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Summary

  1. Thousands of statues being planted in Somme commemoration
  2. New owners of pottery firm eyeing new business
  3. Damaged manhole shuts M6 lane in Cheshire 'for rest of today'
  4. Updates on Friday 1 July 2016

Live Reporting

By Allen Cook

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Our live coverage across the day

We'll be back with our usual mix of news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Monday.

Watch: This weekend's weather for Stoke and Staffordshire

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

If you want a latest forecast over the weekend for your part of Staffordshire or Cheshire - head to the BBC Weather website.  

Three day cycling event under way in Staffordshire

Emma Thomas

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Cyclists from across the world are taking part in this year's Staffordshire Cycling Festival, which started today at Shugborough Hall.

Now in its fourth year at the estate, the three-day event sees amateurs and some of the country's top cyclists taking part in races across the county.  

Cyclists at last year's event at Shugborough
Shugborough

'Tough' Theresa should be the next PM - Burton MP Griffiths

Calum McKenzie

BBC Local Live

The Burton MP, Andrew Griffiths, who came out in support of Theresa May yesterday, has been speaking to the BBC about the qualities that make her a suitable leader.  

Andrew Griffiths and Theresa May
BBC

"The difference with Theresa is she has made difficult decisions in the interests of our country," he said.   

"She is the Home Secretary, she has had to take those tough decisions and she has had to go into tough negotiations."

Mrs May and the four other candidates - Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox - will take part in a series of ballots of the party's 330 MPs, starting on on Tuesday.

Watch: Downton Abbey costumes on show at museum

Tim Wedgwood

BBC Local LIve

Costumes from the ITV drama Downton Abbey are going on display from tomorrow at a Stoke-on-Trent museum.   

They're part of an exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Hanley which will run until October.

BBC Weather Watcher pictures: Stafford and Fazeley

BBC Weather Watchers

Our BBC Weather Watchers got out and snapped some of the skies in Staffordshire and Cheshire over farmers' fields by the look of these pictures.

They're from users Shane's place in Fazeley and Coton Karen in Stafford.

Fazeley
Shane's place
Stafford
Coton Karen

Fright for Burton couple as car ploughs into garden

Burton Mail

An elderly couple were shocked to wake up to find a car had crashed into their garden, in a quiet Stretton street.  

Scene of the crash and a policeman
Burton Mail

Football: Stoke City's internationals given extra time off

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Stoke City players who have been on international duty at Euro 2016, the Copa America and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers have been told they do not have to report back for pre-season training next Friday.  

Shaqiri and Walters
Getty Images

Instead, Jon Walters, Glenn Whelan, Shay Given, Marko Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri, Geoff Cameron and Mame Diouf will link-up with the rest of Mark Hughes' first team squad ahead the trip to Florida later this month.

The Potters squad are due to fly to the United States on 24 July.

On Midlands Today this evening: Thousands pay tribute on Somme centenary

Cath Mackie

BBC News Online

Thousands of people across the Midlands have marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.  

The campaign in France lasted five months with the British suffering almost 60,000 casualties on the first day alone.  

There'll be more coverage of today's events across the region including from the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire on Midlands Today from 18:30 on BBC One.

Football: Port Vale add two more with midfielder and defender

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Port Vale's signings keep on coming as two more players have been added today. 

Calvin Mac-Intosch (left) and Anthony de Freitas
Port Vale FC

French midfielder Anthony de Freitas, 22, and Dutch centre-back Calvin Mac-Intosch, 26, have both signed two-year deals at Vale Park. 

They follow French midfielder Quentin Pereira who arrived earlier today.

Their arrivals make it five transfers in into Port Vale this week by new manager Bruno Ribeiro.

Travel: Overturned lorry shuts Salters Lane in Stoke-on-Trent

BBC Travel

Salters Lane in Werrington, Stoke-on-Trent is shut both ways because of an overturned lorry.

It's between the A52 Ash Bank Road and the Malthouse Lane junction.

News: Wooden statues planted in Somme commemoration; rescued pottery firm eyeing new trade; damaged manhole shuts M6 lane 'for rest of today'

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

If you're just joining us, here are this evening's top stories:

- The first of thousands of wooden statues has been planted today at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme

- The new owner of a Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm, rescued from administration, says he's already got overseas companies interested in doing business with them  

- A damaged manhole cover on the northbound M6 in Cheshire is going to keep one lane closed for the rest of today and overnight    

Watch: Thousands of statues to be planted in Somme commemoration

Tim Wedgwood

BBC Local LIve

Thousands of wooden statues will be planted at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.  

