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  1. News, sport, weather and travel updates across the West of England on Thursday, 20 July 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Goodnight to you from the BBC Local Live crew

That's all from us for this Thursday evening.

We've focussed on the 10th anniversary of the floods in Gloucester today and, as Ian Fergusson says, in the years since 2007 Mother Nature has challenged us on a few occasions.

He's here with the forecast for tomorrow - there'll be some wet and windy weather, so beware.

We'll be back with you from 7am tomorrow with all the latest news, sport, weather and travel. Sleep tight.

There could be some dangerous conditions on the roads as the weekend starts.

Campaigners urge university to save historic pub

Cattle Market Tavern

Campaigners have written to Bristol University urging them to save an historic pub from being demolished to make way for the new campus planned near Temple Meads station.

The Cattle Market Tavern has been left to rot since being closed in 1997.

But Camra and the Bristol Civic Society have joined forces to save the pub.

They say the pub would be "viable" with thousands of students and new workers in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone on its doorstep.

We believe that the potential for this pub is immense. Given its proximity to the campus and all the other potential catchment, including the forthcoming expansion of businesses in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, we believe the university need to find an operator who is prepared to invest in the pub.

Peter BridleChair of Camra’s Bristol and District’s Pubs Group

Digging up a neolithic house of the dead

Marden Henge

Archaeologists digging at Wiltshire's Marden Henge say they're uncovering a hugely significant "neolithic house of the dead".

The team from Reading University are excavating the Cat's Brain long barrow - believed to be about 3,500 years old.

It's the first time since the 1960s that an ancient burial ground like this has been excavated in the UK.

Wood and Canter make steady start to Open

West golfers Chris Wood and Laurie Canter have been in action at The Open Championship today.

Chris, from Bristol, teed off at 6.30 this morning in the first group out at Royal Birkdale.

He finished the opening round on one over par after a difficult start.

Bath's Laurie Canter went one better though, coming in at level par just before 9pm.

Bristol's Chris Wood and Bath's Laurie Canter have been in action today.

10 years on: the floods in Gloucestershire remembered

One of the biggest emergencies the county of Gloucestershire has ever seen happened 10 years ago today.

The floods of 2007 cost around £50m and ruined thousands of lives for some time.

WATCH: BBC Points West's Sally Challoner looks back at the incredible efforts and pictures of a challenging time:

Looking back at the emergency response to the 2007 Gloucestershire floods.

HRH Princess Royal and her feathered friends

Princess Anne has been visiting the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire today.

To mark their 50th Anniversary, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal was treated to a display of the centres finest birds, including a vulture.

She was game to be hands on...!

Royal visit to mark Birds of Prey centre's 50 years

Wellington's industrial heritage under threat

The boiler house at Tonedale Mill
The boiler house at Tonedale Mill
Inside Tonedale House
Inside Tonedale House

Taunton Deane Borough Council is meeting developers this evening to demand "illegal work" is stopped at one of the most historically important industrial sites in the county.

Councillors say the Grade II-listed Tonedale House and Grade II*-listed Tonedale Mill in Wellington are under threat.

The complex, which has planning consent for conversion into flats, forms part of the historic Fox Bros woollen mills.

They say the interior of Tonedale House has been stripped out and the former boiler room at the mill could be torn down, while the hugely important historic machinery ripped out and sold.

I am horrified at what’s taken place. Wellington’s industrial heritage is nationally significant and needs to be properly protected. I sincerely hope that we do not have to resort to legal action – but we will not hesitate to do so if circumstances demand that we do.

Cllr John WilliamsLeader of Taunton Deane Borough Council

More than 100 arrested for drink and drug driving

Drink driving

Avon & Somerset Police say they've arrested 108 people in June for drink and drug driving offences.

The charges were brought as part of their ongoing campaign named Operation Tonic.

Chief Inspector Kevan Rowlands encouraged people to tell the police if they witness any drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The people we arrested have put lives at risk by choosing to drive with alcohol or drugs in their system. Some of the people arrested are clearly dealing with difficult situations in their lives. If you know someone who is coping by using alcohol or drugs and still driving then please reach out to them and get them to stop before they add a drink drive arrest or the trauma of a collision to their problems.

Chief Inspector Kevan RowlandsHead of Road Safety, Avon & Somerset Police

Tall ships arrive in Bristol for the festivities

Three tall ships made their return to Bristol this afternoon, heading for this weekend's Harbour Festival.

