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Summary

  1. Updates from across the West of England on Thursday 23 February 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Goodnight from the Local Live team

We hope you've enjoyed today's offerings - if you've got any news you'd like to share with us you can tweet @BBCBristol or  email  us.

Otherwise, we'll be back tomorrow morning from 7am with more news, sport and weather.

You'll also be pleased to know Friday's weather is looking a bit better.

Watch: A calmer day ahead after today's stormy weather

Cannabis farm found in ex-nuclear bunker

Take a look at this ex-nuclear bunker near Salisbury which turned out to be being used as a huge cannabis farm.

The plants, with an estimated street value of £1m, were seized in a raid on RGHQ Chilmark.

Six men were arrested on suspicion of cannabis production following the midnight raid on Wednesday.

Watch: An ex-nuclear bunker is used for £1m cannabis factory

Cat writes letter in first purr-son to find new home

Fizz the cat is looking for a new challenge after patrolling Woodborough Garden Centre in recent years. 

The business has been taken over and the new management can't keep her so she's likely to be heading to the Cats Action Trust to find a new home.

Her current owners have written a note from Fizz to try to attract potential new owners.

Watch: Fizz has been a garden centre resident for six years but the new owners can't keep her

Local government secretary defends government's council cuts

The Secretary of State for Local Government came West today - and faced criticism over cuts being made by councils. 

Sajid Javid visited Somerset, Bath and Wiltshire to help his fellow Conservatives prepare for the local elections in May.

Despite being under pressure over falling funding levels, he defended the government's position.

Watch: Sajid Javid defends council cuts during visit to the West country

Shorter school days? MP writes to government over 'crisis'

Jack Lopresti
BBC

Local Conservative MP Jack Lopresti has written to the Department for Education (DfE) after a head teacher suggested school days would have to be shortened to save money. 

Dave Baker of the Olympus Trust, which operates seven schools in the Bradley Stoke area near Bristol, said government cuts had left it at "crisis point".  

Mr Lopresti said he had contacted the (DfE) for "reassurance and help on this matter". 

A DfE spokesman said new funding plans would increase the trust's budget by 2.4 per cent.  

Mother, 32, dies in Swindon road crash

Arkells Brewery, Swindon
Google

A woman has died in a crash in Swindon this afternoon.

Police said the collision involving a "refuse disposal vehicle" happened outside the Arkells Brewery on Beechcroft Road, Upper Stratton at about 4.30pm.

The woman, aged 32, and from North Swindon was on her way to collect her child from a minder. 

Emergency services attended but she died at the scene. Her family has been informed. 

The road remains closed while an investigation takes place.

M4 Wiltshire car transporter fire still causing delays

M4 Chippenham car transporter fire
Pete Cook

Delays are ongoing after a car transporter caught fire on the M4 westbound near J16 and J17 at Chippenham.

Two lanes are closed and delays are expected, the eastbound carriageway reopened earlier.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Bath park and ride plans challenge dismissed


          Bath Park and Ride preferred location west of Mill Lane at Bathampton Meadows
Google

An attempt to challenge a decision by the Conservative-led Bath council to build a park and ride on the outskirts of the city has failed.

Liberal Democrats and Labour councillors  asked for the cabinet decision to be reviewed, as they believed there was not enough public scrutiny before the council vote.

But the scrutiny panel at Bath and North East Somerset Council found that procedures were followed and the cabinet's decision could be implemented.

School funding changes 'risk injustice'

Boy in classroom
Robert Mandel

The key group pushing for a fairer funding system in England's schools says government plans for a funding shake-up need to be rethought.

The F40 group, which campaigned for 20 years for the funding overhaul, is warning that some poorly funded areas, and schools within them, will lose out.

Its vice-chair, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk, says it is important "one injustice isn't replaced with another".

Ministers say their plans will end unequal funding across the country.

Click here to read more. 

Drug-farm bunker 'almost completely impenetrable'

RGHQ Chilmark
Wiltshire Police

Several thousand cannabis plants have been seized in a raid on RGHQ Chilmark in Wiltshire. 

The former Ministry of Defence bunker was built in the 1980s to protect local dignitaries and government officials in the event of a nuclear attack.

Described as "almost completely impenetrable", Wiltshire Police had to wait for the suspects to leave the bunker before they could gain access.  

Click here to read more.

Firearms dealer 'supplied ammunition for more than 90 crimes'

Giles Latcham

BBC Midlands Today

A firearms dealer has gone on trial accused of supplying ammunition later found at more than 90 crime scenes - including a number of fatal shootings.

