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  1. Updates on Thursday 18 December 2014
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates from 08:00 Friday

Live Reporting

By Alex Homer

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good evening

BBC Local Live will be back from 08:00 on Friday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather for Birmingham and the Black Country.

Tonight's forecast

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today Weather

Cloudy with

rain continuing, mainly affecting western parts. However, this clearing southeastwards after midnight, allowing clearer, colder conditions to spread in from the north, reaching across the region by dawn.

Some blustery showers possible to the north. Remaining windy. Lows of 5C (41F).

Coming up on Midlands Today

Mary Rhodes

Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

Drivers have been queuing to fill up at the pumps, with some petrol prices in this region among the lowest in the country.

The price hit 140p a litre in September 2012. Today one garage in Birmingham was selling at 109p.

Petrol station

Joanne Writtle reports for us tonight from a petrol station in Birmingham. Join us for

Midlands Today on BBC One at 18:30.

Villa's injury crisis

BBC Sport

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says his squad is "down to the bare bones" ahead of four games in the space of 12 days.

Getty Images

Tom Cleverley, Kieran Richardson and Alan Hutton are suspended for Saturday's visit of Manchester United.

Joe Cole, Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker and Philippe Senderos are all also out through injury.

M6 breakdown

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

One lane is closed and there is slow traffic on the M6 northbound between J6 at the A38 Aston Expressway and J7 for Great Barr because of a broken down vehicle.

Travel time is 20 minutes on the carriageway and tailbacks go to J5,

warns BBC Travel.

Have you seen this man?

A 55-year-old man who went missing in Birmingham could be in the Derbyshire or Cumbria area,

police say.

Missing Steven Overton
Police handout

Steven Overton went missing last week and was last seen in Harborne by his mum.

The last known sighting of the 55-year-old gardener was driving his brown Vauxhall Astra 51 plate on the M5 southbound near to junction 4a.

Man drugged and strangled ex

A Sutton Coldfield man, who

police said drugged and strangled his former partner of 22 years because he could not accept she ended it with him, has this afternoon been found guilty of her murder.

Andrew Leigh
West Midlands Police

Andrew Leigh , aged 43, a telecommunications engineer from Kennedy Close,

was found guilty of murdering his wife of seven years, Luan Leigh, at their former marital home in Woodlands Farm Road, Pype Hayes on the evening of 28 June.

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

A Birmingham man who drugged and strangled his estranged wife because she wouldn't take him back has been found guilty of her murder.

More on this in

our 17:00 bulletin.

West Midlands councils braced for funding cuts

Patrick Burns

Political editor, Midlands

Next year's £117m savings proposed by Birmingham City Council mean 1,100 more job losses.

View of Library of Birmingham from the amphitheatre

For more analysis over what the funding cuts mean for our region,

read my blog.

Charity funding cut

Robin Chrystal

Political reporter, BBC News

The government has stopped funding a Birmingham-based charity because it says it has extremist links.

Islamic Help was being backed under the Faith Minorities in Action Project - aimed at encouraging interfaith work.

But the Home Secretary Theresa May says that will end after the group invited a person with extremist views to speak at one of their events.

BreakingBreaking News

Andrew Leigh has been found guilty of strangling his wife in Pype Hayes earlier this year,

says West Midlands Police.

More to follow.

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

The jury in the trial of two people accused of murdering their son in Birmingham has retired to consider its verdict.

That's our top local story at 16:00.

Listen in for more.

Levi-Blu: 'Lies' told by accused

Tom Richardson

BBC News Online

The judge has told jurors in the

Levi-Blu Cassin murder trial they will have to give careful consideration to "lies" told by the defendants.

Both Mark Piper and Danielle Cassin, Mr Justice Goss said, admit having lied "or certainly not revealing the truth in relation to this case" at various times. Mr Piper admits lying to cover up Ms Cassin's drug use, the judge said, while she admits lying "out of fear of her co-defendant".

Wolves team news

BBC WM Sport

Wolves head coach Kenny Jackett says Nouha Dicko (pictured) has a chance of making the bench for Brighton - if not, he's expected to be back for Boxing Day.

Nouha Dicko

Jackett adds that Ethan Ebanks-Landell is back fit for Saturday but Scott Golbourne remains sidelined with a foot injury.

Levi-Blu: Jury sent out

Tom Richardson

BBC News Online

The jury in the trial of Danielle Cassin and Mark Piper,

accused of murdering their son Levi-Blu Cassin, has just retired to begin deliberations at Birmingham Crown Court.

Before sending the jury out to consider their verdict, Mr Justice Goss recounted both defendants' accounts of Levi's last 24 hours alive.

He told jurors "at least one of them is not telling the truth," he said. "Depending on your findings, both of them may not be telling the truth. This is all for you to resolve."

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

The shadow communities secretary, Hilary Benn, says reductions in government funding to councils will have a severe impact on services.

Hear more in

our 15:00 bulletin.

Fathers 4 Justice action

Phil Mackie

News Correspondent

A Fathers 4 Justice protest is taking place outside the Library of Birmingham with Santa padlocked to the "

Real Birmingham Family" statue.

The protest

Free cycling scheme launches

David Lumb

BBC News, West Midlands

Applications are being accepted for Birmingham residents who want a

free bike as part of a £24m scheme to encourage cycling.

Birmingham City Council has bought 5,000 Raleigh bikes under the Big Birmingham Bikes scheme.

Cyclists in Colombian capital Bogota

Anyone who wants to apply for a free bike under the latest initiative should visit

this website.

