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Special schools to close

Three special schools in Wiltshire are to be closed and replaced by one "centre of excellence".

The decision to replace St Nicholas in Chippenham, Larkrise in Trowbridge and Rowdeford near Devizes with one on the Rowdeford site has been made by Wiltshire Council.

The plan still has to be signed off by the secretary of state.

There's been ongoing anger about the plans from parents with some protesting outside County Hall in Trowbridge today.

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Widow to return to Stonehenge with cardboard husband

Michelle Bourke and Paul
Michelle Bourke

An Australian woman who took a life-sized cardboard cutout of her dead husband to Stonhenge, says it's helped her come to terms with losing him.

Michelle Bourke lost Paul to cancer three years ago.

She said visiting the World Heritage Site had been special and plans to return with "cardboard Paul" in the autumn.

"I stepped off the bus and I just burst into tears, I was overcome with so much emotion," she said.

"Going to Stonehenge just changed my life, I had this amazing experience so we're coming back in September."

Special schools closure decision expected

A decision is expected in the next couple of hours on the future of Wiltshire's schools for children with special needs.

Wiltshire Council wants to replace St Nicholas in Chippenham, Larkrise in Trowbridge and Rowdeford near Devizes with one "centre of excellence" on the Rowdeford site.

A cabinet meeting to decide whether the schools will close is taking place in Trowbridge but there's been anger from parents - some of whom have been protesting outside County Hall.

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AWP strike action ballot closes today

AWP van

A three-week ballot over strike action at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership comes to a close today.

The group wants to restructure its organisation - reducing administrative posts and bringing in new job descriptions.

Unison says 55 jobs would go including some specialist roles.

Honey bee swarms in the West

Honey bee on flower

Huge swarms of honey bees have been spotted around the West.

The Wiltshire Beekeepers Association said the unusually high temperatures back in February confused the bees.

Although It's normal to see swarming honey bees around April and May time, when they leave their nest to search for a new location, the unseasonably high temperatures earlier in the year can alter the numbers.

The bees come out of their hive to search for a location to start a new colony anywhere that is warm and dry.

Besides making honey, the honey bee is crucial for pollinating around 90% of crops around the world.

The EU elections: perspectives from the west

Paul Barltrop

Political Editor, West of England

More on our look at the three main schools of thought for candidates standing in the EU elections on May 23rd.

Today: There’s keen competition in the South West between parties who unashamedly love the EU.

The Liberal Democrats are riding high, having made big gains across the region in the recent local elections. That in turn has boosted their campaign, with party members happy to get out campaigning.

The Greens are a smaller party, but fared better than the Lib Dems at the last Euro election, and are proud of the track record of their sitting MEP Molly Scott Cato. They too fared well earlier this month, notably increasing their tally of councillors.

It is harder for Change UK, the new party set up by MPs who left Labour and the Conservatives. Without an established party structure or membership, they face a tough challenge winning over pro-EU voters.

A quarter of children in poverty

Hungry child
Getty Images

About a quarter of children in our region are living in poverty, according to new research.

Among the local authorities facing the highest levels of child poverty, after housing costs are taken into account, are West Somerset with a figure of 31% and Gloucester with a figure of 28%.

The data has been published by the End Child Poverty coalition.

Other figures locally include Bristol (27%), Forest of Dean (26%), South Somerset (25%), Sedgemoor (24%) and Wiltshire (24%).

The Children's Society said the findings were "disappointing".

Without significant additional investment, there is little hope of reducing child poverty rates in coming years.

Sam RoystonThe Children’s Society

The EU elections: perspectives from the West

Paul Barltrop

Political Editor, West of England

More on our look at the three main groups you will be asked to vote on in the EU elections on May 23rd.

Three parties are deeply opposed to the European Union, and want us to leave without delay.

UKIP caused something of a political earthquake in the last Euro elections, coming first and getting two MEPs elected in the South West. But they have since left, and the party has fractured, amid claims it has become too extreme.

