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Summary

  1. News updates on Wednesday 22 June 2016
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates to resume at 08:00 on Thursday

Live Reporting

By Stephanie Barnard

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the day

That's it for live updates today. We'll be back from 08:00 on Thursday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for Birmingham and the Black Country.

Watch: Dudley snow leopard to have a spot of Darjeeling

A snow leopard from Dudley Zoo is going to India as part of an international breeding programme.  

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Robert Plant testifies as defence rests in Stairway trial

Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant has told a court hearing the Stairway to Heaven copyright dispute that he has a dim memory of the time it was written.

The West Bromwich born star said he could not remember meeting the band Spirit, who claim the band stole their guitar riff for Stairway to Heaven in the 1970s. 

Led Zeppelin guitarist Page (right) and lead singer Robert Plant
Reuters

"I don't have a recollection of almost anyone I've hung out with," Plant said, causing roars of laughter in the court.  

You decide: Remain or Leave?

Kathryn Stanczyszyn

Political Reporter, BBC WM

The final stretch at the end of a marathon - tomorrow the West Midlands will go to the polls to decide, along with the rest of the country, whether we should stay in the European Union or leave.

It's the final day of campaigning for both sides and today former London mayor Boris Johnson is visiting Wolverhampton to get across his arguments for the Leave side. Remain has also been fighting hard to convince those last undecided voters.

Ballot paper for the EU
BBC

This morning the Electoral Commission published the number of people who have registered to vote in the wider West Midlands region. 

That number is4,116,119, a rise of 153,842, or 3.9%, from the figure when the last Parliamentary electorate was published in December.

It’s a big jump and clearly shows people are keen to get their voices heard. 

It's still lower than other regions though  - the national total has increased by 4.6%.

Watch: Overnight forecast for the West Midlands

Rebecca Wood

BBC Weather

Outbreaks of rain will ease and clear away to the north east through this evening, leaving the rest of the night dry though fairly cloudy. 

Winds remaining light with lows of 13C (55F).

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Watch: A sea of poppies in Kingswinford is drawing admirers

John Bray

BBC Midlands Today

I've been to film a sea of poppies which has sprung up near a school in Kingswinford - it's in Lodge Lane, opposite Summerhill School.

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Redditch murder inquiry under way

Corinne Wheatley

BBC WM, Journalist

A murder investigation is under way in Redditch after a man died from a serious head injury. 

David McTighe, 43, was found dead at his home on Seymour Drive last week.

A 49-year-old woman is being questioned on suspicion of murder. 

Latest: Rape retrial considered; stabbed after sex allegation; snow leopard leaves zoo

Corinne Wheatley

BBC WM, Journalist

Here are some of the main stories we are looking at in Birmingham and the Black Country:

- A woman who killed her vulnerable friend could face another trial on a charge of raping her

- A court has been hearing how a woman allegedly stabbed her ex-husband after sex and chased him into the street, before battering him with a frying pan

- Staff at Dudley Zoo are saying farewell to their most popular resident today - Makalu the snow leopard

Football: League Cup draw

BBC WM Sport

The draw has been made for the first round of next season's League Cup. 

Aston Villa will be away to League Two Luton Town, while the other three clubs are at home. 

Birmingham City host Oxford United at St Andrew's, Wolves face Crawley Town at Molineux and Walsall take on Yeovil Town at the Banks's Stadium. 

Those ties will take place in the first full week of the season, starting 8 August. 

Boris visits newspaper as part of Leave campaign

Rob Mayor

Black Country Political Reporter, BBC WM

Boris Johnson seemed relaxed as he visited the The Express and Star Newspaper in Wolverhampton, where he worked as a cub reporter more than 20 years ago.

On the final day of campaigning he told me the 50,000 people employed in the car industry across the region shouldn’t listen to their bosses appeals to vote remain, but instead back a Brexit.

Boris Johnson in Wolverhampton
BBC

"Business doesn’t like uncertainty, but I think the uncertainty is being locked in the European Union, a federalist project, which is less and less in tune with the needs of the United Kingdom," the former Mayor of London said.

He also rubbished claims that the industry may face tariffs when selling cars to EU countries, describing it as "implausible".

Mr Johnson also backed Britain to come together on Friday, whatever the outcome of the referendum, though he seems confident that Britain will be starting to negotiate its withdrawal from the European Union.

Watch: Wolverhampton athlete off to Rio Paralympics

Wolverhampton wheelchair basketball player, Kyle Marsh, has been selected for Team GB for the Paralympic Games in Rio.

Kyle, who's 26, narrowly missed out on qualification for London 2012 but trained in Italy and Spain to improve his game. 

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Bishop backs Remain campaign

There's just one day to go until polling stations open for the referendum on the European Union.The Bishop of Wolverhampton has come out in support of the Remain campaign, and says he is sharing my views "out of concern for the future welfare of the people of this region should we vote to leave the EU on Thursday". 

