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  1. Updates from Wednesday 18 February 2015
  2. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Thursday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening

Local Live has finished for the day. We'll be back with more news, sport, travel and weather updates from 08:00 on Thursday.

Tonight's forecast

It should be dry this evening but generally cloudy and breezy. After midnight, a band of rain and brisk winds will move slowly southeastwards, reaching most places by dawn.

Some heavy rain is likely in places.

Get your local forecast.

More in work in West Mids than ever before

Birmingham Post

Unemployment has continued to plummet in the West Midlands with

32,000 fewer people out of work in the past quarter.

There are almost more people in work than ever before in the region, after a rise of 53,000 in the past 12 months.

New sports centre

A new sports centre in Wolverhampton is on track to open to the public for the first time this autumn, Wolverhampton City Council says.

Nine football pitches are being created at the £3m development in Barnhurst Lane, Pendeford, and there will also be a multi-use perimeter track.

Police investigate medal theft

West Midlands Police has confirmed it is investigating the

theft of a Commonwealth Games gold medal from the Sutton Coldfield home of athlete Kelly Sotherton.

Kelly Sotherton
Getty Images

Money and a laptop were also stolen from the property.

Footage shows child hit by lorry

Midlands Today

Graphic footage has emerged showing the moment a

youngster was hit by a lorry in Penkridge, Staffordshire.

Child hit by lorry

Staffordshire Police says it received a call at 13:00 on 26 October, reporting a collision involving an HGV and a pedestrian on the A449 at Dunston.

A 14-year-old boy was taken to New Cross Hospital with minor injuries to his hand and knee.

Arson-hit school to reopen

Arson-hit St Alban's Church of England School, in Wolverhampton, will reopen to pupils after half term,

the city council says.

Fire at St Alban's School
Nathan Cleary


blaze on 5 February caused extensive damage to the main hall and adjacent office accommodation and needed dozens of firefighters to bring it under control.

Pupils have been having lessons at other schools in the area.

Delays building on M6 south

The Highways Agency

tweets: Long delays building #M6 s/b btwn J11A and J8 #WestMidlands due to long term planned #roadworks at J9. Allow more time for your journey.

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

Coming up in the

BBC WM bulletin at 17:00: The West Midlands has had the biggest drop in unemployment in the country.

And three West Midlands men who ran an industrial-scale cannabis growing operation in Birmingham and around the country have been jailed.

Leaking water in railway tunnel

Network Rail says water from the leaking canal in Birmingham is

entering a disused railway tunnel in the area.

A spokesman said: "It is not impacting on trains and we are in regular contact with the Canal and River Trust."

World's strongest man

Laura May McMullan

Reporter, BBC Midlands Today

I've been speaking to Britain's strongest man Eddie Hall today.

Laura May McMullan with Eddie Hall

The 27-year-old from Staffordshire won the title for the second time this weekend.

You can see my interview on

BBC Midlands Today at 18:30.

Canal to be drained

Hayley Harper, project engineer for the

Canal & River Trust, said the leaks in the Birmingham canal were reported over the weekend.

Canal in Birmingham

"The leaks are thought to be going into a railway arch, near the aqueduct in Holliday Street," she said.

A fish rescue is likely to take place on Thursday morning and a 200m section of the canal will be affected.

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

In the

BBC WM bulletin at 16:00: A man's been charged with the murder of a 21-year-old Italian student in Birmingham.

Fit to be charged

BBC News Online has more on a man being

charged with murdering an Italian student found fatally stabbed in Birmingham.

lberto Casiroli, 20, was originally detained under the Mental Health Act, but he has since been declared fit to be charged with murdering 21-year-old Francesco Leccese.

Duchess of Cambridge leaves

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News

The Duchess of Cambridge has left Action for Children's Cape Hill centre.

Duchess of Cambridge

She was given a couple of bouquets of flowers and waved to the crowds before getting in a car and being driven away.

'Skills shortage'

The Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce says the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance in the Birmingham area rose by 1,605 to 38,988 from December to January.

This is despite the fact figures released by the Office for National Statistics show 169,000 people were without work in the West Midlands between October and December, compared with 200,000 three months previously.

Chamber president Greg Lowson says: "The rise in Birmingham can again be laid at the door of the skills shortage."

Athlete's gold medal stolen

BBC News Online has more on the

theft of a Commonwealth gold medal from heptathlete Kelly Sotherton.

Kelly Sotherton

West Midlands Police confirmed a laptop and money were also stolen overnight from an address in Sutton Coldfield.

Sotherton won heptathlon gold in 2006 but retired due to injury just before the London Olympics in 2012.

Royal visit reaction

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News

Helen Wood, from Bearwood, saw the duchess with her children Keela, Nuala and Fiona.

Helen Wood with her children (L-R) Keela, Nuala and Fiona.

