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  1. Updates for Thursday 12 February 2015
  2. More from 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening

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

Wednesbury Leisure Centre

via Facebook

Sandwell Council posts: Who's looking forward to the new Wednesbury Leisure Centre opening?

Wednesbury Leisure Centre
Sandwell council

Work is well under way. Here's a sneak peek of what it's looking like. The pools have been dug and the steel structure is now up.

The new centre will have a 25-metre pool, a learner pool, two dance studios, a sports hall and a big fitness suite. It opens in the late autumn.

BBC One at 18:30

Mary Rhodes

Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

Coming up on Midlands Today at 18:30 I'll be talking to the Chancellor George Osborne about the Conservative's plans for economic growth in the region.

Just how much of the £5.2bn worth of investment announced today is new money?

And it's a varied programme as always - what next for Aston Villa after outgoing manager Paul Lambert called it the toughest challenge of his career?

Kiernan signs for Blues

BBC Sport

Birmingham have signed Wigan Athletic defender Rob Kiernan on loan for the rest of the Championship season.

Rob Kiernan
Getty Images

Kiernan, 24, helps fill the void left by an ankle injury to Michael Morrison.

It is the second time he will have played for Blues boss Gary Rowett, who first took him on loan to Burton Albion for a month in the autumn of 2012.

The former Republic of Ireland Under-21 captain will be eligible up to and including the final league match of the season on 2 May at Bolton.

Playground sculpture listed

A 1960s children's playground sculpture in Birmingham

is listed by the Government.

The sculpture
Paul Edwards

The fish-shaped sculpture, in Curtis Gardens, is said to be the last surviving work in situ designed by the sculptor John Bridgeman.

News on the hour

Rob Mayor

Journalist, BBC WM

In the news at 17:00 on

BBC WM: A Birmingham school where teaching was so poor six years ago that pupils were leaving - has now been rated as outstanding.

In 2009 Mere Green Primary was given a year to begin turning things around, or face being placed in special measures.

Man exposes himself to children

Police are carrying out investigations after they

received reports of a man exposing himself to schoolchildren this morning.

West Midlands Police was alerted to two incidents involving teenagers from Sutton Girls school, and pupils from St Nicholas' RC school between 08:15 and 09:15.

The man is described as white, in his 40s, with grey hair, and was seen wearing dark trousers, a dark coat and was carrying a dark rucksack.

Pressure mounts on Oldbury councillor

Halesowen News

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP has

called for the deputy leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Mahboob Hussein to step down while the investigation into corruption allegations is ongoing.

Burglar absconds from prison

A burglar who absconded from a Derbyshire open prison could be in Birmingham,

police say.

Daniel Phillip Shrimpton
derbyshire police

Daniel Phillip Shrimpton, 30, absconded from HMP Sudbury on Wednesday.

Derbyshire Police say he has links to the Erdington and Kingstanding areas of Birmingham.

Have Aston Villa left it too late?

Nick Clitheroe

Sports editor, BBC Midlands Today

In a time when managers are cut adrift too quickly Villa's loyalty is to be admired but, without a change, relegation appeared inevitable.

It still could happen unless the board make the right choice to replace Lambert.

Tim Sherwood and Gareth Southgate
Getty Images

Should it be a short-term fix to ensure survival or a long-term plan to rebuild? Villa's recent track record of appointments isn't promising, although, in fairness, Lambert seemed a good choice at the time.

Former Spurs boss Tim Sherwood (pictured left) is the early favourite but then again he always is and never gets the job. Former Villa captain Gareth Southgate is a more interesting suggestion. He's only just signed a new contract with England under-21s but may fancy the chance to rescue a club he represented so proudly as a player.

Whatever they decide Villa's board really do have to get it right this time.

News on the hour

Rob Mayor

Journalist, BBC WM

In the news at 16:00 on

BBC WM: A documentary maker from the Black Country is travelling to America to mark 50 years since the death of Malcolm X.

In the bulletin we'll hear from Steve Page who wrote, produced and directed the film.

