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  1. Updates on Thursday 7 April 2016
  2. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening from Local Live for Birmingham and the Black Country

That's it for Local Live for Thursday. Join us from 08:00 on Friday for more news, sport, travel and weather updates.

Jonny Gould: 'I hate' Aston Villa's new badge

BBC Radio 5 Live

Aston Villa have released a new club crest for the 2016-17 season in a bid to make it "more effective in the digital age."

The club are currently without a manager, after the sacking of Remy Garde, and sit bottom of the Premier League.

Aston Villa Supporters Trust patron Jonny Gould reacted to the club's new badge on Phil Williams's show on 5Live last night.

Legal highs smuggled into prisons inside letters

Louise Brierley

Reporter, BBC Midlands Today

Scientists say legal highs are being smuggled into prisons in letters to inmates.

Bio-chemists at Sandwell Hospital have analysed correspondence from five jails in the Midlands.

Legal highs smuggled into prisons in letters to inmates.

They found sheets of paper soaked with psychoactive substances.

It is thought that once inside the prison they can change hands for hundreds of pounds.

Coming up on TV

Mary Rhodes

Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

West Midlands Ambulance Service is in talks to help colleagues in the East Midlands who are struggling financially and have some of the worst response times in the country.

We will have the latest on that story and more on how legal highs are being snuck into Midlands prisons, and an unlikely tourist attraction for those visiting Birmingham.

Join us for the Midlands Today on BBC One at 18:30.

Watch: Latest weather forecast for the West Midlands

Sara Thornton

BBC Weather

A mix of sunshine and showers. Lows of 6C (43F).

Find out more about tonight, tomorrow and the weekend.

The weather for the West Midlands

Latest: house explosion 'accidental'; serving PC 'made kidnap plot 999 call'; rail firms vying for West Midlands franchise

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Here is a recap of the top stories on Thursday:

- A Birmingham house explosion was caused by accident as a naked flame came into contact with gas vapours, say investigators

- A serving constable made a 999 call about a fake terrorist plot to kidnap another West Midlands Police officer, a court has been told

- Three rail firms have been shortlisted to take over the West Midlands franchise

Vulnerable Walsall youngsters turned away by YMCA in 'crisis'

Walsall Advertiser

Here's today's front page - vulnerable, in-need Walsall youngsters are having to be turned away by the YMCA due to a surge in applicants and a lack of volunteers.

Walsall Advertiser

Watch: Organ donor memorial unveiled at National Memorial Arboretum

Emma Thomas

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are some of the scenes from the memorial to organ donors unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum this morning.

Three rail firms vying for the West Midlands franchise

Caroline Gall

BBC News Online

Three rail firms have been shortlisted to run the West Midlands franchise, the Department for Transport (Dft) says. 

Govia, which owns London Midland, currently has the contract which is due to expire in 2017.

West Midlands Trains Ltd, a subsidiary of Dutch-owned Abellio Transport Group, and Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation are also bidding for the franchise. 

London Midland

London Midland's contract was extended by the government in 2013, despite criticism for record delays to its services.

The company was forced to offer a £7m package of compensation to season ticket holders affected by the disruption.

Peaky Blinders' third series to start in May

Get excited - the third series of Peaky Blinders, chronicling the lives of 1920s Birmingham gangsters, is back in May on BBC Two. 

Exclusive preview of the third series of Peaky Blinders which will be on BBC Two

Wolves: Michal Zyro faces up to a year out with serious multiple knee ligament injury

BBC Sport

Injury-hit Wolves have suffered a new blow with the loss of Michal Zyro for potentially up to a year with multiple knee ligament damage.

The Poland international has been ruled out "for a considerable time" following a late challenge on his left knee by MK Dons defender Antony Kay in Tuesday's 2-1 away win in Buckinghamshire.

Following an initial scan, the 23-year-old forward is now facing surgery.

