Devonport

England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Devon sees eight coronavirus deaths in a week

Jenny Walrond

Health Correspondent, BBC Spotlight

Eight people have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in Devon within the last week, new figures from NHS England have revealed.

They included five in Torbay, two in 2 Plymouth and one in North Devon.

The latest figures mean there have been 94 Covid deaths in Cornwall and 203 in Devon.

Prisoners locked up due to Covid rules 'dangerous'

Newsnight

Prisoners being locked in their cells for 23 hours a day under Covid restrictions is dangerous, the chief inspector of prisons has warned.

Peter Clarke told BBC Newsnight that inmates were "losing hope" and warned of the impact on their mental health.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) has said the practice - which aims to help reduce the spread of the virus - has reduced violence and self-harm and led to a more stable environment, the POA said.

But Mr Clarke, who is due to step down from his position at the end of October, said he found that argument "shallow" and "to an extent self-serving".

The Inspectorate for England and Wales says it has visited more than 50 prisons since the beginning of the pandemic and found that prisoners spending 23 hours a day in their cells was "normal".

Sentenced inmates are allowed out of their cells to attend work or education, to exercise and to socialise for short periods. But since lockdown much of this activity has stopped.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: "The measures we put in place limited the spread of the virus and saved lives.

"In line with the latest advice from Public Health England we are gradually easing restrictions, including increasing time out of cells."

Devon has three prisons: Channings Wood, near Newton Abbot; Dartmoor, in Princetown (pictured), and Exeter.

Watch BBC Newsnight on Tuesday at 22:45 on BBC Two and on BBC iPlayer.

Dartmoor Prison
BBC

Covid contact-tracing app not sharing data with police

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

The developers of the Covid-19 contact-tracing app for England and Wales have stressed that none of the data it uses will be shared with the police.

It followed news that contact details of people told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace scheme in England would be shared with the police "on a case-by-case basis".

Giving police access to such details was described as "not a good idea" by the chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Federation earlier this week.

Andy Berry, from the organisation which represents rank and file officers up to the rank of chief inspector, tweeted that it was "not just because we’re busy enough but unbelievably some people don’t like police and the thought of officers at their door will put them off getting tested".

The news from NHS Test and Trace on Sunday led to worried app users - with it being downloaded more than 18m times since it launched in September - taking to social media to say they would delete it over privacy concerns.

The Department for Health and Social Care told the BBC that neither the police nor the government received any data from the app.

NHS Covid-19 app
BBC

Covid-19 cases in Exeter University area dip below 100

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The cluster of coronavirus cases in the Pennsylvania and university area of Exeter has dipped below 100 for the first time in more than two weeks.

Having reached a figure of 322 on 10 October, the latest figures – which cover the period between 9 October and 15 October - show that the cluster has fallen to 88 cases.

It comes as cases across Devon continue to show downward trend and for the second day running, more clusters have dropped off the map than have been added to it, with seven clusters removed compared to six being added.

Other high clusters linked to the university area have also dropped with Central Exeter, also once over the 100 mark, down to 36, and St James’s Park and Hoopern down to 22.

Flood warnings and flood alerts in force

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

A flood warning is in force in Cornwall from Lands End to Lizard Point - excluding Mounts Bay - for Monday evening and Tuesday morning's high tides.

The Environment Agency said flooding was expected for Mousehole, Praa Sands, Porthleven and Mullion harbour and immediate action is required.

A flood alert is in place between Lizard Point and Gribbin Head, with flooding considered to be possible for the Helford and the Fal, Penryn, Flushing, St Mawes, Portscatho, Portloe, Portholland, Mevagissey and Par. The alert is to "be prepared".

In Devon, flood alerts are in place for the north coast, from Hartland Point to Lynmouth; Plymouth, Torbay and the south Devon estuaries.

Flood warnings and flood alerts 12:00 19 Ict 2020
Environment Agency

Lockdown year 'worst ever' for dog thefts

Amy Woodfield

BBC News

Dog offers paw
Andrew Segal

Devon and Cornwall Police have recorded the second highest number of animals in England being stolen during lockdown

The results of a BBC Freedom of Information request showed it was among five policing areas which saw a double-digit increase in the number of dog thefts reported between January and July 2020, compared with the previous year - up to 47 from 25.

