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  1. Updates from the past week

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Jack Butland

Ellie Thomason

BBC Sport

Stoke and West Ham edge closer to Premier League safety after a goalless draw at the Bet365 Stadium.

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Cauley Woodrow

Substitute Luke Varney scores his first Burton goal to confirm the club's Championship status with a draw with Barnsley.

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Football: Former MP pledges local support for Port Vale in survival bid

Matt Sandoz

BBC Radio Stoke Sport

The big weekend is almost here for Port Vale fans, when their side need to win at Fleetwood Town to have any realistic chance of staying in League One.

Ahead of the match, their caretaker manager Michael Brown says if they do survive, it'll be a "great achievement" for his players. 

Port Vale caretaker manager Michael Brown

Meanwhile the former Stoke-on-Trent MP Joan Walley, a lifelong Port Vale fan, says the whole of Burslem is backing the side.

Former MP Joan Walley

Plane pulls banner over city as part of culture bid

John Acres

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A plane with a banner flew above Stoke-on-Trent today to mark the city submitting its bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.  

Plane pulling banner over Stoke-on-Trent

Today's the deadline for all towns and cities to submit the 30-page document.

It outlines the key elements of the bid and why each place believes it deserves the title.

New £400 fines for fly-tippers considered in Stafford

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

People caught fly-tipping in the Stafford area could be hit with £400 fines as the local authority looks to combat rising reports of rubbish being illegally dumped. 

Sofas dumped recently in Hanchurch Hills
Stafford Borough Council

The borough council's cabinet's meeting next week to look at giving the power to its officers as a deterrent to small-scale fly-tipping. 

The authority says reports of fly-tipping have risen from 352 in 2012-13 to 539 in 2015-16 but, in that last year, just seven cases led to people being charged and fined.

BBC Weather Watcher photos: Hednesford and Mow Cop

BBC Weather Watchers

Some flashes of colour and bright spells in the cloud today as our two picks show from the photos uploaded by the BBC Weather Watchers in Staffordshire.

These are from users Angus and me in Hednesford and Dave-Stoke in Mow Cop.

Angus and me
Mow Cop

The rugby team in a football final


You don't even need to be a football team to play in the FA People's Cup.

LBoro Rangers are a group of university students who are taking part in the Higher Education category......

LBoro Rangers will be in action in the Higher Education finals on Sunday

Catch up with what's been going on in the FA People's Cup so far - and follow live coverage of the FA People's Cup finals on Sunday, 30 April and Monday, 1 May.

Severe accident: A38 Staffordshire northbound

BBC News Travel

A38 Staffordshire northbound severe accident, between A5206 and A5192 Cappers Lane.

A38 Staffordshire - Heavy traffic on A38 northbound in Streethay between Swinfen Island and Lichfield, because of an accident earlier on and a fuel spillage. All lanes have been re-opened.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Politics: Stoke 'not among seats Nuttall could stand in'

BBC Politics

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has repeatedly refused to answer where he will stand in the upcoming election, saying he will make the announcement "tomorrow".  

But according to the Daily Telegraph's chief political correspondent, Stoke-on-Trent Central is not among the listed options. Mr Nuttall came second in a by-election for the seat in February. 

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Victim feels 'pure hatred' to surgeon who needlessly harmed her

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

A Staffordshire woman says she feels "pure hatred" to a breast surgeon who has today been convicted of intentionally wounding patients in "completely unnecessary" operations. 

Ian Paterson, 59, was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent, relating to nine women and one man. 

Frances Perks
Gavin Dickson

Frances Perks from Burntwood was referred to him when a lump showed up on a mammogram and he urged her to have a double mastectomy or risk "full-blown cancer". 

She had her left breast removed and underwent eight other operations at the private Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, West Midlands. However, she later learned that none had been necessary.

Mrs Perks says the effect on her life has been devastating as the stress caused her to leave her job and the financial hardship meant she had to sell her house.

Cricket: New cricket season gets under way

James Bond

Sports Producer, BBC Shropshire

It’s the start of the new cricket season this weekend, with the former Birmingham League champions Shrewsbury, hoping to move up from last year’s third-place finish.

Shifnal are looking to join them in the top flight. They were promoted from division two last season. County captain Steve Leach, who plays for Shifnal, says: “We’re an ambitious club with a premier division set-up.”

Cricket captains

In the Shropshire League, Worfield are the favourites for the title, after coming down from the Birmingham League last year, but captain James Parker knows it’ll be “a tough race,” while newcomers Market Drayton are hoping to spring a surprise.

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Cheshire northbound severe disruption, between J16 for A500 Crewe and J17 for A534 Sandbach affecting J15 for A500.