Wolves' Polish international Michal Zyro

Birmingham house explosion was 'accidental'

The cause of the explosion which blew the roof off a Birmingham house yesterday and left a man with serious burns has been revealed by expert investigators.

They said the cause of the blast on Wiggin Street was "accidental ignition of gas vapours due to a naked flame".

The scene
West Midlands Fire Service

Serving constable made "malicious" 999 call about kidnap plot

A 999 call about an alleged plot by a man with links to so-called Islamic State to abduct a police officer was made by a serving constable, a court has heard. 

The prosecution claims that in the "malicious" call to his employer, West Midlands Police, Pc Amar Tasaddiq Hussain (pictured left), referred to the kidnapper as "Irfan the terrorist".

The force went into "overdrive" following the call on December 8 2014, putting a series of measures in place, including having armed response teams on high alert. The call was later determined to be a hoax. 

The officer, 29, who is suspended from duty, was charged along with 26-year-old Adil Bashir and Muhammad Ali Sheikh, 31, both of Birmingham, with two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. All three deny the charges. The trial continues.

(l-r) Amar Tasaddiq Hussain, Adil Bashir, Muhammad Ali Sheikh

Red carpet event to launch third series of Peaky Blinders

We can announce there will be a red carpet, cinema screening of Peaky Blinders ahead of the launch of its third series on BBC Two. 

The event will be at the Everyman Cinema in the Mailbox, Birmingham, on Wednesday 4 May. Members of the cast including Cillian Murphy (Tommy Shelby), Paul Anderson (Arthur Shelby) and Packy Lee (Johnny Dogs) will attend as well as the show’s producers and writer/creator, Birmingham-born Steven Knight.

Peaky Blinders

Fans are encouraged to get into the spirit of the series by dressing up for the occasion in flat caps and other 1920s attire. Details of how to register for tickets to the screening will be coming soon to the BBC Shows and Tours website.  

European Judo Championships: Amy Livesey named in GB squad

BBC Sport

European Under-23 champion Amy Livesey will make her senior European Championships debut later this month.

The 22-year-old, Walsall-based judoka is part of a 13-strong Great Britain team competing in Russia from 21-24 April.

Livesey and Danny Williams are the only team members who did not compete in last year's European Games.

judo belt

Discrepancies in wait times for eating disorder treatment

Average waiting times for mental health treatment for eating disorders in England can vary from 20 days to 180 depending on the trust, figures show.

Data from 41 of the 55 mental health trusts collected by BBC Breakfast also found that 1,576 people have waited 18 weeks to see a specialist since 2012, 742 waited 26 weeks and 99 a year. 

Person on scales
Science Photo Library

Eating disorder charity Beat said early intervention was critical. Some of the shortest waiting times are in Dudley.

The Department of Health said it was working to cut waiting times.

CCTV appeal following assault on young mum on Erdington bus

Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer

Police have released images of a woman they want to trace in connection with an assault on a young mother on a bus in Erdington.

CCTV images
Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer

'Best job in the world? Cricket groundsman'

Jay Freeman

BBC Sport Online

What does it take to get a cricket pitch ready for a summer of cricket? 

BBC Sport spoke to head groundsmen at Warwickshire's Edgbaston, an international Test cricket ground, ahead of the first ball of the new County Championship.

Read more.

Cricket groundsman and covers
Getty Images

Legal highs found in letters sent into HMP Birmingham

Giles Latcham

BBC Midlands Today

Legal high chemicals have been found impregnated in letters written to inmates at HMP Birmingham, scientific tests have revealed.

A "number of letters" were first determined to be suspicious by prison sniffer dogs, which had been trained to recognise current legal highs, said Prof Jonathan Berg, head of clinical biochemistry and pathology director at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

Find out more about what is in legal highs.

Ambulance service 'merger talks': How a combined service might look

Michele Paduano

Health correspondent, BBC Midlands Today

I've learnt that two ambulance services have held talks about a possible merger.

