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National Express to use jobs bonus to cut bus fares

BBC Business News

National Express has said it will use £4m from the government's Job Retention Bonus scheme to cut fares on its West Midlands and Dundee bus routes.

Getty Images

It said the move, which will not affect coaches fares, would help boost demand and support the local economies.

The bonus scheme will pay firms £1,000 for each employee brought back from furlough and employed until January.

A Treasury spokesman told the BBC: "There's no restrictions on how firms can use the bonus payments."

National Express is the biggest bus operator in the West Midlands, carrying about 90% of the region's passengers.

More thunderstorms forecast

Warnings of thunderstorms are still in place today for most of the West Midlands and are set to continue through until Monday.

Area covered by warning
Met Office

Today's yellow weather warning from the Met Office says, while some areas will stay dry, others could see severe storms with the possibility of sudden flooding or damage from lightning or hail.

Then from Friday through until 21:00 on Monday, there's some warning of thunderstorms covering the whole of the West Midlands.

BreakingStorms warning extended

A weather warning from the Met Office has now been extended.

Its amber warning for storms covers Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham and the Black Country, as well as parts of Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

Warning map
Met Office

It's in place till 21:00 and the Met Office says there's a chance of flash floods as well as damage from lightning strikes and strong winds.

It added that power supplies, as well as water and gas could be affected.

The Environment Agency's Dave Throup, based in the region, warned: "Exceptionally powerful thunderstorms could deliver up to 100mm of rain in a couple of hours. If that happens there will be severe impacts."

The lightning over many parts of the West Midlands on Tuesday night proved to be one of the most spectacular in years.

Matt Stanton's slow motion video captured it illuminating the skies over Stourbridge:

Lightning in Stourbridge filmed in slow motion

Flood alerts for rivers

The heavy rain that fell overnight has brought worries of flooding in some parts of the West Midlands.

The Environment Agency has flood alerts for where the rivers Severn and Vyrnwy meet in Shropshire, along with the rivers Blythe, Cole, Rea, Stour and Tame.

Flood map
Environment Agency

It said river levels were likely to fall during the day, but could rise again, with more thunderstorms expected.

Police officer run over by thieves backs 'Andrew's Law'

Phil Mackie

Midlands correspondent, BBC News

A police officer who nearly died after being run over by car thieves has added his support for mandatory life sentences for anyone who kills a member of the emergency services.

PC Gaz Phillips

A campaign was launched by Lissie Harper, the widow of PC Andrew Harper who died in Berkshire in August 2019.

PC Gaz Phillips, 43, was critically injured in Birmingham a few days earlier.

He has made a remarkable recovery and on the first anniversary of the incident has just returned to work.

Weather: Mainly sunny before the showers

BBC Weather

We might see the odd shower this morning but mainly there will be sunny spells today and it will continue to feel very warm and muggy. High: 30C/86F.

This morning in Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire
This morning in Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire

Then turning cloudy this evening with showers starting to appear which could be sharp and possibly thundery. Low: 17C/63F.

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

Police officer run over by thieves backs 'Andrew's Law'
PC Gaz Phillips who nearly died just days before PC Andrew Harper is supporting his widow's campaign for tougher sentences.

Animals keeping cool in the hot weather

Allen Cook

BBC News

We are in for a hot day today as temperatures are forecast to get up around 28C.

It's not just us humans trying to keep cool and at Dudley Zoo they are using frozen peas in a paddling pool to help their chimpanzees:

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While BBC Weather Watcher Cathyvee25 sent us this photo from Nuneaton where her cat appears to want to get her to turn the fan on:


If you've got a photo of how you, your family or your pets are coping or enjoying the hot weather, pop it over on an email to us.

Thunderstorms warning for next week

People in the West Midlands should be prepared for severe thunderstorms early next week, the Met Office said.

Area covered
Met Office

It has put out a yellow warning from 00:00 on Monday until 00:00 on Wednesday.

However, the alert covers the whole country as the Met Office said there was "significant uncertainty in location and timing".

Electric bin lorry trialled

An electric bin lorry is being trialled in Dudley as part of plans to cut down on greenhouse gas and nitrous oxide emissions.

The bin lorry
Dudley Council

The council said the vehicle had been used on several routes this week but with a price tag of £400,000 was much more expensive than £180,000 for a normal bin lorry.

However, the local authority said the electric lorry could save more than £15,000 each year in fuel and maintenance costs.

It said it was working on getting funding to cover the extra outlay and planned to purchase two of the vehicles.

Weather: A warm and sunny Friday

BBC Weather

Plenty of sunshine around and it will be mainly dry and fine with just the chance of a few showers this afternoon. High: 28C (82F).

BBC Weather Watcher Sue Snaps
This morning in Codsall, Staffordshire

Warm and muggy tonight with any lingering showers clearing away to leave it dry with clear spells. Low: 16C (61F).

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

Weather: A dry and warm Thursday

BBC Weather

Today's going to be very warm and mainly dry with just the chance of the odd shower this morning. High: 25C/77F.

