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Lib Dem placards ripped and vandalised in Cheltenham

Lib Dem placards
Dinah Jefferies

Placards supporting the Liberal Democrat candidate in Cheltenham have been ripped down and damaged.

The placards supporting Max Wilkinson were discovered broken and discarded on the pavement along several roads and in the river on Sunday morning.

Streets where it occurred included Hales Road and Old Bath Bath Road. Mr Wilkinson's office said the damaged placards would be replaced and had informed the returning officer as it was an election-related issue.

Campaign signs have also been targeted in Somerset, where two Liberal Democrat signs were set alight in Wellington, and the Conservative party candidate in Yeovil, Marcus Fysh, tweeted a photograph appearing to show one of his signs ripped into pieces.

A spokeswoman from the candidate's office added it would be up to the returning officer to escalate the vandalism to the police.

Local resident Dinah Jefferies said she discovered the damage while out walking on Sunday morning.

"We noticed they were all on the ground or torn to bits. It seems to have been a systematic thing."

Ms Jefferies said she had been told by neighbours similar incidents had happened in other parts of the town, including Keynsham Road and Sandford Park.

Mr Wilkinson's office said a number of placards had been "vandalised or damaged, some repeatedly".

"This happens every election, to every party".

Runner awarded for ridding canal of unwanted plant

Robin Jones
WWT Slimbridge

A runner has been given an award for helping to rid the banks of a section of canal of an invasive plant while jogging on his daily lunch breaks.

Robin Jones has pulled up 5,709 Himalayan Balsams along the Gloucester to Sharpness since he began in April.

His efforts have been rewarded with an award from the Canal and River Trust.

The plant was introduced to the UK in the early 19th century and spreads "like wildfire".

It destroys native species around it by releasing poison. Mr Jones, who works at the nearby Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge, said he began targeting the plant after fears were raised that it would eventually spread to the nature reserve.

Himalayan Balsam
Getty Images

"I wouldn't go for lunchtime runs as half as much as if I didn't think there was balsam to be stopped. It's keeping me fit.

"The plant's small seeds are spread by an explosive head which can project them several metres away, meaning they spread like wildfire.

"I knew I had to take action before it ended up in the grounds of Slimbridge and thankfully it's paid off."

Sheep recruited to help rare bat species

Hebridean sheep
Getty Images

A flock of sheep is to be introduced to an area of the Forest of Dean in an attempt to help a rare species of bat.

Lesser horseshoe bats that roost at Stenders Quarry near Mitcheldean need wide open spaces to forage for food.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust will graze Hebridean sheep at its nature reserve in order to stop trees and shrubs from growing.

Tap here to read the full story.

Severe accident: M5 Gloucestershire northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire northbound severe accident, from J12 for B4008 Quedgeley to J11A for A417 Gloucester.

M5 Gloucestershire - Two lanes closed, it's slow and queues on M5 northbound from J12, B4008 (Quedgeley) to J11a, A417 (Gloucester), because of an accident.

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

Three schools closed due to power cut

More than 200 properties in Cheltenham are currently without power, with the outage causing three school closures.

Belmont School and Bettridge School, both on Warden Hill Road, have confirmed they will not be open today.

Bournside School, also on Warden Hill Road, had planned to open later than usual at 11:00 GMT, but has now taken the decision to close for the day.

The incident, affecting the GL51 post code area, was reported shortly after 07:20 GMT with Western Power Distribution estimating the issue will be resolved by about 10:30 GMT.

Fire rips through former pub causing extensive damage

Mitcheldean pub fire
Glos Fire & Rescue

A derelict former pub in the Forest of Dean has been extensively damaged by fire.

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue sent five crews to the George Hotel at 03:08 GMT when the flames had already spread across three floors.

The fire later spread to the roof and crews from Cinderford, Coleford, Newent and Gloucester north were forced to contain it from outside the building due to it being an unsafe structure.

Crews had extinguished the flames by about 09:25 GMT, with the cause of the fire at the pub, which has been closed for several years, under investigation.

Cash and jewellery stolen in burglary


Cash and jewellery have been stolen from a house near Bishops Cleeve in Gloucestershire.

Police are appealing for information about the burglary at a house in the village of Oxenton, off the A435, between 09:40 GMT and 10:20 GMT on 28 November.

