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  1. News, sport, weather and travel updates for the West of England on Monday, 4 September 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 BBC Local Live for the West of England - we'll be back online with more live updates from 7am tomorrow.

It's going to be a cloudy start tomorrow with outbreaks of rain, but this will clear later to leave a brighter, fresher day with just the odd shower later on.

Here's Ian with the forecast in detail...

Weather forecast: West of England for 5 September 2017

Midge Ure explores the stories and secrets of Colston Hall

Bath-based pop star Midge Ure

Bristol's Colston Hall is about to close its doors ahead of a two-year refurbishment.

But before it does, Bath-based pop star and Ultravox frontman - Midge Ure - has been taking a look around.

New external board to scrutinise Avon Fire Authority

Avon Fire Authority is to be scrutinised and challenged by a new external panel, following a highly critical government report into the way it is run.

A Home Office report published in July unearthed an "old boys club" culture and called for reforms to leadership.

Today, it was agreed the panel will be led by a chief fire officer from Wales and will oversee the planned reforms.

The Police and Crime Commissioner has been invited on the board, as have councillors from across the region along with the Bristol anti-racist organisation, Sari.

Avon Fire Authority

'Jolly August stuff': Jacob Rees-Mogg laughs off ministerial rumours

He's speaking in front of a Downing Street backdrop...

But North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg tells the Daily Politics he was "astonished" about talk linking him with the Conservative leadership.

He dismissed it all as "jolly August stuff".

Jacob Rees-Mogg laughs off leadership talk

Police back calls for 'effective' CCTV in Southmead

Calls for more effective CCTV in the Southmead area of Bristol are being backed by the police.

It follows serious anti-social behaviour and disorder on a housing estate last week - which saw vehicles being set on fire.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for effective use of CCTV in the area and "stronger intervention" by police.

Supt Andy Bennett said: “We fully support the local community in their calls for effective CCTV coverage in Southmead and we’ll work closely with our partners to help achieve this.”

Southmead area of Bristol

Girl who had orange-sized tumour starts school

It was a special first day at school for four-year-old Lyra Cole from Highbridge.

She had a brain tumour the size of an orange removed when she was just five months old.

Her parents say she's lucky to be alive.

Clinton Rogers has more...

Parents of four-year-old Lyra Cole, from Highbridge, say she's lucky to be alive.

Next generation of wild cranes fledge

The first successful fledging of a second generation of cranes has taken place at a Somerset nature reserve - after three years of nesting attempts.

Between 2010 and 2014, 94 hand-reared cranes were released at the RSPB site on West Sedgemoor.

This year, conservationists reported that three pairs of those original cranes had nested and reared four chicks.

Click here for the full story.

John Crispin

Candle-lit vigil held to mark hospital's overnight A&E closure

It's two months since the overnight closure of Weston General Hospital's A&E unit was introduced.

The department is currently closed between 10pm and 8am after the watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, raised concerns about staffing levels.

Helen Thornton is from the group Protect Our NHS North Somerset which is organising tonight's event.

She says there's no formal date for when normal service resumes at the hospital:

It's been two months since Weston General's A&E started closing overnight.

Hundreds of 'swan bags' donated by Ikea

Hundreds of Ikea bags have been donated to a Somerset wildlife rescue centre, to transport swans.

An appeal for the large blue bags was put out on social media by Secret World Wildlife Rescue last week.

Within days a box of 300 bags was sent to the charity by the Swedish flatpack furniture giant, along with a note saying how "great" it was the bags were being used to rescue swans.

A branch of IKEA has donated 300 bags to a wildlife rescue charity

Concerns raised about Amazon working conditions

A group of drivers delivering parcels for a courier company working for Amazon claim they are owed thousands of pounds.

The group of 24 drivers were told in July that there was no more work for them and asked to hand in van keys. They were told they would be paid for jobs already completed.

Concerns have also been raised about working conditions for the drivers.

See more about this story on Inside Out West on BBC One at 7.30pm.

