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Bristol fire: People in sheltered accommodation evacuated
Ten fire crews tackled the blaze at an industrial unit in the Redfield area of Bristol.

Sheltered housing evacuated due to fire

Bristol fire: People in sheltered accommodation evacuated
Vulnerable people living in sheltered housing were evacuated from their homes after a fire took hold in a nearby industrial unit.

Kitchen gutted in frying pan fire

Kitchen fire
Avon Fire and Rescue

A kitchen was gutted in a frying pan fire in Bath.

Three crews from Bath fire station were called to the property in Rush Hill in the Odd Down area of the city at about 16:30 GMT on Thursday.

A woman in her 60s and a man in his 70s were taken to hospital.

How would you like to see Exmoor National Park develop?

Valley of Rocks, Exmoor
Exmoor National Park Authority
The Valley of Rocks in Exmoor National Park

Exmoor National Park is reminding people who live, work or just love to visit the area to have their say on how they'd like to see it develop.

The government is holding a consultation over England's protected landscapes and the deadline is next Tuesday to submit your views.

Exmoor was designated a National Park in 1954 and is one of 10 National Parks and 34 AONBs in England.

Our National Parks are special places where people can experience some of the nation’s most iconic scenery, wildlife and heritage. If you value these landscapes, whether from near or far, it’s vital your views are heard.

Sarah BryanChief executive of National Park Authority

Breeding success for Cranes

Common crane
PA

A project to re-introduce cranes to the UK, that began on the Somerset Levels, has led to the most successful year for the birds since the 17th Century.

The RSPB said a record 54 pairs of common cranes produced 25 chicks in the UK this year, bringing the population up to 180.

Several of the birds, which stand 120cm (4ft) tall, were released locally as part of the "great crane project" in 2010.

Wild cranes are now breeding in the Norfolk Broads, East Anglian Fens, Yorkshire and east Scotland as well as in south-west England.

Cranes were once found throughout the UK, but disappeared from Britain over 400 years ago because of hunting for food, and the draining of their wetland breeding areas. To see them starting to spread back across the country after all this time is just brilliant - and a true reflection of how important the UK's wetland habitats are to cranes as well as the many other species they support.

Damon BridgeUK Crane Working Group

Detective fired for providing false evidence

A police officer who lied to a court about identifying the body of a dead man has been sacked.

DS Nicholas Eckland told Bristol Crown Court during a pre-trial hearing that he had attended the mortuary despite having not carried out the task.

He was found guilty of gross misconduct during a hearing held by Avon and Somerset Police.

Mel Evans, from the police watchdog, said it was a "serious breach of the standards expected of officers".

Aerial ladder platforms tested 'after cracks found'

Ben Woolvin

BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

A South West fire service has been "experiencing technical difficulties" with its aerial ladder platforms after cracks were found.

Earlier the BBC reported five out of the seven appliances at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service had been taken out of use after a routine inspection found evidence of cracks in some of the steel arms that support the platforms.

In a statement the service said it "has been working with the manufacturers to test the vehicles before making them available again for operational use".

"A number of aerial appliances are still available to be used at incidents and have been strategically located across the service.

"The remaining appliances will be returned to duty as soon as they have been tested and deemed suitable for use. Standard fire appliances are not affected by these technical difficulties."

Trading Standards targets fake goods on Facebook

Facebook
AFP

Trading Standards in Somerset is working with Facebook sellers to try to stop fake goods being sold on the social media platform.

It has contacted more than 50 administrators of 25 groups in our area with membership totalling nearly half a million.

Trading Standards says sellers of counterfeit items are often linked with organised crime and in some cases goods can be faulty, or even dangerous, as they don't undergo safety checks.

Facebook has previously said it does not tolerate fraudulent activity.

Fire service ladders out of action due to safety fears

Ben Woolvin

BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

Most of the aerial ladder platforms in the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are currently out of action because of a concern about their safety, the BBC understands.

Five out of the seven appliances have been taken out of use after a routine inspection found evidence of cracks in some of the steel arms that support the platforms.

Fire service management are meeting to discuss the results of the engineering tests which have been carried out.

SWAS running major emergency training for ambulance drivers

Ambulances
BBC

South Western Ambulance Service is giving its paramedics extra training in case they have to face a major emergency such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

The service has teamed up with Bournemouth University's Disaster Management Centre to be able to deal with situations like hazardous chemical incidents, terrorist bombs, or firearms attacks.

Clean air zone decision delayed

A decision on Bath’s clean air zone will be delayed after an "unprecedented" number of people had their say on the proposals.

Bath and North East Somerset Council could be at risk of legal challenge if it fails to take into account the more than 8,000 concerns raised during its public consultation.

The proposals include charging high-emission cars £9 a day and high-emission lorries £100 a day.

A final decision has now been pushed back to March.

Air pollution
BBC

How will West Conservatives vote?

