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Superfast broadband firm given rescue plan deadline

BBC Spotlight

The company awarded the publicly-subsidised contract to deliver superfast broadband to thousands of rural homes in Devon and Somerset has been given a deadline to come up with a rescue plan for the programme.

Last September, Gigaclear admitted the project was facing significant delays and was two years behind schedule.

Connecting Devon and Somerset, the organisation in charge of the whole project, stopped paying Gigaclear nine months ago.

It has told the firm it must come up with acceptable plans by the end of July to fulfill the contract.

Computer cables
Getty Images

Devon and Cornwall weather: A cloudy start but clearing

BBC Weather

A cloudy start to Tuesday with any lingering rain clearing.


But through the day cloud will gradually become more broken, allowing more in the way of brighter spells.

Maximum temperature: 20 to 23C (68 to 73F).

More than 40% of what's in Devon's bins could be recycled

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service


More than 40 per cent of the contents found in bins in Devon could be recycled.

A presentation by Wendy Barratt, from Devon County Council, revealed the amount Devon residents are failing to recycle.

She said the recent findings showed across the county, 40.8 per cent of the contents put into the residual bins were recyclable.

This is the equivalent of 56,000 tonnes of materials and if all Devon householders recycled all of this material, the recycling rate would rise to 71 per cent, rather than the current 54 per cent.

She added that the cost of the 56,000 tonnes going for disposal instead of recycling is approximately £6.7m, while the potential loss of income from the glass, paper, card, metal, textiles and plastic that could have been recycled was more than £1m.

Devon and Cornwall weather: Rain before brighter spells

Bee Tucker

BBC Weather

A few spells of evening sunshine on Monday.

Overnight, showery rain is expected to develop and move up from the south, with a small chance of a rumble of thunder.

Minimum temperature: 11 to 14C (52 to 57F).


Largely cloudy on Tuesday, with a few scattered showers moving in, perhaps occasionally heavy and thundery.

Clouds breaking through the afternoon to allow more in the way of brighter spells.

Maximum temperature: 19 to 22C (66 to 72F).

Devon animal therapy charity moves to new site

Lucy Wilson

BBC South West

A Devon-based charity which helps disadvantaged young people and adults has moved to a bigger premises after it saw a rise in demand for its services.

Sirona Therapeutic Horsemanship use horses and ponies as a form of therapy. Participants care for the animals, boosting their own mental health and confidence.

The charity has moved from a small farm in Seal Hayne to a 10-acre site on the Dartington Hall Estate.


Devon and Cornwall: Showers clearing before sunny spells

BBC Weather

A few lingering showers during Monday morning will quickly clear to leave it largely dry, with sunny spells developing through the afternoon.


Maximum temperature: 18 to 21C (64 to 70F).

All Devon streetlights to become low-energy

BBC Spotlight

All streetlights operated by Devon County Council will be converted to low-energy LED bulbs in the next three years.

So far 34,000 lights have been changed.

The council said that once the programme was complete it would reduce carbon emissions by 75%.

In conjunction with part-time lighting being introduced in some residential areas, the council said it had £3m a year.


South West weather: Sunshine and light winds

BBC Weather

weather map

It will be dry tonight with largely clear skies and one or two mist patches.

Minimum temperature: 4C (39F)

Looking ahead to Saturday, it looks to be another fine day. There should be light winds and a good deal of sunshine, although a little cloud is also expected.

Maximum temperature: 20C (68F)

Petition launched to plant wild flowers

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

wild flowers

A petition to sow wildflowers across the South Hams is gaining momentum.

The desire to plant wildflowers on grass verges in south Devon stems from campaigners wanting to support the local insect population.

The petition reads: "We would like to see our local grass verges (and any other suitable land) sown with wildflowers and left to grow in order to support local insect populations, as opposed to being sown with grass seed and regularly cut."

It also stressed pesticides should be avoided.

There are almost 300 signatures on the petition.

"Not only do the verges look more attractive but they are a haven for insects, in particular for pollinators.

"In addition to this, emissions from machinery used to cut the old style, grass verges, have been removed."

Frogs lives 'saved' by bacteria

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

Bacteria living on the skin of frogs could save them from a deadly virus, new research has suggested.

Scientists from the University of Exeter and ZSL's Institute of Zoology compared the bacteria living on frogs from groups with varying histories of ranavirus.

