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Summary

  1. Updates on Tuesday 29 March 2016
  2. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Wednesday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Live updates for Staffordshire and Cheshire have finished for the day but we'll be back from 08:00 Wednesday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather. 

Watch: Baby meerkats explore outside for first time

Sarah Robertson

Producer, BBC Radio Stoke

Three meerkat pups, which were born at Chester Zoo nine weeks ago, have just emerged from their burrow for the first time, the zoo says. 

A spokesperson says at the moment it's unclear whether the pups are male or female, but they'll have a health check-up next month - after which they'll be named.

Football: Crewe Alexandra boss refuses to accept relegation is inevitable

Dan Wheeler

BBC Sport

Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis says he will never give up hope that they can still avoid relegation from League One despite their precarious position.  

Steve Davis
Getty Images

The Railwaymen are 11 points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table with seven games remaining.  

I'll always be an optimist who believes you can always achieve things. If I said 'that's it, we're down', you'd question my mentality.

Steve DavisCrewe Alexandra manager

Police step up investigation into Burton hit and run

Burton Mail

Attempts to find a hit and run driver are being ramped up by police as the investigation into the incident moves into its third day.

The site of the collision
Burton Mail

Libraries: The decline of a profession?

Peter Sherlock

Data unit

Librarians are custodians to a world of information and ideas, performing an important democratic role, their supporters argue.

But with 8,000 jobs in UK libraries disappearing in six years, is that status under threat?  

Librarian with child
Thinkstock

In 2010 the Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the biggest UK spending cuts for decades. Since then, libraries have seen an influx of volunteer staff in areas including Staffordshire and Cheshire - with a quarter of paid jobs disappearing in the same time.

I've been looking at whether the role of a librarian is now under threat and you can read the full story on the BBC website here.

BBC Midlands Today this evening: £250m to ease a railway bottleneck

Peter Plisner

BBC Midlands Today

This evening - it's been one of the biggest railway engineering projects in the country, costing £250m.   

Norton Bridge
BBC

The new Norton Bridge near Stafford will ease a major bottleneck on the West Coast Main Line. 

I'll be looking at how big a job this was for Network Rail and what the benefits should be for passengers - all on BBC Midlands Today from 18:30 on BBC One.

Police name man after fatal Staffordshire A51 crash

Lucy King

News Editor, BBC Radio Stoke

A man who died in a crash in Staffordshire at the weekend has today been named by police. 

Site of the crash on A51, Stableford
Google

Staffordshire Police say Frank Woodcock, 62, of Pipe Gate, Woore, was driving a green Ford Transit when it collided with a Ford Focus on the A51 in Stableford.

Officers said he died at the scene - a man and a woman in the car were shaken but unhurt.

Watch: Many high street pharmacies in Staffordshire 'face closure'

James Bovill

Political reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

Pharmacists in north Staffordshire say nearly a third of high street dispensaries could close as part of government proposals.

The Department of Health says there are more pharmacies than necessary and is looking at moving some of them into GP practices, care homes and online to give patients more choice.

Raj Morjaria, who runs six pharmacies in Stoke-on-Trent, is one of the local pharmacists who says he is concerned about the future for patients.  

Heritage group wins vote for Staffordshire flag

Jack Walker

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Staffordshire has a new flag, designed by the Staffordshire Heritage group, after their entry won a public vote. 

The New County Flag of Staffordshire
Staffordshire Heritage Group

The County Council withdrew its design, which has a lion on it, from the poll on the Flag Institute's website.

The charity says overall there were 777 valid votes - the heritage group's flag got 566 to 211 for the council's.

Watch: Stoke and Staffordshire's weather for tonight and tomorrow

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

Staffordshire and Cheshire's latest weather can also be found on the BBC website.