Many have followed former leader Nigel Farage into his new Brexit Party. Only set up this year, it is fielding some well-known candidates, including former Conservative minister Ann Widdecombe in the South West.

Also standing, though with just two candidates, are the English Democrats; they have stood in several previous European elections, though without success.

Tomorrow I'll be looking at those who unashamedly love the EU and do not want a "divorce".

The EU elections: perspectives from the West

Paul Barltrop

Political Editor, West of England

The South West will be picking six people to represent the whole region in the European Parliament on election day, May 23rd.

Voters will have a big choice.

On the ballot paper there are eight political parties, listed alphabetically, along with three independents, and every candidate’s name is printed. But we can break the parties down into groups.

There are three who love the EU, and want to stop Brexit: the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Change UK.

The two biggest political parties, the Conservatives and Labour, are rather on the fence: officially committed to enacting Brexit, but deeply troubled over how to do it.

Then there are those who want out straight away, unafraid of leaving with no deal: UKIP, the Brexit Party and the English Democrats.

Across this week I'll be looking at these three main groups.

Wiltshire factory wins contracts worth up to 67m US dollars

Chemring has won two contracts worth up to 67 million US dollars to supply "countermeasures" to the Royal Australian Air Force and US Navy.

The aerospace, defence and security products manufacturer said that expectations for 2019 remain unchanged.

It added that the weighting of underlying operating profit is now expected to be approximately 30% in the first half and 70% in the second, versus previous guidance of 15% and 85%.

This is due to an earlier-than-expected insurance recovery for an accident at Chemring's Salisbury factory earlier this year. The incident resulted in the death of one employee.

Chief Constable pays tribute to teen

Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, Kier Pritchard, has paid tribute to 17-year-old Ellie Gould, who was found dead in Calne at the weekend.

"I would like to pay tribute to everyone who knew Ellie - from the recollections I've been told by the head teacher at Hardenhuish, Ellie was a vibrant, popular and talented young woman."

He said "local communities have rallied around Ellie's family, friends and fellow pupils at Hardenhuish School in Chippenham where Ellie was a pupil."

"My officers have seen first-hand the outpouring of love and support being shown by the people of Calne and Chippenham."

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BBC local radio headlines across the West

Radio presenter
  • BBC Radio Bristol: An inquest will continue today into the death of a 20-year-old student from Bristol University.
  • BBC Gloucestershire: Police say groups of shoplifters are travelling into Gloucester and Cheltenham to steal goods.
  • BBC Somerset: Wildlife is getting trapped in plastic netting put up by developers in Bridgwater.
  • BBC Wiltshire: A 17-year-old boy is due in court in Bristol today, charged with the murder of Calne teenager Ellie Gould.

Police divers search lake for missing man

Glenn Jefferies
Family picture

Police are searching a lake as they try to establish the whereabouts of missing Wiltshire man Glenn Jefferies.

The 64-year-old was last seen in the Ellingdon Road area of Wroughton, near Swindon, on Saturday 4 May at around 12.30pm.

Police said they have become increasingly concerned for his welfare.

Inspector Angela Shipp of Wiltshire Police said: “Specialist diving teams have been brought in to assist with our search.

“We have been in regular contact with Glenn’s family and are keeping them fully updated on our investigation.

“We are continuing to appeal for anyone with information about Glenn’s whereabouts”

Helifun allows you to 'fly' past Wiltshire's landmarks
Wiltshire Air Ambulance has launched a new game to raise awareness of the charity

Royal family member becomes patron for Horatio's garden

Princess Eugenie

A Wiltshire charity says it is "thrilled" Princess Eugenie will be their patron.

Horatio's Garden offers a change of scene for patients with spinal injuries, who are often in hospital for months on end.

It was set up in memory of Salisbury teenager Horatio Chapple who died after being attacked by a polar bear on a school trip to Norway.

