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Uncertain future for Taunton's weekend park and ride

Somerset County Council has been unable to confirm whether weekend services will return to the Taunton park and ride, despite popular support for the service.

The council intended to shut it from the Gateway and Silk Mills sites as part of a programme of cuts approved in September to save £14m by 2020.

The service was given a 12-month reprieve after Taunton Deane Borough Council agreed to provide a further year’s funding.

But the county council has not been able to state definitively whether weekend services would be restored – or whether extra services would be put on in the run-up to Christmas.

Negotiations are currently under way between the two councils and First Bus with a view to providing a commercially viable service, after the Taunton Deane funding runs out in September 2019.

Taunton Deane Park and Ride
Somerset County Council

Farmers 'not taking ownership' of Bovine TB says new report

Badger
SPL

A fresh review into the government's strategy for tackling Bovine TB has been published.

The report, commissioned by the government, says farmers should be doing more to reduce the deadly infection in their cattle.

Although infected badgers do pose a threat to cattle herds, the report says it would be wrong to "over-emphasise the role of wildlife" in the spread of the disease.

The Farming Minister, George Eustice, says the government is committed to eradicating TB and has always been clear there is no single measure for tackling it.

Devon couple named as fatal crash victims

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

A Devon couple in their 70s have been named locally as the victims of a fatal crash.

The deaths of Gerald and Linda Greening were announced by Cullompton Rugby Club, of which Gerald was vice president.

A358
Google

The two-car collision on the A358 near Ashill involved a yellow Vauxhall Tigra and the Greening's black Citroen C3.

A passenger in the Vauxhall also died, while the driver is in a critical condition.

Avon and Somerset Police are currently investigating the incident, which took place in the early hours of Sunday morning.

BBC local radio headlines across the West

Microphones
BBC
  • BBC Radio Bristol: Bristol will host MPs from Parliament's Transport Committee today, who're visiting to learn about the city's bus service.
  • BBC Gloucestershire: Almost 60 consultants and senior doctors at Cheltenham General have written to their chief executive - raising safety concerns about planned changes at the hospital.
  • BBC Somerset:Volunteers helping refugees in Somerset say they'd like to see more re-homed in Taunton.
  • BBC Wiltshire: Swindon Town has sacked its first-team manager, Phil Brown.

Batten down the hatches: heavy rain and winds approaching

The Met Office and Highway England have warned of some difficult driving conditions over the next few hours, as high winds and rain approaches the west.

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Innovative robotic dairy opens in Somerset

Agri-EPI Centre
BBC

A national innovation centre for the dairy industry has opened in Somerset.

The £1.36m working dairy has been built with government money to test new technology.

Using 5G cow collars, satellites to monitor grazing quality and a robot to automatically measure out ration feed - information about health and welfare will constantly be gathered.

Duncan Forbes, project manager for the centre, said: "If you've got happy cows, then they're much more likely to be healthy cows - and in return they will do their best for us and we're able to make a living out of milk production."

Proposals made on cuts to family support services in Somerset

Newborn baby
PA

A consultation has opened in Somerset over the future of family support services as part of efforts to cut down on running costs.

Somerset County Councli wants to cut its GetSet service and has proposed to replace it with a £200,000 start-up fund for local groups to provide the support instead.

At the moment, the council-run service helps nearly 300 families, mostly those with children aged from newborn to four years old.

More details of the consultation can be found here, and any feedback will inform the cabinet's decision which is due to be made in February.

Story of West's WWI survivors on BBC4

Harry Patch
BBC
Hear Harry Patch's story on BBC4's WW1: The Last Tommies

A new three-part series WW1: The Last Tommies is being aired on BBC4 this week.

The series - which began last evening - is one in a major BBC First World War season running across November to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

It features moving personal stories from a wide variety of extraordinary people who survived the war.

The series features three who came from the West:

  • Harry Patch - born in Combe Down, Somerset in 1898 and the last British survivor of WW1
  • Ruth Armstrong - born in Tilshead in Wiltshire in 1909
  • 110-year-old Daisy Bastin - from Lympstone in Devon now lives in Glastonbury and was born in 1908

Visit the programme iPlayer page for more information.