News: Murder accused denies hurting toddler; first Syrian refugees resettled in Staffordshire; Butland out for season

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

- A man accused of the murder of a 21-month-old child in Burton has told a court today: "I would never hurt her"   

- Ten refugees from Syria, the first to be resettled in Staffordshire, have arrived in the area, the county council says

- Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland has confirmed he will miss Euro 2016 after fracturing his ankle in Saturday's 3-2 victory over Germany in Berlin  

Ayeeshia Jane Smith murder trial: Ex-partner carried out CPR 'while mother got cannabis'

BBC Radio Stoke

A man accused of murdering toddler Ayeeshia Jane Smith in Burton in May 2014 has told a court he carried out CPR on the child in February of the same year while her mother was out getting cannabis. 

Ayeeshia Jane Smith
BBC

Matthew Rigby claimed he was about to take a shower when he heard a noise from the 21-month-old and found her turning "blue". Brimingham Crown Court heard the little girl made a full recovery after a spell in hospital. 

Both Mr Rigby, 22, of Sloan Drive, Nottingham and Ayeeshia's mother, Kathryn Smith, 23, of Sandfield Road, Nottingham, deny murder, allowing or causing a child's death and child cruelty. 

The trial continues.

Football: Play-offs 'tough ask' for Port Vale

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

The Port Vale manager Rob Page has admitted that it will be a tough ask for his side to reach the League One play-offs this season

Port Vale ground
Getty Images

The Vale lost 1-0 at home to Barnsley yesterday

Page told BBC Radio Stoke that while the play-offs may be out of reach, his side will do their best to finish on a high.

It is a long shot? Yes, of course it is, we're realistic. The attitude of the players is we're professionals, let's get on with preparing for this next game, bring it on, let's get out and let's have a look at what we've got for the rest of the season.

Rob PagePort Vale manager

Fire officers rescue man stuck up tree in Burntwood

Lichfield Mercury

A man has been rescued in Burntwood this morning after he became stuck in a tree eight metres above the ground.

Chase Terrace Community Fire Station
Lichfield Mercury

BBC Weather Watcher photos: From a Brereton lake to Trentham flowers

BBC Weather Watchers

We get some fantastic pictures through from our BBC Weather Watchers every day.

This one's from Welsh Wizard in Brereton cum Smethwick, Cheshire.

Lake in Brereton cum Smethwick
Welsh Wizard

Meanwhile, BBC Weather Watcher Gill uploaded this picture taken in Trentham.

If you want to see your photos potentially featured here and on the regional news updates, head to the website and sign up.

Trentham
Gill

First Syria refugees resettle in Staffordshire

James Bovill

Political reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

Ten refugees from Syria, the first to be resettled in Staffordshire, have arrived in the area, the county council says. 

Refugees in a camp
AP

The announcement comes months after David Cameron told MPs the UK would accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years. 

Staffordshire County Council says the group, a family of four and a family of six, are settling into new homes. The authority says it's preparing for more arrivals over the coming weeks.

Football: Tough weekend for Burton and Clough

Nigel Cash

BBC Radio Derby Sport

Burton Albion's lead at the top of League One has been cut to just one point after a difficult Easter.  

Nigel Clough's team took just a single point from a possible six.  

Burton Albion stadium
Getty Images

The Brewers lost 2-0 at Millwall last night. The loss follows a goalless draw with Oldham on Saturday.

Wigan are now hot on their heels at the top of the table.

Football: Stoke goalkeeper to miss Euro 2016

BBC Sport

Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland has confirmed he will miss Euro 2016 after fracturing his ankle in Saturday's 3-2 victory over Germany in Berlin.  

Butland being carried off after the injury
Getty Images

Butland, 23, will have an operation on Tuesday after hurting himself moments before conceding Germany's opener.

The player was in tears as he was taken off on a stretcher and England manager Roy Hodgson described the injury as a "devastating blow" for the squad.

I don't think [the European Championships] are going to be an option for me now to be honest because I won't be able to play again between now and the end of the season.

