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Summary

  1. Worcestershire second worst in country for turning ambulances away
  2. West Mercia Police start wearing body cameras
  3. Woman's "miraculous" escape as car rolls down Malvern hill
  4. UKIP MEP calls for more traveller sites
  5. Updates on Friday 7 April 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Has Hereford got what it takes to be the UK's City of Culture?

It's deadline time to put in a pitch to be the 2021 City of Culture - and Hereford is one of 11 contenders.

The council says it would put on a year-long party of "amazing events and festivals in our communities for everyone to access", and would ensure every town, village and hamlet is included in its plans.

But are the county's rolling hills and abundant hedgerows making it stand out against other cities for the wrong or the right reasons?

Read what the BBC's Nick Higham discovered when he visited to find out more.

There's also be more on tonight's Midlands Today at 18:30 with Abigail Appleton, a member of the bid team, and representatives from other cities taking part.

Herefordshire countryside
Google

On Midlands Today from 13:30: The rise in tool thefts from vans

Nicola Beckford

Reporter, BBC Midlands Today

On Midlands Today this lunchtime, we'll hear how the number of incidents of tools being stolen from vans in the Midlands has almost doubled in the last three years, a BBC investigation's found. 

Tool thefts
West Midlands Police

It's thought criminals are buying locksmith tools from the internet and using them to get into vans.

We'll have more from 13:30 on BBC One.

Call for hospital protest banner to be replaced

Phil Maiden

Reporter, BBC Hereford & Worcester

People in Redditch say a sign on the side of the town hall, which had a message of support for the local hospital, should be replaced.

Banner
BBC

It's believed the banner, which read "'Say No To Cuts At The Alex" was taken down so the council wouldn't appear to be taking political sides so close to elections. 

The banner has been in place since 2012. 

We have approached Redditch Borough Council for comment, but haven't heard anything back yet.

Canines to flock to Crufts qualifier

More than 8,000 dogs will be on show at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern this weekend, all competing for a place at next year's Crufts.

The West of England Ladies Kennel Society Championship Dog Show judges pets on fitness, health and temperament. 

A dog
BBC

Organiser Helen Wayman says: "There'll about about 8,500 dogs and hopefully they're bringing their owners so we're expecting about 4,500 people."

Four treated in two-car crash

Four people have been treated by paramedics following a crash between two cars near Leominster in Herefordshire. 

It happened at just after 5:30 at Stretford Bridge - one woman had to be released from a car by firefighters. 

None of the four people needed hospital treatment, West Midlands Ambulance Service said.

Will Hereford be the UK's City of Culture in 2021?

It's in the running with 11 other towns and cities around the country which must submit their bids by this Sunday.

To be successful, the 2021 winner will have to prove its bid is centred around heritage, and that it will build on existing investment it gets from the lottery fund.  

The chosen place will succeed Hull, which is the City of Culture for this year.

Here's what the city council says about its pitch: "Our bid is unique because it’s for all of Herefordshire, not just Hereford City itself – every town, village and hamlet in the county is included, and the programme has something for residents of all ages, backgrounds and locations." 

Hereford
Other

The city is up against: Perth, Paisley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland, Coventry, Warrington, Portsmouth, Wells, Swansea and the smallest city in Britain, St Davids.

The shortlist will be announced in July and the winning city named in December.

Large increase in tool thefts

Alex Seftel

Journalist

Figures obtained by the BBC suggest a van is broken into and tools are stolen, every 25 minutes across the UK. 

Reports of this kind of crime have risen by almost 75% in the last two years alone.

Nearly 700 incidents have been reported across the West Mercia Police area in the last 12 months, up from less than 500 two years ago.

The power of non-voters

Daniel Wainwright

Data unit - English regions

Non-voters would play a pivotal role in the general election if they were to use their vote, analysis suggests.

The number of non-voters exceeded the number of votes cast for the winning party in more than half of UK constituencies in 2015.

In Wyre Forest, 27,967 failed to vote (including spoiled ballots), compared with 22,394 who voted for the current MP, Conservative Mark Garnier.

Map
BBC

The Electoral Reform Society said many people felt their vote did not count.  

See the figures for your constituency on this interactive map

Video: What's the weather doing today?

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

A generally dry day with occasional sunny spells and the risk of a couple of isolated showers - highs of 12C (54F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands
Eastham Bridge collapsed

The first driver across is a man who reversed a school minibus off moments before the collapse.

Read more

Children's hospice receives grant

A Worcester children's hospice is to receive another grant of £1m from NHS England. 

The grant to Acorns, which supports life-limited and life-threatened children and their families, represents 10% of its running costs. 

The hospice receives a further 20% from other NHS sources, with the vast majority coming from public donations. 

Woman sexually assaulted in Hereford

A woman in her 20s has been sexually assaulted while walking in Hereford. 

Police say a man inappropriately touched her while she was heading along St Martin's Street towards the river at around 19:00 last night. 

The police are appealing for witnesses. 

