Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Summary

  1. Updates on Friday 22 April 2016
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates to resume at 08:00 on Monday

Live Reporting

By Jack Dowling

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the day

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

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

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

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

Stoke 'haven't done well enough'

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is hoping to arrest the Potters' recent slump in form. Until recently, they were targeting European football next season.

Mark Hughes
BBC

"We've sat down and talked about what we need to do better," Hughes said.

"My feeling is that we'll be fine and get back to what we need to do to win Premier League games."

"It may not be enough if Manchester City perform, but I'm looking for a better performance in terms of executing a game plan - which we haven't done well enough in the last two games."

Classic Stoke-built locomotive returns home

Stuart George

Presenter, BBC Radio Stoke

A classic locomotive built in Stoke-on-Trent nearly 100 years ago has returned to the city.

The Foxfield Railway trust brought the machine, built in 1923, back to Blythe Bridge.

It will be put on display in town immediately.

Classic locomotive sitting on gravel
BBC

You can hear more on this exciting news on my show from 16:00 on BBC Radio Stoke.

Queen's 90th celebrated in style in Stoke-on-Trent

Tim Wedgwood

BBC Local LIve

Pensioners and dignitaries mingled at an afternoon tea in Stoke-on-Trent yesterday afternoon, celebrating the Queen's birthday.

Many of those in attendance at the Kings Hall were also 90, and spoke glowingly of the longest-serving monarch.

I caught up with a few of those celebrating.

Manchester City v Stoke City

After a mauling at the Britannia at the hands of Tottenham, Stoke City face a trick trip to Manchester City.

Stoke will be without midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri after he suffered a hamstring injury against Tottenham.

Shay Given is expected to continue in goal, while Jon Walters and Glen Johnson are getting close to a return but won't feature on Saturday.

Mame Biram Diouf
Getty Images

Plans to give historic mill a new life approved

Leek Post and Times

Plans to give an historic Leek mill a new lease of life have been approved – despite concerns over a lack of car parking in the area.

Latest: Alton Towers crash injuries 'life-changing'; responsible car meets 'won't be targeted'; two arrests after £900k cannabis plant haul

Chris King

News reader, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are some of the main stories we are looking at in Staffordshire and Cheshire:

- A court heard it was the people in the front row that "suffered the greatest physical injuries" after the Smiler rollercoast crash last year

- Police have been handed new powers in Tamworth to seize the vehicles of boy racers, but approved meets won't be targeted

- Two men have been arrested after two cannabis factories containing plants with a combined street value of about £900,000 were discovered in Stoke-on-Trent

Two arrested after £900k cannabis plant haul

Two men have been arrested after two cannabis factories containing plants with a combined street value of about £900,000 were discovered in Stoke-on-Trent in the space of a week.

Generic image of cannabis plant
Leon Neal / Getty Images

The first was found on Railway Passage, Longton, last Thursday, the second was in Atlas Street, Fenton, on Tuesday, Staffordshire Police said.

Both men were bailed until June, and the drugs destroyed.

Gun amnesty sees many antique weapons handed in

Cheshire Police says most of the guns handed in during their latest gun amnesty were antiques people had in their lofts. 

More than 120 firearms were collected in the two-week Give up the Gun initiative. 

Despite it now being the end of the amnesty, Sgt Gareth Wrigley says it's not too late to hand in weapons.

Generic antique weapon
Oli Scarff / Getty Images

If you give us a call and you've got something that is like your great-great-grandfather's old weapon that's in the loft tucked away, we are realistic with that. We will send people round, we will collect the weapon and we will destroy it accordingly."

Sergeant Gareth WrigleyCheshire Police

Responsible car meets 'won't be targeted'

The new Public Space Protection Order approved by Tamworth Borough Council was amended after feedback from some car enthusiasts who expressed concern that it would stop legitimate, responsible car meets.

Car cruising
Alamy

Jo Sands, from Tamworth Borough Council, said official meetings, social gatherings and charity events on land where the owner has no objection would be allowed.

