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  1. Updates on Thursday 26 May 2016
  2. More news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 Friday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening from Local Live for Birmingham and the Black Country

That's it from us on Thursday.

Please join us again from 08:00 on Friday when we will have our usual mix of news, sport, travel and weather.

Coming up on TV

Mary Rhodes

Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

Rock legend Ozzy Osbourne was in Birmingham today, for the official naming of a tram in his honour but amid all the celebrity hype, the BBC has learned the metro line from Wolverhampton to Birmingham has yet to turn a profit since opening 17 years ago. 

And detectives have described as "evil" a married couple found guilty of killing a vulnerable young woman with learning difficulties.  

More on these stories and others on the Midlands Today on BBC One at 18:30.

Severe M6 disruption

BBC Travel

Severe disruption on the M6 northbound between J10 A454 (Wolverhampton) and J10a M54 because of a breakdown.

More here.

Latest weather forecast for the West Midlands

BBC Weather

A dry night to come with lengthy clear spells. Lows of 10C (50F). 

Find out more.

The weather forecast

Woman's skull broken by stones thrown at taxis

A woman in her 70s was taken to hospital with a fractured skull after a group of people threw stones at taxis on a road in Birmingham last night. 

A stone came through a window of one of the vehicles on Bellevue Road at about 22:00. Seven other cars were damaged. 

Police say they have now been given an emergency order to allow them to remove groups of people from the area if they're thought to be involved in anti-social behaviour. 

Family tribute to Tamworth boy who died after tragic canal accident

Tamworth Herald

The parents of a six-year-old boy who died after falling into a Tamworth canal have paid tribute to their "happy, beautiful" son - our front page today.

Tamworth Herald frontpage
Tamworth Herald

Latest: Susan Whiting's murderer sentenced; tram named after Ozzy; fresh witness appeal over stabbing

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

If you are just catching up on Thursday's news, here are the stories we've covered in the past few hours:

- A man has been jailed for life for murdering a student with learning difficulties - his wife has been convicted of her manslaughter

- A Midland Metro tram has been name in honour of the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne

- A fresh appeal has been launched for witnesses over a fatal stabbing in Smethwick

M6 motorway gantry repairs 'finished a month early'

Repairs to the overhead gantry on the M6 at junction five southbound near Birmingham have been finished in time for the half-term break, says Highways England.

It called the programme "vital structural maintenance" and said it was originally anticipated to take until the end of June. Now it says the work will be completed one month early.

Cones, signs and diversions will be removed by Friday night.

Trams ready to start running through Birmingham city centre

Final testing is under way before Midland Metro trams start to run through Birmingham city centre.

The £128m project will see trams travelling from near Snow Hill railway station, along Corporation Street, and on to Birmingham New Street station.  

Midland Metro trams ready to start running through Birmingham city centre

The tram system began operating from Wolverhampton to Birmingham in 1999, and further extensions are planned towards Edgbaston and Birmingham's Centenary Square.

It is hoped that more than nine million passengers will be using the expanded network each year by 2026. 

Body-under-bed: Charity's sympathy for victim's family

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

Like her victim, killer Julie Beards had learning difficulties. The charity which ran the home where Mrs Beards lived and the killing took place said its "thoughts and sympathy" were with Susan Whiting's family.

Helena Evans, chief executive of Brighter Futures, said: "This has been a very difficult and distressing time for everybody involved in the case. 

"Brighter Futures has been working hard to support our customers and staff as they deal with what has happened."

Brave Norton meningitis survivor Robert Parsons gets set for 10K charity challenge

Sixteen years after his life changed forever, brave Norton meningitis survivor Robert Parsons is challenging himself to complete a 10K walk as a way of thanking all those who helped him on the road to recovery.

Here's today's front page.

Stourbridge News frontpage
Stourbridge News

Tata Steel: Government warned over pension cut plan

The government has been warned that a plan to cut pension benefits to help save Tata Steel's UK operations could take ministers down a "dangerous path".

Ex-pensions minister Steve Webb urged caution over "rushed changes" he said could have implications for workers "well beyond the steel industry".

A £485m pension deficit has been deterring potential buyers of Tata Steel's UK business, which employs nearly 800 people in the West Midlands.

A consultation on the pension scheme's future has been launched by ministers.

Save our Steel protest

Burning rubber: Motorcycles set alight in Acocks Green

The bikes were stolen, police say.

View more on twitter

Crowds expected in Redditch for top bike race

Sarah Falkland

BBC Midlands Today

Big crowds are expected in Redditch tonight as some of Britain's top cyclists compete in a high speed circuit race. 

