TV presenter Kate Humble signing copies of new book Humble by Nature at Lost Gardens of Heligan tomorrow
Police have launched a nationwide operation to hunt down more than 100 illegal pitbull-type dogs sold by a Westcountry couple.
Steven and Tracey Tewskesbury, 52 and 48 respectively, pleaded guilty to charges of owning and possessing the potentially-dangerous dogs, at North Devon Magistrates' Court.
The pair, of Jordan Close in Newport, Barnstaple, admitted to owning Motor, Troy and KC, all classified as illegal pitbull-type dogs.
They also admitted having sold a dog last year which records showed had been fathered by dogs they owned.
The court hearing last Friday heard a website run by Steven Tewkesbury contained information about notorious dog fights and claimed one of his dogs was descended from an infamous fighting dog called Psycho.
Yesterday, Devon and Cornwall Police revealed they knew of about 37 of the dogs bred and sold by the Tewskesburys were still in the two counties. Nationally there are thought to be more than 100.
The force has now launched Operation Doorstop 2, to find and identify dogs sold by the couple. The dogs are believed to have been sold nationally as "Irish Staffords".
Devon and Cornwall officers have contacted other police forces where the dogs are thought to be and are in the process of contacting owners directly in Devon and Cornwall.
Detective Inspector Praveen Naidoo said: "The operation is intelligence-led. The aim is to identify pitbull-type dogs that are in the community having been sold by Mr and Mrs Tewkesbury as 'Irish Staffords' and ensure that the risk any dog may present is mitigated by use of Court orders.
"So far, we have identified approximately 37 people in Devon and Cornwall who may have purchased dogs from this couple and in excess of a hundred nationally.
"Whilst it is a criminal offence to own a pitbull-type dog, unless there are aggravating circumstances around the ownership of the dog it will not be our intention to prosecute owners. Our priority is to ensure that any risk the dog may present to the community and the family in which it is resident is mitigated.
"A number of pitbull-type dogs have already been seized as a result of this operation and we are working closely with the courts to ensure orders are obtained in relation to the dogs promptly."
Police sergeant Tony Whitting said once a dog had been identified as a pitbull-type it could be destroyed under a court order, or it could be returned to its owners if officers were satisfied it would not constitute a danger to the public.
"If a pitbull-type dog is returned it must be owned under certain strict conditions. These are that it is micro chipped, tattooed, insured, neutered, muzzled in public and kept on a lead and held by someone 16 or over," he said.
In court, Karen Ball, prosecuting, explained how police in South Wales alerted North Devon officers to a website run by Steven Tewkesbury.
"It gave a history of how Mr Tewkesbury began breeding Staffordshire terriers 10 years ago," she said. "It gives details of dogs which have been sold and also has information of famous dog fights. It also claims one of the dogs owned by Mr Tewkesbury is descended from a famous fighting dog called Psycho."
She said one dog, called Motor, was offered for stud on the website, at a cost of £350, and there were also details of plans to have Motor and another dog, China, mate. "It's clear Mr Tewkesbury has been breeding for some time and has a respected reputation," she said.
As a result of the information seen online police raided the Tewkesburys' home in March and found four dogs. Three were identified as pitbull-type dogs. Tewkesbury, who represented himself and his wife, said he had only recently become aware they were illegal dogs.
"We didn't know until last year they were illegal type dogs," he said. "The 'pitbull Act' was for pitbulls, I was unaware of the amendment for type dogs."
Presiding magistrate Michael Buckley asked why, as a breeder, Tewkesbury was unaware.
"It's not the sort of thing you do to go home and look on the internet to see if there have been changes to the law," Tewkesbury told the court. He also insisted his dogs weren't dangerous, saying they had been brought up as family pets with his children.
Magistrate Mr Buckley asked the probation service to provide a pre-sentence report before sentencing the couple. They will return to court on May 21 for sentence and to find out whether an application for a contingent destruction order on the dogs has been successful.
If it's granted the dogs will be returned to the Tewkesburys but if they are not kept under control they will be seized and put down.
Up to 100 Conservative backbenchers are expected to register their anger that the Government's plans for the next year do not include a law to enshrine David Cameron's pledge for an in-out vote by 2017.
Some 53 MPs have signed an amendment to the Queen's Speech, which sets out the coalition Government's legislative programme, making clear their frustration.
They include Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset), Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) and Richard Drax (South Dorset).
Sarah Newton, MP for Truro and Falmouth and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, has told the Western Morning News she supports the amendment and "any sensible efforts to pave the way to secure a referendum in the next Parliament".