She said: "It was absolutely amazing we could not believe she was coming to Smethwick, so close to us. It's really put Smethwick on the map.

"She looked beautiful… I could not believe she was seven months' pregnant. She looked absolutely immaculate."

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

Coming up at 15:00, a Quinton man's been jailed for 17 years for a series of historical sex offences against young victims.

Canal to be drained

Sarah Portlock

BBC News

I've just taken a call from the Canal Trust. Apparently the canal at the back of the Mailbox has developed a leak and is going to have to be drained.

Water levels from the Cube and along Gas Street will start dropping until it's low enough for fish to be rescued, probably either this evening or tomorrow.

Engineers will then start looking for the leak. Depending on how bad it is, the canal could be drained for a few weeks.

Duchess reaction

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News

Saj Ashraf, 28, from Oldbury, was among those who saw the duchess arrive.

Saj Ashraf

He said: "I am extremely excited, it's a great thing for us to witness here in Smethwick."

Charity helps vulnerable children

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News

The Duchess of Cambridge is visiting

Action for Children's Cape Hill centre.

It is a national charity that supports and speaks out for the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people and Catherine is hearing about its work.

News on the hour

Alice Rosenthal

Journalist, BBC WM

At 14:00 on

BBC WM: Unemployment in the region is down to 6%. Plus, The Duchess of Cambridge is in the Black Country this lunchtime.

Duchess arrives at children's centre

Andrew Dawkins

BBC News

The Duchess of Cambridge has just arrived at a children's centre in Smethwick.

Duchess of Cambridge arrives in Smethwick

There are about 60 people are on the pavements outside and perhaps 20 to 30 standing behind the railings.

Train attack appeal

West Midlands Police has released a picture of two men officers want to speak to after a man was attacked at Aston railway station.

CCTV of two men police want to speak to
West Midlands Police

The victim, who had been waiting for his train home, was chased before being punched several times at about 09:30 on 7 December - the day of Aston Villa's fixture with Leicester City.

No-one injured

David Lumb

BBC News, West Midlands

Earlier my colleague Jerry Chester spoke to West Midlands Ambulance Service about the ambulance fire in Wombourne.

It told him it had received a report of a fire involving a "transit ambulance" in Stourbridge Road, Lloyds Hill, at 08:42.

Two fire appliances attended and no-one was injured or trapped.

Ambulance fire

An ambulance fire caused disruption earlier on the A449 Stourbridge Road in Wombourne.

West Midlands Fire Service said the

A449 had been blocked.

News on the hour


In the

13:00 news bulletin: More than 30,000 people in the West Midlands managed to find work between October and December last year.

Olympian burgled

Olympic bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton, from Sutton Coldfield, has

tweeted: Been thing stolen was my commonwealth gold medal from Melbourne 2006... PLEASE RT HELP ME FIND IT

Kelly Sotherton
Getty Images

Coming up on TV

Elizabeth Glinka


Coming up on

Midlands Today at 13:30, we'll have the latest on a drop in unemployment in the region.

And see the new hi-tech gadget designed here to try to stop criminals from stealing expensive farming kit.

Father 'prime mover' in cannabis ring

Express and Star

A father from Walsall was a

'prime mover' in a multi-million pound drugs ring that saw industrial buildings rented out to produce cannabis.

New £124m mental health service

A consortium led by Birmingham Children's Hospital has been given a £124m contract to provide mental health services for young people in the city, reports

BBC News Online.

Birmingham Children's Hospital
Birmingham Children's Hospital

A 24-hour helpline will be set up and patients will be given a named individual responsible for their care.

News on the hour

Rob Mayor

Journalist, BBC WM

In the news at 12:00: A gardener is charged with the murder of Italian student Francesco Leccese.

And latest figures reveal unemployment in the West Midlands is down.

Gardener charged with murder

A gardener has been charged with the murder of an Italian student in Birmingham,

West Midlands Police says.

Victim Francesco Leccese, a croupier, was found dead at his house in Daley Close on 18 November 2014. A post-mortem examination revealed he died as a result of stab injuries.

Italian national Alberto Casiroli, 20, also from Daley Close, Ladywood, is due to appear before magistrates later.

Hospital to provide mental health services

Jerry Chester

BBC News

I've just been talking to Birmingham Children's Hospital about £124m they've won to provide mental health services in the city for the next five years.

They tell me there will be an extra 21 beds available to treat patients, though they plan to support young people at home "wherever possible".

Man jailed for sex offences

A 63-year-old man from Birmingham has been

jailed for 17 years for sex offences against two victims, West Midlands Police says.

John Franks
John Franks

The force said John Franks, of Blandford Road, Quinton, committed the offences between 1990 and 2009.

He was jailed on Monday after being convicted of six counts of indecent assault, four of sexual assault against a child under 13 and four counts of rape against two victims, who were aged between 11 and 18 at the time.

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