Ranavirus kills large numbers of European common frogs, the species most often seen in UK ponds.

It is one of many threats facing amphibians worldwide.

The scientists found populations with a history of outbreaks had a “distinct” skin microbiome, bacteria, when compared to those where no outbreaks had occurred.

Whether a population of frogs becomes diseased might depend on the species of bacteria living on their skin. Ranavirus is widespread, but its presence in the environment doesn’t necessarily mean frogs become diseased – there appears to be some other factor that determines this.

Dr Lewis CampbellUniversity of Exeter

Devon travel: Reports of people on the road

  • Near Newton Abbot on the A380 South Devon Highway there are reports of people on the road
  • Between Holsworthy and Anvil Corner A3072 Windmill Road is closed in both directions until 17:00 due to resurfacing work - a diversion is in place
  • In Exeter, Barrack Road is partially blocked due to an accident near the hospital entrance

South West weather: Dry with sunshine

BBC Weather

Weather map

Some isolated light showers will clear the south of the county soon.

We also have a little fog over the moors too and that will also clear soon.

We then then have a day with reducing amounts of cloud and increasing amounts of sunshine, the best of which will be in the north of the county this afternoon.

There is a low risk of the odd rogue shower this afternoon.

Winds will be light westerly, becoming onshore this afternoon as sea breezes develop.

Maximum temperature: 18C (64F)

Weather: Rain clearing for dry and sunny spells

publish at 17.00

BBC Weather

weather map

Any lingering daytime rain should clear in Devon and Cornwall to leave a dry rest of the night with lengthy clear spells.

Minimum Temperature: 6C (48)

Looking ahead to Friday, it should remain dry, as high pressure builds over the region. There should be some decent spells of sunshine too.

Maximum Temperature: 18C (64F)

Man charged over fake gun at University of Exeter

University of Exeter
Katie Leadbetter-Hope

A 25-year-old man has been charged with possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence following an incident at the University of Exeter on Wednesday, police said.

Yihe Xiong, of Bonhay Road, Exeter, is due to appear at Exeter Magistrates' Court this morning

Devon travel: Reports of an accident on the A388

BBC Radio Devon

  • At Stibb Cross, on the A388 near the B3227 we've got reports there's an accident.
  • In Plymouth, on the Embankment heading inbound there's reports of very slow traffic.
  • In Paignton, on the A380 King's Ash Road between Fernicombe Road and Tweenaway Cross there's reports of slow traffic.

Fire service may close eight stations

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Fire crew

Up to eight fire stations may close under changes being considered by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

Currently, there are 85 fire stations, 121 fire engines and 2,000 members of staff across both counties.

The service said it wanted to bring an outdated service into the 21st Century and fire incidents in both areas had decreased 36% between 2008 and 2018.

Unions said closing any stations would be a mistake and expressed concerns about a lack of fire cover.

The service said it had saved £12.2m over the last five years but an estimated £8.4m of savings were still needed in the next three.

Weather: Patchy rain and sunny spells

BBC Weather

There will be areas of patchy rain and drizzle today, but some areas will remain largely dry, if not dry altogether.

Maximum Temperature: 17C (63°F)

There will be sunny spells too and a gentle to moderate breeze.

weather map

Devon and Somerset fire stations may close under changes

Ben Woolvin

BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

Some fire stations may close under changes being considered by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

The brigade is due to reveal options for change later on Wednesday.

Bosses said it was to bring an outdated service into the 21st Century.

Unions said closing any fire stations would be a mistake and they were concerned about a potential "lack of fire cover and increased response times".

Devon and Somerset Fire Service vehicle

Talking about a service delivery public consultation on its website, the brigade said it was originally designed over 50 years ago and that "since then, the make-up of our communities and the way in which people live their lives has changed significantly".

It added: "The majority of our existing 85 fire stations have been in place for well over 30 years and the firefighter duty systems have not changed since the 1970s."

Weather: Clear spells and scattered showers overnight

BBC Weather

Weather map

Most places should remain dry tonight with clear spells, but the odd shower can't be ruled out.

Minimum Temperature: 7C (45F)

Looking ahead, there will be a few scattered showers on Thursday, but in general there will be lots of dry spells with some sunshine and a light breeze.

Maximum temperature: 17C (63F).