M6 Cheshire - One lane closed and slow traffic on M6 northbound between J16, A500 (Crewe) and J17, A534 (Sandbach), because of a broken down van. Congestion to J15, A500 (Stoke-On-Trent).

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Football: The ways Port Vale can avoid relegation this weekend

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

This weekend is a massive one for fans of Port Vale as the club still have a slim chance of avoiding relegation from League One. 

As ever with football and these situations, it's a little complicated and not all in the Vale's hands - so we've run through all the scenarios:

Port Vale's chances of survival
Getty Images

Bank defends itself against 'anti-homeless' claims

John Acres

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A Stafford bank's been criticised for a lack of care after installing metal bars outside its front door.

The Co-op Bank in Stafford

The Co-op Bank on Greengate Street was criticised last week for installing large rocks outside to stop homeless people sleeping there and now bars have also been put up to block a covered area.

The Co-op Bank says the moves are part of measures taken to address anti-social behaviour issues.  

Football: Top-10 finish the aim for Stoke boss

BBC Sport

The Stoke City manager Mark Hughes says he wants the club to finish their season in the top 10. 

Mark Hughes quote

The Potters are currently 11th, a point behind Watford and Southampton.

Stoke's recent record though is patchy, with one win in seven matches as they head into their home game with West Ham.

Empty homes blamed for 'rat increase'

BBC Radio Stoke

A number of people in part of Stoke-on-Trent have told BBC Radio Stoke they're constantly having to deal with rats running around their streets.  

Boarded up houses in Middleport

People in Middleport say empty, boarded up homes are to blame for lots of fly-tipping which they say is encouraging vermin. 

Stoke-on-Trent City Council says it recognises the negative impact empty homes can have and have asked any concerned people in Middleport to call them.  

Biker suffers 'serious injury' in crash

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Drivers are being warned this lunchtime to avoid a road in Stoke-on-Trent after a crash in which a motorbiker's suffered a "serious injury".

Police car and cones on Shelton New Road
Staffordshire Police

Staffordshire Police says it's happened in the last hour on Shelton New Road and the road's shut between Victoria Street and Brick Kiln Lane.

They say the crash involved a car and a motorbike and are calling on drivers to find alternative routes.

Jackson Irvine

Midfielder Jackson Irvine says Burton have defied the critics who felt the club would not survive in the Championship.

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Severe accident: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Cheshire northbound severe accident, at J17 for A534 Sandbach.

M6 Cheshire - One lane closed and very slow traffic on M6 northbound at J17, A534 (Sandbach), because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

The street that goes on holiday together


Residents of a street in Tamworth have told BBC WM how they get on so well, they regularly go on holiday together. 

Getty Images

Around 50 people living in St. Christopher's Drive recently returned from Eastbourne and are already planning their next group trip.

It's just a question of getting the residents together...It started with a trip to Llandudno, we did one to Southport, we did one to York and then from there we've been back to Llandudno."

John HuntHoliday organiser

Premier League Darts: Losses for Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis

BBC Sport

At the Premier League of Darts in Birmingham last night, Stoke-on-Trent's Phil Taylor was beaten 7-3 by Peter Wright.

Adrian Lewis
Harry Trump/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Newcastle-under-Lyme's Adrian Lewis (pictured) played twice - he lost 7-4 to James Wade and 7-0 to Michael Van Gerwen.

Arrest made after police get reports of man armed with knife

Lee Blakeman

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

A man's been arrested after police say they had reports of a man with a knife on a street in Biddulph. 

Staffordshire Police says officers were called this morning to Mayfield Road, adding that a car window was smashed during the incident but no-one was hurt.

Mayfield Road, Biddulph

Officers say the 31-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and affray.

The force says there'll now be more patrols in the area to reassure residents.

Stoke-on-Trent makes official bid to be UK City of Culture 2021

Sarah Robertson

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Stoke-on-Trent is officially submitting its application today in its bid to become UK City of Culture in 2021. 

The 30-page document will then assessed by an independent panel with a shortlist is due to be announced in the summer and the winning city named in December.

Gladstone Pottery Museum

Eleven towns and cities have now put their names forward for the honour including fellow West Midlands sites Coventry and Hereford. 

The chosen place will succeed Hull, which is the City of Culture for 2017 and the Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged to give £3m to the winning city.

Football: Holding nerve key for Port Vale boss in final survival match

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Port Vale caretaker boss Michael Brown says he thinks nerves will play a huge part in their decisive game at Fleetwood on Sunday.

Michael Brown
Pete Norton/Getty Images

Vale need to win to give themselves any hope of surviving in League One, while Fleetwood need the three points to stand a chance of winning promotion to the Championship.