The RSPCA said the figures were "really concerning" and it was urging all dog owners to "take extra precautions" to protect pets by "neutering them, ensuring they are microchipped and ensuring they wear a collar with contact details".

Police also said owners to take extra precautions.

Devon and Cornwall Police said: "We take all matters of animal theft seriously and we appreciate the distress and heartache that dog thefts cause."

Dog thefts gfx
BBC

SW Tories sign letter on Manchester Covid restrictions

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

MPs from across the greater South West, including Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Wiltshire, were among 20 Tories who over the weekend wrote to urge Greater Manchester's mayor to "engage" with the government's coronavirus restrictions, which prompted anger from some of their own colleagues.

Ministers said Greater Manchester needs to be in the top tier of restrictions, but local leaders said they wanted better financial support before they agree to being moved up to the top tier of rules.

Local elected mayor Andy Burnham said he wanted the government to re-introduce the 80% furlough scheme used previously in the pandemic to support the low paid affected by tier three closures.

Four Conservative MPs for the region said the from the 20 MPs letter was unhelpful.

Meanwhile, further delays to the decision on Greater Manchester's Covid restrictions would "put people's lives at risk", the communities secretary has said.

Robert Jenrick said he hoped he could reach an agreement with the region's MPs, and Mr Burnham, on Monday.

Talks are due to continue later after a weekend of discussions.

The South West MPs who signed the letter included -

From Cornwall:

  • Steve Double
  • Scott Mann
  • Cherilyn Mackrory
  • Sheryll Murray

From Devon:

  • Selaine Saxby
  • Anne Marie Morris

From Somerset: Marcus Fysh

From Wiltshire: Danny Kruger

View more on twitter

University students banned from mixing for another week

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Aerial view of Exeter's Streatham Campus
Pierre Terre/Geograph

A ban on University of Exeter students mixing with other households has been extended for a further seven days in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The latest statistics from Devon County Council showed there were 262 positive cases in Exeter up to 14 October, with Public Health England confirming more than 70% of these were linked to the university.

The university said it remained in a "fragile position" and was "steadfast" in its commitment to fight the virus.

Registrar and secretary Mike Shore-Nye added it would need to see "a clear trend" before lifting the restrictions.

Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health for Devon, said new cases in the community showed the virus was spreading among the non-student population, and urged the city's residents to be "extra vigilant" in following public health advice.

Plymouth Tory leader defended by colleagues

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Senior members of the city council’s Conservative group have spoken out in support of the leadership after a series of resignations.

Six councillors have now left the group, including former leader Ian Bowyer, and all have criticised the way it has been run.

But in a statement on Thursday, two senior members strongly backed leader Nick Kelly, who replaced Councillor Bowyer in March.

The statement from current deputy leader Patrick Nicholson and former leader Vivien Pengelly described the resignations and criticism as “very disappointing”.

They deny allegations about the behaviour of senior members of the group, say those who have left have been unable to accept the democratic change in leadership, and praise the “energetic” approach of Councillor Kelly in holding the city council’s ruling Labour group to account.

Thursday’s statement said the resignations and comments were “very disappointing when they are all supposed to believe in team work and democracy in order to represent their respective local communities and the wider city of Plymouth".

Seventy-one historic landmarks 'at risk'

BBC Spotlight

More than 70 historic landmarks across the wider South West have been added to Historic England's annual 'Heritage at Risk' register.

The 2020 register identifies sites of historic importance that could be lost forever as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.

Historic England has crested a map which shows the at risk sites.

It says 53 historic buildings in the region have been saved thanks to work it carried out.

Helland Bridge
Google

Helland Bridge spanning over the River Camel, built in the 15th Century is just one of the 71 landmarks to have been added to the list this year.

"Its carriageway is less than 10ft (3m) wide, and not built for modern traffic such as caravans, horse-boxes, tractors with trailers and lorries," Historic England said.

The wider South West region includes Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire.

More Conservative councillors resign

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Two more councillors have left the Conservative group on Plymouth City Council, taking the total number of recent departures to six.

The latest to resign are Andrea Johnson and Richard Ball, both councillors in the Compton ward alongside group leader Nick Kelly.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, they blamed "irreconcilable differences" with the current leadership.

Councillor Ball, who was Lord Mayor until May, said the group had "fallen apart" and suffered "massive damage".

The spate of resignations began when former leader Ian Bowyer and Peverell councillor Tony Carson quit on Friday after being suspended for comments in a press release calling for a cut in the speed limit on the A38.