This morning in Moreton on Lugg, Herefordshire
BBC Weather Watcher Mightyship
This morning in Moreton on Lugg, Herefordshire

It will stay dry tonight with clear spells, feeling humid and mild with a low of 15C/59F.

Keep up-to-date on the forecast for your area by going to the BBC Weather website.

Light railway scheme bailed out by government

A scheme aimed at getting people out of cars and using a new type of railway has secured £12.4m of government cash.

Artist's impression
Dudley Council

Dudley Council is part of a group wanting to build a Very Light Rail (VLR) Innovation Centre in the town.

The project would investigate ways to cut the weight and cost of traditional trains and track and come up with lighter, cheaper alternatives.

The council said the coronavirus pandemic had left the scheme facing a nearly £13m shortfall but ministers agreed to put in most of the money.

Guard of honour at funeral of special constable

A funeral has been held today for a special constable who died months after he was hit by a car.

Special Constable Resham Singh Nahal pictured in 2017 at Pride with Chief Constable Dave Thompson
West Midlands Police

Resham Singh Nahal (left) was hit by a car while attending the scene of a separate collision in Oldbury, on 8 November.

Last month, West Midlands Chief Constable Dave Thompson confirmed his death and the force said tests would determine if his death related to the injuries he suffered on duty.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said Mr Nahal was also part of its Patient Transport Service and colleagues formed a guard of honour at Perry Barr Crematorium.

Colleagues at the funeral
West Midlands Ambulance Service

Baby spider monkey born at zoo in front of visitors

A baby spider monkey has been born at Dudley Zoo.

Staff said the birth on Friday was the first at the zoo in four decades and came during the day in front of visitors.

Mother and baby
Dudley Zoo

The Colombian black spider monkey is usually found in parts of South America.

Zookeepers said the primates remain a critically endangered species in the wild due to deforestation and hunting.

Coronavirus: How many cases are there in your area?

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Sandwell has fallen, according to new figures.

A test sample is held at a COVID-19 testing centre

The borough was named as an area of concern by Public Health England last month after a rise in cases.

But data from Public Health England shows there were 66 new cases in the week up to 31 July. Figures for the seven days to 24 July showed 96 cases.

That means 20.2 people tested positive for every for every 100,000 population (up to 31 July), down from 29.3 a week earlier.

Here are the rate of infections (per 100,000 people) for all local authorities in the West Midlands - for the seven days up to 31 July, compared with the previous week.

  • Birmingham down to 12.7 from from 13.4
  • Bromsgrove down to 6.1 from 7.1
  • Cheshire East up to 6.6 from 1.3
  • Coventry up to 14.7 from 8.7
  • Dudley up to 4.7 from 3.4
  • East Staffordshire up to 9.3 from 8.4
  • Herefordshire remains at 5.7
  • Lichfield up to 6.7 from 2.9
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme up to 7.0 from 3.1
  • North Warwickshire is down to 6.2 from 9.3
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth up to 17.8 from 8.5
  • Redditch remains at 1.2
  • Rugby up to 6.5 from 1.9
  • Sandwell down to 20.2 from 29.3
  • Shropshire up to 6.2 from 5.0
  • Solihull up to 7.0 from 4.2
  • South Staffordshire down to 3.6 from 6.2
  • Staffordshire Moorlands up to 6.1 from 1.0
  • Stoke-on-Trent down to 3.1 from 4.3
  • Stratford-on-Avon up to 3.1 from 0.8
  • Tamworth up to 2.6 from 1.3
  • Telford and Wrekin remains at 3.9
  • Walsall remains at 8.1
  • Warwick remains at 4.2
  • Wolverhampton up to 16.8 from 14.5
  • Worcester down to 3.9 from 7.9
  • Wychavon down to 4.7 from 7.9

Weather: Mainly dry and sunny today

BBC Weather

Monday will be mainly dry with sunny spells although there could be some more cloud around this afternoon with a few light showers. High: 19C/66F.

Leek this morning
Tammys Pics
This morning near Leek, Staffordshire

Then although there'll be some patchy cloud with the odd shower tonight, it will generally turn dry with clear spells through the night. Low: 8C/46F.

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

How hot is it going to get today?

BBC Weather

It will be a dry and hot day for most of the West Midlands with plenty of sunshine.

Later in the afternoon, some patchy cloud will build up, with the small chance of catching a sharp shower but temperatures could reach 32°C (90°F).

This was the scene in Eckington, Worcestershire, this morning and taken by BBC Weather Watcher Jo.

BBC Weather Watchers/Jo
Paramedic on struggle to recover mentally from stabbing
Deena Evans and her colleague Michael Hipgrave were stabbed while attending a patient in Wolverhampton.

Warning against anti-social behaviour issued ahed of Eid

Muslims across the West Midlands will be celebrating the festival of Eid al-Adha on Friday.

