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Mayor: it's "irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole'"

George Ferguson says it's "irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole' Credit: Rod Minchin/PA

Questions have been raised over a thirteen million pound funding black hole for Bristol's arena project.

The Liberal Democrat Bristol City Councillor Tim Kent says the city's mayor, who is behind the scheme, hasn't given enough information on how the twelve thousand seater Arena will be financed. George Ferguson says it's "irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole' and project is a long term investment.

The £90 million plus project budget for the arena is based on a business case report but, as with all large projects, it is inevitable that there will be variances as we test some of the assumptions made in that report. The budget, agreed at Cabinet, identified £53 million from the City Deal Economic Development Fund and £38 million to come back to the council from rental and other related income.

As we move forward, of course some of the initial predictions for elements of that £38 million income will vary. This may result in the arena breaking-even earlier or later than predicted. However it must be understood that this is a long term investment that will break-even over the 25 year life of the project and will deliver millions of pounds of investment to the city region. It is irresponsible nonsense to talk of a 'black hole'.

The arena has been a long held aspiration for the city that we are now well on the way to delivering. Shortlisting teams for the design competition will start next week and, crucially, we are due to appoint an operator by the end of the year. No-one has ever pretended that this would be easy but it is a priority for Bristol and the region and the report to scrutiny shows that we are fully aware of the challenges. We are taking the necessary steps to address any potential gaps in funding whilst remaining completely committed to delivering this vitally important venue, that is a major catalyst for the regeneration of the enterprise zone and the wider city region.

– George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol


Chief Constable will remain in job during IPCC investigation

Chief Constable Patrick Geenty will remain in his job while under investigation by the IPCC

Chief Constable Patrick Geenty will remain in his job while he is under investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Wiltshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has released the following statement:

My role as Commissioner is to represent the people of Wiltshire and Swindon in police and crime matters.

After giving careful consideration to information I have received from the IPCC, together with independent legal advice which my office commissioned, I have decided that the public interest would be best served by Mr Geenty continuing in his role whilst the IPCC investigation is underway. I am required to consult the IPCC on this decision and I have done so.

The purpose of an investigation is to establish the facts behind a complaint and that is what I am waiting for.

Nothing has been placed before me at this stage which, in my judgment, would justify suspension. If new evidence is produced by the enquiry team, I will review my decision.

– Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon

Plans to improve riverside safety in Bath

There have been three deaths in the River Avon this year Credit: ITV West Country

Further plans to improve safety alongside the river Avon in Bath are to be considered by the local council after three deaths this year, and six since 2009.

Yesterday police recovered the body of a young man from the river near Churchill bridge, believed to be that of teenager Sam Amin.

Although some security fencing was put up after earlier deaths, the towpath at that spot is less well protected. Now council leader Paul Crossley says it may have to be closed at night to stop people stumbling into the river by accident - but that would mean erecting higher fences and, presumably, gates, to allow access to boat owners.

The council, along with the Environment Agency, is spending around four hundred thousand pounds on other safety features, including trellis-style handholds on the riverbanks for people to grab hold of if they do fall in. There will also be extra lighting as part of a redesigned lock gate near Pulteney Weir.

Further warnings will also be issued to Bath's large student population about the perils of walking along the towpath at night - particularly when drunk. New student accommodation is being built close to the spot where the latest drowning happened.

Positive unemployment figures for South West

The latest jobs figures for the South West show 137,000 people were unemployed in our region for the months May to July 2014. This is a slight increase on the previous quarter of February to April when 136,000 were out of work.

The unemployment rate has risen 0.1% to 5.0%, which is still one of the lowest rates it's been for the last 6 years.

Across the whole of the UK unemployment fell by 146,000 to 2.02million in the three months to the end of the July. The unemployment rate fell to 6.2%, its lowest rate since the September to November 2008.

Agatha Christie's grandson tells us his memories

For millions of her fans Agatha Christie was the pioneer of the murder mystery novel - with an uncanny ability to keep readers hooked with her amazing story telling.

But behind the author - what was she like as a woman? For the second part of our series on Agatha Christie - We've been speaking to her grandson about his memories - and been given exclusive access to the secret family archive.


Cheltenham woman dies during charity cycle ride

The husband of a Cheltenham woman who died taking part in a charity cycle ride has described her as "a wonderful mother who would do anything for anyone".

Sally Preece died after she collided with a car whilst taking part in a Lands End to John O'Groats cycle ride - raising money for the Alzheimers Society. Since her death her fundraising page has been inundated with donations. Our Gloucestershire Correspondent Ken Goodwin reports

Javelin Park incinerator decision postponed

A decision over whether to allow a waste incinerator to be built at Javelin Park near Gloucester has been postponed.

The incinerator, which would burn household and commercial refuse instead of sending it to landfill, was turned down by Gloucestershire County Council's planning committee after protests from people living near the site. But the consortium behind the proposal appealed.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles was to have given a decision today. But his department says that's has now been postponed until the end of November.

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