England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Plymouth plans for student flats revived

New plans have been drawn up to turn a Plymouth city centre office block into student accommodation.

Money Centre plans
Figure/Ground Architects

Plans were approved in 2018 to knock down the Money Centre and build a 21-floor development with 482 student flats and a hotel.

But a new scheme is now being put forward to keep the original building and put extensions at the side and on top.

Money Centre

Architects say the plans would fit in better with the surroundings and cut carbon output.

Plymouth University objected to the original scheme with 554 student bedrooms and a 102-bed hotel, saying it did not believe there was unmet demand for student accommodation.

A spokesman for the developer said there was demand for the accommodation from second and third-year students, and from post-graduates.

Police warn against 'reckless antics' on cliffs

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Police in north Devon have said on Twitter they have recently been seeing "a lot of reckless antics" on cliffs in the area.

Officers said that no photograph was "worth the risk".

They added: "Your actions put not only your life in danger, but those who have to attempt to rescue you, or in some cases recover your body."

View more on twitter

Covid-19 'costs two Devon football sides more than £2m'

BBC Radio Devon

The coronavirus pandemic has cost Devon's two leading football sides more than £2m in revenue, a new survey has suggested.

Figures from Business Rescue Expert estimated Plymouth Argyle lost more than £1.5m, while the cost to Exeter City was in the region of £632,000.

Overall, the country's leading 92 clubs are estimated to have lost £305m.

Football in net

Woman, 80, punched in the face in Paignton

An 80-year-old woman was punched in the face and hit her head on the ground in Paignton this weekend, Devon and Cornwall Police has confirmed.

Officers were called at around 14:30 on Saturday after a report an elderly woman had been assaulted on Palace Avenue.

A 30-year-old woman from Paignton was detained under the Mental Health Act and is receiving care while enquiries are ongoing, police said.

The victim suffered a minor head injury, the force added.

Palace Avenue, Paignton

Eat Out to Help Out scheme 'not complicated'

BBC Spotlight

Diners who eat in at certain cafes, pubs and restaurants across Cornwall and Devon - signed up to the government's new Eat Out to Help Out scheme - are entitled to up to a 50% discount from Monday.

It is part of work aimed at boosting restaurants and pubs post-lockdown.

Food and drink will appear on the menu at full price, and the eatery will deduct the money off the bill and claim it back from the government.

They can claim a maximum of £10 a head from food bills, excluding the cost of beer and wine.

English Riviera and Torquay restaurant owner Mauro Pettinnelli said he thought it was a "really good idea", especially as "people are now coming out in hundreds".

Charlotte Glidden, who manages a farm restaurant near Launceston, said it was not complicated to claim money back from the Treasury under similar government schemes.

Eat Out to Help Out logo

I think it would be fairly straightforward, based on the experience we had of claiming money on other government schemes, like the job retention scheme - the detail required is not too onerous. We have a great till system that will gather the information, but I should think that, even for those that don't have that and will be doing it manually, it shouldn't be too bad."

Charlotte GliddenRestaurant manager

The move is also good news for food producers.

Rupert Farm, who runs a fish supply business near Portreath in Cornwall, said he was hoping people would take advantage of deals "because the knock-on effect is it helps us supply pubs and restaurants".

He added people still needed to take heed of the "fine line" between people going and "not being too cluttered together" to avoid spreading Covid-19.

People can find out which establishments are registered on the government's website.

Exeter's piano doctor plays patients a tune

Andrea Ormsby

BBC Spotlight

A junior doctor at a Devon hospital is using her music to soothe and calm staff, patients and visitors.

Dr Jess Duckworth is known as the 'piano doctor' at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, because she likes to take to her keyboard at the end of a long shift to "get into a place of calm".

For her Master’s degree, she researched what types of music people find relaxing and alleviate stress, and based on that she’s written her own album, Dr Duckworth said.

She added: "It will be very busy throughout the day and then just as you come outside of working hours things start to come down a bit, that's when I decide to come and sit in here and play some piano."

