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  1. News, sport, weather and travel updates from across the West of England on Thursday, 29 June 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Weather: 'Likely to see rain overnight and a cool start to Friday'

Weather: 'Likely to see rain overnight and a cool start to Friday' says Sara Thornton

It's goodnight from your local live team in the West.

We'll be back from 7am tomorrow with live news, sport, travel and weather updates from across the region until 10pm.

Jack Taylor

An unbeaten 95-run partnership between Jack Taylor and Kieran Noema-Barnett guides Gloucestershire to a draw against Sussex.

Read more

Hunt for man after car-jacking incident

Police cordon

A woman was dragged out of her car at temporary traffic lights in a suspectedcar-jacking attempt in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire.

The incident happened on Horsley Road at about 5pm on Monday, according to police.

A silver VW Passat pulled up to the woman's car and the male driver got out, approached her, tried to grab the car keys and dragged her out of the vehicle.

The man ran off after being spooked by other drivers leaving the woman shaken but unhurt.

Gloucestershire Police is appealing for witnesses.

The suspect is described as white, skinny, about 5ft 6ins tall with long, messy brown dreadlock hair.

Dozing councillors sleep in meeting

Watch: Councillors appeared to be dozing off in the meeting

Councillors in Gloucestershire were spotted falling asleep during one of their most important meetings in recent years.

The county council ordered an independent review of children's services on Wednesday after "serious and widespread failures" were found.

Four councillors were spotted nodding off, including the deputy leader.

Ray Theodoulou blamed his heart medication for making him "a little drowsy".

Steve Grimmett's first show since losing leg

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In just a fortnight Steve Grimmett will be back on stage with Grim Reaper - his first show since losing his leg.

The band will be performing at the Bang Your Head festival on July 13th at Balingen, in Germany.

Football: Swindon bring in Linganzi from Pompey

Amine Linganzi
Rex Features

Swindon Town have agreed a deal to make Portsmouth midfielder Amine Linganzi their sixth signing of the summer.

The 27-year-old Congo international joins the Robins on a free transfer, subject to English Football League and Football Association approval.

"It is a great opportunity to play for the best club in League Two," Linganzi told the club website.

Swindon have already signed Chris Robertson, James Dunne, Paul Mullin, Ben Purkiss and Olly Lancashire.

Rock star 'walking totally unaided' after leg amputation

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Over the past few months we've reported on the plight of rock star Steve Grimmett, from Swindon, who had a leg amputated after he became unwell on tour.

The 57-year-old front man of heavy metal rock band Grim Reaper became ill in Ecuador.

He needed life-saving surgery after complications with an infection to his foot.

Wildlife Trust surveys county's coastline to save species

Watch: Wildlife Trust surveys coast

Somerset Wildlife Trust is surveying the county's coastline.

It's looking at the wildlife found between the low and high tide marks along the 47-mile stretch.

The trust's Steve Mews says it will help them save species and wildlife from future threats such as fracking.

'Our motivation for public preaching is love'

Michael Overd (left) and Michael Stockwell
Michael Overd (left) and Michael Stockwell were convicted in February

Two street preachers fined for a religiously aggravated public order offence have won appeals against their convictions.

Avon and Somerset Police previously said Michael Overd, 53, and Michael Stockwell, 51, had "crossed the line" after they were accused of telling Muslims in the crowd their God "did not exist" and called other shoppers "animals".

However judges at Bristol Crown Court have now ruled it was not proved the offence was religiously aggravated.

We are so grateful to the Christian Legal Centre and all those who supported us in our case. We hope and pray that today's ruling will be an encouragement to Christians across the nation to continue preaching the good news.

Michael OverdStreet preacher

Our motivation for public preaching is love. We want people to have access to the good news about Jesus Christ. When we were convicted of public order offences in February, I was shocked that God's message of love, is now considered by some to be hateful and dangerous. Freedom of speech is under increasing assault in this nation. People should be free to express their beliefs in public, without risk of harm, violence or other repercussions. That's why today's result is such a great victory.

Michael StockwellStreet preacher

Vintage Bristol balloon basket found in American museum

Watch: The talk of museums is making Don Cameron "feel old"

A Cameron balloon basket made in Bristol almost 50 years ago has been found thousands of miles away in the United States.

The basket was made in a workshop at The Bristol Royal School for the Blind in the 1970s.

A woman from Wick St Lawrence spotted the basket in the Alburquerque Museum in New Mexico.

Cameron Balloons founder Don Cameron said it makes him feel old when his products are found in museums.

