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  1. Updates from Wednesday 18 February 2015
  2. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Thursday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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  1. Good evening

    Local Live has finished for the day. We'll be back with more news, sport, travel and weather updates from 08:00 on Thursday.

  2. Tonight's forecast

    It should be dry this evening but generally cloudy and breezy. After midnight, a band of rain and brisk winds will move slowly southeastwards, reaching most places by dawn.

    Some heavy rain is likely in places. Get your local forecast.

  3. More in work in West Mids than ever before

    Birmingham Post

    Unemployment has continued to plummet in the West Midlands with 32,000 fewer people out of work in the past quarter.

    There are almost more people in work than ever before in the region, after a rise of 53,000 in the past 12 months.

  4. New sports centre

    A new sports centre in Wolverhampton is on track to open to the public for the first time this autumn, Wolverhampton City Council says.

    Nine football pitches are being created at the £3m development in Barnhurst Lane, Pendeford, and there will also be a multi-use perimeter track.

  5. Police investigate medal theft

    West Midlands Police has confirmed it is investigating the theft of a Commonwealth Games gold medal from the Sutton Coldfield home of athlete Kelly Sotherton.

    Kelly Sotherton

    Money and a laptop were also stolen from the property.

  6. Footage shows child hit by lorry

    Midlands Today

    Graphic footage has emerged showing the moment a youngster was hit by a lorry in Penkridge, Staffordshire.

    Child hit by lorry

    Staffordshire Police says it received a call at 13:00 on 26 October, reporting a collision involving an HGV and a pedestrian on the A449 at Dunston.

    A 14-year-old boy was taken to New Cross Hospital with minor injuries to his hand and knee.

  7. Arson-hit school to reopen

    Arson-hit St Alban's Church of England School, in Wolverhampton, will reopen to pupils after half term, the city council says.

    Fire at St Alban's School

    The blaze on 5 February caused extensive damage to the main hall and adjacent office accommodation and needed dozens of firefighters to bring it under control.

    Pupils have been having lessons at other schools in the area.

  8. Delays building on M6 south

    The Highways Agency tweets: Long delays building #M6 s/b btwn J11A and J8 #WestMidlands due to long term planned #roadworks at J9. Allow more time for your journey.

  9. News on the hour

    Alice Rosenthal

    Journalist, BBC WM

    Coming up in the BBC WM bulletin at 17:00: The West Midlands has had the biggest drop in unemployment in the country.

    And three West Midlands men who ran an industrial-scale cannabis growing operation in Birmingham and around the country have been jailed.

  10. Leaking water in railway tunnel

    Network Rail says water from the leaking canal in Birmingham is entering a disused railway tunnel in the area.

    A spokesman said: "It is not impacting on trains and we are in regular contact with the Canal and River Trust."

  11. World's strongest man

    Laura May McMullan

    Reporter, BBC Midlands Today

    I've been speaking to Britain's strongest man Eddie Hall today.

    Laura May McMullan with Eddie Hall

    The 27-year-old from Staffordshire won the title for the second time this weekend.

    You can see my interview on BBC Midlands Today at 18:30.

  12. Canal to be drained

    Hayley Harper, project engineer for the Canal & River Trust, said the leaks in the Birmingham canal were reported over the weekend.

    Canal in Birmingham

    "The leaks are thought to be going into a railway arch, near the aqueduct in Holliday Street," she said.

    A fish rescue is likely to take place on Thursday morning and a 200m section of the canal will be affected.

  13. News on the hour

    Alice Rosenthal

    Journalist, BBC WM

    In the BBC WM bulletin at 16:00: A man's been charged with the murder of a 21-year-old Italian student in Birmingham.

  14. Fit to be charged

    BBC News Online has more on a man being charged with murdering an Italian student found fatally stabbed in Birmingham.

    lberto Casiroli, 20, was originally detained under the Mental Health Act, but he has since been declared fit to be charged with murdering 21-year-old Francesco Leccese.

  15. Duchess of Cambridge leaves

    Andrew Dawkins

    BBC News

    The Duchess of Cambridge has left Action for Children's Cape Hill centre.

    Duchess of Cambridge

    She was given a couple of bouquets of flowers and waved to the crowds before getting in a car and being driven away.

  16. 'Skills shortage'

    The Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce says the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance in the Birmingham area rose by 1,605 to 38,988 from December to January.

