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Summary

  1. News, sport, weather and travel updates from across the West of England on Wednesday, 8 March 2017.

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Goodnight from us - we'll be back tomorrow at 7am

That's it from us for now at BBC Local Live for the West of England - we'll be back with more live updates from 7am tomorrow.

Some good news from Sarah Thornton with Thursday's weather forecast - she's promising us sunny spells! 

Watch: BBC weather forecast with Sara Thornton

Severe disruption: M32 Bristol both ways

BBC News Travel

M32 Bristol both ways severe disruption, at J1 for A4174.

M32 Bristol - M32 lane closed on exit slip road at J1, A4174 (Hambrook), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

Olympic rower takes on kayak challenge

Watch: Helen Glover and TV presenter husband Steve Backshall kayak training

Bath's double Olympic champion rower Helen Glover is about to take on a new challenge with her wildlife presenter husband, Steve Backshall. 

She's taking a crash course in kayaking, so they can paddle all the way from Devizes to Westminster - that's 125 miles. 

Helen said part of the fun was that kayaking "is entirely different" from rowing. Steve said they had even been training in the recent Storm Doris. 

The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race takes place on 14-17 April.

Gloucester want external new head coach

Stephen Vaughan
BBC

Gloucester chief executive Stephen Vaughan says they are likely to select an external candidate as their new head coach.

It's the first time the club has spoken since the departure of head coach Laurie Fisher on Monday. 

Fisher announced on Twitter that it was "time to make room for someone else".

Gloucester have promoted defence coach Jonny Bell to "lead their rugby programme" for the remainder of the season, and aim to announce a replacement by the end of the month

Somerset aims to fight the 'brain drain' with a new university centre

Dale Edwards
BBC

Somerset wants to "redraw the educational landscape" and has taken the first steps to creating a university for the county. 

Dale Edwards, from the Chamber of Commerce, said: "One of the big challenges for employers is trying to find the right talent. We've got over 2,000 people leaving to go to universities across the region."

Bridgwater and Taunton College has launched what it's calling the University Centre for Somerset. It will offer degree level courses ranging from fine art and design to nursing. 

University Centre Somerset
BBC

Women march for pension equality in Westminster

Watch: Wiltshire women join the national protest in London

A group of women from Wiltshire joined today's national march in London to protest against changes to the dates when women can receive their state pension.  

They were lobbying MPs about the changes introduced in 1995, which have affected around 2.6m women - now in their late 50s and early to mid-60s. 

They say they were not given enough notice that they'd have to work for longer before getting their pension. They say if they'd been told about the changes at the time, they could have made alternative pension arrangements. 

The government said: "Women retiring today can still expect to receive the state pension for 26 years on average - several years longer than men".

Police search for missing junior doctor

Watch: missing junior doctor Lauren Phillips

Police are continuing their hunt for missing junior doctor Lauren Phillips who has not been seen for almost two weeks

Dr Lauren Phillips - who works for North Bristol NHS Trust, but has also worked in Cornwall - was last seen on Thursday 23 February. 

The 26-year-old's car was found in Woolacombe in Devon five days later.  

Football: Bristol Rovers' midfielder extends contract

Ollie Clarke
Rex Features

Bristol Rovers midfielder Ollie Clarke has extended his deal with the League One club for an undisclosed period.

The 24-year-old began his professional career with Rovers and has made 125 league appearances for the club so far.

"While we are still aiming for a top-six finish this season, we are also planning for 2017-18," manager Darrell Clarke told the  club website.

"Ollie is an integral member of our squad, I am really pleased that he has decided to stay with us."

Police doctor 'had the power to abuse his position and do what he wanted'

Dr Reg Bunting / Avon and Somerset HQ
BBC

One of the victims targeted by police doctor Reg Bunting (pictured), who died in 2013, said "I thought this wasn't right, but what do you do?". 

The officer, who was a frontline policeman for more than 20 years, said he was groped by Dr Bunting during his medical assessment.

"He had the power to abuse his position and do what he wanted," he said. 

"I don't think anyone would have complained because it was a hard job to get into."

Avon and Somerset Police has since apologised to victims for "failing to ensure acceptable medical conduct during their examinations", and praised the people who had come forward.

The first dog to get a pacemaker

Watch: Major the labrador featured on Points West in 1980 when he got his pacemaker

Major the pet labrador was fitted with a pacemaker in 1980 because his heart wasn't working properly. He was the first domestic pet in the UK to have one. 