Levi-Blu: Accused of violence before

Tom Richardson

BBC News Online

Jurors in the Levi-Blu Cassin murder trial have been told by the judge they must decide whether witnesses who said Mark Piper, Levi's father,

was violent towards his other son.

A witness told the trial Mr Piper had punched the boy in the stomach during a row over a games console. However, judge Mr Justice Goss reminded jurors the woman had omitted this in her original statement to police, and only mentioned it when giving evidence later.

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

At 14:00 the deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward tells us latest government cuts are not fair on Birmingham.

Join us

on BBC WM shortly.

Roadworks before Paradise

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

A warning is being issued about significant travel disruption in Birmingham city centre from 5 January

to allow the so-called Paradise development to become reality.

A map showing the diversions
Core Marketing

Work will start immediately after the festive break, with bus diversions for routes 82,83,87 and 89 in place from 5 January and road closures and lane restrictions enforced from 10 January.

The first phase of the project will involve demolition to clear the site for the new development, together with work on new road layouts. More information about the project and the roadworks is


Tree branch strikes bus

A large tree branch has struck a bus on Hagley Road in Edgbaston. It has closed the road and there is congestion in both directions between Norfolk Cross and the Westfield Road junction.

National Express bus services are being diverted via Portland Road, City Road and Sandon Road,

warns BBC Travel.

Council clean-up call

Dudley News

A Dudley woman is demanding a council Christmas clean up after finding

a dead rat - in her granddaughter's cot.

Ashes test 'payback' for Edgbaston


The chief executive of Warwickshire Cricket Club, Colin Povey, said Edgbaston's award of an Ashes test in 2019, provides the chance "to put the club on the global map and capture a global audience."

Getty Images

The ground is also set to be one of the three host venues for the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 and Mr Povey said that would "pay back on

the investment [the club] had made over the past couple of years."

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

The Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins has announced Central government grants to councils will be reduced by 1.8% in 2015 and 16.

Hear more in

our 13:00 bulletin.

Levi-Blu: What jurors must consider

Tom Richardson

BBC News Online

The judge in the

Levi-Blu Cassin murder case has told jurors one of the issues they must decide when reaching a verdict is whether the youngster's mother had a history of hurting him.

Two witnesses told the trial they saw Danielle Cassin throw her son onto a sofa. Mr Justice Goss told the jury she had admitted doing this when Levi was about 13 months old, but had said it was "only in play" and he had not hit his head, as witnesses had claimed.

Hagley Road disruption

Thanks to Tom Packer, who captured this picture of the tree branch falling onto a bus on Hagley Road.

Tree falls onto a bus

'No passengers injured'


West Midlands Police says it was called at around 11:15 to a report of a tree branch falling onto a bus on the Hagley Road, near the Eaton Hotel.

No passengers appear to have been injured and officers are at the scene directing traffic.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Councils in the West Midlands are waiting to find out how much they're going to be allowed to spend in the coming year.

The Government is expected to ask local authorities to freeze Council tax - and funding could reduce by around 12%.

We will hear from news correspondent Phil Mackie in

our 12:00 bulletin.

Fire near St Andrews 'was arson'

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News

A fire at a workshop opposite Birmingham City Football Club

was started deliberately, the fire service said.

A van, pallets and tyres in the workshop were damaged, but nobody was injured.

Levi-Blu: Judge summing up

Tom Richardson

BBC News Online

I'm on my way to Birmingham Crown Court, where a judge has begun summing up in

the case of a mother and father accused of murdering their 22-month-old son.

Danielle Cassin and Mark Piper deny murdering Levi-Blu Cassin, who died from "horrific" internal injuries last February in Chelmsley Wood.

Today, Mr Justice Goss will explain the key issues in the case to jurors, who will then retire to consider their verdict.

Both Ms Cassin, 27, of Frensham Close, Chelmsley Wood, and Mr Piper, of no fixed abode, also deny causing or allowing the death of Levi and causing him suffering.

Ambulance chief carries on second job

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

West Midlands Ambulance Service's Chief Executive, Dr Anthony Marsh, will carry on heading
East of England Ambulance Service on an interim basis- until it has recruited a full-time replacement, despite criticism of his salary package and expenses.

Dr Anthony Marsh

The BBC also

uncovered in August that Dr Marsh claimed up to £30,000 in hotel and transport expenses over the previous 16 months. The ambulance services previously said this combined role actually saved £130,000 in public money.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

The Chief Executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service is to carry on doing two jobs.

More on this on


Father 'may not be killer'

Caroline Gall

BBC News

A father was not responsible for killing his one-year-old son because he

was not with him when the fatal blow was inflicted, a court has heard.

Mark Piper, 31, is jointly accused of murdering Levi-Blu Cassin along with his mother Danielle Cassin.

Levi Blu Cassin
West Midlands Police

Levi, from Birmingham, died from "horrific" internal injuries in 2013.

Paul Lewis, defending Mr Piper, said some medical evidence suggested the injury could have been caused when he was not at the home the couple shared.

Fine for refusing blind woman

David Lumb

BBC News, West Midlands

A taxi driver has been

fined £2,100 for refusing to carry a blind woman and her guide dog.

Shahzad Ahmad, from Hodge Hill in Birmingham, claimed his six-seater people carrier was not big enough to take Sue Smith's Labrador, Sonny (pictured together here).

Sue Smith and Sonny

It is an offence for a taxi driver not to take a blind person and their guide dog unless they have a medical exemption certificate for an allergy.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Tesco is being accused of poor corporate citizenship over fears that plans for a new store in Wolverhampton could be cancelled.

More on this and other stories in

our 10:00 bulletin.