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North makes rail investment plea to next PM

HS2 artist's impression

The UK's next prime minister has been urged to end "damaging uncertainty" by giving their backing to HS2 lines north of the Midlands and a new line linking Liverpool with Hull.

Council leaders and elected mayors have jointly addressed a letter to each of the candidates in the Conservative Party leadership race to seek clear commitment to the projects.

HS2 proposed route map

Only the first phase of the £56bn HS2 project between London and Birmingham has so far been approved and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is being urged to win over sceptics before parliament debates links to Manchester and Leeds next year.

The government is considering plans for the £39bn east-west Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) line, dubbed the "Crossrail of the North".

The letter said it was "only through the full delivery of both HS2 and NPR that the North can see truly transformative benefit".

All change for Liverpool's bus routes

Nearly half of the bus routes serving Liverpool city centre are being overhauled in sweeping network changes.

Merseytravel and the region's combined authority are redrawing routes as part of the city council's £45m Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme, which aims to cut emissions by introducing pedestrian-only areas on Lime Street and the Strand.

Bus in Liverpool

Cross-city buses between Queen Square and Liverpool One Bus Station will replace some services that run through the city centre.

Councillor Liam Robinson, who chairs the region’s transport committee, said: “Some people will be able to get on and off where they do now, others may be closer to their end destination and some may need to walk a bit further."

A consultation is under way and the proposals will come into force from January 2020.

Severe disruption: A557 Cheshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A557 Cheshire both ways severe disruption, between A562 Fiddlers Ferry Road and Mill Lane.

A557 Cheshire - A557 Watkinson Way in Widnes closed in both directions between the A562 Fiddlers Ferry Road junction and the Mill Lane junction, because of a police investigation.

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

Brexit referendum aftermath sees 'rise in extremism'

BBC Radio Manchester

Political extremism has increased since the 2016 Brexit referendum, the head of terrorism investigations in the North West has told BBC Radio Manchester.

Armed police officer
Getty Images

Det Supt Will Chatterton said dealing with far-right extremism was a real challenge, with "open hostility" towards politicians.

He said the unit's cases included "horrific sentiments" posted online.

The Home Office said it was "committed to stamping out extremism in all its forms".

'Playboy' fraudster must pay back £1k

A "playboy" financial adviser who conned friends out of £4.1m only has to forfeit the money he had on him when he was arrested, a judge has ruled.

Neil Bartlett
Merseyside Police

Neil Bartlett, 54, who was jailed in December, used bogus investment schemes to pay for gambling and prostitutes.

His only asset was the £1,015 he had in his pocket when he returned to the UK, Liverpool Crown Court was told.

Making the ruling, Judge Brian Cummings said: "I very much regret there is so little available, but there it is."

Weather: Bright spells break through showers

BBC Weather

This afternoon will have bright spells together with a few showers although these should tend to fade away later on.

BBC Weather forecast in the North West of England

Blustery, with a brisk south-westerly wind. Highs of 17C.

Read more on BBC Weather

Man arrested over armed robberies

A man has been arrested over a series of armed robberies at businesses in Liverpool.

McDonalds in Jennifer Street, Liverpool

Detectives believe six incidents - including one at a McDonalds restaurant in Jennifer Street - between 4 and 16 June are linked after staff were threatened with a double-barrelled shotgun.

Merseyside Police said a man, aged 40, from Anfield is being held on suspicion of robbery.

Liverpool teenagers 'paid money to stab other youths'

Teenagers are being offered up to £1,000 by gang leaders in Liverpool to stab other youngsters, the BBC has learned.

Forensic scientist
Getty Images

They told the BBC Beyond Today podcast bounties were being offered by "elders" who wanted to avoid carrying out the attacks themselves.

The claims have been linked to at least one recent stabbing.

Merseyside Police said it was aware organised crime groups used violence to settle disputes.

Last year, Merseyside Police had one of the biggest increases in knife crime with a 35% rise, according to official statistics.

The force recorded 1,231 offences involving a knife in 2018.

Weather: Showers and brisk winds

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

Cloudy today with some scattered showers at times.

BBC Weather forecast for the North West of England

The showers should become isolated in the afternoon. Windy with a brisk south-westerly wind. Highs of 17C.

More on BBC Weather

Severe disruption: A580 Merseyside both ways

BBC News Travel

A580 Merseyside both ways severe disruption, between B5187 Stopgate Lane and Lower House Lane.

A580 Merseyside - A580 East Lancashire Road in Norris Green closed and it's slow in both directions between Crown Crossroads and the Lower House Lane junction, because of a police investigation.

