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  1. Developer set to buy former police HQ for £15m
  2. Council rules out referendum on hospital services
  3. Rescued lamb 'not facing dinner plate'
  4. Updates from Friday 4 August 2017

Live Reporting

By Allen Cook

All times stated are UK

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Severe disruption: M54 Staffordshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M54 Staffordshire eastbound severe disruption, between J2 for A449 and J1 for A460 Wolverhampton.

M54 Staffordshire - Two lanes closed on M54 eastbound between J2, A449 (Wolverhampton) and J1, A460 (Wolverhampton), because of debris on the road. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Cheshire northbound severe disruption, at J16 for A500 Crewe.

M6 Cheshire - M6 lane closed on entry slip road northbound at J16, A500 (Crewe), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: A54 Cheshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A54 Cheshire both ways severe disruption, between Hollin Lane and Barlow Hill.

A54 Cheshire - A54 in Wincle closed in both directions between the Hollin Lane junction and the Barlow Hill junction, because of a vehicle fire.

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

Premier League Preview: Part 3

Predicting the Premier League winners and losers for the 2017/18 season
The Sportsworld Premier League Preview panel weighs up the chances of every Premier League team and puts reputations on the line by telling you who will win the league, who is destined for European football and who will be relegated! 

Mike Williams is joined by The New York Times football correspondent Rory Smith, Former Manchester United striker Danny Webber and Sportsworld's football reporter John Bennett to look ahead to the 2017/18 Premier League season. 

We've divided the Premier League into four groups of five teams based on where they are in the table right now... In other words in alphabetical order! 

Group three: M - S

(Photo: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, Credit: Getty Images)

Severe disruption: M6 Staffordshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Staffordshire northbound severe disruption, between J12 for A5 and J13 for A449.

M6 Staffordshire - One lane blocked and slow traffic on M6 northbound between J12, A5 (Gailey) and J13, A449 (Stafford South), because of a broken down car.

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

Severe accident: A523 Staffordshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A523 Staffordshire both ways severe accident, between Common Lane and A52.

A523 Staffordshire - A523 in Waterhouses closed in both directions between Common Lane and the A52 junction, because of a serious accident. Traffic is coping well.

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


Michael Brown starts his first full season as Port Vale boss with a comfortable victory at Harry Kewell's Crawley.

Read more

Severe accident: A5 Staffordshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A5 Staffordshire both ways severe accident, between A41 and A449.

A5 Staffordshire - A5 closed and slow traffic in both directions between the A41 junction in Weston-under-Lizard and Gailey Island in Gailey, because of a serious accident involving two cars. Police directing traffic.

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.

Guide dog gets blind customer 'banned from Welsh shop'

Jennifer Harby

BBC News Online

A blind customer is considering a discrimination claim against a shop in Wales he says asked him to leave because he had his guide dog with him.

Andy Terry, 61, from Stoke-on-Trent, was visiting Fairbourne, Gwynedd, on Friday with his guide dog Flame.

Andy Terry and Flame
Andy Terry

Mr Terry said he was asked to leave the village mini mart by the owner who told him dogs were banned.

Charity Guide Dogs Cymru said the owner had offered no apology. The shop has been contacted by the BBC for comment.

Mr Terry, who is registered blind because of a rare genetic disorder, said he had visited the shop while on holiday.

He told me there was a clear notice on the door saying 'no dogs under any circumstances'. I explained Flame was a guide dog and showed him a card I carry to prove that, but he told me it was private property and we would have to leave."

Andy TerryBlind customer

French bulldogs stolen from house's porch

Chris King

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

Two French bulldogs have been stolen from a house in Stoke-on-Trent.

Taffy and Honey, the stolen bulldogs
Staffordshire Police

Staffordshire Police says the dogs, Taffy and Honey, were taken from the property's porch in Shelton New Road last night.

The force says both animals are female and seven months old.

Weather: A fine night but stormy showers tomorrow

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

It's going to be a fine night with some sunshine this evening, but there will be rain tomorrow and maybe some thunder and lightning.

Friday's weather forecast for the West Midlands

Robert Hardy thanked for 'special connection' to Stafford

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Managers of the Stafford Festival Shakespeare event have paid tribute to the actor Robert Hardy, who's died age 91, saying he had a "special connection" with them, after appearing in their first ever production.

The event's been held since 1991 when the star of TV series All Creatures Great and Small played Chorus in Henry V at Stafford Castle that year.

The producer of Stafford Festival Shakespeare, Derrick Gask, said few great actors who've appeared in the event are "remembered as fondly" as Mr Hardy.

Developer set to buy former police HQ for £15m

Chris King

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

It's been confirmed Staffordshire Police's former headquarters in Stafford looks set to be sold for £15m.