The Earl of Pembroke and the Phoenix sailed underneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge to join Kaskelot, which is already moored at the harbourside.

All three ships are back at their registered port for the biggest event in the city's calendar.

Lucky visitors got a sneaky peek of the three star attractions - well, they're pretty difficult to keep hidden!

Tall ships arrive for the Bristol Harbour Festival

Ten years on from the floods in Gloucestershire

Ten years ago today, heavy rain in Gloucestershire lead to one of the worst emergencies the county has ever seen.

In just 14 hours two-months-worth of rain fell. Gloucestershire became submerged with devastating consequences.

  • 5,000 homes and businesses were flooded.
  • 825 buildings were evacuated: almost 2,000 people had to seek temporary accommodation.
  • In some areas the water was seven feet deep.
  • 10,000 motorists were stranded.
  • 1,400 bowsers were pressed into use.
  • The floods cost the county £50m.

Today, local people have been remembering that time. Here are some pictures sent in by Adie Cooke who was serving at Stn 01 Lydney at the time and "had only been trained in water rescue in January and February of that year."

Troops and fire officers work together
Adie Cooke
Troops brought in with heavy vehicles
Adie Cooke
Emergency services enjoy a cuppa
Adie Cooke

Jail for stalker who forced victim from her home

Lynne French

BBC News Online

A persistent stalker who repeatedly broke a no-contact order and forced his victim from her own home has been jailed for 14 months.

Kim Allison, a former Royal Navy helicopter instructor, met his female victim on a dating website after the death of his wife.

The 62-year-old from Wellbeck Road, Yeovil, began stalking his victim when she ended their five-month relationship.

At the height of his stalking the woman was so frightened that she fled her home in Torquay.

Allison admitted three offences of breaching a restraining order and one of harassment.

Exeter Crown Court heard the victim was plagued with obscene messages after Allison posted her details on sado masochistic sex websites.

After the case Sergeant Simon Lee, from Devon and Cornwall Police's domestic abuse and sexual offences team, said stalking ruined lives and the sentence was a reflection of the "persistent and worrying nature" of Allison’s behaviour.

Liam Fox more relaxed over Brexit timescale

Liam Fox

North Somerset MP Liam Fox appears to be more relaxed about how long a potential "transitional deal" could last once Britain leaves the EU.

In an interview with the BBC, the International Trade Secretary, who recently suggested such an arrangement should last only "a few months", seems to be more sanguine.

It would be a purely practical decision on time, based on can we put new customs arrangements in place, could we put new immigration arrangements in place, for example. They won't happen overnight. Frankly I have been waiting to leave the European Union for a very long time. Another two years, say, wouldn't be too much to ask.

Gloucester fires: three incidents treated as arson

A Gloucester firefighter has been talking about his team's fight to save buildings in the city today, which police now say were the targets of arson attacks.

Parts of the Fleece Hotel on Westgate Street date back to the 12th Century - and calls came in in the early hours of the morning that fire had taken hold.

Later this morning, alarms were raised about a blaze at the derelict Brunswick pub in Brunswick Road.

There was also a third, smaller fire when some rubbish was set alight outside Cafe Rene.

WATCH: Officer Rob Adcock describes his team's efforts

Fleece Hotel fire crews faced "well developed" fire, says Kev Adcock.
The burned out Fleece Hotel on Westgate Street
Fire-hit Brunswick pub 'searched thoroughly', says Rob Adcock.

BreakingGloucester fires treated as arson

Three fires which broke out in Gloucester this morning are being treated as arson.

The first was at the historic Fleece Hotel in Westgate Street, which was about to be restored by the council.

The other two fires were started at the Brunswick Pub and in Priory Place.

PCC's takeover plan 'not a priority' says fire service

Avon Fire and Rescue

Avon Fire and Rescue (AFR) says the police and crime commissioner's idea to take over the running of the fire service is "not a priority".

The fire authority was criticised for having an "old boys club" culture in a Home Office report, a report Sue Mountstevens says made "grim reading".

But a spokesman for AFR insisted the inspector made clear that "exploring this option ‘should not be allowed to stall the other changes detailed in this report that need to be made by the Authority without delay’".

"As a result this will not be a priority in the short term but will be reviewed in the medium to long term," he said.