Jack ButlandStoke City goalkeeper

Man dies in Staffordshire after being hit by train

Sarah Robertson

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A man's died after being hit by a train at Penkridge railway station, police say. 

Penkridge railway station
Google

British Transport Police says there don't look to be any suspicious circumstances around his death. 

The force says the man's identity is yet to be confirmed and it will put together a full report for the Coroner.

News: Murder accused denies hurting toddler; man dies at railway station

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The main headlines this afternoon include:

- A man's died after being hit by a train at Penkridge railway station, police say  

- A man accused of the murder of a 21-month-old child in Burton has told a court today: "I would never hurt her"  

- Train journeys through part of Staffordshire could be faster in the future and there could be more of them, according to Network Rail

Ayeeshia Jane Smith murder trial: Accused says 'I would never hurt her'

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

A man accused of the murder of a 21-month-old child in Burton has told a court today: "I've done nothing but love that child, I would never hurt her". 

Kathryn Smith and Matthew Rigby
BBC

Matthew Rigby, the ex-partner of Ayeeshia's mother Kathryn Smith, who is also accused, was asked at Birmingham Crown Court if he killed the child. He said: "No never". 

Mr Rigby, 22, of Sloan Drive, Nottingham and Ms Smith, 23, of Sandfield Road, Nottingham, both deny murder, allowing or causing a child's death and child cruelty.

The trial continues.

Drink driver blows three times the limit as car careers off Cannock road

Cannock Mercury

The driver of a car which ended up marooned on top of a grass bank in Cannock was arrested after blowing over three times the drink drive limit.  

Photos of the crash site and meter reading
Cannock Mercury/Staffordshire Specials

Travel: Lines shut after person hit by train near Stafford

BBC Travel

Trains are delayed between Stafford and Wolverhampton after the incident in the Penkridge area.

The BBC Travel website has the latest information.

View more on twitter

Your pictures: A Staffordshire kingfisher and the sun rising on Audley

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Lots of great pictures of the area are being shared with me on the BBC Radio Stoke Facebook page - Jon Kelso took this photo of a kingfisher at Wolsley Bridge nature reserve.

Kingfisher at Wolsley bridge nature reserve
Jon Kelso

While Duncan Richardson tweeted this photo of Audley to @BBCRadioStoke.

Audley
Duncan Richardson

Watch: Passengers could get faster Staffordshire train journeys

Emma Thomas

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Train journeys through part of Staffordshire could be faster in the future and there could be more of them, according to Network Rail. 

A train going under the new Norton Bridge flyover after £250m works.

The first services have run over a new flyover at Norton Bridge after £250m rail improvements finished today. 

Network Rail says the work means, in the future, there's the capacity for more frequent services and faster journey times.

Your say: The future of libraries in Stoke-on-Trent

Jack Dowling

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

You've been having your say on the BBC Radio Stoke Facebook about the news that more than half of Stoke-on-Trent's libraries have closed in the last six years.

Woman reading
deyangeorgiev

Paul Picard wrote: "What an utterly stupid thing to do. Libraries are repositories of a great wealth of knowledge and to lose them would be a crime."

Carole Blundred added: "Definitely needed in today's society. Not everyone has access to the internet."

And Jill Flitcroft put: "Libraries are not just for reading and knowledge they are are there to bring communities together."

Woman hurt in Nantwich street robbery

Lamont Howie

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

A woman's been robbed by two men on a Nantwich street shortly after leaving a town centre pub.

Meanee Drive
Google

Cheshire Police say it happened as the 29-year-old turned into Meanee Drive on Sunday night. 

The two men took jewellery and cash and officers say the victim's been left with minor injuries after one assaulted her. 

This lunchtime on BBC Midlands Today: Latest from toddler murder trial

BBC Midlands Today

On BBC Midlands Today this lunchtime we'll be featuring several Staffordshire stories. 

