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Summary

  1. Updates on Wednesday 24 December
  2. Police officer memorial fund raises nearly £10,000
  3. Balotelli 'naive' over Mario post
  4. Boxing Day football previews and team news

Live Reporting

By Martin Coldrick

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Thanks, goodbye, and merry Christmas

Thanks for your company today, we will be back at 08:00 GMT on Monday 29 December.

Until then, Merry Christmas from all of us at BBC North West News Online.

Christmas weather forecast

It will be mostly dry overnight with some clear spells - great conditions for Santa and his reindeer as they go about their work across Merseyside - although there may occasional rain showers.

Santa and reindeer
AFP

Winds will ease, though, leading to a patchy frost as temperatures fall to about 3C (37F).

It'll be a chilly start to Christmas Day, with scattered showers. There will be plenty of sunshine during the afternoon, but be sure to wrap up warm as we are only looking at a maximum temperature of 8C (46F).

Clear spells during the evening will lead to a widespread frost heading into Boxing Day.

New arrival at Chester Zoo

Nothing beats a festive birth, and Chester Zoo is certainly celebrating one.

It

tweets: Christmas has come early with the very special delivery of a baby #giraffe!

Rumours of it being called Tiny cannot be substantiated...

Giraffe at Chester Zoo
chester zoo

Politicians criticised over child hunger

Community groups in Wirral have welcomed the launch of a pilot project to stop children going hungry.

"Feeding Birkenhead" is the first of 12 schemes across the country set up in response to a major report about the scale of the problem.

Nigel Hughes, chief executive of the YMCA in Wirral, praises local MP Frank Field for launching the project, but has told

BBC Radio Merseyside he's unconvinced other politicians know what it's like "at the sharp end".

Friday match preview: Everton v Stoke

BBC Sport

Everton have been handed a boost with the news that Kevin Mirallas (ankle) and James McCarthy (hamstring)

are both expected to be fit for the Boxing Day visit of Stoke.

It's not all good news for the Toffees, though, with the game coming too soon for Leon Osman and Darron Gibson. Tony Hibbert is another absentee.

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Work to start on city's 'prized assets'

More on

the planned restoration of Chester's world-famous clock and bridge on Eastgate in January.

Council leader Mike Jones says: "We have scheduled the restoration of the clock and Eastgate Bridge for after Christmas to avoid one of Chester's best-loved landmarks being wrapped in scaffolding during the busy festive period.

"I would like to thank residents, businesses and visitors alike for bearing with us while we work to safeguard the future of one of our city's most prized assets."

More Gateway works set for January

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News

Construction work for the Mersey Gateway bridge in Runcorn and Widnes

is to "intensify" in January.

Famous clock set for restoration

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Restoration of Chester's world-famous clock and Eastgate Bridge is to begin in the New Year,

the council has confirmed.

Chester clock
Cheshire west and cheshire council

Work will start on 5 January to build a scaffold around the structure in preparation for the next phase of a major £500,000 scheme to conserve the ancient city walls.

The work will see Britain's second best-known clock behind Big Ben encased in protective plastic while specialists restore sections of its ornamental ironwork, which is beginning to show the effects of the ravages of time.

Man cut from vehicle after crash

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

A 37-year-old man had to be freed from his vehicle and taken to hospital after a crash in St Helens this morning,

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has said.

Firefighters were called to the two-vehicle collision in Blackbrook Road at about 11:20.

A 57-year-old woman, who was in the second vehicle, was also taken to Whiston Hospital as a precaution.

Candle lit to mark Auschwitz liberation

Liverpool Town Hall

tweets: Gosia McKane lit our 36th candle today, to mark one of the 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Gosia McKane
liverpool town hall

Motorway reopens after accident

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

The M57 is now fully open once again following an incident which saw big delays for Christmas Eve travellers.

A pedestrian was hit by a lorry this morning between Prescot and Stockbridge Village.

The northbound side of the motorway was closed for several hours.

Police in pre-match warning

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

More on

the police appeal for Liverpool and Burnley fans to "respect each other" ahead of the Boxing Day game at Turf Moor.

Det Insp Martin Melvin, from Lancashire Police, says: "The majority of fans do behave in a responsible manner but it is the minority that spoil it for others.

