for by the company, which wants to build a number of similar centres for the NHS.

The trust said the expenses had been declared on its website.

Six staff from Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - both managers and clinicians - made the trip to Vienna in December 2017 and visited two facilities operated by Vamed - a firm working with Circle.

Four were paid for by Circle and two by the trust.

The trip was highlighted by a whistleblower who spoke to the campaign group Protect Our NHS Swindon.

They claim it is a conflict of interest.

The trust that runs the hospital said the visit has not committed them to "procuring this model from an individual organisation".

Missing teen sought by Wiltshire police

Police in Wiltshire are appealing for information about a missing teenager.

Kally Marie Baker is 13-year-old and was last seen in the Walcot area of Swindon this morning.

She is described as wearing a school uniform with a mauve-coloured coat over the top.

Kally is 5 ft 6 inches tall, white, with brown/ginger hair.

Police said she often visits the Pinehurst, Walcot, Moredon and Ocotal Way areas of the city.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Kally Marie Baker
Wilts Police

Wet wipes to get 'fine to flush' symbol via Swindon company

Wet Wipes
Getty Images

A"fine to flush" symbol is being introduced for wet wipes that have passed strict tests to ensure they will not contribute to sewer "fatbergs", the water industry has said.

Manufacturers of wipes will be able to feature the official water industry logo on their packaging if their products pass the independent tests to prove they can be safely flushed down the toilet.

Manufacturers will be able to have their wipes tested by WRc, Swindon-based independent technical experts who have developed the standards with Water UK, and will awarded the mark if the product passes.

Read more here.

Honda prepares for disruption

Car manufacturer Honda says it is "preparing for any disruption", blaming Brexit in part for its decision to close its Swindon plant for six days after the UK leaves the EU.

A spokesperson for the company said it anticipates disruption "caused by logistics and border issues following the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019."

It has said its workers will be paid when they are forced to downtools.

"To ensure Honda is well placed to adjust to all possible outcomes, we are planning six non-production days in April 2019" the spokeperson said. "This is to facilitate production recovery activity following any delays at borders on parts.

"The contingency provisions have been put in place to best mitigate the risk of disruption to production operations at the Swindon factory."

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BreakingHonda to shut down production for six days due to Brexit

The Swindon-based car manufacturer said in a statement:

"Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd (Honda) has been assessing how best to prepare for any disruption caused by logistics and border issues following the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.

To ensure Honda is well placed to adjust to all possible outcomes, we are planning 6 non-production days in April 2019.

This is to facilitate production recovery activity following any delays at borders on parts.

These contingency provisions have been put in place to best mitigate the risk of disruption to production operations at the Swindon factory."

Marines undergo training in case of further Novichok attack

Press Association

Ben Mitchell

Royal Marines have undergone training in chemical warfare skills to prepare for a repeat of the Novichok attack on Salisbury.

Zulu Company from 45 Commando, based in Arbroath, Scotland, will be the first marines to respond to a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) incident at home or abroad.

The commandos were given the training in response to the heightened threat following the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, which left him and his daughter Yulia seriously ill.

The marines carried out their training at the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Centre at Westdown Camp on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

It involved a week of classroom learning before a week of practical training in a simulated attack on Imber - a deserted village used for military training.

Apprenticeship targets missed in Wiltshire

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Wiltshire Council
Google
Wiltshire Council gets £72,000 a month to fund apprenticeship training

Targets to get more people into apprenticeships in Wiltshire are being missed because not enough firms are taking on people to learn skills on the job.

While the council took on 24 new recruits and is training 121 current employees, just 16 people were recruited for an apprenticeship in schools last year.

Plans have also been made to make sure contractors who carry out work on behalf of Wiltshire Council also offer apprenticeships to help people into work.

Due to the success of the council’s apprenticeship programme, steps have recently been taken to appoint a temporary apprenticeship and training assistant to increase school apprenticeships.

The apprentice levy funded by the public and private sector generates £72,00 a month for Wiltshire Council to fund training of new apprentices.

Charity inundated with requests to take away used Christmas trees

Christmas trees
Getty Images

A Wiltshire charity says it's been inundated with people signing up for it to take away their unwanted Christmas trees.

