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  1. M6 closed in Staffordshire due to 'unsafe' bridge
  2. Man took wedding ring off the fingers of 98-year-old bedridden woman
  3. Former Bishop of Lichfield, Keith Sutton, dies
  4. D-Day veteran awarded French honour
  5. Updates on Friday 24 March

Live Reporting

By Allen Cook

All times stated are UK

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Majority of Staffordshire set for council tax rises, investigation finds

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

East Staffordshire District Council is one of just 22 local authorities in England to freeze council tax.   

Council tax bill

The Press Association's analysed all 353 local authorities in England and found nine out of 10 local authorities are raising their tax from April.

East Staffordshire is among 22 that are freezing tax in 2017-18, with just one authority, East Hampshire, planning to cut the amount. 

The Local Government Association said the increases nationally didn't mean they'd prevent further cutbacks. 

The Department for Communities and Local Government said councils had had almost £200bn over four years and should be keeping bills down.

Football: Avoiding relegation would be 'massive achievement' - Port Vale boss

Lee Blakeman

Port Vale commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

The Port Vale manager Michael Brown says he thinks it would be an unbelievable achievement by his players if they stay in League One.

Michael Brown quote
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

The Vale are one point from safety with eight games to play after Saturday's 0-0 draw with MK Dons. 

Books of condolence open in Cheshire after London attack

Jodie Looker

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Books of condolence have been opened in three places in Cheshire for the people who lost their lives in the terrorist attack in Westminster last week .

Floral tributes outside Parliament

Cheshire East Council says the books are available for members of the public to sign during office hours. 

The authority says they are at its receptions at the Municipal Offices in Crewe, the council's headquarters in Sandbach and at Macclesfield Town Hall.

Watch: Monday's selection of your pictures of Staffordshire and Cheshire

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

You keep sending in great pictures of the area and here are four more that you've shared.

If you've got one to send in, do it via email or, if you are an Instagram user, put it there with the tag #bbcstoke.

Your pictures

Your Questions: Tracking down families in Stoke-on-Trent

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Paul Hand asked, on Your Questions : "How do I locate a family in Stoke-on-Trent?"

Well, outside of the phone directory for current names, the other way would be via the local archive services.

Sign for Staffordshire Record Office

In Stoke-on-Trent they suggest using online services such as The Staffordshire Collection on Findmypast which contains parish registers, marriage bonds and more.

The Staffordshire archive service also suggest, apart from their online services, planning a visit to the record office to track down more details.

If you've got a question about Stoke-on-Trent or Staffordshire to pose, ask us here .

Watch: Kidney-donation pals celebrate transplant op success

BBC North West Tonight

A man who was given a kidney by his best friend says he feels "100% better" and is considering a charity skydive.  

Helen Crowther and Andy Clewes

Andy Clewes from Crewe had the transplant in Manchester after his friend Helen Crowther from Runcorn agreed to become a donor. 

The 46-year-old suffered chronic kidney disease since birth and was on the verge of needing dialysis treatment. 

Mr Clewes and Ms Crowther, 45, are now planning "a curry and a few beers" to celebrate the successful procedure, which was carried out in January.  

Pupils excluded from school after 'refusing to listen to staff'

Lucy King

News Editor, BBC Radio Stoke

A Stoke-on-Trent school says it's excluded 12 pupils after they refused to do as they were told by staff, following an argument between two pupils. 

In a statement, Birches Head Academy says it happened on Thursday after they'd decided to cut lunch short after the "altercation".

Entrance to Birches Head Academy

The school says that, while staff had dealt with that incident, it started to "create sides" between a few students who then refused to listen to staff when the end of lunch bell was rung 20 minutes early. 

Head teacher Kerry Dixon says one teacher was taken to hospital after slipping and suffering a shoulder injury while opening the school doors. 

The 12 students have been excluded from the academy "for varying lengths of time".

Hundreds of tonnes of fly-tipped waste set to be cleared

BBC Midlands Today

Over 300 tonnes of commercial waste, illegally dumped in Staffordshire countryside, is set to be cleared.

Illegally dumped commercial waste
Staffordshire County Council

The county council says the waste was dumped in Gladings Wood, Madeley Heath in January, blocking a car park and a right of way. 

Staffordshire Police are investigating, while the authority says it will be co-ordinating the clear-up.

Football: Goalkeeper's Leicester warning for Stoke City players

Matt Sandoz

Stoke City commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

The Stoke City goalkeeper Lee Grant says they shouldn't underestimate Leicester City this weekend. 

Lee Grant
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The Potters are back in action on Saturday after the international break and Grant told BBC Radio Stoke that the players will need to be on top form.

