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NFU statement on badger death claims

The National Farmers Union has responded to claims that a dead badger in Somerset suffered an unnecessarily lingering death because it had been shot in the abdomen and left to die.

“We have seen no evidence that a badger has been found. If one has been found there is no evidence to suggest it is associated with the cull. All badgers shot as part of the cull have been collected and accounted for. Humaneness monitors are also going out with contractors.”

– NFU statement

Humane Society comments on badger cull claims

The Humane Society's executive director and veterinarian, Mark Jones, has voiced his concern over claims that a female badger who had been shot in the abdomen in Somerset will have taken a considerable time to die.

Earlier today pictures were released by the wildlife charity Secret World claiming that "Badger 41" had been shot in the abdomen and left to die.

Badger 41 may have taken "a considerable amount of time to die" Credit: Secret World

“The discovery of badger 41 confirms our worst fears about the horrendous animal suffering the so-called trained badger cull marksmen will be inflicting. Shooting badgers in the abdomen will likely result in those animals taking a considerable time to die. DEFRA’s assurances that steps have been taken to ensure this year’s culls would be humane have been shown to be meaningless. Badger 41’s death was almost certainly not humane; how many more like her are suffering the same fate?

– Mark Jones, Executive Director at Humane Society International/UK,

Badger cull is inhumane claims Somerset charity

Somerset wildlife charity Secret World claims it has evidence that badgers are being shot inhumanely as the cull continues in the county.

They have produced pictures of a female badger which they claim shows it was shot through the abdomen rather than the chest in contravention of DEFRA guidelines. There was no evidence of a second shot and they say the badger will have suffered a lingering death.

The female badger handed in to Secret World Credit: Secret World

Notably there was no evidence of a second follow up shot or of evidence that the cull contractors had observed the badger after shooting it for signs of life, both these are requirements under the Defra culling licences. It is intended that a detailed post mortem will be carried out and that the findings will be made available.

– Secret World statement
Secret World claims the badger was shot through the abdomen Credit: Secret World

What will the Scottish referendum on independence mean for the West?

David Cameron's promise to devolve more powers to the English regions and cities could have major implications for us here in the West - but it depends what they are, and how quickly they come.

There seems little appetite for a regional assembly, embracing the entire south west - somewhere like Cornwall would like to have one on its own. So we're left with the current mish-mash of local authorities, ranging from all purpose unitaries (in the case of Bristol, with an elected mayor), and two-tier county and districts, which still exist in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

Given their range in size, both in population and tax base, what sort of devolved powers would apply equally to such a range of places? Surely reorganisation of local government needs to take place first?

The Prime Minister seems to be hinting at some tax-raising powers, or greater retention of business rates - but we'll have to see. A big city authority like Bristol would certainly welcome that.

Stephen Williams MP, Lib Dem, Bristol North

The related question arises of whether England should have a separate Parliament to determine solely English affairs - to get round the anomaly whereby Scottish MPs can vote on issues south of the border, but not the other way round.

Wiltshire Conservative MP James Gray says he supports this idea, though many of his colleagues are wary of creating another tier of government.

James Gray MP, Con, North Wiltshire

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All-day free Durdham Down parking could be abolished

Free parking on Durdham Downs could be abolished Credit: ITV West Country/Richard Payne

All-day free parking on Bristol's historic Durdham Down could be abolished.

It's the latest controversial attempt to cut down on commuters using the city's streets. Mayor George Ferguson has divided opinion with a rapid roll-out of residents' parking zones and now risks further anger by removing the 500 spaces. He insists it's for long-term good of the city.

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
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