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  1. News, sport, weather and travel updates from across the West of England on Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Firefighters help children in Bristol to read

Avon Fire and Rescue officers with their delighted audience

It's been a day of heavy news so we'll leave you with some firefighters delighting school-kids with a reading session.

The crew members visited Greenfield Academy in Knowle to help pupils with their literacy skills.

We'll be back with the latest news, sport, travel and weather from 7am.

Mild and damp conditions to continue into Wednesday

Tomorrow we should expect more of the same warm, damp weather but as the day progresses it will become breezy with spots of rain as Storm Doris starts to make her entrance.

Gloucestershire will fair best for dry weather but the Met Office is expecting high winds there on Thursday.

Here's Sara Thornton with the latest forecast for the region.

Mild weather is to continue into Wednesday with some spots of rain and gusts of wind.

Firm creates bionic hands for child amputees

Two men, one with a red bionic hand, shake hands
Open Bionics

A robotics company from Bristol has partnered with NHS England to develop affordable robotic prosthetics for hand amputee children. 

Open Bionics will receive £100,000 to run a feasibility study to bring their human-powered bionic hands to the health system.

Open Bionics is based at the University of the West of England's Bristol Robotics Lab and was established only two years ago.

Virtual music lessons - the future of teaching?

Watch: Wiltshire Music Centre has been teaching via a video link

Children from St Nicholas VC Primary School in Bromham, near Chippenham, are learning how to play the African drums over the internet.

Each child has their own drum and they are being taught, using Skype, by Wiltshire Music Centre teacher David Garcia.

'Poor decision making' enabled Winterbourne View abuse

A report by the Nursing and Midwifery Council found that a district manager at Winterbourne View, Kevin Haigh, failed "to effectively safeguard" patients.

It stated: "By failing to ensure adequate and timely investigation of incidents, failing to submit safeguarding minutes and investigation reports and failing to challenge poor decision making in other agencies and individuals [Mr Haigh] allowed the status quo to prevail. 

"In the case of Winterbourne View this meant that residents were left in an environment where they were exposed to mistreatment and emotional and physical abuse. 

"Whilst [Mr Haigh] did not bring about this state of affairs, his failings whilst in post meant that opportunities to properly identify the full extent of the institutional abuse at Winterbourne View were missed resulting in patients being subjected to abuse and at unwarranted risk of harm."

The full story is here.

Budget decisions made - now for the reactions

Councils in Wiltshire and Bristol met to set their budgets today.

In Bristol, emotions were running high over cuts to a raft of services. People were ejected from the meeting and a march was held outside.

Charlie Bolton, leader of the Green Party, accused Labour of not listening to the debate.

He said: "It is a list which is impressive only in the extent of its awfulness."

In Wiltshire, Lib Dem leader Glenis Ansell criticised the Tories for their "lack of effective planning and foresight”.

She said: "The last four years have been dominated by a programme of savage spending cuts and reductions in jobs and services.”

Severe disruption: M4 Wiltshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Wiltshire westbound severe disruption, between J16 for A3102 and J17 for A350.

M4 Wiltshire - One lane closed on M4 westbound between J16, A3102 (Swindon West) and J17, A350 (Chippenham), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

Manager in Winterbourne View scandal is struck off

A council care manager sacked after adults with learning disabilities were ill-treated at Winterbourne View has been banned from the profession.

Undercover filming by BBC Panorama showed people with learning disabilities and autism being taunted, bullied and abused at the now closed private hospital.

Kevin Christopher Haigh, who worked for South Gloucestershire Council, was struck off at a hearing by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Go here for a timeline of events in the scandal. Read the full story here.

Winterbourne View

Becky Godden's dad says Halliwell search should have happened 'years ago'

John Godden speaks of his anguish as searches carried out

The father of Becky Godden, one of Halliwell's victims, believes police should have searched the murderer's home previously.

John Godden said the family just wanted to remember Becky's life.

Looking for a new career? You might consider working as a welder

Castle Welding and Fabrication says there is a shortage of skilled welders

A company near Glastonbury says it's struggling to employ welders because there's a shortage of people in Somerset with the proper qualifications. 

