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  1. Exeter MP welcomes opening of city’s Nightingale hospital

    Hayley Westcott

    BBC News Online

    Hospital beds

    Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said it’s “very good news” the city’s Nightingale hospital is opening.

    It was confirmed by officials on Wednesday the hospital in Exeter will receive its first coronavirus patients on Thursday.

    The 116-bed hospital, built on the site of a former retail unit, will treat people with Covid-19, taking patients transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) as it is "very busy".

    On Twitter, Mr Bradshaw said it will “take pressure off the RD&E hospitals and other local NHS services to cope with unprecedented Covid-19 UK pressures."

    Ben Bradshaw

    In his response on Twitter, the Labour MP noted he had recently raised the issue with Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

    Speaking virtually in the Commons on 10 November, Mr Bradshaw told the Health Secretary his local NHS wanted to use the hospital, but did not then have the staff to do so.

    He asked: "What exactly is the purpose of the Nightingale hospitals when there are not the doctors and nurses to staff them?”

    Mr Hancock replied there had been an increase of more than 13,000 nurses in the past year, as well as returning members of NHS staff.

    Government figures show the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in the South West has steadily risen over the previous weeks.

    The data shows 34 patients were reported as being in hospital on 1 October, jumping to 437 on 1 November.

  2. The Spending Review: Will it help the South West?

    Martyn Oates

    BBC South West Political Editor

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out what the UK government will spend on health, education, transport and other public services next year.

    He also briefed MPs about the state of the UK economy and the latest forecasts for the UK's public finances, which have been battered by the Covid pandemic.

    But it was a broad brush speech. So, what parts of it will benefit the South West?

    And will there be any replacement for EU cash that the UK is about to lose because of Brexit?

    Video content

    Video caption: Martyn Oates on Spending Review's impact on South West
  3. 'Farmland landfill' set for approval despite objections

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Plans to turn farming land and protected countryside close to the edge of Exeter into what objectors say is an "industrial landfill site" have been recommended for approval despite more than 500 objections

    The scheme which was initially proposed in December 2018 would see inert soils and top soil imported to land at Lower Hare Farm, Whitestone, which has been previously disturbed and left in a condition not capable of sustaining commercial agriculture.

    When they meet next Wednesday, Devon County Council’s development management committee is being recommended to approve the plans, despite the widespread opposition from local residents and parish councils.

    The recommendation has disappointed and angered campaigners from the STAWL (Stop A Second Whitestone Landfill) – who say the application is wrong and flawed in so many respects, and with 500 objections, is a shocking incitement of democracy.

    Residents of Whitestone and Tedburn St Mary – two villages close to Exeter and north of the A30 – have united to oppose the plans – while STAWL claim "this is an application for a landfill site masquerading as agricultural improvement".

    Planning officers admit the landscape and visual impacts of the proposed development are such that could warrant refusal of the application due to the significant harm to the landscape character and visual quality of the area.

    However they have balanced it against the contribution that the proposed facility would make to maintaining sufficient capacity for the disposal of inert waste materials within the Exeter area.

    Whitestone landfill site view
  4. Four die with Covid-19 in Devon hospitals

    Jenny Walrond

    Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

    A further four people have died with Covid-19 in Devon's hospitals.

    According to the latest figures, there was one death at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital, one at the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, one at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and one at Torbay Hospital.

    It brings the total number of hospital deaths in the county related to coronavirus to 293.

    In Cornwall, there have been 96 coronavirus-related deaths.

  5. 'World's most detailed' Alzheimer’s study

    BBC Radio Devon

    Exeter researchers are seeking volunteers from Devon to take part in what it is calling the world’s most detailed study into the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease.

    The study will recruit 250 participants from across the UK which are over 60 and in good health, but with a family history of dementia.

    The University of Exeter Medical School says the trial could increase their understanding of dementia, paving the way for new treatments.

  6. Covid-19: Up to 33% of schools see pupils self-isolating

    BBC Radio Devon

    About a third of schools in Plymouth and Torbay have pupils self-isolating because of coronavirus.

    In the Devon county area, it is about 10% of schools.

    The latest figures available from Torbay Council show there are 865 pupils and 74 teachers in the area that have tested positive.

    Paul Gosling, of the National Association of Head Teachers in the South West, is the head at Exeter Road Primary School in Exmouth.

    He said this term had been tough for everyone.

    Quote Message: School isn't normal because we want to make sure that the children, their families, their communities, are safe and as free as possible from the virus. So it's taken a lot of hard work and effort from everybody, from cleaning staff, to meal-time staff, plus teachers and governors - lots of people - all pulling together to keep our communities safe." from Paul Gosling Head Teacher, Exeter Road Primary School, Exmouth
    Paul GoslingHead Teacher, Exeter Road Primary School, Exmouth
  7. Video content

    Video caption: Bookstagram: The influencers turning pages for reading

    During lockdown, people fell back in love with reading, shown by the growth in book influencers.

  8. Dorset kitesurfer 'lucky to be alive' after serious accident off the Jurassic Coast

    Video content

    Video caption: Will Wade was airlifted to Southampton Hospital from Portland with a fractured skull.
  9. Devon and Cornwall may go into tier 2 restrictions - MPs

    Andrew Segal

    BBC South West

    A Devon MP thinks the county will be placed in the middle tier of coronavirus restrictions after Boris Johnson announced what would happen when lockdown ended next week.

    Anne Marie Morris, the Conservative MP for Newton Abbot, said the county being "on the brink" of tier 2 before the current England-wide lockdown started, and it was possible the county could go over that brink.