St Martin's street
Google

Anti-cuts banner taken down by council

Jerry Chester

BBC News Online

Campaigners against cuts to the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch say they're furious the borough council has taken down a banner in support of the campaign from the side of the town hall. 

The sign, which was put up in 2012 with the backing of council leader Bill Hartnett, read: "Say No to Cuts at the Alex". 

Banner
BBC

It's understood the decision was made because of the upcoming elections, with the council not wanting to appear to be taking sides.

Bogus charity scam warning after two incidents

Police are warning people to be vigilant following a spate of bogus charity scams. 

Earlier this month, on the high street in Pershore, a couple in their 60s say they were approached by two women requesting them to sign a petition for disabled and blind children. 

For confirmation, the women asked to see identification and a signature. They then placed a form over the victim's wallet to allow them to remove cash unseen

The two offenders were described as Asian, around 5ft and in their early 20s. 

A similar event happened on Wednesday at the Riverside Shopping Centre in Evesham.

Two elderly women were approached by two women believed to be Eastern European and in their early 20s, who carried out the same scheme as in Pershore and money was taken. 

Richard Johnson: Champion jump jockey salutes predecessor AP McCoy

Cornelius Lysaght

BBC horse racing correspondent

As he celebrates his second successive jump jockeys' championship, Richard Johnson says his admiration for one-time arch-rival AP McCoy is greater than ever.

Johnson, 39, from Hereford has dominated the riding ranks since the record-breaking McCoy's retirement two seasons ago; he had been runner-up to the 20-time champion on no fewer than 16 occasions.

Richard Johnson
Getty Images

"Some people seem to think it's going to be easy to do it again, but it's very, very difficult because there are an awful lot of lads who're very keen to try to get in front of me," said Johnson.  

"I think it shows AP's dedication that he was able to keep on doing it for 20 years running.

"It really was an amazing achievement when you consider I was chasing him hard and lots of other eager young lads were too."

Weather: A cloudy end to the week

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

It's looking like being a cloudy end to the week, with some showers forecast tomorrow.

Shefali Oza has your forecast
Motorists had faced 40-minute detour after collapse of river crossing
A school minibus driver who reversed off a bridge moments before it collapsed was guest of honour at its reopening.

Minibus driver reopens bridge

A school minibus driver who reversed off Eastham Bridge moments before it collapsed was guest of honour at its reopening this afternoon. 

Drivers have faced a 10-mile detour since the Grade II listed structure fell apart, causing most of it to plunge into the River Teme. 

Derek Trow, who in May 2016 reversed his primary school minibus off the bridge before the collapse, was the first driver on the new £2m bridge near Tenbury Wells.  

Motorists had faced 40-minute detour after collapse of river crossing

Mr Gorilla reaches mile 17

Monica Rimmer

Journalist, BBC Online

We told you earlier about Tom Harrison who is crawling the London Marathon route on his hands and knees dressed as a gorilla.

He grew in Worcester and has raised over £20,000 for The Gorilla Organization, a charity that aims to save endangered gorillas from extinction. 

He has reached mile 17 of the 26.2-mile course and has been getting tips from Spider-Man as well as being cheered on.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Injuries as car and trailer overturn

Two people have been treated for minor injuries following a crash on the A40 at Pencraig in Herefordshire. 

West Midlands Ambulance Service say they were called to the scene at just after 10:00. 

A Land Rover and livestock trailer had overturned.

Eastham bridge opens

Eastham bridge has reopened after nearly a year. 

It collapsed into the River Teme last May causing a 10-mile diversion for locals. 

Here's a van making the maiden journey across it. 

View more on twitter

Man made threats to kill ex by torching flat

Kidderminster Shuttle

Here's how the front and back page is looking at the Kidderminster Shuttle today. 

Take a look at their stories here.

Front page
Kidderminster Shuttle
Back page
Kidderminster Shuttle

Your pictures: Curious sheep and morning frost

BBC Weather Watchers

BBC Weather Watcher Mikesnapper took this lovely picture from the Teme Valley, near Worcester.

The sheep and lambs look rather curious! 

Teme Valley
Mikesnapper

Here's a photo of some morning frost snapped by morning amble in Ashton-under-Hill. 

If you have a picture you'd like to share, you can sign up here and become a BBC Weather Watcher and we'll feature our favourite pics.

Ashton under Hill
morning amble

Severe disruption: M5 Worcestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Worcestershire southbound severe disruption, between J4A for M42 and J5 for A38 Droitwich.

M5 Worcestershire - One lane closed on M5 southbound between J4a M42 and J5, A38 (Droitwich), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Closed cycling circuit proposed for leisure centre

BBC Hereford and Worcester

People are being asked for their views on plans for a closed cycling circuit at Hereford Leisure Centre at a meeting in the city tonight. 

The 1,500m track will have lighting and could be used by local clubs, disability sports as well as local and national competitions. 

Hereford City Council, Wheeled Sports 4 Hereford and Halo Leisure are holding an open meeting at the Town Hall tonight.

