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  1. Updates for Thursday 22 January 2015
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates return at 08:00 Friday

Live Reporting

By Caroline Gall

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Good evening

Our updates have now finished for today. The service will start again at 08:00 on Friday.

Dry but cold night

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today Weather


dry through the night with clear spells developing.

Weather chart

A sharp frost and patchy fog is expected across most parts with lows of -1C (30F).

Video: Kraftwerk guest no-show

The world's first academic conference on the German group Kraftwerk is currently taking place at Aston University.

Kraftwerk conference

But which crucial speaker

was a no-show at the event?

Birmingham City's missing funds

Dan Pallett

Sports presenter, BBC Midlands Today

The company that owns Birmingham City says more money may have gone missing than first first thought.

Birmingham City - St Andrews

On Monday, Birmingham International Holdings said it believed a former employee may have "misappropriated" £2.5m.

Now, the owners say they think the amount is about £3.16m.

A 33-year-old man was arrested and bailed earlier this week in connection with the missing funds.

Crash causes delays

BBC Travel

A two-car accident has led to delays

on the A457 Dudley Road in Rotton Park, Birmingham.

Sako: Wolves to wait on winger's future

BBC Sport

Wolves head coach Kenny Jackett says

Bakary Sako's future will not be decided until the end of the season, when his present contract expires.

Bakary Sako
Getty Images

The 26-year-old winger, currently away on African Cup of Nations duty with Mali, signed a three-year deal when he arrived from St Etienne in August 2012.

News on the Hour

Jo Tidman

Journalist, BBC WM

A conference is being held in Birmingham for patients who want cannabis legalised on medical grounds.

It has been organised by the United Patients Alliance which was set up to represent people who use the drug to relieve pain.

Hear more at 17:00.

Video: Manhole explosion

Caroline Gall

BBC News

West Midlands Fire Service says it understands a mains box near to where a manhole exploded was smoking prior to

an explosion in a manhole in Birmingham.

The manhole exploding
Divine Collections

A child and her family had just walked over the manhole when two covers flew into the air, narrowly avoiding injuring them at around 12:20.

National Grid is investigating and says such explosions did happen, but were "not common".

Watch the video here.

Mears axed as speaker

Survival expert Ray Mears has been axed as a speaker at a Birmingham caravan show after calling motor homes "hideous" and "ghastly" on television.

Ray Mears

The star was due to make at least £10,000 as a speaker at the Caravan, Camping and Motor home Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham next month.

But he angered organisers by choosing caravans as one of his pet hates on TV show Room 101.

Investigation into explosion

Utility companies are now investigating the cause of the

manhole explosion in Acocks Green, Birmingham.

Manhole explosion: Deep hole in road

West Midlands Fire Service has revealed more details about a manhole explosion in Birmingham earlier.

Two manhole covers became dislodged in Warwick Road, Acocks Green, just after a child and her family walked over them.

The explosion left a one metre deep hole in the road,

the fire service tweeted.

News on the hour

Jo Tidman

Journalist, BBC WM

A conference is being held in Birmingham for patients who want cannabis legalised on medical grounds.

It has been organised by the United Patients Alliance which was set up to represent people who use the drug to relieve pain.

Professor David Nutt, chairman of drug science, says patients should not have the added stress of knowing they are doing something illegal.

Hear more at 16:00.

M6 disruption

BBC Travel

A broken down car on the M6 northbound carriageway is causing congestion and delays for drivers between junction 6 at the A38 Aston Expressway and junction 7 at Great Barr.

Ikon celebrates 50th year

David Lumb

BBC News, West Midlands

I've been hearing what the Ikon Gallery has got planned for 2015.

Ikon Gallery in the 1980s
(C) British Broadcasting Corporation

The venue in Brindley Place is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary.

It says its programme will continue to showcase the best in British and international contemporary art.

Manhole explosion

A child has narrowly avoided being crushed by a manhole cover when it exploded on a Birmingham road.

West Midlands Fire Service

tweeted the underground explosion happened on Warwick Road in Acocks Green.

The cover flew up into the air just after the child had walked over it with two adults.