Shrouds of the Somme: Exhibit comes to Olympic Park

Watch: Shrouds of the Somme: Exhibit comes to Olympic Park

Tens of thousands of shrouded figures are being laid out at London's Olympic Park to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

Each handmade 12-inch model, produced by the Somerset-based artist Rob Heard, represents one of the 72,396 British Commonwealth serviceman killed at the Somme with no known grave.

The figures go on public display at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park from Thursday to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day.

'Not enough trees in Somerset'

Trees
BBC

There aren't enough trees in Somerset say a local group.

'Reimagining the Levels' is holding a conference about trees today in the county.

It was set up after the flooding on the Somerset Levels five years ago.

We feel that there a far too few trees in Somerset. We are one of the least tree-covered counties in the country. It really does help with flood prevention, it helps to open up the soil and allows the water to flow into the soil structure rather than just into rivers.

Steve MewesTrustee at 'Reimagining the Levels'

Wet and windy day ahead

There has been torrential rain in the West this morning and it's going to be a blustery day.

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Weather warning for wet West on Wednesday

Heavy rain has been predicted by the Met Office for the West on Wednesday.

The yellow weather warning means there may be some flooding of homes and on roads with possible transport disruption.

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Ambulance staff 'intimidated by pornography' at work

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

Some staff at the South Western Ambulance Service have said they have been intimidated by sexual behaviour and viewing of pornography in the workplace.

An independent report found pockets of bullying and harassment within the service.

It follows a number of serious complaints about managers and other employees at the organisation.

Other staff connected bullying or inappropriate behaviour to suicides within the service, however the report found these links were "impossible" to prove.

Among 10 key recommendations, the report suggested the service "redouble efforts" to educate staff about discrimination on the grounds of disability, sexual orientation and gender.

Another suggestion was made to establish a "contract of respectful behaviour to enable managers to brief employees during induction, appraisals and team meetings".

Wife charged with murder of former Somerset firefighter in Malaysia

Samantha Jones with Malaysian police
AFP/Getty
Samantha Jones, 51, appeared before a court in Langkawi

The wife of a former British firefighter has appeared in a Malaysian court charged with his murder.

Samantha Jones, 51, was arrested after husband John, 62, was found stabbed to death at the couple's home on the island of Langkawi.

Murder is punishable with a mandatory sentence of death by hanging in Malaysia.

Mr Jones, 62, was found with a stab wound to the chest on 18 October.

The couple are believed to have moved to the island 11 years ago under a residency program, which gives foreigners long-stay visas.

The next court hearing is on 29 November.

During a brief appearance, Mrs Jones indicated she understood the charge but did not enter a plea.

Volunteers willing to take on libraries threatened by closures in Somerset

Library
PA

Nearly two thirds of the communities in Somerset whose libraries are threatened with being closed have told the BBC they will bid to take them over.

Earlier this month, Somerset County Council announced 15 areas could lose their local branch, unless volunteers came forward to run them.

Another 19 branches will stay open and operate as they do now.

Somerset Waste Partnership encouraging parents to 'make your own' Halloween costumes

Somerset Waste Partnership is encouraging parents and children to make their own Halloween costumes this year.

The organisation say ready-made Halloween costumes and decorations are made of plastic and end up in landfill after being used.

Nick Cater, Somerset Waste Partnership said: "Parents need to be more environmentally friendly instead of buying supermarket plastic costumes."

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Bristol knife amnesty nets 1,000 weapons

Weapons surrendered
Avon and Somerset Police

A knife amnesty in the Bristol area has seen more than 1,000 weapons surrendered since it began two years ago.

Avon and Somerset Police's Operation Sceptre is designed to raise awareness of the impact of carrying weapons.

The force has five permanent knife bins located in Patchway, Bridewell, Bridgwater, Keynsham and has just installed one in Bath.

Taking these knives off the streets means they cannot be used to do serious harm. But there is still more work that needs to be done as we continue to spread the message that people who carry a weapon are more likely to be hospitalised themselves with an injury caused by violence.

