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All times stated are UK

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No births at Oswestry maternity unit for next fortnight

Women won't be able to go to Oswestry's maternity unit to give birth for the next fortnight.

The unit had been closed for births and inpatients since Wednesday night, with "staff sickness" blamed.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust said it was making the move to "remove the uncertainty" after a series of similar closures at Shropshire's three rural maternity units since the start of the year.

Maternity bed
BBC

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust said the Oswestry unit would still be open for antenatal and postnatal services.

It also stressed that only 2% of births in Shropshire took place at the rural maternity units in January.

By taking this step, we aim to remove the uncertainty that short notice suspension of services causes. Women will still have the choice of giving birth at four other MLUs as well as our consultant-led unit. Home births will also be maintained during this period.”

Sarah JamiesonShrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust head of midwifery

Darwin festival faces counter-campaign by Christian group

The two-week Darwin Shrewsbury Festival is under way, with lectures, a themed park-run, a guided tour of his childhood home and exhibitions among the attractions.

But there will also be a counter-campaign this year by a Christian group which argues theories of evolution inspired by Charles Darwin's writings were wrong.

Darwin protest
BBC

The campaigners are also accusing the festival, which marks Darwin's birth in the town 209 years ago, of being "over the top" and say his theories have been "harmful" and have "delayed scientific progress".

Heat-up handlebars and disease-monitoring microchips

Would you wear a wristband which vibrated when you were stressed and prompted you to laugh or jump around?

That was one of the winning ideas at the Shropshire Young Thinkers Competition last night, dreamt up by 11-year-old Rose Farquharson (below, left) - her "eye-smile" app for smartwatches won in the ages 7-11 age group.

Winners with Darwin
University of Chester & University Centre Shrewsbury

Ideas which won runners-up awards included MPs to represent children, compulsory compostable carrier bags, microchips in your blood which alert you if you develop a disease and bicycles with handlebars which heat up when you pedal - to keep your hands warm.

The winner in the 12-17 age group was 13-year-old Katie McPartland (above, right), who suggested that social media should be banned, to improve people's mental health.

Car parking charges could 'damage town's economy'

Changes to car parking charges in Ludlow have been criticised by the town council, which said they could irreparably damage the local economy.

The new system of charges will see some fees rise to become as high as those in Shrewsbury and town councillors argued they should be on a lower scale - closer to towns like Market Drayton.

Car parking machine
BBC

Shropshire Council introduced the changes after a period of consultation, saying it amended its plans after listening to feedback.

Video: What's the weekend weather got in store?

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

It should be dry and cold tonight before rain moves in tomorrow.

There's a yellow weather warning for snow and ice from 00:05 on Sunday morning.

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Jobs go as housing developer goes into administration

A Shropshire developer that specialises in affordable homes has gone into administration today and 41 people have been made redundant.

Saxonby Affordable Housing is based in Shrewsbury and has been trading since 2008 as part of the Saxonby group of companies, administrators FRP Advisory said.

All other companies in the group are unaffected and continue to trade as normal.

House building
PA

The administrators said "cash flow pressures" had forced the move.

Let the Games begin - athletes ready for Winter Olympics

Let the games begin... The Winter Olympics are now under way after the opening ceremony took place this morning.

The Olympic Torch is lit at Winter Olympics 2018

Seven athletes from the West Midlands will take part in the South Korea games over the next fortnight.

Here's who to keep an eye out for:

  • Charlotte Gilmartin from Redditch - Short track speed skating
  • Farrell Treacy from Henley in Arden - Short track speed skating
  • Izzy Atkin, American but has family from Birmingham - freestyle skiing
  • Rowan Cheshire from Stoke-on-Trent - Freestyle skiing
  • Joel Fearon Coventry - Bobsleigh
  • Ben Simons, Shropshire - Bobsleigh
  • Amanda Lightfootfrom, Coventry - Biathlon
View more on twitter

Motorist in hospital after lorry crash

A man in his 60s is in hospital with "serious facial injuries" after his car was involved in a crash with a lorry near Telford last night.

