Swindon

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Investigation after woman in wheelchair fell onto train tracks

Westbury station
Google

Transport police are appealing for witnesses after a woman in a wheelchair fell onto the tracks at a station in Wiltshire.

The 47-year-old woman, from Herefordshire, suffered a head injury after falling at Westbury station on 16 September.

A 48-year-old man, from Herefordshire, was arrested on suspicion of endangering railway safety and bailed.

Det Cons Marc Farmer said: “We are currently working to establish the full circumstances behind how the woman came to fall on the tracks in her wheelchair.

“We know there were a number of people on platform three at the time of the incident who may have seen the woman in the minutes leading up to her fall.

“I’d urge anyone who hasn’t already spoken to police to come forward."

Severe accident: M4 Berkshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Berkshire westbound severe accident, from J13 for A34 Chieveley to J14 for A338.

M4 Berkshire - One lane closed and queues on M4 westbound from J13, A34 (Chieveley) to J14, A338 (Hungerford), because of an accident.

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

Hugh Bonneville speaks to the owners of Churchgate House, one of Downton Abbey's filming locations

Rod and Maggie Harris tell Hugh about the history of their home.

Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire eastbound severe disruption, from J15 for A346 Marlborough Road to J14 for A338.

M4 Wiltshire - One lane blocked on M4 eastbound from J15, A346 (Swindon East) to J14, A338 (Hungerford), because of two large tyres on the road. Traffic is coping well. Approach with care.

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

Photos show 'true scale' of church lead theft released by police

Air ambulance "one step closer" to being used again

Image of Wiltshire County air ambulance
Chris Watkins Media

The team behind Wiltshire Air Ambulance said it is one step closer to returning the county's main helicopter to active service.

The helicopter has not been able to attend emergencies since the start of 2019, following technical problems and the company which provided the air licence going out of business.

The head of the emergency service said the team had a successful inspection by the Civil Aviation Authority and is now waiting to be issued a certificate.

Bosses are hoping it can return to active service in the near future.

The Bell 429 helicopter in the air ambulance's green and yellow colours, was grounded on 2 January.

This came less than a month after Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, officially opened the charity's new base at Semington, near Melksham.

It was initially taken out of service after a technical problem, but soon after the company which provided the air licence went out of business.

In the meantime the helicopter is being used for training.

B&B could become children's home

A large house in Highworth could be used as a children’s home.

Ruth Parker, of Park Blue Homes, a private provider of residential homes for children, has applied for permission to change the use of Highlands in Swindon Road from a bed and breakfast to a home for youngsters.

Highlands is still operating as a B&B for visitors to the town.

The County Durham company, which already runs Summer’s End, a home for three children near Castle Combe in Wiltshire, said in a statement: “Park Blue Homes strives to provide exciting places for young people to live.

“Each home benefits from being in close proximity to local towns for all essential amenities.”

Highlands is just south of the centre of Highworth on the main route in from Swindon.

It is not necessary for an applicant to own a property to make a planning application, and it is common to try and get permission before offering to buy a property.

Woman in 60s sexually assaulted near bridge

Police car
BBC

A woman in her 60s was sexually assaulted along a towpath last night.

Police are investigating following the attack in Devizes which happened at about 7.55pm.

The woman was walking towards the canal bridge at Northgate Street when she was approached from behind by a man who sexually assaulted her.

The man is described as white, with dark spiky hair and was unshaven. He is described as slim to medium build and approximately 5 ft 6 inches tall.

He was wearing a mustard yellow t-shirt.

During the incident, the woman was knocked to the floor. The man then ran off up the steps from the towpath onto Northgate Street.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 and quote crime reference number 54190092417.

Outdoor education centres could be saved

Image of pupils at a whiteboard
Getty Images

Deals to save two outdoor education centres in Wiltshire could be resolved in the next couple of weeks.

The news comes 18 months after Wiltshire Council said it was going to close Braeside in Devizes and Oxenwood near Marlborough because of financial pressures.

When Wiltshire Council announced the closures in March 2018, school staff and parents raised concerns across the county.

Almost 16,000 people signed an online petition calling for the two sites to be saved.

Today a cabinet meeting at Wiltshire's county hall will be told that after months of negotiations, Community First could take over Oxenwood at the start of next month.

If the proposals are accepted, Classes Abroad, based in Grittleton near Chippenham, will take over Braeside at the start of December.

Severe accident: A415 Oxfordshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A415 Oxfordshire both ways severe accident, at Appleton Road.