Woman arrested over holiday scam

Express and Star

A Walsall woman has been

arrested in connection with a series of online scams where people handed over cash for summer holidays - only to discover they had lost their money.

News on the hour

Jo Tidman

Journalist, BBC WM

Official figures show levels of violence and sexual offences recorded by the police in the West Midlands have increased substantially. Listen for more details in

the news at 15:00

Factory fire

Police and firefighters say they have been at a fire caused by a cannabis factory in Smethwick.

The fire
West Midlands Police

The fire started just after midnight in the basement of a house in Gladys Road which was used for cultivation, say West Midlands Police.

No-one was injured, the force tweeted.

'No wholesale changes' for Blues

BBC WM Sport

Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett says he won't be making big changes to the team on Saturday when they meet local rivals West Brom in the FA Cup.

Club press conference

The clubs will meet at St Andrew's in the fourth round.

Rowett, who has been speaking to the press prior to the game, says Lloyd Dyer is an "excellent addition" and the club "had to compete with a number of good sized Championship clubs" for him.

Library cuts criticised

Birmingham Mail

Birmingham's great industrial and scientific pioneers would be 'turning in their graves' if they saw the Library of Birmingham facing drastic cuts just 18 months after opening to global acclaim, says the city's prestigious Lunar Society.

View of Library of Birmingham from the amphitheatre

Group chairman Waheed Saleem has called on Birmingham City Council to abandon plans to cut £1.5 million from the Library's budget, cut 100 jobs and slash the opening hours by almost half.

News on the hour

Jo Tidman

Journalist, BBC WM

Levels of violence and sexual offences recorded by the police in the West Midlands have increased substantially, figures show.

Nine per cent more crimes of violence and 17% more sexual offences in the year to the end of September were recorded than in the previous 12 months.

More in the

news at 14:00

Axe set to fall on Halesowen speech therapy unit

Halesowen News

A specialist education unit for children with speech problems in Halesowen

is set to be axed.

Under controversial plans the Language Unit at St Margaret's of Hasbury Primary School will be closed down and pupils either relocated to another unit in Dudley or placed in mainstream schools.

Birmingham City v West Brom

BBC WM Sport

BBC WM Sport is at West Bromwich Albion's press conference ahead of their FA Cup clash with Birmingham City this weekend.

The press conference

Tony Pulis is about to address the waiting media before the two teams meet in the fourth round tie at St Andrew's on Saturday.

Baggies fans 'blocked' Sir Jack tribute

Express and Star

A West Bromwich Albion banner in honour of Sir Jack Hayward never appeared at a match

due to pressure from some die-hard Baggies fans, it was claimed today.

Sir Jack Hayward celebrates promotion to the Premiership, Millennium Stadium, 2003

Kitman Pat Frost posted the image on Twitter on Saturday - saying he was taking it to the Everton match on Monday night.

However, the banner never made the trip to Merseyside and it was said today that criticism from some Albion fans led to the decision.

News on the hour

Jo Tidman

Journalist, BBC WM

Health bosses in Birmingham say creating plain cigarette packaging will help reduce the number of smokers. More details

in the news at 13:00

PC cleared over fatal crash

A police officer has been cleared of causing the death of a student hit by his unmarked police car.

Xuan Wei Zhang, 24, from China, was struck outside Newtown shopping centre in Birmingham in April 2012.

PC Vaughan Lowe, 43, had been responding to reports of a stolen vehicle at the time of the crash. He could still be disciplined, according to the police watchdog, because he faces accusations of gross misconduct over the standard of his driving.

Villa fined for player spat

Aston Villa have been fined £60,000 and warned about their future conduct after on-the-pitch clashes with Leicester players earlier this month.

Leicester and Aston Villa players clash during the game between their sides
Getty Images

The Birmingham club admitted failing to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion or refrained from proactive behaviour during the game which Leicester won 1-0.

Leicester were fined £20,000 by the Football Association last week.

York make Walsall signing

BBC Sport

York City have signed Walsall left-back Malvind Benning on an initial one-month loan deal.

The 21-year-old has played 15 times in League One this season, but his last start came in October's loss to Crewe.

In total Benning has scored three goals in 48 appearances for the Saddlers.