Read more on this story.

Amazon drivers 'owed money' by agency

Could 'Fantastic Beasts' be filming a Hogwarts scene at Lacock?

The village of Lacock in Wiltshire is alive with the buzz of Hollywood today.

Warner Brothers Productions have a large facility set-up at Lacock Abbey and security is very tight.

Some star actors have even been spotted in local pubs and the rumour is they're filming the sequel of the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

But everyone's keeping tight-lipped about exactly which film it is - including Graham Heard, from the National Trust.

New Filton Navy defence missiles tested

A new air missile defence system developed in Bristol for the Royal Navy has been successfully tested off the coast of Scotland, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Defence company MBDA's Sea Ceptor missiles can intercept and destroy enemy missiles travelling at supersonic speeds and will form part of the protection for the Navy's new aircraft carriers.

Harriett Baldwin, minister for defence procurement, announced the successful firings during a visit to MBDA's site in Filton.

Richard Smart, from the MOD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said he was "really pleased with the result".

Richard Smart, Director Weapons at the MOD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation.

Weston Hospital's overnight closures defended by trust

A candle-lit vigil is being held tonight at Weston General Hospital by campaigners highlighting two months since the hospital introduced its overnight A&E closure.

The trust which runs the hospital made the decision after concerns were raised by the health watchdog about staffing levels.

Chief executive of the Weston Area NHS Trust, James Rimmer, says they have been keeping everyone informed about the changes but staff shortages are an ongoing issue:

The trust says it is in talks with health bosses about A&E and staffing shortages.

Swinging down the aisle

Who knew that churches could also double up as circus training schools?

For Bristol Doors Open Day this year, Circomedia are opening up their doors in partnership with Ujima Radio for a day of arts and circus displays.

Here's a sneak peek at what you can expect if you enter the huge circus school.

Ahead of Doors Open Day 2017, we've been for a look around this disused church.

Jail sentence for Bath restaurant boss over fire risk

Eastern Eye, Bath
The Eastern Eye restaurant is in the centre of Bath

A restaurant owner in Bath has been fined £70,000 and sentenced to jail for "multiple" fire safety failings.

Abdul Hadi Choudhury was sentenced to six months, suspended for 12 months, after pleading guilty to breaching fire safety regulations in his Eastern Eye restaurant.

Bristol Crown Court heard the restaurant's fire detection and alarm system had no power, fire escapes were blocked, and unlit and internal fire doors had been wedged open.

Summing up, the judge said the “compendium of multiple failings” meant that had a fire occurred "it would have been almost impossible for the customers and staff to have escaped to safety".

Road re-opens after car crashes into pub

Scene of crash

The A4 in Bristol between Hotwell Road and Charles Place has re-opened after a car crashed into a pub in Hotwells.

The road was closed for several hours after a car drove through the front of the Merchants Arms in the early hours.

The driver walked away with minor injuries.

Bristol Parkway closure travel advice

Commuters at Bristol Parkway station

Bristol Parkway station is shut for two weeks. But measures have been put in place to try to avoid commuter disruption as much as possible:

As we approach the evening rush hour, here's some of the travel advice given by GWR, CrossCountry and National Rail Enquiries:

  • CrossCountry has an amended timetable in operation with an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads, Cheltenham and Birmingham New Street
  • Great Western Railway services between Filton Abbey Wood and Yate will be replaced by buses
  • Some services that usually run to and from Bristol Parkway will be amended to start or terminate at Bristol Temple Meads
  • CrossCountry services will be diverted via, and call additionally at, Patchway
  • It has said bicycles would not be allowed on replacement buses

Call for universities to 'boycott' developer after heritage destruction

Jacobean ceiling, Small Street, Bristol

Green councillors in Bristol want universities and student unions to "boycott" a builder after it was claimed a 400-year-old ceiling was demolished a day before an inspection by historic listings officers.

The elaborate Jacobean fresco was inside a former town house in Small Street, which is due to be turned into student flats.

