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Fears for jobs at Somerset paper mill

Staff at the Wansbrough Paper Mill in Watchet have been told the mill could close this December.

It is a major employer in West Somerset with around 170 workers.

It is owned by DS Smith, a lead supplier of paper and packaging across Europe.

DS Smith has released a statement about the proposal:

“Following a review of the long term economic outlook for the Wansbrough paper mill, today we announced to employees at the mill that we are proposing to close Wansbrough Mill and are entering a period of consultation with employee representatives. The process will take into account all possible options for the future of the site.

"This announcement in no way reflects the commitment and efforts of our employees who continue to support our business.

"We will work closely with Union and employee representatives throughout the consultation process to ensure the best possible outcome for all parties. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further until the completion of the consultation process.”

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South West teens on their employment hopes

The South West has the best employment rate in Great Britain, according to official figures released today.

The total number of people out of work in the region has dropped 3000 in the first three months of the year to 119,000. That's just over 4% of the total workforce.

We've been talking to teenagers at City College Plymouth about their career hopes:

Unemployment falls in the South West

4.3% of people in the region are currently unemployed Credit: ITV News

The total number of unemployed people in the South West has fallen by 3000 for the first three months of 2015.

119,000 people are currently out of work in the region, 4.3% of the total population, according to the ONS.

Nationally, unemployment is at a seven-year low of 1.83 million, down 35,000 from the previous quarter.

South West bucks national trend as unemployment figures rise

The South West was the only region to see a rise in unemployment Credit: PA

The number of people out of work in the South West has risen in the last quarter - the only region to see a rise in Great Britain.

The South West has bucked the national trend, with the figures revealing unemployment has gone up by 7,000, to 126,000 in the three months to Feb 2015 - an increase of 4.6%.

But, despite the numbers, our region continues to have one of the highest employment rates with 76.8% in work.

What does the "strategic alliance" actually mean for Dorset and Devon & Cornwall Police forces?

Devon and Cornwall Police has confirmed that it will pool resources with neighbouring Dorset in what is known as a "strategic alliance".

We spoke with the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall Police, Tony Hogg, who explained what it means in practice:

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West Country police forces agree to work with each other

Two West Country police forces have agreed to work together and share services.

The Police and Crime Commissioners for Devon and Cornwall and Dorset signed the agreement, creating a strategic alliance between the two forces.

Dorset Chief Constable Debbie Simpson and Devon & Cornwall Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer sign the agreeement Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

The aim is to maintain a high standard of policing at a time when budgets are being reduced. It's predicted that the alliance will save at least £12 million.

I am excited to announce that Dorset Police has formally committed to working alongside Devon & Cornwall Police in a strategic alliance.

They are a high performing force with colleagues who share our values, priorities and absolute determination to deliver the best possible service to local people.

Working in alliance with Devon & Cornwall Police will, I’m sure, provide a golden opportunity to achieve the efficiency savings we must make, while maintaining and protecting vital services.

– Debbie Simpson, Dorset Police Chief Constable

The alliance is not a merger of the two forces and both will remain as separate organisations with two Police and Crime Commissioners and two Chief Constables.

Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police are natural partners for an alliance. Not only are we similar in terms of our geography and communities, but also in our policing styles. I am delighted to have signed this agreement today.

The coming months and years will be challenging as we look to develop services that work more effectively for communities in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the Isles of Scilly. We are determined to make the transition as easy as possible for all those affected – and in particular for our communities who rightly deserve the best possible policing service.

– Devon & Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer

Construction industry urged to encourage more women workers

CITB say more needs to be done to encourage women into the construction industry Credit: ITV West Country

A new report has urged construction firms to do more to attract women workers after it said the industry was still seen as sexist. A survey of 1,500 employers found that three out of four believed perceptions of a sexist culture were a major reason why women were under-represented.

The study by the Construction Industry Training Board - on International Women's Day - identified a lack of female role models as well as poor awareness of the types of jobs on offer.

The industry is on course for a major comeback, but we need a dynamic and diverse workforce to help deliver it. This poll shows that construction employers realise we are still a long way from overcoming the perceptions of sexism in our sector, which potentially keep women away.

To attract the best skills and talent from all parts of society, we are challenging industry to make women and people from all backgrounds feel welcome and valued.

– Gillian Econopouly, head of research at the CITB

The CITB's research shows that young people believe the industry is male dominated and poorly paid.

This weekend members of the public have been invited to visit a site in Plymouth to gain an insight into the construction industry, and potential career opportunities in the building trade.

Kat Simpson has gone into the industry as a trainee site manager. She says women are thriving in the trade.

Kat Simpson is a trainee site manager Credit: ITV West Country

The construction industry is so diverse. You can be working on a housing project one minute, and the next minute you can be working on a multi-million pound sky scraper.

Women are thriving. They're successful. And they need to start thinking about this as a career.

– Kat Simpson, trainee site manager

Richard Lawrence has been finding out what's being done in the South West to change preconceptions.

More than a third earn less than the living wage

At least 1 in 3 workers living in Devon and Cornwall earn less than the living wage Credit: PA

More than a third of workers living in Devon and Cornwall are getting paid less than the living wage.

Latest figures indicate far more people in the West Country are being illegally under-paid than the rest of the UK.

In South East Cornwall, 40% of jobs are being paid below the minimum rate.

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