Julian Wittledon has run Castle Welding in Pilton for the last 22 years, and employs around a dozen skilled welders from the local area. 

The shortage is so bad, Julian is using a more unusual method to attract employees.

Dog rescued unharmed from car crash in Wiltshire

After the earlier crash in Swindon - look who got rescued!

View more on twitter

Marvin Rees: Budget 'takes back control' of finances

There have been scuffles, protests and even a fire alarm, but now Bristol City Council has set its controversial budget.

Mayor Marvin Rees said: "We all know there’s no realistic way to make over £100m of savings without some pain, but I think we’ve done a good job understanding the impact and thinking about how we minimise it."

Members agreed a 4.99% increase in council tax, with 3% of that levy paying for adult social care.

The council has identified just over £62m of savings but still needs £40m to plug the funding gap.

Marvin Rees

Mental health bosses apologise over Southmead patient's death

The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership has apologised over the death of Carolyn Brock.

Dr James Eldred said changes have been made to ensure every decision Is passed on to other team members.

Health bosses have apologised after a patient took her own life at Southmead Hospital

Depressed grandmother's risk management plan not robust

More on the death of Carolyn Brock, who took her own life at Southmead Hospital after battling depression (7.34pm update).

Coroner Maria Voisin told the inquest: "The risk management plan for Carolyn had not been communicated to the team overseeing her care, which allowed her to take unaccompanied leave from the unit. 

"During unaccompanied leave she took the opportunity to take her own life." 

Council calls for member to step down after racist messages appear on Twitter feed

A parish council has passed a special motion criticising racist tweets posted by a member.

Philip Winter, of Almondsbury Parish Council, was suspended by UKIP after racist Tweets appeared on his Twitter feed on 13 Feb. He claims his account was hacked.

Council chair Phil Hall said: "The resolution was agreed unanimously.

"The Parish Council strongly deplores councillor Winter’s comments and ask that he stands down as a councillor to this parish.”

Philip Winter
Almondsbury Parish Council

A419 northbound at Swindon closed near Nythe

Grandmother took her own life at hospital - despite doctors saying she shouldn't be left alone

A grandmother took her life at a hospital in Bristol - despite doctors ruling she should be accompanied at all times.

Carolyn Brock, 67, from Filton, told staff at Southmead Hospital that she was going out for a breath of fresh air. 

Today a coroner said communication failures meant nurses weren't told she shouldn't walk around by herself. 

Carolyn Brock
Trinity Mirror/ Bristol Post

Council budgets: Bristol v Swindon

Our political editor Paul Barltrop compares the respective budgets of councils in Swindon and Bristol.

Both have been debating their financial situations today.

Paul Barltrop compares approaches to council tax between Swindon and Bristol.

Council care manager struck off

Winterbourne View care home

Council care manager struck off

Kevin Haigh worked at a care home where adults with learning disabilities were ill-treated.

Read more

Daughter versus Dad - but who wins?

At just 10, she is already an up and coming Judo star - and much of her success is down to her coach. 

Only in Charlie Whitfield's case - the coach is her dad. 

Gavin Whitfield introduced his daughter to Judo four years ago - and she's already won gold two years running in regional fights. 

Today, the duo had a family showdown in front of her classmates. 

Charlie from Bristol has won lots of medals in judo.

Wiltshire Council budget: analysis from BBC Wiltshire's political reporter

Dan O'Brien

Political reporter, BBC Wiltshire

A few thoughts now the Wiltshire Council budget is done.

Firstly bear in mind the need to raise tax was supported by councillors from all parties.

I noticed many references from Conservatives to how much better residents have it compared to other councils in the West.

But the biggest reason Wiltshire has escaped the impact of the most severe cuts is the merging of the county and district councils into one.

Wiltshire Council sign

Severe accident: M4 Gloucestershire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M4 Gloucestershire eastbound severe accident, at J18 for A46 Bath.

M4 Gloucestershire - M4 lane closed on exit slip road and very slow traffic eastbound at J18, A46 (Bath), because of an accident.

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

Protest outside Bristol City Council budget meeting

Yasmin Cooke from Made In Bristol filmed this impromptu march outside City Hall.