It's the third year in a row that the Dorothy House Hospice has run the scheme.

Across parts of Wiltshire and Bath 2,360 have signed up for the service with a suggested donation of £10 each.

The charity has now closed the registration process.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance to fly again

New helicopter
Wiltshire Air Ambulance
The MD 902 is a helicopter the charity has used in the past

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is to resume flying from Friday, after being grounded last week.

A back-up helicopter (MD 902) is to be used for day flying for the foreseeable future, after a helicopter they previously used - Heli Charter - failed a safety test and its operator went bust.

A "contingency arrangement" has been made with Specialist Aviation Services instead.

The charity’s two Rapid Response Vehicles will continue to be used when it is quicker to travel to an incident by road and during the night.

Views sought on Wiltshire's maternity services

Hands
Science Photo Library

People living in Wiltshire are being invited to give their views on plans to change maternity services in the county.

The proposals - that would see the closure of the Trowbridge birthing centre - have been put forward by the joint maternity service that covers Bath, Swindon and Wiltshire.

A series of public meetings are being held, starting in Chippenham Town Hall tonight.

This will be followed by another at Sandford House in Swindon tomorrow.

Other events will follow in Trowbridge, Melksham and Devizes in the next fortnight.

Skripal Novichok house roof dismantled

A specialist military team is decontaminating the house of the former Russian spy.

Council defends lack of social housing provision in Wiltshire

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Julia Corbett

New build housing generic
PA

Social housing building has fallen by 77% in the South West since 2010 say housing charity Shelter, which wants millions more homes, across England, built by 2040.

Just six social homes were built by Wiltshire Council last year - echoing figures released by the charity that show less than 1,000 were built nationally.

While new social housing rates in Wiltshire dwindled from 504 in 2010 to six in 2018, the number of local authority built homes under the affordable housing banner has risen from 660 in 2010 to 1,081 by 2018.

In Wiltshire, social housing is defined as housing that costs 48% of the market rent for an equivalent home, whereas affordable housing is 80% of the market value.

Cuts to subsidies to build social housing has seen more affordable housing being built, as housing associations and local authorities attempt to keep up with demand for cheaper housing.

Shelter want to see 3.1m more social housing built to support young families, old people and reduce homelessness through £10.7bn of government funding.

Wiltshire Council is building affordable houses because there is only enough subsidy to build housing at an affordable level. Some areas are significantly more affordable than others in the county. Whereas London and Manchester have a housing crisis, Wiltshire has a housing problem. Wiltshire Council has about 1,700 people on the waiting list and an annual turnover of about 1,500 people a year so that is working relatively well.

Richard ClewerCabinet member for housing, Wiltshire Council

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action have got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take our word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action has got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take out word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

Justin Tomlinson denies signing No Deal Brexit letter

Dan O'Brien

Political reporter, BBC Wiltshire

North Swindon's MP has denied signing a letter demanding the government abandon the idea of leaving the European Union without a deal.

Justin Tomlinson, who is a Work and Pensions Minister, appeared as a signatory on a letter sent by 200 MPs to the Prime Minister over the weekend.

But he's told BBC Wiltshire there's a been a mix up in the compiling of this letter, and he "100 percent" has not put his name to it.

Woman, 78, dies in head-on collision near Marlborough

Ambulance generic
PA

A 78-year-old woman has died at the scene of a crash near Marlborough in Wiltshire.

The collision happened at about 6.20pm on Sunday along an unclassified road between Lockeridge and Alton Barnes, five miles southwest of Marlborough.

Wiltshire Police said the woman, who was from Marlborough, was driving towards the A4 when her Ford Fiesta drifted into the path of a southbound Volkswagen Passat.

The Volkswagen driver, 39-year-old man from Swindon, had his leg broken and his three-year-old daughter also suffered a broken leg.

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

We've seen Pete Wild living the dream, now it's your chance.

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action has got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take our word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

Crime commissioner seeks approval for police precept to rise by £24 a year

Angus Macpherson
BBC

Wiltshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is looking to canvas the views of residents on a proposed average increase of £24 a year to the policing precept.