Police 'stormed' university in gunman threat

Aisling Finn

BBC News Online

Police cars at the University of Exeter
Katie Leadbetter-Hope/Jo Crawford

A student at the University of Exeter said "about seven policemen stormed into the Amory building" following reports of a man with a handgun.

Student Katie Leadbetter-Hope said: "The guy was taken out in handcuffs at about 12:25. He looked like he was of student age and people are speculating he was sitting an exam."

The Amory building is a centre for humanities on the Streatham campus of the university.

Police said nobody was injured in the incident.

BreakingArmed police arrest man with 'handgun' at Exeter University

Armed police have arrested a man at Exeter University following reports of a student making threats to other students while carrying a "handgun".

Devon and Cornwall Police have seized the weapon and the suspect is in custody.

There were no injuries in the incident.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Dartmoor Zoo 'will never forget' popular brown bear Hayley

Millicent Cooke

BBC News Online

Dartmoor Zoo has announced the death of its popular brown bear Hayley.

Much-loved by staff and visitors, Hayley was born at a wildlife park in Scotland on Christmas Day 1985 and moved to Dartmoor 18 months later.

Dubbed "Hayley the hoover", she soon formed a firm friendship with fellow bear Fudgy, who died in 2017.

Hayley bear
Dartmoor Zoo

Earlier this year, Hayley had a period of ill health that concerned keepers and staff.

Although she appeared to recover, the zoo said her arthritis had developed, and her mobility became more affected.

"Having spent 32 years at Dartmoor, she became somewhat of a matriarch to our family. Life at the zoo goes on, but we will never forget you Hayley Bear," the zoo said in a statement.

Fudgy bear
Dartmoor Zoo

We are very sad to announce the death of Hayley, our much-loved European brown bear. She was one of the great characters of Dartmoor Zoo and will be missed by thousands of people."

Dartmoor ZooSpokesperson

Weather: Showers will clear later

BBC Weather

Weather map

Rain will clear through the morning to leave a dry and increasingly sunny day.

A generally gentle breeze. Maximum temperature: 18C (64F).

Patients waiting more than a year for treatment

BBC Spotlight

More than 250 patients in the South West had waited more than a year for hospital treatment at the end of March.

NHS England had hoped to halve the number over the last year but missed the target.

Trusts say the closure of operating theatres and high demand for services is partly to blame.

John Beaumont told the BBC he paid for his knee replacement to be carried out privately after being told he would have to wait up 18 months with the NHS

Weather: Showers and rain pushing in before drier spells

BBC Weather

Further spells of showery rain will push in through the course of Tuesday night, some spells could be on the heavy side.

A few mist patches may develop too.

Minimum temperature: 9 to 12C (48 to 54F).


A rather dull start to Wednesday with areas of rain and mostly cloudy skies.

However, an improving picture into the afternoon as it turns drier and brighter.

Maximum temperature: 15 to 18C (59 to 64F).

Mental health detainee driven from North Devon to Torquay

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The location of safe places for people suffering a mental health crisis in Devon has been questioned after police had to drive a detainee from North Devon to Torquay.

The officers used up most of a shift on the 150-mile round trip to find an assessment place for the person who had been held under the Mental Health Act.

The incident was raised by Torridge Independent councillor Philip Hackett at a meeting of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel.

He said the problem had arisen after the closure of a designated place of safety in North Devon.

Two places at Exeter were unavailable when the person needed help out-of-hours so the officers had to drive on to Torquay.

Cllr Hackett said: “Surely there needs to be a place of safety to stop two or three officers being taken off shift.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez told the meeting the situation would be reviewed and "there does just need to be another look at that".

A place of safety which can take two people was opened by the Devon Partnership Trust at The Cedars psychiatric hospital in Exeter in April last year following consultation with the police.

The suite operates round-the-clock as part of a response by the NHS and emergency services to reduce the number of people with mental health needs being held in police cells. Now in most cases people are taken to a place of safety instead of a policy custody centre.

The trust has also opened a series of crisis cafes across Devon, including one in Barnstaple, to support people while reducing demand on the emergency services.

Heathrow plans include joining Great Western rail links

BBC News

Heathrow Airport has published details of its plans to construct a third runway by 2026 and complete its expansion by 2050.

The proposals, which include diverting rivers and rerouting the M25 through a tunnel under the runway, will be open to public consultation until mid-September.

