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Welcome to Spotlight. so it's goodbye from me,
Tonight: Are free bus passes to blame for cuts
Busy services are facing the axe - the cost of concessionary
passes for older people is being partly blamed.
We'll assess the potential impact on those who use the services.
Plans for the most-flooded town in the country.
This is the most important decision people in our town can make -
in the last 50 years and then 50 years into our future.
But will these multi-million pound flood protection plans be the answer
We look back at a catalogue of flooding events.
The hidden cost of parking - motorists baffled because
the charges are completely obscured by the ticket machine.
Before, the prices were on the top and anyone could see them,
but now it is very, very difficult, so I'm afraid the council have made
And the lovers lured by the lamp - the Somerset tradition
which could be extinguished unless a new lighter is found.
It's being described as another blow to public
Tonight there's anger at plans to cut more bus routes,
Local Link has confirmed its axing 11 routes, blaming increased
overheads and a fall in the amount of money it gets when people travel
The cuts will leave some areas of Torbay with no regular service
and local people fear they will be cut off.
Here's our south Devon reporter John Ayres.
Local Link run some of the more awkward routes around South Devon,
Many of these services link residential areas
with the hospital and supermarket, making them highly valued
by their users, especially among those who find it difficult
The number 25 serves the village of Stoke Gabriel.
42 buses a week to Paignton will go altogether.
My husband has got a car but we don't use it all the time,
because he has got MS, and this is my only access way
I'm learning to drive, so I haven't actually got a car yet,
and there is no way to get out of here unless you have a bus
More than 1000 people live here and more homes are on the way.
News that this service is to go has horrified the community.
One of the reasons those houses were approved
is because we are classed as a sustainable village,
so we have the bus service, we have the pubs,
Take one of those away and we are not quite
South Devon has a high proportion of senior citizens
Bus companies are reimbursed by the Government through the council,
but Torbay picked up ?4 million of that bill last year
because there was not enough money to cover it.
The Government says funding of local bus routes is for local authorities
and it spends ?250 million per year supporting services.
Derek French, who runs Local Link, says it has become increasingly
difficult to operate in this marketplace with fare-stage routes,
due to increased overheads and reduced income, particularly
mentioning the concessionary fares and how much they are reimbursed.
He says the company will continue to operate in other parts
of the transport industry, and they would like to thank
their customers for their loyal support over the last 13 years.
And on and on and post about whether they would pay to safeguard the bus
but it cannot be a contribution, you either pay the full fare or use your
past. Torbay Council is looking at ways of keeping these routes going.
Obviously, there are other operators in the bay and we also working
They are currently building a business case to develop new key
transport and we will be looking into the system in any way we can.
If there is to be continuity of service beyond April,
a new operator will have to be found in the next few days.
But which operator will take over if the books don't balance?
Lianna Etkind from Campaign For Better Transport told me this
This is really bad news, and my heart goes out to all those
people who are going to be wondering how to get to their jobs,
how to get to school and college, or even how to get
I think the local council, now, it's going to be
talking to other operators, but will have to think creatively,
perhaps resorting to community transport to keep
and also keeping in mind the benefits of local buses
What do you think the real problem is, here?
Because concessions have been cited as to blame.
Do you think free bus passes are really damaging the bus system?
I don't think it is down to free bus passes.
Bus passes are a really important benefit to older
and disabled people, and I think that keeps our roads
safer by enabling people a way to get out and about and not
However, the bus industry has gone to a really hard time recently,
and today's news is on top of huge cuts from Torbay Council
for supporting bus services last year, and the South West generally
has seen some of the highest rates of local authority
On top of that, the bus service operators' grant, BSOG,
has been cut by 20% by central Government.
And briefly, Lianna, you say people should get creative
The local authority is very soon, from May, going to get new powers
under the Bus Services Bill, and they can use these powers
to plan local bus networks, to link timetables up to rail
stations, and perhaps to cross subsidise buses.
My message to the local council would be, just hang on until May,
and think about how the Bus Services Bill might bring
Lianna Etkind, thank you very much for joining us.
A paediatrician has pleaded guilty to 17 charges relating
to indecent images of children while he was working
at the North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple.
Appearing at Exeter Crown Court today, 47-year-old Jonathan Walsh,
seen here in the red jacket, and who now lives in Lancashire,
admitted seven charges of making indecent images and ten charges
Dr Walsh, who was sacked from the hospital when charged,
None of the images relate to children in his care.
It's been described as the most important decision Looe has
Plans to tackle the constant flooding of the Cornish
It'll cost ?55 million, but would help protect
the harbour and town as well offer improvements for the fishing fleet.