They urged the Labour-run council to seek a review following concerns about safety, pollution and congestion.

Councillor Kelly said they were temporarily suspended pending an investigation as they had broken group rules and their statements did not represent the group’s views.

He denied allegations from Councillor Bowyer, who he replaced as leader in March, that there was a culture of "aggression and intimidation" and said the disciplinary action had followed group procedure.

The departures were followed on Monday by Councillor Bowyer’s colleagues in the Eggbuckland ward, his wife Lynda Bowyer and Heath Cook, in protest at the leadership’s behaviour.

Passengers 'turned away' from buses if they get too full

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Buses across Devon are having to turn away customers if they get too full.

Stagecoach’s managing director Mike Watson told councillors at a Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee meeting that most of their buses were operating at 50% of pre-lockdown capacity to encourage social distancing.

He said that, while there may be exceptions, the capacity limits mean that there had been times when signs saying "bus full" have been displayed and that additional passengers won’t be able to hop on board.

He said there were fears about what may happen in 2021 as the current agreement with the government to fund any losses runs out in January, as "social distancing means our business model doesn’t work".

He added that passenger adherence to the wearing of face coverings has been good with limited issues around compliance, and that at present, the revenue shortfall is being made up by the government.

But he said that the scheme runs until January, and he added: “If it is not extended, we will face a real challenge and have to take action on the network. Social distancing means our business model doesn’t work.”

'Large groups of people drinking after curfew'

BBC Radio Cornwall

The new three-tier system of Covid-19 restrictions has begun in England.

Most of the country, including Cornwall, is in the lowest tier - medium - but millions of people in the North and the Midlands face extra curbs on households mixing.

Parliament approved the legislation to write the new tier system into law, but 42 Tory MPs rebelled in a vote to express their disapproval of the 22:00 closing time for pubs and restaurants in England.

Among them was Cornwall MP for St Ives Derek Thomas, who said he could not see the point of early closures as "we have pubs that are being told to close, they're looking out of their window and seeing large groups of people drinking after curfew, drinking alcohol they bought in high street stores and supermarkets".

Two MPs from neighbouring Devon also voted against the curfew: Anthony Mangnall of Totnes and Newton Abbot's Anne Marie Morris.

Drinkers
BBC

Devon and Cornwall at 'medium' risk of coronavirus

All of Devon and Cornwall will remain in tier one of the government's new local Covid-19 restrictions, meaning they are considered at "medium" risk.

There was some concern Exeter might be subject to more stringent restrictions, due to it having an infection rate nearly two-and-a-half times the England average, with 346 cases per 100,000 people.

More than 80% of cases in the city were linked to Exeter University last week.

Public health authorities from Exeter City Council previously emphasised this spike of infection rates was mostly restricted to the university and "not in the community".

The rest of both counties are significantly lower than the national infection rate of 139 cases per 100,000.

The other infection rates in local authorities are:

  • Torbay - 65 cases per 100,000
  • Plymouth - 51 cases per 100,000
  • Teignbridge - 50 cases per 100,000
  • East Devon - 49 cases per 100,000
  • West Devon - 43 cases per 100,000
  • Mid Devon - 40 cases per 100,000
  • North Devon - 33 cases per 100,000
  • South Hams - 32 cases per 100,000
  • Cornwall and Isles of Scilly - 29 cases per 100,000
  • Torridge - 22 cases per 100,000

Covid patients increase pauses Plymouth hospital surgery

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Non-critical inpatient surgery at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital has been temporarily paused because of a growing number of Covid patients and "a need to ensure we can keep everyone safe", bosses have said.

NHS trust chief operating officer Kevin Baber said any patients affected were being contacted directly and anyone who had heard from the hospital should "please follow the instructions on your letter and attend as planned".

Surgery for patients attending the hospital as day cases, without needing an overnight stay, was still going ahead for most patients, he added.

He said: "We appreciate how difficult it is for a patient to have their surgery cancelled and apologise for the distress and inconvenience this causes. It is always a difficult decision to make but safety is our priority.

"We have to ensure patients who have suspected or confirmed Covid are safely cared for away from those patients without Covid. This involves re-configuring our wards to ensure everyone remains safe.

"We will be looking to resume planned inpatient surgery as soon as possible."