Developers said the ceiling had been removed to "respect the safety of the building" and nothing illegal had been done.

But in an open letter, councillors called for the University of Bristol, University of the West of England, and student unions "not to promote or give official recognition" to the student flats in Small Street "or any other projects from the same developer".

Jacobean ceiling, Small Street, Bristol
Historic England said it received an urgent listing request last week but the ceiling was "deliberately removed" before it could be assessed.

A beautiful piece of Bristol’s history has been smashed forever. Frustratingly there is very little most of us can do – even as elected councillors – except express our anger.

Eleanor CombleyGreen Party leader, Bristol City Council

Memorial to lost Forest freeminers

Ernie Hughes and Baroness Royall at the memorial

A new memorial was unveiled at the weekend to remember freeminers who died in mining accidents in the Forest of Dean.

The 7ft (2.13m) monument made of steel and stone stands next to Pan Tod beacon on Ruardean Hill, Gloucestershire and records the names of 50 men.

It has been built by ex-miner Ernie Hughes whose father Leslie died at the Northern United colliery in Cinderford in 1951, aged 45.

Mr Hughes said he had wanted to set up the memorial "all his life".

Click here to read more.

Fifty years since flying saucers hoax

Watch: The 50th anniversary of the great UFO hoax

Fifty years ago this week the nation was gripped by stories of flying saucers found in locations across the south of England, including in Chippenham and Clevedon.

The UFOs bleeped, hissed and hummed, and were filled with a foul-smelling mysterious liquid, prompting a major police and Army response.

But it turned out they had touched down from somewhere a little closer to home than Mars.

Click here to read more.

Success for cranes at Somerset RSPB reserve

After three years of nesting attempts at the RSPB’s West Sedgemoor nature reserve, this year has seen the first successful fledging of second-generation cranes.

Ninety-four hand-reared cranes were released at the reserve between 2010 and 2014.

This year three pairs have nested and then reared four chicks on the site - a six-month process.

The eggs and flightless chicks are particularly vulnerable to predators.

Two of this year’s four chicks have been caught, radio tagged and ringed, so that their fortunes can be monitored.

Cranes flying
John Crispin
One of the crane chicks is pictured flying below its parents

The chick will continue to be reared by the parent birds through the winter. Its parents are both six-year-old birds.

Liz Antliff-ClarkVolunteer project coordinator for the RSPB in Somerset

Bristol to trial 'full-fibre' broadband

Bristol is one of six areas across the UK which will soon be trying out broadband technology, providing data at speeds approaching 1Gbps.

Businesses, schools and hospitals will be the first to try out the "full-fibre" network technology.

The pilots will also be run in Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

The government will spend about £10m getting the pilots up and running.

Click here to read the full story.

Optical fibres

Never mind the Down's Festival: what about Pugfest?!

Hundreds of pugs and their owners attended Pugfest 2017 in Henbury.

Witnesses sought following violent cycle path robbery

A man was robbed on the Bristol cycle path near to Whitehall Road on Saturday morning.

Police say, "The victim was approached by another man. They spoke and appeared to embrace each other before there was an altercation between the two. Both then threw punches."

"A woman also intervened and attacked the victim, picking up his rucksack and putting it on her back."

The two suspects ran off' leaving their victim needing treatment and expected to remain in hospital over five days.

Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for witnesses who may have been walking or riding along the cycle path at the time. The suspects are described as:

  • a black man, aged 20-30 years old with long cane-row hair, wearing a black knee length vest, and
  • a woman, of mixed background, also 20-30 years old, of slim build, wearing a green anorak

If you can help, call 101, quoting reference 5217198897

Police line

Police remove car from pub entrance

The A4 in Bristol has been closed off in Hotwells all morning, after a car crashed into the front of The Merchants Arms, demolishing part of the building, early this morning.

Engineers have been assessing the safety of the remaining structure and dealing with a gas leak.

The driver walked away with minor injuries.

