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Summary

  1. Skipper of £80m drugs boat convicted
  2. Fatal Looe landslide: Councillors approve reforms
  3. Family pay tribute to 'beloved sister and daughter' killed in farm accident
  4. Health bosses refuse to overturn a decision to temporarily close beds at a Devon hospital
  5. Local authorities in the South West are to share more than £90m from the government to help pay for adult social care over the next three years
  6. Cornwall Council has approved the preferred route for the £84m A30 to St Austell link road
  7. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

By Victoria Gould

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage

Victoria Gould

BBC News Online

That's all from BBC Local Live in Devon & Cornwall for today, we'll be back at 08:00 to bring you all the day's news, sport, travel and weather updates.

Don't miss BBC Spotlight at 18:30 and the late bulletin at 22:30 tonight.

Two days to remove £80m of cocaine from boat in Falmouth

BBC News UK

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it took around two days to remove cocaine worth £80m from a boat seized off Cornwall in August 2016.

The skipper of the Bianca, Michael McDermott, 68, from Waterford, Ireland, was convicted of drug smuggling today at Bristol Crown Court.

During a search in Falmouth, Border Force teams located bales of cocaine hidden under bags of sand and gravel in the boat's fish hold. There were 38 bales in total, each weighing between 25 and 30kg.

Cocaine
National Crime Agency

'Huge quantity of cocaine' - skipper convicted

BBC News UK

Following the conviction of Michael McDermott for his part in an £80m cocaine smuggling operation, Mark Harding, senior investigating officer from the National Crime Agency's border investigation team, said: "This was a huge quantity of cocaine, the biggest single seizure made in the UK in 2016.

"His was a crucial link in a chain that leads from cocaine manufacturers in South America to drug dealers in the UK. In stopping this consignment we have prevented further criminality by the gangs who bring violence and exploitation to our streets."

Michael McDermott
National Crime Agency

Devon sailor to skipper team in round the world yacht race

Victoria Gould

BBC News Online

Rick Powell
Clipper Ventures

Skipper Rick Powell, 52, from Chillington, Devon has been appointed to lead a team of amateur sailors in the extreme adventure challenge, the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.

Mr Powell, who began his sailing career 18 years ago on the River Exe, had to go through a series of tough interviews and trials before being selected as one of 12 professional skippers for the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race. 

He said: “I really enjoy passing my knowledge on to others and I am a big advocate for continual training and improvement. I will be encouraging safe sailing with a high level of attention to detail throughout the Clipper Race.”

Aerial shot of yacht race
Clipper Ventures

May, Pope & Moyle sign new Pirates deals

James Law

BBC Sport Online

Scrum-half Mike Pope, fly-half Laurence May and back Kyle Moyle have all signed new one-year deals at Cornish Pirates.

It means the Championship side now have 15 players signed on for the 2017-18 Championship season.

Laurence May
Rex Features

"All three individuals have developed as players, and Laurence is now one of the standout 10s in the Championship," said coach Gavin Cattle.  

Laurence May

May, Pope & Moyle sign new Pirates deals

Scrum-half Mike Pope, fly-half Laurence May and back Kyle Moyle all sign new one-year deals at Cornish Pirates.

Read more

Cocaine skipper bought boat for £17,000

BBC News UK

Cocaine smuggling skipper Michael McDermott initially claimed he knew there were drugs on board but had been forced into shipping them.

McDermott, 68, from Waterford in Ireland, was convicted of drug smuggling today at Bristol Crown Court. Shipmates David Pleasants, 57, and Gerald Van de Kooij, 27, previously admitted drug importation offences.

National Crime Agency investigators were also able to establish that he had purchased the Bianca in Whitstable, Kent, paying £17,000 in cash just weeks before his arrest, telling the seller that he planned to sail to Spain and use it for diving and chartered angling trips.

Gerald Van de Kooij, Michael McDermott, David Pleasants
National Crime Agency

Cleaner air for Cornwall

Victoria Gould

BBC News Online

Car exhaust
Getty

A new strategy to cut air pollution in Cornwall has been given the go ahead by senior councillors. 

It focuses on reducing vehicle emissions in the county by encouraging the uptake of alternative fuels, providing brand new buses, improving the walking and cycling environment, and a publicity campaign to reduce vehicle engine idling. 