Plenty of you have been giving your thoughts on the BBC Hereford and Worcester Facebook page.

Michael Hodges said: "Great idea, safe environment to encourage kids."

Clare Preece added: "Great idea." 

While Dale Harper commented: "It's strange how these councils find the money for this type of project but cut back on essential services."

Compensating people over bridge collapse will be complicated says council

A Worcestershire village cut in two after its bridge collapsed will be reconnected today when a replacement structure is opened. 

The Grade II listed bridge at Eastham collapsed into the River Teme last May, causing almost a year of inconvenience for locals. 

Many say they've taken a financial hit but Worcestershire County Council's Head of Highways Jon Fraser says it is too soon to say whether they will be compensated.

Bridge collapse
BBC

Well the question is where do you start, is it just people who live in Eastham, is it people who use the bridge, how do they prove that, how do they record their journeys, you're always concerned how public money is spent, it's a whole can of worms."

Jon FraserWorcestershire County Council's Head of Highways

Bishop of Worcester portrait unveiled

An official portrait of the Bishop of Worcester has been unveiled at the Old Palace in Worcester. 

It is tradition for portraits to be painted of each bishop.

Bishop John said he had been "putting it off" until he found the right artist. 

Worcester-based artist Francesca Currie had the "honour" of painting the portrait. 

Bishop of Worcester
Diocese of Worcester

Ms Currie is an alumna of the Alice Ottley School and has recently been made an Associate of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Bishop John said: "Fran has done an excellent job, particularly with such unpromising material!"

He sat for the artist for a three hour session after which the Fran worked with the photographs she had taken.

Worcestershire set 274 to win

BBC Sport

Worcestershire are just about to start their run-chase in their Royal London One-Day Cup match against Nottinghamshire at New Road.

The visitors finished 273-6, with Michael Lumb top scoring on 104. 

Moeen Ali took 2-49. 

Listen to live commentary online.

Michael Lumb
Getty Images

Cricket: Worcestershire yet to bat

BBC Sport

To keep up to date with all the ins and outs (if you pardon the pun) with the Royal One Day Cup, you can list to live ball-by-ball commentary here.

Worcestershire are currently yet to bat. 

Scorecard
BBC

Bridge opening: Schoolchildren among first to cross bridge

Eastham Bridge is opening this afternoon after the listed crossing collapsed last May.

School minibus driver Derek Trow and a group of pupils will get to be some of the first people across the bridge. 

The previous bridge tumbled into the river moments before Mr Trow's bus carrying children from Lindridge St Lawrence Primary School was due to cross - he was widely praised for his actions.

Worcestershire County Council have planned a series of events to mark the opening of the new bridge. 

View more on twitter

'Gorilla man' still crawling the London Marathon

Most people taking part in this year's London Marathon completed it on Sunday, but one Worcestershire man is still going as he's crawling the route on his hands and knees dressed as a gorilla. 

Tom Harrison, who grew up in Worcester, before moving to London, calls himself Mr Gorilla.

Gorilla man
@GORILLASAVER

He's raised almost £20,000 for The Gorilla Organization, a charity that aims to save endangered gorillas from extinction.   

Mr Harrison said: "It's hard work. All of my muscles are aching now so I've probably had a few more stops than previous days, but I'm still going forward so that's what matters."

Gorilla man
@GORILLASAVER

"It's all about raising the profile of the Gorilla Organization and raising money. I don't really matter that much, I'm just a conduit to the gorillas in Africa," he said.

Mr Gorilla is expected to finish the marathon on Thursday or Friday.  

Francois Hougaard

South Africa scrum-half Francois Hougaard signs for Worcester on a more permanent basis - on a thee-year deal.

Read more

Hereford's City of Culture bid to be handed to judges

BBC Hereford and Worcester

Hereford's bid to become the UK's City of Culture in 2021 will be submitted to the judges today. 

The city is up against early favourites Coventry and Cardiff as well as Perth in Scotland, Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland. 

Hereford countryside
iStock

Currently Hereford is the outsider in the race with betting company William Hill giving the city odds of just 16 to 1, but they were exactly the same odds that were given to Hull, the current city of culture, before its victory.  

Your pictures: Dark clouds and spring blossom

BBC Weather Watchers

BBC Weather Watcher Paul Wilde shared some incredible shots taken in Beoley Hill near Redditch. 

BBC Weather Watcher Paul Wilde takes some breath-taking pictures at Beoley Hill

Sign up here and become a BBC Weather Watcher

Severe disruption: A40 Monmouthshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A40 Monmouthshire both ways severe disruption, between A466 Dixton Road and B4164 affecting B4293 Priory Street.

A40 Monmouthshire - A40 closed, queuing traffic and long delays in both directions between Dixton Roundabout in Monmouth and the B4164 junction in Whitchurch, because of an overturned car. Diversion in operation - Eastbound and follow the solid black circle diversion symbol and Westbound follow the Solid Black Triangle. Congestion on A466 Dixton Road to the B4293 Priory Street junction and to the B4293 Beech Road junction.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time