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Friday night's weather forecast

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

Any of the odd showers which have developed today should fade away this evening - here's the full weather forecast for tonight and the start of the weekend in the West Midlands:

Rebecca Wood

You can keep up to date with the latest forecast for your area by heading to the BBC Weather website.

'Unacceptable' that LGBT protest school is to close early

Allen Cook

BBC News

The education secretary has said it's 'unacceptable' a Birmingham school is closing early today ahead of a planned protest over LGBT relationship education

Protesters outside school
PA

There have been protests outside Anderton Park Primary School for seven weeks.

Protesters argue pupils are "too young" to understand LGBT relationships through storybooks.

The council said the decision to close at lunchtime on Friday was "not taken lightly".

Education Secretary Damien Hinds says he wants the protests to end as pupils are missing out on their education because of the threat of them.

Warm and sunny to end the week

Sara Blizzard

BBC Weather

This week's set to end with more dry, warm, sunny weather - here's your full forecast:

Sara Blizzard

You can get a latest forecast at any other time by heading to the BBC Weather website.

What's the weather got in store?

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a dry night with clear skies and lows of 5C (41F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Ambulance staff to 'show support' at Pride

More than 80 staff, volunteers and students from West Midlands Ambulance Service are set to march in this weekend's Pride parade in Birmingham to "show support for the LGBT community".

A spokesperson said: "Attending this event enables the ambulance service to better represent the community that we serve and demonstrate the service as an employer that celebrates inclusivity and diversity within its workforce."

Birmingham Pride
BBC

European elections 2019: Polls are open

Polling stations have opened for the European Parliament elections.

Polling station
PA

Seventy-three members, known as MEPs, will be elected in nine constituencies in England, with seven elected in the West Midlands.

MEPs are elected by proportional representation, in order as listed by their party.

The number of MEPs each party gets is calculated using a formula called d'Hondt, except in Northern Ireland, where the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system is used.

Results will not be announced until all EU nations have voted over the next three days - with the voting process completed by 22:00 on Sunday 26 May.

Polling stations in the UK are open until 22:00.

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Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

It will be a dry, fine day with sunny periods and highs of 19C (66F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Staying dry for the next 24 hours

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

More dry weather ahead tonight and tomorrow for the West Midlands, here's the latest weather forecast:

Shefali Oza

You can get a latest forecast for your area at any other time by heading to the BBC Weather website.

Begging fines plan 'criminalises rough sleepers'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Carl Jackson

Plans to tackle anti-social behaviour in the centre of Birmingham have will target and criminalise rough sleepers. protesters said.

Demonstration on Victoria Square
BBC

The city council's proposing to bring in a three-year Public Space Protection Order for the city centre saying it has received complaints about harassment from gangs, urination and verbal abuse.

The order also includes banning begging and 'obstructing footpaths and highways'. Those who do will be fined and campaigners say they fear homeless people could 'bear the brunt' of the action.

At a demonstration in Victoria Square earlier, organiser Jo Shemmans said: "Sleeping in a doorway is not a crime if you don’t have a home, asking for a few pence for a cup of tea is not a crime."

The authority's defended its plans, stating the proposals were not designed to target rough sleeping and, following a consultation, the plans will now be examined by councillors.

Staying fine and dry on Wednesday

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

More fine, dry weather today with sunny spells - here's the full forecast for the West Midlands:

Alex Hamilton

You can get a latest forecast at any other time for your area by heading to the BBC Weather website.

Local gardeners bag RHS Chelsea show gold

BBC Midlands Today

Garden designers from the West Midlands have won five gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show.

The council's garden
Birmingham City Council

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) event is seen as the pinnacle for many UK gardeners.

Among those to get the highest honour is Birmingham City Council, winning their eighth gold with a climate change-inspired garden.

Other gold winners include Worcestershire-based Hardy Eucalyptus, Shropshire's David Austin Roses and the Family Monsters Garden, designed in Coventry.

Ambulance service 'to rely less' on fast cars

Local Democracy Reporting Service

West Midlands Ambulance Service says it's going to be relying less on motorbikes and response cars and more on traditional ambulances in the future.

Mark Docherty, its executive director of clinical commissioning, said: “We invested a lot in response cars, a lot of motorcycles and even bicycles. But what we found was that it was all well and good getting a paramedic there, but what do they then do with the patient?"

