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  1. Voluntary trust plan for Birmingham's children's services
  2. Walsall man guilty of Susan Whiting's rape and murder
  3. Schoolchildren and seven teachers from the Black Country escape a coach fire
  4. £20m plan to expand Black Country Living Museum
  5. Updates on Tuesday 24 May 2016

Live Reporting

By Alex Homer

All times stated are UK

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Weather for the West Midlands

Weather for the West Midlands.
Sian Lloyd looks at what led up to the decision
Birmingham's children's services are to be run by a voluntary trust after a string of tragic cases involving the deaths of children across the city.
Durham batsman Keaton Jennings drives to the cover boundary, watched by Warwickshire wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose

Durham's Keaton Jennings hits an unbeaten 88 to steer his side to within 84 runs of victory against Warwickshire.

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Derek Junior Myers and a house being raided

Three more men are charged in connection with a double shooting in which one man died and another was critically injured.

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Good evening from Local Live for Birmingham and the Black Country

We're back at 08:00 tomorrow with our usual mix of news, sport, travel and weather, but keep an eye out here for updates through the evening and into the morning.

Rail delays between Birmingham and Longbridge

Delays of up to 20 minutes to trains between Birmingham New Street and Longbridge are expected to continue until 18:30, Network Rail says.

The disruption was caused by a passenger being taken ill.

Birmingham's children's services: 'High case loads and a resignation after begging for help'

Channel 4 Dispatches says its documentary reveals:

  • Some social workers failing to cope with high caseloads, others not receiving appropriate supervision and many announcing their intention to quit
  • Concerns serious cases where children could be at risk of sexual or physical abuse are not being handled properly
  • One junior social worker resigning after being rushed to complete a Special Guardianship Order and being forced to “beg” for help from managers
  • The department descending into chaos as a reorganisation takes place
  • A “ridiculous” situation arising where social workers have to phone police in the same room to discuss the most serious cases because they haven’t got the required security clearance.

Birmingham's children's services: 'A troubling picture of chaos' - documentary maker

The makers of Channel Four's Dispatches programme said it "noted with interest" the announcement the service would be run by a voluntary trust.

An episode on Thursday is due to show an experienced social worker working undercover with the team.

Birmingham City Council

"Dispatches' undercover social worker discovered a troubling picture of chaos, low staff morale and confused decision-making on how to handle serious cases where children could be at risk," a statement said.

"She found overstretched colleagues struggling to cope and battling against constant changes in their attempts to keep children safe."

Undercover: Inside Britain’s Children’s Services will be broadcast on Thursday 26 May, 22:00.

BBC WM's Ed Doolan recognised for his contribution to Birmingham

Kathryn Stanczyszyn

Political Reporter, BBC WM

BBC WM's very own broadcasting legend Ed Doolan has received a special award in recognition of outstanding service to the people of Birmingham.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Birmingham's children's services: 'Going in the right way' - council chief

The cabinet member for children's services at Birmingham City Council, Brigid Jones, says an improvement plan was agreed with the government two years ago - and every target has been met.

She said: "Every single indicator we're monitoring is going in the right way. Our caseloads are the lowest that they've been: they're 15 now on average, they were around 30 on average when I started.

Councillor Brigid Jones

"We've got our staff turnover down from around about a third to around about a quarter. And the number of agency social workers has come down significantly as well. 

"Every indicator here in Birmingham is moving in the right direction. What we need to do now is find a way to keep that improvement going. And we think that by going into some sort of trust arrangement, we can do that in the best way."

EU Referendum: Farage brings his battle bus to Dudley calling for a Leave vote

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

The UKIP leader Nigel Farage held a walkabout in the town and visited a shoe repair shop and ate pork scratchings in a family butchers during his visit.

Nigel Farage's Brexit Bus Visits Dudley

Eddie Izzard on the EU Referendum during Aston visit

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Eddie Izzard visited Aston University ahead of the EU Referendum on 23 June urging young people to vote and in support of the Remain campaign.

