England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

'Vision zero' scheme to get no RTC deaths by 2040

BBC Radio Devon

An effort to stop people being killed on Devon and Cornwall's roads has been launched.

The 'Vision Zero' scheme aims reduce the number of deaths to zero by 2040.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez told Radio Cornwall road accidents are killing too many people.


With 60 people dying and hundreds more seriously injured every year, Ms Hernandez said: "For us one of the biggest costs to all of us is the loss of lives and the impact on families and that is an absolutely immense impact.

"We want to make sure we are cutting out the ability for people to actually lose their lives on our roads," she said.

Police search for missing 63-year-old Devon woman

Rebecca Thorn

BBC News

Police are appealing for witnesses in their search for a missing 63-year-old woman from Devon.

Cher Maddison was last seen at her Ashreigney home in Chulmleigh around 13:30 BST on Thursday.

Devon and Cornwall Police said they were concerned for her welfare, and searches were ongoing.

Ms Maddison is described as white, about 5ft 4ins tall, with dark brown shoulder length hair.

She was wearing blue jeans, distinctive blue croc shoes with a pink strap, and was carrying a brown overcoat and high visibility vest.

Anyone who sees Ms Maddison or has any information on her whereabouts is asked to police on 999, quoting log number 0494 of 17 September.

Plymouth sees 40 new cases of coronavirus

Rebecca Thorn

BBC News

Plymouth has 40 new cases of coronavirus according to the latest government statistics.

The figure relates to those confirmed in the seven days leading up to 14 September.

In the previous week, Plymouth saw 42 new cases of the virus.

At least two schools in the city have been forced to send pupils home due to emerging cases.

Exeter has experienced 12 new cases up to 14 September, while Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have seen 52 in the same period.

Figures for the remaining South West areas include:

  • Torridge - 6
  • Teignbridge - 7
  • Mid Devon - 4
  • North Devon - 4
  • East Devon - 6
  • South Hams - 3
  • West Devon - 1
  • Torbay - 1

Extreme weather causes wheat yields to fall

BBC Spotlight

South West cereal farmers, millers and bakers are counting the cost of months of extreme weather as wheat yields are down by as much as 40% - the lowest in 40 years.

Devon-based Lee Owen, who has been a baker for 25 years, told BBC Spotlight the price of the flour he is using is up by between 13 and 15%.

Empty flour shelves
Getty Images
Flour was in short supply in supermarkets in the spring, partly due to a rise in home baking

"I've seen increases in the past but this one is such a high increase and as a small business it's had a major effect on us. Unfortunately we've had to pass it on to our customers which we don't like doing."

Miller John Stevens said he lost 40% of his crop this year and is relying on reserves.

Meanwhile, the National Farmers Union warned the UK - which produces 85% of its own wheat - that it may have to rely on imports next year to make up for the shortfall.

"If this repeats itself next year, there would be a problem, we would be short of wheat," he said.

The UK Met Office told BBC News that the extremes of wet and hot conditions that have marked this year are likely to become more common as our climate continues to change.

Covid-19: Police say everyone has 'legal responsibility'

Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

BBC News

Police have reminded people they have a "legal responsibility" to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and abide by the "rule of six" which came into force on Monday.

Devon and Cornwall Police said it will maintain the 4Es approach to the new legislation - engagement, education and encouragement to get the public to abide by the rules. Enforcement remains a final option.

Police break up gathering
Getty Images
People are now prohibited from gathering in groups of more than six

The new rule prohibits gatherings of more than six people and means police can break up groups exceeding the limit and subject them to a £100 fine.

Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said: “The change to Covid-19 legislation and subsequent change in the law, means everyone has a legal responsibility to play their part and not gather in a group of more than six people.

“The new rules are clear. We all have a personal responsibility for following them to help stop of the spread of a deadly virus.”

There are some exceptions to these rules, including if the group is all part of the same household or two linked households.

Mayflower 400: 'Here we are 400 years later'

BBC Radio Devon

It's 400 years ago today since the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, heading for America.

The ship had just over 100 passengers and 30 crew on-board.

Passengers on the Mayflower included men, women and children from England and the city of Leiden in Holland.

