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  1. Updates for Wednesday 31 December 2014

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

That's all from BBC Local Live in Merseyside for 2014. We'll be with you again from 08:00 tomorrow with the latest news, sport, weather and travel updates.

In the meantime, have a happy and safe new year!

Liverpool owners happy with results

BBC Sport

Liverpool's American owners have told supporters

they are encouraged by recent performances.

Liverpool celebrations

Manager Brendan Rodgers had been under recent scrutiny with his team 11th in the Premier League and out of the Champions League at the group stages.

But successive league wins have lifted them to eighth, five points behind fourth-placed Southampton.

Chester keen on Telford's Higgins

BBC Sport

AFC Telford United face competition from Conference rivals Chester

over the future of full-back Ryan Higgins.

Ryan Higgins
Getty Images

The Bucks brought in Liverpudlian Higgins, 20, as a free agent on non-contract terms in mid-September following his release by Birmingham City.

But while Telford have struggled, he has been an individual success, having not missed a game and has been offered an improved, extended deal.

A cloudy and windy night

Mel Coles

Weather Presenter

Tonight will be cloudy and increasingly windy, but staying largely dry. It'll be milder than recent nights with a minimum temperature of about 6C (43F).

Weather outlook

New Year's Day will be windy and mild start with gales, especially near Crosby and Southport.

There'll be patchy rain at first, which will become more persistent and heavier through the day with a top temperature of about 14C (57F)

Preview: Hull v Everton

BBC Sport

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard will be sidelined for up to six weeks with a calf injury, so Joel Robles will deputise in

tomorrow's clash with Hull.

Tim Howard

James McCarthy will be monitored after being withdrawn during the 3-2 loss against Newcastle as a precaution.

Get the latest team news and match preview ahead of tomorrow's match here.

My 2014 highlight

Tom Airey

BBC News

One highlight which really stands out this year is the Giants' visit to Liverpool in July to commemorate World War One.

Grandmother Giant

I was lucky enough to follow Grandmother, Little Girl and Xolo the dog around the city for the majority of the event and it was great to see the look on people's faces when the marionettes started to emerge from around a corner.

Catch up on the event's best photos and videos here.

City Link job losses confirmed

BBC Business

The administrators of collapsed delivery firm City Link

have announced 2,356 job losses after a bid to buy the company failed.

The administrators, who took over City Link after it collapsed on Christmas Eve, said an unnamed consortium's offer was not acceptable.

The firm employed more than 100 people at its depot in Warrington.

More Reds signings unlikely: Rodgers

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says

he does not expect to bring any new players to the club in January unless they can "significantly" improve the squad.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers
BBC Sport

Rodgers feels the January transfer window is not a good time to buy players and is happy with the squad he has at the moment.

Watch: Hillsborough dad pleased with CBE

Trevor Hicks, who lost two of his daughters in the Hillsborough disaster,

has become a CBE for his services to other families bereaved by the tragedy.

Trevor Hicks

Sarah and Victoria Hicks were among the 96 people who died.

Their father has tirelessly campaigned for justice since their deaths and offered support to other victims.

Slow traffic on M62

BBC Travel reports there's slow traffic on the M62 in both directions between J7, A57 (Rainhill Stoops) and J6, M57 (Tarbock Island), because of a police incident.

Drivers in the area being warned to expect delays.

'Bring Bank' to open in city

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

A temporary "Bring Bank" will operate in Liverpool between Friday and 6 March to accept household recyclable items,

Liverpool City Council has announced.

The facility, at The Fruit and Vegetable Market off Prescot Road, will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, from 10:00 to 14:00.

It will accept paper, cardboard, cans, glass bottles and jars, textiles and clothes, plastic bottles and rigid plastics.

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McCartney: Beatles courses 'ridiculous'

Sir Paul McCartney

has called popular music courses focusing on The Beatles "ridiculous".

Paul McCartney

"We never studied anything, we just loved our popular music," he said. "I think for us, we'd have felt it would have ruined it to study it," he said.

The musician made the comments while taking part in

a Q&A on his website.