Remain Campaigner Eddie Izzard visits Birmingham

Latest: Children's services plan; Susan Whiting murder case; 5ive pull out of 'Brexit gig'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

if you are just catching up, here are our top stories on Tuesday:

- Birmingham's troubled children services department is set to be run as a voluntary trust

- A Walsall man has been found guilty of the rape and murder of a woman with learning difficulties

- Boyband 5ive have pulled out of a "Brexit gig" due to take place in Birmingham and funded by the Leave.EU campaign

5ive pull out of Brexit music festival in Birmingham, but Alesha Dixon is still set to perform

BBC Newsbeat

Boyband 5ive have pulled out of a "Brexit gig" funded by the Leave.EU campaign.

Alesha Dixon, East 17 and soul legends Sister Sledge are still on the bill and it's thought UKIP leader Nigel Farage will be a guest speaker.

5ive's management said they had made the decision after realising the concert was "more a political rally".

The remaining members of 5ive and Alesha Dixon
Getty Images

Birmingham City Council's children's services to be run by a trust

Find out more about what went wrong in the department before city council revealed plans for it to be run as a volunteer trust.

Birmingham children's services to be run by trust

The West Bromwich couple who win awards for their prickly relationship

Craig House Cacti in West Bromwich have scooped another gold award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, their sixth running.

Business partners Stan Griffin and Vicki Newman set up their Durham Drive firm, Craig House Cacti, in 2007.

Stan Griffin and Vicki Newman

Birmingham Children's Services: 'Pitiful failures' cost young people

"Pitiful failures" by children's services at Birmingham City Council have meant young people "suffered most," the NSPCC said.

"A lack of consistency in the support offered to children has meant a breakdown of trust in the very system which was supposed to be their lifeline."

The charity was responding to news the service is being moved to be run by a voluntary trust.

Birmingham City Council

The charity continued: “The focus must always be on securing the best outcomes for children and it is essential to regain their confidence in a system which has let them down so appallingly for too long.

“Concerted efforts must now be made to improve staff retention rates and - most importantly of all - ensure the most vulnerable members of society are protected."

Steven Beards

A man is found guilty of raping and murdering his wife's friend, whose body was found hidden under his bed.

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Coach driver's 'quick actions' helps rescue dozens of children

Vanessa Pearce

BBC Local Live

A coach driver, who helped 59 school children and seven teachers escape a burning coach on the M6 yesterday says all he did was let the stranded children "take refuge".

Paul Bingham was driving his 50-seat coach back to his firm's yard in Wigan when he pulled over after seeing "small flames coming out of the rear bottom" of a coach on the hard-shoulder.

Coach wreck
West Midlands Ambulance Servide

"I did nothing really" he said "I just parked my bus and said jump on".

But, he admitted "I got 60-odd people away from the scene and allowed them to sit in comfort, I think the important thing is the kids didn't see it, that would have been more stressful".

The ambulance service say it could have been a much more serious incident "but for the quick actions of the coach drivers, teachers and children".

Motorway lane closures

BBC Travel

A lane is closed on the M42 exit slip road southbound at J2, A441 (Alvechurch), BBC Travel news reports.

There's also a lane closed on the M6 southbound between J12, A5 (Gailey) and J11a M6 Toll, because of a broken down vehicle.

Birmingham road sealed off as police investigate reports of gunshots

A Nechells road has been cordoned off for police to investigate reports of gunshots fired at a takeaway shop.

Duddeston Mill Road has been sealed off after reports of shots just after midnight. No-one was injured.

West Midlands Police is appealing for information as its officers comb over the scene for evidence.

Man ‘critical’ after Perry Barr stabbing

Great Barr Observer

A man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a man was stabbed in Perry Barr.  

CBBC announces Awesome Authors at CBBC Live in Birmingham

CBBC has today announced it will be heading to Birmingham in July for two days of events and live broadcasts celebrating authors. 

Some of the UK’s best-loved authors, as well as some of CBBC’s stars, are heading to the Library of Birmingham and Centenary Square on 16 and 17 July.