Paul Edmunds
Helen Tipper

Paul Edmunds, 65, from Hardwicke near Gloucester, allegedly supplied obsolete or antique hand guns along with specially-manufactured bullets which ended up in the hands of a criminal gang in the West Midlands.

A jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard the gang, led by Nosakhere Stephenson, sold the guns on to other criminals at approximately £3,000 apiece.

Ammunition allegedly made by Mr Edmunds was recovered from the scene of a shooting in Birmingham during the riots of 2011 in which several rounds were fired at a West Midlands Police helicopter. 

Mr Edmunds denies two charges of transferring or conspiring to transfer prohibited weapons and ammunition and a charge of possessing a prohibited firearm - a gas-powered air pistol.

He also denies two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice. 

The trial, which is expected to last up to five weeks, continues.

Murder victim's mother believes Halliwell killed more

The mother of a young woman from Swindon who was murdered by Christopher Halliwell says she believes he has killed more people. 

Elaine Pickford's daughter Sian O'Callaghan became his second victim when he stabbed her in 2011. 

Last year he was convicted of killing Becky Godden in 2003, after admitting killed Miss O'Callaghan in 2011.

Her comments come as forensic teams searching his former home on Broad Street say they will remain there into next week.  

Watch: Elaine Pickford says she believes the man who murdered her daughter and another woman has killed other people

Severe disruption: A303 Wiltshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

A303 Wiltshire eastbound severe disruption, between A360 and A345 Countess Road.

A303 Wiltshire - A303 closed eastbound between Longbarrow roundabout and Countess Roundabout.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Storm Doris: In pictures

Heavy winds caused by Storm Doris have been causing problems across the region with fallen trees and power cuts in several areas.

Points West's forecaster Ian Fergusson says so far the strongest gusts that have been officially recorded have been 66mph in Little Rissington, Gloucestershire, and 61mph in Avonmouth.

Southern Wiltshire has also experienced winds of up to 60mph, elsewhere they've been around 50-55mph.

He says the winds will slowly ease from now until the evening.

Video courtesy of Bath Chronicle .

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View more on twitter
View more on twitter
Watch: Fallen tree removed in Bath's Charlotte Street car park, video courtesy of Bath Chronicle

Severe accident: A303 Wiltshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

A303 Wiltshire eastbound severe accident, near A360.

A303 Wiltshire - The main road is closed, with traffic being routed around the junction and back on again, and queuing traffic on A303 eastbound in Salisbury near Longbarrow roundabout, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Double murderer's house search to continue next week

Broad St properties being searched in Swindon
PA

Police in Wiltshire have said searches being carried out at the former home of a double murderer will continue into next week.

The gardens and garages of two houses in Broad Street, Swindon are being searched.

It is understood the former taxi driver, Christopher Halliwell lived at one of the addresses.

Work will pause on Friday and restart on Monday.

The alleyway which runs alongside these garages and gardens will remain cordoned off during this time and police officers will continue to patrol the vicinity. We aim to keep this disruption to a minimum as much as possible."

Det Ch Insp Jeremy Carter Brunel Major Crime Investigation Team

Severe disruption: A433 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A433 Gloucestershire both ways severe disruption, near A429 Tetbury Road.

A433 Gloucestershire - A433 in Cirencester blocked and slow traffic in both directions near the A429 Tetbury Road junction, because of a fallen tree. Approach with care.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

BreakingPedestrian hit by falling concrete

A woman has been hit by concrete which fell from a building in Bristol.

It's thought a small lump fell at least 40ft (12m) from one of the buildings on Temple Way.

A stretch of road from the bottom of the M32 towards the Old Market roundabout has been closed as a precaution and police are advising people to avoid the area.

Correction: Earlier reports incorrectly said a man rather than a woman had been injured in this incident.

Severe disruption: A46 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A46 Gloucestershire both ways severe disruption, between Eros Close and Station Road.

A46 Gloucestershire - A46 Bath Road in Stroud blocked and slow traffic in both directions between the Eros Close junction and the Station Road junction, because of a fallen tree. Approach with care.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Police apologise for 'inappropriate' medical examinations

Avon and Somerset Police HQ
BBC

Police have apologised for "inappropriate" medical examinations carried out by a former police doctor. 

Dr Reg Bunting, who died in 2013, was being investigated after concerns were raised about the way initial recruitment examinations were conducted between 1987 and 2004. 

An independent report, commissioned by Avon and Somerset Police, found some of the examinations were "woefully or grossly below common and acceptable standards of the time".

Had Dr Bunting been alive, there would have been sufficient evidence to interview him under caution as a criminal suspect. We accept all the recommendations made in the report and have already implemented a number of changes to our policies and procedures to make these changes.