It also wants to join existing rail links to the Great Western network.

The controversial scheme to expand Heathrow won government backing last year.

The expansion has faced fierce opposition, but the airport said it had engaged with local communities and other stakeholders.

The proposals are now open to public consultation until 13 September.

Architects' visualisation of expanded Heathrow
Grimshaw Architects
An architects' visualisation of Heathrow's planned expansion shows the third runway, new terminals and car parks

Zoo staff battle around the clock to save sick orangutan

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Gambira the orangutan being treated at Paignton Zoo
Paignton Zoo

Animal experts at Paignton Zoo in Devon have been battling around the clock to save a sick primate, staff say.

Keepers, vets and vet nurses responded swiftly when 22-year-old female orangutan Gambira, who was born at the zoo, was taken ill suddenly.

They found she had an infection of an air sac - a large pouch in the throat, thought to be used for vocalisation and connected to the respiratory system. The condition is known as air saccultis, and can be fatal.

During emergency surgery and treatment, which often saw staff staying up with her through the night, they had to cut drainage holes in her air sacs and are thought to have removed "1.5 to 2 litres of pus in total".

Staff said she had been "improving slowly but steadily" since the treatment and also underwent a second short procedure to flush the air sacs a week later which found much less fluid.

They added that they were "keeping a very close eye on her" and monitoring to ensure a chest infection clears.

Zoo spokesperson Phil Knowling said: "We almost lost her, she was very close to death. What shines through at these difficult times is the dedication and care of the keepers and the vet team."

University's diabetes research centre gets £6m grant

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

The University of Exeter has been awarded £6m towards the expansion of its diabetes research centre.

The major investment is part of the government's UK industrial strategy.

Diabetes research in Exeter began in 1987 and the centre has made many discoveries that have transformed the treatment and care for diabetics, including improving helping improve clinical care in the NHS.

The disease, which affects blood sugar levels, is one of the world's greatest health challenges, affecting about 400m people.

University of Exeter diabetes research website
University of Exeter

Weather: Cloudy with chance of showers

Alex Osborne

BBC Weather

A rather cloudy day with a chance of some spells of showery rain at times.

There will still be some drier interludes with gentle winds.

Maximum temperature: 17C (63F).

weather map

Devon Tory MPs declare support for leadership candidates

BBC Radio Devon

The latest Devon MP to declare support for one of the Tory leadership contenders is South West Devon's Sir Gary Streeter, who has joined Torbay MP Kevin Foster in backing Sajid Javid.

Other local conservative MPs Central Devon's Mel Stride and Tiverton & Honiton's Neil Parish have said they are supporting Michael Gove.

Newton Abbot's Anne Marie Morris is behind Dominic Raab.

Plymouth Moor View's Johnny Mercer is supporting Boris Johnson, as is Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox,

Mr Cox introduced Mr Johnson when the former foreign secretary and mayor of London launched his leadership campaign.

Weather: Mainly dry but getting cloudier

Emily Wood

BBC Weather

Largely dry on Monday night, with some clear spells and mist and fog patches.

However, cloud will thicken in the early hours.

Minimum temperature: 8 to 11C (46 to 52F).


Rather cloudy on Tuesday, with a chance of some spells of showery rain at times throughout the day. Gentle winds.

Maximum temperature: 13 to 16C (55 to 61F).

Police forensics service faces a major shake-up

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Jobs could be at risk in the Devon & Cornwall Police forensics service under a major shake-up.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has revealed the force’s science support service is undergoing modernisation to take into account new digital processes.

But concerns have been raised about the impact of changes on the service in Plymouth, which has already seen the effect of cutbacks with fewer crimes being investigated by forensics staff.

Under the restructuring plan, fingerprint and chemical laboratories would be based with Avon & Somerset Police and Devon & Cornwall would host a digital centre. The force would also have a series of forensic hubs where staff would collect material from crime scenes for analysis.

Devon & Cornwall Police

The plan follows a decision in March to drop a plan to transfer employment of the Devon & Cornwall team to Dorset Police.

Mr Sawyer told members of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel that the changes could take between six months and a year, adding he hoped any staff who might lose their job could be retrained and redeployed, but redundancies could not be ruled out.

Discussions would be taking place with staff and the GMB union.

He said there were concerns about a backlog in forensics work which was having an impact on the progress of sexual offence cases.