View more on facebook

BCG: Can a vaccine from the 1920s save lives from Covid?

James Gallagher

Health and science correspondent, BBC News

Scientists in the UK have started testing the BCG vaccine, developed in 1921, to see if it can save lives from Covid.

The vaccine was designed to stop tuberculosis, but there is some evidence it can protect against other infections as well.

About 1,000 people will take part in the trial at the University of Exeter.

Vaccines are designed to train the immune system in a highly targeted way that leaves lasting protection against one particular infection.

But this process also causes widespread changes in the immune system. This seems to heighten the response to other infections and scientists hope it may even give our bodies an advantage against coronavirus.

"This could be of major importance globally," Prof John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, told the BBC.

"Whilst we don't think it [the protection] will be specific to Covid, it has the potential to buy several years of time for the Covid vaccines to come through and perhaps other treatments to be developed."

But while millions of people in the UK will have had the BCG jab as a child, it is thought they would need to be vaccinated again to benefit.

You can find out more here.

BCG (Bacillus Calmette-GuŽrin) vaccine for tuberculosis, pictured at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1931.
Getty Images
The BCG (Bacillus Calmette-GuŽrin) vaccine for tuberculosis was developed in 1921. Pictured here is doses of the medication at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1931

Cultural centres receive a share of £257m arts funding

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

National Maritime Museum
BBC

Cultural centres in Cornwall and Devon are to receive a share of £257m of government arts funding.

The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth and Exeter's Northcott Theatre were among 1,300 organisations receiving what Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described as "a vital boost".

The National Maritime Museum (pictured top) will receive £485,000 to sustain its future and work to promote Cornwall's maritime heritage.

The Northcott is to get £183,399.

Many music venues and cultural organisations have been under threat of closure due to the financial impact of coronavirus on the already struggling sector since mid-March.

Northcott Theatre, Exeter
BBC

The Jubilee Pool in Penzance has also been given £49,000 from a government recovery fund. It is receiving cash from a £103m heritage fund.

No justification in Exeter being in Covid Tier three - MP

Andrew Segal

BBC South West

Exeter's MP has said there would be "no justification" for putting the city in tier three of the government's new Covid restrictions for England, which are due to be announced later.

The new restrictions are expected to classify regions as being on "medium", "high" or "very high" alert.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce changes in the House of Commons on Monday before speaking at a Downing Street press conference at 18:00.

However, it has been reported that Exeter may "possibly" be put into the third tier, which is expected to involve the tightest restrictions.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, tweeting about such reports, said such a lockdown increase in the city would result in "further hitting our economy".

He added that Devon County Council and local public health officials had assured him the city's recent spike in cases was "largely confined to students halls and shared houses".

View more on twitter

Ban on Exeter students mixing in households extended

The ban on students at Exeter University mixing with other households has been extended.

This is to try and control the number of coronavirus cases within the community.

Public Health England says 80% of the 532 cases recorded in Exeter in the week leading up to 6 October can be attributed to students.

Exeter University says it is doing all it can and has thanked students for their compliance.

Devon and Cornwall Police officers will be increasing patrols in the city to help.

Ash dieback: Quarter of a million trees to be planted in Devon

BBC Radio Devon

Ash tree suffering from ash dieback
BBC

A quarter of a million trees are set to be planted across Devon in the next five years.

The plans aim to help make up for those that could be lost due to the disease ash dieback.

The fungus grows on the leaves and insides of trees, eventually blocking its water system and causing it to die.

Rosie Cotgreave, from the Saving Devon's Treescapes project, said about 90% of the 1.9 million ash trees in Devon will be affected by the disease.

Volunteers in the county are helping to plant saplings and gather seeds to offset the damage.

Trees will also be given away for free to those who want them.

Senior Plymouth Conservative councillors suspended

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Two senior councillors have been suspended from the Conservative group on Plymouth City Council.

Plymouth City Council
Ed Oldfield

Former group leader Ian Bowyer, who represents Eggbuckland, and Peverell councillor Tony Carson were suspended by new leader Nick Kelly, who took over from Mr Bowyer in March.

Mr Kelly refused to comment, saying it was an internal group matter. The reason for the suspensions has not been confirmed.

The action follows a press release issued by Mr Bowyer in September in which he and Mr Carson called for the speed limit on the A38 in Plymouth to be reduced.

It is understood that the views do not represent local Conservative policy.