Work at Stafford over the Easter weekend
Network Rail

We'll have the latest from the trial of the man and his partner accused of the murder - which they deny - of Ayeeshia Jane Smith in Burton. 

You'll also see the first trains using the new Norton Bridge railway flyover and we'll look at the impact on Stoke City of goalkeeper Jack Butland's fractured ankle. 

Tune in from 13:30 on BBC One.

Tamworth's honour for D-Day veteran after French bravery award

Tamworth Herald

A Tamworth war veteran who was presented with France's highest decoration for his part in the D-Day landings, has also been honoured by the Mayor of Tamworth.

John Paterson pictured with his Legion of Honour medal
Tamworth Herald

News: Scale of Stoke library cuts revealed; woman hurt in robbery; £250m railway works finish

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The main headlines for Staffordshire and Cheshire this lunchtime include:

- BBC research has shown that more than half of Stoke-on-Trent's libraries have closed in the last six years  

-  A woman's been robbed by two men on a Nantwich street shortly after leaving a town centre pub  

- The first trains have used a new rail flyover near Stafford after £250m rail improvements finished today  

Scale of Stoke-on-Trent's library cuts revealed

Peter Sherlock

Data unit

BBC research has shown that more than half of Stoke-on-Trent's libraries have closed in the last six years.

Shelf of books
Thinkstock

In 2010 there were 119 paid staff in the city's libraries, compared with 72 now.

The government said it funded the roll-out of wi-fi to help libraries adapt.  

Football: Hodgson says Butland loss 'devastating'

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

The England manager Roy Hodgson says it's a devastating blow to lose the Stoke keeper Jack Butland.

An injured Jack Butland
Getty Images

Butland fractured his ankle in Saturday's 3-2 win over Germany in Berlin and is out of Euro 2016.

It's a great disappointment that after such a good season, where he has established himself as Stoke's number one goalkeeper and certainly one of the very best goalkeepers in the Premier League, he's not going to have the chance to take that form and that ability with us into the Euro's.

Roy HodgsonEngland

Watch: First train uses new Staffordshire rail flyover

Here's the moment, taken by Network Rail, when the first service used the new Norton Bridge flyover near Stafford.

View more on twitter

Watch: The afternoon weather forecast for Stoke and Staffordshire

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

The BBC website also has the latest weather forecast at any time for Staffordshire and Cheshire.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith murder trial: Mother's ex-partner giving evidence

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

I'm at the trial today of a woman and her ex-partner who are accused of the murder of 21-month-old Ayeeshia Jane Smith in Burton in 2014.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith
BBC

Kathryn Smith, 23, of Sandfield Road, Nottingham and Matthew Rigby, 22, of Sloan Drive, Nottingham both deny murder, allowing or causing a child's death and child cruelty.

Today at Birmingham Crown Court Mr Rigby is in the witness box for the first time and I'll bring you updates later today as the trial continues.

Picture: Wide load heading through Staffordshire today

Drivers in Staffordshire are being warned of a wide load heading from Stafford this morning.

View more on twitter

Watch: BBC Midlands Today goes "Out & About" on tour today

John Bray

BBC Midlands Today

BBC Midlands Today's "Out & About" tour starts today when the BBC Bus arrives at the Trentham Estate, Staffordshire.  

Over the next two weeks we're offering you the chance to have a go at reading the news and presenting the weather and, today, you can interview one of Midlands Today's weather presenters - Rebecca Wood.  

News: Pharmacies 'face closure'; child arrests over alleged gun crimes; £250m rail works finish

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The main headlines this morning for Staffordshire and Cheshire include:

- Pharmacists in Staffordshire say older people will be hardest hit by government proposals which they claim put a third of pharmacies at risk of closure

- Thirteen children were arrested for suspected firearm offences in Staffordshire and Cheshire last year, new figures have revealed

- The first trains have used a new rail flyover near Stafford after £250m rail improvements finished today