West Mercia Police said it happened on the A442, close to Sytch Lane at Waters Upton at about 23:00.

Crash location
Google

The lorry driver, a man in his 30s, was unhurt.

Saxon hall site may date back to Roman times

Archaeologists say they want to learn more about the remains of Saxon hall in Shropshire - including who might have lived there.

The site, at a secret location near Attingham, has been untouched since it was first discovered in 1975, but the team from Birmingham University was called in when the landowner raised concerns that rabbits and illegal metal detectorists might be damaging it.

Angry Saxons
Getty Images

Dr Roger White from the university said the site appeared to have been occupied from Roman times and possibly longer.

He also said it would have been a good location for a settlement, because there was, fertile soil and it has a commanding view of its surroundings.

Dr White added it would have been a headquarters of "large manor" which probably remained into the middle ages and he now wants to know who owned the land back then.

A&E waits show need for change says hospital boss

The chief executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust says its poor performance in treating accident and emergency patients showed the need for "structural changes" at the two hospitals.

In January, the Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals officially had the worst waits in England at its A&Es - a third of patients waited more than four hours for treatment.

Simon Wright
SATH

Simon Wright said: "I dont want to be in this position, none of us do" and blamed increasing patient numbers and ongoing staff shortages.

A number of other hospitals around the region, including University Hospitals of North Midlands, also blamed a busy January for delays in providing A&E treatment.

It is for one month, I would stress that. If we look over the year, we're not the bottom. We're not great, our performance isn't great, but it's in the bottom 30 and it has been there for a long time."

Simon WrightShrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust chief executive

Warning for ice and snow issued

Snow and ice could cause travel disruption on Sunday morning, the Met Office is warning.

The yellow warning is in place from 00:05 to 11:00 on Sunday.

Weather map
Met Office

Your pictures: A dusting of snow

BBC Weather Watchers

There's been a smattering of snow across the region, and our BBC Weather Watchers have been busy uploading images of it.

Les at Large took this in Wolverhampton.

snow
Les at Large

This is the scene in Ludlow, Shropshire taken by Foggy.

snow
Foggy

Peter Steggles took this in Longnor, Shropshire.

snow
Peter Steggles

Children come up with ideas to change the world

An app which monitors your mental health and a total ban on social media were the two winning ideas at a Young Thinkers awards in Shrewsbury last night.

Almost 400 children from around Shropshire entered the competition and asked to come up with an idea which would change the world.

Classroom
Thinkstock

The finalists presenting their ideas to a panel of judges as part of the town's Darwin Festival.

Other ideas included edible drones, which could be sent to hard-to-reach disaster areas and 360 degree virtual reality to help people with degenerative mental conditions such as Alzheimer's disease remember their past.

Paul Kirkbright, from University Centre Shrewsbury, said he had been impressed by the pupils' imagination, selflessness and "unfettered thinking".

Snow and ice warning

It's snowing in parts of the West Midlands.

A reminder that a yellow warning for snow and ice came into force shortly after midnight covering most of the region.

The outlook for the weekend doesn't look good with heavy rain forecast tomorrow and a colder day on Sunday again with the chance of snow.

Weather graphic
Met Office

Fire service installs pet oxygen masks on all engines

BBC Shropshire

Shropshire's fire service has become one of the first in the UK to install pet oxygen masks on all its fire engines and appliances.

Grumpy cat
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service

It says small animals, such as cats and dogs inhale smoke four times faster than humans and can collapse very quickly.

The service launched a fundraising campaign to buy the masks nearly two years ago, and now have a total of 28 which are on all of its response vehicles.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

It will be breezy and cloudy today with some sunshine but also wintry showers with top temperatures of 7C (45F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Plans for 600 homes to be considered

Plans for 600 new homes in Shrewsbury are due to go before Shropshire councillors next week.

Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon Homes want to build them on land between Preston Street and London Road, around the back of Shrewsbury College and have also submitted proposals for access roads.

House building
PA

A report drawn up by council officers recommends the proposals, which include footpaths and cycle ways, should be approved.

The developers are initially applying for full planning permission for 353 homes, with outline permission for the other 247.

Another cold and wet day forecast for tomorrow

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

We are forecast more rain tomorrow and it's going to remain chilly, with temperatures only just rising above freezing.

Friday is forecast to be cold and wet in the West Midlands

Town crier to make a comeback

Oswestry is going to get its town crier back.

The town has been without one for 30 years, but the town council voted last night to start the search for a new one.

Oswestry
BBC

It will be a voluntary post and the traditional costume, hat and bell will be provided by the council.

Environmental passions of killed girl 'to live on'

Efforts are being made to to keep alive the memory of Olivia-Violet Reeves from Shrewsbury, who was knocked down and killed by a drunk driver last year.

It would have been her 12th birthday in March and family friend Tracey Morgan said she wanted to mark that by organising a month-long campaign to tackle litter and pollution.

Olivia-Violet Reeves
TRACEY MORGAN/ CHANGE.ORG

Ms Morgan said Olivia was keen to save the oceans. Ms Morgan has called on people to use the #helpLivhelp hashtag on social media and make donations to a Just Giving page, with the money going to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

She's a light you cannot extinguish really. She will still get to do the work she wanted to do. We can still help Liv help the world, help the oceans and be that change she wanted to be."

Tracey Morgan

Brexit forecasts bad news for West Midlands growth

Parts of the UK that backed a Leave vote would face the heaviest hit as a result of Brexit, according to estimates by government officials.

The forecasts, seen by MPs, model the 15-year impact of the UK staying in the single market, doing a trade deal with the EU or leaving without a deal.

Factory workers
PA

They suggest that in England, the North East and West Midlands would see the biggest slowdown in growth.

The government said the document did not represent its policy.

Saxon hall could be 'very high status' site

Ian Perry

BBC Radio Shropshire

Archaeologists digging at a secret location in Shropshire say they believe a large Saxon hall or palace was built there, dating back to the time of King Offa, and that it was a "very high status site".

The dig leader, Roger White from Birmingham University, believes it was one of only 10 of that size in the country and appears to have been inhabited for some time.

Saxons
Getty Images

The site, dating back to the 8th Century, has been known about since 1975, but is protected and this is the first time it has been examined by archaeologists.

Mr White said the state of the clay there suggested it had burnt down and he wants to have the remains carbon dated, to get a more exact age.

BreakingA&E units bottom of four-hour wait table

Shropshire's two acute hospitals are now the worst in the country when it comes to meeting the government's target of waiting less than four hours for accident and emergency treatment.

The latest figures, covering 133 NHS trusts, show a third of patients visiting A&E at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust now having to wait more than that.

Shropshire A&E beds
SATH

The trust is struggling to recruit enough consultants. Contingency plans to temporarily close Telford's A & E overnight, unless the situation improves, have been passed at a meeting today.

Hospital chief executive Simon Wright told a board meeting this afternoon that at the busiest times the hospitals have seen an extra 105 patients needing beds - that’s equivalent to an extra five wards.

Cyclists wear masks against pollution in London

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MP writes to rail operator to call for non-stop service

The Telford MP says she has written to West Midlands Railway to call for an extra train an hour which doesn't stop at stations between Telford and Wolverhampton.

Lucy Allan told BBC Radio Shropshire: "Telford is by far and away the biggest centre for transport and population" and that "if you choose to live in a rural area you know you're going to get a less good service than if you live in a big centre like Telford".

West Midlands Railway line Shrewsbury to Birmingham New Street
BBC

Currently, one train an hour runs direct between Telford Central and Wolverhampton without stopping, with journey times varying between 15 and 18 minutes on those services, compared with 28 minutes on slower trains calling at smaller stations in between.

