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  1. Claims of abuse taken to the European Court
  2. 'No chance' of police force merger says new boss
  3. Coventry cannabis farmer jailed for more than four years
  4. Expert casts doubts on Wimbledon poisoning claims
  5. Updates from Friday 12 August 2016

Live Reporting

By Alex Homer

All times stated are UK

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Metro mayor: The battle will be intense

Patrick Burns

Political editor, Midlands

The favourite for the region's metro mayor is bound to be the former minister and current West Midlands MEP Sion Simon, named as Labour’s candidate in July. 

So now we know the names in the frames at least so far as our main three Parliamentary parties are concerned. 

Coventry & Birmingham

Between now and polling day next May, we can expect an intense debate not just about the policies and personalities of all the eventual candidates themselves, but also about the powers of the mayor role itself: too powerful, not powerful enough?

Given that voters in Birmingham and Coventry have emphatically rejected earlier proposals for an executive mayor and that Stoke-on-Trent tried it only to reject it, the argument will no doubt be resurrected over whether or not the West Midlands needs an elected mayor at all.

Metro mayor: Andy Street is 'worst-kept secret'

Patrick Burns

Political editor, Midlands

It’s been one of the worst-kept secrets for weeks. 

Speculation has been rife that Andy Street, boss of John Lewis and chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership is about to enter politics as the Conservative candidate for “Metro Mayor” of the West Midlands. 

So it can surely be no mere coincidence that the Conservatives’ press statement that their (so far unnamed) candidate will be paraded before the cameras at the opening of their party conference in Birmingham on Sunday 2 October should arrive in our inboxes just as the LEP presses the send button on its own news release that Andy Street is to stand down as its chairman. “Draw your own conclusions” as they say.

Andy Street

This comes hard on the heels of the Liberal Democrats’ announcement on Wednesday that the well-known local businesswoman Beverley Nielsen will be their candidate for mayor.   

Stories we're working on: BBC Midlands Today

BBC Midlands Today

Have you been gripped by The Archers this week? Millions have and even if you’re not one of them we’ve been behind the scenes to bring you the latest on the long running Radio 4 soap’s darkest plot – carefully scripted by writers and producers of the programme.

The trial of Helen Titchener, accused of attempted murder after a long running storyline about domestic violence, is attracting big audiences and headlines around the world and raising tens of thousands of pounds for the charity Women’s Aid. 

Helen finally makes public the extent of Rob’s abuse.

Watch Midlands Today on BBC One at 18.30.

Andy Street

John Lewis confirms managing director Andy Street plans to run for the office of the Mayor of the West Midlands.

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John Lewis boss applies to become metro mayor

Andy Street, the boss of department chain John Lewis has applied to stand as Conservative candidate for the Mayor of the West Midlands.

John Lewis said: "Should Andy be successful in his application, he has agreed with the Chairman that he should step down from his role and a further announcement will be made to confirm the succession plan for the future leadership of the John Lewis brand." 

Andy Street
Getty Images

The metro mayor will represent Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton.

Cricket: Bell criticises Somerset's pitch

BBC WM Sport

Warwickshire captain Ian Bell has criticised the state of the pitch they encountered at Taunton this week. 

The Bears were beaten in just over two days by Somerset, which leaves them in danger of being relegated from the First Division of the County Championship with one game to go.

Bell says although it wasn't to blame for the result, it wasn't a good surface to play on.

Chris Wright of Warwickshire survives a stumping chance from Ryan Davies of Somerset during Day Three
Getty Images

I don't think it's great for cricket to see a wicket like that. You have to adapt and that's part of being a professional cricketer. I don't think we did it well enough.

Ian BellWarwickshire captain
The scene

Two men are charged in connection with a raid on a jewellery shop in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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Jaguar's electric racing car unveiled
After a 12-year absence from motorsport, Jaguar has launched a brand new racing car.
Varun Chopra

Varun Chopra joins Essex from Warwickshire earlier than expected, to feature in their final two games of the season.

