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  1. Updates on Thursday 25 February 2016
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates to resume at 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

By Alex Homer

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Our live coverage from across the day

    That's it from Local Live for Staffordshire and Cheshire today.

    Join us from 08:00 on Friday for more news, sport, travel and weather updates.

  2. Watch: Latest weather forecast for the West Midlands

    Shefali Oza

    BBC Midlands Today

    It will be a dry evening and night with variable amounts of cloud allowing some clear intervals to develop. 

    A frost will form in many areas. Lows of 1C (34F). Find out more about tomorrow's outlook.

    Video content

    Video caption: Weather for the West Midlands
  3. Watch: Coming up on Midlands Today

    Mary Rhodes

    Presenter, BBC Midlands Today

    Alton Towers faces prosecution over the rollercoaster crash last year that saw five people seriously injured. And hundreds of drivers are caught speeding more than 100mph on roads in the West Midlands.

    Those stories and more on Midlands Today on BBC One from 18:30.

    View more on twitter
  4. Coalition defends using reserves to balance the books in Stoke

    James Bovill

    Political reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

    Stoke-on-Trent City Council's City Independent / Conservative coalition has defended using £13m of reserves to balance the books, as it passed its budget plans in the last hour. 

    A total of 24 voted in favour to 15 against. Labour had accused the coalition of a "cop out" for using the reserves to avoid making difficult decisions.

  5. Football: Port Vale keeper Jak Alnwick out tomorrow

    BBC Radio Stoke Sport

    Port Vale's Jak Alnwick is out of tomorrow's home game against Southend United.

    The keeper was expected to be in contention for the match after missing last week's game through a training ground injury.

    But the Vale boss Rob Page has confirmed today he's had a slight setback.

    Jak Alnwick
  6. Travel: Checkley delays warning

    BBC Travel

    The A522 Uttoxeter Road in Checkley is blocked, causing queuing traffic and delays in both directions at the junction with New Road due to a crash where a vehicle has struck a telegraph pole.

  7. Alton Towers owner previously accepted responsibility for The Smiler crash

    Merlin Entertainments said it had "cooperated fully" with the Health and Safety Executive, which announced today it would be prosecuting the company over charges related to The Smiler crash at Alton Towers on 2 June last year.

    A spokesman said: "The company completed its own investigation and published the results in November, accepting responsibility for what happened. 

    "We have also kept the HSE fully informed of the subsequent actions that we have taken to ensure that something like this cannot happen again.”

  8. Latest: Alton Towers crash prosecution; children's centre closure plans; police IT partnership

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    Here are the top stories for Staffordshire and Cheshire this afternoon:

    - The owner of Alton Towers is to be prosecuted over the Smiler rollercoaster crash which left five people seriously injured

    - Budget plans including the possible closure of children's centres across East Cheshire have been approved

    - Staffordshire Police has signed a £100m deal over 10 years with defence firm Boeing to upgrade its IT system

  9. Football: Port Vale keen to keep Cardiff winger

    BBC Radio Stoke Sport

    Port Vale boss Rob Page has confirmed he wants to keep Cardiff winger Matty Kennedy on loan, but the clubs have not yet agreed the deal.

    The 21-year-old's initial month-long loan is up after tomorrow's home game against Southend, which Kennedy is expected to start.

    Matthew Kennedy
  10. Budget with children's centre closure plans approved

    Phil McCann

    Political reporter, Cheshire

    The Cheshire East Council budget including possible closure of children's centres has been approved - 48 voted in favour, 28 against. 

  11. 'Popping and banging' noises from 'deliberate' Fenton factory fire

    Flames are thought to have spread from a scout hut to the nearby Koch Glitsch factory on King Street in Fenton overnight.

    James Nicholls, who runs Darcy's pub nearby was taking his three dogs out for a walk, when he captured these pictures.

    The flames
    Flames above homes nearby

    The 37-year-old landlord said: "There were fire engines everywhere and I could here popping and banging - probably as windows blew out and electrics went." 

  12. Merlin announced today its profits had risen despite the Alton Towers crash

    Profits at theme parks operator Merlin Entertainments have edged up, despite last summer's Alton Towers crash which left five people seriously injured.

    The company, which also owns Legoland and the London Eye, said group pre-tax profits rose 0.3% to £250m from 2014.

    Merlin said Alton Towers saw a "significant" fall in visitor numbers after the accident, which resulted in the park shutting for four days.