One of them was planted today by Lewis Holmes, the great-grandson of George Edwards who fought on the front line.  

Air ambulance charity gets £40,000 donation

Ros Chimes

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

The County Air Ambulance Trust has been given a cheque for more than £40,000 by the Leek United Building Society

The cheque being donated to the Midland Air Ambulance Charity
Leek United

The society have a customer account which sees them donate money for every £100 saved.

A total of £125,000 has been donated since launching the scheme in 2008, it said.

Steve Davis

Crewe Alexandra boss Steve Davis says the League Two club have put last season's relegation behind them.

Read more

Your pictures: A Rugeley sunset and ballooning over Cheshire

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

The pictures I get sent of sunsets over Staffordshire and Cheshire are fantastic and this is no exception.

Andy Roye took this in Rugeley.

Sunset over Rugeley
Andy Roye

While Jonathan White sent in this picture of a hot air balloon over Wistaston in Cheshire.

If you've got a picture to share on any subject, taken in Staffordshire or Cheshire, you can get it to me on email,tweet @BBCRadioStoke or use Instagram (with the tag #bbcstoke).  

Hot air balloon over Cheshire
Jonathan White

Road warning over 'busy' Potteries Marathon

Stoke-on-Trent's expected to be busy this Sunday when runners pound the streets in the Potteries Marathon.

It is due to start at 09:00 and Staffordshire Police are alerting drivers that roads will be busy.

View more on twitter

Travel: Damaged manhole shuts M6 lane in Cheshire 'for rest of today'

BBC Travel

A damaged manhole cover on the northbound M6 in Cheshire is going to keep one lane closed for the rest of today and overnight.

M6 between junctions 18 and 19
Google

Highways England say it is in lane one between junctions 18 and 19 and they say it needs repairing from later tonight.

They're keeping the lane shut until then "for safety reasons" add that congestion is now back to junction 16.

In pictures: Battle of the Somme

BBC News UK

The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest of World War One, with more than one million people killed or wounded. It lasted five months as the British and French Armies fought the Germans on a 15-mile front.    

Soldiers heading off to war
PA
Soldiers in a trench
PA

News: Rescued pottery firm eyeing new trade; wooden statues planted in Somme ceremony; Port Vale make third signing of week

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

The latest news stories for Staffordshire and Cheshire include:

- The new owner of a Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm, rescued from administration, says he's already got overseas companies interested in doing business with them

- Special commemorative events have taken place at the National Memorial Arboretum to remember the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme

- Port Vale have announced their third signing this week with French midfielder Quentin Pereira joining on a two-year deal

Football: Port Vale make Pereira their third signing of week

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Port Vale have announced their third signing this week with French midfielder Quentin Pereira joining on a two-year deal.

Quentin Pereira with Port Vale scarf
Port Vale FC

Pereira, 24, has an option to stay beyond the initial two seasons if he proves a success at Vale Park.

The midfielder joins from Stade De Reims and follows Rigino Cicilia and Kjell Knops to Vale Park as new manager Bruno Ribeiro adds to his squad.

Battle of the Somme: Eddie Redmayne joins Lichfield project

Rebecca Bradshaw

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

The Battle of the Somme is going to be commemorated this summer at Lichfield Cathedral with a project involving poetry read by the Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne. 

Eddie Redmayne outside the cathedral
Lichfield Cathedral

The exhibition is due to be held between 4-6 August and the cathedral says the star of The Theory of Everything and Les Miserables visited them this week to record a "selection of well-known war poetry".

'Significant amount' of cocaine seized by police

Jack Dowling

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A "significant amount" of cocaine has been seized by police after they pulled a car over in Burntwood, Staffordshire. 

Water Street, Burntwood
Google

Staffordshire Police say they arrested three men who were in the black Ford Focus yesterday on Water Street on suspicion of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply. 

The force wouldn't put a figure on the amount seized but said it was "around 60 rocks" of cocaine.

In photos: Statues planted for Somme anniversary and Stoke-on-Trent war memorial

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

People across Staffordshire and Cheshire have marked the day 100 years ago when the soldiers marched forward on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

BBC Radio Stoke's Emma Thomas has been at the National Memorial Arboretum where the first painted soldier statues have been planted for each soldier killed on 1 July 1916.

Painted soldier statues at National Memorial Arboretum
BBC

While in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, BBC Radio Stoke's Perry Spiller took this poignant picture today at the town's war memorial.

Fenton war memorial today
Perry Spiller

Midlands business leaders expect the unexpected

Patrick Burns

Political editor, Midlands

My latest blog post takes the temperature among Midlands decision-makers at the launch event for the West Midlands Combined Authority.