Stalking and harassment cases up in Wiltshire despite overall fall in crime

While the majority of recorded crime in Wiltshire fell during 2018, robbery, stalking and harassment figures have increased in the same time period.

Between January 2018 and December 2018, Wiltshire Police recorded 42,483 crimes overall - a decrease compared to the previous 12 months. Burglaries and vehicle crime dropped by 25% and 26% respectively, while thefts from a person dropped by 15% and thefts, in general, went down by 10%.

But robbery saw an increase of 79 incidents in 2018 compared to 2017 figures (up 31%), alongside a 25% increase in stalking and harassment.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust said the increase in stalking and harassment could be due to a greater awareness of the issues involved.

It said as well as this it was working with police to make sure officers recorded issues of stalking in the correct category.

Call for ban on tree netting

Netted tree

The West's wildlife campaigners are demanding a ban on the use of netting on trees and hedgerows as used by some developers.

The Home Builders' Federation says the nets prevent birds nesting in trees which are to be chopped down, and projects would otherwise face long delays.


Next month the government will debate whether the practice should be made a criminal offence after 350,000 opponents signed a petition saying the netting is putting birds at risk.

'I nearly died from measles'

Watch: 'I nearly died from measles'

Matthew Limmer, who was not vaccinated against measles as a child, spent four days in hospital in Bristol last year after becoming infected, and says he very nearly died.

He has spoken out about his experience, as new figures show MMR vaccination rates for children in our region have fallen.

The percentage of children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) by their second birthday in the South West decreased from 94.2% in 2013/14 to 93.3% in 2017/18.

Rates in Bristol fell to the lowest level in the South West - with only 89% of children receiving one dose of MMR when they are two years old.

Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire have all fallen to about 94%.

Public Health England (PHE) South West is reminding people to make sure their children are up to date with their routine vaccinations as part of European Immunisation Awareness Week.

Arrest in pub car park hit-and-run

Spotted Cow pub, Swindon

A man has been arrested after a man's leg was crushed when a vehicle was driven at him in a pub car park in Swindon.

The incident happened just after 11pm on Friday outside the Spotted Cow pub on Marlborough Road.

The man suffered serious injuries and the driver failed to stop, Wiltshire Police said.

A 38-year-old local man is being held on suspicion of GBH.

Police seek 'critical friends' to advise force

Police motorcyclist

Twenty "critical friends" are being sought from the BME community to advise police on issues such as stop-and-search and hate crime.

Wiltshire Police says it hopes the group will give "feedback and insight around specific topics where a BME perspective is particularly valuable".

Ronnie Lungu, from Wiltshire's Black Police Association, said he particularly wanted to hear from younger voices.

"I'm looking for people who are willing to give us feedback and insight around specific topics where a BME perspective is particularly valuable," he said

"These include police priorities such as proportionate use of stop-and-search, encouraging greater reporting of hate crime and ensuring our recruitment tactics encourage people from diverse backgrounds," he said.

I'm particularly keen to hear the voices of younger people from BME communities who often don't come forward, as well as individuals who may be part of their local mosque or church, or simply someone who is interested in community relations and feels they have something to contribute to local policing.

Sgt Ronnie Lungu
A miniature Tesla has been donated for patients to use at the Great Western Hospital
The electric car has been donated so youngsters can drive around to different wards at the Great Western Hospital.

Service to mark 35th anniversary of the death of PC Yvonne Fletcher

PC Yvonne Fletcher
Met Police

A memorial service is due to take place later to mark the 35th anniversary of the death of PC Yvonne Fletcher.

PC Fletcher, who was born in Wiltshire, was shot near the Libyan Embassy in 1984.

There will be a police helicopter flypast at 10.16am, the time she was shot and finish about 10.45 with a bagpipe lament.

The 25 year old was killed and ten others injured when shots were fired from the Libyan People's Bureau in central London.

No-one has ever been convicted of her murder.

Abuse and threats to 999 call handlers are on the rise.
South Western Ambulance Service staff reported 1,118 incidents of violence in the past year.