    This is despite the fact figures released by the Office for National Statistics show 169,000 people were without work in the West Midlands between October and December, compared with 200,000 three months previously.

    Chamber president Greg Lowson says: "The rise in Birmingham can again be laid at the door of the skills shortage."

  17. Athlete's gold medal stolen

    BBC News Online has more on the theft of a Commonwealth gold medal from heptathlete Kelly Sotherton.

    Kelly Sotherton

    West Midlands Police confirmed a laptop and money were also stolen overnight from an address in Sutton Coldfield.

    Sotherton won heptathlon gold in 2006 but retired due to injury just before the London Olympics in 2012.

  18. Royal visit reaction

    Andrew Dawkins

    BBC News

    Helen Wood, from Bearwood, saw the duchess with her children Keela, Nuala and Fiona.

    Helen Wood with her children (L-R) Keela, Nuala and Fiona.

    She said: "It was absolutely amazing we could not believe she was coming to Smethwick, so close to us. It's really put Smethwick on the map.

    "She looked beautiful… I could not believe she was seven months' pregnant. She looked absolutely immaculate."

  19. News on the hour

    Alice Rosenthal

    Journalist, BBC WM

    Coming up at 15:00, a Quinton man's been jailed for 17 years for a series of historical sex offences against young victims.

  20. Canal to be drained

    Sarah Portlock

    BBC News

    I've just taken a call from the Canal Trust. Apparently the canal at the back of the Mailbox has developed a leak and is going to have to be drained.

    Water levels from the Cube and along Gas Street will start dropping until it's low enough for fish to be rescued, probably either this evening or tomorrow.

    Engineers will then start looking for the leak. Depending on how bad it is, the canal could be drained for a few weeks.

  21. Duchess reaction

    Andrew Dawkins

    BBC News

    Saj Ashraf, 28, from Oldbury, was among those who saw the duchess arrive.

    Saj Ashraf

    He said: "I am extremely excited, it's a great thing for us to witness here in Smethwick."

  22. Charity helps vulnerable children

    Andrew Dawkins

    BBC News

    The Duchess of Cambridge is visiting Action for Children's Cape Hill centre.

    It is a national charity that supports and speaks out for the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people and Catherine is hearing about its work.

  23. News on the hour

    Alice Rosenthal

    Journalist, BBC WM

    At 14:00 on BBC WM: Unemployment in the region is down to 6%. Plus, The Duchess of Cambridge is in the Black Country this lunchtime.

  24. Duchess arrives at children's centre

    Andrew Dawkins

    BBC News

    The Duchess of Cambridge has just arrived at a children's centre in Smethwick.

    Duchess of Cambridge arrives in Smethwick

    There are about 60 people are on the pavements outside and perhaps 20 to 30 standing behind the railings.

  25. Train attack appeal

    West Midlands Police has released a picture of two men officers want to speak to after a man was attacked at Aston railway station.

    CCTV of two men police want to speak to

    The victim, who had been waiting for his train home, was chased before being punched several times at about 09:30 on 7 December - the day of Aston Villa's fixture with Leicester City.

  26. No-one injured

    David Lumb

    BBC News, West Midlands

    Earlier my colleague Jerry Chester spoke to West Midlands Ambulance Service about the ambulance fire in Wombourne.

    It told him it had received a report of a fire involving a "transit ambulance" in Stourbridge Road, Lloyds Hill, at 08:42.

    Two fire appliances attended and no-one was injured or trapped.

  27. Ambulance fire

    An ambulance fire caused disruption earlier on the A449 Stourbridge Road in Wombourne.

    West Midlands Fire Service said the A449 had been blocked.

  28. News on the hour

    BBC WM

    In the 13:00 news bulletin: More than 30,000 people in the West Midlands managed to find work between October and December last year.

  29. Olympian burgled

    Olympic bronze medallist Kelly Sotherton, from Sutton Coldfield, has tweeted: Been thing stolen was my commonwealth gold medal from Melbourne 2006... PLEASE RT HELP ME FIND IT

    Kelly Sotherton
  30. Coming up on TV

    Elizabeth Glinka


    Coming up on Midlands Today at 13:30, we'll have the latest on a drop in unemployment in the region.

    And see the new hi-tech gadget designed here to try to stop criminals from stealing expensive farming kit.

  31. New £124m mental health service

    A consortium led by Birmingham Children's Hospital has been given a £124m contract to provide mental health services for young people in the city, reports BBC News Online.

