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  1. Updates for Wednesday 23 December 2015
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates to resume at 08:00 on Thursday

Live Reporting

By Jennifer Meierhans

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Our coverage across the day

    Live updates for Birmingham and the Black Country have finished for the day but we'll be back from 08:00 Christmas Eve with the latest news, sport, travel and weather.  

  2. Birmingham fireworks to bring in the new year with a bang

    Jennifer Meierhans

    BBC News Online

    A fireworks display will light up the skies over Birmingham on New Year’s Eve as the city bids farewell to 2015 and welcomes 2016.

    You can watch the five-minute display from Centenary Square from midnight.

    An ice rink and big wheel will be open until 01:00.


    Traffic restrictions will be in place along Broad Street:

    - Broad Street, between Bridge Street and Paradise Circus, will be closed to traffic from 22:30 to 00:30.

    - Broad Street, between Gas Street and Paradise Circus, will be closed to traffic (including Bridge Street, which will be closed for the fireworks display) from 23:45 to 00:15.

  3. Coming up on Midlands Today tonight: The Christmas getaway

    We'll be looking at a busy day on the motorways, as thousands of people headed off for their Christmas holidays.   


    There have been tailbacks and jams at the usual pinch-points across the roads.

    I'll have the latest from the Highways England headquarters on Midlands Today on BBC One from 18:30.

  4. BreakingEx West Brom defender Don Howe dies

    Former West Brom defender and manager Don Howe has died, aged 80

    Howe won 23 caps for England and was also in the backroom for managers Ron Greenwood, Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables. 

    FA chairman Greg Dyke said: "It is terribly sad news and our thoughts are with Don's family at this time."

    View more on twitter
  5. Not enough firefighters to staff engines, claims union

    Mary Rhodes

    Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    Dozens of fire engines in the West Midlands are regularly unavailable because there aren't enough firefighters to staff them - according to the Fire Brigades Union. 

    It says figures show 45 engines were out-of-action over a four-week period.

    Fire engine

    It blames a new staffing system and the loss of 200 firefighters since 2010. 

    West Midlands Fire Service says there are various reasons why engines go off the run.

  6. Watch: Tracey Merten's killer sought 21 years on

    Mary Rhodes

    Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    The sister of a Birmingham mum who was murdered 21 years ago today has appealed for information to help catch her killer.

    Tracey Mertens was kidnapped from Nechells in 1994 and died after being set on fire in a churchyard in Cheshire.

    Video content

    Video caption: Tracey Mertens's killer still sought 21 years on
  7. Travel: M5 link road still blocked

    BBC Travel

    The M5 Link Road is blocked and there’s stationary traffic southbound from M6 north carriageway, because of an accident involving a lorry and a car transporter and recovery work.

    For diversion follow the Hollow Circle symbol to continue on the northbound M6, exit at J9, round the motorway island to head back onto the M6 southbound, to then join the M5 southbound.

  8. Latest: Appeal to catch killer 21 years later and firefighter staff shortages

    Jennifer Meierhans

    BBC News Online

    Here are some of the stories making the headlines in Birmingham & the Black Country this evening: 

    - Sister of woman set on fire 21 years ago appeals to catch her killer

    - Not enough firefighters to staff engines, says union

    - Food bank visitor numbers fall in Midlands

  9. Children's services expert to turn around Sandwell Council

    BBC WM

    An expert on children's services appointed by the government has begun to assess Sandwell Council after two highly critical Ofsted reports.

    Last week the government said it was sending in Eleanor Brazil after the borough's children's services were ranked inadequate for the last two years. 

    She's a former interim director of Children, Young people and Families in Birmingham - and faces the job of turning the department around. 

    Ratings of council children's services following inspections between Feb 2014 and Sept 2015
  10. Food bank visitor figures fall in the Midlands

    Amy Cole

    BBC Midlands Today

    The number of people using food banks in the Midlands has fallen for the first time in five years. 

    After a series of sharp rises, there was a drop of 646 people receiving emergency food parcels, according to the latest figures.

    The Trussell Trust - which runs more than 40 centres in our region - said 68,310 people received help in the first half of this year.

  11. Man 'severely' trapped after van smashes into steel fence

    Express and Star

    This is the scene in Dudley where a man was left 'severely' trapped in his car after it crashed into a steel fence.

    Dudley crash scene
  12. Drivers lucky to be alive after car transporter crash

    Jennifer Meierhans

    BBC News Online

    A driver of a lorry that broke down on the motorway got out of his cab before a car transporter crashed into it - forcing it 40ft down an embankment.

    It happened on the northbound carriageway of the M6, on the link road to the southbound M5 just after 10.30am.

    A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Both men are extremely lucky to be alive."

    Wreck of the lorry hit by a car transporter
  13. Watch: Weather forecast - beware Christmas snow spoiler!

    Shefali Oza

    BBC Midlands Today

    Showers tonight with heavy rain tomorrow highs of 9C (48F)

    Video content

    Video caption: Weather forecast for Wednesday 23 December in the West Midlands
  14. Travel: Slow traffic on M42

    BBC Travel

    There's slow traffic on the M42 northbound between J4, A34 (Shirley) and J5, A41, (Solihull), because of an earlier broken down vehicle. 

    All lanes have been reopened but there's still congestion to J3. 

  15. Latest: Man jailed over car thefts and shopkeeper fined over fake Frozen dolls

    Jennifer Meierhans

    BBC News Online

    Here's an update on some of the stories we are looking at this afternoon in the BBCWM newsroom:

    - Man jailed after stolen cars found in shipping containers

    - Shopkeeper fined over fake Frozen dolls

    -  Man whose pick-up truck was impaled on a fence escaped with minor injuries

  16. Christmas Market stallholders donate food to charities

    Jennifer Meierhans

    BBC News Online

    Stallholders from Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market have donated food to charities.

    Ham, doughnuts, waffles and sausages went to Sifa Fireside, St Basil’s, Bethany Pentecostal Church, YMCA, Start Again, Handsworth Wood Youth Group and Redditch Winter Shelter.

    Stallholders are also donating their sterling change to the Lord Mayor’s charities.

    Birmingham Christmas Market
  17. Travel: Slow traffic on M5 link road

    BBC Travel

    One lane's closed and there's slow traffic on the M5 link road, southbound.

    It's due to an accident. More details from BBC Travel.