Severe accident: M5 Bristol southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Bristol southbound severe accident, between M49 and J19 for A369.

M5 Bristol - One lane closed and slow traffic on M5 southbound between M49 and J19, A369 (Portishead), because of an accident.

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

Bob Higgins: Former Bath football academy coach faces child abuse charges

Football abuse accused arrives at court

A former youth football coach who ran an academy in Bath has appeared in court facing historical child abuse charges.

Bob Higgins, 64, appeared at Southampton Magistrates' Court earlier, charged with 65 counts of indecent assault against 23 boys all aged under 17.

The court heard the alleged offences date from between 1970 and 1996.

Mr Higgins, whose first name is Robert, of Litchfield Road, Southampton, indicated he would plead not guilty to the alleged offences.

Two arrested for child neglect after drugs raid

A man and woman from the Knowle West area of Bristol have been arrested on suspicion of child neglect.

Three children, aged two, four and eight have been placed in the care of family members, following the drugs raid on their home.

The conditions these children were living in were disgusting and there was clear evidence of Class A drug use there. It’s upsetting to find and just makes us more determined to keep asking for and acting on the information we need.

PC Jo WoodAvon and Somerset Police

Somerset rider competes for Great Britain at Junior championships

Phoebe Locke, aged 17 and from Burtle, is part of Team GB at the Junior European Eventing Championships.

She is in second place in the leaderboard after the dressage section.

Phoebe Locke is part of Team GB at the Junior European Eventing Championships

Tall ships arrive in Bristol for Harbour Festival

Three tall ships are making their return to Bristol for this weekend's Harbour Festival.

The Kaskelot, which is already moored at the harbourside, is being joined by the Earl of Pembroke and the Phoenix.

Watch their return live here, on BBC Radio Bristol...

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Stroud comedian unveils the weekly Mash

New satirical comedy show written by Stroud comedian

A new satirical comedy show begins tonight on BBC Two at 10pm.

The Mash Report's lead writer is Tim Telling who lives in Stroud.

He told us what viewers can look forward to seeing in the first episode.

Somerset libraries could be given to local people to run

A library

Cuts to libraries are being reconsidered by Somerset County Council to save £12m from next year's budget.

In 2011 the council was forced to shelve its plans to withdraw funding to 11 libraries after a judicial review.

Now the council is considering whether to hand over the running of the service to local groups.

Council leader, David Fothergill said: "We have to find different models of operating libraries which may mean we won't be operating them directly."

The news comes on a day when Bath and North East Somerset Council launched a consultation into the town's library service.

My day was toast - O'Meara on his quadruple bogey

Wood (+1 after 18), O'Meara (+11 after 18)

Ged Scott

BBC Sport at Royal Birkdale

England's Chris Wood stood and watched in horror when his American playing partner Mark O'Meara, the Open champion here at Royal Birkdale in 1998, drove the first ball of this year's event out of bounds, to run up an eight.

"It's a tough tee shot at the best of times," said the 29-year-old Ryder Cup player from Long Ashton, Bristol.

"But it's wind off the left, it's raining, it's half past six in the morning. There's nothing you can say. He's one of the nicest blokes I've ever met too. But we've all been there and done that, so I didn't dare say a word."

Despite going to the turn himself in 38, Wood recovered from the jolt of being Sleepless in Southport after a 04:15 alarm call to post a thoroughly decent 71.

O'Meara, by contrast, ran up an 81. "From that moment on," admitted the 60-year-old, with a remarkably cheery grin, "my day was toast".


Avon & Somerset PCC ready to take over Avon Fire & Rescue

Watch: Sue Mountstevens believes it is best following recent damaging stories about Avon Fire & Rescue.

Avon and Somerset's Police and Crime Commissioner is considering a takeover of the area's fire service after it was criticised for having an "old boys club" culture.

Sue Mountstevens's comments followed a report about Avon Fire and Rescue that she said "makes grim reading".

The law currently prohibits a PCC from looking after the fire service, but Ms Mountstevens said she would like to "explore options" about different ways of governance.

Click here to read more.

Burst water main one of the 'biggest incidents' in Bristol Water's history

People queuing for water

A water main burst which affected some 35,000 homes and businesses has been described as one of the "biggest incidents" in Bristol Water's history.

The company said it promised to investigate how the main came to collapse and what it can do to avoid it happening again.

A spokesman said its "options were limited for a failure of that size".