The Mayflower

The Mayflower first landed in America in November 1620, at Cape Cod which is now known as Provincetown, Massachusetts in the area of New England.

It was not the first time that an English ship had arrived in North America with the aim of setting up a colony. In 1607, English settlers founded Jamestown in what is now the US state of Virginia.

Historian Todd Gray says many Americans see the sailing of the Mayflower, and its arrival in New England, as an iconic moment in their country's history.

BBC Radio Devon

A major air and sea search has taken place off East Devon after reports that a paddle boarder was up to a mile offshore.

It came at about 19:30 BST on Tuesday night, as it was getting dark last night off Budleigh Salterton.

Two lifeboats

A coastguard helicopter, two lifeboats and a coastguard rescue team were involved in the search for the paddle boarder.

Nothing was found and the search was suspended pending any further information.

Lorraine Cox: Woods search continues in murder inquiry

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Lorraine Cox case: Woods search by police

Police are continuing extensive searches of woods in east Devon in connection with the suspected murder of a woman who went missing.

Lorraine Cox was last seen in the early hours of the morning in Exeter City Centre on 1 September. The 32-year-old was reported missing two days later.

An area of Exeter was cordoned off last week and police said they had launched a murder investigation.

Further searches have been taking place in woods near the town of Newton St Cyres, about 5 miles from Exeter.

A 22-year-old man has appeared at Exeter Crown Court, charged with her murder.

Christopher Mayer, of no fixed address, appeared via video link and was remanded in custody until his next appearance, due next month.

Five men - aged 22, 30, 33, 43 and 71 - who were arrested by investigating officers, have been released on bail until 7 October.

Lorraine Cox case: Woods search by police

Out-of-hours GP and 111 service 'must urgently improve'

BBC Radio Devon

The organisation Devon Doctors, which provides out-of-hours GP and 111 medical services to more than a million people across Devon and Somerset, has been told it must urgently improve by a health watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission said an inspection in July found its NHS 111 service was not meeting targets, patients did not always receive safe care or treatment, and staff were not trained sufficiently.

Inspectors said they would continue to monitor Devon Doctors extremely closely.

Row over Covid testing availability

BBC Spotlight

A South West MP has defended the government's Covid 19 testing programme after complaints that very few are available in some areas of Cornwall and Devon.

Cornwall Council said it had been "inundated" with people describing problems trying to get a coronavirus test.

There are calls for NHS workers to be given priority for tests because many are having to isolate not knowing whether they were infected and having to take time off work.

David McGuire, from Penryn, said he had been trying to get a test for his 12-year-old daughter who developed cold-like symptoms when she went back to school.

He spent two days trying, even setting an alarm every hour through the night to try get one online.

A test is now on its way in the post, but he told the BBC the system was a shambles.

He said: "It would be funny if it wasn't so serious, and scary, and didn't have such impacts on people.

"The kids my daughter had been at school with are still there because we haven't had a test result."

Tracey, from Plymouth, also said she had experienced problems with getting a test after developing a cough, including "trying in the middle of the night to book it, but there's been nothing at all".

One person told the BBC that, at the weekend, about 100 cars were parked in test and trace station in Exeter, with people having driven up to 115 miles to get there and "all were told to turn around and go home by distressed staff and police" because they did not have a QR code.

Conservative St Ives MP Derek Thomas said pressure could be taken off the testing system if people with no symptoms were not clogging it up.

Home Secretary Priti Patel defended the system on Tuesday, telling the BBC capacity was increasing.

Covid testing centre

'Rule of Six' may 'hurt police and public's relationship'

BBC Radio Cornwall

The Police Federation in Devon and Cornwall says the relationship between the public and the police risks being damaged by the new coronavirus "Rule of Six".

Under the new rules for England, which came into force on Monday, only up to six people from multiple households are allowed to meet up, applying both indoors and outdoors, and to all ages.

So, gatherings in private homes, venues such as pubs and restaurants, and in outdoor spaces such as parks are all affected.

Devon and Cornwall Police Commissioner Alison Hernadez said on Monday that people should call officers if they saw others breaking the new rule, which aims to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

But the federation, which represents rank and file officers up to the level of chief inspector, said there was bound to be resentment if officers had to break up family gatherings or children's parties.

