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Summary

  1. Ex Marine Alexander Blackman due to be resentenced
  2. DIY SOS: Bristol big build beginning
  3. News, sport, travel and weather updates from across the West of England on Monday, 27 March 2017

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All times stated are UK

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DIY SOS brings Bristol family back together

DIY SOS is preparing to change the lives of a Bristol family.

When Ryan Pollard, from Hartcliffe, collapsed after an operation five years ago, he was left needing round-the-clock care. 

He's been in a care home in Gloucester ever since. 

But now, the BBC show is about to start work on his family home, so he can finally return. 

Watch: Presenter Mark Millar and interior designer Gabrelle Blackman talk about the project

The DIY SOS team are in position and ready to start work tomorrow.

Watch: DIY SOS prepare to start work on Ryan's home

Born on the night of a fire, so they called her Smokey

Watch: Reporter Laura Jones meets Smokey the kid

CCTV of a fire that was started deliberately at a community farm in Bristol was released earlier and shown here on Local Live.  

Well, meet the goat kid born on the farm that night who has been named 'Smokey'.  She slept through the fire.

Luckily none of the farms animals were injured. 

Police are continuing to appeal for witnesses.

DIY SOS helps Bristol family

When Ryan Pollard, from Hartcliffe in Bristol, collapsed after an operation five years ago, he was left needing round-the-clock care. 

He's had to stay in a care home in Gloucester ever since. 

But now, the BBC's DIY SOS show is about to start work on his family home, so he can finally return.

Watch: Ryan Pollard's parents tell his story

Father of two thanks woman who saved his life

A lorry driver from Bristol has been reunited with the woman who saved his life.

Father of two, Stuart James, was delivering a sofa when he had a cardiac arrest in Cirencester.

Local dog groomer Dawn Baynes - who used to be in the army - carried out CPR on Mr James, saving his life.

Watch: Reporter Lee Madan meets Stuart James and the woman who saved his life

Sir James Dyson: 'We need international students'

The Wiltshire billionaire Sir James Dyson, who campaigned for Brexit, is calling on the government not to crack down on international students after we leave the EU.

Announcing a massive increase in profits today, Sir James said his company and other hi-tech firms were crying out for engineers. 

Watch: Political editor Paul Barltrop reports on Sir James Dyson's call to the government

Actress Trudie Styler becomes hospice patron

Trudie Styler and Sting with 2 children in wheelchairs
Julia's House
Trudie and Sting with children from Julia's House at their Wiltshire home

Actress and film director Trudie Styler has become a patron of Julia’s House, the Dorset and Wiltshire children’s hospice charity.

Trudie has a home in Wiltshire which she shares with her husband Sting. 

She first became interested in Julia’s House after hearing about plans to build a Wiltshire children’s hospice at a fundraising event hosted by film director Guy Ritchie and his wife Jacqui, who are also both patrons. 

Afterwards she and Sting invited more than 170 Julia’s House families to spend a day in the grounds of their home near Amesbury.  

Sting and I have hosted many wonderful events at Lake House, our family home in Wiltshire. One that will always stick in our memories was when children, siblings and parents from Julia's House came to us for a family day out. It gave us great pleasure to offer some respite and relaxation to these lovely people who cope with stress, exhaustion and heartache on a daily basis. The children we met that day touched our hearts.”

Trudie Styler

Abandoned puppy takes his first steps

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This little hound is just starting to find his feet after a traumatic experience.  

The puppy, nicknamed 'Scraggs', has been fighting for his life after being abandoned in a black plastic bag in a hedge in Churchdown.

Vets in Cheltenham had to raise his body temperature to increase his chance of survival.

He is beginning to making steady progress.

Gymnastics silver for Strictly star Claudia

Watch: Gymnast Claudia Fragapane returns to the floor after Strictly.

Bristol gymnast and star of Strictly Come Dancing, Claudia Fragapane, has won a silver medal on her return to competition.  

She kicked off her high heels and returned to the floor at the British Championships. 

Her routine did include a few influences from her time in the ballroom, which she says has helped her show a different side to her character

Giant hares released in the Cotswolds

Cotswold Hare Trail
Cotswold Hare Trail

A number of large 5ft-tall (1.5m) hares have started appearing across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds.

The decorated sculptures make up the Cotswold Hare Trail , which opened over the weekend.

Almost 50 hares will be on view in over 20 villages, towns and cities across the region until 10 September.

The hares will go to auction in October, with the profits going to charity.   

Cotswold Hare Trail
Cotswold Hare Trail

CCTV: Community farm up in flames

Fire intentionally started at Bristol farm.

CCTV footage has been released of the moment a fire started at Lawrence Weston Community Farm in Bristol.

Two people carrying equipment can be seen as they walk up to the buildings and start the fire.

Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused as the fire tore through offices at the Lawrence Weston site.

Police are appealing for witnesses as they carry out their investigation.

Severe disruption: M5 Somerset northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Somerset northbound severe disruption, between J24 for A38 and J23 for A39.

M5 Somerset - One lane closed on M5 northbound between J24, A38 (Bridgwater South) 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

Plan to bring back pine martens to Gloucestershire

Pine marten
MARAMEDIA/BBC SCOTLAND

Pine martens could be reintroduced into the Forest of Dean after an absence of 200 years.

Andrew Stringer, from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, said it has the "perfect habitat" for the mammals, which could be "beneficial" in reducing grey squirrel numbers.

A feasibility study is being carried out by trust and Forestry Commission.

If the reintroduction goes ahead, 60 pine martens would be released over three years from next spring.

Click here to read more.

Police appeal for stolen war medals to be returned

Police are appealing for help after a collection of war medals was stolen from a house in Bath.

The medals were stolen from Leslie Waldron in November 2015 and he is making a final plea for help in finding them.

The 79-year-old lost his OBE to the thieves as well as a number of distinguished war medals which belonged to his father.

Police believe the collection may have been sold on a number of times and hope auctioneers, traders and collectors may help find them. 

The medals are a unique record of military service, and some of them are distinctive in that they are engraved with his name and service number. These have huge sentimental value to the victim and he would be over the moon to have them back.

PC Sam HodsonAvon & Somerset Police
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Severe disruption: M5 Somerset southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Somerset southbound severe disruption, at J25 for A358.

M5 Somerset - M5 lane blocked on exit slip road and slow traffic southbound at J25, A358 (Taunton), because of a broken down van.

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

Bus driver's tribute to grandmother in short story

"This was the lady who walked home through the Blitz, rather than be late home for tea" .

Louise Guy has written a short story paying tribute to her grandmother Gwen Harmer

The bus driver from Bristol wanted to write about her grandmother's life - rather than how people saw her in her last few days.

Watch: Louise Guy from St. Annes wrote a short story about her grandmother.

Severe disruption: M5 Bristol southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Bristol southbound severe disruption, between J18A for M49 and J19 for A369.

M5 Bristol - One lane blocked on M5 Avonmouth Bridge southbound between J18a M49 and J19, A369 (Portishead), because of a broken down vehicle and recovery work. Traffic is coping well.

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

Possible travel disruption around Bath Spa between 8-23 April

Great Western Railway warn of potential rail disruption at Bath Spa as improvement work will be ongoing between 8-23 April.

View more on twitter

Rural isolation: Countryside idyll hides problems

Frank Rumble from Calne helps people 'in the sticks' by giving them a lift.

Wiltshire man Frank Rumble helps people living in the countryside to get out and about.

He's part of a big group of volunteers in Wiltshire who help others get to appointments and carry out daily tasks. 

It's part of scheme which aims to increase the general well-being of elderly people living in rural areas.  

Arctic Convoy veteran dies aged 91

One of Wiltshire's veterans who served in the Arctic Convoys during World War Two has died, aged 91.

Ken Beard and more than 20 other veterans from the county were finally awarded Arctic Star medals at a ceremony in Trowbridge in 2013.

Ken was also made an MBE and became the first person to be given the Freedom of Ludgershall.

Close-up of Arctic Star medal
PA
Ken Beard was awarded the Arctic Star in 2013

Amy Williams shares her baby news

Amy Williams with her gold medal
BBC Sport
Amy won gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics
View more on twitter

The olympian gave birth to a baby boy last week, just in time for Mother's Day.

Amy won gold in the skeleton race in the Winter Olympics of 2010.

She retired from the sport in 2012.

Congratulations Amy!

Young scientists' research could prevent aircraft bird strikes

They've used bird feeders to find out which they prefer.

Young scientists in North Somerset have discovered a way of finding out what a bird's favourite colour is.

And that could be used to reduce the number killed flying into aeroplanes.

George Rabin and Ed Thurlow, from Churchill Academy, studied birds' responses to different coloured feeders.

Their project has won them the title Big Bang UK Young Scientists of the Year.

Hostel stabbing: Inquest resumes

Robert Cox
Family photo
Robert Cox died in August 2013 after being attacked at the hostel

An inquest has resumed into the death of a man who was stabbed by another resident at a hostel for people with mental health issues in Bristol. 

Robert Cox, 24, died after being attacked by Derek Hancock in Egerton Road in Bishopston in August 2013.  

Bristol City Council carried out a serious case review after his death.

Derek Hancock
Avon and Somerset Police
Derek Hancock admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility

Fog disrupts flights at Bristol Airport

Bristol Airport
BBC

More than 20 flights were disrupted by low visibility at Bristol Airport this morning. 