Preachers appeal 'victory for freedom of speech'

Andrea Williams

Two street preachers who were fined for a sermon delivered to Bristol shoppers have won appeals against their convictions.

Andrea Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre, has called it a "fantastic victory for freedom of speech":

The Bible and its teachings are the foundation of our society and provided many of the freedoms and protections that we still enjoy today. Mike Overd and Michael Stockwell were saying nothing that wouldn't be heard at speakers' corner in Hyde Park – presenting the claims of the Bible, answering the crowd's questions and objections, and responding to abuse which was hurled at them. At a time where Christians are becoming increasingly fearful about expressing their beliefs in the public space, this is a welcome and needed result. We are grateful that the judge made the right decision today.

Andrea WilliamsChief executive, Christian Legal Centre

Weston College receives £8.7m boost

Weston College

Weston College is to receive £8.7m of funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The money will be used to create two facilities:

  • A Health and Active Living Centre, which will promote health and wellbeing in Weston-super-Mare and the region
  • An Infrastructure Construction Skill Centre to train people to work in the construction industry – particularly on Hinkley Point

Our facilities, including the Winter Gardens and university centre development will provide state of the art learning and resources across a range of qualification levels and sectors, meaning that local people will benefit from unprecedented access to learning opportunities including degrees.

Dr Paul Phillips CBEPrincipal and Chief Executive of the Weston College Group

The unusual history of Imber village

The gates of St Giles Church at Imber village
Getty Images

Access to a "ghost village" church which was taken over by the military in World War Two is to be restricted.

Click here to read more about that, or keep reading for an overview of the history of Imber in Wiltshire.

  • It was evacuated in December 1943
  • Residents were ordered to leave and never allowed to return
  • The village was wanted for a training area for American troops preparing for the invasion of Europe during World War II
  • St Giles Church is one of the only buildings left standing in its original form
  • Public access to the village is now granted by the Ministry of Defence
  • It is sited in a military training zone

Severe disruption: M5 Gloucestershire northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire northbound severe disruption, at J13 for A419.

M5 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M5 northbound at J13, A419 (Stroud), 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

'Massive blow physically and mentally' for BMX rider

Liam Phillips

Liam Phillips from Burnham-on-Sea has had to withdraw from July's BMX World Championships because of a wrist injury.

Last year, the 2013 world champion withdrew from the quarter-finals at the Rio Olympics after a heavy fall.

After the disappointment of Rio, I took some time off and got back to work with only one real objective - try and win the World Championships and wear the rainbow jersey again. This has been a massive blow both physically and mentally. My long term health is of the upmost importance and I'll continue working hard to ensure these injuries keep me off the bike for the shortest time possible. Thanks to everyone in my corner for understanding the nature of this sport and the difficulties we sometimes face.

Liam PhillipsBMX rider

Christian street preachers win appeals

Michael Overd, left, and Michael Stockwell
Michael Overd, left, and Michael Stockwell outside court after winning their appeals

Two street preachers who were fined for a sermon delivered to Bristol shoppers have won appeals against their convictions.

Michael Overd, 53, and Michael Stockwell, 51, were convicted in February for a religiously aggravated public order offence.

Judges at Bristol Crown Court said it was not proved the offence was religiously aggravated.

Mr Overd said he was a "Christian soldier" and would return to preach.

Fatal M5 car race 'a recipe for disaster'

Sabbir Sedoo

Sabbir Sedoo has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for killing three people in a car crash.

Sedoo was racing his brother on the M5 in Gloucestershire when the other car crashed into the back of a stationary lorry.

Sulemain Sedoo and two of his three passengers were killed in the crash.

Jailing the 28-year-old, from Tredworth in Gloucester, Judge Jamie Tabor said Sedoo's behaviour was "grossly irresponsible" and what followed was "carnage".

You were so engrossed in racing that you completely missed what was in front of you - you missed the hazard warning lights. What followed was carnage. The Mercedes smashed into the rear of the parked lorry. You tried to get past on the nearside and ricocheted off the barrier. Your behaviour was grossly irresponsible. There was in my judgment a period of showing off. This was a very sustained piece of dangerous driving over a period of 29 miles. It was a recipe for disaster. I have no doubt that you are a very hard-working and responsible man but on that day you drove and behaved like an idiot.

Sentencing quote from Judge Jamie Tabor QCRecorder of Gloucester

Six 4x4s discovered at business park - man charged

A Land Rover Discovery - one of the vehicles
Gloucestershire Constabulary

A man has been charged with handling stolen goods after several luxury 4x4s and hundreds of car parts were found at a business park in the Forest of Dean.

