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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

Flash floods close Wiltshire roads and schools

People in Wiltshire are cleaning up after flash floods overnight. The county's fire service said it received more than 200 calls. Homes and businesses were affected. Roads were shut and a school near Corsham was also closed.

A lightning strike damaged a house in Melksham. And an Intercity train became stuck in deep water on the line. Ninety people were evacuated. The train is still blocking the route between Bath and Chippenham.

Station Manager Wayne Jones from Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service says they have had a busy night.


Passenger on train which was "struck by lightning" in Wiltshire describes ordeal

The train was stranded in several inches of water Credit: Robin Matthews

One of the ninety rail passengers stranded near Corsham for several hours last night, has described how the train was struck by lightning shortly before it came to a halt.

Robin Matthews, who lives just outside Cardiff, was on the 23.45 from Paddington. He says:

"After about 20-30 minutes outside of Swindon there were a few very large cracks of lightning and rumbling thunder. One particular lightning strike must have either hit the train or at least something very close because it was extremely loud and the window glass vibrated heavily. Shortly afterwards the train came to a complete stop. We were told that the train would be delayed due to adverse weather affecting the signalling. The rain was now coming down very hard and a number of passengers were commenting on the torrent of water outside. I went to take a look and grabbed a couple of photos using my phone."

"The train crew were really good and came through the train, regularly letting people know that we couldn’t move because of the water. Before long paramedics had made it onto the train to deal with anyone who had medical issues (there was a diabetic on board). Everyone was quite lighthearted but tensions were beginning to build when they announced that we would need to leave the train. People were worried about leaving luggage and a few ladies had evening wear on, and were concerned about wading up the track through the water. In the end, it was decided that they could ensure the safety of one carriage and the engine, so we were all moved into one of the carriages, and the rest of the train was de-coupled."

"The fire brigade had made some temporary steps to help us up the embankment. It was now very hot and sticky with 90 people crammed into one carriage, so patience was beginning to wear thin. The crew did their best to group people into destination groups of four, so we could be led up to waiting taxis and taken home.

All in all, I think the train crew and rescue chews did an excellent job."

Rail services hit after storms

Overnight storms have led to problems on the roads and railways Credit: Lee Wilson

Overnight storms have led to yet another day of difficulty for commuters with lightning strikes meaning disruption to rail services.

A weather warning remains in place, with heavy showers and more thunderstorms expected.

On the railways, First Great Western services are affected by storms in the Bath Spa area. Lightning damaged equipment between Melksham and Chippenham in Wiltshire, with the lines between Swindon and Bath Spa/Westbury currently closed.

A shuttle train service is now in place between Chippenham and Swindon.

The Met Office says the bad weather is set to continue. Forecaster Nicola Willis says there was between 10mm and 20mm of rainfall over a four-hour period - a third of the expected monthly rainfall.

She went on: "That is quite a significant amount of rain. There have also been quite a few lightning strikes over that period."

Motorists have been warned of the risk of surface water after the heavy downpours.

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