They were the champions of this country just short of 12 months ago so it will be a tough ask, going away from home in the Premier League is never easy in any circumstances, so we know we'll have to be right on our mettle."

Lee GrantStoke City goalkeeper

Council Tax freeze for North Warwickshire residents

BBC Coventry & Warwickshire

North Warwickshire District Council is one of just 22 local authorities in England to freeze their council tax. 

Council Tax bill

Only one of the 353, East Hampshire, is reducing the charge from next month, saying it has taken "balanced risks" with its finances to buck the national trend.

In Coventry, council tax bills will rise by 4.9% and around 4% across the rest of Warwickshire.

Veterans take over historic pub with £65k raised in fortnight

Rebecca Woods

BBC News Online, Journalist

Army veterans, who have taken over the pub their regiment was formed in, say it took just two weeks to raise £65,000 to buy the lease on it. 

The crowd at the weekend opening

It was in 1705 that the Staffordshire Regiment was formed in the King's Head in Lichfield. 

But, when veterans heard the outgoing landlord was retiring and that there were rumours it was going to be turned into a bed and breakfast, they sprang into action. 

Having paid the money, at the weekend they held a procession to mark the opening of the Bird Street-based pub.

It took two weeks for over 350 of the ex-members and the families to pledge £65,000. That's how much it meant to the veterans and the residents."

Geoff PearceArmy veteran

Video: Are the blue skies going to continue?

Charlie Slater

BBC Weather presenter

A lovely day in store, with plenty of blue sky and sunshine around with highs of 14C (57F).

You can find a detailed forecast for your area here.

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Severe accident: M6 Cheshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Cheshire southbound severe accident, between J16 for A500 Crewe and J15 for A500.

M6 Cheshire - Two lanes closed and slow traffic on M6 southbound between J16, A500 (Crewe) and J15, A500 (Stoke-On-Trent), because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: M6 Staffordshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Staffordshire southbound severe disruption, between J13 for A449 and J12 for A5.

M6 Staffordshire - One lane closed on M6 southbound between J13, A449 (Stafford South) and J12, A5 (Gailey), because of vehicle tyre change. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Crowds gathered in the street

Former members of the Staffordshire Regiment are running the Kings Head, where it was founded 312 years ago.

Read more

Severe accident: A50 Staffordshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A50 Staffordshire both ways severe accident, between Orgreave Street and Stonor Road.

A50 Staffordshire - A50 Waterloo Road in Burslem closed in both directions between the Orgreave Street junction and the Stonor Road junction, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time


Police release CCTV footage of the suspect they believe carried out all three attacks within hours.

Read more

Carlisle see their winless run in League Two extend to seven games as Crewe secure victory at Brunton Park.

Read more

Port Vale moved to within a point of safety in League One after holding MK Dons to a goalless stalemate.

Read more

Severe accident: M6 Staffordshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Staffordshire southbound severe accident, between J11 for A460 and J10A for M54.

M6 Staffordshire - One lane closed and very slow traffic on M6 southbound between J11, A460 (Cannock) and J10a M54, because of an accident.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe disruption: M6 Staffordshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Staffordshire southbound severe disruption, between J13 for A449 and J12 for A5.

M6 Staffordshire - Three lanes closed and very slow traffic on M6 southbound between J13, A449 (Stafford South) and J12, A5 (Gailey).

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Severe accident: A51 Staffordshire westbound

BBC News Travel

A51 Staffordshire westbound severe accident, between Brook End and Breretonhill Lane.

A51 Staffordshire - A51 in Upper Longdon closed and queuing traffic westbound between the Brook End junction and the Breretonhill Lane junction, because of a serious accident and a car fire.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Our live coverage across the day

We'll be back with our usual mix of news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Monday, but keep an eye out here for more updates this evening. 

Adam Peaty eyes Olympic repeat and chance to create British swimming history

Owen Phillips

BBC Sport Online

Uttoxeter's Adam Peaty says the chance to become the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title is driving him towards Tokyo 2020

Adam Peaty
Rex Features

The reigning Commonwealth and European champion destroyed the field by more than a second and a half in winning the 100m breaststroke gold at Rio 2016.

But the world record holder's drive to succeed is showing no signs of abating.

I think I can defend my titles, but defending my Olympic title is my main motivation. Before Rio it was no British man had won Olympic gold in 28 years. Now it is no British person in swimming has ever defended an Olympic title. It is definitely achievable, so why not?"

Adam PeatyOlympic champion swimmer

Hundreds of tonnes of fly-tipped waste to be checked for hazardous material

Matt Lee

BBC Radio Stoke

More than 300 tonnes of fly-tipped commercial waste is having to be checked for hazardous materials before it can be cleared, the county council says

The rubbish was dumped on woodland in January between Madeley and Betley at Gladings Wood, which is owned by the Forestry Commission.   

