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£1.5 million project to improve flood defences completed

A £1.5 million project to improve flood defences on the Somerset Levels has been completed. Credit: Environment Agency

A £1.5 million project to improve flood defences on the Somerset Levels has been completed.

The purpose-built platform at Dunball Sluice, near Bridgwater, means flood water can be quickly pumped away. It also means flows in the Rivers Sowy, Parrett Tone and King's Sedgemoor Drain can be managed more efficiently.

A temporary platform was constructed at Dunball during the winter of 2013/14, which saw large parts of the Levels under water after storms. At its height more than 90 million tonnes of water covered an estimated 122 square kilometres.

The workis part of a £12 million programme of repair and enhancement of flood defence works across Somerset.

Somerset County Council responds to the report

Julian Wooster, who took up the post of Director of Children's Services just two weeks ago has responded to Ofsted's criticisms.

We fully accept the key findings of this Ofsted inspection and the short-comings it highlights.

Services are not good enough and improvements need to be made quickly and I am here to help make that happen.

Accepting all the criticism in this report, we must also look at the positives. There are examples of good practice, signs that we are starting to turn a corner. We are building on those signs of improvement but it has to happen faster.

It’s a difficult time for Children’s Services and our partners in Somerset but we are not alone – few authorities don’t have improvements to make. Our social workers do a very difficult job and much of my focus will be on supporting and developing them, while challenging them to improve.

Productive partnership working will be another immediate priority. Protecting children is everybody’s responsibility. The council is pivotal but there are many agencies involved and we all need to be performing well and working closely together.

Children deserve better, the inspectors demand better and we, the County Council and our partners, are all committed to safeguarding and improving outcomes for children in Somerset.

– Julian Wooster, Director of Children’s Services

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Emergency staff test their rescue skills in extreme training day

Around 250 emergency staff have been testing their rescue skills to the limit in three days of training.

Rescuers battle their way through a simulated disaster to help victims Credit: ITV News

Devon and Somerset fire and rescue service spent months building a mock up of a collapsed building as part of the exercise.

A paramedic attends to a patient crushed under rubble Credit: ITV News

The aim is to ensure the services work well together in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

We don't want to be meeting people for the first time on the day it's happened for real so we want to build these relationships, look at what each other's capability is, look at the limitations and how we can work together to achieve a better outcome for the people who are in trouble on that day.

– Paul Cross, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
Rescuers battle their way through a simulated disaster to help victims Credit: ITV News

Ofsted rates Somerset's Children's Services as inadequate

Ofsted has published a damning report into the quality of children's services in Somerset, rating it as inadequate.

The education watchdog says there had been a "corporate failure to keep children safe in Somerset", and said the "continual churn" in the senior leadership team had stopped the development of the service and severely restricted progress.

The education watchdog says there had been a "corporate failure to keep children safe in Somerset" Credit: PA

There are widespread or serious failures which cause children to be harmed or at risk of harm and in the delivery of services for looked after children and care leavers which result in their welfare not being safeguarded and promoted.

Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures

– Ofsted

How the County Council ranked:

  • Children who need help and protection - Inadequate
  • Children looked after and achieving permanence - Inadequate
  • Adoption performance - Requires improvement
  • Experiences and progress of care leavers - Inadequate
  • Leadership, management and governance - Inadequate

WATCH: The last West Country at Westminster before the election

Ian Axton was back with the last of our political shows - the West Country at Westminster - before the election was on last night.

Guests included Queen legend Brian May - who launched his Common Decency campaign this week.

Joining the Brian May was retiring MP and Labour legend Dawn Primarolo, as well as Martin Horwood, the Lib Dem MP for Cheltenham. Unfortunately just before the programme our Conservative guest told us she was unable to make it due to last minute hold up.

If you missed the programme, or just want to watch it again, then click below!

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