An airport spokesman said a total of 12 arriving and 12 departing flights were either delayed or diverted to other airports, with the majority of flights operating as normal. 

He added the morning's disruption may cause some ongoing delays to flights later in the day and advised anybody travelling to check Bristol Airport's website.

Dyson optimistic about post-Brexit trade

Simon Jack

BBC Business Editor

Sir James Dyson is the poster child for the kind of global-facing confidence the government is keen to harness in a week that it signals the beginning of the end of the UK's membership of the EU. 

The entrepreneur has been a prominent supporter of Brexit and remains clear that British business success lies beyond Europe. 

He is putting his money where his mouth is - investing £2.5bn, expanding his Wiltshire base by buying 500 acres of old airfield in Hullavington and hoping to double his 3,500 workforce in the next four years. 

Critics, though, say that while he designs products in the UK, he manufactures them in the Far East and so his export arrangements may not be subject to the same Brexit uncertainty as for those manufacturing in the UK.

Union leaders condemn 'extraordinary' Magnox situation

Oldbury Power Station
BBC

The Prospect and Unite unions are not impressed by news that the government has launched an inquiry into the Magnox nuclear clean-up contract.

A £6bn contract to decommission 12 redundant Magnox nuclear power sites, which includes Oldbury power station near Bristol, has been scrapped and a government inquiry announced into its "flawed" tendering process. 

Babcock's Cavendish Nuclear division has ended the contract several years early.

Mike Clancy, Prospect's general secretary, called it "an extraordinary situation given the scale and importance of the Magnox contract to the UK nuclear industry".

Unite's national officer, Kevin Coyne, said the "the whole contract process has been deeply flawed from the very start".

Both unions demanded reassurance that jobs will not be lost.

There are two more former Magnox sites in our area at Hinkley A in Somerset and Berkeley in Gloucestershire.

Reaction: Hong Kong firm to help run South West Trains

South West train and passenger
Getty Images
The franchise will run from August for seven years

A Hong Kong-based firm is to help run one of the biggest rail franchises in the UK, the government has announced.

MTR, which operates the Hong Kong Metro, has been awarded the franchise along with First Group to run South West Trains (SWT) for seven years.

A number of people have responded to the BBC News article , including comments such as:

  • Briblogg : "What an embarrassment. Who is responsible? The Tory governments hasty, ill-thought-out and practically corrupt sell-off in the last days of the Major government or Labours lack of change in the 13 years they were in office or our current lame ducks ideologically sticking to more of the same when it is obviously not working."
  • Mark Kelly : "Why choose August as the handover date - we all know Waterloo is going to be chaos in August, with the planned building works and platform changes."
  • Slugroad : "I have used the MTR in Hong Kong during many trips there for work - the service has been unfailingly excellent. They are probably the most credible of all the companies I have seen winning bids to run UK rail franchises. I hope that they do a good job, that the other operators observe and learn, and that standards are dragged up throughout the industry."

Dyson 'enormously optimistic' about post-Brexit trade

Sir James Dyson
Getty Images

Sir James Dyson has said UK business success lies beyond Europe because that is where the fastest growth lies.

The billionaire, who was a prominent backer of Brexit, told the BBC he was "enormously optimistic" about trading with the rest of the world.

His comments came as his Wiltshire-based engineering firm Dyson reported a 41% increase in profits to £631m.

The popularity of its vacuum cleaners in fast-growing Asian markets was a major reason for the rise.

Click here if you'd like to read more.

Blind running group starts in Bristol

Running group generic
Getty Images

A new running club has launched in Bristol to help budding athletes with sight problems take on the 'Couch to 5k' challenge.

Visually impaired runners use a method called guide running where they are tethered to trained sighted guides to help them through the route

The free weekly group in Long Ashton aims to encourage people who are visually impaired to get out and enjoy the benefits.

Being visually impaired means people can become quite isolated from society, withdrawn, and I just felt the act of running and going out can really extend your fitness but your social network and self-belief.

Colin JohnsonGuide runner

South West rail franchise: What's in it for passengers?

A man on a train
Getty Images

According to the Department for Transport , the next seven-year South West rail franchise will see:

  • Refurbished trains with charging sockets, new seat covers and refreshed toilets
  • Faster journeys across the network
  • More Sunday services across the network, with many routes having the equivalent of a Saturday service after 1pm

In response, the Transport Focus watchdog says it hopes to see "the passenger voice strongly built into the new franchise".

Transport Focus is looking closely at the winning bid to see how these ambitious proposals will deliver for passengers. New trains, more services, smarter ticketing including flexible season tickets and lots of other promised improvements. We are looking forward to working closely with First MTR as it delivers these enhancements, emphasising this must be in a way that does not cause undue shorter term disruption.