It's the fifth year in a row that the town has played host to a round of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series. The elite cyclists - men and women - will compete over a testing 1.4km circuit. 

The bike race

A tram called Ozzy

A Midland Metro tram has been named in honour of Black Sabbath front man Ozzy Osbourne. 

Large crowds turned out in Corporation Street in Birmingham city centre to welcome the 67-year-old Birmingham-born singer at the unveiling. 

A tram called Ozzy - Midland Metro named in honour of Black Sabbath singer

The ceremony comes just days before an extension of the tram system to Birmingham New Street Station opens.

Further lines to Edgbaston and Centenary Square in the city are planned as part of a £128m project.   

Coming up on TV

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

I'll have all the latest from the Susan Whiting case from Leicester Crown Court.

Join us for the Midlands Today on BBC One at 13:30.

Latest: Susan Whiting killer guilty; witness appeal over stabbing; trams make no profit

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Here is a recap of Thursday's top stories so far:

- A woman has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a student with learning difficulties. Her husband, guilty of murder, must serve at least 33 years in prison.

- A fresh witness appeal has been launched over the fatal stabbing of a teenager in Smethwick

- Trams running from Birmingham to Wolverhampton have not made a profit in the 17 years since the line opened, accounts seen by the BBC have revealed

BreakingBody-under-bed: 'Sexually-motivated, violent killer' jailed for life

Peter Wilson

BBC Midlands Today Special Correspondent

Susan Whiting's rapist and murderer Steven Beards, aged 34, has been jailed for life to serve a minimum of 33 years.

Passing sentence, the judge dubbed Beards a "sexually-motivated, violent killer".

Body-under-bed: Victim's mother speaks

Susan’s mother Maureen Whiting said following the convictions of killers Steven and Julie Beards: “From the moment Susan was reported missing our lives have been turned upside down. Susan’s death is such a tremendous loss to our family.

“She was just 20 years old, an easy-going, loving young lady, enjoying her life. I know she was loved and will be missed by so many people."

Susan Whiting
West Midlands Police

“We would like to thank family, friends, the local community and all the professionals who have supported us over the past months. We will honour her life by the way we continue to live ours."  

Body-under-bed: Couple's lies to victim's mother

Here's more

Susan Whiting went missing in August after going to stay with the Beards, which she had done previously.

The couple (pictured) from Bloxwich in Walsall told the student's mother she had left their home safe and well, but the next day police found her body wrapped in a shower curtain under a bed in their house.

Steven and Julie Beards
West Midlands Police

Body-under-bed: Husband and wife convicted of killing

Here's more on our breaking story:

A woman has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a student with learning difficulties.

Julie Beards blamed her husband for the murder of her friend, Susan Whiting, 20, who was drugged, raped and killed in August, Leicester Crown Court heard. 

The 36-year-old, who also has learning difficulties, denied being involved in the murder.

Husband Steven Beards was convicted earlier this week of raping and murdering Ms Whiting.

BreakingBody-under-bed: Woman found guilty of manslaughter

A woman has been found guilty of the manslaughter of her friend whose body was found hidden under the bed of her husband.

Julie Beards was convicted of killing Susan Whiting, a 20-year-old student with learning difficulties, by a majority verdict. Her husband Steven Beards was convicted of the rape and murder of Ms Whiting earlier this week

She was found wrapped in a shower curtain at Mr Beards' home in Bloxwich, Walsall.   

No more babies born at Redditch hospital if controversial plans are passed

BBC Midlands Today

No more babies will be born at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch if controversial proposals are passed this morning. 

There had been plans to bring back a midwife-led unit to North Worcestershire, but now the £1m cost is seen as unaffordable and unnecessary because Worcester has coped with the extra births.

Campaigners have been fighting to keep maternity services in the town for the past 11 years.   

Alexandra Hospital in Redditch sign

'Prince of Darkness' on track for tram dedication

Ozzy Osbourne is having a Birmingham tram named after him. Here he is in the city centre. 

View more on twitter

Watch: Planning committee - live

Today's Birmingham City Council planning meeting is now under way. You can watch proceedings live here.

New leader for Walsall Council after Lib Dem/Labour deal

Rob Mayor

Black Country Political Reporter, BBC WM

Sean Coughlan has taken over from Mike Bird as leader of Walsall Council. 

A deal with the Lib Dems ensured the Labour leader had enough votes to wrestle power from the Conservatives for a second term in charge. 

