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  1. The Spending Review: Will it help the South West?

    Martyn Oates

    BBC South West Political Editor

    Chancellor Rishi Sunak has set out what the UK government will spend on health, education, transport and other public services next year.

    He also briefed MPs about the state of the UK economy and the latest forecasts for the UK's public finances, which have been battered by the Covid pandemic.

    But it was a broad brush speech. So, what parts of it will benefit the South West?

    And will there be any replacement for EU cash that the UK is about to lose because of Brexit?

    Video content

    Video caption: Martyn Oates on Spending Review's impact on South West
  2. 'Farmland landfill' set for approval despite objections

    Daniel Clark

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Plans to turn farming land and protected countryside close to the edge of Exeter into what objectors say is an "industrial landfill site" have been recommended for approval despite more than 500 objections

    The scheme which was initially proposed in December 2018 would see inert soils and top soil imported to land at Lower Hare Farm, Whitestone, which has been previously disturbed and left in a condition not capable of sustaining commercial agriculture.

    When they meet next Wednesday, Devon County Council’s development management committee is being recommended to approve the plans, despite the widespread opposition from local residents and parish councils.

    The recommendation has disappointed and angered campaigners from the STAWL (Stop A Second Whitestone Landfill) – who say the application is wrong and flawed in so many respects, and with 500 objections, is a shocking incitement of democracy.

    Residents of Whitestone and Tedburn St Mary – two villages close to Exeter and north of the A30 – have united to oppose the plans – while STAWL claim "this is an application for a landfill site masquerading as agricultural improvement".

    Planning officers admit the landscape and visual impacts of the proposed development are such that could warrant refusal of the application due to the significant harm to the landscape character and visual quality of the area.

    However they have balanced it against the contribution that the proposed facility would make to maintaining sufficient capacity for the disposal of inert waste materials within the Exeter area.

    Whitestone landfill site view
  3. Legal action to recover Plymouth council tax debt restarts

    Ed Oldfield

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Plymouth City Council has started legal action to recover council tax debts after a pause over the summer due to the Covid pandemic.

    The council confirmed it had started the process to obtain liability orders for non-payment from the magistrates court. But a spokesperson urged anyone struggling to pay their council tax to get in touch as early as possible to seek help.

    People on low incomes, both in and out of work, can claim Council Tax Support, giving a discount of up to 80% on the bill, based on the income and circumstances of the household.

    In March, the city council announced an extra £150 discount for people claiming the support.

    It was estimated about 12,000 would benefit from the government scheme, designed to help those whose income has been hit by the pandemic.

    The council also has a discretionary Exceptional Hardship Fund, to cover the shortfall left by the support scheme in some circumstances, designed as short-term emergency help.

    Councils are concerned that the economic impact of the pandemic will affect the amount of council tax and business rates they are able to collect, and the government has allowed them to spread recovery over three years instead of one.

    The latest financial position for the council is that it is facing an overspend of just under £1m this year on its revenue budget of £194m, which covers its day-to-day spending on services.

    Plymouth City Council website
  4. Four die with Covid-19 in Devon hospitals

    Jenny Walrond

    Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

    A further four people have died with Covid-19 in Devon's hospitals.

    According to the latest figures, there was one death at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital, one at the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust, one at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and one at Torbay Hospital.

    It brings the total number of hospital deaths in the county related to coronavirus to 293.

    In Cornwall, there have been 96 coronavirus-related deaths.

  5. Plymouth sees decrease in new Covid cases

    Andrew Segal

    BBC South West

    Plymouth has seen a decrease in new Covid-19 cases, the city council has said.

    The authority said that, during the week 14 to 20 November, there were 362 new cases confirmed in Plymouth, a decrease on the previous week total of 613.

    It saw a rate of 138.1 per 100,000 people, below the current rate for England, which is 177 per 100,000.

    The total number of confirmed cases in Plymouth since the start of the outbreak was 3,776, the council said.

    The city had seen 105 deaths associated with Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak, it added.

  6. Police looking into hole in Willand

    Andrew Segal

    BBC South West

    View more on twitter

    Devon and Cornwall Police warned of a hole in a road in east Devon by employing a well-used joke.

    Officers tweeted on Tuesday night that the large hole had appeared on Station Road in Willand, near Cullompton, finishing the message: "Police are looking into it".

    After some chatter on social media as to whether it was the best use of the force's resources, control room officer Mike Newton tweeted that officers "attended and popped some signs and cones out pending the arrival of @DevonCC [Devon County Council] to repair the hole".

    "As you can see, a cyclist or motorcyclist could seriously hurt themselves," he added.

  7. 'World's most detailed' Alzheimer’s study

    BBC Radio Devon

    Exeter researchers are seeking volunteers from Devon to take part in what it is calling the world’s most detailed study into the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease.

    The study will recruit 250 participants from across the UK which are over 60 and in good health, but with a family history of dementia.

    The University of Exeter Medical School says the trial could increase their understanding of dementia, paving the way for new treatments.

  8. Exeter Ship Canal awarded heritage status

    BBC Radio Devon

    Exeter canal

    The Exeter Ship Canal has been named a ‘Heritage Harbour’ - one of only four canals in the UK with the status.

    The canal, which opened in 1566, was the first built in Britain since Roman times.

    The idea of the award came from a joint initiative by the Maritime Heritage Trust and National Historic Ships, which proposed the designation of 'Heritage Harbour' status to historic ports and harbours across the UK.

    A red plaque has been put up in Exeter to mark the news - which gives the canal more protection and will attract heritage funding and investment.

    Read more on ‘Heritage Harbours’ here.

  9. Covid-19: Up to 33% of schools see pupils self-isolating

    BBC Radio Devon

    About a third of schools in Plymouth and Torbay have pupils self-isolating because of coronavirus.

    In the Devon county area, it is about 10% of schools.

    The latest figures available from Torbay Council show there are 865 pupils and 74 teachers in the area that have tested positive.

    Paul Gosling, of the National Association of Head Teachers in the South West, is the head at Exeter Road Primary School in Exmouth.

    He said this term had been tough for everyone.

    Quote Message: School isn't normal because we want to make sure that the children, their families, their communities, are safe and as free as possible from the virus. So it's taken a lot of hard work and effort from everybody, from cleaning staff, to meal-time staff, plus teachers and governors - lots of people - all pulling together to keep our communities safe." from Paul Gosling Head Teacher, Exeter Road Primary School, Exmouth
    Paul GoslingHead Teacher, Exeter Road Primary School, Exmouth
  10. Video content

    Video caption: Bookstagram: The influencers turning pages for reading

    During lockdown, people fell back in love with reading, shown by the growth in book influencers.