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Stories we're working on: BBC Midlands Today

BBC Midlands Today

Hilary McConnell, Producer

Midlands Today will be looking at the issue of organ donation today - we meet a man from Worcestershire who needs a new kidney but faces up to 15 years on the waiting list. He’s hoping to find a living donor match. And we’re meeting a young girl from Warwickshire who’s just returned to school after a liver transplant.

David Gregory-Kumar will be finding out more about this year’s honey harvest. It turns out urban bees are producing more honey than rural hives because there's more diversity of plants and flowers in the town as opposed to the monoculture of the agricultural landscape.

And Jaguar goes back to motor racing, but will Formula E - which is electric car racing - have all the glamour of Formula 1? Dan Pallet finds out. 

Formula E racing

We'll also have an update on how our local Paralympics athletes are doing in the Games which start today.

Join us on BBC One from 13:30, 18:30 and 22:30.

Jack Leach

Somerset spinner Jack Leach finishes off Warwickshire at Taunton to edge his team into title contention.

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Almost 80,000 on zero-hours contracts

Daniel Wainwright

Data unit - English regions

Almost 80,000 people in the West Midlands are on zero-hours contracts, according to the latest official figures.

That number, covering April to June, has stayed roughly the same as the previous year.

Across the UK, the number of those whose main job did not guarantee a minimum number of hours increased to 903,000, a rise of 21% on last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Zero hours figures

In the West Midlands there were 79,000 people on zero hours contracts between April and June, representing 3.0% of people in employment.

For the same period in 2015, there were also 79,000 but they made up 3.1% of people in employment.

Metro Mayor: 'We can make better decisions by having our own control'


One of the candidates who is hoping to become the new directly elected mayor for the West Midlands says the role will transfer real power from Westminster and Whitehall to the West Midlands.

The difference we can make is things like jobs, growth, housing, transport - real concrete things that affect people's lives. We need control over those things ourselves. We can make better decisions by having our own control over our own money and own area.

Sion SimonLabour candidate

The new mayor will become the figurehead for the West Midlands Combined Authority, representing Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Coventry.

Yesterday, the Liberal Democrats announced that Beverley Nielsen would be the party's candidate. Andy Street, the MD of retailer John Lewis, is expected to be confirmed as the Conservative candidate.

The election is due to be held in May next year.  

FA Cup classics: Sutton United v Coventry in 1989
BBC Sport looks back at the FA Cup third-round tie from 1989, in which non-league Sutton United knocked First Division Coventry out.
Somerset spinner Jack Leach celebrates the wicket of Jonathan Trott

Somerset spinner Jack Leach takes 5-33 before ninth-wicket pair Rikki Clarke and Chris Wright rally Warwickshire.

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The scene

A street performer dressed as Shakespeare's ghost chases armed raiders through the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon after a robbery at a jewellers.

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Shakespeare's 'ghost' takes on armed robbers
A man who plays the role of Shakespeare's ghost in Stratford-upon-Avon has described taking on armed robbers who attacked a jewellers' shop.

Watch: Overnight weather forecast from Shefali

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a dry and warm evening with some late sunny intervals. 

Then overnight it will remain dry and warm with clear spells, although it will become a bit cloudier towards dawn - lows of lows of 14C (57F).

This content only works in the UK.

Shefali Oza has your forecast

'Lady Death' sought for Shakespeare show

Moira Rawlings

BBC Coventry & Warwickshire

A non-acting woman aged over 60 is being sought to star in a performance about 75 onstage deaths from the works of William Shakespeare – by simply sitting on stage.

Theatre company Spymonkey is searching for a non-performer to play the role of Lady Death, who will ignore the action but press a big red button 75 times to signal each person’s demise during the show.

‘The Complete Deaths’play will see all of the onstage deaths in Shakespeare’s works performed by four clowns on 6 and 7 October at Warwick Arts Centre.


The show’s director Tim Crouch said:  “The company is asking that the lady is not a performer, but a regular member of the public. What is most important is that she will respond to the challenge of keeping a straight face and not getting caught up in the action.

“She’ll wear her own everyday clothes – nothing fancy. The invitation to ‘death’ is to ignore everything else, just as death does. We’ll supply her with puzzle books and magazines – and maybe a tin of boiled sweets. She’s welcome to bring knitting or needlework. 