She said it was "never the intention to deter or prevent legitimately organised car cruising events". 

Crewe boss admits 'bad day at school'

Graham McGarry

Crewe Alexandra commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Crewe boss Steve Davis has admitted he's failed in some areas of how he's managed the team this season. 

The Alex were relegated with five games of the season still to play.

Steve Davis looking out of shot
Paul Thomas / Stringer

It's up to any manager to motivate and get your players up to a level, so you almost become a teacher. Sometimes you have a bad day at school, and too often we have had bad days at school."

Steve DavisCrewe Alexandra Football Club Manager

Powers to tackle boy racers introduced

Sarah Robertson

Producer, BBC Radio Stoke

Police have been handed new powers in Tamworth to seize the vehicles of boy racers, in what the local council describes as the first order of its kind in the country.

Tamworth Borough Council approved the measure today and it will come into force at the beginning of May.  

Inside a high performance car
Aaron Tam / Stringer

The authority says it will allow police to respond quicker to irresponsible car-meets on all public roads, car parks and private land - allowing offcers to issue fines on the spot or even seize vehicles.

The council said there were 32 incidents of vehicle nuisance between August 2015 and January.

Travel: Delays on M6

BBC Travel

There are delays on the M6 northbound between J17 for the A54 (Crewe) and J19 for the A556 (Knutsford). 

It's due to a broken down lorry - one lane is blocked. More details on BBC Travel.

Latest: Merlin faces prospect of large fine; faith leader jailed for multimillion-pound fraud

Chris King

News reader, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are some of the main stories we are looking at in Staffordshire and Cheshire:

- Merlin Entertainments faces the prospect of a large fineafter admitting health and safety breaches

- A faith leader who used his role as a "spiritual guide" to cover up a multimillion-pound property fraud and tax-avoiding conspiracy has been jailed

- Cheshire Police says most of the guns handed in during its latest gun amnesty were

Faith leader jailed for multimillion -pound fraud

Phil Bowers

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A faith leader who used his role as a "spiritual guide" to cover up a multimillion-pound property fraud and tax-avoiding conspiracy has been jailed.

Muslim cleric Mehboob Akhtar, of Stoke-on-Trent, was sentenced along with nine others including his wife and daughter.

Mehboob Akhtar mug shot
Staffordshire Police

They were found guilty of lying to mortgage lenders to amass nearly £1m of property in a bid to "control and dominate" areas of the city.

Akhtar was jailed for 14 years at Birmingham Crown Court.

Merlin faces prospect of large fine

Merlin Entertainments face the prospect of a large fine in part because of the firm's fortunes, the court heard.

The company, reported pre-tax profits of £250m in February across the whole group, up 0.3% from 2014.

However, sales at resort theme parks division, which includes Alton Towers, fell 12.4%.

Alton Towers entrance
Getty Images

Alton Towers crash injuries 'life-changing'

The court heard it was the people in the front row that "suffered the greatest physical injuries" and were "life-changing in many cases".

Merlin Entertainment, represented by Simon Antrobus, said the company accepted  "additional reasonable and practicable measures could have been taken to guard against the safety risk that arose on the day".

Crash victims
Richard Vernalls / PA

District Judge Jack McGarva agreed with the HSE that the severity of the injuries and the potentially "very high level of fine" meant the case should be moved to Stafford Crown Court for sentencing.

Smiler ride 'not as safe as it should have been' for two years

From the time the Smiler ride was introduced at Alton Towers in May 2013, until the crash in June 2015, it was not run "as safe as it should have been", Newcastle Magistrates' Court heard.

Bernard Thorogood, representing the Health and Safety Executive, said an "absence" of proper systems for staff to follow when a carriage was stopped on the rails led to the accident.

Smiler rescue
WMAS

He said the crash happened on one of the furthest sections of the track, near the Cobra Loop.

Failing to spot the stationary carriage on the track, operators chose to override a computer warning, leading to the collision. 