Colleague Dr Kate Hyde said she really appreciated the music, particularly after "a long weekend on call".

"It was really nice just popping down the corridor, hearing the tones of the piano coming out and just taking a few minutes to relax yourself," she said.


Seven people found in lorry trailer at Plymouth docks

BBC Spotlight

Seven people suspected to have illegally entered the UK have been found in a lorry trailer in Plymouth.

Officials confirmed they were discovered at Millbay Docks in Plymouth early on Saturday morning.

It is thought the five adults and two teenagers arrived on a Brittany Ferries sailing from France.

They have been detained and are undergoing medical assessments.

Port of Plymouth

Premier inn at Dartmoor rejected

BBC Radio Devon

A controversial plan for a new 80-bed chain hotel on the edge of Dartmoor has been rejected by planners.

Premier Inn want to build a new hotel in Ashburton - just off the A38 at Dolbeare Meadow Business Park.

But Dartmoor National Park turned down the plans saying it wasn't small-scale tourism and had a poor scale and design.

People objecting to the project had said the hotel would have devastated the local economy.

Footage of girl hit by car sends "vital" message

Police have released shocking footage of a young girl being hit by a car as she runs across the road.

View more on facebook

The warning came "to remind you why road safety education is vital", said police.

"Each year around 120 child pedestrians are involved in collisions on our roads. Please always remember to stop, look and listen."

Amazingly the girl walks away with minor injuries.

Bantham beachgoers face three-mile queue

Roads are expected to be busy around the coast in the south west as the hot weather continues.

On Wednesday afternoon traffic was queuing for about three miles to get to Bantham from the main A379 near Kingsbridge, police warned.

View more on facebook

There were also long queues around the South and North Devon coastlines, in places like Bigbury, Croyde, Braunton and Woolacombe. There was also busy traffic in areas near Exmouth and Teignmouth.

Get the latest on traffic congestion by following BBC Travel SW.

Plans for East Devon solar farm approved

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Proposed field for solar farm

Plans for a giant solar farm in the East Devon countryside that will provide power for 5,000 homes have been approved.

On Tuesday East Devon District Council’s planning committee granted permission for the scheme on land to the south of Rockbeare Hill in Marsh Green for the 15MW solar farm.

The site is expected to return to agricultural use after a 40-year period has lapsed.

Chris Rose, the council’s development manager, said the benefits of the solar farm would outweigh the temporary loss of the agricultural land.

Map showing where the new solar farm will be located

Cllr Geoff Pook said he was fearful of the "industrialisation" of the countryside, but admitted: "when you look at environmental concerns and the carbon neutral targets and considerations, I will be supporting it".

West Hill and Aylesbeare ward councillor Jess Bailey said that she was not convinced the officers had drawn the correct balance between the need to retain the best quality and diverse agricultural land with the environmental benefits of the solar farm scheme.

Permission for the site was granted unanimously by the committee.

NHS 24/7 mental health helpline rolled out across South West

Rebecca Thorn

BBC News

Young person looking out window
Getty Images

An NHS mental health helpline will be available 24/7 for adults and children in the South West.

The service will be run by mental health professionals, who can refer individuals to urgent or routine services in the local area, the NHS said.

The helpline is open to anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, or family and friends who may be concerned about an individual.

Emergency services including the police and paramedics will also be able to use the helpline when dealing with someone who is suffering from ill mental health.

The roll-out, which the NHS say was always part of the "long-term plan", has been brought forward to help people cope during the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Marsh, Medical Director at NHS England South West said setting the helplines up "in a matter of weeks, rather than years", had been a "monumental effort".

"While this means that helplines will be a work in progress in some places, hard-working mental health teams across the NHS are committed to continuously improving these vital services."

A local helpline can be found by entering a postcode on the NHS website.

Anyone in a serious or life-threatening emergency should still call 999 or go to A&E. "Services are still there for those who need them and you will not be wasting anyone’s time", the NHS said.

No coronavirus cases in Devon 'linked to tourists'

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

None of the low levels of coronavirus cases being confirmed across Devon and Torbay are believed to be linked to visitors to the area, Devon’s public health director has said.