“In the interval she’ll leave the stage and have a cup of tea with the company. And then return for the second half.”

Man injured in crash between motorbike and van

A man has been injured after an accident between a motorbike and a van in north Warwickshire. 

Police were called at 9:50 to Coventry Road with the junction with Nuneaton Road in Fillongley. 

A man is believed to have injured his leg but it is not thought to be life-threatening.

Road closures are currently in place on Meriden Road, Tamworth Road, Nuneaton Road and Ousterne Lane.   

Accident scene
Warwickshire police

West Midlands parks 'at risk of decline'

BBC Midlands Today

Public parks in the Midlands are at risk of decline and some of the facilities in them could close, according to a new report by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Findings showed that 78% of councils across the region anticipate budget reductions of 10% or more over the next three years with nearly half their parks expected to deteriorate. 

Fallen gates at a park

Somerset debutant stars against Bears as Taunton wickets tumble

BBC Sport

Somerset's teenage off-spinner Dom Bess marked his debut with 6-28 as 21 wickets fell on a remarkable first day against Warwickshire at Taunton.

Dom Bess
Getty Images

Keith Barker (4-33), Rikki Clarke (3-32) and Chris Wright (2-28) exploited the swinging conditions to bowl out Somerset before lunch for 95, spinner Jeetan Patel taking the last wicket.  

But the Bears were bowled out cheaply themselves for 123 - a lead of just 28.

Somerset then lost a wicket, Tom Abell for a second time, to close on 41-1.

Weather: Today's forecast for across the West Midlands

BBC Weather

Find out what the weather has in store today.

This content only works in the UK.

Weather for the West Midlands
Fairfax Street sports centre

Multi-million pound plans for an Olympic-sized swimming pool and sports village in Coventry are approved by councillors.

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Somerset spinner Dom Bess took 6-28 and claimed a brilliant one-handed diving catch on his County Championship debut against Warwickshire

Somerset spinner Dom Bess takes 6-28 on his Championship debut as 21 wickets fall in the day against Warwickshire.

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Plans for more rail commuters to stand 'would mostly be for short journeys'

Peter Plisner

BBC Midlands Today

More commuters could have to stand under proposals for rail services in the West Midlands - but bosses say most would be on their feet for under 20 minutes.

The BBC has learned that companies bidding to run the trains currently under London Midland are being given permission to remove seats to create more standing room. 

Malcolm Holmes, from West Midlands Rail, said: "You have to remember the vast majority of journeys on the cross city line are less than 20 minutes.

"This is to allow much better standing capacity for those short journeys."

Violin plays 100 years on for Somme soldier
The story of a violin-playing soldier who was killed on the Somme has inspired a requiem in his honour.

Coming up on TV: Standing room only

Peter Plisner

BBC Midlands Today

More commuters could have to stand under plans for rail services across the West Midlands.

Seats could be removed to fit more people onto services on trains currently run by London Midland.

Two groups are bidding to take on the franchise from October next year.

London Midland train

The services include the cross city lines, and trains out of Birmingham to Hereford, Shrewsbury, Stoke-on-Trent, Liverpool, Stratford, Leamington, and down to London.

I'll have more on the Midlands Today on BBC One at 13:30.

Cricket: Warwickshire take on Somerset at Taunton

BBC WM Sport

Batsman Matt Lamb is making his Championship debut for Warwickshire against Somerset at Taunton today.

The pitch that the game is being played on is that one in the middle of the picture. We think it may take some spin.

Follow the action here.

The pitch at Taunton
Police car

A driver died when he crashed as he was being followed by police in Warwickshire, the force says.

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The Jaguar E-Type Series III

A vintage Jaguar sports car made famous when it featured in Only Fools and Horses sells for more than £115,000 at auction.

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Coventry suffer a second-half collapse to pile more pressure on manager Tony Mowbray as they are beaten at Fleetwood.

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Ollie Rayner

Middlesex have their lead at the top of Division One cut to four points after rain sees them draw with Warwickshire.

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