08/02/2017 Spotlight


08/02/2017

The latest news, sport, weather and features from the South West of England.


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People are being told to stay away from the cliffs in East Devon

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after what's being described as a significant rock

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Tonnes of rock and soil collapsed on to East Beach,

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leaving homes on Cliff Road even closer to the edge.

:00:23.:00:27.

People living there have long campaigned for action

:00:28.:00:30.

to shore up the cliffs and protect their properties.

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The council says it wants work to start as soon as possible,

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but the money for any scheme still needs to be finalised.

:00:37.:00:38.

Weakened by a rock fall yesterday, the land supporting the shed

:00:39.:00:46.

at the top of East Cliff gives way without warning.

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There was no noise to warn us what was gone to happen

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It used to be surrounded by land but now all that is left is part

:00:54.:01:05.

My neighbour phoned me, Julie, next door, and she told me that some

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of the garden had disappeared so I went and had a look

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About ten minutes later I looked out the window,

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blinked twice and decided that the shed actually

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You also then had another three metres of garden where my gardener

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had been standing not half an hour before this happened.

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I keep telling him not to go there and I think he has learnt

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But also you can see where the land there has actually slipped down.

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That piece is going to go imminently.

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There are 12 properties along the cliff edge

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Their gardens have slowly disappeared in recent years

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in cliff falls extensively reported on Spotlight.

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Tony Miller fears it's only a matter of time before more

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There's bound to be another fall shortly.

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These things happen without any warning and can be quite small

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or they can be quite drastic, as the one was yesterday.

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Although the houses here are directly in the line of fire,

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when this cliff erodes back further it exposes the whole of the town

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to the south-easterlies, which can be devastating.

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East Devon District Council sent us a detailed statement.

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They say that East Devon's cliffs form an outstanding part

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of the Jurassic coastline but they are made of soft rock

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and that makes them vulnerable to cliff falls and landslides.

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They say they have now finalised a beach erosion management plan

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and they have put that out to tender and are looking for

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They say the recent cliff fall here at East Cliff will not qualify

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for emergency funding or approval because it is in private ownership.

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The council told us it will continue to monitor the situation

:03:04.:03:09.

"Astronomical" and "unbearable" - that's how one tourism leader's

:03:10.:03:19.

branding planned business rates hikes affecting self-catering

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Ministers say the nationwide rates review of all businesses

:03:23.:03:28.

makes the system fairer, with three quarters seeing no change

:03:29.:03:30.

But there are calls for an urgent rethink for the self-catering

:03:31.:03:37.

sector, amid claims it's being unfairly penalised.

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The Poldark effect and the weak pound encouraging staycations

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Tourism in the south-west has been surfing a bit of a wave recently.

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But there is a fly in the ointment for many of the region's self

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catering businesses as they face big hikes in business rates

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from April after a nationwide government review.

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We've been going for 40 years and this is the biggest tax hit

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And it is a major problem for us and we are worried about the future.

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23 people are employed at this family business,

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a complex of 15 cottages near Looe, open all year round,

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where extras are on offer to keep the visitors choosing Cornwall

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Here, they're facing a rise in their business rates of 135%.

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That means more than ?2000 a month on top

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It's not just that it's not fair, it's that it's not sustainable.

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If we want to bring people to Cornwall and even to the UK,

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we are competing not just with other businesses in England but also

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we want to bring tourists here rather than going to France

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or wherever so it's a big hit that is going to...

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You know, I'm sure there will be business closures

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Based on turnover, not profit, the hit is particularly being felt

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by the hundreds of complexes in the region, like Treworgey,

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Tourism leaders are lining up to call for a rethink.

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I'll tell you what, if my income tax went up by 140% I'd think

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I was worse than a loser, so it is not a matter of a bit

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of winning and losing, this is quite catastrophic for some

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businesses, so I think it is time for the government to step back

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This will mean less profitability, which means people will pay

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themselves less, which means there will be less investment

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and the ultimate outcome is less stock with less quality

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The impact on coastal and rural communities is going to be looked

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at by a tourism inquiry chaired by a south west MP.