WATCH: A short while ago, police were able to remove the vehicle:

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'I'm not talking to you on camera!'

Watch: BBC Inside Out West sought an interview with Jayson Lyon

See earlier posts for the background to this story...

When challenged by the BBC in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, Jayson Lyon - director of AHC Couriers Ltd - refused to speak on camera.

He said he was bound by his contract with Amazon not to do so.

But speaking later, off-camera, the drivers haven't been paid because their money was tied up in the vans they had been provided with and the damage he said the drivers had caused.

Drivers that haven't caused any damage or 'racked up' any driving or parking fines, he added, would get their money after 60 days.

Since then, AHC said it has treated all drivers in accordance with their contracts, paid those who had "provided the required information" and "refutes any suggestion that pay has been unlawfully withheld".

Watch more of this on BBC One tonight at 7:30pm and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

Severe accident: M4 Bristol westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Bristol westbound severe accident, between J19 for M32 and J20 for M5.

M4 Bristol - One lane closed and very slow traffic on M4 westbound between J19, M32 (Bristol) and J20, M5 (Almondsbury Interchange), because of an accident involving a car and lorry.

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

Building work begins on hostel for homeless veterans

TAH offices

Building work gets under way today on a project that will help home veterans in Somerset.

The Taunton Association for the Homeless has moved into a new headquarters and is converting its old East Reach office into homes.

Veterans will also be referred to other suitable support agencies to help with issues such as mental health and alcohol addictions.

More here.

They have different needs to some of our other clients and they don't always fare as well as we feel they could do if they had a bespoke project. Sometimes a hostel, which can be quite chaotic from time to time, isn't always the right place for them. By converting the building that we own anyway and create an exclusive project for them was the best way forward.

Justin RoxburghTaunton Association for the Homeless

Concerns over missing woman who is due to give birth

A woman who is 39 weeks pregnant has gone missing.

Police are asking members of the public for information on the whereabouts of Natasha Joanne Johnson, 26, who was last seen getting into a taxi on Thursday 24 August in Trowbridge.

Wiltshire Police has growing concerns for both her and that of her unborn child as she is so close to giving birth.

She is believed to have made her way to Sevenoaks in Kent.

View more on twitter

Hospital staff suspended after complaint

Dene Barton Community Hospital

Several members of staff have been suspended at a community hospital in Somerset.

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs 14 beds at Dene Barton Community Hospital near Taunton, said an investigation was being carried out.

The other beds at the hospital are run by Musgrove Park Hospital and is not subject to the suspensions.

Engineers on site at Hotwell after overnight crash

This was the scene that greeted @ASPolice this morning at first light.

Engineers are still trying to assess the stability of a pub in Hotwell Road after a car ploughed into it in the early hours of today. They have also been dealing with a gas leak at the scene.

Police now say they believe the car can be safely removed. Its driver escaped with minor injuries.

The A4 Southbound at Merchants Road junction with Hotwell Road and the Charles Place junction remains closed.

Thanks to @JonCraig_Photos for your on-the-spot pics.

Crash scene
The scene of the crash in Hotwells, Bristol, as engineers and police continue to assess
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More on the great saucer invasion

Press cutting from 5 September 1967 from The Guardian
Guardian News & Media
Press cutting from 5 September 1967 from The Guardian

In September 1967, six flying saucers generated a real emergency response and panic across the country.

However they were later revealed to be part of a stunt.

The six saucers were placed in a straight line from east to west, including one in Wiltshire and one in North Somerset.

Teams of apprentices from Farnborough's Royal Aircraft Establishment came up with the idea for the hoax and delivered the saucers to each location.

If you'd like to read more, click here.

'I'm boiling inside. I don't know what to do'

Amri Talel has organised the drivers to demand they are paid
Amri Talel has organised the drivers to demand they are paid

More on our story today about how a group of drivers delivering parcels for Amazon are claiming they are owed thousands of pounds in unpaid wages.

The group of 24 drivers were told in July there was no more work for them.