Zoe ChegwynChief Inspector

BreakingMemorial for 'last Tommy' Harry Patch is replaced

A new memorial stone for Britain's last survivor of the World War One trenches has been put in place after the original one was stolen in the summer.

Mr Patch, who died in 2009 aged 111, was the last surviving British soldier to have fought in the conflict, and was present at the unveiling in 2008.

The theft was spotted in July and a crowdfunding campaign was launched to fund the replacement.

A small private ceremony was held to mark the installation of the new stone.

Replacement memorial stone
BBC

Woman dies in car crash near Somerton

A woman has died after the car she was driving crashed with two others in Somerset on Sunday.

The incident happened at 16.37 GMT on the B3151, near Somerton.

Avon and Somerset Police said the victim's vehicle hit two other cars. The woman was given treatment at the scene but died shortly afterwards.

The road was closed to enable an investigation to be carried out and was reopened this morning.Officers are appealing for any witnesses to contact the force.

More charging points for electric cars needed in Somerset

The Somerset director of a national environmental charity is calling for more electric vehicle charging points to be installed in the county.

Cara Naden, from Zero Carbon World, says people won't switch from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles until there are lots more places where they can charge them.

There are fewer than 100 locations with charging points across Somerset and quite a few of those are at businesses with access restricted to employees and customers.

Figures released yesterday showed none of the authorities in the west had applied for available government grants to install the charging stations.

Electric car charging point
Reuters
There are fewer than 100 locations with charging points across Somerset

Litterbugs will be fined £150 if caught in the Mendips

Dropping litter
Getty Images

People caught dropping litter in places like Wells, Frome and Shepton Mallet will now face a fine of £150.

Mendip District Council is also bringing in more enforcement officers as part of wider anti-social behaviour plans.

The move comes after a government announcement earlier this year to hike up fines of people who drop litter, including from vehicles.

Mendip is the first council in Somerset to adopt the new regulation, but South Somerset has confirmed it also intends to bring in the higher penalties, but hasn't set a date yet.

Consultation plan over cuts to family support services in Somerset

Protest against GetSet service cuts
BBC

A consultation over cuts to the GetSet service in Somerset may be extended after concerns were raised by the scrutiny committee that it would partially run over the Christmas holidays.

Somerset County Council wants to reduce funding by £2m a year to the service which helps support families with young children.

The plan is to cut staff numbers and effectively increase the caseloads of remaining workers, despite local opposition from the Liberal Democrats and families who use the the service.

At the moment, the Level 2 team supports children and families with additional needs and level 3 is for more complex cases.

On average the Level 2 team handles about 276 cases a month and Level 3 has about 203 cases a month.

If the changes are implemented case workers would be dealing with 14 cases each and waiting lists will grow.

Somerset litter droppers face £150 fine

Litter in some bushes
BBC

Bigger fines for people caught littering are coming into force in the Mendip area of Somerset.

This will include places such as Wells, Frome and Shepton Mallet.

District councillors voted to increase the charge from £80 to £150 for people caught dropping rubbish or throwing it out of a vehicle.

It's all part of wider plans to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.

Cats may not be rescued by fire service

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Firefighters in Devon and Somerset may not have to deal with stranded cats for very long.

Assistant chief fire officer Peter Bond told fire authority members on Monday that the service, given its shrinking budget, will have to focus on responding to fires and road traffic collisions.

Cat in tree
Getty Images

The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is only funded to deal with their statutory obligations of fires and road traffic collisions, but traditionally has helped out with incidents of flooding, specialist rescues, and animal rescues.

No specific proposals have been brought before the fire authority yet for the service to stop deal with scenarios such as rescuing cats up trees, but options and proposals for response, prevention and protection are included in the Change and Improvement Timeline that has previously been approved.

All of our projects must support the delivery of a long-term balanced budget and projects that require significant investment must demonstrate a clear benefits plan of either investing to save, or investing to reduce risk, or ideally both."

Peter BondAssistant chief fire officer, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service