A415 Oxfordshire - A415 in Southmoor blocked, long delays and queues in both directions at the Appleton Road junction, because of an accident involving two vehicles.

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

Severe accident: A429 Wiltshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A429 Wiltshire both ways severe accident, near Manor Farm Hotel.

A429 Wiltshire - A429 Chippenham Road in Corston closed and queues near the Manor Farm Hotel junction, because of a serious accident.

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

Ambulance collision numbers rise

Ambulance
BBC

The number of collisions involving ambulances in the West has risen.

Nearly 800 were recorded last year, around 200 more than in 2016.

South Western Ambulance Service says it has invested in technology to help learn from accidents and support drivers.

It added the overall figure represented less than 1% of the calls the service attend each year.

Student video hopes to raise awareness of knife crime issues

Student film
BBC

Wiltshire Police is expanding on the work of a national campaign about knife crime.

College students from the county have produced a film to help raise awareness of the issues.

There will be additional knife amnesty bins across Wiltshire and instead of the nationwide week of action the force will run its campaign for a fortnight.

BBC local radio headlines for the West

Radio studio
BBC

Radio Bristol: A BBC investigation has found a waste company, close to fly-infested homes in Avonmouth, breached environmental rules 16 times in a year.

BBC Somerset: Avon and Somerset Police are trying something new in an attempt to reduce knife crime. It is putting teenagers through an intensive week-long course in which they are shown the brutal reality, often in shocking detail.

Radio Gloucestershire: A new scanner is being donated to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital that will revolutionise treatment for thousands of children. The AccuVein is being donated by the family of nine-year-old Henry Bromberg who died in 2016 from a rare heart condition.

BBC Wiltshire: There's been a cyber attack at Swindon College. Bosses say the hackers got access to information about former staff and students after breaking into the computer system. Police are investigating.

EU rights group raises concerns about Settled Status for EU workers

Maike Bohn
BBC
Maike Bohn says people are struggling to understand the implications of Settled Status

Just under half of Bristol's 21,000 EU citizens have applied to try and secure their rights after Brexit.

EU citizens in the city are being offered free help and are being encouraged to apply for Settled Status.

But the government's scheme has been criticised by a campaign group called the 3million, who fight for EU citizens rights. They say people are struggling.

Co-founder of 3million, Maike Bohn said: "Settled status is neither secure nor permanent, nor that easy to understand or maintain.

"There's so much uncertainty and confusion and that's why people panic and that's why people are deeply worried for one reason or another."

Home Office MP Brandon Lewis, says the system is "working very well" and thousands of people are applying to gain this status.

Recycling rules clarified after woman told to 'bin' box

Bins
WILTSHIRE COUNCIL

Recycling guidelines have been clarified after information was wrongly given to a woman in Chippenham about how to get rid of her broken black recycling box.

Harriet Jany, from Chippenham, crtiticised their recycling policy after she was told to dump her black box by Wiltshire Council, despite their own policies proving that the box can in fact be recycled.

She was told on social media and on the phone by council staff her broken recycling bin lid must go in the main bin, but deputy leader of the council Richard Clewer has confirmed that bins are actually eco friendly.

Cllr Clewer said: “We will make sure that the correct information is now given out, because the black boxes can definitely be recycled. When we deliver new bins, we are meant to collect the broken lids and boxes too.

“Once we have enough we auction them to waste providers , who then pay us money to take them and recycled them. As a council we are conscious of how we get rid of our waste, it must be done correctly.”

Ms Jany said: “I am pleased this was taken seriously and they can be recycled. However I still feel that delivering a whole new box when someone only needs a new lid is wasteful.”

Council plans for 'polling station clashes'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Drills are set to be carried out by emergency services to plan for clashes between voters at polling stations ahead of a possible general election in the near future.

Despite being a historically peaceful county on voting day, Wiltshire Council’s senior leader and returning officer Carlton Brand says months of Brexit speculation mean emotions could run high.

He said: “We are set to have practices with police and fire services in case there is any civil unrest at polling stations. Parliament has made this argument personal and things have got very nasty in Westminster, and if we do crash out of the EU on October 31 who do now know what may happen.”

A Brexit candidate has already hit out after being told to move his campaign stand in Malmesbury last Saturday. Brexiteer Les Willis claims Cllr Gavin Grant, who is a member of the Lib Dems, forced him to move his stand to block democracy.

However Cllr Grant said he reacted on safety concerns because the stand was set up on double yellow lines. Wiltshire Council is also planning for Brexit and has a team of officers crunching the numbers over what a possible no deal could mean for the county.