Christine Butler has been in the town to see
Valentine's Day three years ago, a combination of high spring tides
and south-east gales, which forced a tidal surge
It was bad but not out of the ordinary.
Tides regularly thrust their way through the drains
Everyone in Looe agrees that something has got to be done.
Looe is the most flooded town in the country, do you know that?
In 2014, obviously, we had the major floods.
This is phase one, which is lock gates, a walkway,
and sealing the seafront more, and an extension to the pier
with a small area of breakwater to protect the lock gates.
And the lock gates will be here, and obviously
with the south-easterly wind, if you have got that tidal surge it
Time and tide wait for no man, but now man can't
Every household gets a questionnaire,
It is not just for defence that is on the table -
the creation of an outer harbour could bring big business
This is the most important decision people in our town can make
in the last 50 years and then 50 years in our future.
If we don't have it, I believe that our fishing
And our fishermen, they have to go out on the tide and come
back in on the tide, but if we had an outer harbour
The floods of 2014 forced the Environment Agency
Temporary barriers alongside the quayside which would cost
The Harbour Commissioners consider that this will not work.
When the tide comes in, it comes up through the walls and it
comes up through the drainage system, so raising the walls
and building a wall around the harbour would not work.
The Environment Agency says it can provide some money to support
a scheme but the rest will rely on Cornwall Council persuading
Christine Butler, BBC Spotlight, Looe.
Now, car-parking is one subject which always attracts a lot
Usually it's the charges which are controversial,
but it seems the hidden cost of parking is the latest
cause of frustration for motorists in Exeter.
Hamish Marshall has been to investigate.
I have travelled into the city centre and I have
All I need to do now is find some change,
find out where the machine is, and how much it's going to cost.
Well, here's where you pay, but the question,
Not very easy, because the charges are hidden behind the machine.
It should be very conspicuous, but actually there it is incredibly
Before, the prices were on the top and everyone could see them,
but now it is very, very difficult, so I'm afraid the council have made
And that's led to all sorts of contortions for people
trying to see the charges, in case they get caught out
I went round to the left-hand side of the well-placed machine.
I peered at an angle and then I gradually worked my way
down until I figured out it was ?1 per hour.
What has actually been going on here?
Well, the City Council tell me it was all because they were
standardising their car parking boards ride across the city.
The problem is, though, the fixings for this one
were too low, which means, when the board was put on,
They say they are sticking to their contractors
to get them to fix it, and they are promising to be
lenient if anyone does get caught out on pricing.
Just a reminder here that it is ?1 an hour.
Hamish Marshall, BBC Spotlight, Exeter.
This story has prompted a lot of comments on our
Sue says: "Who on earth stood there and decided this was the best
place to fix the payment machine...twice the expense for not
"Even more challenging for a disabled person to check
the parking regulations...and I know because I had to try
Go to facebook.com/bbcspotlight to see what others are saying.
Romance is in the air on Spotlight later:
The letters from the front line which reveal how love endured
And made a man of me. The only one I ever loved.
The letters from the front line which reveal how love endured
And if roses aren't your thing, choose from 1,700 other species,
for the St Valentine's Day flower count.
Now do you enjoy a trip to the garden centre,
a visit to a gallery, or just chatting over a cup of tea?
If you do you might be exactly the kind of person needed by
They're calling for more volunteers to buddy up with someone
with dementia in a scheme to help tackle loneliness.
Harriet Bradshaw has been to Newquay to find out how it works.
She's got Alzheimer's, which affects her memory
and her thinking, and the knock-on consequences can leave
There you go, Pam. Nice and gentle.
For Pam, she's getting out more and more now thanks
Yeah, we do. Yeah.
We are a good partnership, aren't we?
Yeah, yeah. We have a lot of fun.
They've been paired through a new scheme giving people
with dementia the chance to continue the hobbies they love
in the community, but there is a shortage of volunteers.
The demand is so high for the service in Newquay
and St Austell where it's currently being provided, that we've had
to close waiting list, and at the moment, for everyone
volunteer we have, there are three people waiting to be matched
We would like to be able to provide the people
with dementia on the waiting list with a volunteer, but also
eventually to expand the service across the rest of Cornwall,
so that the more people that we have who want to have one to come
on board and make a difference, really, the better it is for
I find, as well, I've gained more confidence volunteering.
I am not one to go out and about much on my own, but,
As I say, it's given me more confidence, and,
Pam had stopped playing bowls when her husband died,
but picking it up again has given her a new lease of life.
