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Summary

  1. Barry Bennell sex abuse trial set for January
  2. Cheshire CCG given 'inadequate' rating
  3. Election candidate charged over blogs
  4. Kurt Zouma: Chelsea defender joins Stoke on season-long loan
  5. Updates on Friday 21 July

Live Reporting

By Allen Cook

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

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

M6 Cheshire - One lane blocked and slow traffic on M6 northbound between J16, A500 (Crewe) and J17, A534 (Sandbach), because of a broken down caravan. In the roadworks area.

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

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, but keep an eye out here for more updates this evening.

On Midlands Today from 18:30: Tracking the summer getaway

Ben Godfrey

BBC Midlands Today

On Midlands Today this evening, school is out and the big summer getaway has started.

Traffic on motorway
BBC

It's set to be the busiest in years across the region with early figures suggesting planned journeys over the weekend are up by at least 10%.

We'll have the latest on the Midlands motorway network and how all the routes are coping on BBC One from 18:30.

Large stretch of A41 near Newport to close for roadworks

A 1.5 mile stretch of the A41, south of Newport, will close next week, to allow resurfacing to take place.

Telford and Wrekin Council says it has put the work off until the summer holidays and will take the opportunity to clear gullies and repair signs there, while the road is closed.

Road closed sign
BBC

Severe disruption: M6 Staffordshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Staffordshire southbound severe disruption, at J15 for A500.

M6 Staffordshire - M6 lane closed on exit slip road southbound at J15, A500 (Stoke-On-Trent), because of a vehicle fire.

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

Cyclist suffered serious injuries after trapped under trailer

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

A cyclist had to be airlifted to hospital this afternoon after getting trapped under a trailer pulled by a tractor in Staffordshire.

Man being rushed to air ambulance
West Midlands Ambulance Service

West Midlands Ambulance Service says they were called to the B5017 Stubby Lane, Marchington just before 13:00.

They say the fire service helped free the victim, a man thought to be in his 60s, who had suffered several serious injuries.

Watch: Warnings of heavy rain and high winds for the West Midlands

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

The heavy rain will clear eastwards through the early hours on Saturday. By dawn clear spells will develop, with light winds.

Weather for the West Midlands.

Juror discharged in four-month terror trial for asking 'is that policeman single'?

A juror in the four-month trial of the alleged Three Musketeers terror cell accused of plotting a Lee Rigby-style attack has been discharged - for asking whether a police officer in the case was single.

The Old Bailey trial of four West Midlands men was halted as Mr Justice Globe was about to finish his summing up and send jurors out to begin deliberating verdicts.

He told the remaining jury members the female juror was discharged after she was overheard asking a court usher about the marital status of a policeman who had been criticised by the defence during proceedings.

Old Bailey
Getty Images

The judge said the inquiry was made "jokingly" and did not come at the behest of another jury member who said she found the officer "attractive". That juror said she would remain true to her oath, the judge said.

Naweed Ali, 29, and Khobaib Hussain, 25, both of Sparkhill in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent men Mohibur Rahman, 32, and Tahir Aziz, 38, have denied preparing terrorist acts.

Sunsets and a curious duck in Friday's pick of your photos

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Two stunning sunsets bookend my selection today of photos sent in by you, our audience, of Staffordshire.

You can send your photos of the area in on email or use Instagram to share them, adding #bbcstoke to the description to show you agree to share them.

Audience photos of Staffordshire and Cheshire.

Cheshire CCG given 'inadequate' rating

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

A group that provides health services in South Cheshire says it is being supported by NHS England after being given an overall rating of inadequate.

Hands holding stick by dementia patient
BBC

South Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group has been told its dementia services need to improve, but its mental health support is good, and cancer treatment outstanding.

The group says the rating doesn't reflect on the safety and quality of its care.

However it does say it ended its financial year with a deficit of more than £2.8m, despite cost cutting.

Uttoxeter's Adam Peaty on medals, tattoos and legacy

Nick Hope

BBC Sport Olympic sports reporter

As Adam Peaty prepares to defend his 100m breaststroke gold at the World Championships in Hungary, BBC Sport's been given wide-ranging access to his training camps in Thailand and Tokyo.

We've spoken to the 22-year-old from Uttoxeter about the scale of his achievements so far including the world record and Olympic gold.

Adam Peaty: Olympic champion explains his Project 56

Plus why he has a giant tattoo off a lion on his left bicep and just what his 'Project 56' is all about.

Read the full story here on the BBC Sport website.

Man hopes bottom-baring gnome can stay at new home

Tim Wedgwood

BBC Local Live

A man who was told to remove a gnome which is baring its bottom at a road junction says he hopes it can stay at its new home.

The relocation of a gnome

Laurence Perry, 76, of Wistaston, said Cheshire East Council told him to remove the ornament within seven days.

