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Summary

  1. News, sport, travel and weather updates from across the West of England on Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good night - that's it from BBC Local Live for today

Watch: Ian Fergusson with the outlook for tomorrow

That's all from us for this evening.

We'll be back from 7am tomorrow with more live news, sport, weather and travel updates from around the West of England.

BBC Somerset's Claire Carter in training

Watch: Claire gets a taste of the Navy life

Claire Carter, presenter of the breakfast show on BBC Somerset, has been to RNAS Yeovilton ahead of The Great Wellington Walk.

Francois Louw

Bath flanker Francois Louw is suspended for three weeks after pleading guilty to making contact with the eye area.

Read more

Watch: Emergency services in Chippenham

Watch: A cordon has been put in place

BBC reporter Marie Indge sent this video of the emergency services in the middle of Chippenham.

An explosion in a third-floor flat near Market Place has left a man with serious burns.

War Horse team trots out new and old connections

Watch: A War Horse puppet meets two of the real thing

As Bristol Hippodrome stages War Horse, the star of the show was earlier making friends with some of Avon and Somerset's equine finest.

One of the puppeteers, Samuel Parker, grew up in Bristol. He plays the hind of Joey (the horse).

State of the City: Other key points from mayor's speech

Marvin Rees making his state of the city 2017 speech
BBC

In among Marvin Rees' speech this evening:

  • A demand that opposition political parties in the council stop playing "placard politics" and work with him to "get things done"
  • A rejection of setting a 'no-cuts' budget and carrying the "attitude of previous administrations of kicking difficult decisions down the road"
  • A bid for £100m of government money to deliver housing around Temple Meads, as well as new developments in Hengrove, Lockleaze and Southmead
  • New efforts to redevelop Temple Meads Station and the surrounding area, bringing a new retail and hospitality offer
  • An "intention to implement a policy where roadworks are not idle throughout the day"

State of the City: Council tax relief scheme spared the axe

Bristol City Hall
BBC

Marvin Rees has also said in his speech tonight that he intends to retain a scheme to cut council tax for the city's poorest residents for this year.

The Bristol mayor had said the council can no longer afford to run the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

But opposition councillors said plans to cut the relief scheme were "potentially illegal".

Tonight he said: "We are also the only core city that retains the full council tax reduction scheme, and with the support of my Labour colleagues, for this year at least, will recommend to full council that we retain this scheme intact."

Chippenham explosion: A picture of the scene nearby

Chippenham scene
BBC

Chippenham explosion: Red Cross supporting those affected

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service says volunteers from the British Red Cross are at the scene to support those affected by the blast.

Meanwhile, a building control officer from Wiltshire Council has been asked to check the integrity of the property, which has suffered "significant structural damage".

A cordon has been put in place by the Blue Cross charity shop to St Mary Street by the Tesco junction and up to the Market Place by the small short stay car park and Timber Street.

The buildings within this cordon are being evacuated and drivers have been asked to avoid the area this evening.

State of the City: Did Marvin forget to mention the Arena?

Bristol arena artist impression
BBC

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees' speech was 4,826 words long... but not one of those words was Arena.

Twelve months ago, he said among other things he'd deliver on the arena by 2019.

Tonight, the project was not mentioned.

The latest news is that new contractors are working on the plans. But with costs set to rise far beyond the original estimate, will the arena ever be built?

State of the City: Rees wants to rebuild Cumberland Basin

Marvin Rees
BBC

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees wants to tear down one of Bristol's largest road junctions to make way for a new waterside residential area.

In his State of the City address, which he is currently delivering, he said he wanted to replace the "old, ugly road network" at Cumberland Basin - potentially renamed the Western Harbour.

Redevelopment of land on both sides of the river would allow for "more affordable housing to the city centre".

We are putting together a proposal that will tear down the old, ugly road network across the western end of the harbour, build a new bridge across the river at a lower point and develop the available land on both sides of the Avon, bringing more affordable housing to the city centre, extending the harbour as a residential area to the west. We may even rename the Cumberland Basin, the Western Harbour. I hope to unveil these plans soon.