Paul Barltrop

Political Editor, West of England

Five West Conservatives are likely to vote against Theresa May in tonight's vote of no confidence:

Jacob Rees Mogg A leading critic of her policy. Today he is not doing interviews, but has tweeted: "The country needs a new leader, it is time for Mrs May to resign."

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown of the Cotswolds revealed he wants a new leader, and James Gray of North Wiltshire is thought likely to vote for change.

Two other West Conservatives keeping their cards close to their chests are Mark Harper of the Forest of Dean and Ian Liddell-Grainger of Bridgwater & West Somerset.

The West's 18 other Tory MPs have indicated publicly that they are staying loyal to Theresa May in the vote later.

The vote is taking place between 18:00 GMT and 20:00 GMT. A result is expected by 22:00 GMT at the latest.

Family tribute to woman who died 'leaning out of train'

Bethan Roper
Family handout

The family of Bethan Roper, who died after being critically injured on a train to Bristol Temple Meads, have paid tribute to their daughter. Police believe the 28-year-old was leaning out of the window when she was killed on 1 December.

All of us who knew Bethan have been very privileged. She was beautiful in every way. Our pain couldn’t be sharper or more justified, but I know that her goodness and fullness of spirit will live on in our hearts and actions.

Adrian RoperBethan's father

Hospitals under pressure: The statistics

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

Two of England's NHS trusts spent more than a third of the year under extreme pressure.

Trusts in Cornwall and Leicester topped the statistics in a BBC investigation into how many days hospitals spend on Opel 4.

Operations Pressure Escalation Levels (Opel) is a method used across the NHS to find a constant measure of stress, demand and pressure.

Opel 4 is the highest level, declared when a hospital is "unable to deliver comprehensive care" and patient safety could be compromised.

Chart showing days spent on high alert by NHS hospital trusts.
BBC
  • Nearly 70% of NHS trusts responded to the BBC's investigation
  • More than 40 said they did not declare a single day of Opel 4 between September 2017 and September 2018
  • Fourteen trusts had 20 days or more on Opel 4 in the same period

'Facebook discrimination' PC to appeal against tribunal

A former Avon and Somerset police constable who was found guilty of gross misconduct for sharing “discriminatory” Facebook posts is appealing the decision.

Jeanette Cadden was found to have breached the professional standards for equality and diversity and for discreditable conduct and was dismissed from the force without notice in December 2017.

She now intends to go back to the police HQ in Portishead for an appeal tribunal on December 18.

The Police Appeals Tribunal rules say Ms Cadden can appeal if she believes the ruling against her was unreasonable, there is evidence which could have affected the decision, or there was a breach of the procedures.

It has not been revealed what grounds she is appealing on.

The misconduct hearing last year ruled a number of posts Ms Cadden had shared on her private account were discriminatory.

Avon and Somerset Police
Google

Brexit: Concerns over 'demand' on local authorities

Rob England

BBC News Online

A political group in the South West has called on the government for "more information and more engagement" over Brexit.

A letter has been sent to the minister for housing communities and local government from members of the Heart of the South West group, which is made up of 23 local authority and NHS organisations from Devon and Somerset.

Members said they were "concerned about the potential increased demand on local authorities in areas such as Trading Standards and environmental health" post Brexit, especially due to existing funding restrictions.

A spokesman for the group said it was "frustrated by a lack of information from Westminster" which was "hindering the local assessment of the likely impact of Brexit" on the area.

Union flag and EU flag
Getty Images

We have no desire to enter into the politics of Brexit, our only interest is in practical steps that would protect the best interests of the 1.7 million residents and 89,000 businesses that are in the... area."

Councillor David FothergillSomerset County Council Leader

Bath CAZ decision delayed due to 'legal challenge concerns'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Stephen Sumner

the clean air zones proposed map
Crown Copyright

A decision on Bath’s clean air zone will be delayed after an "unprecedented" 8,400 people had their say on the proposals.

Bath and North East Somerset Council could be at risk of legal challenge if it fails to take into account all of the concerns raised during its public consultation.

They spanned issues including rat runs, the impact on businesses and the wider economy, and claims the charges were a “stealth tax” that will hit the poor the hardest.

The council has been ordered by the government to prepare a final plan for a scheme to bring down nitrogen dioxide levels by Monday, December 31 and cabinet members were due to make a decision next week.

The 8,400 responses to consultation are thought to be a record for B&NES Council. Some responses were up to 64 pages long, the authority has said.

The council is proposing to charge: £9 for higher emission, non-compliant cars, taxis and LGVs or vans, £100 for higher emission, non-compliant buses, coaches and HGVs.

Council members will receive an update in March.

BreakingWoman who died 'leaning out of train window' is named

Bethan Roper
Cardiff School of Journalism/PA

A woman who died from serious head injuries suffered on a train was a charity worker returning from a Christmas shopping trip with friends.

Bethan Roper, 28, was killed on the Bristol Temple Meads-bound service on 1 December.