Report in February on the dumped waste

The council says offenders broke open a gate to get to the land.

The authority says it is now set to be cleared and they hope to do so by Easter, but samples need to be taken to check it is not hazardous.

Your say: Anger over NatWest branch closure plans

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

You've been having your say on news that eight branches of NatWest are set to shut later this year in Staffordshire. 

Owner RBS revealed the news yesterday, blaming a "dramatic shift" in banking.

NatWest in Burslem

On the BBC Radio Stoke Facebook page, Jax Holt posted : "First Tunstall and now Burslem! I think there will only be one bank remaining in Burslem when not too long ago there were at least six." 

While Kerry Alcock added : "Great, Cheadle again. Moved from Co-op to HSBC due to closure, then from HSBC to NatWest when that closed. Now NatWest." 

And Dorothy Burton added : "Another nail in the coffin for our High Street and don't think customers have been given a thought."

Staffordshire University academic in drive to help support women in sport

Staffs Live

On Midlands Today from 18:30: M6 bridge repairs cause widespread disruption

Laura Mcmullan

Reporter, BBC Midlands Today

On Midlands Today this evening, there've been major problems for motorists on the M6 and surrounding roads in Staffordshire all day. 

Queuing traffic

Disruption was down to Highways England completely shutting a stretch of the motorway for emergency bridge repairs. 

I'll have the latest on the situation, and what the impact's been, on BBC One from 18:30.

Watch: Weather for this evening and the weekend

Rebecca Wood

BBC Weather

 It will be dry, clear and cold tonight with a touch of frost , particularly in rural areas. 

We may see a few mist and fog patches forming by dawn in places. Lows of  2C (36F).

Rebecca Wood has your forecast

'Cannabis factory' worth £60k found after motorist arrested

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Cannabis with a street value of about £60,000 has been seized by police after they found a drugs factory in the West Midlands. 

Staffordshire Police say they arrested a driver on Hednesford Road, Cannock after they saw him using a mobile phone at the wheel and then found cannabis in the car. 

Lothians Road, Pelsall

The force says the 38-year-old was arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis with intent to supply. 

Officers say they then searched a house in Lothians Road, Pelsall, where they found 51 cannabis plants and "a large amount" of harvested cannabis.

Severe disruption: M54 Staffordshire westbound

BBC News Travel

M54 Staffordshire westbound severe disruption, at J1 for A460 Wolverhampton.

M54 Staffordshire - M54 lane closed on exit slip road westbound at J1, A460 (Wolverhampton), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Watch: D-Day veteran awarded French honour

Chris King

Reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

A 91-year-old former soldier has been awarded France's highest honour for his role in the D-Day landings.   

Harry Gould

Harry Gould, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, will be presented with the Legion d'Honneur by the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire. 

Mr Gould served with the Royal Army Service Corps and was involved in the transportation of supplies to troops. 

The charity which helped him apply for the honour said Mr Gould had been unaware he was eligible until he was told over a cup of tea.  

M6 closure: Southbound side 'expected to reopen this evening'

Allen Cook

BBC Local Live

Highways England says it does expect the southbound side of the M6 between Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford to reopen this evening. 

Work on the bridge
Highways England

The whole motorway was shut between junctions 14 and 15 after the organisation found, during scheduled roadworks, that concrete panels needed removing from the A51 bridge. 

The northbound side reopened this afternoon after hours of disruption on the M6 and surrounding routes.

Severe disruption: M6 Cheshire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Cheshire southbound severe disruption, at J16 for A500 Crewe.

M6 Cheshire - M6 lane closed on exit slip road southbound at J16, A500 (Crewe), because of a broken down vehicle. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Teen pregnancy rate 'lowest in two decades' in Stoke-on-Trent

Emma Thomas

Political reporter, BBC Radio Stoke

The teenage pregnancy rate in Stoke-on-Trent has fallen to the lowest level in almost two decades, according to the city council. 

The authority says the number of pregnant 15, 16 and 17-year-old girls has reduced by 61% since 1998. 

Pregnant woman

But with 111 such pregnancies in 2015, the city's rate still remains higher than the national average. 

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said Stoke-on-Trent's rate in that year was 27 conceptions per 1,000 15 to 17-year-old girls. 

By comparison, the ONS said the rate in England and Wales in 2015 for the same age group was 21.0 conceptions per 1,000.

Watch: A tape measure challenge for Red Nose Day

It's Red Nose Day today and this year it's all about making your laugh matter. 

Comic Relief funds 163 projects in the West Midlands and there's loads of fundraising going on around Staffordshire and Cheshire - including the folks at Staffordshire University:

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