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Summary

  1. Boy, 3, dies and three others injured in Totnes road crash
  2. 'Significant rise' in police assaults across South West
  3. Nuclear siren: False alarm at HMS Raleigh
  4. Exeter centre to get £1m improvements despite closure plan
  5. Blank wall offered to graffiti vandal
  6. Top chefs to help feed vulnerable people
  7. England's only resident pod of bottlenose dolphins found
  8. HMS Ocean returns home early from final deployment
  9. Updates on Wednesday 20 December 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Live updates for Devon and Cornwall have finished for the day, but we'll be back at 08:00 on Thursday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather.

Don't forget Spotlight on BBC One later. There will also be news through the night on your BBC Local Radio station and you can always get the latest news for your area from the BBC.

Police appeal for witnesses after fatal crash in Totnes

Janine Jansen

BBC Spotlight

Police are appealing for witnesses after a crash that killed a three-year-old boy.

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after the crash on Plymouth Road near Totnes.

The Totnes to Avonwick road remains closed near Belsford and isn't due to re-open until accident investigation work has been completed, police say.

scene of crash
BBC

The Roads Policing Inspector at Devon and Cornwall Police, Richard McLellan, said the boy's mother "received serious injuries at the scene" and is still being treated in hospital.

"Her partner's with her and all next of kin have been informed. But we still need to hear from anybody that may have seen anything on the road here if you didn't stop and give your name and details to police officers," he added.

Any witnesses are being asked to contact police via 101.

Devon County Council considers 6% council tax increase

BBC Radio Devon

Residents could see the Devon county part of their council tax go up by 6%.

Local authorities were able to raise bills by a maximum of 5% without holding a referendum, but the government announced this week that it would lift the cap by a further 1%.

Devon County Council leader John Hart said the authority was considering taking advantage of the change.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday he was giving councils "the independence to help relieve pressure on local services".

Labour said council tax rises failed to address the many problems which local government faced.

Council tax form
BBC

Two arrested after Totnes crash that killed boy, 3

Janine Jansen

BBC Spotlight

Crash scene
BBC

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after a crash that killed a three-year-old boy.

The child died as a result of a two-car head-on crash on a road between Avonwick and Totnes at about 12:20.

The boy and three adults were taken to hospital in Plymouth after the crash involving a Honda and a Volvo on Plymouth Road, near Totnes.

The child’s mother, driving the Volvo, suffered a broken arm in the crash. Two men from south Devon in the Honda sustained minor injuries.

Police remain at the scene and road is expected to stay closed until at least 18:00.

A39 near Barnstaple to close for three months for repairs

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

A section of the A39 in north Devon is due to be closed for just over three months in the new year, Devon County Council says.

The authority said the road at Shirwell, north of Barnstaple, would close for 13 weeks for "essential stabilisation work" from 2 January until 29 March to build a new 60m (200ft) retaining wall

The council said the road was cracking and its edge needed "stabilising to prevent the embankment from completely collapsing".

As well as the concrete retaining wall, the £200,000 scheme also involves drainage improvements and resurfacing.

Weather: Staying cloudy with drizzle possible

BBC Weather

It will remain largely cloudy overnight with some mist and fog.

Despite being mostly dry during the evening, some patchy drizzle is likely to spread in from the west overnight.

Minimum temperature: 8C (46F).

Weather
BBC

Another rather cloudy day is in store on Thursday with mist and hill fog.

Some outbreaks of rain or drizzle are likely in the morning, but it should turn a little drier through the afternoon.

Maximum temperature: 12C (54F).

Fire breaks out in kitchen in Illogan Highway

BBC Radio Cornwall

Firefighters have dealt with a kitchen fire near Redruth.

Two crews were called to the property in Barncoose Terrace, Illogan Highway, at 14:50 after smoke was seen coming from a window.

The cause of the fire in the ground-floor kitchen was confirmed as accidental.

A Red Cross emergency vehicle was also at the site, "giving support to the crews on scene", Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said.