It is believed that the suspects were parked in Bozard Lane prior to the burglary and given the busy nature of the A435, officers would also like motorists who passed the area at the time to check dashcam footage and call 101 if they identify any clips that may be relevant.

Police are particularly keen to identify two black men and a white man seen in the area at the time.

'Don't drink and drown' campaign launched

The Royal Life Saving Society is launching its Christmas 'Don't Drink and Drown' campaign in Gloucestershire today.

A total of 24 people have drowned in the county's waterways in the past five years - and more than half were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The campaign is asking people to make sure their friends don't walk home alone near canals, rivers or docks.

"We want people to look after each other and think about how they are going to get home, whether they get a taxi together or if they walk home to make sure it's away from the water's edge and not take any dimly lit paths by the water," said drowning prevention coordinator Laurence Hickin.

Safety concern over holiday lets

Wick High Street

An art studio on a busy road in the South Gloucestershire will be turned into holiday lets despite concerns for public safety.

Some residents objected to the plans, saying the building conversion on the “notoriously dangerous” High Street of Wick could lead to more accidents involving cars and pedestrians.

But a South Gloucestershire Council planning committee unanimously approved the plans after officials assured them vehicle access could be made safe.

Barry and Jane Gould's application, located on a site near a pub and pre-school, was referred to the committee by Boyd Valley councillor Ben Stokes after it attracted 11 objections.

Cllr Stokes said: “There is great anxiety, not only through neighbours, but the parish council, around the visibility of this very busy A420 main arterial route through the heart of Wick. The road is notoriously dangerous.”

But officers said they were satisfied the building conversion would not cause any harm as long as the dwellings were used as holiday lets only and the driveway and driveway visibility were improved as recommended.

Met Office weather warning for South West

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A yellow weather warning for rain has been made across large parts of the South West throughout this morning.

Drivers are being warned they may face spray and reduced visibility due to downpours.

Travel disruption and surface water flooding is possible up until about midday, said the Met Office.

Man waved scissors at staff during robbery

Police car

Police are appealing for witnesses following a robbery at a shop in Gloucester.

A man attempted to open the till before stealing cigarettes and waving scissors at staff in the Co-Op on Seventh Avenue in Tuffley on Saturday night.

The man police wish to identify is described as white, around 5ft 10ins, of slim build and is thought to have left on foot in the direction of Kemble Road.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting incident 408 of the 23rd of November.

Ice rink coming to town next Christmas

An open-air ice rink will be installed in the heart of Cheltenham next Christmas.

Cheltenham Business Improvement District’s (BID) plan to set up a temporary ice rink in Imperial Gardens in 2020 and 2021, has been approved by the borough council.

The BID were hoping to have the ice rink installed this Christmas, but had to delay the proposal to 2020.

Gloucester is the only district in the county which has an open air temporary ice rink this Christmas, based in The Docks.

Decision on new stadium expected before Christmas

Forest Green Rovers stadium
Zaha Hadid Architects

A decision on whether to grant Forest Green Rovers permission for its proposed 5,000-seat wooden stadium, is set to take place a week before Christmas.

A Stroud District Council spokesman confirmed a second attempt to determine the football club’s eco-friendly stadium, planned to be built near junction 13 of the M5, is expected to be held on December 18.

The authority’s development control committee rejected the League Two side’s proposed arena in June by a majority of three, over concerns of noise, traffic, and the impact on the landscape and the local community.

Plans also include a 1,700-space car park and two grass training pitches.

FGR chairman Dale Vince had hoped the “sustainable stadium”, designed by Zaha Hadid, would allow his team to aim for promotion, and said during the council meeting it would bring employment and investment opportunities to Stroud.

The club's current ground in Nailsworth, called the New Lawn, is powered by renewable energy, recycles rain water and serves vegan food to players, staff and fans.

Severe disruption: M5 Gloucestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire southbound severe disruption, between J11A for A417 Gloucester and J12 for B4008 Quedgeley.

M5 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M5 southbound between J11a, A417 (Gloucester) and J12, B4008 (Quedgeley), because of emergency repairs. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M5 Gloucestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire southbound severe disruption, at J12 for B4008 Quedgeley.

