England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Eleven phone boxes up for adoption

Local Democracy Reporting Service


Communities have less than 50 days to save 11 phone boxes across Bath and North East Somerset.

BT has identified kiosks from Keynsham to Radstock that are increasingly redundant and plans to remove them.

For £1, the price of a phone call, councils, charities and landowners can step in and “adopt” them.

Since the launch of the scheme, more than 5,000 communities across the UK have taken up the offer.

Some have been transformed into libraries, art galleries and shops, filled with plants like in Bath’s Southgate shopping centre, or used to house life-saving kit like defibrillators.

It comes after the use of payphones has fallen by 90% over the past decade.

The kiosks can be adopted by Bath and North East Somerset Council, town or parish councils, registered charities, and anyone who has a phone box on their land.

But it is not available to other individuals, community groups such as residents associations or commercial organisations.

Cricket giants ready for T20 clash


Gloucestershire take on Somerset tonight in Bristol in the T20 Blast in front of a sell out crowd.

The two teams should have played each other in Taunton a week ago but the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled, because of rain.

Both sides can still qualify for the knock out stages by finishing in the top four of their division.

Fire service vows to listen to concerns over station closures


Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service says it will listen to people's concerns over proposal to close a number of stations - including Porlock.

It comes after people in Minehead staged a protest in the town yesterday, claiming services there could be affected if nearby Porlock was shut.

The fire service first unveiled the proposals in June, saying it needed to save money and review where its resources are most needed.

Lisa Wells' family to turn home town pink

Lisa Wells

The family of a Somerset mother who died from bowel cancer is asking the people in their town to help turn it pink this bank holiday weekend in her memory.

Lisa Wells, from Frome, raised more than £50,000 for charity and campaigned for the age of bowel cancer screening to be lowered.

Her family say they will continue to raise money for the causes she believed in, and her husband Dan has now asked Frome residents and followers of her charity Lisa's Army to transform the town.

Flowers are being left at the Market Cross in the town centre already.

She died at a hospice last Saturday.

Friday morning's BBC radio headlines

Radio studio

Radio Bristol: The landlady of the last pub in Lawrence Weston in Bristol says she's been told it has to close in a few weeks' time. Beverley Gardner-Ponting has run the Giant Goram for the past four years, but says she's been told the pub has been sold off and could be demolished.

BBC Gloucestershire: Waste is currently being diverted to landfill after technical problems at Gloucestershire's new incinerator - near junction 12 of the M5. It's after issues were detected during testing. Deliveries to the site will resume next week.

BBC Somerset: A national review into hospital food is set to be chaired by the former head of the Hospital Caterers Association for Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Philip Shelley. It comes following the deaths of six people due to a listeria outbreak.

BBC Wiltshire: Last night, the emergency services made sure they're prepared for the holiday weekend getaway as they simulated a real-life emergency at Honda's test track in Swindon.

Ecologist explores issues of wild boar numbers in the West

Wild boar at Glastonbury Tor composite

A Somerset-based ecologist has been exploring the impact of the growing numbers of wild boars in the West Country.

Matt Mellen, who runs the Ecohustler website has been speaking to Ben Goldsmith, the brother of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith about the issue - following this BBC article about the animals being spotted near Longleat in Wiltshire.

Ben, farms in Bruton,and is very supportive about wild boars repopulating our forests and woodlands.

You can read more about his article here.

BBC local radio headlines from across the West

Radio studio

Radio Bristol: The boss of the Bristol Playbus charity, which has been forced to close due to funding cuts, says more organisations will be lost unless the sector is given more money.

BBC Somerset: More farmers are seeking help to cope during tough times - according to the Somerset-based charity the Farming Community Network.

BBC Wiltshire: Swindon could lose a major supermarket from its town centre - in a move that would put more than 100 jobs at risk. Morrisons has told staff it's investing in four new shops, and is no longer sure about its future at Regents Circus.

BBC Gloucestershire: Some community groups in Gloucestershire say families - who rely on free school meals during term time - are increasingly battling with "holiday hunger".

Appeal to find missing Bristol man whose car was found in Wales

Leighton Tibbot
Family photo

Police are searching for a man from Bristol whose car was found abandoned in south Wales.

Leighton Tibbott, 41, from Bradley Stoke was last seen at around midday on Monday.

His red Ford B-Max has been found by South Wales Police at a public car park at Monknash.

Avon and Somerset Police said his disappearance is out of character.