The now cleared site at Baswich Park

The county's police and crime commissioner, Matthew Ellis, said the Baswich Park site will be bought by Bellway Homes as long as they can get planning permission.

The developer wants to put 109 luxury homes and 18 high-end apartment on the area.

The PCC has been trying to sell the former HQ since 2012 after two previous deals fell through and says, if the sale happened, £10m will go to the "benefit of policing" in the county.

Football: Crewe manager set for 'ideal test' of Mansfield visit

Graham McGarry

Crewe Alexandra commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell says a visit from League Two promotion favourites Mansfield Town tomorrow will give his team an ideal test.

Crewe Alexandra ground
Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Crewe won 2-1 at Stevenage on the opening day of last season and Artell admitted he would love a similar result against the Stags as he starts his first full season in charge.

On the one hand they're a good barometer in terms of where you're at just generally, whether that's fitness, ability, but at the same time they're a bit false. There's a lot of emphasis placed on the first game because the build-up is far longer. It's important but it's not the be all and end all

David ArtellCrewe Alexandra manager

University outpost and cafes set for town centre development

Phil Bowers

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Three units at the Staffordshire Place development, in Stafford, have been filled.

Staffordshire Place development

The county council says one of them's been taken by the University of Wolverhampton, which last year said it was moving an outpost to the Shire Hall in the town.

The authority says two cafes have also signed contracts at commercial rates, filling the three units on the ground floor of the development which opened in 2011.

The council occupies most of the site with the town centre library taking the rest of the space, it moved in in 2015.

Football: Port Vale confirm Whitfield and Tonge deals

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Port Vale have confirmed the loan signing of Bournemouth midfielder Ben Whitfield.

The 21-year-old has signed a deal until January and will be available for tomorrow’s game at Crawley.

Michael Tonge
Port Vale FC

The club's also confirmed the signing of 34-year-old midfielder Michael Tonge (pictured), who's been training with Vale for all of pre-season and who has signed a one-year deal.

Council rules out referendum on hospital services

James Bovill

Staffordshire Political Reporter, BBC News

Stafford Borough Council says it won't be holding a referendum on bringing back services to County Hospital, after a local resident started a petition calling for a vote on the issue.

County Hospital, Stafford

This is the second time Geoff Small has campaigned unsuccessfully for a referendum, calling for the return of 24-hour A&E to the site and full maternity, paediatrics and acute surgery services, lost since 2011.

Mr Small addressed the borough council's cabinet last night but leader Patrick Farrington told him holding a referendum wouldn't have the power to bring services back.

He said if it could, he'd happily spend double the £170,000 it would cost to hold the vote. The petition will now be referred to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Football: Port Vale without two new signings for opening game

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Port Vale will be able to cope without two of their new signings for tomorrow's opening game of the season at Crawley, according to manager Michael Brown.

Tyrone Barnett
Port Vale FC

Tyrone Barnett and Cristiano Montano will both miss the game because of injuries.

We're not blessed with a huge squad but we can cover certain positions. We're a couple light in a few areas but if Monty's not there and Tyrone's not, we'll play the rest of the boys and everyone's looking forward to their chance

Michael BrownPort Vale FC

Five great photos of Staffordshire for Friday

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

You've kept sending in great photos of the area and here are five I've picked out today.

You can share your pictures of Staffordshire or Cheshire by popping them over in an email or, if you use Instagram, put them there with the tag #bbcstoke in the description to show you agree to share them.

Audience photos

Rescued lamb 'not facing dinner plate'

Jennie Aitken

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

A Staffordshire butcher says he's made a friend for life after rescuing a stray lamb with a broken leg.

Sean Landy found Lily the lamb last week, shivering in a hedge near his farm in Audley.

Lily the lamb

A week old, she's now moved in with the sheepdogs in the kitchen as she recovers.

Mr Landy's confirmed that, although he's a butcher, Lily "definitely isn't going to end up on a plate".

North of England cities get £15m 'cultural powerhouse' boost

BBC News England

A £15m cash fund to boost culture and creativity across the North of England has been announced by the government.

Under the scheme, towns and cities across the north can apply for grants of up to £4m per project via the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

Karen Bradley
Getty Images

The first round of bids will be co-ordinated by Local Enterprise Partnerships, including in Cheshire.

Projects such as opening a new tech start-up centre or renovating live music venues would be considered.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said the money would be given "to develop inspirational projects that could have a transformative local effect".

Football: Stoke City pair join League One Bristol Rovers on loan

BBC Sport

Bristol Rovers have signed defender Ryan Sweeney and striker Dominic Telford on season-long loan deals from Premier League side Stoke City.