However, Sir Paul conceded that classes incorporating The Beatles' music were "kind of a cool idea" and "very flattering".

New Year drink-drive warning

North West Motorway Police

tweets: As the new year draws closer start as you mean to go on and remember it for the right reasons #dontdrinkanddrive #nonefortheroad

Cheshire Police Review of 2014

Cheshire Police

tweets: The Constabulary has produced an annual review focusing on the achievements of the police force and the changes that have been introduced in 2014.

Cheshire Police
Cheshire Police

Shelvey's four-match ban for Can clash

BBC Sport

Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey has been banned for four games

after the club opted to accept a charge of violent conduct by the Football Association.

Jonjo Shelvey

The midfielder caught Liverpool's Emre Can with his arm during

Monday's 4-1 defeat at Anfield.

The 22-year-old was not punished by referee Andre Marriner during the game.

Liverpool v Leicester

Alistair Mann

BBC Match of the Day commentator

Liverpool will be without suspended defender Martin Skrtel, with Kolo Toure expected to be drafted in as his replacement,

for tomorrow's home clash with Leicester.

Captain Steven Gerrard will return in midfield after being rested on Monday against Swansea.

Twelve months ago, as now, Liverpool began the New Year outside the top four.

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News review: In memory of the 96

Richard Turner

BBC News Online

What's been the most memorable Merseyside news story of 2014?

Hillsborough victims

In March, the

new Hillsborough Inquests opened in Warrington and have been sitting for 122 days.

Families of the 96 men, women and children who lost their lives in the disaster began the hearings by reading out moving pen portraits of their loved ones.

You can read or watch them here.

Gang steal jewellery in raid

St Helens Star

Three men burst into the home of a 75-year-old man and stole a large quantity of Indian jewellery

during a terrifying burglary on Saturday.

Appeal after attempted sexual assault

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Police in Tranmere, Birkenhead, are appealing for information

after an attempted sexual assault on a woman last night.

The assault took place at about 22:30 as an 18-year-old woman was walking along Well Lane. A man approached her from behind and dragged her into an alleyway near Linwood Road.

However, the woman managed to free herself and the man - described as being in his 20s and wearing a grey hooded top - ran off in the direction of Town Road.

MP's praise for Hillsborough campaigners

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Andy Burnham, Labour MP for Leigh, has given his reaction to

the award of CBEs to Hillsborough campaigners Margaret Aspinall and Trevor Hicks in the New Year Honours.

Andy Burnham

Mr Burnham says: "The dignity and determination of all the Hillsborough families in the face of outrageous provocation and injustice has left a deep impression on people here and around the world.

"They embody everything that is best about our country and their fight will in the end change it for the better."

Bunting into PDC quarter-finals

BBC Sport

St Helens' Stephen Bunting has beaten Michael Smith 4-2

to reach the quarter-finals of the PDC World Championship.

Stephen Bunting

Bunting now awaits a clash with Dutchman Raymond van Barneveld in the last eight.

A milder afternoon

Mel Coles

Weather Presenter

This afternoon will be milder than in recent days with some bright spells.

BBC Weather

However, cloud will thicken particularly towards Southport and the north west, bringing patchy rain. Winds will strengthen too.

The top temperature will be about 8C (46F)

M58 crash victim tribute

Tom Airey

BBC News

A man who died when his car veered down an embankment on the M58 motorway has been

described as "kind and generous" by his family.

David Dale
Lancashire Police

Police said David Dale, 68, from Aughton, lost control of his car near junction one on Friday.

His relatives said he was a successful businessman who was well known in Liverpool.

Revealed: The gifts to Merseyside Police

Liverpool Echo

Red tape means Merseyside police officers handed "gifts" like home-baked scones, tins of chocolates and even a bag of apples for police horses

have had to declare them to bosses for approval.

Hillsborough CBE 'for the innocent 96'

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall,

who's been awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours, says she hopes her son would be "very proud" of the work she and the Hillsborough families have done.

Margaret Aspinall

James Aspinall, 18, was among those who died at the FA Cup semi-final in Sheffield in April 1989.