The atmosphere was spiced-up of course by the Brexit vote.

British and EU flags
Getty Images

Lord Heseltine was the star attraction, but I spent plenty of time mingling with the men and women at the sharp end of economic decision-making during the lunch and coffee breaks.

Their mood was, above all, uncertain.

Football: Crewe boss 'not satisfied' with young players performance

Graham McGarry

Crewe Alexandra commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Crewe Alexandra's manager Steve Davis has admitted he's not been satisfied with the progress of the young players in his squad.

Welcome to Crewe Alexandra sign
Getty Images

All but two of the Alex's current playing staff are 25 or under and five of them will only be 19 when the season starts. 

Davis told BBC Radio Stoke it's time for them to prove they can take the club back to League One.

They're young lads, young-ish players but have experience and I'm looking for them to push on. A lot of them have stood still, haven't shown enough in League One."

Steve DavisCrewe Alexandra's manager

Why was first day of Somme battle such a disaster?

BBC iWonder

The first day of the Battle of the Somme, in northern France, was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army and one of the most infamous days of World War One.  

But why was 1 July 1916 such a disaster? We've been looking it in detail on the BBC iWonder website.

On Midlands Today this lunchtime: Commemorating the Somme fallen

Amy Cole

BBC Midlands Today

Special commemorative events have taken place across the Midlands to remember the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.  

Service at National Memorial Arboretum
BBC

At the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire a two-minute silence was observed at 07:28 this morning, marking the moment thousands of troops went over-the-top to advance on German lines. 

We'll be reflecting on the day's events on our lunchtime update from 13:30 on BBC One in Midlands Today.

Football: Stoke's Butland back in training after ankle break

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Goalkeeper Jack Butland is back in training with Stoke City, the club say.

He's recovering after fracturing his ankle during an England match in March which ruled him out of Euro 2016

View more on twitter

Latest: Historic pottery firm saved in buyout; children part of Somme commemoration; Stoke MP gets walkout apology

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Here are your lunchtime headlines for Staffordshire and Cheshire:

- A historic pottery firm in Stoke-on-Trent has been bought out of administration saving "at least 25" jobs

- Children have taken part in a service at the National Memorial Arboretum to remember the soldiers who died in the Battle of the Somme

- The Stoke North Labour MP Ruth Smeeth has had an apology from the chair of a press conference which she walked out ofafter being accused of "colluding" with the media

Pottery firm sale: No exact figure on number of jobs saved

Sarah Robertson

Producer, BBC Radio Stoke

More now on the news that an historic pottery firm in Stoke-on-Trent has been bought out of administration.

Hudson and Middleton has been acquired by BID Group, which helps turn around struggling businesses.

Hudson and Middleton exterior
BBC

Its spokesman Lee Smith hasn't guaranteed all 45 employees will get their jobs back, saying they'll be employing "at least 25 people" but said he couldn't give an exact figure.

He also said they'd been in contact with a large firm in China about a partnership - but added that didn't mean they'd move production to China.

Definitely not, that's not what we are about. We are passionate about UK-made products."

Lee SmithManaging Director of BID Group

Battle of the Somme: Families remember loved ones who fought

Lauren Turner

BBC News

A man from Stoke-on-Trent has travelled to France to mark the anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

Callan Chevin with picture of his great-grandfather
Callan Chevin

Callan Chevin, 24, is there to honour his great-grandfather John Chevin and his great-great-grandfather's cousin Alfred Saunders.

"It's important for me to remember the men in my family who fought so bravely," he said. 

Watch: Stoke and Staffordshire's afternoon weather

Sara Blizzard

BBC Weather

You can also get weather updates at any time from the BBC Weather website.

Cheshire MP backs Theresa May's leadership bid

Phil McCann

Cheshire Political Reporter, BBC News

The Cheshire Conservative MP Antoinette Sandbach has announced her support for Theresa May as the home secretary bids to become Tory leader.  

Antoinette Sandbach
BBC

The Eddisbury MP told BBC Radio Stoke the next Conservative leader will have a big affect on people's lives in her constituency. 

The decision to leave the EU is one of the most momentous decisions that's been taken for many, many years. It's going to impact on all my constituents and I think it's really important to have somebody who will unite both sides of the party."

Antoinette SandbachConservative MP for Eddisbury

Watch: Battle of the Somme remembered at National Memorial Arboretum

Tim Wedgwood

BBC Local LIve

Children have taken part in a service at the National Memorial Arboretum to remember the soldiers who died in the Battle of the Somme.

A two-minute silence was held as people marked the start of the battle 100 years ago in World War One.