The burst happened in the early hours of Wednesday near a pumping station at Willsbridge, between Bristol and Bath.

You can read more about the story here.

Making the headlines in the West's local newspapers

Walham flooding 'felt like mission impossible'

Watch: Walham flooding 10 years on

Gloucester's main electricity sub-station, at Walham, was badly hit by heavy flooding across the region 10 years ago.

National Grid's Ian Campbell was in charge of the site at the time and he said tackling the rising floodwater felt like "mission impossible".

He described it as a "long and challenging" five days before the crisis was under control.

Regen plans aim to change town's 'ugly image problem'

Dan O'Brien

Political reporter, BBC Wiltshire

Swindon town centre

Ambitious £500m plans to regenerate Swindon town centre are to be unveiled by the local authority later.

Swindon is by far Wiltshire's biggest economy. It’s hugely successful when it comes to employment and growth, but the physical appearance of much of the town centre is what's made it the butt of so many jokes over the years.

For all the positives of this town the fact is its residents, businesses and political leaders know that renovating the town centre is vital if they are to finally shed the ugly image problem. So much is planned.

  • The much loved Oasis should become a vast new leisure complex, including an indoor ski centre
  • The town's impressive and large collection of modern art could get a new home, in a striking new central gallery and museum
  • There are designs to turn the derelict Aspen House site, which many will know as the venue of the old Register Office, into a smart vibrant part of the town centre
  • And then there's the Kimmerfields site, the vast expanse of derelict land to the North of Fleming Way, which according to the posters should become combination of slick offices, homes, cafes and restaurants. But nearly nine years after that development agreement was signed, building work still hasn't started.

So while Swindon Borough Council's fresh commitment to get things moving may be welcomed, many residents here won't be holding their breath for things to change any time soon.

Town centre £500m regeneration plans to be unveiled

Artist's impression of regeneration plan
Swindon Borough Council

Ambitious plans to regenerate Swindon town centre are being unveiled by the local authority today.

Swindon Borough Council want to invest £500m into Swindon’s town centre in a bid to promote the town as a modern and prosperous place to live, work and visit.

Key to the proposals are developments at Aspen House, North Star and the Carriage Works.

Councillor Garry Perkins said: ‘We have some really ambitious plans for the town centre which we are really keen to share with the residents of Swindon."

The plans will be on display in Swindon Central Library until 23 July.

Severe accident: M4 Gloucestershire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Gloucestershire westbound severe accident, between J18 for A46 Bath and J19 for M32.

M4 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M4 westbound between J18, A46 (Bath) and J19, M32 (Bristol), because of an accident. Traffic is coping well.

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

Ten years on from the floods: How the emergency services coped

Watch: How the emergency services handled the floods of 2007

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service received 2,375 calls for assistance in the flooding during the period from 20 to 28 July 2007.

Thirteen boats from a variety of organisations including the Fire and Rescue Service, RNLI, Severn Area Rescue Association and the RSPCA were deployed and 529 people were rescued.

Military assistance was also used, mainly to protect important parts of the local infrastructure.

Student housing block fails fire safety test

Housing block

A housing block for university students in Bristol has failed a fire safety test that was conducted in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The building is one of six owned by Unite Students that didn't pass combustibility tests on exterior cladding.

Waverly House is currently unoccupied. It has space for 208 students.

Unite Students said Avon Fire and Rescue had inspected the property and was happy for it to remain occupied when the next term starts.

Safety is our first priority. Based on the advice of experts from the relevant local fire authorities and bearing in mind the wide range of fire prevention measures we have in place, we believe our buildings are safe for occupation. Over the long term, we're committed to making sure all our buildings are as safe as possible and will continue working with Government, local fire authorities and other fire safety experts, particularly as the next phase of the Government's testing scheme progresses.

Unite Students spokeswoman

Consultation begins on Bath library plans

Pete Simson

Political reporter, BBC Radio Bristol

Bath Central Library

Bath and North East Somerset Council have been warned to consult fairly and openly over plans for the city's central library.

The authority has launched a new consultation on the service.

Like most councils, BANES wants to make savings to the library service.

The idea here is to merge the library with the council's own One Stop Shop customer service centre.

However, plans to move the central library out of its current home in the Podium have already been met with bitter resistance.

