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Severe disruption: M42 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M42 West Midlands northbound severe disruption, at J5 for A41 Solihull By-Pass Solihull.

M42 West Midlands - M42 lane closed on exit slip road northbound at J5, A41 (Solihull), because of a breakdown. Traffic is coping well.

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

What's the weather got in store?

BBC Weather

After a dry start rain will gradually move in, becoming heavy at times, with highs of 17C (63F).

It was a lovely start to the day in Crewe, where BBC Weather Watcher AlexG595 captured this image of sunrise.

Crewe
BBC Weather Watchers/AlexG595

Ian Paterson: Inquests into 'unnatural deaths'

Inquests will be opened in Birmingham later after a review found patients of a rogue breast surgeon may have died unnaturally.

Ian Paterson
PA Media

Consultant Ian Paterson, 62, was convicted in 2017 of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding.

He was initially jailed for 15 years, before the Court of Appeal increased his sentence to a 20-year term.

The Birmingham and Solihull coroner, who has been looking at a "random selection" of cases involving Paterson said she and the area coroner now "believe there is evidence to have reason to suspect that some of those deaths may be unnatural".

What's the weather got in store?

BBC Weather

It will be a windy day with sunny spells but also scattered showers with highs of 19C (66F).

This was the scene in Warwick earlier taken by BBC Weather Watcher Ryan Lewis.

Warwick
BBC Weather Watchers/Ryan Lewis

'Don't drink three months worth of alcohol'

A paramedic for West Midlands Ambulance Service has warned people as the pubs reopen, not to "drink three months' worth of alcohol in one night".

He told his Twitter followers: "You don't want to end up in an ambulance like this one".

View more on twitter

Severe disruption: M42 West Midlands southbound

BBC News Travel

M42 West Midlands southbound severe disruption, at J5 for A41 Solihull By-Pass Solihull.

M42 West Midlands - M42 lane closed on exit slip road southbound at J5, A41 (Solihull), because of a breakdown. Traffic is coping well.

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

Covid-19 data monitored in case of Leicester visits

Allen Cook

BBC News

A close eye's being kept on coronavirus test data in the West Midlands in case residents in Leicester visited friends and relatives across the border and spread the virus, the region's mayor has said.

Police officers wearing protective masks patrol along a street in Leicester
Reuters

The East Midlands city became subject to the UK's first local lockdown on Monday following a spike in Covid-19 cases.

At a regional briefing this afternoon, mayor Andy Street responded to concerns there might have been visits to the West Midlands by people from Leicester before the lockdown.

"The encouragement to every person in Leicester is not to travel outside the city but we will be able through the data to see how it looks here."

"The Coventry data is particularly good at the moment and I know the team there will be monitoring it like a hawk and, if there are any local incidents, they can be addressed quickly."

Police 'praying for rain' when pubs reopen

Allen Cook

BBC News

Police in the West Midlands are "praying for rain" tomorrow as pubs prepare to reopen, the region's police and crime commissioner (PCC) said.

People with drinks
Getty Images

After several months of lockdown, publicans have been getting ready to reopen after 06:00 on Saturday.

PCC David Jamieson's previously described the decision as "pure madness" and at a media briefing today said to do it on a Saturday in the middle of summer was a "very bad day".

"We could have started earlier this week and led into it rather than the big bang of super Saturday which has the potential to cause a lot of difficulty."

At the same briefing, Chief Constable Dave Thompson said his officers were ready for the weekend and the reopening could help with cases of illegal parties.

"The force has been dealing with a number of illegal gatherings and I think they [partygoers] are identifying this desire of coming together and happening this way [with pubs] could help with this issue."

Dates revealed for reopening of council play areas

Allen Cook

BBC News

Families will be able to use some council-run outdoor play areas and gym equipment across the West Midlands from tomorrow but not every place is working to the same deadline.

Play equipment
Lichfield District Council

Several local authorities have said on their websites or social media their play areas will be available from Saturday and they include:

But some councils have said their outdoor play areas will only start to be available from next week:

While Cannock Chase District Council said its play areas and outdoor gym equipment would remain out of use until all risk assessments have been carried out and signs put up.

Both Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council said their play areas would stay shut over the weekend while work continues to make them safe but didn't reveal a reopening date.

We'll update for other local authorities as and when we get the information.