Union Jack flags and EU flag
Getty Images

I have found it very difficult to work out the true facts about the key issues. But one central, and for me persuasive, fact is that the UK economy will surely suffer badly if we vote to leave the EU on Thursday. Who will bear the brunt of this? I think most of us will suffer."

Clive GregoryBishop of Wolverhampton and Acting Bishop of Lichfield

To Ali with love - Street artist paints tributes to boxing legend in Birmingham

Birmingham graffiti artist, Muhammad Ali, has painted images of the boxing legend around the city.

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Muhammad Ali graffiti art in Birmingham is a knock-out

I'm very passionate about a legend who has impacted on my entire life."

Muhammad AliGraffiti artist

M6 northbound delays

BBC Travel

One lane is closed on the M6 northbound between J5, A452 (Castle Bromwich) and J6 A38(M) Aston Expressway.

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Prison officer arrested on suspicion of jail drugs dealing

A prison officer has been arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs in a Birmingham prison, say police.

A 35-year-old man from Kingstanding was arrested yesterday, believed to have stored so-called legal highs at HMP Birmingham in Winson Green.

West Midlands Police say the man's being questioned on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply, supplying a psychoactive substance into a prison and misconduct in a public office.    

HMP Birmingham
BBC

Latest: Gazza racial abuse case adjourned; snow leopard moves from Dudley to Darjeeling

Stephanie Barnard

BBC Local Live

The top stories in the BBC WM newsroom at 15:00 include:

- A prosecution brought against football veteran Paul Gascoigne after alleged comments he made at a show in Wolverhampton has been adjourned until next week

The man behind a series of street art tributes to the late boxing legend Mohammed Ali says they are about making people stop and think

- Staff at Dudley zoo are saying farewell to their most popular resident today - Makalu the snow leopard

Gazza racial abuse case adjourned until next week

BBC WM

A criminal prosecution brought against football veteran Paul Gascoigne after comments he made at a stage show in Wolverhampton has been adjourned until next week. 

The former Spurs and England star, who was charged earlier this month with racially abusing a security guard, didn't attend a brief hearing at Dudley Magistrates' Court this morning. 

The 49-year-old is alleged to have used abusive or insulting words, causing racially aggravated harassment and alarm, during the An Evening With Gazza show in November last year.

Wheelchair basketball player heads to Rio

Wheelchair basketball player, Kyle Marsh, is off to Rio this summer as part of the Great Britain squad for the Paralympics. 

Kyle Marsh, wheelchair basket ball in Birmingham
BBC

The 26-year-old, from Wolverhampton, narrowly missed out on qualification for London 2012, but went on to play for teams in Italy and Spain.

Kyle says he's remained committed to the sport and his European experience helped him make the squad. 

Aerial film reveals giant artwork

An aerial film has revealed a giant painting in Birmingham's Centenary Square created for the city's arts festival.

Entitled Leviathan, the work, which measures 24m by 30m (79ft by 98ft) and took nine days to complete, is made up of more than 100 litres of quick-drying floor paint and anti-slip powder.

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The piece is about the moral responsibilities of democracies and will take around a week to disappear as people tread on it while making their way across the city.

It was created by Madrid-based artist An Wei Lu Li as part of the Be Festival, Birmingham's celebration of European theatre and visual arts.  

Metro extension approved

BBC Midlands Today

Plans to extend the Midland Metro in Wolverhampton have been approved. 

The route will take trams along Pipers Row, stopping directly outside the bus station before continuing on to the railway station.

Midland Metro tram
BBC

The move is part of a wider £120m scheme to redevelop the city centre. 

Work is due to be complete in 2019.

From Dudley to Darjeeling: Snow leopard waves goodbye to the Midlands

Sarah Falkland

BBC Midlands Today

Staff at Dudley Zoo are saying farewell to their most popular resident today - Makalu the snow leopard. 

He's off on a 5,000 mile (8,000km) journey to Darjeeling where he will take part in a global breeding programme. 

Snow leopard at Dudley Zoo
BBC

You can see more on this story on BBC One at 13:30 and 19:15.  

Latest: Gazza racial abuse case adjourned; Brum street art dedicated to boxer Muhammad Ali

Stephanie Barnard

BBC Local Live

The latest stories for Birmingham and the Black Country which we're looking at right now include:

- A criminal prosecution brought against football veteran Paul Gascoigne after comments he made at a stage show in Wolverhampton has been adjourned until next week

A series of street art dedicated to Muhammad Ali has been left across Birmingham

- It's day three of Warwickshire's County Championship match against Lancashire - listen to coverage online

Bears hit back after Lancs breakthrough

BBC WM Sport

At Old Trafford, Warwickshire go into the third day of their county championship match with Lancashire on 202 for 6, that's 106 runs behind. 

