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Summary

  1. Updates on Thursday 7 April 2016
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates to resume at 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

By Allen Cook

All times stated are UK

Get involved

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 Friday with the latest news, sport, travel and weather. 

Coming up on BBC Midlands Today: Ambulance service talks; organ donor memorial and pothole cash

BBC Midlands Today

Midlands ambulance services working together, a Staffordshire memorial (pictured) paying tribute to thousands of organ donors and who's benefiting from millions of extra pounds to repair potholes

The unveiling of the sculpture
National Memorial Arboretum.jpg

Those are just some of the big stories we'll be covering this evening in BBC Midlands Today's update from 18:30 on BBC One.

Football: Port Vale loan man Kennedy returns to Cardiff

Ged Scott

BBC Sport

Port Vale winger Matty Kennedy has been recalled from his loan in Burslem by parent club Cardiff City.

Kennedy, 21, initially signed for Vale on loan in January, before extending his deal for a further two months until 26 April.

Matthew Kennedy playing for Vale
Port Vale FC

But, after nine starts, he has been limited to bench duty for the last four games, coming on three times.

Vale lost just four times in his overall total of 12 appearances. 

Watch: Legal highs smuggled into prisons inside letters

Louise Brierley

Reporter, BBC Midlands Today

Scientists say legal highs are being smuggled into prisons in letters to inmates. 

Bio-chemists at Sandwell Hospital have analysed correspondence from five jails in the Midlands.

This content only works in the UK.

They found sheets of paper soaked with psychoactive substances. 

It's thought that once inside the prison they can change hands for hundreds of pounds.

Police reassure Nantwich residents over number of officers in town

A large number of police officers on the streets of Nantwich is due to filming in the town, according to Cheshire Police.

View more on twitter

Your pictures: A stag in the Peak District

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Can you help? We're always looking out for more of your pictures of Staffordshire or Cheshire so keep sending them in.

This one of a stag in the Peak District was shared with me by Villager Jim.

Stag in Peak District
Villager Jim

To get your pictures to me you can email them, tweet @BBCRadioStoke or, if you use Instagram, put them on there and add #bbcstoke to the description.

Woman named after fatal A50 crash

Jack Dowling

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A woman who died in a car crash in Staffordshire on Monday has today been named by police. 

A50 eastbound near Blythe Bridge
Google

Staffordshire Police say Rachel Edwards, 35, of Dronfield, Derbyshire, was a passenger in a car that hit the back of a stationary lorry on the A50 eastbound near Blythe Bridge. 

The force says she died at the scene - the road was closed for nearly four hours.

News: Ambulance merger ruled out; charity plans in memory of strangled toddler; firms short-listed for rail franchise

Jack Dowling

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

These are among this evening's main headlines:

- The chairman of the East Midlands Ambulance Service rules out a full merger with West Midlands Ambulance Service

- The family and friends of a Stoke-on-Trent toddler who was strangled by a window blind cord raise money in her memory  

- Three firms are short-listed to run some of Staffordshire's rail services

Ambulance service rules out full Midlands merger

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

The chairman of the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has said this afternoon that they are not planning a full merger with West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS). 

EMAS is in talks with its neighbouring service about working more closely together.

Ambulance
PA

It comes with the East Midlands service struggling financially and having some of the worst response times in England. 

In a statement, EMAS chair Pauline Tagg said they had discussed ways within the NHS to "strengthen our leadership".

She added that discussions had been held with WMAS about its chief executive Dr Anthony Marsh working with them, but options "are still being explored".

Travel: Collapsed manhole on M6 near Middlewich

BBC Travel

On the M6 in Cheshire there is stop-start traffic and a lane closed between junctions 18 and 19, because of a collapsed manhole in the roadworks area.

Travel time is 25 minutes and congestion is back to junction 16.

Watch: Tonight and tomorrow's Stoke and Staffordshire weather

Sara Thornton

BBC Weather

If you also need a weather forecast at any time for your part of Staffordshire or Cheshire, you can get it from the BBC website.

This content only works in the UK.

Three rail companies in running to operate Staffordshire service

Andy Giddings

BBC Local Live

Three firms have been short-listed to run some of Staffordshire's rail services.  

London Midland
BBC

London Midland is bidding to retain its franchise across the Midlands, including Stoke-on-Trent to London. 

It faces competition from MTR, which will operate London's Crossrail service and Abellio which has routes in East Anglia.

Football: Crewe's starting line-up 'not finalised' for Port Vale derby

Graham McGarry

Crewe Alexandra commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Crewe Alexandra's assistant manager James Collins says, apart from the goalkeeper, nobody is guaranteed a place in the team for Saturday's game against Port Vale. 