Dominic Telford and Ryan Sweeney
Bristol Rovers FC

Sweeney, 20, made 16 appearances for Rovers during a loan spell last season, while 20-year-old Telford moved to Stoke from Blackpool in July 2015.

Manager Darrell Clarke said: "I am looking forward to working with both of them as the season progresses and would like to thank Mark Cartwright and Mark Hughes at Stoke for allowing Ryan and Dominic to join us."

Cash machine ram-raids 'believed linked'

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Two ram-raids at supermarkets in Staffordshire and Derbyshire which saw diggers used are believed to be linked, police say.

JCB used in botched Kings Bromley cash machine raid

On Wednesday, masked men used a JCB to try to steal the cash machine from the Co-op on Lichfield Road, Kings Bromley, but escaped without it.

Then yesterday, a digger stolen in Tutbury, Staffordshire, was successfully used to rip a machine from the wall of a Nisa supermarket in Hatton.

Detectives in Staffordshire say they believe they cases are linked and they're working with Derbyshire Police as they investigate.

Severe accident: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Cheshire northbound severe accident, 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 an accident.

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

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Cheshire northbound severe disruption, at J16 for A500 Crewe.

M6 Cheshire - M6 lane closed on entry slip road and heavy traffic northbound at J16, A500 (Crewe), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Rise in arson attacks this summer

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Staffordshire Fire Service says it's "very concerning" that the number of arson attacks in the county rose last month.

Staffordshire' fire engine

According to its figures, July saw 170 deliberate fires compared to 101 for July 2016, an increase of almost 70%.

The service says it's launched a campaign this week to try to bring the number down, urging parents to make sure children know the risks of starting fires.

Sale of former police HQ finalised

Phil Bowers

Journalist, BBC Radio Stoke

Staffordshire's police and crime commissioner (PCC) says contracts have been exchanged over the sale of the force's former Stafford headquarters.

Deals to try to sell the 16-acre (six-hectare) site on Cannock Road, Baswich, have previously fallen through.

The former headquarters

The force relocated to its current £16m headquarters on Weston Road in 2010, having been in Baswich since the 1950s.

Today, PCC Matthew Ellis tweeted that contracts had been exchanged, but didn't reveal who'd bought the site or for how much.

Burton and Derby hospital bosses defend merger plan

Gavin Bevis

BBC Local Live

The chief executives of the Royal Derby Hospital and Burton's Queen's Hospital say a proposed merger will not lead to a poorer service or job cuts.

The plan - which would see Burton retain its A&E but stroke services moved to Derby - has caused concern among patient groups.

But Gavin Boyle and Helen Scott-South said joining forces would help to improve and secure local services - as well as saving £35m over five years.

Helen Scott-South and Gavin Boyle

Mrs Scott-South said: "We can secure our A&E - that's really important to local people.

"We can secure services. If people have had a heart condition, they'll actually be able to have the interventional part of that treatment here [in the Derby/Burton area] rather than having to travel across to Leicester or up to Stoke."

On jobs, she said: "We've got a lot of vacancies. We're not looking to lose staff. They're precious jewels we're looking to keep.

"This is a really important part of the next year - keeping our staff with us, not losing them."

Football: England women in Euro 2017 'a turning point'

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

England women's performance in Euro 2017 was a "turning" point for the sport, according to two Stoke City Ladies players.

Women's Euro 2017 highlights: Netherlands 3-0 England

The national side went out of the tournament last night in the semi-finals after losing 3-0 to hosts the Netherlands.

But despite the loss, Laura Garside and Tash Tezgell, from Stoke City Ladies, say the media coverage of England's performances has made a massive difference.

The Stoke team start their season on 20 August at home to Derby County.

This is a turning point. Last night they were out there and I feel personally they were doing it for us. When we started playing football there was nothing like this, there was no recognition like this,but now it's becoming a real, recognised sport for ladies as well

Laura GarsideStoke City Ladies striker

Football: Zouma tipped to be 'big player' for Stoke

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Stoke City fly to Germany today as they prepare to face Red Bull Leipzig in their final pre-season friendly tomorrow.

Kurt Zouma with Stoke City shirt
Stoke City

The Potters are taking a strong squad, including new signings Darren Fletcher and Kurt Zouma (pictured).

Stoke midfielder Joe Allen says Zouma, who signed on a season-long loan from Chelsea two weeks ago, has all the credentials to be a success at the club.

You can see why he's at a club like Chelsea and you can see that, defensively, he's got all the attributes, but he can play with the ball at his feet as well. He's played with top players and against top players so he's going to be a big player for us I think

Joe AllenStoke City midfielder