Mr Sawyer said: “Digital fingerprints can be looked at as easily from Scotland as Saltash. We have to work in the real world.”

The chief constable was responding to a question about the changes from Plymouth Labour councillor Sally Haydon, who commented: “We don’t want to lose any of our highly skilled staff from here.”

Knee op prep reveals prostate cancer

Jenny Walrond

Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

Lesle Burden and Paul Gidley

A Plymouth man's life was saved by having a pre-operative assessment for a knee replacement, he says.

Nurse Lesle Burden checked on earlier blood tests Paul Gidley had had and picked up the signs of an aggressive prostate cancer after seeing a high PSA [prostate-specific antigen] level.

She told him to go straight back to his GP and to have this followed up, which led to him being treated with radiotherapy, surgery and hormone therapy.

About 3,000 men a year in the South West are diagnosed with the disease, with one in six men nationwide developing it.

In the meantime, Paul said he hoped to get his new knee soon and he was urging other men to go to their doctor if they had concerns.

Paul Gidley

If you notice anything different, if anything changes, if you get up to go to the loo a couple of times a night, just go and see your GP. No one wants to go, but, believe you me, if you don't you may well end up paying the ultimate price."

Paul GidleyProstate cancer patient

Police use informal punishments for sex offenders

Ben Woolvin

BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

Devon and Cornwall Police has handed more than 100 informal punishments to sex offenders in four years despite guidance restricting their use.

Community resolutions are intended to be used outside of the court service to resolve low level offences or anti-social behaviour incidents. Offenders agree to apologise and perhaps repair damages.

The offender does not get a criminal record and it does not show up on a DBS criminal records check, which is why using them to deal with reported sex offences is controversial.

New figures from the BBC's Shared Data Unit show community resolution orders have been used in more than 102 reported sex offences in the force area since 2014.

That is a very small proportion of the total number of reported sex offences - just under 1% of the 12,000 sex offences reported to Devon and Cornwall Police in that time. But, of course, sex offences are serious by definition.

The charity Victim Support said it was "very concerning and completely inappropriate for community resolutions to be used in cases where a sexual offence has been committed" and that the public "could be put at risk if sexual offenders are not receiving criminal records".

Devon and Cornwall Police said the resolutions were only used for sex offences in very rare instances - for example, "peer-on-peer" offences where young people in relationships were having sex before reaching the age of consent, or "sibling on sibling" offences within a family.

It added they were also only employed for such offences "when the victim, or their parent or guardian, has been consulted, and the offender accepts responsibility".

Devon and Cornwall Police car

Weather: Cloudy start, sunshine later

Emily Wood

BBC Weather

A fairly cloudy morning with some scattered showers.

More in the way of sunshine in the afternoon, with most areas remaining dry, and it will be breezy.

Maximum temperature: 18C (64F).

weather map

Weather: heavy rain tonight

BBC Weather

It is a mainly cloudy afternoon with some bright or sunny spells. There will also be some showery outbreaks of rain. Winds will be moderate gusting fresh south westerly, but strong later in the west.

TONIGHT: Cloud will lower and thicken from the west with occasionally heavy rain spreading eastwards overnight. Winds will be fresh southerly, gusting near gale at times.

Minimum: 9°C

weather map

Devon schools see real terms funding cut of 10 per cent

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Education funding in Devon has seen a real terms reduction of 10 percent from 2009/10 to 2017/18, Devon County Council's children's scrutiny committee has heard.

Schools in the county also have a maintenance backlog of more than £40m, with £23m of the repairs considered critical.

Getty Images

On Monday, the committee agreed to call on the cabinet to once again lobby parliament and the region's MPs over the inadequacy of the current funding for Devon's schools.

Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Devon County Council, said the county was being short-changed in education.

Is Parliament listening and are our MPs - other than the one for Exeter - listening, as they keep voting for the budget and are the ones depriving the children of Devon? At what point do we just say that we can do no more? Every council meeting, every cabinet meeting, and probably every scrutiny meeting, we say that Devon is being shortchanged when it comes to education, but they are not listening."

Alan ConnettDevon County Council

Dawn Stabb, Head of Education and Learning at Devon County Council, said schools have had to make a significant reduction in staffing levels, and that some had discussed reducing their hours or closing early on a Friday due to the lack of funding.

The Department for Education (DfE) said school funding in England was at "its highest ever level".