They say they were asked to hand in their van keys and told they would be paid the same evening.

Amri Talel worked for AHC for three years. He said he was owed £4,000 in back pay and vehicle deposits.

"I have no money and he [Mr Lyon] is enjoying himself. How can he sleep at night? I'm boiling inside. I don't know what to do."

See our earlier posts for comments by Mr Lyon.

Since the Inside Out West team started following their case and challenging AHC, Amri has been paid £1,600.

BBC Inside Out West's report can be seen on BBC One in the West and South regions at 19:30 BST on Monday 4 September, and afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

Football returns to Stoke Gifford after player's 2015 death

Ben Hiscox
Clive Hiscox

A football team returned to its home ground on Saturday more than two years since a player was killed in a freak accident.

Stoke Gifford United player Ben Hiscox, 30, died after hitting his head against the clubhouse while tackling an opponent in March 2015.

The club has since made a number of safety alterations to the North Road playing field near Bristol.

Ben's father Clive Hiscox said he hopes the pitch is now "a safe environment".

Click here to read more.

Ben Hiscox

Club back home after footballer's death

Ben Hiscox died after hitting his head against the clubhouse while tackling an opponent.

Read more

The day the spaceships arrived

'Flying saucer' in Chippenham
John Keeling

Fifty years ago today, six 'spaceships' landed in England - two of which were found in the West.

The apparently extra-terrestrial vessels prompted a major police and military response, but they were in fact part of a stunt by students.

The saucers were placed in six locations in a straight line from east to west - Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey, Bromley in south London, Ascot, the village of Welford, near Newbury in Berkshire, Chippenham in Wiltshire (pictured above) and Clevedon in North Somerset.

Click here to read more about the hoax.

A4 closed all morning: driver escapes with minor injuries

The Merchants Arms on the A4 in Hotwells has been cordoned off after a car crashed into the entrance of the building earlier this morning.

In the past few minutes, the fire service gave the all clear for the car to be removed as the structural damage was not as serious as initially thought.

A gas leak caused by the collision is also being dealt with by engineers on site.

Police have also confirmed the driver of the car was not badly hurt.

Scene of the crash
The Merchants Arms pub on the A4 is in danger of collapse police say

Swindon half marathon causes traffic 'nightmare'

The organisers of yesterday's Swindon half marathon have apologised about the level of traffic disruption it caused.

The race followed a new, more accessible route for less experienced runners...

And whilst this year's Swindon half marathon was an enormous success for the runners, many motorists were left fuming by traffic delays caused by the road closures.

An event spokesman said: "We can see from the amount of reported traffic issues and them being unaware of the event, that we need to do more, and will make sure that we do exactly that for future years."

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View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

First commuter day with closed Parkway station

Passengers who use Bristol Parkway have been experiencing the first day of a fortnight's planned disruption due to closure.

Network Rail are updating the platforms so that their new fleet of longer trains can call at the station.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Amazon drivers 'owed thousands' by delivery firm

Amazon depot in Avonmouth

A group of drivers who deliver parcels for Amazon claim they are owed thousands of pounds in unpaid 'wages'.

Drivers working for AHC Couriers, from the online retail giant's depot in Avonmouth, say they were told five weeks ago there was no more work for them, but that they would be paid for work they had carried out.

The claims follow a BBC Inside Out investigation which alleged some agency drivers regularly worked "illegal" hours for less than the minimum wage, rather than being officially employed.

Following BBC questions, AHC paid some of the unpaid 'wages' to a number of the drivers, last week.

The full story will be broadcast on BBC One in the West at 1930 tonight.

Bristol pub is checked for structural damage after crash

The Merchant Arms pub in Hotwell is being checked for structural damage after a car crashed into the building early this morning.

Commuters have been warned there will be some delays in the area, as the pub is along the busy A4 in the city.

Police say the road is likely to be closed until lunchtime.

The A4 at Hotwell Road is closed as car crash destabilises pub