Asked what he would do if given an in-out vote today, Mr Liddell-Grainger said: "I would come out. I'm sick to death with it. It's bankrupt. It's pushing us to do things we don't want to do. It's a dictatorship from Brussels."
Mr Cameron's plan is to renegotiate Britain's relationship and stage a referendum on the renewed deal if the Tories win the next election. But he is unable to bring forward government legislation to enact his pledge because of opposition from the Liberal Democrats.
As to whether the amendment would help or hinder Mr Cameron, Mr Liddell-Grainger said: "I don't think we really care. Our job as backbenchers is to represent the feelings of our constituents. And Bridgwater and West Somerset is sceptical – to various levels."
Mr Liddell-Grainger said he would rather a referendum this side of the election, or hold the two on the same day in 2015. He questioned whether a re-negotiation would work without a clear list of demands over powers to be repatriated, and a deadline for them to be delivered. He added: "I would love to renegotiate, but the history of the EU is that it does not like to renegotiate."
The vote is expected take place tomorrow, although Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition means it is certain to fail.
Conservative ministers have been told that they can abstain. At the weekend, Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Philip Hammond said they would quit the EU if there was a vote today, but stressed that they supported Mr Cameron's bid to renegotiate.
Explaining her backing for the amendment, Mrs Murray said: "It doesn't matter what we promise. The public just don't believe us. I believe we should show the public we are absolutely determined to do this."
Given her concerns over the Common Fisheries Policy and the continuing crisis in the Eurozone, Mrs Murray, whose late husband was a fisherman, thought she would probably vote to quit the EU if a vote was held now.
On his blog, Mr Drax wrote the EU is a "huge elephant in the room, which simply won't go away". "It was always foolish of those who didn't want to discuss our future position on Europe to believe it would just conveniently be forgotten," he said. "The EU affects our sovereignty, our liberty and our future. I can't think of three more important topics for politicians to consider and debate, especially in our party."
He said Tory backbenchers were acting because of "lack of clarity, dragging of feet and general waffle from all political parties".
"Unprecedented times needed unprecedented action and I am confident that a large number of my colleagues will vote for this amendment," he went on.
Meanwhile, Ed Miliband has come under pressure from his party's backbenches to pledge a referendum in its next manifesto. Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, former Europe minister, said: "I believe that it is the democratic right of the people to make that decision for themselves." Labour has ruled out a referendum now, but not in the future.
The Lib Dems have not backed the Conservative position. Leader Nick Clegg has said a vote in the next Parliament was "not in the national interest", and would create uncertainty that spooks business.
Police say a fire which destroyed a third of all buses belonging to one of Cornwall's two major bus companies may have been started deliberately.
The estimated cost of replacing the 35 Western Greyhound buses is thought to be around £1.5 million following the fire at the family-run company's Summercourt depot near Newquay.
Today, a police spokesman confirmed that the suspected cause was arson.
The spokesman said: "Following investigations, it is now thought that the fire may have been started deliberately. "Officers are appealing for anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity in the area either in the late evening of Sunday, 12 May or the early hours of Monday, 13 May to contact them on 101, quoting reference GC/13/151." It is thought the blaze started around 1am yesterday and, fanned by the wind, tore quickly through a large portion of the Western Greyhound fleet, including two new £100,000 double deckers and four park-and-ride buses for Truro.
The damage to the fleet has caused a huge disruption to bus services in Cornwall, which are run largely by Western Greyhound and First, and it is not yet known when full service will resume.
It was reported at one stage that as many as a third of the bus routes in Cornwall had experienced some sort of disruption, however services were said to be running normally in Devon.
Mark Howarth, managing director of Western Greyhound, said he could see flames leaping in the air and that, when he arrived, all the buses at the bottom of the yard were completely ablaze. He said: "It's absolutely devastating.
"We have all worked very hard to build up Western Greyhound and it's awful to see something like this happen.
"The staff have all rallied round they have been absolutely brilliant.
"We managed to run the bulk of our services today, including the Truro Park and Ride. It has been absolutely marvellous how much support we have had from transport companies and manufacturers to try and help us get back up and running as quickly as possible.
"I am thankful there was no damage to the offices and workshops and that no-one was injured or hurt."
The company announced yesterday morning that 12 out of the 43 bus routes it operated in the Duchy would not be running but the firm managed to ensure that only nine routes failed to run.