"Given the large amount of people expected to attend the game, I would also urge people to keep their valuables safe, cars locked with nothing on display."

'Respect' appeal over match

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Ahead of Liverpool's Boxing Day clash with Burnley at Turf Moor,

Lancashire Police are asking fans of both teams to "respect each other and watch the game peacefully".

Turf Moor sign
Getty Images

The force says there will be a "visible policing presence" during the match, which kicks off at 15:00.

Fans should allow plenty of time to get to the ground and to ensure their personal belongings are kept safe and secure at all times, police say.

Festive bin collection reminder

And once you're done with the crackers and unwrapped your presents... a brief note about what'll happen to all of the rubbish...

People are being reminded that over the festive period,

bins in Liverpool will be collected on a different day to the normal collection day.

Stickers on bins will give the revised dates which have been distributed by bin crews across the city.

The green service for garden waste is also suspended between 30 December and 5 January.

Video: Cracker history

Christmas crackers are bound to be a feature of Yuletide celebrations this Thursday, but did you know that they actually date back more than 150 years?

Old crackers
BBC

BBC Breakfast's John Maguire

has been finding out how it all began.

Sharp show?

Matthew Bourne's production of

Edward Scissorhands is coming to the Liverpool Empire from 27 to 31 January.

Edward Scissorhands production shot
Johan Persson

Based on the Tim Burton film, the fantasy story of a boy with scissors for hands who is taken in by a suburban family stars Dominic North and Ashley Shaw.

Rodgers: Signings possible in January

BBC Sport

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says it is possible the club will strengthen in January

but refused to comment on links with Petr Cech and Fernando Torres.

Brendan Rodgers
Getty Images

The Reds, who spent £206.5m on players in the summer, are reported to be interested in former striker Torres and goalkeeper Cech, both Chelsea players.

"If there is a possibility that we can strengthen in January we will look at that," Rodgers said.

Tranmere face tough test

Tranmere travel to the East Midlands on Boxing Day for their League Two clash against Burton Albion.

They will likely be without defender Danny Woodards, who has suffered a recurrence of a metatarsal injury he suffered at the start of the season.

Fellow defender Michael Ihiekwe is doubtful with an ankle injury after being stretchered off in the draw against Cambridge.

Rovers, who lie 23rd, will be heavy underdogs against a Burton side who are fourth.

Warning for M57 drivers

Problems continue on the M57 which is

closed northbound between Junction 2 (A57, Prescott) and Junction 3 (A 526 Stockbridge Village).

This is because of a serious accident involving a lorry and a pedestrian. There's a lot of queuing traffic and drivers are being warned to expect considerable delays.

A diversion is currently in operation, with traffic exiting at Junction 2, heading towards Liverpool on the A57, then on the A526 towards Knowsley and Southport before rejoining at Junction 3.

I'm dreaming...

What are the chances of a white Christmas?

The latest odds from one bookmaker suggest it's not looking very likely. They are offering odds of 8-1 on snow falling over Liverpool tomorrow.

Loneliness charity expects wave of calls

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

A helpline for lonely older people says it is expecting thousands of calls from across Merseyside this Christmas.

Silverline started with a limited pilot in 2012 but was so overwhelmed by calls that it has been rolled out as a full service.

The organisation's Sarah Caplan says anyone can do their bit to help people feel less lonely: "If you know somebody local to you who you think is going to be on their own, just knock on their door and say hello and ask them how they're feeling".

Police speak to supermarket teen

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Merseyside Police have confirmed they've spoken to a teenager who tried to push a baby away from her mother in a Southport supermarket.

The 16-year-old was acting erratically in Morrisons in the town centre before she tried to walk away with the baby.

Security were alerted and the teenage girl was taken home by police.

Balotelli set to return at Burnley

Mario Balotelli will be available for Liverpool's Boxing Day trip to Burnley,

according to manager Brendan Rodgers.

Balotelli
Reuters

Injuries and a one-match suspension have meant the Italy striker has figured just once for the Reds since 8 November.

However, Balotelli is in contention to return at Turf Moor, Rodgers has told a pre-match press conference.

A different kind of Christmas...

