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What to do if your neighbours are throwing a party

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Tom Dare

Residents living across the West Midlands should contact police if they suspect neighbours of hosting a party during the coronavirus pandemic, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has said.

David Jamieson
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner

Speaking after Derbyshire Police were called out to a 25-person get-together, David Jamieson said it is important not to go round to the house of a person you suspect of breaking social distancing rules.

Instead, the police boss says, residents should contact police via online chat or, if completely necessary, by calling 101.

People have been encouraged to stay home, only leave their house for essentials such as food, medicine and exercise, and not to meet up with people outside their own household.

Ambulance service wants more paramedics to return

Registered paramedics in the region are being asked to return to work to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

West Midlands Ambulance Service is asking any who may have retired in the last two years, any who are working privately, or who may have been on a career break, to get in touch.

Ambulance
BBC

WMAS has already recruited a number of former staff and is promoting hundreds of medical students to help as well.

Tourists stuck in Peru 'make it home'

Tens of thousands of Britons stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic will be flown home under a new arrangement between the government and UK airlines.

Planes
Getty Images

Two "lucky" tourists that had been stuck in Peru made it home on Monday.

Joe Brown, 26 , from London and his sister Millie, 18, from the West Midlands were stuck in Cusco, but have now landed back in the UK.

He said: "Luckily I managed to make it home with my sister.

"Still have some friends stuck in Peru though who weren’t so lucky unfortunately – one who’s stuck in Nazca who hasn’t had any help from the government yet."

'Police state' criticisms 'widely off the mark'

The West Midlands police chief says claims Britain is becoming a "police state" due to coronavirus restrictions are "widely off the mark".

New guidance was issued to police on Thursday when officers were given powers to fine people who gather in groups or refuse to return home, following social distancing measures introduced by the government.

Officers have been told to take a "consistent" approach when ensuring people comply with emergency measures aimed at curbing coronavirus.

Ch Const Dave Thompson tweeted: "Officers and staff are doing their best and the public are following the advice."

But he conceded that in "a small number of cases" the deployment of police powers "could have been done differently".

View more on twitter

Sixty ambulance call staff start work

Dozens of new staff have started work today answering emergency calls for West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Ambulances
WMAS

The organisation has said it was substantially increasing staff numbers in the light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The service, which has three call centres based in Brierley Hill and Stafford, said 60 new call assessors had started work today.

Five maintenance staff have also been recruited to make sure ambulances and other vehicles are kept in roadworthy condition.

Velo event organisers 'regret' lack of refunds

The organisers of one of the biggest cycling events in the country, cancelled in the wake of coronavirus, aknowleged riders had been left "frustrated and angry" at the lack of a refund or the option to transfer to a future Velo.

Midlands Velo
Ian Baker photography

About 18,000 cyclists were expected to join the Vélo Birmingham and Midlands on 21 June, taking but the event was cancelled due to coronavirus.

Entry fees, which can cost more than £80, will not be refunded with organisers saying they had already paid out "unrecoverable" costs.

It posted "more context" as to why it had taken the decision on the event's Facebook page saying "we are simply not able to make any refunds or to allow us to guarantee an event in 2021, which we very much regret."

The entry fees collected to date fall short of covering the costs incurred and in common with the majority of businesses, our cancellation insurance policy sadly excludes any claims arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. It may surprise you to learn that the events in 2017 and 2019 lost a significant amount of money, and at best this year’s event would have only broken-even.

Velo Birmingham and Midlands statement

Rainbows decorate police vehicles

Caroline Gall

BBC News

Some West Midlands Police vehicles are displaying artwork created by children in Leicestershire.

Schools have been encouraging pupils to put up rainbow paintings to "spread hope" during the coronovirus pandemic, after a trend started online.

View more on twitter

Facebook group to find accommodation for NHS staff

A Facebook group has been set up to help find accommodation for frontline NHS staff around the West Midlands.

Healthcare workers are being invited to leave comments to set out their needs and property owners can post information about suitable buildings.

Nurse uniform
Getty Images

A number of hotels have also agreed to host NHS staff, including the Park House in Shifnal.

Ambulance: ‘Don’t call 999 for a check-over’

West Midlands Ambulance Service has reminded people that they shouldn’t call 999 for a coronavirus “check-over” if they can’t get through to the 111 NHS phone line.

It’s also tweeted this advice on how to cope with the stress of being stuck at home.

View more on twitter

Police to 'target' most 'problematic' rule-breakers

Police officers will "move to enforce" stricter measures introduced by the government if people fail to heed them, says the West Midlands Police chief.