It is not known how long the other services will be out of action. But, in a gesture of goodwill, First confirmed it would accept Western Greyhound season ticket holders on similar routes over the next couple of days.
More than 60 firefighters attended the incident with neighbours waking up see towering flames.
One, Kelly Broderick, said: "It was quite windy so the fire was spreading really, really quickly – thank God in the opposite direction to us."
Cleverly billed to holiday-making children as "the best day of the week", Flambards has been a central pillar of Cornwall's tourist industry for a generation.
Originally conceived as Cornwall Aircraft Park by Douglas Kingsford Hale MBE and his wife Audrey, the Helston attraction carefully adapted and evolved over the years to create a destination which appealed to all ages. The combination of rides and museums proved popular from the start, with wartime memories for granny, go-karts for dad, roller-coaster rides for teenagers and soft play for the tots.
Starting out as a repository for the Hales' vast collection of aviation memorabilia, the 27-acre site today encompasses gardens, rides, heritage exhibitions and animals.
And while its Hornet roller-coaster, log flume, balloon race, cyclocopters, pedal-powered monorail and carousel will never rival Thorpe Park or Alton Towers for white-knuckle thrills, the fact that the park appeals across the age range has ensured its enduring appeal and success. Last year saw both a rise in visitor numbers and increased turnover.
The Victorian Village Experience, a covered display of period shops and cottages, is used as a resource for local schools, while Britain in the Blitz – opened by forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn in 1984 – and The War Gallery pay tribute to those who served during the world wars.
For visitors interested in Cornish history and its place in the world, there is an intriguing exhibition about Richard Pearce, who many argue flew and landed an aircraft in March 1903 – nine months before the Wright Brothers' historic flight.
There have also been a number of high-profile events held at the park over the years, including the 2002 visit by a baseball cap-wearing William Hague. Pictures of the drenching the Tory Party leader suffered on the water slide did little for his chances of becoming Prime Minister.
Thirty-seven years on from its opening, the Hale family say they are hoping to find a buyer with plans to develop the park further and to continue a tradition of family entertainment. Managing director James Kingsford Hale, who said he will continue to run Flambards for the 2013 season, explained that the decision had been made because his father was now 82 and his daughter was not ready to take the reins.
"It has been enormously difficult, but we feel it's the right time to part with a business that has been such an important part of our family," he said. "We've spent 37 years working hard to establish it as a must-see place to visit and enjoy. Now it's up to a new buyer with a fresh perspective to take the business forward."
The attraction is being marketed by Stratton Creber Commercial and Jones Lang LaSalle. Tim Smart, director of Stratton Creber Commercial, said: "I've worked with the family over a number of years, advising them on property matters. I know how difficult this decision will have been for them but they are looking forward to the future. Building on their successes, I am confident that the attraction has a very bright future in front of it."
Almost an entire month's worth of rain is expected to fall on parts of the Westcountry during an "utterly miserable" day today.
Heavy and persistent rain is due to fall throughout Devon and Cornwall, with up to 60mm expected in some parts.
Almost a third (20mm) of the average monthly rainfall in May will fall in most parts with more intense downpours on higher ground.
The Exeter-based Met Office has issued a yellow warning across the South West today, advising people to "be aware" of rain.
Met Office spokesman Helen Chivers said: "Today is going to be an extremely unpleasant day. We're expecting a lot of rain which could lead to flooding in some parts."
Isolated parts of the region may even see outbreaks of sleet and snow – but not enough to settle.
Temperatures will remain below average at 10 degrees in Exeter and Plymouth and down to just eight degrees in Okehampton, West Devon.
"It'll be an utterly miserable May day with all the rain and the cooler temperatures," Mrs Chivers added.
Mixed weather is expected during the rest of the week, with further outbreaks of rain tomorrow and Thursday in time for the start of the Devon County Show.
Not even a day of rain managed to dissuade more than 3,000 people from attending a popular arts festival in Cornwall on Sunday which included a Medieval battle re-enactment for the first time.
The seventh edition of Lostfest, which took place in Lostwithiel, also featured more than 200 bands, arts and craft stalls and was timed to coincide with the first reopening of the Duchy Palace since its 15-month refurbishment was complete in January.
But the highlight for organisers was the inclusion for the first time of a Medieval battle by reenactment group Kernow Levy, which took place throughout the town.
The group set up camp in the church yard and were present throughout the day, culminating in the battle, which was won by the army from Lostwithiel. Mike Dobbie, who is part of the festival's organising committee said: "I would say the Medieval battle was the highlight.