Mrs Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, told BBC Radio Merseyside: "Wherever he is, James knows I've never done this just for him. I've done this for all the innocent 96 - those precious lives - and for their families."

Three bailed over shooting

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Three men arrested

after a 25-year-old woman was injured in a shooting in Liverpool on Sunday have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

The incident happened at about 17:40 on Sunday as the victim was sat in a car with her boyfriend, also aged 25, in Maryport Close, Everton. She was treated in hospital for a minor head injury.

The three men, aged 33, 27 and 21, were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of wounding and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Skrtel to miss Foxes clash

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel is suspended for the New Year's Day visit of Leicester with Kolo Toure likely to step in as a replacement.

Martin Skrtel
Getty Images

Fellow centre-back Dejan Lovren only returned to training this week after missing the last three matches with a groin injury and is more likely to feature in the weekend's FA Cup tie.

Captain Steven Gerrard returns to central midfield after being rested on Monday against Swansea.

Missing Wirral man found

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

We've had an update from Merseyside Police on the missing Wirral man we featured on Local Live yesterday.

Happily, they say that 57-year-old Mark Williams, from Upton, has been found safe in Holyhead, North Wales.

Mr Williams had last been seen on Monday afternoon at Birkenhead Park railway station.

Isle of Man ferry to resume

Ferry sailings between Isle of Man and Birkenhead route are set to return after services were cancelled due to a steering fault on a vessel.

Ben-my-Chree ferry

The fault has been fixed and scheduled sailings can now resume, said the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

The Ben-my-Chree ferry has been unable to sail since Saturday, resulting in the cancellation of crossings between Douglas and Birkenhead.

Hospital bosses' A&E warning

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Bosses at the Royal Liverpool Hospital are urging people to "take care" when out celebrating the New Year tonight.

Getty Images

It's estimated doctors in A&E will treat as many as 20 patients an hour - many of them because of alcohol-related incidents.

Clinical director Kate Clark says resources are stretched and is asking people to "be a little bit more cautious, think about what they're drinking and not overdo it".

Campaigner 'humbled' by CBE

Martin Coldrick

BBC Local Live

Hillsborough campaigners who have been made CBEs in the New Year Honours say they're accepting the awards on behalf of all the families and survivors of the disaster.

Trevor Hicks

Trevor Hicks, whose two daughters died after the stadium crush, and Margaret Aspinall, who lost her son James, are both collecting the awards.

Mr Hicks has told BBC Radio Merseyside: "It's not just for me, the citation says it's for services to the bereaved families so it's partly for them.

"On a personal level, I'm also very flattered. It sounds a bit cheesy but I'm also humbled. I'm a bloke who's done a job of work to the best of his ability."

Pennington stays at Coventry

BBC Sport

Coventry City

have extended on-loan defender Matty Pennington's move from Everton until 7 February.

Matty Pennington

The 20-year-old Warrington-born right-back was due to end his stay with the Sky Blues following Saturday's League One local derby at Walsall.

But after helping Coventry keep three clean sheets in his six appearances, he is to remain at the club.

City Link workers face redundancy

Phil Cooper

BBC Radio Merseyside

More than 100 people at City Link in Warrington will be made redundant today. The parcels delivery firm went into administration last week,

with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs across the country.

City Link van

The private equity firm, which owns the company, has confirmed it expects to recoup around £20m from the collapse.

John Tilley, north west regional organiser for the RMT union, says it's a "scandal" that taxpayers are being left to foot the bill for redundancy payments: "This situation couldn't be any worse".

No Mersey ferries today

Mersey Ferries

tweets: We are not running any commuter services today. Apologies for inconvenience caused. River Explorer Cruises start at 11am from Pier Head.

Hillsborough campaigners appointed CBE

Two Hillsborough campaigners

have been appointed CBE in the New Year Honours.

Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall

Margaret Aspinall and Trevor Hicks campaigned for more than 20 years to secure fresh inquests into the deaths of 96 people in the disaster.

Mr Hicks' daughters Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, and Mrs Aspinall's son James, 18, were among those who died at the FA Cup semi-final in April 1989.