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

The Beatles' first contract with Brian Epstein to be auctioned

The Beatles' first contract with manager Brian Epstein is expected to sell for about £300,000 at auction.

The Beatles
Getty Images

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and their first drummer Pete Best signed the document on 24 January 1962, before achieving worldwide fame.

"[Epstein] stopped them eating on stage," Gabriel Heaton, a specialist at the Sotheby's auction house, said.

"He made sure they played the songs properly and coherently, and he got them bowing at the end of a set."

Liverpool Youth Offending Service receives 'good' rating

Liverpool's Youth Offending Service (YOS) has been rated "good" with some "outstanding" areas following an official inspection.

Liverpool YOS
Liverpool City Council

But the HM Inspector of Probation report found its out-of-court processes were "inadequate" and required improvement.

The YOS offers support to young offenders aged between 10 and 18 as well as the victims of their crimes.

A team of inspectors examined every aspect of the team's work in March.

Weather: Sunny spells and showers

BBC Weather

The rain should continue to peter out to leave sunny spells and a few showers through the rest of this afternoon.

Highs of 17C.

More from BBC Weather.

Ambulance crews battled to save man who fell into lake

Police say the man who died after falling into Windermere earlier this week was 57 and from Heversham, near Milnthorpe.

Emergency services were called to Glebe Road, one of the busiest tourist areas in the Lake District, just before 13:00 on Wednesday, and medical staff from the ambulance and air ambulance tried in vain to save the man's life.

Police say the coroner has been informed, and they have no reason to be suspicious about the man's death.

Robbie Williams invests in Liverpool arts school LMA

Robbie Williams has bought a stake in Liverpool performing arts academy, LMA.

Robbie Williams and LMA students

The ex-Take That star, who mentored the centre's LMA Choir during his time as an X Factor judge, will help the academy to expand globally, starting with the launch of a London campus.

He said he hoped to "motivate the next generation of pop stars".

Williams will hold a 20% stake, becoming a co-owner alongside founders Richard and Simon Wallace, and former Tesco chief executive Terry Leahy.

Weather: More rain on the way, then brightening up

BBC Weather

A cloudy and wet start with persistent and heavy rain in places.

Rain should gradually ease and clear during the day with some sunny spells expected this afternoon.

Highs of 17C.

More from BBC Weather.

Freddie Starr fans say farewell at comedian's funeral

Ian Youngs

Entertainment and Arts Reporter, BBC News

Comedian Freddie Starr is being laid to rest on Merseyside, a month after his death at the age of 76.

Freddie Starr funeral handout

Family and fans gathered at Prescot Parish Church, Prescot to attend the service.

His coffin was carried into the church to the strains of Starr's rendition of Elvis Presley's song Don't, and was applauded as it was carried back out to another Elvis cover, Trouble.

His coffin has the words "Liverpool legend" engraved on one side and "Return to sender" on the other.

Freddie Starr impersonating Elvis

There were fears Starr would have a pauper's funeral in Spain where he lived at the end of his life.

However, a funeral director stepped in and paid £20,000 for repatriating his body and organised the service in Prescot, close to where the entertainer grew up in Huyton.

Weather: Rain expected to ease

BBC Weather

This afternoon should see rain easing and becoming more intermittent - although it will remain rather cloudy.

A cool day in store, with highs of 12C.

Read more from BBC Weather

Six arrested in Merseyside shooting murder probe

Six men have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a man who was shot dead in Netherton last June.

Miguel Reynolds
Family photograph

Miguel Reynolds, 21, from Manchester, was found with gunshot wounds in Assissian Crescent.

Two men were arrested after searches in Sefton earlier while four men were produced from prisons in Merseyside and the West Midlands, Merseyside Police said.

The men, aged between 20 and 30, were all from Sefton and were also held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Homes flooded and travel disrupted by rain

Homes have been evacuated, motorists stranded and trains cancelled as flooding has hit the North West and other parts of England.

Firefighters in flood water
Warwickshire Fire and Rescure Service

The Environment Agency has issued 25 flood warnings and 64 alerts across the country.

The majority are across the Midlands and North West, although warnings are also in place near Whitby and in south-east London.

The Met Office has given yellow warnings for rain across Manchester, Liverpool and the North East.

Final farewell to comic Freddie Starr

BBC Entertainment and Arts

Comedian Freddie Starr is to be laid to rest on Merseyside later, a month after his death at the age of 76.

Freddie Starr

Fans have been invited to listen to the funeral service on speakers outside Prescot Parish Church, Prescot from 13:00.

Starr's coffin has the words "Liverpool legend" engraved on one side and "Return to sender" on the other.

Starr often performed as an Elvis Presley impersonator, and Return to Sender was one of the songs he covered on his 1981 album Spirit of Elvis.