"It went down really, really well and it proved really popular.
"People were following them around the town, they set up in the church and put on a fantastic display.
"But the whole festival was just great, it's a bit of a mix, something for everyone. I would say there was something between 3,000 and 5,000 people and the Duchy Palace had something in the region of 1,000 visitors throughout the day."
The Duchy Palace is said to be one of the oldest non-ecclesiastical buildings in Cornwall, and was bought by the Prince's Regeneration Trust in 2009.
Anti-litter campaigns are now falling on deaf ears, environmentalists have warned, as they revealed the tide of rubbish found on Westcountry beaches.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which publishes its Beachwatch Big Weekend Report today, said the nation's passion for plastic was leaving a legacy across the country's shores. It said plastic "bits and pieces" made up almost 65% of all the litter found on beaches scoured by volunteers during a single weekend last September.
In Cornwall, more than 100 volunteers cleared 241kg of rubbish from 12 beaches at an average of 6,000 items per kilometre. The national average is 1,909. Seven Devon beaches were cleared by 130 volunteers producing 84kg of waste at a rate of 1,572 pieces of litter per kilometre.
Lauren Eyles, MCS Beachwatch officer, said the continued rise in beach litter is worrying.
"As we continue to embrace the concept of a throwaway society it's no surprise that plastic dominates the litter we find," she said. "Over the last few years we have seen a drop in the number of cigarette butts we've found on our beaches, but this year that trend has totally reversed.
"That could be a result of more people smoking outside following the ban on smoking in public places. It's likely that more people are dropping butts outside rather than disposing of them in ashtrays."
The amount of plastic found in 2012 rose by 3% compared to the year before. Volunteer cleaners also found over 75 plastic drinks bottles for every kilometre they surveyed.
The society said the volume of sweet wrappers and plastic bottles suggested decades of anti-litter campaigns now needed to be re-invigorated for a new generation.
About 80% of the litter found on the beaches came from the land rather than marine sources.
Lauren added: "Despite last summer being seen as a washout by many, with heavy rain in many places, it appears those people that did visit our beaches left behind a lot of personal litter – sweet wrappers, ice cream wrappers and plastic drinks bottles failed to find their way into rubbish bins and ended up being dropped and left behind.
"This year's figures point to people becoming less bothered about littering. We must hammer the message home that litter is completely unacceptable in the 21st century.
"The number of opportunities provided by local authorities to recycle waste, or to dispose of litter in a socially acceptable manner, have never been greater. So it's hard to understand why people think its OK to rubbish their neighbourhoods, and in turn the countryside and coastline."
Truro City have been forced to deny claims that they have already finalised a replacement for their departed manager, Lee Hodges.
The former Plymouth Argyle player was told earlier this month that his contract at Treyew Road would not be renewed. Troubled Truro remain in administration and, following their relegation from Blue Square Bet South this season, they do not yet know which league they will be playing in next term.
While Hodges has left the job he had held on to for over three years, Steve Massey has retained the title he was given by Truro chairman Pete Masters in January this year – head of football development.
The much-travelled Massey, who had a spell as City's manager in the 2005-06 season, was always likely to be tipped for a return to the role. That notion was played down when Hodges left, but yesterday morning reports circulated that Massey and Ivybridge Town boss Graeme Kirkup – another former Truro manager – would be in charge at Treyew Road next term.
The club promptly turned to Twitter to issue a denial, stating that the report "concerning Steve Massey being appointed as new City manager is not correct".
Truro's chairman then waded into the Twitter debate, and he did not dismiss the idea of Massey's return out of hand. Masters wrote: "Steve Massey as manager – someone is mischief-making at this time but it would not disappoint me."
Cornwall No.8 Sam Hocking is relishing the battle with Hertfordshire on Saturday that will decide which, so far, unbeaten team goes to Twickenham for the RFU County Championship final.
Hertfordshire will arrive at Camborne boasting a two-point lead over the Duchy at the top of their group after their 50-point thrashings of Kent and Gloucestershire.
They could afford to lose the match and still reach English rugby headquarters, providing they pick up two bonus points and deny Cornwall any of their own.
But the reigning county champions, whose squad is laced with several youngsters from Aviva Premiership side Saracens, will be keen to make it a hat-trick of wins, book their place in the final, and give player-head coach James Shanahan the perfect send-off before he takes over at Plymouth Albion next month.
"It is our only home game of the pool stages and I have no doubt we will get massive support down at Camborne," said Hocking, who left Albion last month to move to a new, as yet un-named, club believed to be in the south east.