Anthony Smith Chief executive, Transport Focus

Severe accident: M4 Bristol westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Bristol westbound severe accident, between J22 for M49 and J23 for M48.

M4 Bristol - One lane blocked on M4 Second Severn Crossing westbound between J22 M49 and J23 M48, because of an accident involving a car and a lorry. Traffic is coping well.

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

Local newspaper headlines across the West

Newspapers
Getty Images

Bristol Post: Is this Bristol road really one of the UK's most crime ridden streets?

Bath Chronicle : Could this put an end to pavement parking in Bath? LGA calls for new powers for councils

GloucestershireLive: M5 lorry fire closes part of motorwa y in Gloucestershire for sixteen hours

Swindon Advertiser: Couple facing blackmail charge to stand trial

Asian hornet sighting app launched by Defra

Asian hornet
PA

Defra has launched a free app to make it easier to report any Asian hornet sightings.

Last September the first sighting in the UK was in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, where a nest was found and destroyed.

Later on another sighting was made in Somerset, north of the Mendip Hills, and work was carried out to destroy the nest.

By using the Asian Hornet Watch app the hope is to better identify the insects and prevent the spread more quickly.

This innovative new app is designed to be easy to use and allows people to report quickly any possible sightings of Asian hornets, which will help us to halt their spread. This invasive species poses a threat to our native honey bees and we must do all we can to encourage vigilance - this new technology will advance this.

Lord GardinerBiosecurity Minister

End of the line

SW trains
Getty Images

What goes up must go down... While shares in FirstGroup are up more than 3% following its win of the South West Trains franchise (with MTR), Stagecoach - which has lost the contract - are down 1.4%.

Stagecoach, not too surprisingly, says it is disappointed its bid has failed.

Chief executive Martin Griffiths says it was "proud" to have operated the franchise under the South West Trains brand for more than 20 years.

FirstGroup will own 70% of the franchise.  

Severe accident: M5 Somerset southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Somerset southbound severe accident, between J26 for A38 and J27 for A361.

M5 Somerset - One lane closed and slow traffic on M5 southbound between J26, A38 (Wellington) and J27, A361 (Tiverton), because of an accident.

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

Who is MTR?

MTR train
BBC

More on the South West Trains franchise that has been awarded to First MTR today. MTR runs the Hong Kong metro system and was given the contract to operate London's Crossrail line when it opens in the coming years. 

The new franchise promises faster journeys with a fleet of new suburban trains offering a regular, metro-style service. 

There will be 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo each morning and 30,000 additional seats from the station each evening.

MTR is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and its shares are up 14% this year.

MTR and First Group will run huge swathe of country

Paul Clifton

Transport correspondent, BBC South Today

The timing for this is awkward, right in the middle of a massive re-building of Waterloo Station, right in the middle of a new fleet of suburban trains entering service into Berkshire, in will come First Group, the operator of Great Western, in partnership with the Chinese-owned MTR who will be the operators of Crossrail.

They will run services in a huge swathe of the country.

South West rail franchise: How is the region affected?

South West Trains network
South West Trains

For two decades South West Trains has operated a number of rail services around the area and further afield.

But it has lost its contract and from August those services will be run by First MTR South Western Trains Ltd.

Commuters in Somerset and Wiltshire will be most familiar with the current sight of a South West Train, with regular services calling at almost a dozen stations in the two counties including Salisbury, Yeovil, Westbury and Frome.

Some services also started or ended at Bristol Temple Meads.

South West rail franchise: Stagecoach 'disappointed' to lose contract

South West Trains service
Getty Images

The rail firm which currently runs the South West franchise says it is disappointed to have lost out on the next contract.

South West Trains has operated the network for more than 20 years.

Over the past two decades, we have delivered real improvements for our customers right across the network. That success has been built on fantastic people, detailed knowledge of the business and strong relationships with our stakeholders and railway partners. But we have never thought our job was finished. We believe we submitted a strong bid for the new South Western franchise. It offered a transformation in the travel experience for our customers, more investment to help the railway support the communities and economy of the south-west, as well as a substantial and deliverable financial benefit to taxpayers to help fund better public services.

Martin Griffiths Stagecoach Group Chief Executive

South West rail franchise 'will see an improvement people want'

A South West Trains service
Getty Images

As part of the seven-year contract, the government has said First MTR South Western Trains Ltd will oversee a £1.2bn investment that will improve journeys for millions of train passengers, and provide a boost for the communities served.

First MTR South Western Trains Limited will deliver the improvements that people tell us they want right across the South Western franchise area, from Bristol and Exeter, to Southampton, Weymouth, Portsmouth and London. We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will deliver real changes for passengers, who can look forward to modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service.

Chris GraylingTransport Secretary