Authors appearing at the library on the 16th include Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Alex T Smith, David Baddiel, David O’Doherty and Chris Judge, Jeremy Strong and Lucy Hawking. 

On Sunday the authors are Liz Pichon, Bali Rai, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Andy Riley, Robin Stevens and Ross MacKenzie.

Hacker T Dog introduces two action-packed days of events and live broadcasts

Black Country Living Museum's expansion all subject to whether funding is granted

David Lumb

BBC News Online

The Black Country Living Museum’s plans are ambitious

As part of a £20m expansion, bosses want to move the entrance so it links more closely to Dudley’s other attractions – the zoo, the archives and the canals – to make Dudley a global tourist attraction. 

They also want to create a 1940s town to complete the Black Country story. Whether it happens, of course, is all subject to funding being obtained.

Part of the museum site

Children's services move and the Black Country Living Museum expands - more on Midlands Today

Qasa Alom

BBC Midlands Today

We will have more on the new voluntary trust which is lined up to take over the running of Birmingham City Council's children's services department.

And we report on a £20m expansion plan to develop the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley.

Join us for the Midlands Today on BBC One at 13:30.

Grass root sport display scoops gold for council at RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Birmingham City Council has scooped Gold at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the fifth year running, with its display celebrating the work of local artist Willard Wigan and grass root sport.  

For those who cannot travel to Chelsea to see the display, it will be recreated in Cannon Hill Park alongside an exhibition of Willard’s work at the Midland Arts Centre throughout June.

Head of Parks for Birmingham City Council, Darren Share MBE, with the award in front of the display

Birmingham's children's services: A timeline of events

The death of seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq, who starved to death in Handsworth in May 2008, turned the spotlight onto Birmingham City Council.

In February 2010 the High Court ruled Khyra was "failed by social services."

Khyra Ishaq

In October 2012 Ofsted rated the council's child protection services "inadequate" 

Follow our timeline.

Latest: Plan for children's services; man guilty of rape and murder; coach fire escape

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Here is a quick recap of our headlines on Tuesday so far:

- Birmingham's troubled children services department is set to be run as a voluntary trust

- A Walsall man has been found guilty of the rape and murder of a woman with learning difficulties

- Pupils and teachers from the Black Country escape a coach fire on the M6

Birmingham Children's Services: 'Recruitment and morale problems need addressing'

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

Insiders have been telling me that while improvements have been made to Birmingham children's services, the department still struggles to retain staff and therefore relies heavily on agency workers. 

They also say social workers can still be dealing with between 20 and 30 individual cases, even though a maximum of 15 is recommended.

From top left clockwise: Keanu Williams, Khyra Ishaq, Keegan Downer and Toni-Ann Byfield

Critics of the council have been calling for a change along these lines for years, but it's unlikely that the new voluntary trust planned, however it is set up, will be a panacea for the city's problems. 

Birmingham's central belt is one of the most deprived areas in the country and the city's population is rapidly growing. Whoever takes charge will have to address recruitment and morale as a matter of urgency.

Delays on the motorways

BBC Travel

There's a lane blocked on the exit slip road northbound at J2, M69 (Coventry), because of a broken down vehicle, BBC Travel news reports.

There's also slow traffic on the M6 southbound at J9, A461 (Wednesbury), because of an accident involving a car and a lorry earlier on. Congestion to J10, A454 (Wolverhampton).  

Meet the Council: Charlotte Hodivala, Sutton Coldfield’s first Mayor in 42 years

Sutton Coldfield Local

On Thursday 26 May at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall the new Mayor will be presented at the Annual Meeting of Electors and Mayor Making ceremony.  

New code of conduct after misconduct allegations at Sandwell Council

Rob Mayor

Black Country Political Reporter, BBC WM

A new code of conduct will be presented to Sandwell councillors tonight after six allegations of misconduct were leveled at the authority's former deputy leader.

Sandwell Councillor Mahboob Hussain is accused of six alleged council code of conduct breaches, according to solicitors Gowling WLG, which investigated alleged irregularities in the sale of the authority's former properties.