Despite a half century from Varun Chopra, the Bears slipped to 94 for 6, only for Keith Barker and Tim Ambrose to make an unbeaten hundred partnership to rescue the situation.

Warwickshire all-rounder Keith Barker
Getty Images

EU referendum voters top four million in West Midlands

Kathryn Stanczyszyn

Political Reporter, BBC WM

The number of voters registered in the West Midlands for the EU referendum stands at 4,116,119. 

This is a rise of 153,842, or 3.9% since December.

Polls are set to open in less than 24 hours and both the Leave and Remain camps are using the dying hours of the campaign to get their messages across.

If you missed the BBC's Great Debate last night, find out how the two sides got on in front of a live audience of 6,000 at Wembley Arena.

Photo: M6 vehicle fire 'nobody injured'

There are delays on the M6 southbound after a vehicle caught fire earlier this morning - fortunately nobody was injured.

Fire crews from Ward End and Erdington are attending to the blaze between junctions 6 and 5.

BBC Travel reports that two lanes are now closed, with severe delays in the area. 

M6 vehicle fire
CMPG

The fire service says nobody was injured in the blaze.

Travel: Vehicle fire on the M6 southbound

Stephanie Barnard

BBC Local Live

There are delays on the M6 southbound between junction 6 and 5 due to a vehicle fire.

Traffic England advises that one lane is closed.

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Pollen levels 'very high'

BBC Weather

Another bad day if you suffer with hay fever. Levels are very high today.

Tissues at the ready.

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Warm June sunshine, but showers never too far away... Matt Taylor has the long range forecast.  

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Muhammad Ali street art

Giles Latcham

BBC Midlands Today

A street artist has caused a bit of a stir with his latest work across Birmingham. 

He's been leaving murals of the late, great Muhammad Ali across the city, along with some of the legend's inspirational sayings. 

Muhammad Ali street art in Birmingham
BBC

We've tracked him down and you can find out more in our programme at 19:15 this evening.  

Football League fixtures: Derby games

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

The first derby match of the new campaign is Blues v Wolves at St. Andrews on 20 August.

We've got to wait until 29 October for the first second city derby, when Villa go to Blues.  

Villa and Blues club logo
BBC

Full fixture lists for Football League

BBC Sport

BBC Sportsday has a breakdown of the opening fixtures for the Championship, League One, and League Two.

You can check out all the fixtures now on the BBC Sport website:

Full Championship fixture list for 2016-17

Full League One fixture list for 2016-17

Full League Two fixture list for 2016-17

2016/17 Football League fixtures released

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

The Football League fixtures are out with Aston Villa starting life in the Championship away to last season's beaten play-off finalists Sheffield Wednesday. 

The game has already been moved to Sunday, 7 August for TV, while on the Saturday, Birmingham City host Cardiff and Wolves go to Rotherham. 

In League One, Walsall will host newly promoted AFC Wimbledon on the opening day. 

Latest: Man questioned over park stabbing; university lecturers go on strike

Stephanie Barnard

BBC Local Live

The top stories in the BBC WM newsroom this morning include:

- Police continue to question a 40-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder after a fatal stabbing in a Birmingham park

- Lecturers at Wolverhampton University will be on strike today over pay and conditions

- Villa fans will find out who they'll be playing and when in the Championship when the Football League fixtures are released this morning 

University staff go on strike

BBC Midlands Today

Lecturers at Wolverhampton University are going on strike later in a dispute over pay and conditions. 

Members of the University and College Union are protesting against a proposed 1.1% pay rise, claiming staff have seen a pay cut in real terms of almost 15% over the past seven years. 

Lecturers at Wolverhampton University on strike
BBC

Staff at Coventry University were on strike last week and union members at Warwick University are expected to walk out on Friday.  

Fate of life in the Championship: Fixtures released at 09:00

Steve Hermon

Journalist, BBC WM

Life in the Championship will become even more real for Aston Villa from 09:00 this morning, when the Football League fixtures are released. 

They're in the second tier for the first time in 29 years and we'll find out when they face Blues and Wolves in the new season.

We'll also find out Walsall's fixtures in League One.

Travel: Severe delays on M5 southbound

BBC Travel

- One lane is closed on the M5 southbound between J3, A456 (Halesowen) and J4, A38 (Bromsgrove), because of an accident involving car and a lorry. There are queues to J2, A4123 (Oldbury)

- Winson Green Road in Birmingham remains closed in both directions between the B4135 Heath Street junction and the Aberdeen Street junction because of repairs to a burst water main

- There's slow traffic on A452 Chester Road in Erdington, Birmingham, at the Orphanage Road junction

For the latest on the roads visit BBC Travel. 

Watch: Latest weather forecast for the West Midlands

Rather cloudy through much of the morning with rain in some parts. 

Skies may become brighter into the afternoon but there will be showery rain for some areas later on, with highs of 22C (72F).

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