Play area
Warwick District Council

Café Rouge and Belgo owner falls into administration

BBC Business News

Branches of the restaurant chains Café Rouge and Belgo will close across the West Midlands after it was announced the company which owns the brands has gone into administration.

Cafe Rouge
Google

Owner Casual Dining Group plans to close 91 outlets immediately, and 1,900 of the firm's 6,000 staff will lose their jobs.

Cafe Rouge branches set to close include Solihull, Harborne in Birmingham, Leamington Spa and the Birmingham Mailbox restaurant.

Belgo will close in Solihull and Crewe.

Restaurants in the UK were struggling even before the pandemic, but their revenues collapsed when the UK went into lockdown in March.

Restrictions will be eased from Saturday, but demand is likely to remain depressed for some time and some chains have already acknowledged the severity of the impact.

What's the weather got in store?

BBC Weather

It will be a cloudy day with a few outbreaks of rain and turning windy with highs of 18C (64F).

This lovely picture was taken by BBC Weather Watcher Z70 in Ranton, Staffordshire.

Ranton
BBC Weather Watchers/Z70

Crime crackdown involved every police force

A crackdown on organised crime gangs, after a top-secret communications system was taken down, involved every police force in the UK.

Firearm
Regional Organised Crime Agency

The National Crime Agency says the Europe-wide operation, which lasted more than three months, has had the biggest impact on organised crime gangs it has ever seen.

A cash counting house in the West Midlands was raided, with £1.6m seized, while an operation involving Police Scotland and Staffordshire Police found 40kg of cocaine.

A total of £7.2m in criminal cash was seized in the region along with drugs, a firearm and one air weapon, said West Midlands Police.

Positive Covid-19 test results fall across West Midlands

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus across the West Midlands is falling in every council area, according to new figures.

The data from Public Health England shows the number of positive tests for every 100,000 population tested in hospitals and the wider community in the week up to 28 June.

Test centre
PA Media

For the West Midlands, the figures in alphabetical order of council are:

  • Birmingham 6.5
  • Coventry 1.4
  • Dudley 2.2
  • Herefordshire 1.6
  • Sandwell 5.5
  • Shropshire 7.2
  • Solihull 6.5
  • Staffordshire 7.9
  • Stoke-on-Trent 14.1
  • Telford and Wrekin 5.1
  • Walsall 3.2
  • Warwickshire 5.6
  • Wolverhampton 7.6
  • Worcestershire 3.6

By comparison, the figure for Leicester in the week is 141.3 testing positive out of 100,000 people.

Your questions answered: Foreign trips and returning pupils

Vanessa Pearce

BBC News

Carl, from Solihull, has been in touch with us via email, with a question regarding the return of schools in September and the opening up of air travel, expected to be announced by the government soon.

Portugal
Reuters

He asks: "Children returning from international holidays at the end of August must return to school beginning of September. How will the government ensure these families self-isolate for two weeks and not simply send their children to school straight after the holiday?"

Well, from the latest government guidance that's not particularly clear at the minute.

The government has published its safety plans for England's return to school in September- built on the principle of keeping classes or whole year groups apart in separate "bubbles".

Schools will have testing kits to give to parents if children develop coronavirus symptoms in school and mobile testing units may be sent to schools which have an outbreak.

The government has yet to set out its plan for overseas travel, but government sources have indicated dozens of countries will be exempt from a travel quarantine from Monday.

It is possible up to 75 countries deemed low or very low risk will be exempt from the UK's quarantine from Monday, 6 July.

So we await the list of countries affected, and maybe then we'll find out if and when people will need to quarantine.

Art workshops held to support refugees during lockdown

Online art courses are being held to help support refugees in the West Midlands during the coronavirus lockdown.

Art
Artconnects
Art
Artconnects

The ARTconnects for Refugees workshops have been delivered by artist and activist Salma Zulfiqar in partnership with the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham.

"The global pandemic and recent anti-racism protests have shown us how we need to keep up the fight for a more inclusive world, creating communities where no-one is left behind," she said.

Art
Artconnects

At one workshop, set to coincide with World Refugee Day, a Syrian refugee said: "Lockdown has been really difficult - I can’t see friends, it’s a very hard time for me. I miss my teacher and friends. We have support when I’m in class."

The next session will be held on Monday 6 July.

Cash and drugs seized as crime chat network cracked

A top-secret communications system used by criminals to trade drugs and guns has been "successfully penetrated", says the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Cash on a table
Regional Organised Crime Unit

Major crime figures were among 746 arrests - including 43 in the West Midlands - after messages on EncroChat were intercepted and decoded.