UK's biggest cocaine seizure of 2016 off coast of Cornwall

BBC News UK

In total the haul of cocaine seized on the Bianca off the coast of Cornwall in August 2016 weighed 939 kilos.

The boat's skipper, Michael McDermott, 68, from Waterford in Ireland, was found guilty of smuggling the drugs at Bristol Crown Court today. Two other men previously pleaded guilty.

National Crime Agency forensic experts found that the cocaine was between 60 and 70 per cent pure.

It was the biggest single seizure of cocaine in the UK in 2016 and experts estimated that if cut to street purity and sold in the UK it would have had a potential value of nearly £84m.

Cocaine
National Crime Agency

There's a bit of a buzz around zoo's new chain of hotels

Emily Tyack and her bee hotels
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park & Living Coasts

Paignton Zoo has set up 10 "bee hotels" in its 80 acre grounds. 

A student working at the site is trying to work out the effectiveness of artificial nest sites. 

The zoo says bees are threatened by habitat loss and it's hoped artificial nesting sites will help protect them. 

Emily Tyack has chosen three types of bee house in the hope of discovering whether or not each bee species has a particular preference. 

BreakingSkipper of £80m cocaine boat found guilty

BBC News UK

The skipper of a fishing boat has been convicted of trying to smuggle more than a ton of cocaine into the UK.

Michael McDermott, 68, from Waterford in Ireland, was found guilty by a jury at Bristol Crown Court following a one week trial.

National Crime Agency (NCA) and Border Force officers arrested McDermott on 18 August 2016 alongside shipmates David Pleasants, 57, and Gerald Van de Kooij, 27 off the coast of Cornwall and brought the boat into Falmouth.

Two Border Force cutters, the HMC Seeker and HMC Searcher had tracked his vessel the MV Bianca via radar for over 24 hours, acting on intelligence from the NCA that it was carrying drugs. 

Cocaine
National Crime Agency

Task force brands Devon dementia care 'inconsistent'

BBC Radio Devon

Dementia awareness, diagnosis and care for people with the condition has been rated good in Devon, but a new report says it's inconsistent across the county.

A Devon County Council task force says community support in many areas is excellent, and memory cafes have been a huge success. 

However, it says Devon has more people in residential care with dementia than comparable areas. 

The report says there is more to be done to support communities with dementia friendly activities. 

Council approves new route for £84m link road

BBC Radio Cornwall

Cornwall Council has approved the preferred route for an £84m road linking St Austell to the A30. 

The plan is for a four-mile long section of new road west of Roche, a new roundabout, and two new bridges. 

Several villages, including Bugle, would be bypassed under the plans. 

The council will now have to bid for funding from the government. 

St Austell road map
Cornwall Council

Fan heater 'causes' shed fire

Millions of pounds of EU funding still up for grabs

Carys Edwards

Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

More than £140m worth of EU funding is still on offer across the South West - but not for long. 

The latest round of cash runs out in 2020 and it's likely to be the last handout from Europe, and Cornwall Council is urging people to apply for the regeneration cash as soon as possible.  

Of the £300m awarded to the county £100m is still up for grabs, there's still £30m availabe in Devon and Somerset and £10m of funding is still waiting to be claimed in Dorset. 

EU flag with cash
BBC

Cornwall, in particular, has done extremely well out of its links with the EU. Since 2000 it's been given about £2bn in EU funding. 

The question now is how the South West region will fare post Brexit, when it'll be the UK government deciding how to slice up the funding pot for regeneration.

Latest travel: Delays in Exeter and Penryn

BBC News Travel

  • In Exeter, at Heavitree Road there is congestion in both directions between Barrack Road and Western Way
  • There is also heavy traffic on A377 both ways from A30, Alphington Junction to Exe Bridges
  • On Commercial Road in Penryn there are temporary traffic lights for repairs to the road surface near the bridge. Traffic is queuing at Quay Hill and Falmouth Road back to the Ponsharden Roundabout
  • At Buckfastleigh on the A38 one lane is blocked Exeter-bound at the Dartbridge Junction due to a broken-down vehicle

Jockey 'doing it for me, not for all females'

Watch: Lizzie Kelly on being accepted in horse racing

If the Cheltenham Festival is 'the Olympics of horse racing', then the Gold Cup is the equivalent of the 100m finals.