It was fitted by the vet school at Bristol University - and he had to have the operation twice because after the first one, he "chewed the lead out". 

Severe accident: A46 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A46 Gloucestershire both ways severe accident, between Sands Hill and A420 affecting M4 J18 Bath.

A46 Gloucestershire - A46 in Dyrham blocked and very slow traffic in both directions between the Sands Hill junction and Cold Ashton Roundabout, because of an accident. Congestion to Bath.

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

Narrowboat returns to restored stretch of the Cotswold canal

Watch: A narrowboat is lifted onto a newly restored section of canal in Stroud

Narrowboats are returning to parts of the canals in the Cotswolds for the first time in 65 years. 

This boat was lifted back into a recently restored stretch of the Stroudwater Navigation. 

The restoration project aims to reopen 36 miles of canal linking the River Severn and the River Thames. 

Junior doctor search: 'No other traces besides car'

Andrew Segal

Local Live

A hunt for a missing junior doctor who has not been seen for almost two weeks has yielded no other traces of her than her car, police say.

Dr Lauren Phillips - who works for North Bristol NHS Trust, but has also worked in Cornwall - was last seen on Thursday 23 February. The 26-year-old's car was found in Woolacombe in Devon five days later.

Lauren Phillips
Handout

Searches have been carried out by Devon and Cornwall Police, assisted by HM Coastguard, the RNLI and the National Police Air Service.

We continue to do everything we can to find Lauren and we're making sure her family are regularly updated about our investigation."

Det Insp Mark Langdon Avon and Somerset Police

Footballer faced Nazi salutes in 1980s

Watch: Leroy Rosenior says as a black footballer he has faced racism on a daily basis.

Former West Ham and QPR player Leroy Rosenior said he faced abuse at games he played in during the 1980s.

In his new autobiography, he tells how he was spat on by a child and racially abused by his own fans. 

He said the abuse got so bad his family even stopped going to matches.  

Severe accident: A303 Devon both ways

BBC News Travel

A303 Devon both ways severe accident, between A30 and A358.

A303 Devon - A303 closed in both directions between the A30 junction in Upottery and Southfields Roundabout in Ilminster, because of an accident involving a car and lorry and a fuel spillage. Diversion in operation - signed diversion is in place.

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

Severe disruption: M5 Somerset southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Somerset southbound severe disruption, between J22 for A38 and J23 for A39.

M5 Somerset - One lane closed on M5 southbound between J22, A38 (Burnham-On-Sea) and J23, A39 (Bridgwater North), because of a broken down lorry and recovery work. Traffic is coping well.

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

Meet Starlight the orphaned baby badger

Watch: Somerset's Secret World Wildlife Rescue look after orphaned baby badger

Starlight was found in an open field when he was just a few days old, and taken to the rescue centre in Highbridge.

Severe disruption: M5 Bristol northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Bristol northbound severe disruption, between J17 for A4018 and J16 for A38 affecting J18A for M49.

M5 Bristol - Slow traffic on M5 northbound between J17, A4018 (Cribbs Causeway) and J16, A38 (Aztec West), because of an earlier broken down vehicle. All lanes have been re-opened. Congestion to J18a M49.

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

Glos Rugby ask supporters to 'keep faith' after coach leaves

Watch: Steven Vaughan speaks for the first time since departure of head coach

Gloucester Rugby has spoken for the first time since the departure of head coach Laurie Fisher on Monday. 

The club's CEO Steven Vaughan said they were "bitterly disappointed but don't think it's broken". 

Fisher announced on Twitter that it was "time to make room for someone else".

Gloucester have promoted defence coach Jonny Bell to "lead their rugby programme" for the remainder of the season, and aim to announce a replacement by the end of the month.   

Workman burned after hitting live cable

Watch: Firm fined after incident in May 2015

A firm has been fined £600,000 after a workman digging up a pavement in Gloucester hit a live 11,000 volt cable.

The workman was severely burned and hundreds of homes and businesses were left without power

We regret that this incident took place and that the employee of one of our supply chain was injured. We are committed to implementing safe working practices across the business at all times. Since the incident we have reviewed our procedures with respect to the work being carried out at the time of the incident to prevent similar incidents occurring.

Amey LG Ltd

Cheltenham Festival schedule and BBC coverage

Cheltenham Festival
Getty Images

The 2017 Cheltenham Festival takes place next week, beginning on Tuesday.

The feature race takes place each day at 3.30pm with the festival's showpiece contest, the Gold Cup, taking place on Friday 17th March.