M5 Gloucestershire - M5 lane closed on exit slip road southbound at J12, B4008 (Quedgeley), because of a break down. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe accident: M5 Gloucestershire northbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire northbound severe accident, around J12 for B4008 Quedgeley.

M5 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M5 northbound around J12, B4008 (Quedgeley), because of an accident. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M5 Gloucestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire southbound severe disruption, from J11A for A417 Gloucester to J12 for B4008 Quedgeley.

M5 Gloucestershire - One lane closed on M5 southbound from J11a, A417 (Gloucester) to J12, B4008 (Quedgeley), because of emergency repairs.

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

Gloucester Cathedral to offer choral scholarships to girls

Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral and The King’s School, Gloucester, are to offer choral scholarships to girls for the first time.

For 478 years boy choristers have been educated at King’s, with each boy receiving a choral scholarship towards their school fees.

This development is a "significant step" in the cathedral’s choral history and will ensure equal opportunity for both girls and boys, a cathedral spokeswoman said.

From 2021, all 16 girl choristers will be offered a choral scholarship by the school and the cathedral.

Chorister duties will be shared equally between boys and girls, ensuring both play a full role in the musical life of the cathedral.

Our ambition is to ensure that talented girls and boys from a wide range of backgrounds can access the world-class choral training we provide at the Cathedral, as well as the outstanding, rounded education that King’s has to offer

The Very Reverend Stephen LakeDean of Gloucester Cathedral

'I'm considering a tactical vote'

Jojo Mehta and Ian Redmond

Jojo Mehta and Ian Redmond are both undecided.

They both have concerns for the environment - Jojo is co-founder of the Stop Ecocide campaign group, and Ian is chairman of the conservation group Ape Alliance - but both say they may be forced to vote tactically.

"We're in a really tricky position in Stroud," says Jojo.

"It's a marginal seat and we're looking at a really excellent Labour candidate who is extremely popular. But we're also looking at a brilliant Green candidate.

"I have to be honest, but I still don't know which way I'll vote. It's horrific."

And Ian is in agreement.

"I haven't decided yet. The Greens feel they have a real chance this time but that will split the vote.

"It's a difficult decision."

We're seeking out the stories and views of voters throughout the constituency today.

Later, BBC Points West will be live from Stroud Brewery: watch at BBC One at 6:30pm.

Tweet us @BBCBristol with your local perspectives.

'I'm not allowed to vote'

Sole Salido

Sole Salido has lived in the UK for more than a decade, and in Stroud for the past few years.

But being a Spanish national she is not allowed to vote in the General Election.

"It makes me fell like a second class citizen," she says.

"But I'm not angry or upset. I can't do anything about it. It's just the way the system is."

Sole adds the issue of Brexit is a concern.

"It affects me because my daughter's father is British. If Brexit goes ahead it will imply second class citizenship even more.

"I've already been intimidated by passport control when they were asking questions.

"It's very unsettling."

'Notting Hill with wellies': How the outside world sees Stroud

This part of the Cotswold's is certainly green and pleasant; the landscape is spectacular, especially the hillsides around the market town of Stroud.

Much of this landscape now has Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status, while the east of the constituency has the M5 running along its length.

It's perhaps no surprise then that the resident population is largely permanent, owner-occupied, with the odd celebrity or second-home Londoner snapping up examples of its now-listed mills when they come up for sale.

This prompted the London Evening Standard to liken the town to "Notting Hill with wellies".

There are contrasts, though...

Everyday life is dominated by permanent residents more than commuters or holiday homeowners. And local estates are loosely fenced, with few crunchy gravel driveways or electronic gates, while the local farm shops sell . . . well, farm produce, rather than expensive spa accessories."

Graham NorwoodFinancial Times Property Journalist

Snooker, tennis, Whigs and Extinction Rebellion - Stroud's political past

Stroud has a past history of involvement in politics having been central to the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.

It was a cloth town: woollen mills were powered by the small rivers which flow through the five fertile River Severn valleys, and supplied from Cotswold sheep which grazed on the hills above.

There is still a small textile industry - the green baize cloth used to cover snooker tables and the cloth covering championship tennis balls is made here.

But these days Stroud forms a centre for light engineering and small-scale manufacturing.

Stroud is most recently known as the launch base for Extinction Rebellion, the direct action group campaigning on climate change.