Midlands growth agenda

Jobs, skills, transport, science, and quality of life are at the heart of the six-point long term economic plan to make the Midlands the Engine for Growth in the UK, announced today by the Prime Minister and Chancellor.

Read the full report on the government website.

Solihull region's 'crown jewels'

Patrick Burns

Political editor, Midlands

Solihull, home of the region's economic "crown jewels" including JLR, the NEC, airport and proposed HS2 (pictured) is clearly nervous about combining with their neighbours.

NEC, Solihull, JLR, HS2 and airport in Solihull

Today's visit to Solihull by the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable will be one of many campaigning events in which the party's heavy-hitters will emphasise their own credentials, as distinct from the Coalition's, not just on the economy but also on the environment: the Greens are now the official opposition on Solihull council.

News on the hour

Rob Mayor

Journalist, BBC WM

Coming up in the news bulletin on

BBC WM at 15:00: We'll hear from Chancellor George Osborne who is promising to electrify some of the major rail links in our area, as well as widen sections of the M1 and M5.

Blues loan signing

BBC WM Sport

tweets: Birmingham City sign Wigan defender Rob Kiernan on loan until 2 May. #bcfc @bbcwm

For the latest sports news for Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Brom, Wolves and Walsall

follow @SportBBCWM on Twitter,

Mistaken road for a river

David Lumb

BBC News, West Midlands

A Central Motorway Police Group spokesman said it was believed the swans had mistaken the motorway for a river.

Tailbacks stretched along the M6 Toll for "less than half a mile", he said.

The swans were recovered and the road reopened by 12:00. The birds were taken away by the RSPCA.

News on the hour

Rob Mayor

Journalist, BBC WM

Coming up at 14:00. The chancellor says new investment will create 300,000 news jobs in the Midlands, but has much of this funding been announced before?

Have your say

Tweet: @BBCWM

Stephanie Barnard

BBC Local Live

As Paul Lambert leaves Aston Villa saying the fans are the

most passionate he's ever encountered, is he right?

Aston Villa fans
Getty Images

tweet or get in touch via

Stories we're working on

Andy Knowles

BBC Midlands Today

Another busy day in the Midlands Today newsroom digesting the implications of the Chancellor's announcement of a £5.2bn investment in road and rail projects in the West Midlands.

Giles Latcham will be reporting on this and we'll have George Osborne live in the studio at 6.30.

We'll also be looking at the early contenders for the Aston Villa managerial vacancy, and Peter Plisner will report on the launch of two taxi apps in Birmingham.

CCTV of city brawl

Birmingham Mail

Birmingham Mono Bar brawl: Police

release images of five men wanted over violence

News on the hour

Rob Mayor

Journalist, BBC WM

Coming up in the news at 13:00: A £7.5m plan to demolish and rebuild Aston fire station in Birmingham has been announced.

Hear more on this story and others in the bulletin on

BBC WM shortly.

Women released on bail

Phil Mackie

News Correspondent

The women arrested on suspicion of Syria-related terror offences in Walsall have been released on police bail.

Two women aged 23 and 33 were

arrested by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit yesterday.

Swans force M6 Toll closure

David Lumb

BBC News, West Midlands

Two swans forced the closure of a motorway in both directions.

Swan rescued by police

The birds were spotted roaming on the M6 Toll by junction T6, near Burntwood, at about 11:30 GMT.

Police had to close the northbound and southbound carriageways while they removed the birds.

Sherwood is favourite

Mike Taylor

BBC WM Sport

It would be naïve to think that merely replacing one man will solve all the club's apparent problems.

Tim Sherwood
Getty Images

No matter how deep those problems though, there will be no shortage of applicants to take on a job which still ought to be one of the most prestigious in the Premier League.

Tim Sherwood (pictured) is presently the bookmakers' favourite for the post (and a number of others) and he would at the very least provide the short-term motivational boost Villa need to get to the summer and regroup.

Mohican burglar caught

Express and Star

A prolific Black Country criminal is back behind bars today after his

distinctive hairdo gave him away on CCTV.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Our top story at 12:00. George Osborne claims investment in the region will create 300,000 jobs by 2020.