The council said "such objects could easily cause a distraction to motorists and other road users, leading to an accident".

Mr Perry has now moved the gnome to a nearby flowerbed.

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

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

M6 Cheshire - One lane closed and heavy traffic on M6 northbound between J16, A500 (Crewe) and J17, A534 (Sandbach), because of a broken down car and recovery work. In the roadworks area.

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

Barry Bennell sex abuse trial set for January

BBC News UK

The former Crewe Alexandra coach coach Barry Bennell will stand trial over alleged child sex offences in January next year.

Barry Bennell
BBC

The 63-year-old is charged with 42 counts of indecent assault, 11 counts of serious sexual assault and two attempted serious sexual assaults.

The charges relate to 12 complainants - who were all aged 8-15 - and allegedly happened between 1979 and 1991.

Mr Bennell denies the charges he faces and the trial is set to last eight weeks, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Clement Goldstone said a pre-trial hearing would be held in October.

How do you avoid holiday traffic jams?

BBC News England

For those of you already in or preparing for your summer getaway, we've been told today places like the M6 between junctions 11 and 20 will be a lot busier on days like today.

But the BBC's trying to help, with these tips which might help you reach your destination more quickly.

How do you avoid holiday traffic jams?

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

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

M6 Cheshire - One lane blocked and slow traffic on M6 northbound between J16, A500 (Crewe) and J17, A534 (Sandbach), because of a broken down car. In the roadworks area.

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

Football: New Stoke loan signing Zouma hailed as 'talented' defender

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Stoke City's latest loan signing Kurt Zouma has been described by his new manager as "one of the most talented young defenders in the game".

Kurt Zouma with Stoke kit
Stoke City

The 22-year-old's joining the Potters for the 2016-17 campaign.

Stoke says he completed a medical at their Clayton Wood training ground earlier this week and the move was finalised today.

Kurt is undoubtedly one of the most talented young defenders in the game, so naturally his arrival will enhance our playing squad for the forthcoming campaign."

Mark HughesStoke City manager

Election candidate charged with sending abusive material

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

A woman who stood in the Stoke-on-Trent Central election earlier this year has been charged with sending offensive material.

Independent candidate Barbara Fielding from Draycott polled 210 votes in the seat in June.

Staffordshire Police says the 78-year-old has been charged with one count of sending by public communication network an offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing message/matter.

They say it relates to online blogs from between September and February and she's due to appear before magistrates in September.

Ducklings rescued by fire crews from chimney pot

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Ducklings in chimney pot
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue

Seven ducklings and an egg have been rescued by firefighters from a chimney pot on a house in Tamworth.

Staffordshire Fire Service says they were called this morning to the three-storey house on Two Trees Close where the animals had been found.

They say it took two fire crews several hours to safely rescue the ducklings and handed them to the RSPCA to be reunited with their mother.

Fire crews afterwards with ducklings
Staffordshire Fire Service

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

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

M6 Cheshire - One lane blocked and very slow traffic on M6 northbound between J16, A500 (Crewe) and J17, A534 (Sandbach), because of a broken down car.

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

Kurt Zouma

Stoke sign Kurt Zouma on a season-long loan from Chelsea, as the French defender signs a new six-year contract with the Blues.

Read more

Samurai swords and machete among 700 knives handed to police

BBC Radio Stoke

A knife amnesty has seen more than 700 handed into Staffordshire Police in a week-long campaign.

Amnesty sees 700 knives handed in

Officers say among the blades handed in are samurai swords and a machete and they are considering another amnesty.

Knife crime in Staffordshire has increased by 50% in the last two years, with 967 offences recorded in 2016, according to officers.

Councillors refuse to back key police appointment

Phil McCann

Cheshire Political Reporter, BBC News

An official panel of councillors has refused to endorse the man that Cheshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) wants to be his most senior member of staff, on £75,000 a year.

David Keane
BBC

Concerns were raised that PCC David Keane (pictured) previously knew his new chief executive Peter Astley, who, it is claimed by some councillors on the cross-party Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, doesn't have enough experience for the role.

Mr Astley has been appointed to the role anyway, with Mr Keane saying the appointment follows a "rigorous recruitment process".

Football: Joe Davis says he's 'changed massively' on his return to Port Vale

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Defender Joe Davis says he's come back to Port Vale a different player to the one who left to join Leicester City in 2014.

Joe Davis
Port Vale FC

The 23-year-old returned to Vale Park last month after an agreement was reached to end his contract at Fleetwood.

I think I've changed massively. Looking back now as a young lad when I was playing, I got into the side young and I was quite immature in ways, I didn't know the game as much as I do now. I think I've matured as a person as well off the pitch. "

Joe DavisPort Vale defender

Six weekend closures for A449 work in Staffordshire

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

A main road in Staffordshire will be shut for six weekends over the coming months as work's carried out at a junction to a new industrial estate.