Crewe Alex's assistant manager James Collins
crewealex.net

The Alex go to Vale Park without a win in any of their last 11 matches. 

Collins says the team's defeat at Peterborough last week means the starting line up is not finalised.

Some of the players have played well but in patches, not consistently enough - so the manager's got a tough week deciding who he's going to pick."

James CollinsCrewe Alexandra's assistant manager

Watch: Trees covered in nets to protect from demolition work

John Acres

BBC Radio Stoke

Here's something you don't see every day - I was passing Victoria Park in Newcastle-under-Lyme yesterday and saw several trees there have been covered in nets to protect them from nearby demolition work. 

This content only works in the UK.

Travel: Animals on M6 near Stoke-on-Trent

BBC Travel

There's slow traffic on the M6 southbound between junctions 15 and 16 because of animals on the road.

Ambulance services 'merger': East Midlands service £12m in debt

Michele Paduano

Health correspondent, BBC Midlands Today

More now on the story we brought you earlier that the BBC understands West Midlands Ambulance Service is in talks with the East Midlands service about a possible merger.

A data infographic on West Midlands and East Midlands ambulance services
BBC

Some of the background to this is that EMAS recently applied for a loan after ending the year £12m in debt, and chief executive Sue Noyes (pictured above) stood down last month. 

Its response times to the highest-priority emergency calls in 2014-15 were well below national targets.

It is understood EMAS first approached the West Midlands trust, which had some of the best response times in the country, for help around six weeks ago.  

News: Shock at possible ambulance merger; charity plans in memory of strangled toddler; £1m extra for Staffordshire potholes

Jack Dowling

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The top Staffordshire and Cheshire headlines this afternoon include:

- A possible merger of West and East Midlands ambulance services has been met with shock by union bosses

- The family and friends of a Stoke-on-Trent toddler who was strangled by a window blind cord are going to raise money in her memory

- An extra £1m has been given to Staffordshire County Council by the government to repair more potholes

Watch: Organ donor memorial unveiled at National Memorial Arboretum

Emma Thomas

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are some of the scenes from the memorial to organ donors unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum this morning.

This content only works in the UK.

Travel: Lane closed for emergency repairs on M6 in Cheshire

BBC Travel

A lane's shut on the M6 north between junctions 18-19 for "emergency repairs" say police.

Keep up to date with the latest on the BBC Travel website.

View more on twitter

Travel: Breakdown on M6 near Gailey

BBC Travel

There's a broken down vehicle and a rolling road-block on the M6 northbound at junction 12 for Gailey, Staffordshire.

Funds to be raised in memory of toddler strangled by window blind cord

Tom Warren

BBC Local Live

The family and friends of a Stoke-on-Trent toddler who was strangled by a window blind cord are going to raise money in her memory. 

Bronwyn Taylor
SWNS.com

Bronwyn Taylor became tangled in the metal cord in Stoke-on-Trent, stopped breathing and the 16-month-old was pronounced dead at hospital on Saturday afternoon. 

Her parents described her as the "apple of their eye" and they and their friends have decided to raise money for the Donna Louise Children's Hospice in Bronwyn's honour.

Spring fair raises vital funds for RSPCA centre in Nantwich

Nantwich News

A spring fair raised much-needed funds for the RSPCA’s specialist wildlife centre and cattery in Nantwich  

Three rescued cats
Nantwich News

Football: Port Vale get ready for 'fired up' Crewe

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Port Vale's assistant manager Paul Bodin says they can't underestimate Crewe Alexandra when the two sides meet this weekend.  

Vale Park
Getty Images

The Alex go to Vale Park bottom of the League One table, knowing that a defeat will almost certainly see them relegated. 

Bodin told BBC Radio Stoke that the Vale players have to take Crewe seriously.   

They've not had a particularly good season but there's no doubt they will be fired up for this game as they always are, it's a local derby."

Paul BodinPort Vale assistant manager

Your pictures: Canal side at dusk in Staffordshire

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

This lovely looking picture of a canal at dusk has been sent in by Kath Dawson who says she took it between the canal locks at Meaford, Staffordshire.

Between the canal locks at Meaford
Kath Dawson

If like Kath you've got a picture to share you can send it in on email, tweet it to @BBCRadioStoke or put it on Instagram and tag it #bbcstoke.

Staffordshire gets extra £1m for potholes 'blight'

Daniel Wainwright

Data unit - English regions

An extra £1m has been given to Staffordshire County Council by the government to repair more potholes.

Pothole in Staffordshire
BBC

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the government wanted to "tackle the blight of potholes".

The county council says it already deals with around 350 potholes a week. The Local Government Association said it would take £12bn to fix England's roads.