Despite almost daily changes in predictions for a general election date, experts think November could be the month one now takes place.

PM Boris Johnson needs to give councils just 25 days notice to hold an election, and anyone not yet registered to vote has been urged to register soon rather than risk missing out on having their say.

Wiltshire has five MPs to vote in and will cost £1m to organise, with the responsibility falling on Wiltshire Council to foot the bill and claim the money back later from central government.. The local authority claims back 90-95 per cent of the cash, but always has to foot some of the bill.

Rare Fabergé sedan chair sells for £380k

Rare Fabergé sedan chair
Cotswold Auction Company

A miniature gold, jade and rock crystal sedan chair by Fabergé has been sold at auction in Gloucestershire for £380,000.

Dating from 1899, the "exceptionally rare" model was bought for £75 in 1929 by Mr Wollcombe-Boyce and remained in the family collection.

The miniature fetched more than three times its highest anticipated price at the Cotswold Auction Company in Cirencester.

Auctioneer Elizabeth Poole, said: "There are only six or 10 of these in the world.

"They're like hen's teeth, they don't come up very often but it was a surprise it made that much."

Bid to curb air pollution in Salisbury city centre

Queens Street, Salisbury
Stephen Craven, Geograph

New proposals have been put forward to pedestrianise more of Salisbury city centre.

It is to try and minimise air pollution. It could involve permanently closing Queen Street to vehicles.

That could be extended to another three roads in the future.

Salisbury City Council has also announced plans to install more water fountains across the city.

Police appeal after man killed in crash

police accident sign
BBC

Wiltshire police are asking witnesses to come forward after a fatal road collision.

The incident happened at 5.10pm on the A361 in Beckhampton, 10 September and involved a silver Kia Rio car and a black Ford Ranger.

The 83-year-old, male driver of the Kia car, sustained serious injuries and died at the scene.

The road was closed for six hours while emergency services attended the scene.

Police have asked any witnesses to the incident or anyone with information to contact PC Pete Williamson at the Collision Investigation Team on 101.

the A361
Google

Low Ofsted ratings "behind targets"

Ofsted ratings for too many schools in Wiltshire are behind South West and England targets, results show.

Six schools in Wiltshire were assessed at the end of last term, including Pewsey Vale School, which did not improve from its Requires Improvement following the inspection.

Although three schools increased from gradings as low as Requires Improvement to Good, the county is six per cent under targets.

In August 2016, 90 per cent of schools were in the top two Ofsted categories.

This has now slipped to just 80 per cent.

Newly opened Bulford St Leonard’s C of E (VA) Primary School and Avon Valley College were both rated as Requires Improvement.

Two consultant head teachers have been recruited in to help school leaders to improve results.

Louise Lewis, head of school effectiveness at Wiltshire Council, said: “Although some improvements have been made, we are still in a place where we don’t want to be which is below England figures.

"We have to work directly with schools to improve outcomes, and that includes people in the team able to predict schools not doing so well to help them in time.”

Ofsted is also due to start re-inspecting schools with an Outstanding rating after parents called for more checks.

Severe accident: A361 Wiltshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A361 Wiltshire both ways severe accident, from A4 to A361 Blackends.

A361 Wiltshire - A361 closed and it's heavy in both directions from the A4 junction in Beckhampton to the A361 Blackends junction in Bishops Cannings, because of an accident.

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

A303 in Wiltshire closed westbound

A crash between two lorries has led to the closure of the A303 in Amesbury, Wiltshire.

A spokesman for South Western Ambulance Service said they were called at 3.13pm.

He said: "We have sent several resources to the scene, including a land ambulance and air ambulance, and are treating one male patient on scene.

The road has reopened eastbound but remains closed westbound.

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South West unemployment drops 2.5%

BBC Business News

Unemployment in the South West has continued to fall to a low of less than 2.5%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The latest 2.4% figure of people aged 16-64 unemployed between May and July 2019 is lower than the UK-wide figure of just under 3.8%.

The official figures also showed earnings nationally grew at an annual pace of 3.8%.

The ONS said rising employment was being driven mainly by more women in work, partly due to the rise in the state pension age.

South West unemployment
BBC

Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire eastbound severe disruption, from J16 for A3102 Swindon Road to J15 for A346 Marlborough Road.

M4 Wiltshire - One lane closed on M4 eastbound from J16, A3102 (Swindon West) to J15, A346 (Swindon East), because of a break down. Traffic is coping well.