Council backs packaging plans

Department of Health images of how standardised packaging may look
Department of Health

Birmingham City Council says it welcomes the government's plans for plain packaging on cigarettes.

The authority said about a third of 16-24 year olds in Birmingham are actively smoking and shockingly, nine Birmingham children take up smoking every single day.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Health bosses in Birmingham say they support the government's decision to press ahead with plans for plain cigarette packaging.

If approved by Parliament by May, a new law could be in force by 2016.

Birmingham Director of Public Health, Dr Adrian Phillips, said about one in five adults smoke in Birmingham, equating to around 185,000 smokers.

Hear more at 12:00

Rise in sexual offences

The latest crime figures are out for England and Wales and although the total number recorded in the West Midlands is the same as last year at 320,000, there's been a rise in sexual offences.

There were almost 7,000 recorded in West Midlands region, that's up 17% on the year before, and equates to about 1,200 more sexual offences.

Nationally, the official crime survey found there were seven million incidents in the year to September 2014 - down 11% on the previous 12 months.

Via Twitter

West Midlands Police tweeted to say a thief who targeted elderly women before Christmas has been jailed for 18 months.

He was convicted of seven offences in total.

More time to work on Dudley Hippodrome

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News

An entertainment company has been given two more months to

work on its business plan for the 1930s Dudley Hippodrome site.

Dudley Hippodrome

A 35,000-strong petition was gathered against Dudley council's proposal to demolish the building, as part of a £10m revamp of the area.

The authority said talks with ROK Group, which wants to run the venue, were continuing but said "commercial factors would have to stack up".

Ikon calls for new gallery

David Lumb

BBC News, West Midlands

Ikon Gallery in the 1980s
(C) British Broadcasting Corporation

A new multi-million pound modern art gallery "the size of the Tate Modern in London" could still be built in Birmingham, the BBC has been told.

Plans by the Ikon Gallery, in Brindley Place, to build a new museum near the old station in Curzon Street were scrapped after proposals to open an HS2 station there.

But Jonathan Watkins, director of the Ikon, said a new gallery was essential if Birmingham was to keep pace with other big cities.

M6 delays

Drivers are being warned about delays on the M6 after two incidents this morning.

Northbound lanes were closed at junction 10 for Wolverhampton and Walsall after reports of a pedestrian on the motorway. Police said a man in his 20s was detained.

One lane is now closed southbound at the same junction after a collision between a lorry and a car.

BBC Travel has all the details.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Parents are calling for a fresh investigation over claims children were locked in a cupboard for misbehaving at a Wolverhampton school.

It's alleged to have happened at Woodthorne Primary in Tettenhall in 2012 - but both Wolverhampton City council and West Midlands Police found no evidence of wrong doing.

Hear more at 11:00

Armed officers make arrest

Birmingham Mail

The paper shows the dramatic moment armed police arrested a man in Bordesley Green on Wednesday afternoon in front of astonished onlookers.

Pictures taken by a retired cop show plainclothes police wrestling a man to the ground and one officer then points a gun at the suspect.

Caught in the act

The West Midlands-based Central Motorway policing group tweeted this image of a van whose driver was spotted on his mobile while driving alongside a truck warning motorists not to use their phones at the wheel.

Still from dashboard camera


wrote: "Van driver using his phone on motorway... If only he'd seen the irony of the HGV next to him! Driver reported #irony"

Death crash PC's suspension reviewed

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

A suspension given to a policeman whose unmarked car hit and killed a pedestrian while responding to an emergency call will be reviewed after he was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving.

PC Vaughn Lowe had his lights and sirens on when 24-year-old Xan Wei Zhang stepped in to Newtown Row in Birmingham in April 2012.

The 43-year-old officer was suspended before the trial back in November 2013.

Demarai Gray: unaffected by speculation

BBC Sport

Birmingham City's exciting teenage winger Demarai Gray has made headlines with his form this season but

he is unconcerned by transfer speculation linking him with bigger clubs.

Demarai Gray
Birmingham City

Championship leaders Bournemouth have reportedly had two bids turned down for the 18-year-old, who has scored four times in 22 appearances this season, while a number of Premier League clubs have also been linked.