And Councillor Coughlan told us he's aware the slender balance of power could make it difficult to get things done.

HS2 defends project after academics' report brands it "overpriced"

HS2's technical director, Giles Thomas, insists the benefits of the project are "wide-ranging" despite transport experts' prediction it would "fail in many of its objectives".

The critical group says the scheme is "over-priced" and will result in higher carbon emissions.

But Mr Thomas says it will  "create a system that will allow so much more capacity" than the conventional network and that cities will be connected "in a far more efficient way". 

HS2 rail link 'five times more expensive than French equivalent'

Roger Harrabin

BBC environment analyst

HS2 is an over-priced, gold-plated project and will fail in many of its objectives, a group of transport experts has warned.

The academics support high-speed rail overall, but say HS2 is five times more expensive than its French equivalent.


They argue that the benefits of HS2 can be achieved much more cheaply, with lower CO2 emissions, and they want their analysis examined by government.

A spokesman for HS2 said options for bringing down costs were being studied.

Robbers' attack left pregnant woman in 'severe pain'

A heavily-pregnant woman was left in "severe pain" when she was robbed in the Moseley area of Birmingham, police say.

Officers have today issued an appeal for witness following the attack in which she was targeted by two men while walking along Queensbridge Road at around 14.55 on 9 May.

One of them snatched a gold necklace from her and shoved her into a wall, causing injury for which she received medical treatment.

Her unborn baby was unharmed.  

Latest: Renewed appeal over Smethwick stabbing; Metro makes no profit; allegations of impropriety against councillor

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

Here are our top stories on Thursday so far:

- A fresh witness appeal has been launched over the fatal stabbing of a teenager in Smethwick

- Trams running from Birmingham to Wolverhampton have not made a profit in the 17 years since the line opened, accounts seen by the BBC have revealed

- An investigation has been launched into an allegation a senior councillor urged his authority to buy back his mother's previously council-owned home

Fresh witness appeal over teenager's fatal stabbing in Smethwick

The family of a teenager who was stabbed to death in Smethwick has released new photographs of the 15-year-old in a bid for more witnesses to come forward.

Jamar Walker was stabbed during what police at the time described as a street "fracas". He was found in Raglan Road in the morning of 20 December 2015 and died later in hospital. Another youth, a 17-year-old,  suffered what police dubbed a "minor stab wound".

Pictures of Jamar Walker
West Midlands Police

West Midlands Police said several people had been charged in connection with the fracas but nobody was currently accused of killing Jamar. A 33-year-old man, the force said, was on police bail after being arrested on suspicion of murder, while two 17-year-olds are facing charges of attempted murder in connection with the stab wound suffered by the other victim.  

Jamar’s mum, who has asked not to be named, said: “Jamar’s life was ended in an unimaginably violent manner and no one, let alone a child, deserves to die like that."

University accused of 'shamelessly manipulating' students on EU Referendum

BBC Midlands Today

The University of Wolverhampton has been accused by UKIP of "shamelessly manipulating" its students by sending them a list of reasons to remain in the European Union ahead of next month's referendum. 

The email was sent out this week, urging students to take part in the vote and referring to the funding and help that universities receive from the EU. 

The university said the email was designed to encourage students to register to vote but not influence their decision.

The University of Wolverhampton

Birmingham tram network 'has never made profit'

Peter Plisner

BBC Midlands Today

Trams running from Birmingham to Wolverhampton have not made a profit in the 17 years since the line opened, accounts seen by the BBC have revealed.

National Express, which runs Midland Metro, has lost about £34m on the route since 1999.

The news comes days before an extension to New Street is set to open.

New Street tram

Sandwell Council: Ex-housing chief investigated over 'mum's house buy plan'

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

An investigation has been launched into an allegation a senior councillor urged his authority to buy back his mother's previously council-owned home.

Sandwell's former housing chief Simon Hackett is also alleged to have indecently exposed himself and asked for a parking ticket for a "relative or close associate" to be cancelled.

Mr Hackett denied the allegations, which he dubbed "completely untrue".

Councillor Simon Hackett

Travel: Sutton Coldfield delays

BBC Travel

There is slow traffic on the A5127 Birmingham Road southbound in Sutton Coldfield at the junction with the A453 Jockey Road, drivers are warned.

Good morning from Local Live for Birmingham and the Black Country

Alex Homer

BBC Local Live

I'm back with more news, sport, travel and weather updates on Thursday.

If you see a story you think we should be covering, email us, tweet @bbcwm or get in touch on Facebook.