This lunchtime on BBC Midlands Today: A national organ donor memorial

BBC Midlands Today

This lunchtime on BBC Midlands Today we'll cross over to the National Memorial Arboretum to see a new memorial which has been unveiled this morning. 

National Memorial Arboretum
Getty Images

It's been dedicated to 30,000 people who have donated their organs and we've been there for the ceremony today. 

You can see more on BBC One from 13:30.

Hospital 'missed my cancer': Tamworth woman's pain

Tamworth Herald

A cancer patient says she has been "left to die" after medics failed to diagnose her with the life-limiting disease until it was too late.

Beverley Scott
Tamworth Herald

News: Ambulance merger concerns; cat missing head and tail found; RAF veteran helped after scooter stolen

Jack Dowling

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

These are among this afternoon's top stories for Staffordshire and Cheshire:

- Concerns have been raised about a possible merger between the West and East Midlands ambulance services

- A headless and tailless cat has been found in a garden in Cannock, the RSPCA says  

- A Stoke-on-Trent charity has come the aid of a Newcastle-under-Lyme RAF veteran who had his mobility scooter stolen

'Suspicious package' caused Crewe road closure

Chris King

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

Bomb disposal experts were called to a road Crewe this morning after the discovery of a suspicious package. 

University Way
Google

Cheshire Police say University Way was closed for an hour and half while they decided if it was dangerous. 

The force says it turns out it wasn't and the road was reopened just before 08:00.

Watch: Charity helps RAF veteran after mobility scooter theft

John Acres

BBC Radio Stoke

A Stoke-on-Trent charity has come the aid of a Newcastle-under-Lyme RAF veteran who had his mobility scooter stolen.

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Chris Hollins told BBC Radio Stoke today he had feared he'd be stuck inside his home after the theft.

But Burslem Rotary Club has lent him one after hearing about his plight on the radio station.

Watch: This afternoon's forecast for Stoke and Staffordshire

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

The BBC website also has the latest weather forecast at any time for your part of Staffordshire or Cheshire. 

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BBC Weather Watcher pictures: A Rocester rainbow and muddy Maer

Monica Rimmer

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A big thanks to our local BBC Weather Watchers who keep us updated on the weather where they are and take pictures.

This beautiful rainbow over Rocester was taken by ZirconCalmElk.

Rainbow over Rocester
ZirconCalmElk

While showing the impact from this morning's rain, user Vulcaster uploaded this photo from Maer, Staffordshire.

If you fancy becoming a BBC Weather Watcher, it's simple - head to the website and sign up.

Muddy path in Maer
Vulcaster

Junior doctors' strike: More disruption expected on second day

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Junior doctors in Staffordshire and Cheshire are into their second day of strike action.  

This content only works in the UK.

Doctors are providing only emergency care, because of a dispute with the government about the imposition of a new contract. 

Yesterday, 321 outpatient appointments were cancelled at the Royal Stoke University Hospital and the County Hospital in Stafford.

On BBC Radio Stoke today: Talking openly about depression

Stuart Ellis

Presenter, BBC Radio Stoke

Today I want to talk about depression and hear about your experiences.

Beverley Callard as Liz McDonald
BBC

It's after the Coronation Street actress Beverley Callard is set to return to the ITV soap next month after revealing she had "hope" in her battle with depression.

Please get in touch and share your experiences - you can get involved by calling 01782 208008 until 13:00, tweet @BBCRadioStoke or email me.

Old Stafford Hogshead pub is back up for rent

Express and Star

A grade II listed building and former pub in Stafford is back up for rent.

Former Hogshead pub
Express and Star

Headless and tailless cat found in Cannock

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

A headless and tailless cat has been found in a garden in Cannock, the RSPCA says. 

Lincoln Drive, Cannock
Google

The 18-month-old black and white cat called Ellie-May was discovered in Lincoln Drive on Friday 25 March, but details have just emerged. 

The RSPCA says it doesn't yet know for certain how she died and that she could have died naturally and been "scavenged by wild animals".

She was a very timid cat but she was affectionate towards me. It is so sad because she was just starting to enjoy life, going outside and doing what cats like to do, but now something like this has happened and it is awful."

Brenda HearndonEllie-May’s owner

News: 'Merger talks' between ambulance services; national organ donor memorial set for unveiling; second day of junior doctors strike

Chris King

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The main headlines for Staffordshire and Cheshire this morning include:

- West Midlands Ambulance Service is in talks with the East Midlands service about a possible merger, the BBC understands

- A memorial to honour 30,000 people who have donated their organs is to be unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum 

- Junior doctors in Staffordshire and Cheshire are staging a second day of strike action as part of their ongoing dispute with the government