Swanning around on the M6

A swan is loose on the M6 toll southbound at T6.

Police on M6 with swan

Police are there now trying to "safely remove it".

'I was in a dark place'

An officer with Staffordshire Police, who

has been posting videos online about his recovery since being blinded while on duty, says they helped aid his recovery.

Jon King

He says he started posting the video blogs because he "was in a dark place after it happened both mentally and physically".

"I knew giving myself 12 months to get out of this dark place and started posting the videos so I could look back."

Jon added: "I wanted to see where I'd come from. I didn't think anyone would be interested but I had about 20,000 hits in the first one which was bananas."

Villa fans 'most passionate'

Paul Lambert thanks players and coaching staff at Aston Villa after it was announced last night that he was to leave the club.

He says Villa fans "are among the most passionate" he's ever encountered.

He says: "I completely understand their frustrations and always shared their view that the football club is too big not to be competing at the top end of the table. I hope that can happen."

'Spread the love in 83 days'

Patrick Burns

Political editor, Midlands

After all his talk of a "Northern Economic Powerhouse" George Osborne (pictured) is clearly trying to spread the love with just 83 days to go until polling.

George Osborne giving speach

His long term economic plan for the Midlands promises 300,000 new jobs over five years with £5.2bn investment in a national transport infrastructure with our region at its heart.

He is also aims to bolster the proposed Birmingham and Black Country "Combined Authority" by offering to devolve new powers over apprenticeships and skills to local enterprise partnerships and councils on condition that they "deliver a combined joint plan".

Villa fans have got what they demanded'

Mike Taylor

BBC WM Sport

Whether the move was made in time to rescue Villa from relegation remains to be seen - they still really ought to have enough playing ability to stay up - but one useful element to the timing is that they don't have a Premier League game for ten days.

Paul Lambert
Getty Images

Saturday's FA Cup fixture against Leicester really is (alas) of lesser importance at the moment.

While the joy, or relief, of Villa supporters at last night's news is understandable to a degree, none should take too much pleasure in his departure - it is the result of a season of failure.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Our top story at 11:00 on

BBC WM: A £5.2bn investment in roads and rail projects across the Midlands has been announced by the Chancellor.

'I put my heart and soul into the job'

Stephanie Barnard

BBC Local Live

Paul Lambert releases a statement after leaving Aston Villa, saying he is "extremely proud to have managed" the club.

He writes: "When I came on board the club's owner, Randy Lerner, warned me that I was embarking on the toughest challenge of my working life and he was not wrong.

"But I have never stepped away from hard work and I put my heart and soul into the job from my first day until my last."

Shot in the eye while on duty

A policeman from Staffordshire says he's about to have prosthetic eye after he was partially blinded when he was shot while on duty.

Jon King who was shot in the eye

Jon King attended a call in Rugeley when he was shot

by an air gun in November last year.

He says: "I've been told I can go back on the front line but my wife won't let me and I don't really blame her. If something happened to my good eye, it would be devastating. I'm just getting used to being blind in one eye".

M6 driver topped 145mph

Birmingham Mail

M6 Toll

speeding driver caught at 145mph, new survey reveals.

Uber comes to Birmingham

A new digital cab company in Birmingham which allows customers to book a taxi on a smart phone app insist they're not unfair competition.

Uber app

Black cab drivers have raised concerns about UBER claiming it charges people well over the odds at peak times.

Lenny Henry statue

A "statue" of Lenny Henry is to be placed in Birmingham as part of this year's Comic Relief fundraising campaign.

Statues for Comic Relief
comic relief

Statues of other comic figures will be based around the country from Thursday, including Alan Partridge in Norwich.

Others include Del Boy in Bristol, Edina and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous in London, Billy Connolly in Glasgow, Dawn French in Milton Keynes and John Bishop in Warrington.

News on the hour

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Our top story in the news at 10:00 on

BBC WM: Tim Sherwood is the bookies favourite to become the new Aston Villa manager.