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

What have you got planned for tomorrow? Lots of eating and watching Christmas specials on the telly? Check. Much exercise? Thought not.

A cinema projectionist from Merseyside is going to have a slightly unusual Christmas this year, though...

Himalayas
AFP/getty

Martin Doherty, 33, from Crosby, is in the Himalayas preparing for a charity climb in aid of Plan UK, which helps children in the world's poorest countries, and he hopes to reach his goal by New Year's Day.

Martin says he's spent the last few months in training for the task: "I've given up the bus and the train and I've been carrying my stuff in bags to and from work every day. I've got at least an hour or two's walk every day in Sefton Park with a fully-loaded rucksack".

Accident sparks M57 delays

BBC Travel News reports the M57 is closed and there's queuing traffic northbound between J2, A57 (Prescot) and J3, A526 (Stockbridge Village), because of a serious accident involving a lorry.

Drivers in the area are being warned to expect long delays.

Merseyrail Christmas reminder

Merseyrail

tweets: Merseyrail trains do not run on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Service begins again on 27th Dec.
http://bit.ly/10iWJjp

Gun and ammo find 'great result'

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Reacting to the discovery by police of a gun, ammunition and equipment to make ammunition at an address in Aigburth,

Det Ch Insp Tom Keaton says the find is "a great result".

"We have taken a potential lethal weapon out of circulation and removed a capability of producing ammunition," he says.

"We will always take positive action with information we receive and would always encourage members of the public to provide us about the location of firearms."

Gun and ammunition uncovered

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

A rifle, ammunition and equipment to make ammunition have been found at an address in Aigburth,

Merseyside Police have said.

They were found by detectives from the force's Matrix gun crime unit at the address on Marmion Road yesterday afternoon.

Forensic experts are now examining the weapon and ammunition, police say.

Turtles washed ashore

Oh go on then, given that it's Christmas... But this is most definitely your lot...

Two turtles have been found washed ashore in the North West, thousands of miles from their usual feeding grounds.

The first turtle, a Kemp's Ridley, was found on Formby beach.

Kemp's Ridley turtle in Formby
Wildife Trust

The

Wildlife Trust is asking people to keep an eye out in case more appear but says not to put them back in the water. If you find one please call 0800 6520333 or for more information go to
www.ukstrandings.org.

Looking after the animals

Continuing our cute animals theme...

Knowsley Safari Park's keepers are busy making sure all animals, from the smallest tortoises to the tallest giraffes, are looked after during the festive season.

Knowsley Safari animals with Christmas packages
Knowsley Safari

Treatment for lost seal

Paul Burnell

BBC News

A seal found exhausted in a farmer's field miles from the sea has been

transported across the country for specialist treatment.

Recovered seal
BBC

The adult grey seal was spotted flapping against a post on Monday by a dog walker in Newton-le-Willows.

He has now been transported almost 200 miles (320km) to the charity's specialist facility in East Winch, Norfolk.

Children face 'heartbreaking' Christmas

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

The Childline charity has told

BBC Radio Merseyside it's expecting thousands of youngsters to call its base in Liverpool this Christmas with worries about families and bullying.

Volunteers counselled more than 700 young people last December and Michelle Coulter, one of the Liverpool volunteers, says family relationships are a major concern at this time.

"Only last week, I spoke to a young person and they were absolutely dreading Christmas with them saying it's just a normal day for them," she says. "Both parents are alcoholics, there's no turkey, no tree, they're just left to fend for themselves. It's heartbreaking."

Slow traffic warning

BBC Travel News reports there's slow traffic on the A59 Kirkdale Road inbound in Kirkdale at the B5173 Great Homer Street junction.

Drivers in the area are being warned to expect some delays.

News on the hour

Giulia Bould

BBC Radio Merseyside

A national "fightback against hunger" begins in Birkenhead this morning, according to the town's MP.

Frank Field is launching the first pilot scheme to emerge from a government inquiry into the problem.

Listen live to the 09:00 bulletin for more.

Last Christmas Eve ferries reminder

Mersey Ferries

tweets: The last ferry service today will leave Pier Head at 3pm, arriving at Seacombe 3.20pm & Woodside 3.30pm.