There were fears the comedian and singer could have a pauper's funeral in Spain, where he lived at the end of his life, until a Sheffield funeral director stepped in.

Liverpool to host Norwich in Premier League opener

BBC Sport

The 2019-20 Premier League season will start with Champions League winners Liverpool hosting promoted Norwich City on Friday 9 August.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk with team holding trophy
Getty Images

Champions Manchester City will open the defence of their title the following day with a trip to West Ham, while Burnley host Southampton and Everton travel to Crystal Palace.

For the first time in Premier League history, the clubs will get a short mid-season break in February.

The opening weekend will also see Manchester United hosting Chelsea on 11 August.

Wirral hospital warns of motorway flooding

Patients and visitors attending a hospital in Wirral have been warned to avoid a motorway junction due to flooding.

Wirral NHS Hospitals Trust, which runs Arrowe Park Hospital, has warned patients to avoid Junction 3 of the M53.

View more on twitter

Flooding causes rail disruption in Wirral

More trains have been cancelled this morning due to overnight flooding in Wirral.

Standing water on railway tracks

Merseyrail said water had to be pumped away from the tracks at Hooton last night, but heavy rain overnight has affected Chester and Ellesmere Port services again.

The company has published an amended timetable.

It means rail replacement buses are running to Rock Ferry, resulting in delays and cancellations into Liverpool.

Standing water is also causing problems on many of the region's roads.

Parkgate Road in Chester remains closed due to a flood and it is also causing problems on the M53.

View more on twitter

Weather: Another wet day in store

BBC Weather

It will be cloudy this morning with widespread rain becoming persistent and heavy in some areas.

BBC Weather forecast for the North West of England

The Met Office has issued a yellow flood warning, which is in place until 12:00.

But the rain should ease this afternoon and become more intermittent. A cool day, with highs of 13C.

Read more from BBC Weather

Let's talk about six, baby!

If you're on the stadium tour at Anfield this summer, look out for an upgrade to the players' tunnel!The most successful British club in European football shared this photo showing off its new tally of European Cup / Champions League wins...

View more on twitter

Police hunt bus attacker over screwdriver stabbing

Detectives are continuing to hunt a man after a bus passenger was critically injured when a man stabbed him in the back with a screwdriver in Liverpool.

Police at Queen Square station

Emergency services were called to Queen Square station yesterday morning after the victim was stabbed on the 10B service.

He is improving in hospital so is no longer critical.

The attacker was described as white with grey hair, aged about 50 to 60, wearing beige trousers and a black jacket with his hood up.

Flooding problems on rail and road

Transport across the North West is being disrupted by flooding this morning.

Flooded tracks

In Merseyside & Cheshire:

  • Traffic is backed up on the sliproad of the M53 northbound at junction 3 for Woodchurch
  • Flooded tracks means no trains are going through Hooton station. Replacement bus services are running to Chester and there is a limited service for Liverpool and Ellesmere Port.
  • There are no trains between Crewe and Chester
View more on twitter

In Greater Manchester:

  • A flood alert for the Wigan area includes Billinge, Haydock, Ashton-in-Makerfield and Golbourne - and river levels are due to peak at midday, the Environment Agency says.
Train board
John Murray

The Met Office expects further flooding and travel disruption until Thursday.

Severe accident: M57 Merseyside southbound

BBC News Travel

M57 Merseyside southbound severe accident, at J2 for A57 Liverpool Road.

M57 Merseyside - M57 exit slip road partially blocked southbound at J2, A57 (Prescot), because of an accident. Traffic is coping well.

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

Eleven Liverpool tower blocks have Grenfell-type cladding

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Eleven towers in Liverpool have been found to have the same type of cladding that covered Grenfell Tower, council inspections have confirmed.

Heysmoor Heights
Cladding on Heysmoor Heights was found to be unsafe

Seventy-two people died when a fire destroyed the west London tower in June 2017.

Revelations about the flammability of its cladding led to checks being ordered on tower blocks more than 18m high across the country.

Liverpool City Council has now completed checks on 220 towers, an officer at the council's first housing select committee told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Liverpool has 11 towers under "a notice to remediate”, the council's private sector housing licensing manager Louise Connelly said.

Four of the these were under notice to replace the cladding - work that should be completed by November, a council spokesman added.

Severe disruption: M57 Merseyside southbound

BBC News Travel

M57 Merseyside southbound severe disruption, at J1 for M62 J6.

M57 Merseyside - M57 lane closed on exit slip road southbound at J1, M62 J6 (Tarbock Island), because of a car that's broken down. Traffic is coping well.

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