It's changed my life, getting out of the house and meeting people.
The Alzheimer's Society says by 2021 more than 1 million people will be
living with dementia, so volunteer work is
Harriet Bradshaw, BBC Spotlight, Newquay.
Next tonight, love and loss - and today of all days is the perfect
opportunity to marvel at the enduring power of love
with the release of letters home written by soldiers fighting
They've been made public by descendants to mark
the forthcoming centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
John Henderson's been to meet the great-granddaughter of a soldier
who wrote to his wife, telling her:
"You were the only one I ever loved, the one
My darling, if this should ever reach you, it will be a sure sign
that I am gone under, and what they of view do not know, but there is
one above that will see to you and not let you starve.
The language of love undiminished after 100 years.
You have been the best and are you deeply. How much, you will never
know. Like thousands around him on the
battlefield, Private Albert Ford thought constantly about home and
his wife and six children who he left behind.
The youngest was born in June 1917 and he had already gone to the front
so he never saw her. A photograph was taken of the six children to be
sent to him, but I do not know whether he did or did not see it.
Private Ford was initially a merchant seaman and that his ship
was torpedoed and the letters revealed a coach of guilt about
taking part in the greatest war. He volunteered to sign up and I
think that is why there is this tinge of regret that goes through
the letter. It was posted to the front -- he was
posted to the front and was killed in action on the 26th of October 19
17. The last letter home was made public and in it he tells his wife
Edith to marry again if she ever gets the chance.
She never did marry again. She kept all of his letters together and died
in 1956. Shortly before her death, she claims she saw him in her
bedroom. She was certain he had come for her.
His great grand daughter who lives in Dartmoor, and do her the latter
home is the ultimate love letter. Know that my last were of you...
Now it wouldn't be Valentine's Day without flowers, and,
if roses aren't your thing, there are plenty of other
More than 1,700 different species of flowers have been counted
blooming at National Trust properties across the south-west.
It's the 12th year for the annual flower count, and although numbers
are down on last year, they're still very high and suggest
Clare Woodling has been to one of the counts in Saltram.
"A flower blossoms for its own joy" -
And this year they are in abundance on National Trust properties
There will always be the staple things in flowers,
things like the snowdrops and camellias at this time of year,
they are always in flower, so there's always the familiar
things, but with a garden like this, there are 1500
That's not different plants, that's different types of plants.
And there are always going to be surprises.
There is always something that has tried to throw up
a flower unexpectedly, and that's always
As you can see, there are lots of crocus here in front of us,
but they are all the same type of crocus, so although there
are hundreds of the plants here, this all only counts as one
So you do not have to count every single head?
No, otherwise I would be here for weeks if I had to do that.
This is a carefully planned and it is the only such
It originates from Nepal and has a lovely sweet fragrance.
Because it blooms in February, it needs all of the ploys it can get
to attract bees and other insects in to help the flowers pollinate.
Cataloguing all of the different varieties each year offers
a moment to reflect on how the garden is evolving.
The chance of doing this flower count is a chance to really be
able to focus on that, because we are so busy trying
to keep on top of the practical, day-to-day gardening,
that it is a really nice opportunity just to slow down a bit
and focus on what is actually going on in the garden.
These are Helleborus, which are otherwise known
They are a really, really lovely looking flower.
As the years go on, the data may give an insight into changing
weather patterns on native and exotic species, and also
what needs to be done to keep these gardens coming up roses,
and camellias and snowdrops and crocuses and daffodils and tulips...
Now, let's set the scene - a spray of flowers,
a nice romantic light, after all, this is
But in Somerset a romantic light to rival even this has been lit
The St Valentine's Day lamp is the county's
only working gas lamp, and every February 14 it's lit
by the man who spent months restoring it.
The ceremony has seen at least one proposal over the years, but,
as Michelle Ruminski reports, the gas lighter is now
looking for an apprentice to take on the role.
Reg's love affair with a Valentine lamp all began when he found
Over nearly three decades, he has put his heart
and soul into restoring it, decorating it with symbols of love,
All I know is I got carried away and, I think, anyway,
I fell in love with the lamp by accident, and it controlled me
Because I often say, why ever did I start?
But having started, rather like in a romance,
And it's fair to say that the Valentine gaslamp
has a special place in many other people's hearts as well.
I think you can't fault it, and I'm just hoping that people
will take good care of it, because you won't find anything
How many years have you been going to the ceremony?
So it really does mean something to you?
Yes, no, it does, and a lot of other people around here as well.