He is described as about 6ft 4ins tall, with short dark brown hair and was last seen wearing jeans and a red polo shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the force.

New housing development gets go-ahead

A new primary school could also be built close to A38

Daniel Mumby

Local Democracy Reporter

Plans for a major new housing development have been approved for Highbridge in Somerset.

Barratt Homes put forward plans for 171 homes on part of the Brue Farm site, which could eventually become a site for up to 550 dwellings.

The development includes providing land for a new primary school and constructing a new roundabout which could help to unlock the rest of the site.

Members of Sedgemoor District Council’s development committee voted on Tuesdayto approve the plans – despite concerns about how close the school would be to the A38.

Phil Harvey, who sits on Highbridge and Burnham Town Council, said it did not make sense to site the school so close to the main road.

He said: “The existing legal agreements on the site do not prevent its early delivery.

“It should not be near to and accessed from the A38, which is a very busy road.”

His concerns were shared by councillor Mike Murphy, who questioned whether building a new school near the main road would harm pupils’ health.

He said: “The A38 is a very busy main A road.

“This worsens when there are issues on the M5, which are almost constant. “We all know as residents that this road can be rammed with traffic.

Plans for the new school
Barratt Homes

“We will have young children starting their school lives with vehicle noise and fumes.”

Planning officer Dawn de Vries said more detailed proposals for the school would come forward in the coming months, including landscaping proposals to protect children from passing traffic. #

She indicated the school could be built in time to open in 2022, but that she was still awaiting confirmation from Somerset County Council over the official timescale.

Councillor Tony Grimes said: “This is the best option to open up this site and deliver a much-needed school in the area.

“The roundabout is absolutely essential.”

Under the current plans, none of the 171 homes will be classed as ‘affordable’, with Barratt Homes citing the cost of the infrastructure and the unusual topography of the wider Brue Farm site.

Chris Dolling, agent for Barratt Homes in Bristol, said: “This is the best and only viable option for the site.

“There is a significant cost in delivering the vital pieces of infrastructure, which have been prioritised in this case.”

Stuart Houlet, the council’s senior manager for development management, said affordable homes could be added at a later date if the site proved more profitable for the developer than anticipated.

He said: “We are putting a referral mechanism in so that ultimately if a developer’s profitability increased there would be the possibility of claw-back.”

The committee voted to approve the plans by a margin of ten votes to two, with two abstentions.

Future challenges to South West Water supplies outlined

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online


South West Water is facing significant challenges with climate change and the increasing demand for supply, bosses say.

Thousands of new homes are being built in the South West every year, while the population expands over the summer with tourists.

According to the company's head of water resources, Rob Scarrott, the "very high demands" over the summer grows by as much as 30%.

Wimbleball Reservoir on Exmoor is refilled in the winter months by pumping water from downstream to ensure it's full for the summer.

Mr Scarrot said that climate change and population growth would affect water supplies in the coming decades.

"The environment is going to look quite different that what we have today, and we need to plan for that," he said.

However, he added that the company planned 25 years in advance and was "confident" that it had the plans in place for this period.

South West Water provides water and sewerage services to Devon and Cornwall, plus small parts of Dorset and Somerset.

South West Water

More pictures from Pines Cafe fire

Three fire engines from Taunton, Bridgwater and Nether Stowey rushed to Pines Cafe in the Quantocks in the early hours of this morning.

No cause has yet been established.

Pines Cafe ruins
Pines Cafe ruins

Quantocks cafe destroyed in overnight fire

Cafe fire
Tom Williams

A cafe building in the Quantocks which was built nearly 100 years ago has been destroyed in a fire.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it received reports of the blaze at . Pines Cafe, Buncombe Hill, near Broomfield in the early hours.

Three fire engines from Taunton, Bridgwater and Nether Stowey attended the scene.

A spokesman said upon arrival the crews confirmed the premises were well alight and requested the attendance of two further crews, who from Taunton and Bridgwater.

He said three quarters of the property was damaged by fire before it was brought under control. No cause has yet been established.

The building's owners told BBC Somerset that it was built in 1922, and has been used as a café since 1956.

Renewed appeal to find suspect in Bristol newsagent attack

Avon and Somerset Police

Police still want to identify a man who assaulted a newsagent in Bristol on Sunday.

The attack happened at the newsagents in Gloucester Road at about 7.40am.

A man entered the store while the victim was mopping the floor of the shop.

The suspect then, for no apparent reason, attacked the newsagent who fought him off, forcing the suspect out of the shop. He did not take anything.