But it has a long history of key roles in politics: a former MP - Lord John Russell of the Whig party - who represented Stroud from 1837 to 1841 - went on to become Prime Minister, and was one of the chief architects of the Reform Act 1867, doubling the number of men who could vote at that time.

Longfords Mill
Parts of the Grade II listed Longfords Mill, Nailsworth have been converted into a textiles visitor centre and museum

'The NHS is the most important issue'

Steve Smith

Steve Smith, who runs a guitar shop in Dursley, says the NHS is the most important issue, that will influence his vote.

"Because my family have taken advantage of it over the years considerably," he says.

"I want to see the NHS continue to grow and improve and get the staff it needs, whether from abroad or the UK.

"However there are issues at the moment with losing staff back to Europe and other parts of the world which we haven't addressed, and that worries me.

"Brexit has been dealt with incredibly badly, it's been a shambles."

Steve also says Brexit will have an effect on his business.

"We've already seen an increase in paperwork for goods coming in from Europe," he says.

"There'll be a knock on effect now whether we stay in Europe or leave, because there are so many cogs already put in motion."

Intersound Guitars

General Election 2019: Focus on Stroud

Stroud Subscription Rooms
Derek Harper/Geograph

We are out in the constituency of Stroud today ahead of the general election in December.

We'll be talking to the people of this largely rural constituency, and its market towns, throughout the day h

At the last general election in 2017, Stroud secured a narrow Labour majority of 1.1%, with just 687 votes separating David Drew from the Conservative candidate, Neil Carmichael.

It is a Tory target seats this time, and Siobhan Baillie will be looking to regain it for the Conservatives.

Tap here to find out more about the Stroud constituency's political makeup on the BBC Election 2019 website.

And BBC Points West comes live from Stroud Brewery this evening: join us on BBC 2 at 6:30pm.

A man whose John Lewis-inspired Christmas ad went viral has made an "uplifting" follow-up.
The film comes a year after Phil Beastall's Love is a Gift was watched 50 million times online.

Polling station inside Santa's grotto

father christmas

Cheltenham voters are set to use a polling station inside santa's grotto next month.

Coberley Primary School says a small room to be used on 12 December is also meant to be Santa's room the following day.

"Our Christmas fair is on the 13th, with polling the day before, but we use the room as a Santa's grotto," said headteacher Andrew Milner.

"There are a bunch of people waiting to get it ready to make a beautiful Christmas grotto but we will also have to cut that day back because of the election."

Council's redundancy payments total £1m despite fewer staff laid off

Local Democracy Reporting Service

South Gloucestershire Council building

South Gloucestershire Council laid off nearly 100 fewer staff in 2018 than the year, before but still racked up around £1m in redundancy payouts.

The authority made 125 people redundant in 2017/18, at a cost of roughly £1.6million. Last year, there were only 30 compulsory redundancies, but they added up to around £1m – chiefly because of large payments to made three individuals.

A council spokesman said: “There were a number of redundancies in 2018/19, following reorganisation within the council as part of our ongoing work to improve the value for money as we continue to deliver our priorities and the services people need.

“A number of individuals received contractual redundancy payments as part of this process, which are capped by the council’s policy.

“The total costs to the council (described as ‘exit packages’) includes pension costs payable to the pension fund to comply with pension rules.”

Altogether the council paid out almost £1.25m in severance payments in 2018/19, compared with nearly £2.05million the previous financial year.

Gloucestershire Police warn drivers over flooding

Road users in parts of Gloucestershire are being advised to take caution and find alternative routes as a number of roads are currently impassable due to surface water/flooding.

Gloucestershire Police said the most affected roads are:

  • he A40 near Over and Highnam
  • The B4077 near the Teddington Hands and Alderton
  • The A46 Beckford Road near Evesham
  • The A38 from Treddington to Fiddington, Minsterworth
  • And a number of roads around Winchcombe
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Rare bird spotted in Gloucestershire

The Great Grey Shrike or butcher bird has been spotted at Woorgreens Nature Reserve in the Forest of Dean.

The butcher bird is beautiful but dangerous to small reptiles.

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has asked if people spot the bird to "please watch respectfully from the tracks and paths to avoid disturbance".

Click here for facts about the Great Grey Shrike.

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