    Quote Message: Given the overall proposal that more go into higher-level restrictions rather than less, given we were on the brink of tier 2 last time round, I find it very hard to see that we are going to be in tier 1, and that's what I fear." from Anne Marie Morris MP Newton Abbot (Conservative)
    Anne Marie Morris MPNewton Abbot (Conservative)

    Meanwhile, environment secretary and Camborne & Redruth MP George Eustice has warned Cornwall's low number of coronavirus cases did not mean the county would automatically be placed on the lowest level of restriction when lockdown eased.

    Mr Eustice told the BBC he believed most of the country will be placed in tier two, although it "has not been decided yet".

    Quote Message: The Department for Health will be looking at it closely. But it's important to bear in mind it's not just the infection rate, not just hard numbers they will be looking at. They will be considering a wider range of issues, including age of the population, vulnerability to the infection, and capacity in the NHS." from George Eustice Environment Secretary
    George EusticeEnvironment Secretary
  10. Four died with Covid-19 in Devon hospitals

    BBC Spotlight

    A further four people have died with Covid-19 in Devon's hospitals.

    According to the latest figures, there were two deaths at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, and one each at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital and the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust.

    It brings the total number of hospital deaths in the county related to coronavirus to 289.

    In Cornwall, there have been 96 coronavirus-related deaths.

  11. Businesses wait to see how Covid changes will affect them

    Tamsin Melville

    Political Reporter, BBC South West

    Cornwall and Devon's businesses are waiting to see how new Covid rules will affect them when the England-wide lockdown ends next Wednesday.

    There will be three tiers - slightly tougher than the last ones - and an announcement is due on Thursday.

    Gyms and non-essential shops in all parts of England will be allowed to reopen from 2 December under a strengthened three-tiered system.

    Spectators will be allowed to return to some sporting events, and weddings and collective worship will resume.

    Where pubs and restaurants are allowed to open, last orders will now be at 10pm, with drinkers allowed a further hour to finish their drinks.

    Indoor performances - such as those at the theatre - will also return in the lower two tiers, although with reduced capacity.

    The decision on which regions are in which tiers will be based on a number of factors including case numbers, the reproduction rate - or R number - and pressure on local NHS services.

    Tier allocations will be reviewed every 14 days, and the regional approach will last until March.

    There is no guarantee Devon and Cornwall will return to the lowest tier; but, if they do, businesses can prepare to get back to something near normal.

    Rebecca Heane, who runs a homeware shop in Falmouth, said such moves were being welcomed as the High Street should not just be treated as a place to shop.

    Quote Message: Don't forget that shops are a social lifeline for a lot of people that live on their own and do not have any other contact. They come into town, they have their little routine, they see shopkeepers and have a catch-up. That's really important, that sort of social contact for human beings. That's what we crave isn't it?" from Rebecca Heane Shopkeeper
    Rebecca HeaneShopkeeper
  12. Support for Exeter and Newquay airports

    Cornwall Airport Newquay

    Regional airports including Exeter and Newquay will be able to apply for up to £8m of financial help from the government from January.

    A new support package will provide business rates relief and cover costs per airport, following industry concerns that regional hubs would struggle to survive without help.

    Earlier this month, Cornwall Airport Newquay was forced to close its doors and bosses said the industry was "on the brink".

    The government has also announced it will allow arrivals in the UK to cut their self-isolation requirement to five days from 15 December, as long as they pay for a private Covid-19 test.

    A spokesperson for Exeter Airport said they were "pleased the government has listened to our calls".

    "The measures announced today will provide much-needed support and we will continue to lobby hard and work with the government on what other steps can be taken to safeguard the UK’s regional airports."

    East Devon Conservative MP Simon Jupp, who campaigned for the relief measure, said he "warmly welcomed" the decision to provide the support.

    He said: "I raised my concerns with the prime minister and chancellor after passenger numbers at Exeter Airport dropped by 95% and they recognised the need to support our airport."

  13. People in 20s not highest group of positive Covid tests

    BBC Spotlight

    People in their 20s are no longer the age group with the highest proportion of positive Covid-19 tests across Devon.

    The latest figures, based on tests reported between 17 and 22 November, show that across Plymouth and the Devon County Council area, the 50 to 59 age group had the highest proportion of cases, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

    But, in Torbay, 10 to 19 year olds are seeing the highest proportion, although the total number of cases in the area is much lower than other places and actual numbers had only slightly risen, the figures showed.

    The proportion of positive cases in 10 to 19 year olds has also risen in Plymouth, but in Devon it is flat and has fallen in Cornwall.

    The numbers of over-60s testing positive has increased in Devon and Plymouth, but fallen in Torbay and Cornwall.

  14. Hospitality businesses reported for Covid law breaches

    Andrew Segal

    BBC South West

    Police across Devon have reported hospitality businesses for breaching coronavirus laws after they were found serving customers in their premises.

    Paignton Police said on Saturday they were called to a town centre coffee shop and found "a number of patrons ... sat around tables drinking hot drinks".

    Officers said the customers were ordered to leave and the owner was reported for breaching coronavirus legislation.

    Elsewhere, police in Tavistock said a rural pub was visited on Friday night and a "number of people were found in the bar area drinking while watching the rugby".

    The patrons were ordered to leave and the licensee reported for Covid breach offences, they said.

    People are not allowed to eat and drink in hospitality businesses during the current England-wide coronavirus lockdown.

    However, businesses can still operate takeaway and delivery services.

    Two cafe owners in Plymouth were recently fined thousands of pounds for breaching lockdown restrictions.

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