Troubled East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) is struggling financially and has some of the worst response times in England. 

It is thought the trust's non-executive directors want to merge with West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Datapic showing how a merger might work

Percy Jeeves: Cricketer who inspired PG Wodehouse's butler gets blue plaque

A blue plaque honouring a cricketer whose name inspired author PG Wodehouse's butler Jeeves has been unveiled.

Percy Jeeves played for the Goole Cricket Club and professionally for Warwickshire and Hawes before his death in World War One in July 1916.

PG Wodehouse used his name for the immaculate valet after seeing him play at Cheltenham in 1913.

Percy Jeeves
Brian Halford

Wolverhampton 'legal high epidemic' show criticised

A documentary focusing on the use of so-called legal highs in Wolverhampton has been criticised by support groups and public health officials.

BBC Three's Drugs Map of Britain was described on BBC iPlayer as exploring a legal high "epidemic" in the city.


City of Wolverhampton director of public health Ros Jervis said there was no evidence that use of the substances was worse than elsewhere.

The programme said some people featured "wanted to tell their story".

Latest: Ambulance services in 'merger talks'; 'legal highs' show criticism; memorial for council leader

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Here is a recap of the top stories for Birmingham and the Black Country on Thursday:

- Two ambulance services 'have held merger talks', the BBC has learnt

- A documentary focusing on the use of so-called legal highs in Wolverhampton has been criticised

- Memorial event is announced for late Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper

Criticism of documentary claiming commonplace use of legal highs in Wolverhampton

Louise Hancock

Newsreader, BBC WM

City leaders have hit out at what they say is a unfair depiction of the use of legal highs in Wolverhampton in a new documentary.

Drugs Map of Britain, on BBC3, follows a homeless man who claims that the substance "black Mamba" is readily available in the city. 

Support groups and Public Health, however, say the programme does not reflect the resources that are in place to tackle the issue. 

Professor Jonathan Berg, the Pathology Director at Sandwell Hospital, says legal highs are extremely dangerous.

Hospital 'missed my cancer': Tamworth woman's pain after medics failed to diagnose condition sooner

Tamworth Herald

A cancer patient says she has been "left to die" after medics failed to diagnose her with the life-limiting disease until it was too late.

Tamworth Herald

Memorial event to celebrate the life and work of late Sandwell Council leader

A memorial event to celebrate the life and civic contribution of late Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper will be held at West Bromwich Town Hall on Friday 22 April, it has been announced.

Mr Cooper, 52, who had been a councillor since 1991 and leader since 2009, died over the Easter weekend.

Darren’s family, friends, colleagues and representatives from organisations who worked closely with him will be invited to the event.

Darren Cooper
Sandwell Council

Acting leader Councillor Steve Eling said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by people’s kind words since we lost Darren. He was so well thought of by people from all walks of life."

West Midlands PC 'sparked bogus IS kidnap alert'

Giles Latcham

BBC Midlands Today

A police officer was involved in a hoax 999 call claiming a colleague would be kidnapped by a radical Muslim with links to so-called Islamic State, a court has heard.

PC Amar Tasaddiq Hussain, 29, is one of three men accused of conspiring to make a bogus call to West Midlands Police.

PC 'sparked bogus IS kidnap alert'

The court was played the call in which a man can be heard saying: "I have been asked to drive the car which they are going to kidnap the police officer in and put him in the back."  

The police officer denies two counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Adil Bashir, 26, and Muhammad Ali Sheikh, 31, have also denied the charges at Stafford Crown Court.

Starbucks lift shaft fall: Store to reopen today

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

The Solihull Starbucks store where a member of staff broke her pelvis and legs after falling 25ft (7.6m) down a lift shaft, is due to reopen today.

The coffee chain said it was "fully cooperating with an investigation into the incident".

It said its priority was to support the recovery of the woman, who plunged down the shaft at a branch on High Street, part of the Touchwood shopping centre.

