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The West Country at Westminster: election, NHS crisis, social media

A new series of our political discussion programme, The West Country at Westminster, kicked off last night with Ian Axton at the helm.

Guests were Duncan Hames, the Lib Dem MP for Chippenham, Thangam Debbonaire, Labour's prospective Parliamentary candidate for Bristol West, and the Conservative hopeful in North Devon, Peter Heaton-Jones.

With the election 100 days away on January 27th, they look ahead to the forthcoming contest and discuss the key priorities, such as the NHS, and the rise of social media - particularly Twitter, following an outburst by another local MP who aired his feelings online.

See the debate here and join in the discussion on Twitter with #wcaw


Birdwatchers wanted: it's time to count our feathered friends

The House Sparrow was the most common bird spotted in West Country gardens last year. Credit: PA

The RSPB is asking people to take part in its annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey this weekend.

The charity wants us to go outside for an hour and record the wildlife we see.

Last year in the West Country, House Sparrows and Blue Tits were the most common birds spotted.

Each year around 600,000 people take part. This is the survey's 36th year.

Flooding on the Somerset Levels a year on

Flooding on the Somerset Levels a year ago Credit: ITV News

This weekend marks a year since a "major incident" was declared on the Somerset Levels.

The worst floods ever seen there prompted huge support for local residents, some of whom have still not returned to normal life. But this winter many of them are looking forward with new confidence.

You look at it now and you can see that the river's flowing quite nicely. There's a big capacity there and I feel really happy to be living where we live.


New site for lifeboat station in Weston-super-Mare

After a long search the RNLI says it has found a location for a new lifeboat station in Weston-super-Mare.

For the last year it has been based in a temporary station after it was forced to leave its historic home on Birnbeck Pier. The service now wants to build a new station on Madeira Cove but the RNLI may need to raise up to £4 million for it.

You can watch Robert Murphy's report below:


Con artists who scammed elderly out of £15,000 jailed

The pair travelled across the south of England targeting pensioners. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A father and son who conned Alzheimer's sufferers out of thousands of pounds have been jailed for their crimes.

Albert Webb, 51, and his 26-year-old son Jimmy Chuter targeted elderly people across Avon and Somerset and other parts of South England, demanding they pay for work on their homes that they had never done.

Some of their victims had dementia or Alzheimer's Disease, and most were women in their 80s and 90s. The oldest was a 97-year-old man.

If the victim did not have the cash they would drive them to the bank, and would sometimes burgle their homes while they were distracted. In total the pair are believed to have stolen £15,000.

The pair pleaded guilty, with Chuter sentenced to four years for conspiracy to defraud, and Webb to three-and-a-half years for the same and other charges.

The police are searching for a third man in connection with these crimes. Jessie Webb, 19, is believed to be in the Surrey and London areas.

The West Country at Westminster: What are the issues that matter to you?

Our emergency healthcare crisis is one of the issues that will be discussed on tonight's show. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The A&E crisis in our hospitals, plain packaging for cigarettes, the election campaign - our political programme The West Country at Westminster kicks off tonight with a great debate.

Ian Axton's guests include the Lib Dem MP for Chippenham, Duncan Hames, and Thangam Debbonaire, the Labour challenger hoping to be Bristol West's next MP.

Tune in at 10.40pm, and join in the debate on Twitter with #wcaw.

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