Local federation chairman Insp Andy Berry tweeted that officers were already "run ragged with serious incidents across the force" and policing events like children’s parties which broke the rule "cannot be a priority as well".

He told the BBC he would prefer it if it was not part of police duties.

It's not the kind of thing that we're used to doing. We're used to doing tough jobs and having hard conversations with people, but ... I don't think me and my colleagues think it is any good for our relationship with the public. I don't think the public want to see us doing it either, if I'm honest."

Insp Andy BerryChairman, Devon and Cornwall Police Federation
View more on twitter

Lorraine Cox: Woods searched in murder inquiry

Sarah Ransome

BBC Radio 5 live

Lorraine Cox

Police are carrying out an extensive search at woods in east Devon in connection with the murder of a woman who went missing at the beginning of the month, officers have confirmed.

Lorraine Cox was last seen in the early hours of the morning in Exeter City Centre on 1 September. The 32-year-old was reported missing two days later.

An area of Exeter was cordoned off last week and police said they had launched a murder investigation. Senior officers have not elaborated on whether a body has been found or what information led them to believe she had been killed.

Further searches are taking place in woods near the town of Newton St Cyres, about 5 miles from Exeter.

Last Saturday, a 22-year-old man charged with Lorraine's murder appeared in the city's magistrates' .

Christopher Mayer, of no fixed address, is due to appear before Exeter Crown Court via videolink on Tuesday.

Five men - aged 22, 30, 33, 43 and 71 - who were arrested by investigating officers, have been released on bail until 7 October.

Lorraine Cox investigation

People 'should call police over Rule of Six breaches'

BBC Radio Devon

People in Cornwall and Devon should call police if they see others breaking the new "Rule of Six", which aims to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the counties' police commissioner has said.

The rule has come into force in England, limiting the size of social gatherings to six people, including children, to try to stop the spread of Covid-19.

People will face fines of up to £3,200 if they repeatedly flout the law.

Commissioner Alison Hernandez said there were several ways to contact police, including an online web chat facility with officers in the control room.

Alison Hernandez

You should call the police if you have concerns about people having big parties in your neighbour's house. That's absolutely something you can contact the police on. ... Fundamentally, as we've always done all summer, police will use their 'Four Es' approach: engage with people, explain the rules, encourage them to comply; then, if they don't, enforce."

Alison HernandezDevon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner

MPs to vote against bill to override Brexit agreement

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Two Devon MPs have said they will vote against the government's attempts to override the Brexit withdrawal agreement when it comes before the House of Commons.

If approved, the Internal Market Bill would go against the agreement signed by the UK and European Union earlier this year.

Former attorney general and Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox has accused Boris Johnson of doing "unconscionable" damage to Britain's international reputation with such a plan.

Mr Cox backed Brexit and was the government's top legal adviser when the withdrawal agreement was drawn up.

South West Devon MP Gary Streeter has tweeted that he "will not be supporting the government" over the bill".

He said he would publicly explain his reasons in a Facebook article later this week

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse has called the bill a "practical" step. He echoed comments made by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland on Sunday, who said the bill was an "insurance policy" just in case the UK and EU do not agree a post-Brexit trade deal.

View more on twitter

Exeter Nightingale Hospital receives retrospective approval

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Nightingale hospital sign

Retrospective plans to build the Exeter Nightingale Hospital on the site of the former Homebase store in Sowton have been approved.

The new NHS Nightingale Hospital, comprising of five wards and 120 bed spaces, was initially designed to cope with a surge of Covid-19 cases.

However the site was repurposed for those needing other treatments, particularly cancer testing, after the numbers in the south west remained lower than anticipated.

A hospital reception, pharmacy, kitchen space, changing rooms, lockers, showers and other facilities, are also included as part of the planning application.

The application was submitted in July and approved by planning officers from Exeter City Council last week.

The temporary permission means that use of the site must cease on or before 30 September 2022, with the decision notice issued stating it was unsuitable on a permanent basis for this area.

NHS Spitfire takes to South West skies

Rebecca Thorn

BBC News

People at Falmouth hospital looking up at the sky

Residents in Devon and Cornwall ventured out of their homes to catch a sight of the NHS Spitfire on Saturday.