Extra safety measures introduced at theme parks

A report by Alton Towers last year concluded human error was to blame for the crash.

Extra safety measures have since been introduced across all theme parks owned by Merlin.

In all 16 people were injured in the crash, five of them seriously.

The Smiler
PA

The 500-acre theme park was shut for four days following the collision and the Smiler ride itself - the world's first 14-loop rollercoaster - only reopened in March this year.

Theme park accidents 'very rare'

Leah Washington similarly lost a leg following the crash.

Her boyfriend Joe Pugh, from Barnsley, Daniel Thorpe from Buxton in Derbyshire and Chanda Chahan, from Wednesbury were also badly injured.

At the time, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions said such accidents were "very rare".

Graphic
AP

Vicky Balch recalls Smiler crash

One of those most seriously injured in the Smiler crash, Vicky Balch spoke to the BBC 's Victoria Derbyshire programme in September.

She said she still remembered the impact and feared she would not survive.

Since then she's learnt to walk with a new, bionic leg after initially desperately resisting the amputation.

Latest: Smiler victims 'were in horror movie'; murdered toddler's gran 'can't forgive' girl's killer; gun amnesty sees antique weapons handed in

Chris King

News reader, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are some of the main stories we are looking at in Staffordshire and Cheshire:

- Two victims of the Smiler rollercoaster crash have described the aftermath as being like "a horror movie"

- The grandmother of a toddler stamped to death by her own mother has said she can never forgive her murderer

- Fifty years after their World Cup win, members of England's 1966 football squad are gathering in Stoke-on-Trent tonight

Smiler victims 'were in horror movie'

Chanda Chauhan and daughter Vanisha Singh have described the aftermath of the Smiler crash as being like "a horror movie".

Alton Towers Smiler crash victims 'were in horror movie'

The pair were in the second car of the ride as it hit a stationary carriage on 2 June.

The crash left some people trapped 25ft (7.6m up) at an angle of 45 degrees for up to four-and-a-half hours.

Smiler guilty plea welcomed by HSE

In a statement released after the court hearing, the Health and Safety said Merlin had "acknowledged that it failed“

"Those injured on 2 June last year had every right to expect a carefree and fun day out. in its legal duty to protect people on the Smiler ride.

View more on twitter

“The incident was profoundly distressing for everyone involved, both physically and mentally. It left some with life changing injuries.

“We hope this first milestone will help those affected to continue their recovery from this tragic incident.”

Alton Towers bosses will 'continue to support' victims

Lucy King

News Editor, BBC Radio Stoke

The owner of Alton Towers has issued a statement following its guilty plea to breaching health and safety rules over the Smiler crash last year, saying it will continue to support the victims of the accident.

Smiler ride at Alton Towers
BBC

From the outset, the company has accepted responsibility for what happened in June last year and it has cooperated fully with the Health & Safety Executive in its investigation. We have sought to provide help and support to all those injured in the accident and will continue to do so."

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd statement

Smiler recovery 'a lifelong process'

In a joint statement issued following the court hearing, the most seriously injured said their recovery would be a "lifelong process".

"Given that such serious injuries could be sustained on a fun day out, it is hardly surprising that a criminal offence was committed.

"However, it is comforting for the families that a plea of guilty has been entered rather than the victims having to endure a drawn out trial."

Smiler crash
BBC

"Today is not seen as a victory; the families are not motivated by retribution, but inevitably this guilty plea will be a milestone along the way to psychological rehabilitation," the statement added.

Smiler staff 'overrode computer'

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

The Health and Safety Executive said Alton Towers' Smiler ride was mechanically sound, but there wasn't a "sufficient system in place" to prevent the accident, a court has heard.

It happened when a static carriage on the line was hit by another, critically injuring five people.

The computer on the ride correctly identified there was a carriage on the track, but staff didn't see it and overrode the computer, the court heard.

Image of emergency staff working on Smiler ride
WMAS

Merlin could face large fine

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

Merlin will be sentenced at a later date at Stafford Crown Court and they could face a large fine.

