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Unemployment in West Midlands falls

The number of people in the West Midlands who are unemployed fell slightly between July and September, new Office for National Statistics figures show.

Of people aged 16 and over, 4.1% were out of work in those three months, down 0.5% on the previous quarter.

Graph
BBC

The average unemployment rate for the UK was 3.8% in the same period and the ONS figures also show UK wage growth slowed down in that time.

Uncertainty over flooding risk

It's not clear how badly the West Midlands will be affected by flooding tomorrow, but the Environment Agency is urging people to keep an eye on its flood alerts.

The Met Office currently doesn't have a yellow warning for the region until heavy rain arrives on Thursday, but that could change, the Environment Agency warned.

Flooding in field
Ken M

It currently has flood alerts of high water levels affecting Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

Wet weather likely to cause travel problems

A band of heavy rain could cause flooding and travel disruption in parts of Staffordshire this morning, the Met Office is warning.

Weather map
Met Office

A yellow weather warning covering parts of of the region is in place until midday.

A wider warning, covering the whole of the West Midlands, has been issued for Thursday.

Video: What's the weather got in store?

Sara Blizzard

BBC Weather

Tonight will stay windy and chilly with some clear spells and lows of 1C (34F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Brexit Party will not stand in Tory seats

There'll be no Brexit Party candidates standing in Shropshire, Herefordshire or Worcestershire, in the general election, following an announcement by party leader Nigel Farage this morning.

In Warwickshire, just the one seat will be contested by the party - Warwick and Leamington.

Nigel Farage: Brexit Party will take on Labour and Remain alliance

Mr Farage said standing candidates across the country could increase the chances of another EU referendum taking place.

However, the party will still stand in seats held by other parties - seats the Tories need to win to claim a majority in Parliament.

Conservative Chairman James Cleverly said there was still a "danger" the Brexit Party could split the vote in target seats, leading to the election of MPs who could "frustrate the Brexit process".

Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said the Brexit party was a "Thatcherite 1980s tribute act" which he said "would lead to more savage Tory attacks on working class communities".

Council heading for £6m overspend

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Andrew Morris

Shropshire Council is heading for a £6m overspend in the current financial year. However, it has clawed back £2m in the last three months alone.

Shire Hall
BBC

The council’s cabinet will hear next week that the local authority is on course for an overspend of £5.987m in the current financial year.

Its gross budget for 2019-20 stands at £568m.

A forecast after quarter one suggested it was heading for an £8m overspend.

Ongoing service pressures relating to school transport and children’s services staffing and agency costs are under review, it said.

Father of murdered boy 'dismissed' by social services

The father of seven-year-old Archie Spriggs, killed by his mother in September 2017, has told an inquest how he was "repeatedly dismissed" by social services staff after pleading for his son's protection.

Archie Spriggs
Family handout

Lesley Speed strangled and smothered her son at their home in Wall-under-Heywood, Shropshire, last September.

In a statement read to the Shropshire Coroner's Court by his lawyer, Matthew Spriggs said he had disclosed "several types of abuse and neglect" by the boy's mother.

In his evidence Mr Spriggs claimed his concerns were not taken seriously - and that he had telephoned social services in the months before Archie's death and asked: "What is it going to take for you to investigate? Bruises? Broken bones? Or my son to be killed by her?"

Mr Spriggs, who said he was told "it won't come to that", also claims that Archie's school failed to take his concerns seriously.

The inquest, which was told that part of Mr Spriggs' statement to the court was disputed by the local authority and West Mercia Police, continues.

Weather warning for rain issued

Homes and businesses could be flooded and travel disrupted by heavy rain across the West Midlands the Met Office is warning.

Weather warning
Met Office

A yellow warning for rain is in place for parts of Staffordshire until 12:00 on Tuesday.

A wider warning for Thursday covers the whole of the West Midlands.

Eleven flood warnings and many more alerts have also been issued after recent wet weather.

Fears of flooding as EA issues string of warnings

Eleven flood warnings are in place across the region with many less severe flood alerts also in place.

Flood map
Environment Agency

Levels on the River Avon at Evesham are expected to peak through the morning, said the Environment Agency.

River levels are set to remain high throughout the week, it added.

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Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Sara Blizzard

BBC Weather

It will be a windy day with some showers and highs of 9C (48F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Video: What's the weather got in store?

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a cloudy night with some clear spells and feeling cold with lows of -1C (30F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Flood affected roads

BBC News Travel

Flooding caused by heavy rain on Thursday is still affecting roads around the region.

  • Flooding under the bridge has closed the A4123 New Birmingham Road in Tipton between Tipton Road and Birmingham Road.
  • The A531 Swan Bank road in Bowsey Wood Staffordshire is closed from Bowsey Wood Road to Newcastle Road.
  • The B4368 is closed in Diddlebury, Shropshire, between Mill Lane and Corfton Bache.
  • Green Lane in Oddingley Worcestershire is closed from Hulls Lane to Plough Lane.
  • This is the scene on Maw Lane, Maw Green in Cheshire which is closed between Maw Green and Haslington.
Maw Green
Mike Jennings
  • Gresty Lane is closed in Shavington, Crewe from Gresty Green Road to Rope Lane.
  • New Street is closed in Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire between Old Street and Upper Hook Road
  • Orchard Green in Wellington, Herefordshire, is affected between the A49 Marden turn off and Walkers Green.
  • Watery Lane in Lower Bullingham, Herefordshire is closed in both directions between Lower Bullingham Lane and B4399

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

Any early rain and showers should clear leaving a drier afternoon with highs of 8C (46F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Video: What's the weather got in store?

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

It will be a chilly evening with clear periods and lows of 2C (36F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Flood warning issued as river levels rise

A flood warning has been issued for the River Dene at Walton in Warwickshire, with homes and businesses at risk of flooding.

Flood map
Environment Agency

River levels are expected to remain high until Friday with rain forecast.

Less serious weather alerts are in place across the West Midlands.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

It will be a largely dry and cloudy day with highs of 8C (46F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

More rain on the way tonight

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

After the showers this afternoon, it's set to turn drier this evening but more rain's on the way overnight:

Rich Davis

You can get the latest forecast for your area by going to the BBC Weather website.

You might need your umbrella later

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

A cold start but it should be a mainly dry start to the day although rain's expected later:

Rich Davis

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

A&E plan branded 'smokescreen' for downgrade

We told you earlier about a plan for emergency medicine consultants during "core hours" at an overhauled A&E service for Telford's Princess Royal Hospital (PRH).

The proposal has been criticised by the leader of Telford and Wrekin Council Shaun Davies, who said it proved the so-called A&E Local set for PRH was a "smokescreen" for a downgrade of services.

He said the consultant plan meant "a part-time service, with fewer clinicians, and with capacity to treat a much smaller number of health conditions".

Shaun Davies
Telford and Wrekin Council

Last month, the government backed NHS plans to reconfigure hospital services in Shropshire, with Shrewsbury becoming the county's centre for emergency medicine and Telford becoming a centre for planned treatment.

In a letter to the MPs for Telford and The Wrekin today, the health secretary said: "I’m delighted to write to you today to confirm that the A&E at PRH in Telford will remain open."

But Mr Davies said: "The NHS says that signage to the PRH will have to be changed and a major local communication campaign undertaken to explain to people when PRH has an A&E service."

Ambulance service takes over non-emergency 111 line

West Midlands Ambulance service will take over the running of the non-emergency 111 phone line across most of the region from today.

The trust says the move will reduce the number of ambulances being sent out on calls that don’t require one.

It’s also promised to significantly increase the number of people working on the service, which was previously run by private company Care UK.

A generic image of an ambulance
PA Media

Showery night ahead

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

There'll be showers tonight, mixed with some drier, clearer spells:

Alex Hamilton

You can stay up-to-date with the latest forecast for your area at any time by going to the BBC Weather website.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

Any early mist should clear leaving a windy day with some showers and highs of 12C (54F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

BreakingStrike action set to hit Christmas rail services

West Midlands Railway workers are set to take strike action on seven Saturdays leading up to and through the Christmas period.

The RMT trade union said it had been left with "no choice" other than to call the industrial action "over plans by the company to bulldoze through driver only operation".

Members have been instructed to not book on for any shifts on seven consecutive Saturdays starting 16 November, it added.

West Midlands Railway
BBC

The RMT has opposed the introduction of driver-only-operated trains - where drivers close doors instead of guards - which started rolling out across the country in 2017.

The union's general secretary Mick Cash said: "We will not allow the drive for profit to override the core issue of safe and accessible services for all on West Midlands Trains and we stand firm on that very basic principle."

The Office of Rail and Road, in charge of safety on the railways, has previously said "with suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff in place, it is a safe method of working".

West Midlands Railway said if the strike goes ahead contingency plans have been made to run a skeleton service using managers.

We are disappointed at the outcome of the ballot. We have committed to keeping a guard on every passenger train. We reached a framework agreement with RMT in May last year which guaranteed a safety-critical conductor on every passenger train. We remain determined to find a way of resolving this dispute without disruption and inconvenience for our passengers."

West Midlands Railway statement

Air ambulance flies 54,000th mission

Allen Cook

BBC News

It's been a big week for the Midlands Air Ambulance team, they've flown their 54,000th mission since beginning in 1991.

It covers six counties - West Midlands, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire - and responds to some of the most serious accidents as well as reaching rural locations inaccessible by land ambulance.