Speaking at a Team Devon Local Engagement Board meeting, Dr Virginia Pearson told the assembled guests that number of cases across the region remained very low and scattered across the county.

She said that they were "all over the data" to check for any linked cases and that, at present, there was no area of concern or setting that escalation of measures was required for.

And she said that as far as they can establish, none of the new cases confirmed in the last couple of weeks are related to tourists or visitors coming into the area.

Data presented to the committee showed that, in the week ending 26 July, there were five new cases confirmed in Torbay and 12 new cases across the rest of Devon, with three in East Devon, five in Exeter, two in Mid Devon, two in North Devon, and one in the South Hams.

No cases were reported in Teignbridge, Torridge or West Devon.

The Plymouth unitary authority area was not included in the findings.

Warning about 'rogue' tree surgeons

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

"Rogue" tree surgeons are targeting households in parts of Devon, two local councils have said.

The South Hams and West Devon authorities said several people had contacted them, saying cold callers had offered to work for cash.

The caller also claimed they had certificates from the council which meant they were allowed to work on a tree with a preservation order or in a conservation area which required council permission beforehand.

The council said no such certificate existed and people should always be wary of people offering to work in this way.

The authorities warned that unauthorised works to protected trees could be punished in some cases by an unlimited fine and a criminal conviction, "so homeowners could potentially find themselves in trouble for unauthorised works".

Plymouth’s £42m The Box to open in September

BBC Radio Devon

Plymouth’s £42m museum and art gallery, The Box, is due to open on 29 September, the city council has announced.

It was due to open in May but that was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The site on North Hill is expected to be the largest arts space to open in the UK in 2020, the council said.

The Box, Plymouth

Football: Keeper McCormick joins Argyle for third time


View more on facebook

The 37-year-old's return will see him add to the 349 appearances he has made for the Greens since making his debut in 2001.

Tom Daley: 'Never take your family for granted'

BBC Breakfast

Plymouth-born Olympic diver Tom Daley talks to BBC Breakfast about the 2020 Tokyo Games being postponed for a year, not being able to train because of the Covid-19 lockdown, becoming a dad, the importance of family, his hopes for the future; and taking up knitting.

Councillors 'concerned over traveller camp action'

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Councillors in Plympton say they are “appalled” at what they describe as the city council’s “lack of action” on traveller camps.

Plympton St Mary councillor and deputy leader of the Conservative opposition group Patrick Nicholson called for a review of the authority’s policy.

But the council said in a statement it took every case seriously and aimed to start the eviction process within 24 hours.

It said that in two recent cases in Plympton notice to quit was served within eight hours.

Council building
Ed Oldfield

A statement from Plympton’s Conservative councillors followed the arrival of several groups of travellers this summer.

It highlighted the arrival of a group which occupied Plympton St Mary playing fields in July but moved on after being served a notice to quit.

A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said: “We take each and every unauthorised encampment on council land very seriously."

“Where there are reports of anti-social behaviour, we liaise with our colleagues at Devon and Cornwall Police and encourage residents to report directly to the police as well.”

Local authorities must provide toilets and other welfare assistance to travellers who arrive in their area. The creation of a temporary stopping site means a council can legally insist the travellers move from council land to the designated site, or face court action.

West Devon 'longest spell in England without Covid cases'

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

West Devon has been named as the part of England which has had the longest spell without a single confirmed case of Covid-19, according to the latest figures.

The most recent case in the local council area was recorded on 26 June, according to figures published by Public Health England and studied by PA Media.

The Public Health England figures cover positive cases confirmed up to and including 24 July.

They also show no recorded cases in the Torridge area since 9 July.

Because the figures are based only on recorded cases, there may have been people in these areas who had Covid-19 in recent days or weeks but were not detected - perhaps because they did not have a test, or they did not have any symptoms and so were unaware they had coronavirus.

As such, areas cannot be described as being completely free from Covid-19. But, based just on the data available, they currently rank as places where no new cases are being recorded.