Remember, the budget meeting was halted earlier because of protests inside the council chamber.

View more on twitter

Meanwhile, inside the meeting has stopped again due to an alarm sounding. The Bristol Cable filmed what happened.

View more on twitter

Forensic search of killer's former home continues

Earlier we told you how police are searching the gardens of two properties in Swindon where the convicted killer Christopher Halliwell once lived

Halliwell, 53, from the town, murdered Becky Godden, 20, in 2003 and Sian O'Callaghan, 22, in 2011. 

He is in jail after being sentenced last year to a rare whole-life order.

Police are searching the gardens of two properties where Christopher Halliwell once lived

Cordon lifted after alert at services

Body found in search for missing man in Thailand

View more on twitter

A body has been found during the search for a British tourist who disappeared after a beach party in Thailand.

Andrew Apperley, from Eastbourne, was reported missing after failing to return to his hotel four days after going to the Full Moon party.

Formal identification has not yet taken place but Mr Apperley's family, from Gloucester, have been informed.

"The circumstances of the death are unknown at this time," a Gloucestershire Police spokesperson has told us.

Full story here

Bristol City Council budget meeting resumed following protests

Councillors did eventually continue to debate Bristol City Council's budget for the next financial year (see 3.07pm).

The meeting was called to a halt after outbursts from protesters earlier this afternoon.

Feelings about potential cuts to services are running high in the council chamber.

Bristol council meeting
View more on twitter

Service station evacuated after 'suspicious phone call'

Police cordon

Solstice Park near Amesbury has been evacuated after reports of a "suspicious phone call".

Wiltshire Police have established a cordon and are advising members of the public to avoid the area.

View more on twitter

Fears for Thai full moon party man

Andrew Apperley
Apperley family

Earlier we told you how a man has been reported missing in Thailand having failed to return to his hotel four days after going to a beach party. 

Andrew Apperley was due to return the day after attending a beach party in Thailand.

Officers from Gloucestershire Police are liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

For more click here

Caravan fire was started deliberately

More on that fire crews were tackling off Fishponds Road in Bristol (2.31pm post).

Avon Fire and Rescue said: "We received multiple calls at around 13.42pm.

"When crews arrived they found a derelict caravan was well alight at Combe Road, in Eastville."

The caravan was sited quite close to May Park Primary School.

The spokeswoman said a telegraph pole was also damaged and officers believed the fire was started deliberately

Scene of fire

Wiltshire Council budget is approved

Severe disruption: M5 Gloucestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Gloucestershire southbound severe disruption, between J11 for A40 Golden Valley Bypass Gloucester and J11A for A417 Gloucester.

M5 Gloucestershire - Wood on the road on M5 southbound between J11, A40 (Gloucester) and J11a, A417 (Gloucester). Traffic is coping well.

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

Extra £150k to repair pavements in Wiltshire approved

View more on twitter

Our political reporter Dan O'Brien is at Wiltshire Council's headquarters as they set next year's budget.

Fire in Bristol - crews tackle blaze off Fishponds Road

Just in case anybody saw the smoke and wondered what was going on ...

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Steve Backshall and Helen Glover to row for rainforest

View more on twitter

Wildlife presenter Steve Backshall and his wife, Olympic Gold Medallist Helen Glover, will take on a 125-mile row from Devizes to Westminster for charity.

The pair, who married in September last year, will compete together in the DW International Canoe Race while fundraising for a project to save the Kinabatangan section of the Malaysian Borneo rainforest.

Cuts being decided - campaigners fighting for pool

Watch: Bristol service cuts to be debated as swimming pool campaign begins

A multi-million pound programme of cuts is being decided by Bristol City Council this afternoon. 

Services under threat include bus subsidies, parks, libraries and children's centres. 

Also under threat are swimming pools - with a campaign already under way to save the Jubilee pool in Knowle.

'Shoplifter' died from glass injuries

Kieren Church
Family photo

An alleged shoplifter who was tackled by a security guard died as a result of glass injuries, an inquest has heard.

Kieren Church, 30, of no fixed address, was thought to be hiding bottles when he was tackled in Trowbridge Shires shopping centre car park earlier this month.

Read more on this story.