Fleetwood are going to be very, very nervous. They know what's at stake and it's up to us now, it's in our hands."

Michael BrownPort Vale caretaker boss

Canal to host top anglers

Faith Page

Reporter, BBC Shropshire

Some 500 of the country's best anglers will be looking for a nibble on a 15-mile stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal later this year. 

The Angling Trust says August's Division One National Championship is the largest of its kind and it's being held near Market Drayton.

Shropshire Union Canal

Burton's Frazer Clarke backs Anthony Joshua in world title fight

Khia Lewis-Todd

BBC Local Live

Anthony Joshua's sparring partner - Burton's Frazer Clarke - says tomorrow night's heavyweight title bout at Wembley will be one of boxing's biggest ever fights. 

Frazer helped the IBF world champion prepare for his clash with Wladimir Klitschko during practice sessions in Sheffield. 

He says he's backing the British superstar to come out on top.

Frazer Clarke
Getty Images

"It's not just that he is clever - he has good speed, accuracy and he is ferocious," Frazer told Radio Derby.

Joshua and Klitschko got fans warmed up with an open workout at Wembley ahead of tomorrow's fight.

Stoke-on-Trent seat 'worst' for non-voters outnumbering winning votes

Daniel Wainwright

Data unit - English regions

More than twice as many people didn't vote in the last general election in part of Stoke-on-Trent than did for the winning candidate, BBC analysis has found.

The people too 'disillusioned' to vote in election

Ruth Smeeth won in Stoke North thanks to 15,429 votes, but 32,784 people didn't vote, including spoiled ballots. 

The BBC figures reveal the ward is the worst in England for non-voters outnumbering those who voted for the winning party - number two is Stoke-on-Trent Central.

The Electoral Reform Society said many people felt their vote did not count.  

See the figures for your constituency on this interactive map.  

Woodland patrols after huge grass fire

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Rangers will this weekend patrol the site of a huge woodland fire which burnt over two acres of land in Staffordshire. 

The blaze on Wednesday took fire crews several hours to put out after Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service says it was called to near Nanny's Rock, Kinver Edge.

Burnt out woodland at Kinver Edge
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

About 10,000 square meters of bracken and woodland was on fire and the cause is being investigated - the fire service hasn't ruled out arson. 

It says rangers from the National Trust, which owns the site, will patrol the site this weekend to make sure the blaze is fully out.

Northern rail workers walk out as strike begins

BBC News England

A 24-hour strike on Northern rail services has begun in a dispute over the role of guards on trains.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out at 00:01 over changes due to come into service in 2020.

Train travelling along a track

Northern has warned travellers its routes, including from Stoke-on-Trent, would be "extremely busy" but said it expected to operate more than 40% of its normal timetable.  

The row is over drivers being in charge of operating the doors, and guards being changed to on-board supervisors.  

The power of non-voters

Daniel Wainwright

Data unit - English regions

Non-voters would play a pivotal role in the general election if they were to use their vote, analysis suggests.

The number of non-voters exceeded the number of votes cast for the winning party in more than half of UK constituencies in 2015.

In Wyre Forest, 27,967 failed to vote (including spoiled ballots), compared with 22,394 who voted for the current MP, Conservative Mark Garnier.


The Electoral Reform Society said many people felt their vote did not count.  

See the figures for your constituency on this interactive map

Video: What's the weather doing today?

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

A generally dry day with occasional sunny spells and the risk of a couple of isolated showers - highs of 12C (54F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Severe disruption: M54 Staffordshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M54 Staffordshire eastbound severe disruption, at J1 for A460 Wolverhampton.

M54 Staffordshire - One lane closed on M54 eastbound at J1, A460 (Wolverhampton), because of a broken down vehicle.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

The people too 'disillusioned' to vote in election
More people stayed away from the ballot box than voted for the winning party in Stoke-on-Trent at the last election.

City transport plans include multimillion-pound link roads

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

As well as turning the A50 and A500 in Stoke-on-Trent into "smart" trunk roads, the city council's plans for the area's transport future include two new link roads and overhauling a key road junction. 

The "Transport Vision" for Stoke-on-Trent, which will be discussed by the council's cabinet next month, draws together a lot of proposals for Stoke-on-Trent's future.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council HQ

The link roads have already been suggested - work on the £38m Etruria Valley link road's expected to start next year while, in March, the government gave £8.5m towards the proposed Hanley-Bentilee Link Road. 

Also in the "vision" are remodelling the Cobridge traffic lights road junction, with the A50 and A53 widened to increase capacity.

It's not just roads - the council says it wants to have a "fully connected" high-speed railway station in the city and better local rail services.