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Emergency staff test their rescue skills in extreme training day

Around 250 emergency staff have been testing their rescue skills to the limit in three days of training near Exeter.

Rescuers battle their way through a simulated disaster to help victims Credit: ITV News

Devon and Somerset fire and rescue service spent months building a mock up of a collapsed building as part of the exercise.

A paramedic attends to a patient crushed under rubble Credit: ITV News

The aim is to ensure the services work well together in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

We don't want to be meeting people for the first time on the day it's happened for real so we want to build these relationships, look at what each other's capability is, look at the limitations and how we can work together to achieve a better outcome for the people who are in trouble on that day.

– Paul Cross, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
Rescuers battle their way through a simulated disaster to help victims Credit: ITV News

Ofsted rates Somerset's Children's Services as inadequate

Ofsted has published a damning report into the quality of children's services in Somerset, rating it as inadequate.

The education watchdog says there had been a "corporate failure to keep children safe in Somerset", and said the "continual churn" in the senior leadership team had stopped the development of the service and severely restricted progress.

The education watchdog says there had been a "corporate failure to keep children safe in Somerset". Credit: PA

There are widespread or serious failures which cause children to be harmed or at risk of harm and in the delivery of services for looked after children and care leavers which result in their welfare not being safeguarded and promoted.

Leaders and managers have not been able to demonstrate sufficient understanding of failures

– Ofsted

How the County Council ranked:

  • Children who need help and protection - Inadequate
  • Children looked after and achieving permanence - Inadequate
  • Adoption performance - Requires improvement
  • Experiences and progress of care leavers - Inadequate
  • Leadership, management and governance - Inadequate


Chancellor joins working line at Cider factory

The Chancellor tried his hand on the cider assembly line Credit: ITV News

George Osborne has been visiting a cider factory near Taunton today as part of his mission to meet businesses and organisations that are benefiting from last week's budget.

The Chancellor announced a cut in cider duty in a direct tribute to one of the south west's key industries.

The Chancellor also visited a cathedral in our region to announce a major grant for roof repairs.

Mr Osborne was given a tour of Wells Cathedral in Somerset which is one of the historic places of worship to benefit from a £4.5 million pound windfall to help protect them from the weather.

Exeter Cathedral also received £275,000, while Plymouth Roman Catholic Cathedral will receive just under £400,000.

Osborne also visited Wells Cathedral Credit: ITV News

AgustaWestland awarded helicopter contract worth £580 million

AgustaWestland has been awarded a helicopter support contract worth £580 million.

AgustaWestland has been awarded a helicopter support contract worth £580 million Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

The deal will provide maintenance support to the Royal Navy's Merlin Mk2 and Mk3 helicopters over the next five years. It is hoped the new contract will deliver more than £140 million savings over that time.

More than 1,000 jobs will also be sustained across the UK, with many located at AgustaWestland's facility in Yeovil and at the Royal Navy Air Station in Culdrose, Cornwall.

The Merlin is an important part of our overall Helicopter Force, providing a variety of specialist and general roles in all weathers over land and sea.

We are bringing in the contract one year earlier than planned to meet the requirements of the Front Line Commands and to deliver financial benefits, which is a great achievement and shows how the MOD can adapt flexibly to support the needs of our Armed Forces.

– Air Vice-Marshal Julian Young, Director Helicopters at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support Organisation


Factories that mainly employ the disabled facing closure

Two factories in Exeter and Bridgwater which mostly employ people with disabilities are facing closure. Around 78 people are facing redundancy at the Centres.

The Trade Union Community is blaming Devon County Council or the decision which it says will have a devastating impact on the lives of the people who currently work there.

Devon County Council have told ITV West Country:

Employment services are the responsibility of the Department of Work and Pensions rather than local government, and as the Government funds Pluss, contributions from local government have declined each year since 2010.

– Devon County Council

If the closures are confirmed, then the factories are likely to shut at the end of May.

Somerset Cricket sign West Indies batsman Chris Gayle

Somerset County Cricket Club have signed West Indies player Chris Gayle for the Natwest T20 Blast season.

Chris Gayle has signed as an international for Somerset's T20 squad Credit: Somerset County Cricket Club

The 35-year-old batsman can boast 13 centuries and 45 half centuries in T20 cricket as well as a test cricket score of 333 - his second triple century -in 2010.

Left-handed Gayle also made One-Day World Cup history when he reached a double century in the West Indies win over Zimbabwe.

I’m excited about joining Somerset for the NatWest T20 Blast this year. Many of the Club’s Members and supporters will know that I came close to playing for the County in 2012 and I have always felt that, if I was able to, I wanted to honour that commitment to Somerset. I’m looking forward to coming to Taunton and scoring some runs.

– Chris Gayle

Some of Gayle's stats:

  • Played in 45 T20 Internationals, scoring 1406 runs at an average of 35.15 with a highest score of 117.
  • He scored 13 centuries and 45 half centuries.
  • Played in an additional 195 T20 matches, amassing 6975 runs at an average 42.01 with a top score of 175.
  • He scored 1 century and 13 half centuries.
  • In Test cricket he has scored 7214 runs in 103 matches at an average of 42.18.
  • His highest Test score came in 2010 when he made 333 against Sri Lanka in Galle. This was his second triple century and surpassed his previous best of 317 against South Africa in 2005.
  • In 268 One Day Internationals he has scored 9160 runs at an average of 37.23.
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