Police believe her injuries were caused when she leaned out of a train window.

The charity worker and chair of a young socialist group was returning to her home in South Wales after spending the day at Bath's Christmas Market with friends when she suffered the fatal blow to her head.

British Transport Police said its initial inquiries suggested Miss Roper may have been leaning out of a carriage window at the time.

Miss Roper, from Penarth, South Wales, was working for the Welsh Refugee Council at the time of her death, having graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2013.

Councils agree to invest £100k support new local bank

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Two Devon councils say they are to invest a total of £100,000 to support the creation of a local bank "to support the local economy".

South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council said the bank, known for now as South West Mutual, would be "owned by its members and would pursue only what is in the customers' best interests".

The new venture, proposed to be first ever high street bank dedicated to Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset, is still subject to regulatory approvals.

South Hams leader Councillor John Tucker, said the authorities were supporting the initiative - supported by money generated from a business rates pilot, not council tax - because local branches of the big banks were "being lost at an astonishing rate".

The councils admitted the proposal was "not without risk", but, without the funding, "benefits to the local economy may never be realised".

Banking
Getty Images

'Major emergency' training for ambulance staff

BBC Spotlight

Ambulance crews from Devon and Cornwall have been working with Bournemouth University to prepare for "major emergencies" involving a large number of casualties.

South Western Ambulance Service said it was working with the university's Disaster Management Centre on the training, which includes preparation for hazardous chemical incidents, terrorist bombs, or firearms attacks.

SWAS crews
BBC

Robert Flute from SWASFT, said it was important for crews to prepare...

Bath Christmas market organisers want extra week next year

Bath Christmas market
BBC

Organisers of the Bath Christmas Market say they'll be applying to run the event for an extra week next winter.

Visit Bath extended the markets into Milsom Street this year for the first time, with businesses near Bath's main shopping street reporting an upturn in takings as a result.

Terror arrest suspect from Bath: House search completed

Police say the search of a house has been completed in connection with the arrest of a 21-year-old man from Bath on suspicion of terrorism offences.

The man was arrested on suspicion of possessing material useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism and conspiracy to inspire racial or religious hatred.

A 17-year-old man from London and an 18-year-old man from Portsmouth were also arrested.

Ch Insp Steve Kendall, area commander for Bath and North East Somerset, said: "I'd like to reassure people there was no immediate threat to the public when the arrest took place this morning."

Police
BBC

BreakingExtreme right wing arrest in Bath

Police investigating extreme right wing activity in the UK have made three arrests.

They arrested a 21-year-old man from Bath, a 17-year-old man from London, and an 18-year-old man from Portsmouth.

The 21-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possessing material useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism and conspiracy to inspire racial or religious hatred.

The 17-year-old was arrested on suspicion of encouraging terrorism, dissemination of terrorist publications, and conspiracy to inspire racial or religious hatred.

The 18-year-old was arrested on suspicion of encouraging terrorism and dissemination of terrorist publications.

Searches are ongoing at properties in Bath, London, Portsmouth and Leeds.

The arrests were made by officer from the North East Counter Terrorism Unit.

It is understood the investigation relates to activity by a neo-Nazi group called the Sonnenkrieg Division.

The police said the arrests were pre-planned and not in response to the BBC story yesterday about Sonnenkrieg.

Families launch legal challenge against council over cuts

James Craig

Politics reporter, BBC Somerset

The families of two disabled children in Somerset have launched a legal challenge against the county council - over cuts to services it agreed earlier this year.

The legal challenge centres on cuts which were voted through by Somerset County councillors in September, as part of a bid to rescue its financial position.

Now two Somerset families of children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) claim several of those are unlawful and are calling on the council to reverse them.

They argue the organisation failed to adequately consult with people who would be affected by measures including cutting funding for youth groups and axing jobs from the early years support service Getset.

Somerset is the latest in a growing number of areas around the country – including Bristol, Surrey and Hackney in London - where families of SEND children have launched legal action against the authorities.

Somerset County Council has said it “has made a series of difficult decisions over the past few months which has involved considerable engagement, and consultation where appropriate.”

It adds, “that does not mean we do not have enormous sympathy and understanding for all those who do no support these decisions.”

West country weather warning: heavy rains heading our way later

Delays after three-car crash in Bristol

Drivers are being told to expect delays around the St Philips area of Bristol after a crash involving three cars.

Police, paramedics and fire crews are at the scene.

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Coroner calls for clarification on 999 responses after asthma death

Stephen Hartwell Thurman-Newell
BBC

A coroner is calling for clarification on how asthma attacks are handled by emergency services - following the death a man from Somerset.

Retired policeman Stephen Hartwell Thurman-Newell, 62, dialled 999 but it took 17 minutes for an ambulance to be dispatched, which was too late to save him.

His family are pursuing a medical negligence claim against South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS).

SWAS says it has implemented further staff training and now classifies asthma attacks as the highest emergency category.