    Birmingham Children's Hospital

    A 24-hour helpline will be set up and patients will be given a named individual responsible for their care.

  32. News on the hour

    Rob Mayor

    Journalist, BBC WM

    In the news at 12:00: A gardener is charged with the murder of Italian student Francesco Leccese.

    And latest figures reveal unemployment in the West Midlands is down.

  33. Gardener charged with murder

    A gardener has been charged with the murder of an Italian student in Birmingham, West Midlands Police says.

    Victim Francesco Leccese, a croupier, was found dead at his house in Daley Close on 18 November 2014. A post-mortem examination revealed he died as a result of stab injuries.

    Italian national Alberto Casiroli, 20, also from Daley Close, Ladywood, is due to appear before magistrates later.

  34. Hospital to provide mental health services

    Jerry Chester

    BBC News

    I've just been talking to Birmingham Children's Hospital about £124m they've won to provide mental health services in the city for the next five years.

    They tell me there will be an extra 21 beds available to treat patients, though they plan to support young people at home "wherever possible".

  35. Man jailed for sex offences

    A 63-year-old man from Birmingham has been jailed for 17 years for sex offences against two victims, West Midlands Police says.

    John Franks

    The force said John Franks, of Blandford Road, Quinton, committed the offences between 1990 and 2009.

    He was jailed on Monday after being convicted of six counts of indecent assault, four of sexual assault against a child under 13 and four counts of rape against two victims, who were aged between 11 and 18 at the time.

  36. Home-boy opted not to leave

    Liverpool Echo

    Liverpool FC striker Rickie Lambert has revealed why he turned down a £5m move to Aston Villa as he insisted: "I just couldn't bring myself to leave".

    Having realised a boyhood dream by signing for the Reds in a £4.5m deal from Southampton last summer, Kirkby-born Lambert was not ready to walk away.

  37. News on the hour

    Rob Mayor

    Journalist, BBC WM

    In the bulletin at 11:00: Unemployment in the West Midlands fell by almost 16% between October and December.

  38. Duchess to visit Black Country

    BBC WM

    The Duchess of Cambridge is visiting the Black Country today.

    The Duchess of Cambridge

    The duchess will tour the Cape Hill Children's Centre in Smethwick and meet families who have used its services.

  39. Bromford hostel angers residents

    Noel Phillips

    Journalist, BBC WM

    People in a residential area of Birmingham claim they were not told the council was converting a three-bedroom home into a hostel.

    Annoyed residents

    The house has been set up to help homeless people in Bromford, but people living nearby say it's attracting drug addicts and they want it closed down.

  40. Region's unemployment falls 15.8%

    David Lumb

    BBC News, West Midlands

    Unemployment in the West Midlands fell by 15.8% to 169,000 between October and December, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

    It was 200,000 in the three months previously.

  41. News on the hour

    Rob Mayor

    Journalist, BBC WM

    Coming up in the bulletin at 10:00: Residents are trying to get a Birmingham hostel closed down because they claim it's attracting drug addicts.

  42. Good morning

    David Lumb

    BBC News, West Midlands

    I'm writing the rest of the day's news, sport, travel and weather updates. Get in touch if you'd like to share any stories or photos.

  43. Prison has improved, report finds

    BBC WM

    Britain's largest jail has been found to have improved after a report in 2013 cited high levels of violence and a drug problem.

    The Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick says the G4S-run HMP Oakwood, near Wolverhampton, has turned the corner.

  44. News on the hour

    BBC WM

    In the 09:00 news bulletin: People in a residential area of Birmingham claim they were not told that the council was converting a three-bedroom home into a hostel.

  45. A34 delays

    BBC Travel

    There are delays on the A34 Birmingham Road southbound in Walsall between the Walstead Road junction and the M6 J7 island junction, because of drivers diverting away from the closure of the entry slip road at M6 J9.

  46. Grey day

    Sara Blizzard

    BBC Weather

    There may be some sunshine this morning, but we're looking at a mostly cloudy day.

    Sara Blizzard

    It should stay mostly dry though with highs of 8C (46F).

  47. It's Wednesday

    Welcome to today's news, sport, travel and weather updates for Birmingham and the Black Country.

    If you'd like to get in touch about any of the updates we're featuring on BBC Local Live, please email or tweet @BBCWM.