Totnes car crash 'truly awful'

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

Police from Kingsbridge who responded to a two-car crash in Devon, which resulted in the death of a boy, have described it as a "truly awful incident".

A three-year-old boy died in the head-on crash on the road between Avonwick and Totnes at about 12:20.

The boy and three adults were taken to hospital in Plymouth after the crash involving a Honda and a Volvo on Plymouth Road, near Totnes.

The child’s mother, in the Volvo, suffered a broken arm in the crash. Two men from south Devon in the Honda sustained injuries.

Kingsbridge Police said on Facebook: "It goes without saying that this is a truly awful incident, at this or anytime of year and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and all involved in the incident."

The road remains closed while forensic investigations continue.

Crash scene
BBC

HMRC warns on iTunes gift card scam

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

HMRC iTunes warning
HMRC

Hundreds of older and vulnerable people are getting ripped off by fraudsters who tell them to buy iTunes gift cards to pay their tax bills.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said there had been 1,500 reports of such scams since the start of last year.

Most victims are over 65 and lose £1,150 each on average.

HMRC has said it is working with Apple and campaign groups to make sure the public knew how to spot the scam and to whom they should report it.

Devon and Cornwall Police issued a warning about such scams earlier this year.

Earlier this month, a pensioner was "bullied" and conned out of £900 in such a scam, his family from Cornwall told Cornwall Live.

Norovirus warning after care home and hospital outbreaks

View more on twitter

The bug, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK.

It's also called the winter vomiting bug because it's more common in winter, although it can be caught at any time of the year.

Nuclear alert false alarm: Council to meet with navy

Chloe Axford

BBC Spotlight

Torpoint Town Council has set up a meeting in January with the Royal Navy to discuss the implications of a false alarm that saw a nuclear alert siren sounding nearby for 10 minutes.

The alert, triggered just outside HMS Raleigh, on the outskirts of Torpoint, on Tuesday night, was caused by a power outage, the Royal Navy confirmed. It also apologised, adding there was no cause for concern.

Torpoint Mayor Lambert Keise said he was disappointed the navy was slow in letting people know it was a false alarm.

The incident is due to be discussed at a town council meeting on Thursday before a meeting with the navy next month.

The meeting will also discuss whether any procedures for alerting the public need to be changed.

Three-year-old boy dies in Totnes two-car crash

Janine Jansen

BBC Spotlight

Police have confirmed that a three-year-old boy has died in a two-car head-on crash on a road between Avonwick and Totnes.

The boy and three adults were taken to hospital in Plymouth after the crash involving a Honda and a Volvo on Plymouth Road, near Totnes, at about 12:20.

The child’s mother, driving the Volvo, suffered a broken arm in the crash. Two men from south Devon in the Honda sustained injuries.

Police said the road would remain closed for several hours while forensic investigations continue.

Crash scene
BBC

Information appeal after Totnes road crash

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

Police investigating a "tragic" road crash in Devon, in which a three-year-old child died, have appealed for information or dashcam footage.

Four people were taken to hospital in Plymouth after the head-on crash involving two vehicles - a Honda and a Volvo - on Plymouth Road, near Totnes, at about 12:20.

The child’s mother, driving the Volvo, suffered a broken arm in the crash. Two men from south Devon in the Honda sustained injuries.

Forensic teams are at the scene between Fork Cross and Folaton Gate.

Devon and Cornwall Police said road closures were in place and were expected to remain there for "the foreseeable future".

Severe disruption: A3047 Cornwall both ways

BBC News Travel

A3047 Cornwall both ways severe disruption, between Blowinghouse Hill and Chariot Road affecting West End.

A3047 Cornwall - A3047 Barncoose Terrace in Redruth closed and queuing traffic in both directions between the Blowinghouse Hill junction and the Chariot Road junction, because of a building fire. Congestion on B3300 Penryn Street to the West End junction.

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

Child, 3, dies in Totnes road crash

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

Crash scene
BBC

A three-year-old child has died in a "tragic" road crash in Devon, police say.