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The government's asked quite rightly for tourist operators to pay

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a higher minimum wage, to pay better wages

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to their workforce, which is very welcome,

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I'm sure, by everybody, but it is an extra cost for them

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and now they're getting a double whammy with the business rate.

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The government says across all types of business in the south west,

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the majority of bills are staying the same or falling and there

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is a cap for the first few years for those that are facing increases.

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It says there is transitional help available and the changes overall

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The five judges who heard the two-day appeal by a former

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Plymouth-based Royal Marine against his conviction for murder

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have said they will announce a decision at a later date.

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Sergeant Alexander Blackman's QC told the Court Martial Appeal Court

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that the conviction was unsafe because psychiatrists said

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the soldier was suffering from a mental illness when he killed

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an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan.

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The judges will review the evidence and the law before

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A farmer from Bickleigh near Tiverton says he's been

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involved in a wrangle with South West Water for almost

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The company says it's still investigating what's happened

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but Ray Hull says he's been told he still owes thousands of pounds.

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Our Environment Correspondent Adrian Campbell has been to see him.

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Ray Hull farms at Bickleigh, near Tiverton.

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He says he and his wife have been upset by repeated demands for money

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Each one of these cattle can drink around ten gallons of water a day.

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It can be even more when they're in calf but Ray says when the bill

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came in in 2009 he was flabbergasted by the size of it.

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I think the first one in August was for about just under ?1000,

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which was a lot of money for three months' water in 2009.

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The next one came in at nearly 10,500.

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It was me that hit the ceiling, not the water.

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And obviously that's when our battle, I suppose,

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Ray says his normal water bill from South West Water is around

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?1200 a year but in May 2009 he says he was sent a bill

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He says after complaining to South West Water they cut

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the amount they said he owed by around half.

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But according to his records, the latest bill still

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Ray claims problems began after the company attempted to deal

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with low pressure in the pipes to the farm.

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He believes a leak in 2009 happened because pressure was far too

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This is where I was checking the meter every single day.

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We contacted South West Water about Ray's bill.

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"This has been a complex case which has required ongoing

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We are continuing to work with Mr Hull to achieve a resolution."

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But Ray says, after years of dispute, there is still

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an outstanding amount which is unsettling

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It has an effect on you that you've got, it's rather like the Sword

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of Damocles over your head, saying, "?5250, please."

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So, for now, Ray and his family are keeping a careful check on every

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On to the weather. It has been a lovely

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Yes but now it is cold. We will see the cold weather the next few days,

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lasting into the weekend. Tomorrow we should some sunshine at more

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frost to start with. It is already forming. Low temperatures through

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the night. -2, -3 in some places. Widespread overnight frost.

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Tomorrow, predominantly dry, the chance of a few showers through the

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English Channel, and more clout creeping in from the east first

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thing which could produce snow in the wind but nothing the children

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will appreciate. But most of us, sunny spells, a few showers on the

:10:10.:10:17.

south coast and top temperature between 4-7. Friday, similar, some

:10:18.:10:21.

sunshine, thick cloud at times through the English Channel. More

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clout through the afternoon and even colder, 4-5 the maximum. With an

:10:26.:10:31.

easterly wind, the wind chill will make it feel even colder. By the

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weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday, a lot of clout. Saturday

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probably the coldest. Slightly warmer on Sunday. A nagging east or

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north-east wind. Wrap up warm. That is it at the moment. We'll be

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back with breakfast from 6:25am tomorrow. Good night.

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cloudy and Ben Rich will take you through the bigger picture.

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Good evening. Over the next few days I suspect it's going to feel like we

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have been plunged into the deep freeze. Cold weather on the way and

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not necessarily crisp cold weather, with blue skies. A lot of cloud,

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there was some sunshine today across parts of west Wales, for instance.

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That lifted temperatures up to 11. But further east as you can see

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