Gareth MorganDeputy Chief Constable, Avon and Somerset Police

He added the report identified five other doctors, one also now deceased, who have "not been charged with any criminal offence and, at this stage, there is no intention to do so". 

Running the world in 550 days

Watch: Nick is aiming to set a world record

Bristol runner Nick Butter, 27, wants to become the first person to run a marathon (26.2 miles) in every single country.

He needs £96,000 to make the trip around the world happen and is aiming to raise £250,000 for the Prostate Cancer UK charity over the 550-day challenge.

He'll also be climbing Kilimanjaro later this year - nothing like a bit of preparation.

Severe disruption: A4044 Bristol southbound

BBC News Travel

A4044 Bristol southbound severe disruption, between A4032 Newfoundland Street and A420 Old Market Street affecting J3 A4320 Easton Way.

A4044 Bristol - A4044 Temple Way in City Centre closed and queuing traffic inbound between the A4032 Newfoundland Street junction and Old Market Roundabout, because of a police incident. Diversion in operation - Traffic heading inbound on the M32 advised to exit at J3 and use both Easton Way and the A420 to rejoin Temple Way at the Old Market Roundabout. Congestion on M32 to J3, A4320 (St Pauls).

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: A46 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A46 Gloucestershire both ways severe disruption, between Inchbrook Hill and Station Road.

A46 Gloucestershire - A46 Stroud Road in Nailsworth blocked and slow traffic in both directions between the Inchbrook Hill junction and the Station Road junction, because of a fallen tree.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Storm Doris: Hundreds of properties without power

A telegraph pole has fallen down in Gloucester
BBC

Nearly 1,500 properties are without power across the region - is Storm Doris to blame?

Here are the numbers from Western Power Distribution:

  • More than 1,000 properties without power in Gloucestershire
  • Nearly 190 in South Gloucestershire
  • 160 properties around the Bristol area
  • 120 in Somerset

Look at the Western Power Distribution map here.

Nuclear bunker cannabis farm 'an enormous set-up'

RGHQ Chilmark
Wiltshire Police

More on the drugs find in the former nuclear bunker.

According to police:

  • About 20 rooms in the building were in use, split over two floors
  • Each room was 200ft long and 70ft wide
  • Almost every single room had been converted for the wholesale production of cannabis plants

At this early stage of the investigation it is almost impossible to work out how many plants are inside, but we are talking thousands rather than hundreds and we would estimate the value of the crop at over £1m. This is the largest and most sophisticated cannabis factory I’ve ever experienced and I am delighted that we have been able to take such a large amount of illicit drugs off the streets of Wiltshire before they are able to reach vulnerable people within our communities.

Det Insp Paul FranklinWiltshire Police

Old road bridge removed in 48 hours

Watch: Timelapse film of the bridge removal

An old road bridge weighing nearly 100 tonnes has been removed using a specialist crane. 

Work to remove the Berkeley New Bridge on the A38 took place last weekend - the road is expected to be open again to drivers by tomorrow. 

The new bridge is still being built and is due to be completed later this year.

Severe disruption: M5 Gloucestershire northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire northbound severe disruption, between J9 for A46 and J8 for M50.

M5 Gloucestershire - Two lanes closed and very slow traffic on M5 northbound between J9, A46 (Tewkesbury) and J8 M50, because of an overturned lorry and recovery work.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Ex-nuclear bunker used for £1m cannabis factory

Cannabis plants
Wiltshire Police

A large-scale cannabis factory has been found in an underground former nuclear bunker.

Wiltshire police said several thousand cannabis plants, with an estimated street value of £1m, were seized in a raid on RGHQ Chilmark on Wednesday. 

Six men from Somerset were arrested on suspicion of cannabis production.

The nuclear bunker
Wiltshire Police

The former Ministry of Defence bunker, was built in the 80s to protect local dignitaries and government officials in the event of a nuclear attack.

Cannabis plants
Wiltshire Police

Shorter school days? Reaction from government and unions

Bradley Stoke Community School
BBC

We've been talking about the suggestion that seven schools in South Gloucestershire could have shorter school days to save money.

Here's what the Department for Education and the National Union of Teachers have to say about the proposal.

We recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost-effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so‎ they get the best possible value.

Department for Education statement

All schools in England will have less money in real terms per pupil in 2020 than they do now. This cash they talk about doesn't keep pace with spending pressures on schools. The proposals Mr Baker has mentioned are terrible and none of them should happen, but parents deserve to know the truth about the position schools are in.

Kevin CourtneyNational Union of Teachers