"It is basically a play-off game and I'm looking forward to it."
One of the players who will be tasked with trying to stop fly-half Shanahan is Cornwall's former Camborne flanker Sam Matavesi, who recently signed a new contract with Albion and who has impressed so far in this season's county tournament.
"Hopefully, Sammy can put a couple of shots on his new boss," said former Cornish All Black Hocking.
Hocking scored his second try in two games for Cornwall as they won a hard-fought game 23-17 at Kent last Saturday, after the hosts were denied what they thought was a touchdown with the last play of the game, when the referee deemed they had been stopped just short of the try line.
"The decision at the end could have gone either way," admitted Hocking. "My try was probably touch and go. I'm not saying it wasn't a score, but it was pretty close.
"I think I had a little bit more momentum driving for the line than the Kent player did, and you get the rub of the green sometimes."
Hocking added: "It was a tough battle against Kent. We have proved in our last two games that we are fairly good defensively, and we are putting in some big hits. We haven't hit full stride in the attacking phase of our game, but it is building.
"We had a lot of dominance in the scrum on Saturday. Craig [Craig Williams], Browner [Richard Brown] and Jacquesy [Darren Jacques] is a massive front row, and, with Hilts [Ben Hilton] and Cookie [Damian Cook] behind them, it is a big front five.
"I had a bit of trouble at the back of a scrum flying forward in the first half, but I got used to it in the end, and it was good.
"Even when Craig went off, young John Drew came on and performed really well."
Kent opted to play up the slope and into the strong wind in the first half, and Cornwall only led 16-7 at the break, which many folk felt would not be enough.
A series of mistakes suddenly saw them slip 17-16 behind, before Hocking's try seven minutes from the end of normal time proved the match-winning score.
"I thought we could have done a little bit more in the first half, and Kent did really well to score their try in that period," said Hocking.
"The wind was a little bit less in the first half than it was in the second, when it picked up, but we came out and told ourselves we just had to keep the ball.
"Rory Teague is a good fly-half, he knows how to play the corners and he's a great kicker, and we found ourselves under a little bit of pressure. We may have given away a few too many penalties, but we dug deep in the end and controlled the ball in the last 15 to 20 minutes and came away with the win.
"My try came from a big scrum and just looking after the ball, and if we do that we are a tough side to beat."
Newquay airport-based British International Helicopter Services has been acquired by a Coventry-based group, which says it has plans to expand the Westcountry business's operations.
BIH has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Patriot Aerospace Group, in a move which has seen the aviation group become the UK's largest domestically owned-helicopter operator.
Part of the Rigby Group, Patriot is owned by Sir Peter Rigby – the multi-millionaire entrepreneur behind Birmingham-based IT company Specialist Computer, which has grown to become Europe's largest independent technology solutions provider.
Patriot has acquired two major contracts through its BIH takeover, along with 50 staff and 11 helicopters.
BIH has operated the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) helicopter support programme for more than a decade, transferring personnel on sea training exercises to and from Newquay to HMS Raleigh.
A second contract provides the Ministry of Defence with helicopter services in support of British forces in the Falklands and provides the helicopter lift capability for troops and materials around the South Atlantic islands.
Other commercial helicopter activities are undertaken by the company on an ad hoc basis.
Until November last year, BIH also flew helicopter services to the Isles of Scilly.
Patriot's group finance director Paul Southall said he was "delighted" to have sealed the BIH deal. He said while the group had no plans to reinstate any operation to the islands, over the coming months it would be exploring how its Newquay base could have scope for new business growth.
He revealed that Patriot will be looking at developing business and marketing plans to attract new third-party maintenance contracts to the facility at Cornwall's Aerohub Enterprise Zone.
As a designated enterprise zone, business located at the Newquay airport site benefit from business rates discounts, super-fast broadband and lower levels of planning red tape.
Looking ahead to new business growth at Newquay, Mr Southall said: "It's early days yet and we need to go out to the market and let them know we're here."
He added that while its enterprise location was an "attractive" proposition, Patriot had primarily been attracted to BIH on the strength of its existing business and potential for growth, particularly within the commercial aviation field.
He said: "The acquisition of BIH provides Patriot with substantial experience and expertise in offshore helicopter operations and in providing support to the defence and military sectors.
"These capabilities extend and enhance the group's existing in-house engineering and training services, and will enable us to compete even more effectively for opportunities in the expanding UK and international aviation markets."