Starbucks store

Headless and tailless cat found in Cannock

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

A headless and tailless cat has been found in a garden in Cannock, the RSPCA says. 

Lincoln Drive, Cannock

The 18-month-old black and white cat called Ellie-May was discovered in Lincoln Drive on Friday 25 March, but details have just emerged. 

The RSPCA says it doesn't yet know for certain how she died and that she could have died naturally and been "scavenged by wild animals".

She was a very timid cat but she was affectionate towards me. It is so sad because she was just starting to enjoy life, going outside and doing what cats like to do, but now something like this has happened and it is awful."

Brenda HearndonEllie-May’s owner

Midlands ambulance services 'in merger talks'

Michele Paduano

Health correspondent, BBC Midlands Today

West Midlands Ambulance service is in talks to merge with the neighbouring East Midlands service, the BBC understands.  

Troubled East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) is struggling financially and has some of the worst response times in England.


It is understood EMAS first approached the West Midlands trust, which has some of the best response times in the country, for help about six weeks ago.    

Both trusts said discussions on a "range of options" had taken place but talks were at an early stage.

Watch: Organ donor memorial set for Staffordshire unveiling

Emma Thomas

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A memorial to honour 30,000 people who have donated their organs is being unveiled at Staffordshire's National Memorial Arboretum. 

The sculpture depicts a butterfly poised on a forget-me-not flower. 

It comes as the NHS Blood and Transplant service warns that each day in the UK three people die while waiting for an organ transplant.    

HMP Birmingham inmates each handed seven-year sentence for attacking fellow prisoner

Two inmates at HMP Birmingham have been sentenced to seven years each for attacking a fellow prisoner, say police.

Jake Ratcliffe (pictured left), aged 22, attacked a 53-year-old in his cell with a sock containing a heavy implement, possibly a pool ball, in July last year, according to the West Midlands force.

Jake Ratcliffe and Nicholas Avey
West Midlands Police

Officers said Nicholas Avey, aged 25, joined Ratcliffe in the cell and both the Telford men set about their victim. They kicked and punched him to the floor, leaving him with three fractures to the jaw and other bruising. 

The pair, police said, were found guilty after a five-day trial.

Suspects in West Bromwich murder probe remain in custody

Two men and a woman remained in custody this morning after being arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with a stabbing at a West Bromwich home.

Detectives were called to Campville Crescent at about 13:50 yesterday. A man thought to be in 40s died at the scene, and another man in his 20s was taken to hospital with serious injuries, West Midlands Police said.

Det Insp Warren Hines said: "We do believe that these people are known to each and that there is no risk to the public."

Experts plan to enter home where blast blew off roof

Fire investigators hope to be able to enter the wreckage of a Birmingham terraced house later today after it was destroyed in a gas explosion. 

One man was severely burned in the blast in Edgbaston yesterday afternoon. It was so powerful, the roof came off and landed in the front garden.

Fire scene

Latest: Ambulance services 'merger talks'; legal high documentary criticised; investigations into house blast

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Here are the top stories on Thursday:

- Two ambulance services "have held merger talks", the BBC understands

- A BBC3 documentary about the use of legal highs in Wolverhampton has come under fire

- Investigators hope to enter the scene of a Birmingham house explosion today

Watch: Latest weather forecast for the West Midlands

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

You may need your umbrella first thing as showers continue. Highs of 10C (50F).

Find out what else is in store for us.

Travel: M6 delays near Wolverhampton

BBC Travel

There is queuing traffic on the M6 southbound at J10 for Wolverhampton because of an earlier crash. Congestion is back to J10a for the M54.

Good morning from Local Live for Birmingham and the Black Country

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

I'm back with the news, sport, travel and weather updates on Thursday.

Comment on our stories and share your photos over email, tweet @bbcwm or reach us on the BBC WM Facebook page.