The newsagent was not seriously injured, despite being attacked with a knife, which was recovered following the incident.

Avon and Somerset Police initially arrested a suspect, and after further investigation he was released without charge.

Pizza delivery driver attacked by gang

Avon and Somerset Police

Avon and Somerset Police is appealing for information after a pizza delivery driver was assaulted by a group of teenagers in Bristol. The 35-year-old male driver was attacked between 6pm and 6.30pm on Monday in Gatehouse Close, Bishopsworth. The man had just delivered a pizza and was walking back to his car when he was assaulted.

He returned to his place of work and his employers called the police. His colleagues were also made aware of footage of the incident circulating on social media. The man received hospital treatment for bruising and swelling and is now recovering at home.

Motorcyclist collides with cyclist in Bristol

A motorcyclist suffered a head injury when his motorbike hit a cyclist in Bristol.

The incident happened in Connaught Road, Knowle, at around 8pm.

The cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The motorcyclist was taken to hospital where his condition is still being assessed.

Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Devon & Somerset fire cuts: Consultation 'going very well'

Ben Woolvin

BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

Devon and Somerset's assistant chief fire officer says he understands the passionate response from people to proposals to close seven stations in the county, but the bulk of the service's work now is prevention.

A public consultation on the changes has one month left to run.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it wanted to bring an outdated service into the 21st Century.

Pete Bond said the consultation was going "very well, with 1,000 responses".

He also rejected claims from one local councillor that it was confusing and should be suspended.

Fire engine

We haven't had any responses which say people don't understand the options or are not able to make a response to us. When we're talking to people at the public drop-in exhibitions, we're getting clear conversations with them. I think, overall, we followed everything we should have done in making this a valid consultation. I think that's been proven in the results we're getting."

Pete BondAssistant Chief Fire Officer, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

Burnham MIU will be shut for two days this week

Burnham MIU

The NHS trust which runs Somerset's minor injury units says temporary closures and the reduction of opening hours may have to continue until they have enough staff.

The unit at Burnham-on-Sea will be shut on Wednesday and Thursday this week and Shepton's will close early on Thursday.

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust says it's doing everything it can to recruit more emergency nurse practitioners as well as training people to fill the roles.

Man stabbed in the arm on A370

Police officers

Police are appealing for witnesses after a man was stabbed in Congresbury on Sunday.

The incident happened on the A370, near to The Congresbury Arms, North Somerset, at around 2.50pm.

The 51-year-old victim suffered injuries to his arm which needed hospital treatment.

A 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of wounding and being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

Avon and Somerset Police also arrested a second person – a 51-year-old man – on suspicion of being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

Both men have been released under investigation.

Officers want to speak to anyone who saw a silver Mercedes 4x4 being driven on the A370 in Congresbury around 2.50pm on Sunday, as well as anyone who saw any part of the assault.

Great British Bake Off: 2019 contestants revealed

Great British Bake Off
Great British Bakeoff/Channel 4

A vet from Somerset is one of the contestants hoping to win this year's Great British Bake Off.

The show returns to Channel 4 on Tuesday 27 August, the third series since it moved across from BBC One.

The presenters and judges remain the same, with Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig back for another year of puns.

Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith will also be on hand to judge the best bakes produced in the famous white tent.

Tap here to read more.

Warning after cat caught in gin trap

The RSPCA is appealing for information after a cat was left seriously injured after being found with her leg snared in an illegal trap in Somerset.

The tabby and white cat was found on Monday with a gin trap clamped around her front left leg near the Tesco store in Langport.

She was found by a member of the public who contacted Langport Vets after she was discovered trying to get through a fence trailing the trap.

The cat is not microchipped so it has not been possible to find her owner.

Gin trap

We would also ask local people in the area to be vigilant and to keep an eye out for these traps. Not only is it illegal to set a gin trap, it is also illegal to cause an animal to suffer as a result. We have seen domestic animals fall victim to these traps many times.

John PollockRSPCA Inspector

Frome cancer campaigner Lisa Wells dies

Lisa Wells

A mother from Frome, Somerset, who campaigned for the age for bowel cancer screening to be lowered has died of the disease.

Lisa Wells, 32, who set up the charity Lisa's Army, was given a diagnosis of bowel cancer in December 2017.

The government says it is planning to lower the age from 60 to 50 and Public Health England says it'll review screening regularly.

Her husband said a big charity event she organised to help others with the disease on 14 September will still go ahead as planned.

