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Plans to close residential homes in Devon on hold

Plans to close Council-run residential homes in Devon are on hold because of a legal challenge.

The County Council says it's been asked by the Court to temporarily suspend the closure programme until this challenge has been resolved. It's submitted an appeal against this decision which will be heard as soon as possible.

We are pausing all resident assessments and staff notice meetings pending further legal advice and will continue to provide appropriate care to all residents living in our homes.

– Devon County Council

Travellers lose battle to stay at Barnstaple's Rock Park

Travellers have lost their battle to stay in Rock Park in Barnstaple.

Police have escorted travellers to the county boundary to ensure there is no attempt to set up elsewhere in the town. Barnstaple Town Council yesterday obtained a ‘writ of possession’, which would have been enforced by the High Court Sheriff’s Office tomorrow. It is likely that the prompt action of agencies across the town curtailed the travellers’ stay significantly, as reports suggested they had intended to remain until Sunday.

I am relieved to tell you that the travellers left Rock Park last night, shortly after 6.00pm. They were escorted to the county boundary near Tiverton by Devon and Cornwall Police. The timing was in some ways fortunate as the High Sheriff’s Enforcement Officer was due to attend this morning at 9.00am to evict the group, forcibly if necessary. The cost of this action has been avoided. It may be that the travellers - whom I understand had said they would stay until Sunday and possibly then to relocate to another site in Barnstaple – were aware of this intended action and moved on voluntarily to avoid the spectacle of a forced eviction.

The park has this morning been cleared of litter and other items left by the travellers. The adjacent football pitch has been cleared of horse faeces and the grass cut. It is helpful that much of the clear-up has been carried out as part of the routine grounds maintenance activity at the park, as this helps to keep costs to a minimum. Some further work is required, including the assessment of damage to the trees, but the area of the park occupied by the travellers is now available for the public to use. I am very sorry for any inconvenience caused to visitors to the park during the encampment, although I do hope people will recognise that we acted as quickly as possible to restore the park to full use.

– Barnstaple Town Clerk

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Cornwall Council calls for more freedom from the Government

School children wave Union flags and Cornish flags alongside each other Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA

Following the result of the Scottish referendum, Cornwall Council is preparing its case to be given greater powers to raise and spend its own money in the way it wants.

Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard is calling on the Government to give Cornwall more freedom to manage its own affairs.

Over the past few weeks we have seen the Government offer sweeping new powers to Scotland. At the same time Ministers are doing deals with cities to give them more powers. We want the same freedoms for Cornwall.

Not only are we a distinct region with a single Local Enterprise Partnership and a single health commissioner covering Cornwall, we were recently granted National Minority Framework Status because of our unique culture and heritage.

Last month we successfully persuaded the Government to let us decide how to spend the funding we receive from Europe and we now want to build on this success to see more powers transferred from Whitehall to County Hall.

Cornwall has a proud history of standing up and fighting for what it believes in and we are determined to take advantage of this moment and shape our own destiny.

– Cornwall Council Leader John Pollard

Eight charged after investigation into human trafficking in Plymouth

Eight people have been charged following a major police investigation into human trafficking and modern slavery in Plymouth and Cornwall.

The five women and three men are charged with conspiracy to traffick persons into the UK for the purpose of labour exploitation. They will appear before Plymouth Magistrates’ Court this morning (19 September). Those charged are:

  • Lenka Cmejlova, 32, of Union Street, Plymouth.
  • Jiri Sebelik, 37, of Union Street, Plymouth.
  • Martin Tancos, 35, of Saltash Road, Plymouth.
  • Katerina Kuriova, 35, of Saltash Road, Keyham, Plymouth.
  • Nela Dzurkova, 26, of Ford Park Road, Plymouth.
  • Petr Tancos, 35, of Ford Park Road, Plymouth
  • Sandra Tancosova, 25, of Flora Court, Plymouth
  • Ruzena Tancosova, 34, of Union Street, Plymouth

The eight people were arrested on Tuesday by police in a joint operation to tackle slavery and human trafficking.

Eight suspected victims of human trafficking were recovered by police and partner agencies and remain in the care of Plymouth City Council, The Salvation Army and the British Red Cross.

Hair salon in Dawlish floods after storm

Hair salon in Dawlish floods after storm Credit: ITV West Country/Richard Lawrence

Claire's hair salon in Dawlish was flooded out this morning after storm passed through Devon last night.

The owner of the salon, Heather Hartup, says it's happened every two years since 2003. She believes storm drains that had clogged up may have been responsible.

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Lightning strikes Police Communications in Devon

A lightning strike has damaged Police Communications at Devon and Cornwall Police Headquarters in Exeter.

It hit a mast this morning and has caused what the Police says is "significant disruption to telephony services". As a result in order to keep disruption to a minimum all telephone calls to police are being diverted to the Plymouth control room.

All 999 calls will be answered as a priority.

People are being asked to keep telephone contact to a minimum and that non urgent contact is made through the Force internet service until normal service is resumed.

West Country needs to make sure it 'doesn't lose out' because of promises made to Scotland

The leader of Devon County Council says the West Country needs to make sure it 'doesn't lose out' because of promises made to Scotland by the Government.

John Hart is the chair of South West Councils, which represents 41 local authorities in the region.

I am really glad that the United Kingdom isn’t going to be broken up. But we now have to ensure that Devon and the South West doesn’t lose out because of the promises made by the Westminster parties to Scotland.

Last week we were being urged to fly the Saltire. But I intend to keep on flying the flag for Devon.

We in the South West already lose out to Scotland because of a funding agreement reached by the Labour Government in the 1970’s worth about £2,000 per head.

We’re also facing unprecedented spending cuts in Devon and we can’t afford to have any more cash siphoned off to other parts of the country.

There’ve been promises made in the heat of the election campaign in Scotland. What the parties at Westminster have to remember is that there’s a General Election next May for the whole of Britain. The main parties can’t afford to be seen to penalise voters in Devon to benefit the Scots.

That’s a message I will be giving all our MPs and candidates very firmly over the coming months. We want a fair deal for Devon.

– John Hart, leader of Devon County Council
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