None more so than Dave and Sue, Reg's daughter.
It was here two years ago that I proposed to sue,
It was here two years ago that I proposed to Sue,
and they brought with me a heart-shaped red cushion
and got down on one knee and popped the question.
A great shock, but wonderful shock, and now we are planning to get
married and live the rest of our lives together.
We will always have that history with the Valentine lamp.
But, with Reg growing older and with his family living up north,
he is urgently looking for someone to replace him.
You see, I am looking for a lamp lighter.
Tonight, Reg has done the honours for the 23rd time.
Many turned out for this Valentines tradition. Who knows? Maybe it will
spark someone else to fall in love with it as well.
Michel Ruminski, BBC Spotlight, Frome.
Let's hope they keep that tradition going. I hate to spoil the romantic
scene here, but there was a risk assessment had to be filled in for
this lit candle and we have a man standing by, the editor, to put the
candle out if it gets dangerous. But that spoils the romantic ambience.
We need someone to fan the flames. Do not do that. It is time for the
weather forecast. What is it looking like, Holly?
Don't worry. Good. I thought you had left me out. I will say that to the
end of the forecast. Yes, do not touch the candle. It is Valentines
evening and how lovely. Happy Valentine's Day. Roses are red,
violets are blue, and for some of us today the sky was to. Here in
Cornwall, a lovely picture and springlike. For many of us it was
more grave. Low cloud around and a bit of mist and hill fog as well as
outbreaks of rain. And it gradually works its way eastwards and improves
from the West. Amazingly, tomorrow, we do it again. Another weather
front approaching with some styles of heavy rain in the morning. That
rain could be quite lively but also possibly bringing thunder. Brighter
in the afternoon, much like today, and a bit less breezy than today.
This is the weather bug affecting as earlier and that pushes eastwards.
You will see this next weather front waiting in the wings. That will go
through to the second part of tonight into tomorrow, and it will
clear and then higher pressure building its way in on Thursday. It
will settle. Comes with a mist, but first I should break. Light winds,
dryness, and brightness. That high-pressure doing its best but we
have got a weather front approaching, and then it does start
to bring you a bit more cloud and maybe just a little bit of rain.
More so later in the day. This great stretch of cloud associated with our
weather fronts and patchy rain underneath it. This cloud also quite
low but it way eastwards. That rain is coming in from the West. Also
these showers working their way towards us. That is the picture
through this evening and tonight. Quite heavy showers working their
way around midnight, and further ease some starry skies initially but
some low cloudy mist and hill fog re-bonding. In the early hours some
more persistent rain is working its way in across or more. Some odd
rumbles of thunder but also a mild night with loads of seven or eight
Celsius. Heading through tomorrow morning and a bed of a wet start.
Rain could be heavy through the course of the morning. It worked its
way eastwards, good news, becomes showery and those showers peel away.
Some sunshine coming out. Quite a springlike look into tomorrow
afternoon and the wind will be that bit lighter. Initially a brisk
southerly but eases into the afternoon, I ran to the
south-westerly. These are top temperatures. Height of ten or 11
Celsius. As high as 13 or 14 Celsius, so not a bad look for
things at all and much milder than we are used to operate the several
recent days, especially last week into the weekend. For the Isles of
Scilly, early heavy rain should nip through quickly during the morning
and much of the day will have sunshine. The risk of some heavy
showers. Not too many. Usual times of high water. For servers, the
waves are not looking too big. It could be cleaned along the north
coast I suspect at first, but went veering around to become choppy. --
file servers. Coastal waters forecast, Winter southerly at four
or five, and using a late into the afternoon. Rain or showers
visibility moderate or good and light but moderate at times.
Overall, not looking too bad over the next few days. Although we have
got a view things to watch out for, early rain through tomorrow morning
and quite heavy and thundery. Could improve come the afternoon. There
looking like the most promising day of the next view, with high pressure
in charge and winds lighter than they have been. A bit of mist and
fog early on should clear and then persistent sunshine on Thursday.
Even though that high-pressure stays in charge for Friday, some cloud
working in the risk of a bit more rain by day and perhaps more
persistent rain into the evening. Into the weekend, I think it tries
to stay settled, and a bit of rain but hopefully not too much.
Generally a reasonable but hopefully not too much.
Generally a reasonable picture. You have not even have any fizz.
Come and join us. This is for Valentines night. Thank you very
much. Happy Valentine 's night. See you again tomorrow. Cheers. Cheers.
Cheers. # I knew you were trouble
when you walked in # Now I'm lying
on the cold, hard ground