  13. Latest: Alton Towers crash prosecution; murder case in court; police IT partnership

    Alex Homer

    BBC Local Live

    If you are just catching up on the news for Wednesday, here are our top stories from the past few hours:

    - The owner of Alton Towers is to be prosecuted over the Smiler rollercoaster crash which left five people seriously injured

    - A man accused of murder in Stoke-on-Trent is "undergoing psychiatric assessment", a court has heard

    - Staffordshire Police has signed a £100m deal over 10 years with defence firm Boeing to upgrade its IT system

  14. New Cheshire East Council leader after predecessor stood down over physio contracts

    Phil McCann

    Political reporter, Cheshire

    The new leader of Cheshire East Council has been formally elected by councillors. 

    Rachel Bailey takes over from Michael Jones, who resigned over contracts awarded to his personal physiotherapist's firm.

    Mr Jones (pictured) stepped down following pressure over contracts given to Core Fit Ltd, which totalled £156,000.

    Michael Jones

    The council waived its own financial rules when granting deals to the firm.

    In announcing his resignation in December, Mr Jones cited "infighting", adding "nothing in Core Fit concerns me".

  15. Murder-accused 'undergoing psychiatric assessments', court hears

    Chris King

    Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

    A man accused of murdering of a woman from Stoke-on-Trent is undergoing psychiatric assessments, a court heard earlier.

    Barry Knapper, 31, did not appear before Stafford Crown Court earlier.

    He is accused of killing Lisa Reynolds at the home they shared on Cliveden Road in Abbey Hulton last Sunday.

    A judge will decide whether he is fit to stand trial at a later date.

  16. Leek town centre changes needed immediately after inquest's conclusion, says campaigner

    A woman campaigning against the shared space scheme in Leek, says she has been contacted by more people, who are worried about the safety of the town centre's roads. 

    It follows the inquest into the death of 80-year-old Derek Nixon who was hit by a lorry while trying to cross Ball Haye Street in April last year, when he was struck by the wheels of a tipper truck as it moved off from traffic lights.  


    The coroner advised Staffordshire County Council to install safety barriers there and Sarah Gayton says that work needs to be done now.  

    The local authority says it is waiting for the coroner's letter before any final decision is made.

  17. Police choose IT partner for the next 10 years at a cost of £100m

    Staffordshire Police has handed a £100m contract for upgrades to its IT system to defence firm Boeing. 

    The force said the partnership would put the force at the "forefront of policing in the UK" and allow its officers to stay on the beat longer. 

    The force's police and crime commissioner (PCC) Matthew Ellis said the agreement was a "pivotal moment" which would improve capability and lead to savings in IT running costs.

    Matthew Ellis

    Officers in the county have already been issued with body-worn cameras and mobile devices, which the force said would create time on the beat equivalent to employing 100 more officers.

    Boeing, which supplies the British armed forces, beat 52 other companies to secure the contract, which could run for 10 years.

  18. Factory fire 'started deliberately'

    A fire at a factory in Fenton is being treated as arson.

    It is thought to have started in a scout hut late last night, before spreading to the nearby Koch Glitsch factory on King Street, which suffered fire and smoke damage to both the ground and first floors, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue says. 

    Quote Message: This morning we carried out a joint investigation with the police forensics team to determine the cause of this severe blaze. The incident has been classed as deliberate ignition." from Kelvin Knapper Fire Investigation Officer, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue
    Kelvin KnapperFire Investigation Officer, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue
  19. Speeding drivers caught doing over 100+ mph on M6 Toll

    More than 100 drivers were caught speeding above 100 mph in the West Midlands in one year, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

    In all, 104 motorists were caught doing between 101 and 127 mph - in 2014 to 2015 - on roads across the area. 

    Of this total, 65 were caught on the M6 Toll road - the fastest speed of 127mph being clocked on the southbound route.

    M6 Toll

    Read more on this story and the national picture on BBC News.

  20. Why prosecution is being brought against Alton Towers's owner

    Neil Craig, head of operations for the Health and Safety Executive in the Midlands explained why it was bringing a prosecution relating to The Smiler crash.

    He said: “This was a serious incident with life-changing consequences for five people."

    As the owner of Alton Towers, under health and safety law Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd is responsible for managing the risks created by the operation of its rides.

    Quote Message: We have conducted a very thorough investigation and consider that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.” from Neil Craig head of operations for the Health and Safety Executive in the Midlands
    Neil Craighead of operations for the Health and Safety Executive in the Midlands