Marvin ReesBristol Mayor

Chippenham explosion in 'third-floor flat'

Market Place
Google

More on the "explosion" in Market Place in the centre of Chippenham this evening.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service says it received a 999 call at 6:12pm to say there had been an explosion in a third-floor flat within a mid-terraced building.

"By 6:55pm, everyone who could have been in the building was accounted for – one man suffering from serious burns has been taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol by South Western Ambulance Service," the force adds.

A spokesman says is now "downscaling its presence, although investigations into what happened will continue for some time".

BreakingExplosion in Chippenham town centre

Emergency services are in the centre of Chippenham this evening after what they describe as an "explosion" near a betting shop at about 6:20pm.

One man has suffered serious burns and was treated at the scene by ambulance crews. He is now being taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

A cordon has been put in place by the Blue Cross charity shop in St Marys Street by the Tesco junction and up to the Market Place by the small short stay car park and Timber Street.

The buildings within this cordon are being evacuated. Drivers should avoid the area this evening.

Police and fire crews are on scene trying to find out the cause of the explosion.

Cameron government 'broke Kids Company funding promise'

Watch: Kids Company’s Camila Batmanghelidjh speaks on BBC 5 Live

The founder of collapsed charity Kids Company claims David Cameron's government broke a promise to turn it into a state-funded organisation.

Camila Batmanghelidjh says she was told of plans in 2014 to transform it into something similar to Childline, the NSPCC hotline which gets some regular government funding.

But it never happened because politicians "change their story and they run," she told BBC 5 Live's Emma Barnett.

Kids Company, which looked after vulnerable children in Bristol, London and Liverpool collapsed a year later.

Rugby: Bath player suspended

Concern over effects of mind-altering drug

Spice
EPA

New figures show the number of people being treated at the Bristol Royal Infirmary for the effects of a new mind altering drug rose over the summer.

The University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust says 24 people were treated after taking the drug, known as Spice, last June - compared to about six in an average month.

The Bristol Drugs Project says it has also seen an increase in its use mainly among the city's homeless population.

Avon and Somerset Police say anyone caught in possession of Spice could face up to five years in prison, and for supplying or producing the drug could be jailed for up to 14 years under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Tor the rescue...

Watch: Rock has been flown to the top

Forty tonnes of rock has been flown through the autumn gloom to the top of Glastonbury Tor.

The helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton have helped a team trying to tackle the erosion on the top of the landmark, caused by the large number of visitors.

Rare injured bat nursed back to health

Watch: The grey long-eared bats were found in Somerset

Two grey long-eared bats found injured in Somerset are being nursed back to health.

One was rescued in Merriott near Crewkerne in the summer, and another was found in Williton a couple of weeks ago.

The bat species is one of the UK's rarest.

State of the city: How are those pledges coming along?

Twelve months ago, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said - among other things - he'd deliver on the arena, sort out the city's traffic and bring powerboat racing back to the docks.

What will he say tonight?

View more on twitter

Parachute murder trial jury shown tampering demo video

Watch: A clip from the video shown in court

The jury in the trial of an army sergeant accused of tampering with his wife's parachute in an attempt to kill her has been shown demonstration videos of how the sabotage might have been carried out.

Victoria Cilliers fell 4,000 feet when both her main and reserve chutes failed to properly open at the Netheravon air base in Wiltshire in 2015.

A parachute expert re-created the alleged sabotage in a toilet cubicle at the airbase, which is where the prosecution say Emile Cilliers tampered with the parachute.

The demonstrations were conducted at the request of the jury to see if a sabotage could take place in the confines of a toilet cubicle.

Mr Cilliers denies two counts of attempted murder and one count of recklessly endangering life.

Bristol hosts huge, wooden horses for wartime play

Albert and Joey
Brinkhoff-Mogenburg

Bristol Hippodrome is preparing to stage its first night of War Horse as the acclaimed play tours the country.

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, the play follows the story of Albert and his horse Joey as they both go to France to fight in World War One.

On stage, the play is quite a spectacle with huge, wooden puppets and live folk music.

War Horse is on at the Hippodrome from 18th October to 11th November.

