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Environment Agency: Dredging an 'important milestone'

The start of dredging the Somerset Levels is "an important milestone" in the Government's attempts to repair the country after December and January's floods.

Dr Paul Leinster, Chief Executive at the Environment Agency, said:

Today is an important milestone in the work to reduce the risk of flooding to people, property and land in Somerset and we welcome the additional money from Government that has allowed us to undertake this further dredging.

– Dr Paul Leinster

Read: Environment Agency begins dredging Somerset Levels

Environment Agency begins dredging Somerset Levels

The Environment Agency will begin dredging river beds in Somerset today as part of wider Government plans to clear up flood hit parts of the country.

Watch: Tonight: After the Floods

Somerset levels
Water surrounds flooded properties on the Somerset Levels near Bridgwater in February this year. Credit: PA

Read: £20m flooding protection plan for Somerset Levels

Initial work on a 200-metre stretch of the River Parrett will get underway at 9am, ahead of dredging of an eight kilometre stretch of river near where the Tone and Parrett meet at Burrowbridge.

Dredging - where silt and bottom sediment is removed from the riverbed - is part of the Government's £100m 20 Year Flood Action Plan.

The Environment Agency came under huge criticism for failing to dredge the rivers that drain the floodwaters after the south of England was battered by storms.

Flooding throughout December and January of this year is thought to have affected 6,500 homes and businesses as well as leaving some villages completely cut off from the outside world.

Read: Statistics watchdog: 'Flood defence spending cut by £247m'

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Famous car from Somerset floods 'sells for £101,000'

The car famously pictured in the floodwater in Somerset Credit: PA

A car stuck in floodwater on the Somerset Levels that became one of the enduring images of the recent weather crisis appears to have been sold for £101,100 on the online auction site eBay.

The car after it was rescued from the floods Credit: ITV News/Bob Cruwys

Its owner Hubert Zajaczkowski, had to abandon the car on his way home from work at the helicopter company AgustaWestland in Yeovil on Christmas Eve.

The money raised will go to a flood relief charity.

The car was described on eBay as "used" and "NOT working" Credit: Hubert Zajaczkowski/Ebay

Read more on this story at ITV News West (E)

Raccoon found safe and well after daring escape

An escaped raccoon has been found five weeks after her escape from the Tropiquaria wildlife park in Somerset.

Missy the raccoon (not pictured) escaped from her Somerset enclosure after the ground softened due to flooding
Missy the raccoon (not pictured) escaped from her Somerset enclosure after the ground softened due to flooding Credit: C3587 Ronald Wittek/DPA/Press Association Images

The 18-month-old raccoon, named Missy, had burrowed out of her enclosure after the ground softened due to flooding.

She was discovered sleeping in a disused building behind the Tropiquaria enclosure, and could only be tempted back into her cage by her favourite dog biscuits.

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Pupil describes teacher 'taping children's mouths'

A schoolboy has described the moment a teacher was alleged to have tape over her pupils' mouths.

Student Ryan Knowles claimed his teacher had told him and his classmates to stand in a line while she applied the tape to keep them quiet.

Furious parents are now calling for the teacher to be sacked, with one mother saying she was "disgusted" and a father claiming the incident caused his daughter's lips to bleed.

Rupert Evelyn reports:

Calls for sacking over pupil mouth taping claims

A teacher in Somerset has been suspended following claims that tape was put over the mouths of several pupils.

ITV News correspondent Rupert Evelyn tweeted:

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Parents at school where teacher allegedly put Sellotape over mouths of children tell me they want the teacher sacked. Suspension not enough

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Most of the class at Danesfield school were allegedly "taped-up" by a teacher after refusing to be quiet

Parents claim that a teacher at Danesfield School in Williton, Somerset, said the pupils were being too noisy.

Investigation launched after 'pupils mouths taped shut'

Ian Bradbury, Executive Head Teacher of the Quantock Federation, has commented following claims a teacher at Danesfield School in Williton, Somerset, taped pupils mouths shut.

We take all allegations concerning the well-being of our children very seriously. An incident happened yesterday which we are investigating thoroughly. A member of staff has been suspended whilst the investigation continues.

My thanks to the numerous parents who have brought this matter to my personal attention and have given their on-going support to us in this challenging situation.

– Ian Bradbury, Executive Head Teacher of the Quantock Federation
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