The plane has the words "Thank U NHS" hand-written across its body to celebrate the work of healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The spitfire flew over many of the south west's hospitals including Torbay, Derriford, the Royal Cornwall Hospital, and Newquay, before landing in the town's airport.

The public are now being given the chance to have their own names written on the spitfire in return for a donation.

NHS Thank U Spitfire
George Lewis Romain
People stood looking up into the sky

Coronavirus: Rule of Six on gatherings comes into force

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Bantham beach

Rules have come into force in England, limiting the size of social gatherings to six people, including children, to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

People will face fines of up to £3,200 if they repeatedly flout the law.

The new "Rule of Six" will deal a hammer blow to self catering businesses in Devon, according to the chairman of the South West Tourism Alliance.

Alistair Handyside, who also owns holiday cottages in East Devon, also told the BBC that what mattered now was what would happen over the next few weeks in the run-up to the festive season.

He said: "If we don't get December with Christmas and New Year, which are peak weeks, we will see carnage, we honestly will."

The government said the new rule "simplifies and strengthens the rules on social gatherings, making them easier to understand and easier for the police to enforce" in its bid to tackle coronavirus, which had seen a recent "rapid increase in the number of daily positive cases".

Devon vicar embarks on Mayflower pilgrimage

BBC Radio Devon

A vicar from Devon is leading a new pilgrimage this week to mark the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.

Reverend Martin Warren is the rector of the Torridge Team of Churches, living in Shebbear.

He and a team of fellow walkers are following the South West Coast Path from Dartmouth to Plymouth and will visit churches along the way.

He said he was "especially" pleased it could ahead amid increasing coronavirus restrictions.

Propellers strike runway as plane's landing gear fails

Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

BBC News

The propellers of a plane flown by a trainee pilot struck a runway at Exeter Airport after the landing gear failed to lock down, a report has said.

The Beechcraft Super King Air 200 took off on 20 March from Bristol Airport as part of pilot training.

The 59-year-old pilot and a second pilot were the only people on board.

According to a report by the Air Accidents Investigations Branch, the intention was to complete a landing before returning to Bristol.

Eyewitnesses reported "seeing the aircraft touch down with the landing gear retracted and its propellers striking the runway".

Both pilots remembered seeing three green lights suggesting the landing gear had been lowered - but this was not the case.

Both pilots heard a "loud metallic noise as its propellers struck the runway" before they stopped the landing and flew back into the air.

The plane managed to perform a go-around and landed safely after the landing gear was lowered using an emergency procedure.

The report said it was not possible to positively determine how the aircraft had come to touch down with its landing gear retracted.

Devon residents urged to follow coronavirus restrictions

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Devon residents are being urged to do their bit to reduce coronavirus spreading in the county after a rise in cases.

While the number of cases being confirmed still remains relatively low, recent days have seen an increase in infections, with 53 cases in the last seven days, compared to 42 the previous week.

Dr Virginia Pearson, Devon’s director of Public Health, said that not all of the new cases were linked to returning international holidaymakers, which had been the pattern previously.

She said: "The virus is still here and it is very easy to get infected, especially indoors.

"I am therefore urging all Devon residents, of all ages, but specifically to our younger residents who perhaps do not feel the risk felt by older and more vulnerable residents, to follow the public health advice at all times."

There are current 6.6 cases being confirmed per 100,000 population in Devon, compared to the national average of 20.2, and the demographics were mainly in working aged people, according to public health specialist Maria Moloney-Lucey.

Cases would need to triple to reach the level where they would be put on the government’s watchlist, with cases needing to be about 10 times higher than they currently are before any ‘local lockdown’ rules may be imposed.

Exeter leisure centres free for current members

Miles Davis

BBC News Online

Pyramids Leisure Centre

Exeter’s leisure centres are set to open again in the coming weeks following extensive work to ensure they are safe to use.

Each centre will now be run under the direct management of Exeter City Council rather than being outsourced to a private company.

Memberships were frozen during lockdown and the council said there would be no charge for current members until at least 1 January 2021.