Dave Thompson
West Midlands Police

Chief Constable Dave Thompson said the force was already receiving many calls on potential breaches of the arrangements, although he did not share detail on how government direction was being ignored.

"We would ask you to trust that we will target the most problematic behaviour," he said.

"This will only work if people make sensible choices and observe what they are being told."

More train carriages to reduce crowding

West Midlands Railway will add more carriages to it busiest services today to try to reduce close contact between passengers.

The move follows complaints on Monday that people were unable to keep a safe distance apart, because the trains from Worcestershire into Birmingham were so busy.

Train
BBC

The government is telling people to only use trains if they're key workers.

Coronavirus: Six more deaths across West Midlands

Six more deaths of patients who had tested positive for the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus have been reported in the West Midlands, bringing the total to at least 44.

Coronavirus
Getty Images

The deaths were among 46 reported across the country since Sunday by NHS England.

Outside London, cases in England are most prevalent in Wolverhampton, at 26 per 100,000 population.

In terms of the volume of reported cases in England, Hampshire currently has the highest number followed by Southwark, Brent and then Birmingham.

Health bosses said they were urgently looking at coronavirus hotspots in the region.

Strict new curbs on life introduced

Strict new measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus have been put in place, including a ban on public gatherings of more than two people.

How to stick together by staying apart
BBC

Shops selling non-essential goods are to close, with restrictions in place for at least three weeks.

Transport for West Midlands says only critical workers or people collecting essential food and medicines should be using public transport.

West Midlands Railway says extra carriages will be added to its busiest services following the introduction of a new reduced timetable.

Making a difference: Bringing cheer with flowers

A four-year-old girl has received notes of thanks after helping to hand out flowers around a Coventry neighbourhood.

Ella
Paula Merrett
Flowers
Paula Merrett

Paula Merrett from All Seasons Floral Supplies said granddaughter Ella had helped drop the surplus stock, with a note, on doorsteps in the Allesley Park area.

"She dropped the flowers and then stepped back before wishing them well," she said.

"She's received some cards of thank you from people in the neighbourhood, she's feeling very proud of herself."

Ella
Paula Merrett

She added despite having a lot of cancelled orders she's trying to keep the suppliers open for as long as possible.

Making a difference: Langar aid delivered

Volunteers for the Midland Langar Seva Society have been handing out food across the West Midlands.

Langar Aid
Amanda Thurlow
Langar Aid
Amanda Thurlow

The charity said it had been dropping off food for NHS staff, people in self isolation and temporary accommodation, as well as for the regular homeless feed.

In Coventry, food is available by the Lady Godiva clock every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday evening from 18:30 GMT.

Poster
Midland Langar Seva Society

Laboratory coronavirus testing 'doubled'

Kathryn Stanczyszyn

Political Reporter, BBC WM

The coronavirus testing capacity of laboratories in the West Midlands have been doubled, said Public Health England.

Staff are working "flat out" to try and increase that even more, a briefing of the joint agencies looking at the crisis has heard.

Nick Page, Solihull chief executive and lead for the region’s combined authority on coordinating council efforts against coronavirus, said it was facing three major considerations:

  • How to support increasing capacity in acute care settings like hospitals and primary care.
  • How to coordinate services for the most vulnerable.
  • And how to maintain services like schools and other essential public provision.

Testing
Getty Images

Councillor Paulette Hamilton said Birmingham City Council was issuing daily updates on its website in terms of services that may have to be reduced.

She said there was no plan as yet to give council tax payment holidays but that the local authority would take a more relaxed approach to enforcement.

She also thanked Birmingham University for using one of its labs to make hand sanitiser that’s being donated to the council.

Policing changes introduced

West Midlands Police has issued details of how the force is going to manage law and order during the coronavirus outbreak.

Thefts, criminal damage and minor burglaries will be recorded online while airport officers will be redeployed.

Some investigations will be dealt with over the phone by officers in self-isolation, said the force.

View more on twitter

Watch: Air ambulance charity looks to funding alternatives

BBC Midlands Today

The Midlands Air Ambulance charity has said it is preparing to close its shops and is looking at alternative ways to raise money.

It's also had to call off its Bike For Life event next month and its Walk For Life in May and said a number of charity staff were having to stay at home in isolation.

The air ambulance needs £9m a year to keep its fleet of three helicopters and two cars running and Hannah Sebright, the charity's chief executive, said they were encouraging people to donate online.

The Midlands Air Ambulance is looking for other forms of funding

Your weather forecast: Dry and cloudy night

BBC Weather

It will be a largely dry night with some cloud and lows of 3C (37F).