Four people were taken to hospital in Plymouth after the head-on crash involving two vehicles - a Honda and a Volvo - on Plymouth Road, near Totnes, at about 12:20.

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Tragically, a three-year-old child died as a result of their injuries.

"The child’s mother, who was driving the Volvo and is local to the area, remains in Derriford Hospital with a broken arm."

Two men from south Devon in the Honda were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Forensic teams are at the scene between Fork Cross and Folaton Gate.

Police said road closures were in place and were expected to remain there for the foreseeable future.

Totnes crash road expected to be closed for several hours

Janine Jansen

BBC Spotlight

View more on twitter

Four people have been taken to hospital in Plymouth after a head-on crash between two cars on Plymouth Road, Totnes, at about 12:20.

Forensic teams are at the scene and the road is expected to remain closed for some time. Motorists have been told to avoid the area and follow diversion routes.

The English pod: How do you identify dolphins?

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

The discovery of an English pod of dolphins has been welcomed by wildlife researchers and conservationists.

Plymouth University researchers identified England's only resident population of bottlenose dolphins after analyzing thousands of sightings and photographs from the South West of England between 2007 and 2016.

The dolphins were present in shallow coastal waters mainly in Cornwall - particularly St Ives Bay and Mount's Bay, but also in Devon and Dorset.

Dolphins
Dan Murphy

But how do they know it's the same group of mammals?

Well, apparently bottlenose dolphins can be recognised by their dorsal fin, which has a distinctive shape and markings, and the fin is as unique to an individual dolphin as a fingerprint is to a human.

Researchers said the trailing edge of the fin was most commonly used to identify a dolphin as it was the most distinguishable area.

This was because it is susceptible to tearing and, once torn, the tissue did not regenerate, causing permanent notches, which can be used to identify it once it's been catalogued.

Ex-Troubles soldier loses legal battle over jury trial

Belfast Telegraph

An ex-soldier from Cornwall charged in connection with a fatal shooting in Northern Ireland more than 40 years ago has lost a legal challenge to facing trial without a jury.

The High Court rejected claims by 76-year-old Dennis Hutchings that Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions wrongly decided the criminal case should be determined by a judge sitting alone.

The seriously ill pensioner, of Cawsand, is charged with the attempted murder of John Patrick Cunninghman.

Rail strikes due in new year over RMT guards row

BBC News England

Train strikes are looming in the new year as rail workers plan a series of 24-hour walkouts in the long-running row over the role of guards.

RMT members at five train operating companies in England will walk out on 8, 10 and 12 January.

Those involved include South Western Railway, which operates routes between London and Exeter.

The union said it had tried to resolve the bitter disputes, which it has insisted are about safety.

South Western Railway
PA

Police try to trace families of Totnes crash injured

Janine Jansen

BBC Spotlight

Crash scene
BBC

Police are trying to trace the families of people injured in a two-car crash on the Avonwick to Totnes road.

Four people have been taken to hospital in Plymouth after the head-on crash on Plymouth Road, Totnes, at about 12:20.

Forensic teams are at the scene and the road is expected to remain closed for some time.

Police have urged motorists to avoid the area and follow diversion routes.

BreakingFour taken to hospital after road crash near Totnes

Janine Jansen

BBC Spotlight

Crash scene
BBC

Four people have been taken to hospital after a serious road crash in Devon.

Police said two cars were involved in a head-on collision on Plymouth Road, Totnes, at about 12:20.

Forensic teams are at the scene and the road is expected to remain closed for some time.

Police urged motorists to avoid the area and follow diversion routes.

Flute serenades seals: Did they get Handel's Water Music?

Rebecca Wills

BBC South West

View more on twitter

Poorly seal pups at a sanctuary in Cornwall have been treated to some festive cheer.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary said its animal care team had been caring for 40 rescued pups so far this winter and found that "playing classical tunes helps relax the patients and make them more co-operative".

It added that it had been "such a success" they decided to provide them with a festive treat of classical flute playing from flautist Claire Rowe.