The council's plan is to open the ISCA Centre and Exeter Arena on 28 September, Wonford Sports Centre and Northbrook Swimming Pool on 5 October and Pyramids Swimming Pool and Riverside on 12 October.

Information about new memberships at reduced rates will be available shortly.

Council leader Phil Bialyk said: “This is a fresh start for our leisure centres, and it is great that the service has been taken back in-house by the council.

“Our aim is to create top class facilities for the people of Exeter, as part of our drive to remain one of the healthiest and most active locations in the country.”

Calls for council to hold virtual meetings into 2021

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The financial and environmental impact of the switch to holding virtual council meetings will be assessed by Devon County Council as calls have been made to enable them to continue into 2021 and beyond.

The authority has held all its meetings virtually since the country went into lockdown in March, and Wednesday’s virtual cabinet meeting heard that early indications showed a saving of £20,338 when compared to the first four months of 2019/20 on public transport, travel, catering and subsistence.

Virtual meeting

Councillor Frank Biederman, leader of the Independent Group, had put forward a motion to July’s full council meeting, calling for the Procedures Committee to consider a report on meetings in the future and what committees, briefings and task groups could meet virtually.

Wednesday’s cabinet meeting saw the committee unanimously recommended that full council, when they meet in October, agree to the request and the Procedures Committee be asked to debate the issues raised by the motion.

Covid-19 'is not going away' warns paramedic

BBC Radio Devon

As Prime Minister Boris Johnson urges people to stick to the government's new 'rule of six' to try to slow the increase in Covid-19 infections, a Devon paramedic is calling on the public to take it seriously and practice social distancing.

Mark Walker says the recent news about more cases should be a wake-up call.

"It's not going away.

"We are making life more difficult for ourselves by not listening to what we are told - not wearing facial coverings, not avoiding large social gatherings... and it is going to come back and bite us."

people with face masks
Getty Images

University to offer Covid-19 tests to students

BBC Radio Devon

The University of Exeter has signed a contract with a private company to buy thousands of coronavirus tests for students and staff.

The deal, which is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, will allow large numbers to be tested throughout the academic year, with results provided within 24 hours. The tests will be offered to those with symptoms and in high risk areas.

Sean Fielding, the university's director of innovation, impact and business, told BBC Radio Devon the testing is "just part of that safety approach that we have developed and if we can get the community on campus to be safe then that means the communities around us can be safe too."

Getty Images

Huge Exeter site will be turned into flu jab hub

Devon Live

Exeter's large Matford Centre, used for car boots and livestock sales, will host clinics to ensure vulnerable patients don’t miss out on their free flu jabs this year, Devon Live reports.

Tracy Higginbottom said she had never experienced such aggression in more than 20 years
Tracy Higginbottom said she had never experienced such aggression in more than 20 years of service.

Two Derriford staff test positive for coronavirus

BBC Spotlight

Two staff at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth have tested positive for coronavrius it has emerged.

Derriford Hospital

A spokeswoman said neither members of staff, who work in different areas of the hospital, had shown any symptoms and were "remaining isolated" following government advice.

The hospital, which has more than 8,600 staff, has not closed any wards.

"There has been an increase in the number of cases of confirmed Covid-19 in Plymouth in recent weeks," said the spokeswoman.

"Our staff are part of that Plymouth community and so we were anticipating a possible increase in cases in our patients, our staff or both."

She said "risk of transmission is minimal" between staff and patients because of protection such as masks, aprons, gloves and goggles.

Emergency services warn about 999 and 111 use

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Devon and Cornwall Police are asking people to be careful of so-called pocket dialling on mobile phones after a number of recent incidents of problems with people calling 999 by accident.

Officers said they received such 999 calls every day and were asking people to lock their screens before putting phones in pockets.

They said it was also important to supervise children if they were playing on a phone.

Police also asked people not to hang up if they dialled 999 in error, and instead speak to the operator so they knew the caller was safe.

Meanwhile, the Royal Cornwall Hospital has said it had seen an increase in the number of people turning up at its emergency department rather than contacting the NHS's 111 service first.

Hospital staff turned to social media over the weekend to reiterate the message that the 111 system helped them manage arrivals and maintain social distancing while the hospital was running at reduced capacity.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter