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Friday night's weather forecast

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

Any of the odd showers which have developed today should fade away this evening - here's the full weather forecast for tonight and the start of the weekend in the West Midlands:

Rebecca Wood

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

Warm and sunny to end the week

Sara Blizzard

BBC Weather

This week's set to end with more dry, warm, sunny weather - here's your full forecast:

Sara Blizzard

You can get a latest forecast at any other time by heading to the BBC Weather website.

What's the weather got in store?

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a dry night with clear skies and lows of 5C (41F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Rail timetable overhaul to 'showcase Shropshire'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

An extra hourly train between Shrewsbury and Birmingham will open up Shropshire to new business and tourists, a council has claimed in the wake of a major shake-up of rail services across the West Midlands.

West Midlands Railway
West Midlands Railway
The services are being delivered by West Midlands Railway

The addition sees West Midlands Railway services calling at Wellington, Telford, Shifnal, Cosford and Wolverhampton hourly and operating during off-peak hours Monday to Saturday

Meanwhile, a new hourly Sunday service between Birmingham and Shrewsbury has been introduced, calling at all stations between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury.

And at night, trains to Shrewsbury are set to continue to depart Birmingham until about 22:30 on weekdays and 23:00 on Saturdays.

"I can’t emphasise enough what fantastic news this is for Shrewsbury and the whole of Shropshire," said Shropshire Council's director of place, Mark Barrow.

A more frequent service plays into exactly what we are trying to do in Shropshire by showcasing what we have and supporting businesses. Shrewsbury has 6.2m people living within an hour and a half of it and we want more day visitors - this feeds into all of that."

Mark BarrowShropshire Council

European elections 2019: Polls are open

Polling stations have opened for the European Parliament elections.

Polling station
PA

Seventy-three members, known as MEPs, will be elected in nine constituencies in England, with seven elected in the West Midlands.

MEPs are elected by proportional representation, in order as listed by their party.

The number of MEPs each party gets is calculated using a formula called d'Hondt, except in Northern Ireland, where the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system is used.

Results will not be announced until all EU nations have voted over the next three days - with the voting process completed by 22:00 on Sunday 26 May.

Polling stations in the UK are open until 22:00.

View more on twitter

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

It will be a dry, fine day with sunny periods and highs of 19C (66F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Severe disruption: M54 Shropshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M54 Shropshire eastbound severe disruption, at J4 for A464.

M54 Shropshire - M54 lane closed on exit slip road and slow traffic eastbound at J4, A464 (Shifnal), because of a broken down vehicle.

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

Staying dry for the next 24 hours

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

More dry weather ahead tonight and tomorrow for the West Midlands, here's the latest weather forecast:

Shefali Oza

You can get a latest forecast for your area at any other time by heading to the BBC Weather website.

Promise to save town's CCTV system

BBC Shropshire

Shrewsbury's CCTV system won't be switched off despite a funding cut, the council leader has promised.

Peter Nutting said his authority had been forced to reduce the amount it contributes to running costs, because of budget cuts, but he said he'd go to partner agencies like the emergency services to ask for bigger contributions.

CCTV camera
Getty Images

Shropshire Council pays up to £200,000 a year to fund the CCTV cameras in the town, and Mr Nutting said "it will be saved, but we have to change the way it's funded".

School's temporary closure plan set for decision

BBC Midlands Today

Councillors in Shropshire will be asked today to sign off on a closure of a village primary school.

The school
Google

Stiperstones Church of England Primary School, south of Shrewsbury, is struggling with funding and has just 38 pupils with no children ready to start school in September 2020.

The Shropshire Hills Federation, which runs the school, said the building could be shut temporarily with pupils moved to its two other sites.

Parents would have the option of having their children educated at Norbury Primary School or Chirbury Primary School in January 2020.

But the federation said it could reopen with a fresh intake the following year. Shropshire Council's cabinet will discuss the plan today.

Staying fine and dry on Wednesday

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

More fine, dry weather today with sunny spells - here's the full forecast for the West Midlands:

Alex Hamilton

You can get a latest forecast at any other time for your area by heading to the BBC Weather website.

Ambulance service 'to rely less' on fast cars

Local Democracy Reporting Service

West Midlands Ambulance Service says it's going to be relying less on motorbikes and response cars and more on traditional ambulances in the future.

Mark Docherty, its executive director of clinical commissioning, said: “We invested a lot in response cars, a lot of motorcycles and even bicycles. But what we found was that it was all well and good getting a paramedic there, but what do they then do with the patient?"

Ambulance
BBC

Mr Docherty said he also wanted more defibrillators "on every street corner", so that if someone suffered a cardiac arrest, they could get help quickly.

Staying dry in the West Midlands

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

There's no end in sight for the dry weather over the next 24 hours, with more forecast tonight and tomorrow - here's the full report for the West Midlands:

Alex Hamilton

You can get an up-to-date forecast for your area at any other time by heading to the BBC Weather website.

Hospitals announce £32m extra spending

The hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford have found £32m to spend on recruiting staff, improvements to buildings and new equipment.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH) says the money has come from a combination of cutting waste, smarter spending and an increase in funding.

Hospital sign
BBC

Earlier this month, a health watchdog said "further urgent action" had been taken against SaTH, which was already in special measures amid safety concerns over emergency and maternity services. The Care Quality Commission said it would be sharing details of its latest findings in a report.

SaTH says £15m of the £32m will be spent on 200 doctors, nurses and other clinical staff, along with £7m on improvements in radiology, including a new CT scanner.

The money is also set to be spent on new wards, maintaining existing buildings, and improving IT systems, according to the trust which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's The Princess Royal.

Meeting ambulance target in county 'would cost £45m'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Andrew Morris

An ambulance service has said the chances of meeting response times for the most critically injured patients in a county would cost an extra £45m a year.

Side of an ambulance
BBC

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) currently has 38 vehicles on the road in Shropshire.

In England, ambulance services are expected to reach patients within an average of seven minutes but, in the county, the average time was 10 minutes 44 seconds.

At a Shropshire Council health meeting, WMAS spokesman Mark Docherty said it would need another 75 ambulances to meet the target, costing £45m.

He said instead, it wanted to see more people trained in using defibrillators with more of the machines on street corners as "this is going to help save lives more than more ambulances".

Electrical fault blamed for Bridgnorth gas leak

Allen Cook

BBC News

An electrical fault's believed to have been behind a gas leak on a Shropshire high street which closed the road for much of yesterday and overnight.

Ruptured pipe
Shropshire Fire Service

Shropshire fire service said the fault in a cable, above a gas pipe, caused a small explosion which ruptured the gas main on Bridgnorth's High Street.

From about 14:30 yesterday, the road was cordoned off after fire crews were called to a former NatWest bank branch.

The scene
BBC

By 20:45, West Mercia Police said the cordon was reduced and most residents were allowed back to their homes after the leak was isolated.

The fire service said it was "incredibly lucky" the gas from the leak didn't catch fire.

Dry weather continues - here's the full forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

The dry weather's expected to continue this morning across the West Midlands with some sunshine around, here's the full forecast for today:

Alex Hamilton

If you want a latest forecast at any other time for your part of the West Midlands, head to the BBC Weather website.

Police force officer numbers set for 'seven-year high'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Christian Barnett

The number of police officers working for the West Mercia force will reach a seven-year high by the end of the year, its police and crime commissioner (PCC) has pledged.

Police officers
Getty Images

This year, John Campion increased the police precept, the portion of council tax that goes to the local police force, to pay for 115 new officers.

He said the force was "well ahead" of recruiting that number this year and, on top of an extra 100 already promised, would bring the number of officers to 2,145, the most since 2012.

The figure includes an extra 10 officers for Evesham and Droitwich.

Video: What's the weekend weather got in store?

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a cloudy night with some patchy rain and lows of 8C (46F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Rail timetable changes set to come in

Rail timetable changes are set to be introduced across the West Midlands from Sunday.

West Midlands Railway is bringing in a number of new services, including one extra train an hour between Shropshire and Birmingham on weekdays and Saturdays and more trains on Sundays, additional evening services from Worcester and Hereford to Birmingham and an extra evening service between Kidderminster and Worcester.

It is also adding more carriages to services between Coventry and London and new direct trains to destinations such as Liverpool, Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe.

West Midlands Railway train
West Midlands Railway

Chiltern Railways is creating a new direct service from Stratford-upon-Avon to London, doubling the number of weekday trains it runs to the capital.

Cross Country trains, which stop in Birmingham, have also made some changes to their timetable.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

It will be a cool day with lots of cloud and highs of 16C (61F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Some councillors cautious over climate change

Local Democracy Reporting Service

While Shropshire councillors have voted in favour of declaring a "climate change emergency", there was a reluctance to set a firm date for becoming a carbon neutral authority and one councillor suggested the threat was exaggerated.

Councillor Ed Bird (below, left), the Conservative member for Shifnal South and Cosford, said: “Like many things I don’t think climate change is as bad as is being made out,” and he questioned whether it was really a priority for people in the county.

Ed Bird and Peter Nutting
Shropshire Council

The Conservative leader of the council, Peter Nutting (above, left), also had concerns, saying: "We are making so much progress but what I do not want to do is put undue pressure and targets on us by setting dates that are even more ambitious than those suggested by scientists.”

But Julian Dean, leader of the Green Party group said, “If you are not frightened, you are not paying attention" and added, “there are opportunities now. If we get it right we can make a difference. We can do rapid transitions. We have to.”

About 100 climate change protesters gathered outside the council's Shirehall, to call on the authority to take action.

Video: What's the weather got in store?

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a cloudy night with some light showers and lows of 6C (43F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Council declares 'climate emergency'

Shropshire Council has voted to declare a "climate emergency", in line with dozens of other local authorities around the country.

A Labour motion called for Shropshire Council to make a pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2030, but it was rejected in favour of a slightly watered-down version put forward by the Conservatives and amended by the Liberal Democrats.

It said the council should write to the government to ask it to "be ambitious in its plans for carbon reduction targets" and set a national aim of achieving this by 2030.

Shropshire Council
BBC

Earlier, the Conservative leader of the council Peter Nutting said work was being done, but he didn’t think the council should commit itself to the date of 2030.

2019 European elections: How many new MEPs might you get?

BBC News

Half of the existing MEPs in the West Midlands are not contesting the upcoming European Parliament elections.

European parliament
Getty Images

There are 72 UK MEPs currently serving, with one seat vacant. Of those, 43 are seeking re-election and there are 548 other new candidates.

That means at least 30 of those elected from 23-26 May might either never take their seats or serve only a few months if the UK leaves the European Union by the end of October.

Here are some facts and figures about the choice voters have about who represents them in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Under-fire schools trust 'back on the right track'

The new chief executive of the Bishop Anthony Educational Trust says a recent Ofsted evaluation was "very disappointing", but he is in "absolutely no doubt" it is now moving in the right direction.

A letter from Ofsted particularly criticised the previous leadership of the trust, which runs 16 schools across Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and says it "has not been successful enough in improving the quality of education for pupils".

The trust was set up by the Diocese of Hereford and the Ofsted report was drawn up following a visit in March.

Child writing
Getty Images

Andrew Teale says since he was appointed CEO in January "we have started a process to transform this multi-academy trust and provide better support for our academies".

He added "I firmly believe that in many areas we are already on the right track and that over the next few months the exciting and ambitious plans we have for further change will ensure that the multi-academy trust will, once again, becomes the strong school leadership body that it should always have been.”

Schools trust has 'failed' head teachers

An education trust that runs 14 primary and two secondary schools in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire has been heavily criticised by inspectors.

Ofsted said the Bishop Anthony Educational Trust had been "set up with good moral intentions and a clear purpose of meeting an educational need in the community" but had "failed".

Generic classroom
BBC

It said the weakest schools and lowest achieving pupils had been particularly let down, with three of the trust’s schools judged to require special measures in the most recent inspections and one requiring improvement.

A summary of the report said where there were improvements - 11 schools in the trust were judged good or outstanding - it was often due to head teachers or governors, "rather than the contribution and effectiveness of the trust".

Ofsted has made a number of recommendations, but welcomed the appointment of a new interim chief executive, who it said had a good understanding of the trust's weaknesses.

Pupils in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire deserve to have as good an education as those in other parts of the country. The Bishop Anthony Educational Trust was set up to do just that, but we have found that its good intentions have not brought about the change that is needed to improve pupils’ experience."

James McNeillieOfsted

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

After a fine start it will a dry sunny day with some cloud and highs of 17C (63F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

More dry weather on the way tonight

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

The dry, fine weather's set to continue tonight in the West Midlands - here's the full forecast for the night and tomorrow:

Shefali Oza

To get a latest forecast for your area at any other time, head to the BBC Weather website.

Former PC found guilty of gross misconduct

A former West Mercia Police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct while serving on the force.

In October, Laura Lawson admitted assaulting a 17-year-old boy while attending a disturbance in Rugby in 2017 and was given a three-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, at Worcester Crown Court.

At a hearing at the Hindlip headquarters yesterday, Lawson was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour amounting to gross misconduct and was told she would have been sacked, had she not already resigned.

The West Mercia Head of Professional Standards, Supt Helena Bennett, said: "A serving police officer receiving a criminal conviction for assault brings discredit on the force and is completely unacceptable when we are responsible for protecting the public from harm."

National search for missing Wakefield teenager Nicole

Police officers are trying to find a missing 16-year-old girl who's been missing from Wakefield for five days.

Nicole Harris
West Yorkshire Police

Nicole Harris was last seen in the Quebec Street area of the city, but a national search has now started for her.

She is known to have links to various parts of the country including South Yorkshire, Shropshire, Humberside, Merseyside and North Wales, West Yorkshire Police said.

Nicole who is described as a "vulnerable teenager", is 5ft 3ins tall and has long brown hair and a burn scar on the side of her nose.

Row over health merger

Supporters of the move to merge Shropshire's two health commissioning bodies say they have been set a target of cutting running costs by 20%.

The leaders of the Clinical Commissioning Groups have now agreed to go ahead with the move and say it could cut more than £1m from their budgets, by reducing duplication of work.

Injection
Getty Images

But Telford and Wrekin Council's leader, Shaun Davies, has criticised the move, saying the two areas have very different health needs and he raised concerns that the people of Telford would have to support Shropshire's CCG, which reported a deficit of more than £28m at the end of the last financial year.

Both CCGs will now asked to submit a request to NHS England by 30 September, and the new organisation could be in place by 1 April 2020.

CCGs set to merge despite backlash

BBC Shropshire

The second of Shropshire's clinical commissioning groups (CCG) has backed a plan for the merger of the two groups in the county.

Doctor generic
Getty Images

Telford and Wrekin's CCG has followed Shropshire CCG in agreeing the proposal which they said would help them meet an NHS England target to cut running costs by 20%.

The chair of the Telford group, Jo Leahy, told a board meeting that they could either merge now or "wait and be pushed into it" although they didn't reveal when it would happen.

Telford and Wrekin Council is against the move and told the meeting the plans were vague and the potential impact on residents wasn't known.

It said the plans had been "railroaded through without any opportunity for the public to have their say".

CCGs replaced Primary Care Trusts in April 2013 as the NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of healthcare services locally.