Birmingham
BBC Weather Watchers/guayosphotography

You can find a detailed forecast for your area on the BBC Weather site.

Air ambulance postpones fundraising events

A number of fundraising events have been postponed during April and May, the Midlands Air Ambulance charity has announced.

Midlands Air Ambulance
Midlands Air Ambulance

“These events include our Bik4Life Ride Out and Festival, Walk4Life and We’re A Knockout," it said.

“During this health crisis, we are focusing on the provision of our front-line emergency medical service, ensuring the doctors and critical care paramedics can continue to treat some of the Midlands’ most critically ill and injured patients."

Coronavirus: Factories offer manufacturing help

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there had been an "enthusiastic response" to the government's request for factories to aid in the production of additional ventilators.

Jaguar Land Rover and construction equipment firm JCB are among the manufacturers to be contacted.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said a "couple" of the factories in her Birmingham Yardley constituency had been "in touch to offer help"

However, BBC business editor Simon Jack said that manufacturers were far from ready to switch production. There is also no accepted design nor guarantee components can be sourced quickly for what are complex pieces of equipment.

View more on twitter

E-scooter trials to be held

The use of e-scooters is to be trialled across the West Midlands as the UK faces what what Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described as a "transport revolution".

The electric scooters are currently banned on public roads, pavements and cycle lanes but the Department for Transport is consulting on what rules are required for them to be used safely.

E-scooter
Getty Images

The consultation is set to consider issues such as a minimum age for riders, speed limits, licensing, insurance and helmets.

E-scooters have become a familiar sight in US and European cities where companies including Lime, Bird and Uber offer the vehicles to hire via a smartphone app.

Local authorities are to contract firms to provide e-scooters available for hire.

Coronavirus: Online communities helping each other

Online community groups have been set up across the West Midlands to help look after the vulnerable and those self-isolating because of coronavirus.

Supermariket
AFP

People who contact the group will be put in contact with someone who can help with food shopping, picking up prescriptions, or even take a dog for a walk.

Anna Vickerstaff, one of the coordinators of the national network said: “Groups are being set up and run entirely by volunteers - and our hope is that they can help to make sure people who need support get it."

"We want to make sure that no one in our communities is being left to face this crisis alone, and because we want to try and redress some of the serious inequalities this outbreak will expose."

A full list of groups can be found here.

Coronavirus: Five deaths at regional hospitals

At least five people have died from coronavirus at hospitals in the West Midlands over the weekend.

Sandwell Hospital
Google

A woman in her 60s and a man in his 80s were patients at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.

City Hospital in Birmingham said a man in his 80s had died.

A woman in her 70s died at George Eliot in Nuneaton and a patient in their 80s died in Dudley.

Hospitals across the region are limiting visitors to try to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Sara Blizzard

BBC Weather

It will be a fine and dry day with light winds and highs of 12C (54F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Coronavirus spread affects election plans

As well as elections for the West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, the following councils were expecting to be holding elections for some of their seats on 7 May.

  • Cannock Chase District Council
  • Coventry City Council
  • Dudley Council
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth District Council
  • Sandwell Council
  • Solihull Council
  • Walsall Council
  • City of Wolverhampton Council
  • Redditch Borough Council
  • Rugby Borough Council
  • Tamworth Borough Council
  • Worcester City Council

They will now be held next year instead.

BreakingLocal and mayoral elections called off

The mayoral and local elections in England postponed for one year due to coronavirus outbreak, it has just been announced.

There were due to be 12 council elections in May, plus the election to choose a mayor for the West Midlands.

Ballot box
BBC

The Police and Crime Commissioner elections have also been postponed.

Your weather forecast: A dry clear night

BBC Weather

Any showers should die away leaving a mostly dry night with clear spells and lows of 2C (36F).

Worcester
BBC Weather Watchers/Mikesnapper

You can find a detailed forecast for your area on the BBC Weather site.

Live hard shoulders scrapped on smart motorways

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has released an 18-point package of measures to improve safety on smart motorways including the removal of "dynamic hard shoulders".

Smart motorway
Gov.UK

Thirty-eight people have been killed on smart motorways in the past five years, including eight-year-old Dev Naran who was killed near Birmingham.

The Department for Transport has said it will remove hard shoulders completely and replace them with refuge areas on smart motorways.

Mr Shapps,said he had been "greatly concerned by a number of deaths on smart motorways, and moved by the accounts of families who’ve lost loved ones in these tragic incidents".

The new measures will see the “dynamic hard shoulder” motorways abolished to end confusion, it added.