The precept which is collected with the council tax, goes directly to PCC Angus Macpherson's office where 98% is allocated to the Chief Constable and the remaining 2% to the PCCs office for commissioned services which includes supporting victims of crime and restorative justice.

Currently, the average Wiltshire household contributes £15.19 per month to local policing, but if residents and local businesses back the proposal then this would rise to £17.19 per month.

Wiltshire police are looking for this man

Lee Goodchild
Wiltshire Police

Wiltshire police are appealing for information regarding the whereabouts of this man, wanted in connection with a GBH incident. Lee Goodchild, aged 37, of Liden, is wanted in connection with an incident which occurred in the Liden Arms Car Park on 30 December. It is believed he was driving a vehicle which was in collision with a 36-year-old man who suffered serious leg injuries.

The victim was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital where he remains, police have said.

NYE violence in Wiltshire 'disgraceful', says police chief

Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Kier Pritchard said there was an "eruption of violence across Wiltshire and Swindon which was totally disgraceful".

He said there had been 26 arrests on New Year's Eve, 12 for violent disorder, six for drink driving and four police officers were injured after being assaulted.

View more on twitter

Former mayor of Swindon dies

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Aled Thomas

Former Mayor of Swindon, Maurice Fanning has died, aged 74, the authority has said.

Mr Fanning became mayor of the new unitary authority of Swindon in May 1997, just a few weeks after it had been set up.

Councillors have been paying tribute to "kind-hearted, larger than life" Mr Fanning - Labour councillor for Toothill, then later Gorse Hill and Pinehurst - who was also council leader.

Councillor David Renard, the Conservative leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “Maurice was a great ambassador for our town and will be missed by all who knew him. I am honoured to pay tribute to his service to our town and send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

On his very first day as Mayor one of his first duties after being sworn in was to get married. He and wife Sheila were married by the borough’s registrar in the town council chamber’s first ever wedding. He wore his trademark large hoop earring in his left ear when hosting the queen on a royal visit to Swindon and they were reported to have got on “like a house of fire”.

His funeral is at Kingsdown Crematorium at 11.15am on Wednesday January 9. Mourners should wear “a splash of colour to reflect his life.”

Maurice was a larger than life character whose good humour and generosity rubbed off on everyone. He was one of those people who lit up a room when he walked into it. He was also a very effective local councillor, a good leader of the Labour Group and a very successful Mayor. He will be much missed.”

Councillor Jim GrantLabour group leader

Burglary victim suffers life-threatening injuries

Manchester Road, Swindon
Google

A man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries following an aggravated burglary in Swindon.

The man police are hunting entered the house on Manchester Road just after 7pm on Saturday and demanded money.

"After he left the property and officers arrived, a 34-year-old man was located inside with a serious head injury," said a spokesman for Wiltshire Police.

The suspect is described as black, approximately 6ft 6in tall and wearing a three-quarter-length coat and black tracksuit in waterproof material with the hood up.

His face was covered to his nose with a scarf.

Teenager found safe and well

A 13-year-old boy who had been missing from his home in Swindon since Friday has been found safe and well, police said.

A public appeal to find Oliver Pugh was started by Wiltshire Police earlier.

A police spokesperson said: "Thank you to everyone who shared our appeal to find missing 13-year-old Oliver Pugh.

"We are pleased to confirm he has now been found safe and well."

Strike hits New Year's Eve trains

Drivers and rail workers on South Western Railway will go ahead with two days of strike action in a long-running dispute over guards on trains.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) announced strike action for Thursday and New Year's Eve.

On Saturday RMT members held strikes over the dispute with South Western Railway, and Northern Rail.

South Western said it would run a reduced service across the network today, with some lines having no service.

Click here for more detail of west routes affected.

South Western Railway
PA

Oliver Pugh, 13, missing since Friday

A 13-year-old boy has gone missing from his home in Swindon, police say.

Oliver Pugh has not been in touch since Friday afternoon.

He is described as white, 5ft 4ins, of a slim build with blonde hair and blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing a navy blue tracksuit, black cap and black trainers and was carrying a grey bag.

Wiltshire Police said they are asking anyone who has information on where Oliver is now, to call them on 101.