Worshipers are being asked celebrate virtually due to social-distancing measures brought in during the coronavirus pandemic, and not gather in large family groups.

West Midlands Police is also asking people not to gather this evening causing anti-social behaviour including "revving engines and blowing horns into the early hours."

"Police ANPR operations and officers [will be] on duty until the early hours of the morning to deal with this problem should it arise," the force said.

Robots used to clean airport in coronavirus fight

Robots that can clean door handles and seats are being trialed at a Yorkshire airport to see if they can help in the fight against the coronavirus.

Robot cleaner

The University of Leeds has been using the machines at Leeds Bradford Airport and in Leeds city centre where they spray objects with a mist of diluted alcohol.

The robots use artificial intelligence to identify objects that need regular cleaning, like seats, bike stands or doors.

They then work together to avoid crashing into things or people.

The project, which involves the universities of Leeds and Birmingham, and University College London, was set up in May to look at how robots can help slow the spread of the virus.

Dr Mohammed Shaqura, from the University of Leeds, said: “The aim is to have robots that can regularly disinfect those spaces, doing away with the need for people to clean them and the risks they would face in becoming contaminated themselves.

“We are using machine learning techniques to have the robots fully autonomous, so they "know" which objects need cleaning – and will only require high-level supervision from operators.”

Weather: Sunshine and showers

BBC Weather

A mix of sunny spells and showers today. Cool and breezy with a high of 17C/63F.

Knowle, Solihull this morning
BBC Weather Watchers/Dammo
Knowle, Solihull this morning

Then any remaining showers will die out through tonight with clear spells appearing later on. Low: 11C/52F.

Get an up-to-date forecast for your area at any time by going to the BBC Weather website.

Weather: Showers all day

BBC Weather

There'll be outbreaks of showers today, with gusty winds, and the rain could be heavy at times with a small chance of thunder and lightning. High: 21C/70F.

Rain in Bromyard, Herefordshire, this morning
Mrs Baggins
Rain in Bromyard, Herefordshire, this morning

Windy this evening with a few showers before turning largely dry and clear overnight. Low: 11C/52F.

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

Coronavirus: NHS staff given freedom of borough

NHS, social care and other front-line workers have been granted the freedom of Dudley for their efforts during the coronavirus crisis, the borough council has announced.

Dudley council

The honour has been granted to NHS staff, public health, adult social care, children’s services, bereavement services and voluntary sector workers.

The decision was made at a full council meeting on Thursday.

The leader of the council Patrick Harley, said: "Whilst the fight against the pandemic is not yet over, we believe it’s important to recognise the continuing efforts of all those people who are helping us all."

Your photos: Under blue skies

BBC Weather Watchers

Plenty of sunshine around today and our local BBC Weather Watchers have been making the most of it.

Here are three of their photos from users OgySnaps in Warwick, Caraman On Tour in Dudley and Snow Crystals in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire:

Caraman On Tour
Newcastle under Lyme
Snow Crystals

Coronavirus: How many cases are there in your area?

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Sandwell has risen again, according to new figures.

The data from Public Health England shows there were 86 new cases in the week up to 20 July. Figures for the seven days to 19 July showed 76 cases.

That means 26.3 people tested positive for every for every 100,000 population (up to 20 July), up from 12.2 a week earlier.

Dr Lisa McNally, the Director of Public Health for Sandwell, said on Monday it hadn't yet reached the stage where a local lockdown was needed, but she was monitoring the rise.

Infection rate slide

Here are the rate of infections (per 100,000 people) for all local authorities in the West Midlands - for the seven days up to 20 July, compared with the previous week.

  • Birmingham up to 12.9 from from 7.0
  • Bromsgrove up to 5.1 from 4.1
  • Cheshire East down to 3.9 from 4.2
  • Coventry up to 7.4 from 2.5
  • Dudley down to 0.9 from 2.2
  • East Staffordshire down to 15.2 from 29.5
  • Herefordshire down to 16.1 from 43.7
  • Lichfield up to 4.8 from 3.8
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme down to 2.3 from 5.4
  • North Warwickshire is up to 9.3 from 1.5
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth up to 10.9 from 10.1
  • Redditch up to 3.5 from 0.0
  • Rugby down to 3.7 from 10.3
  • Sandwell up to 26.3 from 12.1
  • Shropshire down to 0.9 from 3.4
  • Solihull down to 5.1 from 7.9
  • South Staffordshire stays the same at 2.7
  • Staffordshire Moorlands down to 0.0 from 4.1
  • Stoke-on-Trent down to 2.7 from 9.0
  • Stratford-on-Avon down to 0.0 from 5.5
  • Tamworth down to 2.6 from 3.9
  • Telford and Wrekin stays the same at 7.3
  • Walsall down to 8.8 from 11.3
  • Warwick up to 2.1 from 1.4
  • Wolverhampton up to 5.7 from 4.2
  • Worcester up to 4.9 from 2.9
  • Wychavon down from 1.6 from 4.7