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Millions of cigarettes seized

More than seven million illegal cigarettes and almost 500 kilograms of hand rolling tobacco have been seized across the West Midlands by trading standards in the last year.

Illegal cigarettes

Officers say as the illegal tobacco trade has strong links with crime and criminal gangs, seizing these goods has become a priority and anyone being offered cheap tobacco or any other types of illicit goods should report it.

Talks to continue over mayor taking on police role

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Tom Dare

The West Midlands Combined Authority has reached a compromise over the future of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) during a tense board meeting today.

Birmingham Council House

Council leaders from the seven constituent authorities had been asked to agree a process for combining the position of the PCC with that of the mayor in time for the 2020 elections.

However they were unable to reach an agreement on the proposals in front of them, debating over the best way to proceed.

Eventually, following a five-minute adjournment called by Wolverhampton Council leader Roger Lawrence, an agreement was reached to continue discussions through the summer, with a goal of reconvening to reach a final agreement in September.

MP calls for tougher shisha licensing

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Carl Jackson

A Birmingham MP has branded the licensing of shisha bars "totally inadequate" following the second closure of a venue in two months.

Arabian Nites

The city council yesterday revoked the licence of Arabian Nites in Bissell Street, Highgate, which has been temporarily closed for three months by order of magistrates.

The move took away the venue’s ability to sell alcohol, serve late night refreshment and play music but selling shisha itself is not covered by a licence.

Ladywood MP, Labour's Shabana Mahmood, said she would be writing to the government pressing for "stronger, statutory licensing".

Birmingham club heads to USA in GB first

A Gaelic football team from Birmingham are about to become the first side to represent Great Britain at the Continental Youth Championships in the USA.

Gaelic football team

St Brendan's are taking two junior teams to the tournament in Boston which brings together 250 sides from around the world.

The club were invited after winning the All Britain title in 2017 which they successfully defended last weekend.

Summer holiday getaway begins

About 67,500 people are expected to fly from Birmingham Airport today, as roads, ports and airports are expected to be exceptionally busy for the summer getaway.

Birmingham Airport

Motorists are being warned to expect a "frantic Friday" with an estimated 3.8 million trips taking place following the end of term at the majority of schools in England and Wales.

More than nine million people are expected to embark on getaway trips by car between Friday and Sunday, the RAC said.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk to offer low-sugar version

BBC Business News

A staple of lunch boxes and peckish workers across the UK - Cadbury's Dairy Milk - will come in a low-sugar version from next year.

Dairy Milk

The new bar will contain 30% less sugar, a bigger reduction than the government had requested.

However, the full-sugar version will continue to be sold as usual.

Mondelez, which owns Cadbury in Birmingham, said it was committed to tackling obesity, including childhood obesity, in the UK.

Arrests after gun fired in city centre

Dave Wade

BBC News

Three people have been arrested after a gun was reportedly fired in the centre of Leicester.

york street leicester

A 23-year-old man, from the city, is being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder.

A 16-year-old boy, also from Leicester, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, and a 33-year-old man, from Birmingham, is being held on suspicion of assisting an offender.

There were no reported injuries during the incident on York Street earlier this month.

Homes evacuated after large grassland fire

Properties were evacuated overnight after a large grassland fire spread to nearby factories in Birmingham.

Grass fire
West Midlands Police

Fifty firefighters battled to stop the fire spreading to houses on Green Lane, Bordesley Green after being called to the blaze just before 20:00.

Five crews also dealt with a large grassland fire on Hodge Hill Common, but have now left the scene.

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

After a dry start today bands of showery rain will push through the region, which could be heavy at times.

It will feel a bit cooler today with highs of 25C (77F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

What's the weather got in store?

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

There should be plenty of late sunshine around this evening, before a dry and largely clear night with lows of 12C (54F).

Here's your forecast:

The forecast for the West Midlands

New look for region's transport

Buses, trams and trains will share the same logo and corporate design, in a rebranding exercise by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).


Transport bosses hope the changes - similar to London's famous Roundal - will make it simpler to use public transport.

New branding

The branding will be rolled-out over a number of months.

BreakingPoundworld to disappear from high street

The administrators of Poundworld have announced the closure of its remaining stores, some of them in the West Midlands.

Another 78 stores are to close by Sunday 29 July and another 112 stores by 10 August.

That will result in 2,339 job losses.

Administrators have been closing the firm's 335 stores since it went into administration in June.

BreakingBaby found safe and well after car-jacking

A four-week-old baby that was in the back of a car stolen in Birmingham this afternoon has been found safe and well.

She was left a health centre and will shortly be reunited with her mother, West Midlands Police said.