It is the blue-riband race of the most prestigious meeting in the sport - but only once has a female jockey ridden in it, and that was more than a generation ago.

Back in 1984, Linda Sheedy did not reach the finish on board 500-1 outsider Foxbury, so Devon-based Lizzie Kelly is determined to smash through another glass ceiling.

Not that she goes along with the idea that women have it tougher in the saddle than their male counterparts.

Click here if you would like to read more.

​Detectorists dig up buried treasure in Devon fields

Devon Live

Two silver items found in South Devon using metal detectors have been officially defined as treasure , following inquests. 

Multimillion-pound boost for social care

Victoria Gould

BBC News Online

Carer helping elderly person
BBC

More than £90m of government cash is being handed out to councils in the South West to help pay for adult social care over the next three years.

Devon will get more than £30m, Cornwall about £24m, Somerset more than £21m and Dorset more than £15m.

The funding is part of £2bn of extra funding announced in the budget.

Local authority bosses will now meet with MPs to work out how the money can be spent.

Penrice students raise cash for school children in Sierra Leone

BreakingSt Austell link road: Preferred route approved

BBC Radio Cornwall

Cornwall Council has approved the preferred route for the £84m A30 to St Austell link road.

The plan is for a four-mile long section of new road west of Roche, a new roundabout, and two new bridges. 

An outline business case highlighting the potential economic benefits to the area will now be submitted to the government.

Devon mum wakes up in hospital from coma with a new liver and a baby

Devon Live

First-time mum Deanne Harry, 35, thought she was having a normal pregnancy until she got to 28 weeks.

Councillors approve highways reforms in light of fatal landslide

Christine Butler

BBC Radio Cornwall

Cornwall Council's cabinet has approved proposals to reform the way it manages and maintains highways in the county. 

The move comes four years after a woman was killed in a landslide in Looe.

Susan Norman's home after the landslip
BBC

An inquest into Susan Norman's death concluded Cornwall Council should have known of the real and immediate risk of death and failed to listen to the concerns of people living in the area.

Among the proposals agreed today is a review of the management and maintenance of highways, the formation of a new customer care centre and the creation of a new contract between the council and its arm's length highways company, Cormac.

Standing room only at public meeting to discuss hospital's future

BBC Spotlight

More than 500 people crammed into a public meeting in Holsworthy last night to discuss their concerns about the local hospital's future. 

Inpatient beds at Holsworthy Community Hospital have been temporarily closed, and campaigners are concerned they may never reopen.

At last night's meeting health bosses refused to overturn their decision to temporarily close the beds.

Health bosses at Holsworthy public meeting
BBC

Protest as controversial new road scheme opens

BBC Radio Cornwall

The first bus has driven through Truro's controversial new bus gate.

The new scheme at Threemilestone is designed to manage public transport through one of the busiest corridors into the city centre.

Some local residents campaigned to get the scheme scrapped, claiming their village would be under siege with 140 buses passing through each day.

Cornwall Council says the new junction will take 90 buses away from the Threemilestone Roundabout and shorten the journey of up to 1,400 bus passengers a day.

Campaigners against the new junction
BBC

Council apologises as bin collections missed across North Devon

Devon Live

A council has apologised this morning after it missed bin collections in four towns yesterday. 

Former MP calls for Police and Crime Commissioner to be suspended

BBC Radio Devon

The former MP for Teignbridge Richard Younger Ross has called for the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, Alison Hernandez, to be suspended whilst investigations are carried out into general election expenses.

Devon and Cornwall Police is among 12 forces nationwide to ask the Crime Prosecution Service to consider charges.

Ms Hernandez was the Conservative agent for Torquay at the 2015 General Election.

Family pay tribute to 'beloved sister and daughter' killed in farm accident

Victoria Gould

BBC News Online

Lauren Scott
Scott family

The family of a 20-year-old woman who was killed in a farm accident in Devon earlier this month have paid tribute to her. 

Lauren Scott was at Springfield Farm near Dawlish when the accident happened on 4 March. 

