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Drink spiking 'doubled in three years'

Alcoholic drinks
Getty Images

New students at Bath Spa University are getting drug spiking test cards in a bid to improve their personal safety.

Avon and Somerset police figures show 41 reported incidents of drink spiking in 2015, rising to 85 in 2018.

The police said some cases were not reported, so the figure may be higher.

Rebekah Self from the university's student' union said: "With it being a student's first experience of nightlife, we want them to be as safe as possible."

She said the union was working with the university to include the testing kits in welcome packs.

To read more on this story, click here.

Police appeal after taxi driver stabbed

Wiltshire police logo
Wiltshire Police

A taxi driver was stabbed in what police are calling an unprovoked and "violent attack".

Wiltshire Police are looking for witnesses following the incident, which took place on 15 June in Dawlish Road in Swindon.

At around 5.30am the taxi driver picked up two men and one woman from a nightclub. As they approached Dawlish Road the passengers became abusive towards the driver.

Following an argument in the car, one of the men stabbed the driver before all three ran away towards Radstock Avenue.

Image of Dawlish Road in Swindon

The taxi driver suffered minor injuries and was released from hospital the same day.

Police officer Adrian Bray said: “This was an unprovoked attack on someone who was simply doing his job."

He added: "It could have been very different due to the violent nature of the attack."

Officers are continuing their investigations into the incident and have said they believe they know who the suspects are.

Wiltshire Police are looking for any witnesses who were in the Dawlish Road area of Swindon or who may have further information to contact them immediately on 101 quoting crime reference number 54190057409.

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Lioness photographed up 20-metre tree

Lion in a tree
Longleat Safari Park

A lion at Longleat Safari Park has been photographed in the branches of a 20-metre-tall tree.

Staff said the eight-year-old animal, named Kiana, had always been a "keen climber" but they had never before seen her so far from the ground.

She climbed the giant sycamore in her enclosure within the park, which is close to Warminster in Wiltshire and Frome in Somerset, and was photographed by keeper Caleb Hall.

Mr Hall said: “Many of our lionesses do go up trees here at Longleat, but there are a few particular individuals who seem to do it just for fun and Kiana is definitely one of those."

He said the behaviour was also seen in the wild by lions seeking "shade or a cooling breeze away from the heat of the ground or to avoid insects or animals threatening the lions".

Lion in a tree
Longleat Safari Park
Lion in a tree
Longleat Safari Park
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New patient transport service begins

A new transport service has started for non-emergency patients in Bath and North East Somerset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire.

E-zec will run the service for patients who cannot travel by other means due to a medical condition or mobility need.

Patients who want to make use of the service need to be assessed against national eligibility criteria.

E-zec delivers services across the UK and currently provides non-emergency patient transport services across Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

Miniature house builders
Wiltshire couple Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers create some of the most expensive doll's houses made.

Important changes to how you get your TV programmes

Changes are being made to the way some channels are broadcast on Freeview on June 5.

You may need to retune your TV equipment to continue watching programmes when these take place in your area.

More details about what to do can be found by clicking here. Scroll down for full information.

You can also call the Freeview Advice Line free on 0808 100 0288

Watch to find details of what to do to make sure you can keep watching programmes after June 5

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.

View more on twitter

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.

View more on twitter

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.