After ruling out using the Guildhall, the choice now is between keeping it where it is, or moving it to the One Stop Shop's current home at Lewis House, a building described in a report as "intimidating and undesirable" for disabled people.

The consultation will run until September - with a decision due in October

Police helicopter footage of the 2007 Gloucestershire floods

Police helicopter footage of the 2007 Gloucestershire floods

It's 10 years since Gloucestershire suffered devastating floods - a crisis which affected 5,000 homes and business and cost the county £50m.

The emergency services were stretched to the limit as they struggled to cope with the situation.

This archive police helicopter footage shows the extent of the flooding near the Elmbridge Court Roundabout between Cheltenham and Gloucester.

Swindon schoolboy attacked by dog

11-year-old Bailey was cycling when the dog bit him.

Bailey was cycling through a park in Swindon when he was bitten by a dog. He didn't realise how bad his injuries were until he saw blood seeping through his jumper.

His mum Louise said Bailey needed stitches as a result of his injuries. He's recovering well after the attack.

Speaking to BBC Wiltshire, Louise said she is concerned that the dog owner simply walked off after her son was attacked.

I would like the person who owns the dogs to take responsibility. If that dog is quite dangerous anyway it should have had a muzzle on. I was hoping that through the night the dog owner would ring the police, but they clearly haven't. They have no conscience.

Louise SkullBen's mum.

Longleat scientists in bid to save world's most endangered rhino

Rhino insemination
Phil Mumby

Scientists at Longleat in Wiltshire are helping to save the northern white rhino from extinction.

Their scientists have collected eggs from southern white rhinos that live there - a closely related sub species - to use for IVF.

The eggs will help researchers to develop the technology to help the remaining northern whites to reproduce.

A back-up plan is to mix eggs from the southern white rhinos with sperm from northern whites to create a hybrid.

It means that if the bid to produce a pure northern white rhino fails, at least some of the critically endangered animal's genes will live on.

You can read more about the story here.

Gloucestershire floods: Ten years on

Men in boat on flooded road

In the summer of 2007 Gloucestershire suffered one of the worst emergencies ever seen in the county due to extensive flooding.

On 20 July, two months worth of rain fell in just 14 hours resulting in widespread flooding and tap water shortages affecting 350,000 people.

It's estimated that the flooding and water crisis cost the county £50 million.

Here's how the county was affected in numbers:

  • 5,000 homes and businesses were flooded
  • 48,000 homes were without electricity for two days
  • 135,000 homes (over half the homes in Gloucestershire) were without drinking water for up to 17 days
  • 825 homes were evacuated resulting in approximately 1,950 people seeking temporary accommodation
  • 10,000 motorists were stranded on county roads, including the M5
  • 500 commuters were stranded at Gloucester train station
  • 40 million bottles of drinking water were distributed
  • 1,400 bowsers were deployed

Tall ships get set for Harbour Festival


Three tall ships are making their return to Bristol for this weekend's Harbour Festival.

The Kaskelot (seen above), which is already moored at the harbourside, will be joined at 3:30pm by the Earl of Pembroke and the Phoenix, which will sail underneath the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

All three ships are back at their registered port of Bristol for the biggest event in the city's calendar.

Bristol Water promises investigations into burst main

Flooding photo
Bristol Water

Bristol Water has promised to investigate the cause of yesterday's burst water main, which saw thousands of homes without water. The service has now been restored for all residents.

Speaking to BBC Radio Bristol this morning, Ben Newby from Bristol Water said:

Our options were limited when you have a failure of that size. We have several thousand kilometres of mains, and for something of this size we will investigate what happened. We will look at the way the main collapsed so we can avoid it happening again. When we were analysing the problem it looked like Keynsham would be out for longer, so we focused our attention with water bowsers there.

Ben NewbySpokesperson, Bristol Water

Serious fire hits historic Gloucester building

Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue were called out to a fire at Gloucester's historic Fleece Hotel on Westgate Street early this morning.

When crews arrived, they found the second floor and roof well alight. Four engines and an aerial platform helped to extinguish the blaze.

Parts of the building date back to the 12th century and it had recently undergone preservation work.

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View more on twitter

It's bad but it could have been so much worse. The Edwardian block was a big part of Gloucester's heritage, we have lost a lot of history here in this fire. We've been actively working on the building for the last 18 months but it is heartbreaking seeing it like this.

Iona LennonBuilding surveyor at Gloucester City Council