Police investigate series of suspicious fires

Back of police officer

Police are investigating a series of suspicious fires in the Shepton Mallet area.

They happened between 31 July and 6 August in the Millennium Way and Nightingale Grove areas. The fires were reported on:

  • 31 July - early evening started on very dry brush land on Millennium Way, close to a shed in nearby Somerset Close. A fence and two sheds were affected.
  • 1 August – during the afternoon a fire was started with coal and kindling under a hedge running the side of a house just off Millennium Way in Nightingale Grove. The victim and a neighbour extinguished the fire. Shortly afterwards a further small fire was located close to a property off Millennium Way but extinguished by residents.
  • 2 August - two further fires were discovered opposite a house in Millennium Way. There were three small fires discovered later in the area, which were also put out by the fire service.
  • 6 August – a small fire was located on a path closer near to Collett Park Pond which was extinguished by town council staff.

A-Levels: Number of students with top grades fall

Students celebrating
PA Media

The proportion of students achieving the top grades at A-level has fallen to its lowest level for more than a decade, this year's results show.

This year some 25.5% got an A grade or higher - the lowest level since 2007 when it was 25.3%.

Girls narrowly reclaimed the lead from boys, with 25.5% achieving A* and A grades compared with 25.4% of boys.

The overall pass rate remains the same as last year at 97.6% for students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The figures, released by the Joint Council for Qualifications, also show that - for the first time - the number of girls taking the three sciences has overtaken boys at 50.3% compared with 49.6%. There has been a big push to increase the take-up of sciences among girls.

Although far more boys - 30,159 - still took physics A-level, compared with 8,799 girls.

Six weeks after the last A-level exams were taken, more than 300,000 18-year-olds have ended the anxious wait to learn their A-level results.

For more on this year's A-Level results, click here.

Public meeting over hospice closure

Entrance to the hospice

Hundreds of people attended a meeting about the potential closure of St Margaret's Hospice in Yeovil last night.

They're concerned that beds will still close there, despite a consultation.

The Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh wants it to stay open, and says he's spoken to Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the issue.

Traffic light battery theft delay roadworks

Traffic lights

Roadworks on the outskirts of Bridgwater have been delayed because thieves have stolen the batteries powering the temporary traffic lights, twice.

Somerset County Council says its contractor has reported the thefts, which happened on Taunton Road last Friday and on Monday, to the police.

Macmillan charity founder honoured

Macmillan Cancer Support

A blue plaque has been unveiled to honour the founder of Macmillan Cancer Support.

Douglas Macmillan (1884-1969) was born in Castle Cary, Somerset, and started the charity 108 years ago with a donation of just £10.

Local historian David Gee worked tirelessly to locate the house where he lived and was present as the plaque was unveiled during a ceremony on Monday.

"This is the completion of the search to find recognition in the town where he was born, in a form people will recognise," he said.

He was joined by relatives of Mr Macmillan, including John Brewster, his great nephew and godson.

"It's impressive that people want to discover more about Douglas and his roots. People seem appreciative as to what he did and we now have a little reminder firmly attached to the house," said Mr Brewster.

Travelling tonight? Here are planned road closures for the region

Public meeting over hospice closure

St Margaret's Hospice

Hundreds of people are expected at a public meeting tonight about proposals to close inpatient-beds at a hospice in Yeovil.

A meeting was held last week but tonight is the first chance for the public to put their concerns to bosses at St Margaret's Hospice.

They say the plans are because of staffing and funding challenges.

Nearly 20,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the hospice to reconsider.

The meeting takes place at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil at 6.30pm.

Bypass planned for Bridgwater in new roads strategy

Proposal map
Sedgemoor District Council

New plans which lay out the future transport needs of Bridgwater over the next 30 years have been approved by Sedgemoor District Council.

A proposed northern bypass will take traffic away from the town centre and reduce congestion coming in from the north.

Other plans include an upgrade to the ‘magic roundabout’ in Cheddar, a link road for Burnham-on-Sea’s eastern edge, and rail improvements to make it easier to get from Bridgwater to London within two hours.

A spokesperson said there are currently no plans nor funding in place to support any of these schemes, but the strategy is intended to attract funding.

The strategy is a long-term document and these options within it are only part of a long-list of possible proposals from 2032 onwards. Much will also depend upon future growth options for the district and the proportion of new homes and employment that might be located across Sedgemoor post-2032.

SpokespersonSedgemoor District Council