There will be coverage across BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra throughout the four days and live text commentary on the Gold Cup on the BBC Sport website.

Click here for the full schedule and coverage info.

First narrowboat on canal in decades

Stroudwater canal
BBC

A narrowboat is on the Stroudwater Navigation today for the first time in at least 65 years.

The 42ft boat was being lowered onto the water with a crane this morning.

It comes as the restoration of the Cotswold canals gathers pace, with a £25m project under way to fix a six mile (9km) section through Stroud.

Severe accident: A39 Somerset both ways

BBC News Travel

A39 Somerset both ways severe accident, at Main Road.

A39 Somerset - A39 in Cannington closed and very slow traffic in both directions at the Main Road junction, because of an accident. On the roundabout.

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

Amey fined £600k after employee hit live cable

Eastgate Street May 2015
BBC

A company has been fined £600,000 after one of its sub-contractors was seriously burned when he hit a live cable in Gloucester.  

Amey LG Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety legislation and said it "regretted an employee of one of our supply chain was injured". 

Steven Brown, from Swindon, was working to move a traffic light pole at the end of Eastgate Street, in May 2015, when he hit the 11,000 volt cable with a tool used to break up concrete.     

Amey said it had since "reviewed our procedures with respect to the work being carried out at the time of the incident to prevent similar incidents occurring".

Cricket: Women's World Cup countdown clock unveiled

Watch: Two England cricket players were at the unveiling

Set your alarms - just 109 days to go until the ICC Women's World Cup comes to Taunton's County Ground.

Today, a special countdown clock was unveiled by England women's cricketers Fran Wilson and Beth Langston.

The first match that takes place in Taunton will be England v. Sri Lanka in July.

A special helicopter lift for a museum's harrier jump jet

Watch: The RAF were enlisted to help move the Harrier jet

What do you do when you have a five tonne jet to move, and no equipment to move it?

Enlist the RAF of course.

Bristol Aerospace Museum had to move a Harrier jump jet to its new home on the former Filton airfield. 

They asked the RAF for help, which duly provided a Chinook helicopter that was able to move it as part of a training exercise.

Missing doctor a 'valued member of staff'

Andrew Segal

Local Live

A missing junior doctor who has not been seen for almost two weeks is a "valued member of our medical staff", her bosses say.

Lauren Philips
Handout

Twenty-six-year-old Lauren Phillips, who works for North Bristol NHS Trust, was last seen on Thursday 23 February. Her car was found in Woolacombe, Devon, on 28 February but no other traces of her have been found, police said. 

North Bristol NHS Deputy Medical Director Monica Baird said staff were "supporting the police in their efforts to locate her".

Dr Phillips worked at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust during her foundation year.

Elderly woman knocked off mobility scooter

Police 'fuelled doctor's fantasies'

Dr Reg Bunting / Avon and Somerset HQ
BBC

A victim of a police doctor, who carried out "grossly" unacceptable examinations, has criticised a force for failing to act on complaints about his behaviour .

Dr Reg Bunting (pictured above), who died in 2013, was Avon and Somerset Police's chief medical officer between 1990 and 1997.

The victim, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the force "fuelled Dr Bunting's fantasies" by doing nothing.

The force has since apologised "unreservedly" to those affected.

Police hunt for missing junior doctor on Devon coast

Sian Davies

BBC News Online

A missing woman who has not been seen for almost two weeks is a junior doctor, it has been confirmed .

Dr Lauren Phillips, who works for North Bristol NHS Trust, was last seen on Thursday 23 February.

Lauren Philips
Handout

The 26-year-old's car was found in Woolacombe, Devon, on 28 February but no other traces of her have been found, police said. 

Police appeal to surfers in missing woman search

BBC Radio Devon

Police have asked surfers and ramblers to look out for a 26-year-old Lauren Phillips, who has been missing for 13 days since her car was found at Woolacombe in Devon.

Lauren Phillips
Police handout

The Bristolian's car was located in Woolacombe, Devon, last Tuesday.

Det Insp Mark Langdon said: “As Lauren’s car was found in Woolacombe, our focus has been on the North Devon area. So we’re directing our appeal at any surfers or ramblers who may have passed through the area in the past fortnight."

William Shatner narrates Mars animation

Watch: William Shatner takes you on a fact-fuelled cosmic journey to the mysterious red planet

A new Aardman animation, narrated by Star Trek’s William Shatner , has gone live on the BBC Radio 4 website.

