Gloucestershire's badger cull this year missed its minimum target by over half. The figures were published today. Just 274 badgers were culled in the second year of the scheme, falling far short of the minimum 615 estimated to be needed to deliver reductions in the disease in livestock.
Somerset exceeded its target by a small number of badgers. 341 were culled, in a required range of 316 to 785.
In both of the pilot areas, a significant proportion were killed by the more expensive cage trapping and shooting method, rather than "controlled shooting" of free-running badgers.
Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle says alternatives to culling need to be considered.
The target set in Gloucestershire has been spectacularly missed whilst the Somerset target was only narrowly reached, meaning that, if anything, these culls will make the problem of bovine TB worse.
The Government must today commit to abandoning any attempt to continue these unscientific, inhumane and ineffective badger culls.
They must instead work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of bovine TB under control.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged "teething problems" at the new Southmead hospital in Bristol, but says staff are working "incredibly hard" to overcome them.
He was responding to a question Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy about the fact that Southmead has the third worst record in the country for dealing with Accident and Emergency cases.
Further measures to combat bovine TB have been revealed following the announcement of the results of the second year of badger culls.
An action plan for farmers sets out plans to help reduce the risk of disease spread on their farms. There will be a new service giving farmers within the badger cull areas bespoke veterinary advice on TB management.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss says the new approach will continue to include culling.
During the last parliament bovine TB rates in England soared to the highest in Europe. That is why we taking strong action in pursuing our comprehensive strategy, including tighter cattle movement controls, vaccinations and culling.
The Chief Vet’s advice is that results of this year’s cull in Somerset show they can be effective. That is why I am determined to continue with a comprehensive Strategy that includes culling.
There are also plans for a consultation on tougher measures for transporting cattle. An online map will show high and low risk areas. The Government has awarded £50,000 in small grants to livestock markets to help them introduce checking systems.
Independently audited results of the badger culls show cull figures for the year, and says that levels of humaneness and a high standard of public safety were maintained. In Somerset the target was exceeded.
- 341 badgers removed in Somerset
- 274 badgers removed in Gloucestershire
Bristol councillors have unanimously backed moves that could trigger a new referendum on the city's elected mayor.
A motion supported by all parties was passed with 100% support at last night's full council meeting - Bristolians now have the right to decide whether to keep elected mayors at all.
The post, currently held by George Ferguson, was created after a narrow yes vote in a referendum in 2012.
Ahead of the vote Mr Ferguson said he respected the choice of Bristol citizens, and stressed that the mayoral system is benefiting the city.
Bristol councillors are expected to give their backing today to moves that could trigger a new referendum on the city's elected mayor.
A motion supported by all parties calls for the government to change a law which says Bristol can't have a fresh vote on the issue. The post of elected mayor was created after a narrow yes vote in a 2012 referendum.
It is only two-and-a-half years since people in Bristol voted to have an elected mayor run the city. But now councillors are expected to approve a resolution which could pave the way for another referendum - on whether to abolish the post.
They say the legislation which prevents a further ballot is undemocratic and should be changed, as our political correspondent Bob Constantine reports.
What does the current elected mayor George Ferguson have to say about this?
I respect the choice of Bristol citizens to seek the same rights and powers as those of other towns and cities currently governed by mayors.
However, it is absolutely clear that the Mayoral System is gaining huge benefits for Bristol and further boosting recognition for the city at a local, national and international level.
On being elected Mayor I was given a mandate by the people of the city, with a clear vision to take the city forward. To return to the alternative would be extremely damaging for Bristol, destabilising the decision-making environment and stalling progress towards the city’s goals.
While some politicians are still licking their wounds, recent research has demonstrated that the Mayoral model has vastly increased local people’s awareness of, and engagement with, the city’s leadership. How can that be a negative step?
This is constantly reflected in my personal experience of engaging with people on a daily basis across the city, and the level of interest in Mayoral Question Times, people taking part in radio phone-ins and web-chats, and of course through social and traditional media. More widely we’re also seeing far more national and international recognition and opportunities coming our way.
Ultimately, if it is a question of whether people should have the power to choose how they are governed, then from a purely democratic standpoint of course I would say yes.
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has been continuing his visit to the region by touring an engineering factory in Bath. He went to the production line at Rotork, which employs more than 300 people and exports industrial equipment around the world.
He highlighted Bath's traffic problems as an issue that could hold back the local economy.
The Conservative MP for North Dorset has announced he won't be seeking re-election at the 2015 general election.
Bob Walter, who is 66, says he wants a younger Conservative Party member to represent the constituency. He was elected to the seat in 1997 and has served for 17 years.
Chancellor George Osborne has announced plans for a total overhaul of the "badly-designed" stamp duty system paid on the purchases of homes.
The reform will mean new marginal rates that the Chancellor says will mean a stamp duty cut for 98% of homebuyers.
- No tax on first £125,000 paid
- 2% on the portion up to £250,000
- 5% up to £925,000
- 10% up to £1.5 million
- 12% on everything over that
Air Passenger Duty will be scrapped for all children by 2016, Chancellor George Osborne has announced.
"We’re going to require airlines to list the charges separately from taxes on tickets, but I also want to reduce the cost of those tickets for families directly.
"From the 1st May next year, Air Passenger Duty for children under 12 will be abolished. From the following year, we’ll get rid of APD for children under 16 altogether."
ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi tweeted: "Birmingham family with 2 young children welcomes cut in air passenger duty."
"They will save £170 on planned flight to Dubai."