"Tetris"
Midlands Air Ambulance

The charity, which relies on fundraising, started off 28 years ago at Hagley Hall, Worcestershire, before moving to RAF Cosford, Shropshire.

Today it operates from three air bases at RAF Cosford, Strensham in Worcestershire and Tatenhill in Staffordshire.

To mark the 54,000th mission, on their Facebook page the team posted a photo where "we played Emergency Services Tetris".

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

It will be a wet and cloudy day with highs of 15C (59F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Video: What's the weather got in store?

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

It will be a cloudy evening with patchy rain and drizzle with lows of 7C (45F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Flood warnings downgraded as river levels fall

The number of flood warnings in the West Midlands has been reduced further as river levels fall.

The Environment Agency still has them in place for the River Severn in Worcestershire and the River Vrynwy in Shropshire, but others have been downgraded to flood alerts.

Wet field
STFC Goose

The Environment Agency said that with no heavy rainfall forecast over the next 24 hours it was expecting river levels to fall slowly.

But it said it would keep a close eye on them with more rain expected at the end of the week.

Will it stay dry tonight?

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

The dry weather's set to continue into tonight:

Alex Hamilton

Keep up-to-date with the latest weather for your area by heading to the BBC Weather website.

Flood warnings remain in place along River Severn

Allen Cook

BBC News

The River Severn is still covered by more than 15 flood warnings in Shropshire and Worcestershire with water levels expected to stay high over the next couple of days.

High river levels in Ironbridge on River Severn
Telford and Wrekin Council

The Environment Agency's put flood defences up along the waterway to protect homes and businesses including on Hylton Road, Worcester (pictured), for the first time since 2014.

Many roads across the counties have been underwater at times, following nearly a month's worth of rain in 24 hours..

Flood gate on Hylton Road, Worcester
Worcestershire County Council

The agency's expecting more rain tomorrow and into the weekend, keeping river levels high.

Dry, sunny and cold

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

Staying dry today with long sunny spells mixed with some patchy cloud cover:

Alex Hamilton

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

Disruption to trains as people head home

BBC News Travel

Trains in and out of Birmingham are facing delays or cancellations this evening.

The problem, Network Rail said, was a train that broke down earlier between Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

New Street
Network Rail

The train has now been moved, but it's likely to cause disruption for the rest of the day.

In pictures: Fields flooded, but properties helped

These aerial pictures of Atcham in Shropshire were taken by the Environment Agency.

Flood
Environment Agency
Flood
Environment Agency
Flood
Environment Agency

The flooded fields slowed the flow of the river to Ironbridge, it said. Flood water came close to some properties as the river peaked overnight.

Levels are expected to stay high throughout the week.

English River Severn is covered by flood warnings

The entire English River Severn is covered by flood warnings which is unusual, the Environment Agency has said.

River levels peaked in Ironbridge overnight but are expected to stay high for a few days.

Flood warnings
Environment Agency
Bewdley
Environment Agency

Workers monitored temporary flood defences in Bewdley overnight at Severnside North.

More than 1,000 homes and businesses had been protected by the Severn flood barriers, the agency said.

Roads still affected by flooding

Roads across Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire are still being affected by floodwater.

Warnings and alerts remain in place - although water levels are now starting to fall.

Rail services between Hereford and South Wales are affected and traders are counting the cost of disruption caused by flooding.

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Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

After a cold and possibly frosty start it will be a dry day with bright periods and highs of 11C (52F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Fire crews respond to hundreds of 999 calls

Fire crews in Shropshire responded to 220 emergency 999 calls in a 48-hour period during a "wet and wild" weekend.

Shropshire fire officers
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service
Flood
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service

The fire service has thanked crews who responded for their "unwavering hard work, commitment and energy".

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Myers said he was proud of the fire service, which he said had pulled together "to rise to the challenge".

The fire service also warned of the effects of more rain later in the week.

Video: Can we expect any more rain?

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

It will be a dry night with clear skies which mean it will be chilly with lows of -2C (28F).

There's no rain forecast on Tuesday either but the weather could become more unsettled by the end of the week.

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Homes flooded and travel disruption

Allen Cook

BBC News

Dozens of people have been rescued and rail services and roads remain heavily disrupted after the weekend's rain and flooding in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

Hereford rescue
Hereford and Worcester Fire Service

The fire service says it was called to 130 incidents between Friday morning and 07:00 today with "the majority being flooding-related".

In Hereford, at least 20 homes were flooded and residents at a care home had to be rescued.

Meanwhile, the railway line between Hereford and Newport is still shut after part of the track at Pontrilas, Herefordshire was washed away by flash floods.

Flooding through railway tracks
Network Rail

The Environment Agency says the River Wye in Hereford is at its highest since October 1998 while the River Teme in Worcestershirereached its highest level since 2007.

There are more than a dozen flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected, along rivers in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, along with many more flood alerts.