The MP, who says she travels on the line twice a week, explained again that she was talking about her hopes for the extra service that was promised by West Midlands Railway when it won the franchise.

She reiterated that she doesn't want existing services to change, but that it would be "absolutely wrong" for the new service to stop at the towns between Telford and Wolverhampton.

Lucy Allan
BBC

What I want to be really sure, and I make no apologies for this at all, is that extra train per hour is not a stopping service at little Shropshire villages."

Lucy AllanMP for Telford

Hospital plans being considered for funding

Plans to reorganise Shropshire's main hospitals are among six currently being considered for funding by the Department of Health.

It has taken more than four years and millions of pounds for health bosses in the county to agree a preferred option and they need the government's approval before they can put the plans to public consultation.

PRH A&E
BBC

The plans would involve making Shrewsbury the county's only centre for emergency medicine, with planned operations moving to the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and specialist maternity care moving to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

We know that all of the information that was required of us by NHS England, we have answered, and we are in that final stage where we expect to hear something and be able to go into public consultation."

Simon WrightShrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust chief executive

Snow and ice warning extended

The yellow warning for snow and ice has now been extended across most of the West Midlands, starting 04:00 tomorrow.

Weather warning map
Met Office

The Met Office said roads and railways are likely to be affected by falling temperatures following a spell of rain and hill snow.

In the papers: Family can't appeal drink drive sentence

Shropshire Star

Here are three of the headlines from the Shropshire Star newspaper today:

Karl Krikken

Karl Krikken leaves his role as Shropshire director of cricket to take on a coaching position with Lancashire.

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Loan debt rises by almost 30% across region

The West Midlands as a whole has seen personal debt rise by almost 30% between 2013 and 2017.

That's despite average wages growing by just 6%.

Graphic
BBC

The data published by UK Finance covers 60% of personal loans made by banks and building societies in the UK - it excludes student loans, credit cards and payday lending.

Clock tower fenced off over safety concerns

Fencing has been erected around the clock at Priorslee's clock tower roundabout in Telford.

Telford and Wrekin Council said it made the move after concerns were raised about its condition.

Clock tower
Telford and Wrekin Council

Discussions are under way with a view to carrying out repairs and securing its future.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

Following a dry and cold start it is expected to be milder and cloudy today with some outbreaks of rain this afternoon and highs of 9C (48F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Council wants rail service 'which suits all communities'

Responding to comments from Telford's MP about railway stations in "little Shropshire villages", Telford and Wrekin Council has said it wants "to see a service delivered which suits all communities".

Its cabinet member responsible for transport, Angela McClements, said the authority had held a meeting with West Midlands Railway last week, to discuss the future of the line and that the meeting was "very productive".

Telford council offices
Google

Mrs McClements also said "the council would not support a move which reduced trains to smaller stations".

She added: "Shifnal is a town which is seeing major growth, and Cosford holds major events every year and residents rely on services to help them attend.

"We have got to support use for those as well and develop services for all communities.”

Another overnight closure for rural maternity units

Another Shropshire maternity unit is set to close overnight.

Services at Oswestry Midwife-Led Unit (MLU) will be temporarily suspended from 20:00 until 08:00 Thursday because of staff sickness

Women who are due to give birth at the hospital will be contacted directly by the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust.

Oswestry Midwife-led unit is based at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital
Google Maps

It is the second MLU to close this week, with the unit at Bridgnorth Hospital closed overnight on Tuesday, also due to staff sickness.

During the closure, women will be able to give birth at other county MLUs or the Consultant-Led Unit at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford

Weather: Another cold night ahead

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

Largely staying dry through tonight with clear spells and a little more cloud at times. Chilly once more with a frost developing. Minimum Temperature -3C to 0C (27-32F).

Find out what the next few days have in store.

Latest weather forecast for West Midlands
A fibre glass bear and baby elephant in Wyle Cop

Wyle Cop becomes #Wildcop as animals take over as resurfacing work takes place.

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