Claire, from Falmouth, regaled her whiskered and blubbery audience with a mixture of Mozart and other classical melodies.

The music tutor and former wind orchestra member said: "It was certainly one of the strangest bookings I’ve ever received."

Did they get Handel's Water Music? Debussy's La Mer? Or even Benjamin Britten's Storm?

Eden chefs work on scheme to feed poorest

BBC Spotlight

Keep Cornwall Fed
BBC

Suppliers for chefs at the Eden Project are helping people in food poverty.

Some of the South West's poorest people will enjoy high-quality meals this Christmas from the Keep Cornwall Fed scheme, a social enterprise started by two chefs at Eden.

The scheme takes profits from pop-up kitchens and other events and uses them to help vulnerable people.

Chef Mike Greer said: "The commercial side [of our business] buys first class produce from our suppliers.

"In return, any produce they're not quite happy to send out, we'll turn that into nutritious meals for those in food poverty."

He added that its target was to provide a meal for 5,000 people a year.

Torpoint council to debate HMS Raleigh nuclear siren

Laurence Reed

BBC Radio Cornwall

A nuclear siren heard in Torpoint and across parts of Plymouth will be debated by councillors.

The Royal Navy confirmed it was a false alarm triggered just outside HMS Raleigh, on the outskirts of Torpoint, caused by a power outage.

It said there was no cause for concern and apologised to anyone who was worried.

Torpoint Mayor Lambert Keise said it would be discussed at a town council meeting on Thursday.

He said: "I'm sure that from that meeting suggestions and ideas will be put forward that can go to the navy."

HMS Raleigh
Google

BreakingOne person 'seriously injured' in Totnes road crash

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

At least one person has been seriously injured in a road crash in south Devon, police say.

Officers said two vehicles were involved in the crash on Plymouth Road, Totnes, at about 12:25 - the road between Fork Cross and Folaton Gate.

Police, ambulance, fire crews and an air ambulance are at the scene.

Police said they believed the road at the Avonwick side would "remain closed for a considerable period of time".

Drivers have been advised to seek alternative routes.

Make milk part of lunchtime meal deals - Cornish MP

Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to ask supermarkets to make milk part of their lunchtime "meal deal" offers.

Backbench Tory MP Scott Mann made the request during Prime Minister's Questions, telling Mrs May that milk was "very important" for growing children and a healthy diet.

The North Cornwall MP added: "Will she support our campaign next year to re-brand milk, to ask supermarkets to include it as part of their meal deal selections and as part of a healthy diet promote drinking milk in schools?"

Mrs May said: "He talks about the importance of dairy, he is of course a great advocate of rural issues and he's right because it's one of the most efficient, innovative and high quality dairy industries in the EU.

"On the particular points that he's raised can I suggest the environment secretary will be very happy to discuss those particular points with him. "I join him in recognising the importance of the dairy industry."

Police warn of 'serious collision' near Totnes

Emergency guidance after nuclear alarm goes off

View more on twitter

The Royal Navy apologised after the nuclear alarm went off in Torpoint last night.

It confirmed it was a false alarm and there was no cause for concern.

The siren was first introduced in 2003. It was designed to ensure anyone living within a 1.2 mile (2km) zone would hear it in all weather conditions.

Police drones deployed eight times in two days

View more on twitter

The police drone unit, the first such dedicated unit in the UK, has six aircraft.

They have been used to find missing people and gather evidence to secure court convictions.

Devon travel: Crash between Totnes and Avonwick

BBC Radio Devon

Plymouth Road between Totnes and Avonwick is blocked due to a serious multi-vehicle accident near Belsford.

The road is expected to remain closed through the afternoon.

Torquay post office's future debated in Parliament

BBC Politics

The government says it understands the concerns of people in south Devon over the closure of a popular post office.

In a special Commons debate, Kevin Foster, the Conservative MP for Torbay, told her local people wanted Torre Post Office in Torquay to stay where is it, rather than being moved to an alternative site.