Both councillors have been suspended pending an investigation.

Mr Kelly said: "This is an internal group matter and in view of this we are not going to discuss such matters publicly at this time."

Mr Bowyer, who was leader of the city council for two years until Labour regained control in 2018 and Mr Carson, a former member of the council’s Conservative shadow cabinet, declined to comment.

Plymouth Covid cases 20 times higher than summer

BBC Radio Devon

Coronavirus cases in Plymouth are 20 times higher than they were in the summer.

The infection rate which is about 30 per 100,000 people, is just under the national average, says Ruth Harrell, the city's director of public health.

Dr Harrell said coronavirus hospital admissions were rising in the region - putting pressure on the NHS - but it was not enough to warrant a local lockdown.

The director of public health has asked people to abide by the rules and advice set up by the government.

Exeter Covid cases see it among 10 highest infection rates

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

There's been another big rise in new coronavirus cases in Exeter, meaning the city now has one of the 10 highest infection rates in England.

Analysis by the BBC of the latest figures take into account the seven-day period up to Sunday 4 October of this week.

There were 445 new cases in Exeter - up from 72 in the previous seven-day period.

That gives an infection rate of 338.6 per 100,000 population. The England average is 117.4.

The rest of the South West is considerably below the England average, but new cases rose everywhere except Cornwall and the South Hams.

Torbay saw its new cases rise from 20 to 63 to give an infection rate of 46.

There were 43 more new cases than in the previous seven-day period in Teignbrdge ,while the rise in Plymouth was 30, taking the total to 91 and an infection rate of 34.7.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was the only area to report fewer new cases compared with the previous seven days. Numbers dropped from 227 to 136 giving an infection rate of 23.8.

Mid Devon, South Hams and Torridge, which are the only places in the South West to have an infection rate below 20 cases per 100,000 population, are among the lowest 10 infection rates in the country.

Exeter coronavirus outbreak 'remains under control'

BBC Radio Devon

University of Exeter Covid sign
BBC

The coronavirus outbreak in Exeter remains under control and 80% of the cases were contained within the university, Devon's public health boss has said.

The city has an infection rate which is two-and-a-half times the average for England after 372 new cases were confirmed in the seven days to last Saturday.

However, Dr Virgina Pearson (pictured), director of public health for Devon, said it was remaining under control.

Dr Virgina Pearson
BBC

First of all, it's contained at the moment. Secondly, although the numbers look very high, that's because we're doing a lot of testing, and that's a good thing. Thirdly, there's confidence in the local arrangements - we've have a daily outbreak control team that meets and we know that the students who have been advised by the university on what they should be doing are complying."

Dr Virgina PearsonDirector of Public Health, Devon

The University of Exeter said earlier it would not hesitate to continue taking action against students who break coronavirus rules, and that a "handful" of students have been sent home for not keeping to the guidelines.

University 'not hesitating in Covid breach action'

BBC Radio Devon

University of Exeter social distancing signs
BBC

The University of Exeter will not hesitate to continue taking action against students who break coronavirus rules, senior bosses have said.

What has been described as a "handful" of students have been sent home for not keeping to the guidelines.

The city of Exeter has an infection rate which is two-and-a-half times the average for England after 372 new cases were confirmed in the seven days to last Saturday.

Most cases have been in the student community, the institution has previously confirmed.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Tim Quine said he did "emphasise the great majority are really working with us and working sensibly".

There have been a number of cases we've had to reprimand. We don't go straight to reprimand - we're following a model of education and encouragement first. We'd never exclude anyone from the university lightly, so it's always with regret."

Prof Tim QuineDeputy Vice Chancellor, University of Exeter

Meanwhile, health bosses have told the city's MP there was still no evidence that continuing rise in the number of Covid-19 cases linked to the university has spread to the rest of Exeter, the Local Democracy Reporting Service reports.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said: "While Exeter is the top Covid hotspot in the south of England, we shouldn’t be over-alarmed about that.

"In a small city like Exeter, with a large student population, all it takes is for there to be a couple of outbreaks in student halls for the city’s overall figures to look very high.

“So far, according to local public health officials, wider community spread has been minimal, with the virus largely contained in student halls and shared student housing in the city."

Supply chain problems halt non-urgent blood tests in Devon

Rachel Schraer

BBC Health Reporter

A Devon NHS trust has stopped all non-urgent blood tests after supply chain problems at diagnostics firm Roche.

Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche said problems with a move to a new warehouse had led to a "very significant" drop in its processing capacity.

A spokesman said Covid-19 tests would be prioritised, but it could take two weeks to fix the issue.

However, the backlog could affect tests including for cancer and heart disease, and GPs in Devon have been asked to stop all non-urgent blood tests.

Dr Tom Lewis, lead clinician for pathology at North Devon District Hospital, in Barnstaple, said his hospital's trust had sent out communications that all non-urgent blood tests in the community should be stopped.

Without rationing these non-urgent tests, he said, they would run out of swabs in "three to four days".

Even with rationing, essential equipment could run short by next week, he added.

Roche said: "We deeply regret that there has been a delay in the dispatch of some products."

Blood test. Pic: Simon Dawson/PA Wire
Simon Dawson/PA Wire

Pedestrian injured in Plymouth road crash

A pedestrian has been injured in Plymouth after a road crash.

Police said they were called to Kings Road in Devonport at about 08:20.

The pedestrian received non life-threatening injuries and was being treated by an ambulance, they added.

The road has been closed.

Scammers steal £43m from Devon and Cornwall victims

BBC Radio Devon

Credit card passed between two people
BBC

Scammers have taken more than £43m from people in Devon and Cornwall in a year, according to figures from the region's police force.

It said it received more than 9,000 reports of scams in the year until August.

It is believed the real number could be much higher due to low levels of reporting.

Chris Kent, a volunteer driver for vulnerable people in the region, was made a victim when he thought he was helping investigators to uncover fraudulent banking activity.

He was persuaded to draw out money from his own bank account which would be "transferred" to another account.

"I said yes", Mr Kent told the BBC.

"He was so convincing, that I thought to myself I've got to help."

Exeter sees further rise in coronavirus cases

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

Another rise in coronavirus cases in Exeter has been confirmed by the latest figures published.

In the week to Saturday, there were 372 positive tests, compared with 80 in the previous seven-day period.

The infection rate in the city now stands at 283 cases per 100,000 population, which is the 16th highest in England, and higher than many places which have additional restrictions including Bolton, Middlesbrough and Leicester.

The average for England is 108. Exeter's rate, which is more than two-and-a-half times that rate is the highest in the south of England by a large margin.

Torbay's new case numbers have risen from 20 to 54 and the infection rate is just below 40 per 100,000.

There were 37 additional new cases in Teignbridge, taking its rate to 35.8.

Torridge and the South Hams were among the 10 council areas with the lowest infection rates in the country.

Across the wider South West, latest figures show just 10 new patients were admitted to hospital with Covid on Saturday.

Plymouth getting 50 new electric vehicle charging points

BBC Radio Devon

Plymouth is getting 50 new, on-street electric vehicle charge points.

The city council said it had been given a government grant of £225,000 to install them next year.

Exact locations had not been decided yet, but they should be on streets rather than in public car parks, it added.

Elsewhere in the county, a charging point has also been installed at Haytor car park by Dartmoor National Park Authority.

And North Devon Council said it was inviting suppliers to tender for a contract to install more in the district.

Electric car charging point
Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Big rise in Covid cases in Exeter

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

There has been a big rise in Covid cases in Exeter over the last three days, with this confirmed by Devon County Council.

A statement said "the latest data does now show a rise in Exeter, still largely within the University of Exeter student population, that requires focused attention".

It added: “We have been working very closely with Public Health England, the University of Exeter and Exeter City Council, and already measures have been taken to reduce the wider spread of infection.

"We expect to see confirmed cases continue to rise while the national reporting is refreshed."

There were 345 new cases in Exeter in the seven days to Friday 2 October. That is a rise from 74 in the preceding seven days.

The infection rate is 262.5 per 100,000 people - the 17th highest in England and the highest in the south of England. The England average is 101.3.

Torbay was the next highest. A rise of new cases from 20 to 51 has seen its rate go to 37.4.

Churches bring cake to isolated Exeter students

Churches in Exeter have been helping students who’re having to self-isolate as they arrive at university.

Students
BBC

They’ve been delivering home-made cake and toasties to help students settle in, along with emotional and practical support.

Students in the city are not permitted to meet indoors with anyone outside their household after a spike in cases at the university.