The rollercoaster crash left five people seriously hurt, and in court the victims' statements said their and their families' lives had been turned upside down.

Images of the victims of the Smiler accident
Facebook

In a statement issued after the Health and Safety Executive announced its intention to prosecute in February, Merlin said it had "co-operated fully" with the HSE investigation.

The firm said it had continued to support those injured in the crash.

BreakingAlton Towers owners admit health and safety breaches

The owners of Alton Towers have pleaded guilty at Newcastle Under Lyme Magistrates' Court to health and safety breaches over the Smiler crash last year.

Latest: Smiler crash court appearance; murdered toddler's gran 'can't forgive' girl's killer; gun amnesty sees antique weapons handed in

Lee Blakeman

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are some of the main stories we are looking at in Staffordshire and Cheshire: 

- Alton Towers owners set to appear in court on allegations of breaching health and safety rules

- The grandmother of a toddler stamped to death by her own mother has said she can never forgive her murderer

- Cheshire Police says most of the guns handed in during its latest gun amnesty were antiques

Leah Washington and Vicky Balch arrive for Alton Towers hearing

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

Two other victims of the Smiler crash on 2 June 2015 have arrived at the court.

Vicky Balch and Leah Washington, both had to have a leg amputated following the crash.

View more on twitter

Smiler victim arrives at court

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

Merlin Entertainment, the owners of Alton Towers, is in court today to face a charge of breaching health and safety rules over The Smiler rollercoaster crash which left five people seriously hurt.

One of them Chanda Chauhan, from Wednesbury, has just arrived at the court in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

View more on twitter

Ayeeshia 'such a happy child'

Ayeeshia collapsed in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, after suffering injuries similar to those associated with a car crash, Birmingham Crown Court heard.

It was the latest in a string of injuries leading up to her death in May 2014.

A serious case review is being carried out by the Derbyshire safeguarding children's board .

Tacey Bodell
BBC

Tracey Bodell, from Swadlincote, Derbyshire, (pictured) said the 21-month-old girl "was a delight".

"She was such a happy child. You wouldn't have thought she was going through anything," she said.

Murdered toddler's gran 'can't forgive' girl's killer

The grandmother of a toddler stamped to death by her own mother has said she can never forgive her murderer.

Ayeeshia Jane Smith suffered fatal injuries at the hands of Kathryn Smith.

Ayeeshia Smith
SWNS

Tracey Bodell said she did not know what her granddaughter had been through until she heard the evidence in court.

Smith was jailed for at least 24 years. Her then partner, Matthew Rigby, 22, was jailed for three years and six months after being found guilty of causing or allowing Ayeeshia's death.

Playgroup slams court decision after 15-year-old burglar sentenced

Burton Mail

The owners of a playgroup burgled just before Christmas have slammed the decision of a court to impose a £300 compensation order on the 15-year-old offender.

Latest: Smiler crash court appearance; gun amnesty plea; World Cup winners meet for meal

Lee Blakeman

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are some of the main stories we are looking at in Staffordshire and Cheshire:

- The company that owns Alton Towers is due in court in Newcastle today, facing a health and safety charge following last year's Smiler crash

- Cheshire Police is urging people to continue handing in unwanted or illegally held weapons, despite their gun amnesty now being over

- Fifty years after their World Cup win, members of England's 1966 football squad are gathering in Stoke-on-Trent tonight

Travel: Delays on M6

BBC Travel

There are delays on the M6 northbound between J10 for the A454 (Wolverhampton) and J11 for the A460 (Cannock). 

It's due to a broken down vehicle. More details on BBC Travel.

Watch: Latest weather forecast across the West Midlands

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

cloudier and cooler day across the area today with patchy rain affecting southern parts at times.

Good morning - welcome to our live updates for the day

Welcome to Friday.

We'll be in the BBC newsroom, bringing you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates for Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and Cheshire until 18:00.

 If you want to get in touch or send us your photos, you can email ustweet @BBCRadioStoke or use Instagram for photos