Gravelly Way entrance from A449
Google

The county council is working on the 52-acre Four Ashes site near Gailey and says the work will improve the entrance from the A449 along Gravelly Way.

By the end of the work, traffic lights will have been installed at the junction along with toucan crossings.

The authority says the work will see six full weekend closures of the A449 at the junction, starting on 28 July but not including the V Festival weekend next month.

Football: Belgium star signs five-year Stoke deal

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Stoke City have announced that forward Thibaud Verlinden has signed a five-year-professional contract with the club.

Thibaud Verlinden
Stoke City

The 18-year-old initially moved to the Potters in 2015 and has since gone on to represent Belgium at youth level.

He's made such an impression at Academy level over the past two years that Mark Hughes has promoted him into his first-team plans for next season.

Severe accident: A53 Staffordshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A53 Staffordshire both ways severe accident, between B5369 Basford Park Road and Sandy Lane.

A53 Staffordshire - A53 Etruria Road in Newcastle-Under-Lyme closed in both directions between Basford Bank and the Sandy Lane junction, because of an accident involving three lorries.

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

On Midlands Today from 13:30: Summer getaway and Adam Peaty

BBC Midlands Today

On Midlands Today this lunchtime, we'll be looking at how our roads are coping as the big summer getaway's expected to drive traffic up on many of our regions motorways.

Getaway data picture
Getty Images

Plus we'll hear from Adam Peaty as the Uttoxeter swimmer prepares to defend his 100m breaststroke title at the World Championships in Hungary.

Those stories and more from 13:30 on BBC One.

Cat 'shot six times' in third shooting in a year

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

A cat from Stoke-on-Trent has survived after being shot six times and the RSPCA says it's the third time he's been shot in a year.

Dante the cat, left, and some of the extracted air pellets
RSPCA

The charity says two-year-old Dante was found with air pellet wounds earlier this month and vets have had to leave three in his body as they say they are too close to his spinal cord.

The RSPCA is warning cat owners near Trent Valley Road in Penkhull to be extra vigilant.

This is the third time Dante has been shot in the last year. He has already been shot in his foot and the back of his head. We just can’t believe that he has been targeted again. He is such a lovely cat and we just don’t understand why someone would do this.”

Zeke AresDante's owner

Adam Peaty aiming for swimming first in World Championship defence

BBC Midlands Today

Staffordshire swimmer Adam Peaty will begin the defence of his 100m breaststroke title at the World Championships in Hungary this weekend.

Adam Peaty
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Peaty, who is the 100m breaststroke world record holder, won three golds in Russia two years ago before going on to claim Olympic gold in Rio.

The 22-year-old from Uttoxeter is also hoping to become the first swimmer to go under 57 seconds in his distance.

'Police numbers are a factor' says top cop in tackling violent crime rise

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

The Chief Constable of Staffordshire says "police numbers are a factor" in tackling the rise in crime in the county.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, released yesterday, showed the largest annual rise in crime in a decade in England and Wales.

Staffordshire Police headquarters sign
BBC

Violent crime was up across the country, including in Staffordshire - which saw it increase by 17% between April 2016 and March 2017 to 26,516 offences

On Twitter, the county's top policeman Gareth Morgan tweeted he was "concerned at overall trends" and that he "can't separate reductions in budgets from crime debate".

He added that he'll be meeting with his fellow Staffordshire officers to discuss how they can deal with the rise but said "capability to respond & investigate police numbers are a factor".

Responding yesterday, Nick Hurd, minister for policing and the fire service, said the government is listening to police concerns over funding.

Summer getaway M6 journey times 'could triple today'

BBC News England

Journeys on the M6 through Staffordshire and Cheshire could take more than three times as long as usual today as families head off on their summer holidays.

Traffic information company Inrix said it usually takes around 50 minutes to go from junction 11 north to 20 but today it could be as long as 150 minutes.

M6 at junction 11 heading onto motorway
Google

They add that going southbound over the same stretch could also take longer, from 50 minutes to around 90 minutes.

The company said the busiest period is likely to be between 11:00 and 18:30.

Bottom-baring gnome removed after striking bum note

Tim Wedgwood

BBC Local Live

Cheshire's most infamous garden gnome has been moved.

The unwelcome gnome

Laurence Perry, 76, of Wistaston, had placed the ornament, which shows its bottom to passing drivers and "lights up" at night, at a road junction in the area.

But Cheshire East Council ordered that it be removed from a verge within seven days as they said it could be distracting to drivers.

Mr Perry says he's taken it from the junction by Westfield Drive and has now placed the gnome in a nearby flower bed.