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Funding for flood defences in Somerset

The Somerset Levels will get £4.2 million to spend on flood defences Credit: PA

The Government will spend 15 and a half million pounds on flood defences in Somerset over the next six years.

More than four million (4.2) will go towards the Somerset Levels and Moors. Seven thousand properties are expected to benefit from the money.

The Treasury has also promised more funding to improve the rail link through Dawlish which was badly damaged in the winter storms.

More funding has been promised for the rail link at Dawlish Credit: PA

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£2 billion funding for West's roads due to be announced

Two billion pounds' worth of new road schemes for the region are due to be announced on Monday, ITV News West Country understands.

These are likely to include a tunnel at Stonehenge and making the A358 into dual carriageway - something Yeovil MP David Laws has been campaigning for.

"It's totally unacceptable that we've got a road that is so congested for large parts of the year. That's very inconvenient for people in my constituency who travel around parts of Somerset, it's certainly very inconvenient for people who want to travel across the region. It's absurd that when we're investing so much in other parts of the country that the South West has had to wait for so long."

– David Laws MP, Lib Dem, Yeovil
David Laws MP. Credit: PA

Investigation to be held after Cornwall Council warned of member's alleged risk to children

Cornwall Council has confirmed an independent investigation will be held into its decision to warn people of an alleged risk to children posed by one of its Councillors.

The authority had written to schools and sports clubs saying Alex Folkes represents a potential risk to children.

Mr Folkes says the allegations are 'outrageous' and today wrote on his blog that he "cautiously welcomed this acceptance by the council that there are significant question marks over the process they have followed."

The leader of Cornwall Council, John Pollard, has also issued a statement.

I can assure members that the child protection procedures followed over recent weeks were robustly and correctly applied and that the related decisions and outcome are sound and will not be changed.

– John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council

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The West Country at Westminster

In this month's "The Westcountry at Westminster", Alastair Stewart is joined by Baroness Jolly from Cornwall, a Liberal Democrat peer and government whip in the House of Lords; Labour's Clare Moody who represents the South West as an MEP; and Rebecca Pow, a former journalist, who's hoping to take Taunton Deane for the Conservatives at the next General Election.

Up for discussion on the show - the Rochester by-election and what a UKIP win means for the other parties. Also, on a recent visit to Somerset Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg all but promised an improved transport infrastructure package for the South West. Business and council leaders want to see the A303 and A358 turned into dual carriageway. Plus, nearly one hundred years since the first female MP was elected, how have things changed for women in politics?

Cllr Alex Folkes: 'the truth about why I resigned' blog

Cllr Alex Folkes Credit: ITV West Country

Cllr Alex Folkes has defended himself online after Cornwall Council issued a statement asking him to resign.

Yesterday Cornwall Council said Folkes may pose a risk to children. He was in charge of the council's finances until he left his cabinet post for personal reasons earlier this month.

Cllr Folkes accuses Council Leader Andrew Kerr of 'trying to bully him out of office'. The blog is entitled 'the truth about why I resigned and the claims being made against me'.

In 2006 (and before I became a councillor) I was one of many people who was arrested when credit or debit card details were found which linked the cardholders to a site containing indecent images of children. I have never viewed any such images nor had I ever visited the site or any others like it. I was able to show the police that my card had been cloned at some time in the past and used illegally for various things including a hotel in Brazil. I reported that at the time and my bank refunded the money.

Of course I cannot be sure, but that is how I believe my card details came to be linked to the site as it fits the time my card was used fraudulently. When details are stolen on the internet they tend to come in a package and hackers can also have access to your address, email, password, phone, IP address, etc, which can easily be cloned and used by another person to cover their own identity and make it look like the victim of their fraud is the guilty party. The police searched my computer and other electronic devices I owned. Because I had done nothing wrong, and therefore there was no evidence against me, the police did not bring any charges and they told me the matter was closed.

I cannot blame the police for investigating based on the information they received. The whole episode put me through a huge trauma but I am reassured that they took such matters very seriously and I am glad that they were able to establish my innocence as they did.

In 2009 when I was elected to Cornwall Council my arrest was flagged up in an enhanced CRB check. I discussed this matter with the chief legal officer of the council. He told me that he would discuss it with the (then) leader Councillor Alec Robertson. I heard no more about this from the legal officer, Mr Robertson or anyone else. I assume that they took the view, quite rightly, that the matter was properly dealt with by the police and considered closed.

– Cllr Alex Folkes

You can read the rest of Cllr Folkes' blog post here.

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