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

BBC local radio headlines across the West

Radio presenter
BBC
  • BBC Radio Bristol: A 17-year-old boy is due before magistrates this morning - in connection with the stabbing of a Bristol newsagent.
  • BBC Gloucestershire: Plans for a new early morning train serving Cam and Dursley station have been welcomed by transport campaigners.
  • BBC Somerset: Over the past four years more than 160 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset.
  • BBC Wiltshire: The parents of a Calne teenager who was murdered are meeting the home secretary later. Ellie Gould died of stab wounds in May.

Swindon's bog snorkelling champ on his 'bonkers sport'

Press Association

Bog snorkeller, Neil Rutter
PA Media

Neil Rutter is one of the UK's most successful athletes, with three world titles to his name - yet hardly anyone has heard of him.

Mr Rutter is the world champion of the very unusual sport of bog snorkelling.

For the past three years the art teacher, from Swindon, Wiltshire, has propelled himself to victory along a narrow channel of filthy water 60 yards long.

Scores of people make the pilgrimage to Llanwrtyd Wells in mid-Wales each year to take on the challenge. Daredevils don flippers, wetsuits, masks and snorkels before plunging in and swimming two lengths of the squalid trench.

But none of them come close to matching Mr Rutter's times in this uniquely British competition.

"Bog snorkelling is completely bonkers, it's just completely nuts, " he said.

"You're swimming through mud and the atmosphere's hilarious and everyone has a great time," he told BBC Inside Out West.

"You'll be bumping into the reeds and the muddy edges of the bog, and if you stand in it your feet sink into this disconcerting squelchy mess.

"Your mind will conjure up all sorts. So you'll be like: was that an eel? Do we have eels in bogs?"

Despite these trials, Mr Rutter made sure he defended his bog snorkelling title at the world championships in August.

"I love things that are a little bit daft," he said. "I like the crazy stuff, anything that's a bit quirky captures my imagination."

You can see Mr Rutter's bog snorkelling escapades on BBC One West at 7.30pm on Monday - and Inside Out presenter Sabet Choudhury also having a go at this unusual sport.

Bog snorkeller Neil Rutter (r) and presenter Sabet Choudhury
PA Media
Sabet (l) having a go at bog snorkelling with world champion Neil Rutter

Parents of murdered girl to meet home secretary

Ellie Gould
Family photo

The parents of a Wiltshire school girl who was murdered in May are meeting with the Home Secretary.

Ellie Gould was 17 when she was stabbed to death at a house in Calne.

Last month Thomas Griffiths pleaded guilty to killing her and now awaits sentencing.

Ellie's parents are due to meet with Priti Patel to discuss the case later today.

Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire eastbound severe disruption, at J17 for A350.

M4 Wiltshire - M4 lane closed on exit slip road eastbound at J17, A350 (Chippenham), because of a break down. Traffic is coping well.

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

Trespassers film themselves at airport
Two so-called urban explorers filmed themselves on the roof of a plane and posted the footage online.

Devizes MP 'will not seek reselection'

The Conservative MP for Devizes, Claire Perry, has tweeted that she will not be standing for reselection in the event of a General Election.

"I have also been clear that I remain in full support of our PM and his brave Brexit strategy as I can see no alternative if we want to honour the Referendum result," she writes.

Ms Perry intends to continue in her role as President of the UN Climate COP in 2020.

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Plastic filler for potholes plan put on hold

Plans to consider using plastic to fill potholes across Wiltshire’s roads have been put on hold after concerns were raised that microplastics could end up in the county’s chalk rivers.

Last year Councillor Brian Mathew passed a motion calling on the council to look into work in other councils recycling plastic by using it to fill potholes and cracks in roads.

Other local authorities have already started using MR6 filler made from plastic to replace bitumen traditionally used to fill potholes.

The material, while believed to be durable, raised concerns for Wiltshire Council’s Environment Committee, who said there was not enough evidence to ensure that parts of the plastic could not split away and travel to into the chalk rivers nearby.

Councillor Mike Hewitt added: “We are looking at the best rivers in the world now noticeably having plastic in them. It is environmentally wrong to put plastic on roads where first thing they’d do is sift out into rivers.

"Before we go along this route we seriously need to think about where the final bit of plastic ends up. We know grit finishes up in rivers, our chalk streams are precious and we shouldn’t start risking polluting our water until we know it is 100% safe.”

The committee agreed to continue to wait until more research had been carried out before considering the item again.

We need to be very careful of unintended consequences. We don’t know the full extent of the life cycle of this product and what damage it can do to water courses. I urge caution particularly in the very special areas of conservation in the county.

Bridget WaymanCabinet member for roads