Edward Samuel Fear, of Wellington Terrace, Newnham, appeared before Cheltenham magistrates charged with six counts of handling stolen goods.

Click here to read more.

A Range Rover - one of the vehicles
Gloucestershire Constabulary

Cannabis plants seized from flat above coffee shop

Costa Coffee branch with police outside

Cannabis plants with a street value of more than £100,000 have been seized from a flat above a branch of Costa Coffee.

More than 300 plants were found during a raid in Whiteladies Road, Bristol.

The property is close to the busy Clifton Down shopping centre and railway station.

One man has been arrested on suspicion of production of a controlled drug.

Cannabis plants
Avon and Somerset Police

Street preachers win appeal against conviction

Michael Overd (left) was arrested in July at Broadmead shopping centre in Bristol - Michael Stockwell is not pictured
Simon Holliday
Michael Overd (left) was arrested last July - Michael Stockwell is not pictured

Two street preachers convicted of religiously aggravated public order offences have won their appeals against the charge.

Michael Overd, 52, and Michael Stockwell, 50, were filmed last summer preaching at Bristol's Broadmead Shopping Centre.

In March Bristol magistrates heard they had told Muslims their God "did not exist" and called a crowd of shoppers "animals".

Michael Overd outside court

BMX rider out of World Championships

Liam Phillips

Liam Phillips will not be taking part in this year's BMX World Championships in the US.

The 28-year-old, from Burnham-on-Sea, is still recovering from an injured wrist.

Liam was the world champion in 2013 and has twice appeared for Team GB in the Olympic finals.

Click here to read more.

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Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire westbound severe disruption, at J15 for A346 Marlborough Road.

M4 Wiltshire - M4 lane blocked on entry slip road westbound at J15, A346 (Swindon East). Traffic is coping well.

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

Driver jailed for killing brother in M5 race crash

Sabbir Sedoo

A driver has been jailed for killing his younger brother and two friends in a crash which happened during a race at speeds of more than 100mph.

Sabbir Sedoo, 28, was racing his brother Suleiman, 24, on the M5 in Gloucestershire when the accident happened, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

Sulemain's car crashed into the rear of a stationary lorry near the Strensham motorway services, killing him and passengers Ekbal Miah, 23, and Jarrod Campbell, 23. Front seat passenger Majid Malik survived.

At a previous hearing Sedoo, of Falkner Street in Tredworth, Gloucester, admitted three charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Safety at deserted village a 'top priority'

Imber church

Neil Skelton, custodian of the church at Imber, said access has been "significantly reduced" because visitors have been "trespassing in the restricted areas" of the deserted village.

"Last August, we had probably around 4,000 to 5,000 people over the two weeks and at Easter it was manic," he said.

The MoD said keeping visitors safe is a "top priority".

"Unfortunately we have received numerous reports of members of the public placing themselves and others in danger during previous open days by attempting to access restricted areas," a spokesman said.

"Following these reports a risk assessment was carried out which resulted in the decision to reduce public access periods to the village."

Public invited to 'Play Me, I'm Yours'

The first pianos have been delivered to the Bearpit as Luke Jerram’s Play Me, I’m Yours street pianos project returns to Bristol.

The 18 individually-decorated pianos will be installed in public spaces across the city for everyone to play and enjoy from 17 August to 7 September

This is the 10th year of the project, which has seen over 1700 pianos placed in over 55 cities across the globe, reaching over 10 million people - all bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Luke Jerram on his piano
Pianos in the Bearpit

Making the headlines in the West's local newspapers

Severe accident: A46 Gloucestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A46 Gloucestershire both ways severe accident, near Bear Hill.

A46 Gloucestershire - A46 Bath Road in Woodchester blocked and very slow traffic in both directions near the Bear Hill junction, because of an accident.

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

Gloucestershire sign Sri Lanka's Perera

Thisara Perera
Getty Images

Gloucestershire have signed Sri Lanka all-rounder Thisara Perera as their second overseas signing for this summer's T20 Blast competition.

The 28-year-old, a right-arm seamer and left-handed batsman, has taken 11 Test wickets, 129 in one-day internationals and 36 in Twenty20 internationals.

He has a strike rate of 143.42 in international T20s and has hit seven ODI half-centuries.

Perera will replace Australia's Andrew Tye, who was ruled out through injury.

More on this story.