Puppet
Brinkhoff-Mogenburg
War Horse puppet
Brinkhoff-Mogenburg

Man with MP-themed tattoo meets his hero

Jacob Rees-Mogg Tattoo
Ross Atkinson

A man from Doncaster who has a Jacob Rees-Mogg tattoo on his chest has now met the politician.

Ross Atkinson made national news in August over his £50 tattoo of the Member of Parliament for North East Somerset, which reads "Moggmentum".

Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and fan Ross Atkinson
BBC

Mr Atkinson met the MP at Westminster yesterday and he shared a drink and a private chat with him.

He says he was surprised to find that his hero drank coffee, thinking him to be a tea drinker.

Grime artist Solo45 charged with 29 counts of rape

Solo 45
BBC

Bristol Grime artist Solo 45 has been charged with a further 27 counts of rape, bringing the total number of rape charges he is facing to 29.

He appeared at Bristol Crown Court accused of two counts of rape, one count of false imprisonment and one of causing actual bodily harm against one person in July.

His trial was due to start today, but Avon and Somerset Police said three more victims had come forward.

The trial has now been adjourned until April next year.

FA apologises to players over Mark Sampson conduct

Mark Sampson
Getty Images

The FA has apologised to two players after new evidence showed sacked England's women's boss Mark Sampson made remarks which were "discriminatory on the grounds of race".

An independent barrister ruled the former Bristol Academy manager made unacceptable "ill-judged attempts at humour" on two occasions, to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.

Katharine Newton said despite this, she did not believe he is racist.

A report of her reopened investigation was released as FA bosses and Aluko face a parliamentary inquiry today.

MPs are likely to ask why the FA hired Sampson without knowing about a previous investigation into his conduct at Bristol.

Henry VII painting arrives in Somerset

Watch: The portrait is on loan from a national gallery

A special painting's on display in Somerset.

The painting of Henry VII is on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. It's their oldest painting and dates from 1505.

Government rejects call for mesh implants ban

Mesh
BBC
The mesh is made of polypropolene and surgeons routinely use it in hernia repair

The government has rejected a call for an inquiry and a ban on surgical mesh implants across the UK.

It follows a debate on the matter by MPs in the House of Commons.

Inside Out West investigated these implants earlier this week and revealed that a Bristol-based surgeon who carried out mesh surgery and left women in severe pain is being investigated by his NHS trust.

Labour's Emma Hardy urged the government to suspend operations using mesh implants while a "full retrospective and mandatory audit of all interventions using mesh" is carried out.

However, health minister Jackie Doyle-Price said "the issue is not with the product, it's about clinical practice".

She added the government needed to make sure all clinicians have the most up-to-date and appropriate advice and said her priority was to make sure those affected got the support and care and treatment that they needed.

Work starts to tackle Glastonbury Tor erosion

Glastonbury Tor
Getty Images

Helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton will be transporting 40 tonnes of aggregate to the top of Glastonbury Tor.

It's to help tackle erosion on the top of the landmark - the result of the number of visitors climbing it each year.

It's hoped these measures will last several years while a long term solution is put in place.

Inquest into M5 police shooting opens

Aerial shot of red car showing bullet holes
BBC

The inquest into the death of a man who was shot by police near the M5 has been opened.

Spencer Ashworth, 29, was stopped on the A369 Portbury Hundred near Bristol by firearms officers on 27 September.

During a short hearing at Avon Coroner's Court, the inquest was told Mr Ashworth's body was identified by his mother.

Senior coroner Maria Voisin adjourned proceedings until a review hearing on 24 January.

Read the full story here.

Severe accident: M50 Gloucestershire westbound

BBC News Travel

M50 Gloucestershire westbound severe accident, between J1 for A38 and J2 for A417.

M50 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M50 westbound between J1, A38 (Tewkesbury) and J2, A417 (Ledbury), because of an accident. Traffic is coping well.

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

Bristol man in court over River Thames speedboat death

Jack Shepherd
PA
Jack Shepherd has been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

A man from Bristol has appeared in court charged with manslaughter after a woman he was on a date with was killed in a speedboat incident.

