08/02/2017 Spotlight


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


after what's being described as a significant rock


Tonnes of rock and soil collapsed on to East Beach,


leaving homes on Cliff Road even closer to the edge.


People living there have long campaigned for action


to shore up the cliffs and protect their properties.


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


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


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


at the top of East Cliff gives way without warning.


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


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


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


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


About ten minutes later I looked out the window,


blinked twice and decided that the shed actually


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


had been standing not half an hour before this happened.


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


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


That piece is going to go imminently.


There are 12 properties along the cliff edge


Their gardens have slowly disappeared in recent years


in cliff falls extensively reported on Spotlight.


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


There's bound to be another fall shortly.


These things happen without any warning and can be quite small


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


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


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


to the south-easterlies, which can be devastating.


East Devon District Council sent us a detailed statement.


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


of the Jurassic coastline but they are made of soft rock


and that makes them vulnerable to cliff falls and landslides.


They say they have now finalised a beach erosion management plan


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


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


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


The council told us it will continue to monitor the situation


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


branding planned business rates hikes affecting self-catering


Ministers say the nationwide rates review of all businesses


makes the system fairer, with three quarters seeing no change


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


sector, amid claims it's being unfairly penalised.


The Poldark effect and the weak pound encouraging staycations


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


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


catering businesses as they face big hikes in business rates


from April after a nationwide government review.


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


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


23 people are employed at this family business,


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


where extras are on offer to keep the visitors choosing Cornwall


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


That means more than ?2000 a month on top


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


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


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


we want to bring tourists here rather than going to France


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


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


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


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


Tourism leaders are lining up to call for a rethink.


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


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


of winning and losing, this is quite catastrophic for some


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


This will mean less profitability, which means people will pay


themselves less, which means there will be less investment


and the ultimate outcome is less stock with less quality


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


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


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


a higher minimum wage, to pay better wages


to their workforce, which is very welcome,


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


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


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


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


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


It says there is transitional help available and the changes overall


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


Plymouth-based Royal Marine against his conviction for murder


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


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


that the conviction was unsafe because psychiatrists said


the soldier was suffering from a mental illness when he killed


an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan.


The judges will review the evidence and the law before


A farmer from Bickleigh near Tiverton says he's been


involved in a wrangle with South West Water for almost


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


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


Our Environment Correspondent Adrian Campbell has been to see him.


Ray Hull farms at Bickleigh, near Tiverton.


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


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


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


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


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


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


The next one came in at nearly 10,500.


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


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


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


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


He says after complaining to South West Water they cut


the amount they said he owed by around half.


But according to his records, the latest bill still


Ray claims problems began after the company attempted to deal


with low pressure in the pipes to the farm.


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


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


We contacted South West Water about Ray's bill.


"This has been a complex case which has required ongoing


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


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


an outstanding amount which is unsettling


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


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


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


On to the weather. It has been a lovely


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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