Booker Prize 2020: Devon-based Hilary Mantel on longlist

BBC Entertainment and Arts

The Mirror & The Light by Devon-based author Hilary Mantel is among the novels longlisted for this year's Booker Prize.

It is the third book in the author's Cromwell trilogy, and was selected for its "masterful exhibition of sly dialogue and exquisite description", the judges said.

Mantel has previously won the prize twice - for the first two novels in the trilogy.

The longlist will be whittled down from 13 to a shortlist of six in September.

Hilary Mantel

'Unexplained' death in Plymouth

Rebecca Thorn

BBC News

Exeter Street, Plymouth

A woman in her 30s has been found dead at an address in Plymouth, police have confirmed.

Emergency services went to a property in Exeter Street at about 19:30 BST on Monday, where the woman was pronounced dead.

The cause of her death is being treated as "unexplained" while inquiries are ongoing, Devon and Cornwall Police said.

The area has been cordoned off, and the woman's next of kin have been informed.

Landlord asks for student-only restriction to be lifted

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A landlord wants a student-only restriction relaxed on a Plymouth property to allow key workers to move in due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Agents for the owners of the former No Place Inn on North Road West say the virus has caused a “massive reduction” in students expected to come to the city following a fall in recent years.

They say student numbers have dropped by a quarter, but the level of student accommodation has at least stayed the same, if not increased.

They want the student-only rule changed to add key workers for three years to keep the business viable because of the impact of Covid-19, which is expected to cause a further big fall in student numbers.

The owners of the former pub were given permission in 2010 to create five studio flats and a seven-bedroom flat, and a three-storey extension with six more studio flats was allowed in 2016.

A planning condition restricted residents to students in full-time accommodation, but an application to temporarily vary the restriction on who can live there has now been submitted to Plymouth City Council.

It said the agency had not been able to fill the first floor flat at the building this year.

The city council will make a decision after the end of public consultation on 18 August.


Devon to not issue fines for medical advice absences

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Parents will not be fined if they do not send their children back to school in September when following medical or public health advice in Devon.

Cllr James McInnes, cabinet member for schools, confirmed at last Thursday’s Devon County Council meeting that for parents and carers of children of compulsory school age, this meant that the legal duty to provide their child with an education would apply at the start of the new term.

He added: “In Devon, schools and the local authority will work with parents to support children back into schools and where children are not able to attend school, as parents are following medical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.”

Rugby: Chiefs consider dropping Native American badge

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Sandy Park

Bosses at Exeter Chiefs' are to discuss a rebranding that could see the club lose their Native American in a headdress badge and mascot.

However, club fans are split over whether the Chiefs' imagery carries offence. One supporters' online petition has gathered more than 3,500 signatures, calling for an end to the Sandy Park club's "harmful imagery and branding". Two more petitions have been launched arguing against any change.

The Devon club has been in existence for 149 years, but the moniker and a logo containing a Native American has only been officially associated with the club since 1999.

Exeter, who are top of the Premiership before its provisional scheduled restart in August, has no known links to the indigenous people of North America.

Now the club's board will meet to run the rule over the contrasting views of the fan base, and plot the way forward.

An Exeter spokesman confirmed to PA Media that the club board would meet on Wednesday, with Chiefs bosses waiting until after those discussions to make comment on the issue.

Issues around the iconography are nothing new, with one expert in Native American history urging the club in 2016 to change its name and stop "playing Indians".

American Football's three-time Super Bowl winners the Washington Redskins recently dropped their badge and branding, taking on the temporary new name of Washington Football Team.

Messenger statue wears mask as it becomes mandatory

Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

BBC News

Theatre Royal Plymouth’s famous statue is helping Plymouth City Council spread the message to wear a mask - by wearing one herself.

A mask has been put on the 10-tonne statue in a bid to encourage everyone to abide by the now mandatory use of face coverings in enclosed public areas.

Messenger statue

Plymouth City Council said in a post on Twitter: "Wear a mask.

"That’s the message from Messenger.@TRPlymouth's famous statue is helping us spread the message that from today the law states that you must wear a mask – or face covering - in enclosed public spaces."