Her mother has been taken to hospital after sustaining leg injuries.

Drug dealers jailed after 'production line' uncovered

Four drug dealers have been jailed for bringing crack cocaine and heroin to the streets of Worcester.

The longest sentence was for 33-year-old Asgar Ali Khalfe (far left), from Townley Gardens in the Aston area of Birmingham, who was given 12 years in prison after admitting conspiracy to supply crack cocaine, conspiracy to supply heroin, production of crack cocaine and possession of criminal property.

Jailed men
West Mercia Police

Christopher James Franklin, who is 35 and from Barbourne Road in Worcester (centre left) was jailed for five and a half years after pleading guilty to supply crack cocaine, conspiracy to supply heroin, assault and dangerous driving.

Shakur Abdul Hussain, 38, from Compton Road in Worcester (centre right), was sentenced to four years after being found guilty by a jury at Hereford Crown Court of conspiracy to supply crack cocaine, conspiracy to supply heroin and possession of criminal property.

The fourth man, 22-year-old Terry Melsom, of no fixed address (far right), was sentenced to six years and five months in prison after admitting conspiracy to supply crack cocaine and conspiracy to supply heroin.

West Mercia Police said the four had set up a production line in Birmingham and were "hardened drug dealers who made a substantial amount of money".

Jury discharged in terror trial

Dominic Casciani

Home Affairs Correspondent

An Old Bailey jury has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict in relation to a Birmingham man accused of telling an undercover operation he wanted help to go and fight in Libya.

Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman and Mohammad Imran
Julia Quenzler

Over a five-week Old Bailey trial Mohammed Aqib Imran, 22, had denied preparing for acts of terrorism by seeking help to reach Islamic State group fighters abroad.

The trial heard that he had allegedly made contact with IS commanders online - but didn't realise he was actually speaking to undercover officers from the FBI and MI5.

Imran was yesterday unanimously convicted of a lesser charge of possessing a "guidebook" for mujahideen fighters living in the West but the jury were unable to reach a verdict on the more serious charge.

His co-accused, Naa'imur Rahman, 20, was convicted of preparing to attack Downing Street in the hope of killing the prime minister.

Shisha lounge licence revoked

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Carl Jackson

A Birmingham shisha lounge has had its council licence stripped after police declared it was on the radar of every armed officer in the city.

Arabian Nites

It is now unlikely that Arabian Nites, which has been temporarily closed by order of magistrates since a shooting in May, will ever reopen.

A Birmingham City Council licensing sub committee today took away the venue’s ability to play music, provide late night refreshment and perhaps most significantly, sell alcohol.

Committee chairman Councillor Barbara Dring confirmed the decision had been made to prevent crime and disorder and protect public safety.

Mayor could take over police role

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Tom Dare

A vote on whether the mayor in the West Midlands should take on the role of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) will be held tomorrow.

The board of the West Midlands Combined Authority will vote on the first phase of combining the two positions.

West Midlands Police badge

The proposals were first laid out in the West Midlands’ second devolution deal earlier this year, and would see the mayor take on the powers of the PCC in time for the 2020 mayoral election.

A similar process is currently under way to bring the powers of the West Midlands Fire Authority under the mayor.

An agreement on Friday would see the proposals put to an eight-week public consultation in November - people would then be asked their views on combining the two positions.

In the most recent respective elections (2016 and 2017), more people voted for the current PCC than the mayor.

Weapons seized in string of armed incidents

Five people were arrested, and weapons recovered, in separate incidents across the West Midlands yesterday, police said.

Almost 2,300 emergency calls were made to West Midlands Police yesterday, which has seen record numbers of 999 calls in recent weeks.

West Midlands Police

A sawn-off shotgun was seized after armed police responded to reports of a man threatening to shoot open his front door, in Chelmsley Wood.

Two people were arrested.

Two 16-year-olds were also arrested in Coventry, on suspicion of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, after a caller suggested youths had pointed a "handgun" at staff.

Responding to reports of a man armed with a knife, a 20-year-old was detained in Brierley Hill, and a knife recovered.

Bid to hear WW1 bells ring out again

A campaign is under way to recruit a new generation of bell ringers in the West Midlands in time for Armistice Day.

Bell ringers

About 1,400 ringers were killed during World War One.

It is hoped a similar number can be recruited in 2018 to allow allow silent bell towers to ring out again on 11 November, which marks the centenary of he end of the war.

Fire delaying rail services

BBC News Travel

A fire close to rail lines between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford-upon-Avon is delaying rail services.

A signalling fault is also affecting services between Birmingham New Street and Wolverhampton, said West Midlands Railway.