The Rev Helen Sherlock of the Unlimited Church said: "They are in a new housing situation with people they have never lived with before and cake always makes you feel better.

"So the churches across Exeter decided if they wanted to email us we can bring them cake and build relationships if that's what they want."

Student and churchgoer Jenna Fisher said: "I tell me friends what we are doing and they say 'That's such a kind thing and it's incredible that people are reaching out.'"

Covid-19 cases in Exeter 'above the national average'

Daniel Clark

Local Democracy Reporting Service

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, the number of new cases being confirmed in Exeter has risen above the national average.

There have been 78 cases confirmed in Exeter in the last seven days – a rate of 59.4 per 100,000 people - the average for England is 55.4 per 100,000.

Asked whether there were any discussions around a local lockdown for Exeter, a Devon County Council spokesman said: “A decision of a magnitude of a city-wide lockdown would be made at a national level.

"At the moment, case numbers are not there.”

Building
Pierre Terre/Geograph

Areas of concern do not get local lockdown rules immediately but are flagged on the watchlist to ensure they get extra testing capacity and are more closely monitored.

Areas for enhanced support are those at a medium-high risk of intervention where there is a more detailed plan, agreed with the national authorities, while areas of intervention see ‘local lockdown’ rules imposed.

Despite case rates in Exeter being higher than some areas of the country on the the government’s coronavirus watchlist, the city was not added when the changes were made late on Thursday.

This is because despite the incidence being higher than some areas on the watchlist, the cases have mainly been confined to university students with no evidence yet of onward community transmission, and some of the areas on the list are geographically surrounded by areas where the incidence is much higher, which isn’t the case in Devon.

Steve Brown, deputy director of Public Health Devon, has thanked university students for responding to the new additional measures to curb the coronavirus infection and said it was essential that everyone in the city’s community continued to follow the rules to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Powerlifter aiming for world title

Andy Birkett

BBC News Online

Ellen
BBC

A powerlifter is looking to push for a world title after winning European gold in Slovakia last month.

For her day job, Ellen Freeborn, 29, who grew up in Bovey Tracey but now lives in Davidstow, works in a laboratory, using her masters degree in chemistry.

But in her spare time she lifts weights more than three times her own bodyweight.

Lockdown has forced her to set up her own home gym for the hours of training she needs to put in.

ellen
BBC

"I think people find it quite interesting and people are quite surprised when they realise what I do in my spare time," she said.

"Nobody really expects it because it is such a contrast."

Ellen said she would like to get a couple of records and "just try to keep achieving and progressing".

Weather warnings for Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Miles Davis

BBC News Online

Weather warning
Met Office

Weather warnings are in place for parts of the South West for the next three days with incoming storms.

Storm Alex, a weather system named by Météo-France, is expected to hit the region on Friday with a second bout of wind and rain due to arrive later on Friday.

Steve Ramsdale, chief meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “It’ll be quite a miserable end to the working week for southern and south-west England as Storm Alex brings heavy rain and strong winds tomorrow, with coastal gales of around 60-65mph for some."

The Met Office said parts of south-west England could see more than 100mm of rain falling over the weekend, which is "likely to lead to significant impacts from flooding, an enhanced risk of landslides along with very difficult driving conditions".

Mr Ramsdale said: "As the strong winds and rain associated with Storm Alex clear away from Britain later on Friday, another low-pressure system moves towards the UK from the east bringing further very heavy rain and strong winds to many over the weekend.”

South West Covid-19 cases still below English average

Hamish Marshall

BBC Spotlight

Cases of Covid-19 in the South West are still below the national average and, in most cases, well below, BBC research on the latest figures show.

Plymouth is one of the few parts of the country to show a reduction in cases over the week to Sunday, compared with the previous seven days.

The number of cases in the city dropped from 55 to 44, and the infection rate is 16.9 per 100,000 population.

Cornwall remains the area in the region with the highest number of cases.

In the week to Sunday, numbers went up from 115 to 180. The infection rate is 31.5 per 100,000.

Exeter, where a large proportion of cases is among students, has seen the number of cases increase from 28 to 67 in the week to Sunday. The infection rate is 51 per 100,000 of the population.

The city's university has asked students not to meet indoors "with anyone who is not part of your household" for two weeks.

The number of cases rose everywhere else in Devon, except East Devon and Torridge, but those areas' numbers are low, as are infection rates.

The England average is 57.3 cases per 100,000.