Charlotte Brown, 24, died in hospital after both she and Jack Shepherd, 30, ended up in the River Thames in December 2015.

Police were called to reports of someone in distress near Wandsworth Bridge at around 11.45 on 8 December.

Shepherd appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court on Wednesday charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.

Severe disruption: M4 Bristol westbound

BBC News Travel

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

M4 Bristol - One lane closed and slow traffic on M4 westbound between J19, M32 (Bristol) and J20, M5 (Almondsbury Interchange), because of a lorry having a tyre changed.

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

Use of the synthetic drug 'Spice' increases in Bristol

Spice synthetic drug
EPA

There has been an increase in the number of people using the synthetic drug Spice in Bristol.

The psychoactive substances, formerly known as "legal highs", mimic the effects of cannabis and were banned by the government in May 2016.

The Bristol Drugs Project said it had seen an increase, possibly due to it being more readily available.

Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) said there been a spike in Spice-related admissions in the summer.

Read the full story here.

Bristol mayor to make 'state of the city' address

Paul Barltrop

Political Editor, West of England

Marvin Rees
BBC

Bristol's mayor is expected to defend his record in a major speech today.

Marvin Rees will be making his annual state of the city address at a time when the council is under severe financial pressure.

He's only been in the job for 18 months, but is already grappling with making £100m of savings.

Last time he talked determinedly of tackling the city's chronic congestion and delivering a long-awaited arena.

A year on and the roads are still regularly jammed, while there are doubts about whether the arena will be built.

He'll want to sound optimistic; he may have to choose his words carefully.

Waiting times at Southmead A&E 'fall short of targets'

Southmead Hospital
BBC

New figures show people are having to wait longer to be seen in the accident and emergency department (A&E) at Southmead Hospital.

The figures for last month indicate 80% of patients were seen within four hours. That falls short of the NHS target of 95%.

The North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Southmead, says it's working to expand its A&E ward capacity and is rated among one of the best trusts for patient satisfaction.

The BBC has launched a new online NHS tracker, providing information about how local hospitals are performing in the three key target areas. It will be updated as the monthly and quarterly figures are published.

Mesh implants 'life-changing and devastating'

Mesh implant diagram
BBC
The mesh is made of a polypropylene, a type of plastic

An MP is urging the Government to suspend operations using mesh implants and conduct a full audit and public inquiry into their use.

Labour's Emma Hardy said the surgery has had an "horrific impact" on thousands of men and women across the country causing "life-long injuries".

Inside Out West investigated these implants earlier this week and revealed that a Bristol-based surgeon who carried out mesh surgery and left women in severe pain is being investigated by his NHS trust.

The scale of the number of people affected by mesh surgery could be one of the biggest medical scandals of our time.

Emma HardyMP

Severe disruption: M4 Gloucestershire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Gloucestershire eastbound severe disruption, between J18 for A46 Bath and J17 for A350.

M4 Gloucestershire - One lane closed and heavy traffic on M4 eastbound between J18, A46 (Bath) and J17, A350 (Chippenham), because of a lorry having a tyre changed.

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

M5 shooting inquest adjourned

The shooting took place near J19 on the M5.
BBC/Google
The shooting took place near J19 on the M5.

An inquest into the shooting of a man just off the M5 near Bristol has been opened and adjourned until an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation is completed.

Avon Coroner's Court heard that the victim, 29-year-old Spencer Ashworth, was shot dead by police firearms officers on 27 September 2017.

He was born in Southampton and was of no fixed abode. He was single and worked as a courier driver.

The inquest heard a postmortem examination has been carried out and is awaiting toxicology results.

There will be a review of how the IPCC inquiry is progressing on January 24.

A police cordon is in place at the Portbury Hundred
BBC
A police cordon was put in place around the scene of the shooting.

Mesh implant risks discussed at Westminster

Mesh
BBC

MPs will be discussing the risk of surgical mesh implants in a Westminster debate this morning.

Inside Out West investigated these implants earlier this week - they are widely used to treat common conditions in women who've had children.

In the last decade more than 100,000 women in the UK have been fitted with the implants, but some have suffered serious complications.

Your local newspaper headlines this morning