PC due in court charged with assault

A police officer is due in court today charged with assault after two women were arrested by a bus station.

PC Kevin McClenaghan, from the West Midlands force, faces two charges of assault followig the arrest after a disturbance near Halesowen bus station on 22 December.

He is also accused of attempting to pervert the course of justice in relation to a witness statement about the incident, the police watchdog said.

He is due at Birmingham Magistrates' Court.

Watch: Your 50-second weather forecast

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

After a misty start for some, it should be a fine day with plenty of sunshine and highs of 27C (81F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

MPs call for tower block sprinklers

MPs have called on government to fund the fitting of sprinklers in high-rise tower blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Seventy two people died in the fire in June 2017. A public inquiry is looking at the adequacy of regulations, the tower's refurbishment, and the response of authorities in the aftermath.

In May, Birmingham City Council approved plans to retrofit sprinklers in 213 tower blocks, despite the expected £31m bill.

Birmingham tower blocks

At the time, council leader Ian Ward said he was disappointed no central funding would be made available despite his cross-party request.

Today, among other measures, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee said "sprinklers should be fitted to all high-rise residential buildings" and that the "government should make funding available for installation in council and housing association-owned buildings".

This morning Mr Ward was quick to highlight the committee's call.

Your West Midlands weather forecast

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

Some of us have seen showers through the morning, mainly to the west and north of the region.

It will be dry overnight, with temperatures slowly increasing over the next few days.

Latest weather forecast for the West Midlands

Search continues for 'deliberate' hit-and-run driver

Chris Blakemore


Police are continuing to hunt for a driver thought to have deliberately hit a pedestrian in Solihull.

Warwick Road was closed between Old Warwick Road and Richmond Road

West Midlands Police has started a murder investigation after the 46-year-old man was killed in Olton on Monday evening.

Officers say they are now looking for a dark coloured VW Golf, which sped away from Warwick Road in Olton after hitting the man.

Woman found stabbed in Selly Oak park

Stephanie Barnard

BBC News

A woman is being treated for serious injuries after an incident in Selly Oak Park this afternoon.

A spokeswoman for Midlands Ambulance Service says they were called to the junction of Harborne Lane and Gittings Road by police at 13:30 this afternoon.

The knife injuries are thought to be life-threatening.

West Midlands Police say they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the incident.

'I survived 25,000 volts after trespassing on the railway'

In the past four years there have been almost 700 incidents of teenagers trespassing on railway lines across the West Midlands, according to new figures.

Tom Hubbard, 20, suffered life-changing injuries in 2014 when he received an electric shock from overhead power cables at Birmingham New Street.

Tom Hubbard suffered life-changing injuries after being struck by 25,000 volts
British Transport Police

Four years on I'm still affected by the events of that day and every time I look in the mirror I'm reminded by that one decision to go on the railway. The accident has made me more of an introvert and cautious of trying new things, often opting to stay in during the day to avoid people, and wear hoodies and long-sleeved tops to hide my scars, even on hot days."

Tom Hubbard

A film re-enacting Tom's story will be shown in cinemas over the summer.

'Good windfall' for MG Rover creditors

Thousands of former MG Rover workers look set to receive a further payout after the UK liquidator acquired about £44m from one of the firm's companies in Germany, courtesy of liquidators in that country.

Archive photo - Ariel shot of former Longbridge site when it was operating

That should mean that by the end of this calendar year 2018 we should be able to distribute monies to the 5,300 creditors, which would be the equivalent to another 50% of what they've already received, which is obviously a good windfall at this stage of a liquidation process."

Matthew HammondMG Rover liquidator
Matthew Hammond, MG Rover liquidator

BreakingMan charged with neighbour's murder

A man has been charged with the murder of his neighbour in Yardley Wood.

Reece Hipwood, 28, died after he was found stabbed at an address in Sandmere Road, Yardley Wood, Birmingham, on Sunday.

Reece Hipwood
Police handout

John Nixon, 54, who was found with serious injuries, is due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates' Court later today.

Photographs show how city has changed since 1953

More than 70 photographers have recreated famous views of Birmingham for a new exhibition in the city.

More than 850 photographs of Birmingham were taken by university lecturer Phyllis Nicklin between 1953 and 1969.

Her images were discovered in 2015 when University of Birmingham staff were clearing out a building.

Bull Ring Centre
In the Footsteps of Phyllis
Current view of The Bullring
In the Footsteps of Phyllis

Photographers have captured images from the same location to show how the view has changed over the years - such as the above view of The Bullring and the Rotunda.

In the Footsteps of Phyllis will be running at the Library of Birmingham 11:00-17:00 until September.