More than 230kg of cocaine and 2kg of cannabis along with more than £7m in cash was seized in the region said the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (WMROCU).

The NCA worked with forces across Europe on the UK's "biggest and most significant" law enforcement operation.

Figures on seizures
National Crime Agency

Head of WMROCU Det Ch Supt Richard Baker said: “We specifically focused on those thought to be involved in the highest levels of organised crime across our region.

“This work has undoubtedly saved lives by taking guns and drugs off the streets and we know we have made a huge contribution to making our streets much safer from organised crime gangs."

What's the weather got in store?

BBC Weather

It will be a cloudy day with some bright spells but also some showers, with highs of 19C (66F).

BBC Weather Watcher Dammo took this snap in sunny Knowle.

Knowle
BBC Weather Watchers/Dammo

No Covid-19-related deaths for second day this week

For the second time in three days, no coronavirus-related deaths have been reported by hospital trusts in the West Midlands.

Wednesday is usually a day when the figure has been higher in past weeks.

No deaths were recorded on Monday or Wednesday and nine were recorded on Tuesday.

Virus data released for West Midlands

Allen Cook

BBC News

Figures have been released showing the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in each council area.

It comes after Leicester became the first city to have a local lockdown imposed following a rise in cases.

A woman being tested for coronavirus in Leicester
AFP/Getty Images

The data from Public Health England shows the number of positive tests for every 100,000 population tested in hospitals and the wider community in the week up to 21 June.

For the West Midlands, the figures in alphabetical order of council are:

  • Birmingham 9.6
  • Coventry 5.7
  • Dudley 3.7
  • Herefordshire 2.1
  • Sandwell 7.3
  • Shropshire 13.7
  • Solihull 4.7
  • Staffordshire 9.4
  • Stoke-on-Trent 18.0
  • Telford and Wrekin 8.4
  • Walsall 4.6
  • Warwickshire 10.3
  • Wolverhampton 9.9
  • Worcestershire 5.7

By comparison, the figure for Leicester in the week is 140.2 testing positive out of 100,000 people.

'No discussions' about West Midlands-wide lockdown

BBC Radio WM

There have been no discussions about the possibility of a West Midlands-wide lockdown akin to the situation in Leicester, the region's mayor, Andy Street, has said.

Andy Street
PA Media

"The idea is to act as local as you can to prevent the situation going to a whole city of region," Mr Street said, adding every local authority within the West Midlands Combined Authority has a local outbreak plan.

"The [infection] trend is down and the data is encouraging," the Conservative mayor said, "but there is no room for complacency."

"If we were in a position where the virus was re-established across the conurbation, we would have to do that [lockdown] but I see no likelihood of that from our current position."

How lockdown affected Ramadan 2020

Ramadan: Young Muslims share video diaries on fasting in lockdown

With coronavirus lockdown measures put in place weeks before, this year's Ramadan was celebrated very differently by Muslims across the UK.

BBC News spoke to three young Muslims who shared video diaries on how their lives have been affected.

Anmol Merban, Hani Ismail and Saba Saleem shared their experiences on a unique month of fasting.

Boris Johnson pledges 'new deal' to build post-virus

Boris Johnson will promise to "build build build" as he unveils government plans to soften the economic impact of coronavirus.

Set to speak in Dudley later, the prime minister will say he wants to use the coronavirus crisis "to tackle this country's great unresolved challenges".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Getty Images

As part of a "new deal", Mr Johnson will set out plans to accelerate £5bn on infrastructure projects.

Labour called for a "laser-like focus" on preventing job losses.

Last week, the West Midlands mayor launched a plan asking for £3.2bn over three years from the government to keep the regional economy going.

"No-one’s kidding themselves that [the government] will hand over a cheque for £3bn next Tuesday," said Andy Street.

But there was an "urgent need" to submit the plan which would be a "perfect opportunity for government to show its plan for leveling up".

PM due in region for investment speech

The prime minister is due to visit Dudley tomorrow as he is set to announce a programme of infrastructure projects to help the economy bounce back from the effects of coronavirus, said the mayor of the West Midlands.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Reuters

Andy Street tweeted: "He, like me, is ambitious for the region and we have started the job."

The West Midlands is asking for £3.2bn over three years from the government to keep the regional economy going.