He said: "General accessibility is better rather than the proposed [new] location, because it is not just about how you get in and out of the shop.

"It is within walking distance for many more customers and businesses [where it is], its bus stop is also served by one of the most frequent buses in the bay, and wheelchair access is available."

However, Business Minister Margot James said the post office may not have a long-term future.

Post office
BBC
Richie Wellens has won nine of his 17 games in charge of Oldham Athletic

Oldham boss Richie Wellens says it is "ridiculous" they face a 600-mile round trip to play Plymouth two days before Christmas.

Read more

Weather: A drier afternoon after cloud and drizzle

Kevin Thomas

BBC Weather Forecaster

Weather
BBC

Although mostly cloudy with a little drizzle at times and patches of hill fog continuing to affect high ground, it should become a drier afternoon and occasionally brighter with some hazy periods of sunshine.

Winds will be from the west or south west and mainly light.

Maximum temperature: 13C (55F).

English pod of dolphins 'will help increase protection'

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

Dolphin. Pic:  Dan Murphy
Dan Murphy

The discovery of an English pod of dolphins will help moves to gain specific protection for the species, a wildlife trust says.

Plymouth University researchers identified England's only resident population of bottlenose dolphins after analyzing thousands of sightings and photographs from the South West of England between 2007 and 2016.

The dolphins were present in shallow coastal waters mainly in Cornwall - particularly St Ives Bay and Mount's Bay, but also in Devon and Dorset.

The Cornwall Wildlife Trust said: "Bottlenose dolphins in the South West face several threats, including pollution from plastics and chemicals, injury by fishing nets, and disturbance from recreational activities.

"Highlighting the existence of a resident population is the first step in seeking specific protection for these animals, with the next step being to collect more evidence on their movements and behaviour and strengthen the case for the importance of this area."

Warning to 'think carefully' before calling 999 or 101

Andrew Segal

BBC Local Live

Devon and Cornwall Police are warning people to "think carefully" before calling officers over the festive period.

Ch Supt Jim Nye said some people were not "getting the message about when it’s not appropriate to contact the police by calling 101 or 999".

The force added that some extreme examples of people not making suitable calls included a Londoner in the "middle of nowhere" who wanted police to tell him where he could catch his coach to London.

Police call centre
BBC

Other calls included a woman who had called the RAC because the central locking on her car had failed, locking her inside, but then called police as she was worried about running out of air.

And possibly (pizza) topping the list is the man who had received the wrong Italian-style dinner order - double cheese instead of pepperoni - who said there'd be "an accident" if he ate it.

The force said: "This Christmas, please think before you call... if you get the wrong takeaway, the police can’t help you."

No major British warships currently deployed overseas

Britain has no major warships deployed on operations beyond home waters in what has been described as an "unprecedented" absence of the vessels on the world stage.

The Royal Navy's current vessels include 19 frigates and destroyers and seven attack submarines.

All six of the navy's Type 45 destroyers are docked in Portsmouth, while 12 of 13 Type 23 frigates are either at Portsmouth or Devonport, Plymouth.

Helicopter carrier HMS Ocean (pictured), the fleet's flagship, is back in Devonport after its final deployment before being decommissioned in 2018.

The UK's only aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is not due to enter active service until 2020.

A dearth of major naval warships overseas has been attributed to cuts to the defence budget, raising concerns over Britain's ability to project power internationally.

Vice-Admiral John McAnally, national president of the Royal Naval Association, told The Times that the scarcity of frigates and destroyers overseas was unprecedented and indicated the fleet was too small.

HMS Ocean. Pic: MoD
MoD

Two police officers assaulted in Devon in 24 hours

View more on twitter

The Police Federation's tweet comes after new figures showed a significant rise in the number of assaults on police officers across the South West.

Police figures show more than 760 staff have been attacked across both the Devon & Cornwall and Dorset forces this year - an increase of 145 attacks from 2016.

The federation, which represents officers up to the rank of inspector, is campaigning for tougher sentences.