In three of those instances, he is alleged to have helped his family, but Mr Hussain denies wrongdoing.

Sandwell Council House

One allegation is Mr Hussain was involved in the sale of three former council-owned public conveniences for £35,000 to a friend of his, but the relationship was not revealed.

Mr Hussain's solicitors had told the law firm they thought there was "no requirement to make declarations at informal meetings".

Changes to the code of conduct set out exact definitions of what is meant by a "meeting", a "member of your family" or a "person with whom you have a close association".

Birmingham's children's services 'not gone far enough, fast enough'

Jennifer Meierhans

BBC News Online

The Department for Education (DfE) said the council had made some improvements but its progress had "not gone far enough, fast enough".

A spokesperson said: "The council recognises this and that’s why we are working together to look at the steps that now need to be taken to make sure children and families in Birmingham receive the best possible care and support.

“The Prime Minister was clear that we cannot tolerate failure in children's services. That is why we are looking at the best next steps including moving towards a voluntary trust.”

Susan Whiting: Man guilty of rape and murder

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

A Walsall man has been found guilty of the rape and murder of a woman with learning difficulties.

The body of Susan Whiting, 20, was found wrapped in a shower curtain under a bed at Beard's home in Bloxwich, Leicester Crown Court was earlier told.  

Steven Beards, aged 34, has been found guilty of her rape and murder. The jury is still considering verdicts on Julie Beards who blamed her husband for the murder of her friend in August last year and denies murder.

Susan Whiting
West Midlands Police
Julie Beards (left) and Steven Beards (right) with an intermediary appointed by the court to help Mrs Beards
Helen Tipper

Analysis: What a voluntary trust means for Birmingham's children's services

Alison Holt

Social affairs correspondent

Birmingham's children's services has been in special measures for a number of years, with a former government minister, Lord Warner, appointed as commissioner in 2014. 

Similar children's trusts have been established to run services in places where there have been problems, such as Doncaster and Slough. 

They often rely on groups of experts, charities and high-performing local authorities to provide support. Experts believe the size of Birmingham - which is England's biggest local authority - makes it particularly difficult to bring about change. 

The announcement of these plans was brought forward because of a Channel 4 Dispatches programme to be broadcast this week.

New leader of Labour-run Sandwell Council

Rob Mayor

Black Country Political Reporter, BBC WM

Steve Eling's been elected as the new leader of Labour-run Sandwell Council.

He's been a councillor in Abbey Ward since 2004 and had been acting leader since the death of Darren Cooper in March.

The election had to be re-run on Monday night after a 34-34 draw on Friday, with one spoiled vote.

Steve Eling
Sandwell Council

BreakingBirmingham's under-fire children's services to be run by voluntary trust

The children's services department in Birmingham is to be run by a voluntary trust.

The department was served with an improvement notice in February 2009 and has been dogged by high-profile inquiries including into the death of Keanu Williams - who was beaten to death by his mother - and most recently the murder of Keegan Downer.

The city council says its plans have been under discussion for a while now and and it is confident more improvements will be made under the trust that will run it. 

The council's ruling cabinet must now approve the scheme.

Keanu Williams

Teenager arrested after schoolboy stabbed in Birmingham

Louise Hancock

Newsreader, BBC WM

A teenager's been arrested after a schoolboy was stabbed in Kings Norton. 

It happened on Monyhull Hall Road yesterday morning - the 16-year-old victim walked to a nearby school but collapsed and is being treated in hospital. 

Police have been questioning another 16-year-old who handed himself into officers.

County Championship: Chris Woakes takes 9-36 for Warwickshire after England call-up

Warwickshire's Chris Woakes took a stunning career-best 9-36 at Edgbaston as he warmed up for a possible England Test recall by bowling out Durham.

Woakes, who was called up to replace Ben Stokes for the second Test against Sri Lanka on Friday, went for 17 runs with no reward off his first six overs.

Chris Woakes
Getty Images