Neolithic 'stone square circle' discovered

Amy Woodfield

BBC Local Live

Archaeologists from Leicester have discovered an ancient "square stone circle" under Neolithic stones in Wiltshire.

Square stone circle
University of Leicester

The "surprising find" in Avebury appears to have been erected around the remains of a Neolithic house, which sat at the centre of the colossal stone circle.

It is thought to be one of the site's earliest structures.

Archaeologists in Wiltshire
University of Leicester

Dr Mark Gillings, from the University of Leicester, said in their "wildest dreams" they had not been expecting to find what he has described as a "stone square circle".

Midsomer Norton loves a school prom

The English town that loves a school prom

More than 3,000 guests dressed up for this year's event in the small town of Midsomer Norton.

Luxury 4x4s seized by Gloucestershire Police

Land Rover
Gloucestershire Police

This is just one of the 11 luxury 4x4 vehicles that have been seized by Gloucestershire Police from business parks in the Forest of Dean.

A man has been charged with handling stolen goods and officers continue to search premises.

We don't like to 'crow' about our stories but you'd be 'raven-mad' not to read this

Watch: How Helen and the disabled rook 'Russell Crow' have become buddies, despite his mischief.

On Monday we brought you the story about Helen, from Cheltenham, who took in an injured rook she'd found at the roadside.

Our video shows how Helen and Russell became the most unlikeliest friends

Since then the story has caused a storm on social media and it has been picked up by a national newspaper.

And earlier today we asked the star of LA Confidential, The Insider, and of course Gladiator, what he thought of the story.

He said what a nice lady Helen is "to look after the poor blighter".

Russell Crowe
Getty Images

Severe disruption: B3148 Somerset both ways

BBC News Travel

B3148 Somerset both ways severe disruption, between A359 and Penmore Road.

B3148 Somerset - B3148 in Marston Magna closed and slow traffic in both directions between the A359 junction and the Penmore Road junction, because of an oil spillage.

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

Russell Crowe says his avian namesake is 'cool'

Russell Crow and Russell Crowe
Russell Crow and Russell Crowe

Earlier this week we brought you the incredible story of Helen from Wiltshire and her pet raven, Russell Crow.

She rescued the bird and he shares her home in Cheltenham.

We got in touch with the Oscar-winning actor and he told us he thought she was "cool" for looking after the injured bird.

View more on twitter

Eight Bristol players make England Women's Rugby World Cup squad

Scheme hopes to reduce hospital admissions after a fall

Person holding a walking stick

A new service to help older people who've fallen in their homes is being piloted in Bath and North East Somerset.

The 12-month trial is being run by South Western Ambulance, Virgin Care and the local Clinical Commissioning Group - and sees a response team going to help people up, before treating them in their own home.

It's hoped the scheme will significantly reduce the number of people who end up in hospital after a fall.

Man charged with six counts of handling valuable stolen cars

The man was charged after police seized six 4x4 vehicles from business parks in the Forest of Dean while acting on information from the community.

He will appear in front of magistrates in Cheltenham this morning.

Officers continue to search the premises.

So far 11 4x4 cars from across the country and hundreds of car parts have been found. Officers are working through the items and will be making contact with owners of the stolen vehicles.

'Ghost village' access restricted

Imber, Salisbury Plain

The MoD is restricting access to the abandoned village of Imber, which is in the middle of its army training ground on Salisbury Plain.

It says visitors have been putting their lives at risk by trespassing in restricted areas where there could be unexploded ammunition.

There will be no public access to the village on Salisbury Plain until August when it will open for just three days instead of two weeks.

Somerset coast survey is 'vital' for protecting wildlife

Survey of Somerset coast is 'vital' for protecting wildlife.

Somerset Wildlife Trust say a survey of the county's coastline is vital for protecting wildlife over the coming years.

The charity has begun a three-year project to document 47 miles of coast, from Brean to the Somerset and Devon border.

The Trust's Steve Mews says they're doing it in order to help save species and wildlife from future threats such as fracking.

Why is the Avebury stone circle and henge important?

Avebury stone circle
Getty Images

The National Trust says the Avebury site is "globally important" due to its "outstanding Neolithic and Bronze age monumental landscape".

Here's a few facts from the Trust's website:

  • It's the only stone circle with a village built within it
  • The Henge consists of a huge bank and ditch approximately 1.3km in circumference
  • The Stone Circle within it is the largest in the world
  • Two smaller inner circles are contained within the larger circle
  • The stones themselves are of a local sarsen stone