The pulp-fiction style three minute short was created by the Bristol-based animation company as part of Radio 4’s Mars Week.

Danny Capozzi, from Aardman, said he only got the brief for the "factual Sci-Fi animation" 10 weeks ago.

"The final piece is a retro mash up mockumentary and the icing on the cake was that the legendary William Shatner came on board to do the voice over," he said.

BBC Radio 4’s Mars season runs until Sunday 12 March.

View more on twitter

Dalmatian ready to dazzle at Crufts

Watch: Owner has been breeding dalmatians for 40 years

Why have 101 dalmatians when you only need one? 

Canines of all shapes and sizes are being spruced up this week in preparation for Crufts.

The annual dog show gets under way on Thursday at the NEC in Birmingham. 

One of those taking part is Lulu the dalmatian from Wiltshire.

Free gull nest and egg removal offered

Gull
Getty Images

From April,  Bath and North East Somerset Council is offering to take away any gulls eggs and nests spotted on properties in some areas of Bath.

People living in Abbey, Kingsmead, Newbridge, Twerton, Westmoreland and Widcombe are once again being asked to call the council if they think there's a nest on their roof.

The council said the free "roof treatment" can only be booked after a nest has been built.

Last year, 1,150 eggs and 469 nests were removed.

Former footballer faced 'daily racism'

Watch: Leroy Rosenior says he dealt with racism on a regular basis

Leroy Rosenior says - as a black footballer in the 1980s - he faced racism on a daily basis during his career. 

In his new autobiography, the former Bristol City player and Gloucester City manager tells how he was spat on by a child, racially abused by own fans and locked out of boardrooms.

He said the abuse got so bad his family even stopped going to matches.

Scuba diver helps map WW1 naval wrecks

A scuba diving artist from Gloucester is helping to map a number of naval wrecks in Scotland.

Steve Jakeway is working with other divers from the British Sub-Aqua Club to document seven shipwrecks at Scapa Flow in Orkney.

Watch: See one of the naval wrecks at Scapa Flow (video courtesy of Pete Bicheno)

The German fleet was deliberately scuttled on June 21, 1919, after their commander mistakenly believed the British were about to seize them.

Steve has been drawing interactive maps of the ships, which detail their current state. These are used to help other divers who may visit the area. 

Map of the SMS Brummer
Big Scapa Clean Up

The green diamonds above show where debris has been removed. Three fishing nets, two batteries and some car tyres were removed from the wreck of the SMS Brummer.

The idea was to create a series of very simple single-line illustrations showing the layout of each wreck so divers can easily work out what they are swimming over, or under, and recognise key features such as a ship’s gun.

Steve JakewayScuba diver and artist

Family tribute to teen who died in shopping centre

Chloe Gilbert
Family handout

The family of a girl who died after collapsing in Bath's Southgate shopping centre have released a tribute to her.

They think Chloe Gilbert, 15, from Seend in Wiltshire, died as a result of an allergic reaction to something she ate.

Chloe Gilbert, our beautiful and talented daughter was suddenly taken from us on Sunday 5th March. Our whole family and so many of Chloe’s friends have been left devastated at this sudden and tragic event. Chloe was diagnosed from an early age with an allergy to dairy products. The cause of Chloe’s death has yet to be ascertained, however we believe it may have been as a result to something Chloe had eaten

Family statement

Prince graffiti daubed in Bath's oldest park

One of Bath's listed parks has been covered in graffiti, apparently referring to lyrics by the late pop star Prince.

View more on twitter

The space is Bath’s oldest park, according to the Visit Bath website .

It was laid out in 1795 and frequently visited by members of the Royal family, in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as famous author Jane Austen.

Army snipers training on Salisbury Plain

Watch: The three week 'concentration' is drawing to a close

The British Army has been holding an elite three-week training event for snipers.

BBC Wiltshire was given access to the event on Salisbury Plain, which involved soldiers from the Armoured Infantry Brigade, based in Tidworth.

Arrest a 'significant step forward' in nail bar slavery probe

View more on twitter

Today's arrest in Bath represents a 'significant step forward', police have said.

The investigation into human trafficking has spread from Bath to include police work in Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and London.

We’ve identified four female victims who have been referred into a national process specifically for victims and suspected victims of Modern Slavery crimes. Today’s developments are a significant step forward in this complex and fast-moving inquiry and our absolute priority continues to be the protection and safeguarding of vulnerable young victims.

Det Insp Charlotte Tucker North East Investigations