Coronavirus: Cleaning stepped up on public transport

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Furdip Thandi

Extra cleaning is being carried out on trains in the West Midlands in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Birmingham New Street station
Network Rail

West Midlands Railway said it was taking “extra steps” to keep surfaces on trains clean while Network Rail has stepped up its cleaning regime of equipment such as ticket machines, barriers and lifts at Birmingham New Street Station.

Bosses at National Express, which runs coaches and many bus services in the region, and the Metro said they were still monitoring the situation and would act if advice from Public Health England changed.

Graphic shows growing number of coronavirus cases

Three of the eight coronavirus deaths in the UK so far have been in the West Midlands - in Nuneaton, Dudley and Wolverhampton.

This graphic from Public Health England showed the state of play before the seventh and eighth deaths were confirmed last night and how the number of cases is steadily rising.

Coronavirus graphic
Public Health England

Here is a BBC guide to coronavirus and what you can do to protect yourself.

Weather: Mainly dry for next 24 hours

BBC Weather

A cloudy start to tonight, but there'll be some clear spells later and a chance of showers early tomorrow. Low: 2C (36F).

Coventry
Gemma

Bright or sunny spells tomorrow and mainly dry with again just the chance of the odd shower. High: 9C (48F).

Get the latest forecast from the BBC Weather website.

Budget 2020: Millions confirmed for local transport plans

Allen Cook

BBC News

You may well have seen the headlines from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he delivered his first Budget today.

They included a £30bn package to help the economy get through the coronavirus outbreak.

Rishi Sunak
Getty Images

But it also included confirmation of funding for a range of schemes specific to the West Midlands, including:

  • £20m to develop the Midlands Rail Hub, a scheme aimed at improving the rail network between the East and West Midlands
  • £4.2bn over five years for the eight Mayoral Combined Authorities, including the West Midlands, to come up with "ambitious plans" for local transport
  • Twenty five areas, including in the Midlands, to get £200m over six years for "innovative" plans to allow them to recover more quickly from flooding
  • Stoke-on-Trent to get some of £117m - along with two other cities - which will see the city's railway station improved
  • £160m from the Local Growth Fund to "accelerate" the Eastside Metro extension scheme and the start of the Sprint bus rapid transit network
  • £21.3m for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games so the city can "take full advantage of the economic legacy" for the region
  • Improving road links between the north of Wales and Shropshire by developing the A483 Pant Llanymynech Bypass
Ringleader of violent gang of car jackers has been sentenced to life in prison
The gang also threatened a man with a pistol as he tended his wife's grave during their crime spree.

Sunny spells but keep a brolly handy

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

Long, bright, sunny spells for much of today with a small chance of a shower. Feeling mild and breezy with a high of 12C/54F.

Rich Davis

Cloudy this evening followed by some clear spells overnight and again the chance of a shower in the early hours of tomorrow. Low: 3C/37F.

Stay up-to-date with the latest weather forecast for your area by going to the BBC Weather website.

Your weather forecast: Cloudy night ahead

BBC Weather

It will be a cloudy night with the odd spot of rain and lows of 4C (39F).

Parsley the cat
BBC Weather Watchers / ToadHall2

You can find a detailed forecast for your area on the BBC Weather site.

Rail disruption expected until 11:00

BBC News Travel

Damage to overhead wires is set to delay rail services to and from London Euston until 11:00.

Overnight works
Network Rail

Overnight work has been completed on three of the four wires damaged on Saturday, allowing these lines to open, said Network Rail.

Avanti West Coast customers can use tickets on alternative services.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

A wet morning will become dryer with some bright spells and highs of 15C (59F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Further repair work needed on damaged rail line

Further work will be carried out overnight on damaged overhead wires that are causing disruption for passengers travelling to and from London Euston.

Damaged wires
Network Rail

About 1,000m of overhead cables were brought down at South Kenton, said Network Rail.

Delays and alterations are expected on London Northwestern Services between London Euston and stations through the West Midlands.

Fewer trains than normal will be running on the West Coast Mainline and travellers are advised to check National Rail Enquiries.

Video: your 50-second weather forecast

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

It will be a dry day with some bright spells and highs of 9C (48F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Frosty night followed by Friday showers

BBC Weather

Any showers should ease tonight, with clouds breaking up to leave clear skies. A widespread frost is expected. Low: -2C/28F.

Flowers in Bromyard
Postman Les

Things will start off dry and sunny tomorrow before turning cloudy with a band of showers forecast in the afternoon. High: 9C/48F.

You can keep up to date on the latest forecast for your area by going to the BBC Weather website.