The law gives police the power to issue £100 fines to those who do not comply with it.

Woman sexually assaulted at city bus stop and car park

Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

BBC News

Police are appealing for information after a woman was sexually assaulted at a bus stop and car park in Plymouth.

It happened between 16:00 and 18:00 on 24 June by the same suspect.

The first assault happened near the A7 bus stop on Royal Parade before she was again attacked near the Civic Centre car park, police said.

Civic centre car park

Officers want to talk to anyone who may have information and in particular three boys who may have witnessed the attack at the car park.

The suspect has been described as white and in his 20s and wearing a light-coloured T-shirt and shorts.

Be 'socially responsible' and wear masks - police

Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

BBC News

Devon and Cornwall Police has called on the public to be "socially responsible" and adhere to the mandatory use of face masks in shops and retail premises from Friday.

The force said shops will be able to refuse entry to a customer if they don't cover their face, while police will also have the power to issue a fixed penalty notice of £100 to anyone who will not comply.

An educate, engage and encourage approach will first be adopted by the police, with enforcement being a "final option", Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew said.

But he added it would be "disappointing" if his officers had to issue the fines.

face mask
Getty Images

“The government has announced the change to Covid-19 legislation in order to further protect the public and those working in retail premises from being exposed to the pandemic.

“As lockdown measures ease there is a need for us all to be socially responsible and play our part in reducing the Covid-19 risk and protect each other as much as possible," he said.

MP calls for 'full and urgent' South West railway funding

Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

BBC News

Plymouth Labour MP Luke Pollard has criticised the government for "overlooking" the South West's "urgent" need for rail funding.

Responding to a central government announcement of £600m for the north of England, Mr Pollard said the South West has again been "ignored" as it failed to get its fair share for railway improvements.

View more on twitter

The Labour MP said he wants to see "full and final funding" for upgrades at storm-hit Dawlish, the electrification of tracks between Plymouth and Totnes as it will cut journey times and carbon emmission, as well as the reopening of the Tavistock railway line.

“Ministers need to be careful chasing votes in the north by neglecting communities in the South West. It is time for us to get our fair share of transport spending," he said.

The Department for Transport has been approached for comment.

Drake statue to be lit for special events

Plymouth Live

The statue of Sir Francis Drake on Plymouth Hoe is to be given coloured lighting for special events, Plymouth Live reports.

'Youngest councillor' to stand down at next election

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A senior Labour councillor who has led the city council’s response to the Covid-19 crisis is to stand down at the next election in May.

Cabinet member Kate Taylor, 26, said she had made the “incredibly difficult” decision for personal reasons and would not be seeking re-election.

She was Plymouth’s youngest councillor when she was first elected in Devonport at the age of 18 in 2012.

Kate Taylor

Councillor Taylor has been leading the authority’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.

She said being responsible for the council’s coronavirus strategy had been a “huge challenge”.

She said she had been reflecting on her future during the crisis and decided the time was right to step down for personal reasons, including her forthcoming marriage.

She said she would remain involved in local politics and continue to campaign for Labour in Devonport.

Two arrests after woman raped in Plymouth

BBC Radio Devon

Two men have been arrested after a woman was raped in Plymouth earlier in July.

It took place on Plymouth Hoe at about 03:00 on 12 July.

Police are asking for witnesses to come forward and ask anyone with information to call 101.

The suspects, both in their 20s from Hampshire and Plymouth, have been released on bail until mid August.

House prices surge despite coronavirus

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

The average house price in the South West has increased by 2.4% since lockdown began in March.

There are reports of an unexpected mini-boom, with Rightmove reporting the average house price reaching £320,361 in Devon and Cornwall.

Estate agents in Devon told the BBC this is the best July for years, with enquiries up 75% on this time last year.

The cut in stamp duty has also created a surge in the average property price, which is 2.6% higher than one year ago.

Closing the colour divide in UK surfing
A Devon surf school is hoping to break down barriers amid concerns surfing is not inclusive.