"The family would like to send out their greatest gratitude for all the heartfelt condolences and warming messages of love and support they have received in recent days, but now wish for their privacy to be respected to allow us to come to terms with the catastrophic loss of our beloved sister and Daughter. 

"Lauren - the sun may set upon your time with us, but your memory will live on."  

Devon and Cornwall Police say the incident is being jointly investigated by the Health and Safety Executive. 

St Austell homes without water

Councillors discuss plans to prevent another fatal landslide

BBC Radio Cornwall

Susan Norman
Mrs Norman's family

Four years after a woman was crushed to death by a landslide that engulfed her home, councillors are discussing plans to improve Cornwall's highways and stop a similar tragedy. 

An inquest into Susan Norman's death concluded Cornwall Council should have known of the real and immediate risk of death and failed to listen to the concerns of local residents. 

Today senior councillors will discuss six reforms which take into account the lessons learnt in the inquest. 

They include: 

  • The creation of a new contract between the Council and Cormac, the arm's length company responsible for the county's highway maintenance 
  • A fundamental review and revision of management and maintenance of highways
  • A new customer care centre

Walnut the whippet's owner gets new puppy called George

Victoria Gould

BBC News Online

George
BBC

Remember Walnut? He was the elderly whippet whose owner invited people from across the county to join them for their final walk. 

The story attracted global attention. 

Now there's some happy news for Mark Woods. 

He's got a new puppy to join him on walks on his favourite beach. 

George is four-and-a-half months old and settling into life beside the sea. 

Conservative Party fined £70,000 over election expenses

The Conservative Party has been fined £70,000 for a breach of election expenses rules , the Electoral Commission has said.

It is the biggest fine ever imposed by the commission. 

The fine follows an investigation into alleged misreporting of expenses during the 2015 general election campaign.

It relates to allegations that the party used national money to fund local campaigns. 

It comes after  12 police forces , including the Devon and Cornwall force asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider charges over election expenses.  

Conservative party battle bus
Getty Images

Jersey Reds forward Freeman to join Exeter Chiefs

BBC Sport

Jersey Reds forward James Freeman is joining Premiership side Exeter Chiefs. 

James Freeman
Sue Armes

Freeman, who has captained Jersey this year, has signed a two-year deal with Exeter from the start of next season. 

He's the latest in a growing list of forwards departing St Peter, with Pierce Phillips, Simon Kerrod and Sean McCarthy also all leaving in the summer.

Stop driving so fast - call by councillor after spate of accidents on Torbay Ring Road diversion

Devon Live

A prominent Torbay councillor has urged drivers to stop driving so fast down Marldon Road.

Councillors discuss changes to prevent further landslides

BBC Radio Cornwall

Changes to prevent another tragic landslide in Looe are going before Cornwall Council today.

Drilling and piling work to stabilise the rock face is being carried out in Sandplace Road, where a woman died when her flat was engulfed by tonnes of earth four years ago.

An inquest into Susan Norman's death found the council failed to recognise the "immediate risk of death". 

Residents also want work to be carried out behind their properties as they fear it could happen again. 

Susan Norman's home after it was struck by the landslide
BBC

Firefighters tackle large gorse fire

Firefighters from Launceston spent yesterday evening tackling a large grassland and gorse fire on Laneast Downs. 

On arrival crews found two sections of fire about 200m by 30m. The cause of the blaze is currently unknown.

Gorse fire
Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service

Beautiful magnolias in Helston

New puppy for Walnut's owner

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

The owner of Walnut, the elderly dog who attracted international attention when he was taken for a final walk before being put down, has got a new whippet.

In November,  Mark Woods invited people to join him as he took Walnut  to his favourite beach one final time.

Hundreds of people turned up at Porth Beach near Newquay, Cornwall.

Now George, a four-and-a-half-month-old puppy, joins Mark's three whippets.

Mark Woods' family has a new member, George the whippet.

£84m plans for new St Austell link road

BBC Radio Cornwall

News that St Austell could be close to getting a new road linking it with the A30 has been welcomed by people living on the current route. 

Several villages, including Bugle, would be bypassed under the £84m plans. 

The proposals are being considered by Cornwall Council today. 

If approved the government would still have to agree to fund the new dual carriageway. 

Proposed dual carriageway route
Cornwall Council