The expectation is that at at least 61,000 jobs will be lost in the region as a result of the first three months of lockdown once the government's furlough scheme ends, a briefing held by the mayor last week was told.

View more on twitter

Saturday opening for pubs 'total madness'

The government's decision to open pubs, cafes and restaurants on a Saturday has been described as "total madness" by the West Midlands police and crime commissioner (PCC).

Pub
Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on 23 June they would be able to reopen on 4 July.

Labour PCC David Jamieson said the government should have "opened a little bit earlier this week or perhaps leave it until next Monday".

"Publicans have been telling them this - and the police, if we'd been asked, [would say] a similar thing as well."

He told the BBC he feared people's "pent-up feeling" after three months of lockdown would "explode out on to the streets".

"I'm afraid it's going to be a real challenge for everybody," he added.

Officers issue warning over illegal raves

Anyone planning to attend an illegal rave this weekend face being arrested and prosecuted, police are warning.

Drone
West Midlands Police

West Midlands Police says it has received information suggesting an unlicensed music event may happy in the Black Country on Saturday.

Recent raves have attracted thousands of people, including events in Staffordshire and Manchester.

The force said it would be using drones to help disperse crowds.

Severe disruption: M42 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M42 West Midlands northbound severe disruption, at J5 for A41 Solihull By-Pass Solihull.

M42 West Midlands - M42 lane closed on exit slip road northbound at J5, A41 (Solihull), because of a breakdown. Traffic is coping well.

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

Flash-flooding possible as thunderstorms arrive

Thunderstorms could cause flooding and travel disruption across the West Midlands later, the Met Office is warning.

Weather map
Met Office

The yellow warning is in place from 12:00 until 09:00 on Saturday.

Lightning and hail are also expected, it added.

Traffic held after three-vehicle crash

BBC News Travel

A crash involving two lorries and a car has halted traffic on the M5 northbound in the West Midlands.

The crash is just at the point where traffic from the M5 northbound merges with the M6.

There's congestion back to J7, for Great Barr.

View more on twitter

Severe accident: M42 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M42 West Midlands northbound severe accident, between J4 for A3400 Stratford Road Shirley and J5 for A41 Solihull By-Pass Solihull.

M42 West Midlands - Two lanes closed and it's slow on M42 northbound between J4, A3400 (Shirley) and J5, A41 (Solihull), because of an accident involving two lorries and a van.

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

Thunderstorm warning extended

A weather warning for thunderstorms, affecting the West Midlands, has been extended.

There is a risk of flooding and travel disruption during the yellow warning which is now valid from 12:00 on Friday until 09:00 Saturday.

View more on twitter

Parts of Herefordshire and Shropshire could be affected by storms later today and overnight, the Met Office is also warning.

Hot weather forces trains to slow down

BBC News Travel

Speed restrictions have been put in place on some rail services due to the high temperatures today.

Passengers are also being reminded to wear face coverings while using public transport, despite the hot weather.

View more on twitter

What's the weather got in store?

BBC Weather

We told you earlier to get set for another warm one. Here's some more detail:

It will be dry, hot and humid with highs of - wait for it - 32C (90F).

Enjoy it while you can, though. Thunderstorms are set to affect travel across parts of the West Midlands, with a yellow warning issued from tomorrow until 06:00 on Saturday.

Kenilworth
Weather Watchers/Fraser

Warning over car cruising

Several car cruising events have been planned across the West Midlands over the next few days, police say.

Cars being stopped by police
West Midlands Police

A High Court injunction banning such meetings is in place across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country, the West Midlands force said.

The meetings can attract hundreds of cars and spectators and often feature vehicles being raced and driven in convoy.

With lockdown restrictions easing, West Midlands Police said it was aware of several planned events and said those taking part faced prosecution.

If you thought Wednesday was warm...

Allen Cook

BBC News

We've got another day of warm weather ahead and temperatures could be higher than yesterday.

Dog in the shade in Southam
Littleacorns

Wednesday was officially the hottest day of the year in the UK and temperatures peaked at 30C in Shrewsbury, according to the Met Office.

The forecast is more sunshine today and for temperatures to climb to 31C in the West Midlands.

We'd love to see your photos of you safely enjoying the hot weather.

Email us your pictures and we might feature you later today.

Police officer under investigation for the Tasering of a Birmingham man
A West Midlands Police officer is under investigation for the Tasering of Trevaile Wyse in Birminham back in Feburary 2020, which he says was excessive, and has damaged his health.