Ambulance
BBC

Mr Docherty said he also wanted more defibrillators "on every street corner", so that if someone suffered a cardiac arrest, they could get help quickly.

Staying dry in the West Midlands

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

There's no end in sight for the dry weather over the next 24 hours, with more forecast tonight and tomorrow - here's the full report for the West Midlands:

Alex Hamilton

You can get an up-to-date forecast for your area at any other time by heading to the BBC Weather website.

Mountaineers climb artwork in Birmingham underpass

John Bray

BBC News

Brutalist murals in a Birmingham city centre underpass could become a magnet for climbers - thanks to a group of university students.

Mountaineers climb artwork in Birmingham underpass

Members of the University of Birmingham Mountaineering and Climbing Club (UBMC) were asked to visit the William Mitchell artwork, underneath Hockley Circus, by a group which campaigns to promote and protect the city’s 20th Century architecture.

Brutiful Birmingham said the climbing wall murals, created in 1968, were largely forgotten and neglected.

UBMC members plan to alert other enthusiasts across the country. Only experienced climbers are advised to scale the artwork.

Meeting ambulance target in county 'would cost £45m'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Andrew Morris

An ambulance service has said the chances of meeting response times for the most critically injured patients in a county would cost an extra £45m a year.

Side of an ambulance
BBC

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) currently has 38 vehicles on the road in Shropshire.

In England, ambulance services are expected to reach patients within an average of seven minutes but, in the county, the average time was 10 minutes 44 seconds.

At a Shropshire Council health meeting, WMAS spokesman Mark Docherty said it would need another 75 ambulances to meet the target, costing £45m.

He said instead, it wanted to see more people trained in using defibrillators with more of the machines on street corners as "this is going to help save lives more than more ambulances".

Dry weather continues - here's the full forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

The dry weather's expected to continue this morning across the West Midlands with some sunshine around, here's the full forecast for today:

Alex Hamilton

If you want a latest forecast at any other time for your part of the West Midlands, head to the BBC Weather website.

Mum whose baby died speaks of pain of hearing others cry
Lynette Parkes lost her baby at seven months and spoke of the added pain of hearing other newborns cry nearby.
Mountaineers climb artwork in Birmingham underpass
The "forgotten" Brutalist murals beneath a flyover could become a magnet for climbers.

Mayor launches 'Beat the Bots' fund

A scheme launched by the Mayor of the West Midlands is seeking to help retrain workers whose jobs are at risk from becoming automated.

Robot
Getty Images

Some 1.5 million people in England are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Mayor Andy Street said £5m worth of funding for his Beat the Bots initiative would be made available for colleges and training providers to deliver innovative digital training.

The fund, which he said was "our way to stay ahead", represented a chance to gain digital skills "which will prepare our workforce for the jobs of the future".

“Artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles and robotics are getting better, and, in reality, it’s only a matter of time before real people will lose out to bots in the fight for jobs," he added.

The funding comes from the government’s National Retraining Scheme, and was announced by Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds in summer 2018, as part of the West Midlands Combined Authority's Skills Deal.

'Plastic garden' ready for Chelsea Flower Show gold bid

Birmingham City Council is putting the final touches to its latest Chelsea Flower Show garden in a bid to pick up its eighth gold medal.

This year's entry focuses on the environmental impact of plastics and celebrates green spaces in the city.

Show garden
Cofton Nursery

The latest display, produced again by Cofton Nursery, has seen the local authority work with TV presenter Floella Benjamin, who was also part of the team behind last year's award-winning Windrush garden.

The council said the 2019 entry celebrated a year of "clean and green" community action.

Central to the display is a three-metre-high head (pictured, top), comprising of more than 3,000 tubes, which will be drinking water from a disposable cup using a plastic straw, highlighting concerns about micro-plastics in our food chain.

Show garden
Cofton Nursery
Garden
Cofton Nursery

A giant foot will hover over the display to remind people of the carbon footprint we are leaving on the planet, it said.

A road made from recycled tyres also features, and will look at how different plants can be used to remove toxins from the environment.

Chelsea Flower Show opens tomorrow for Royal Horticultural Society members and to the general public from Thursday.

Teens in care 'abandoned to crime gangs'

BBC Newsnight

Thousands of teenagers in care are being "dumped" in unregulated homes and "abandoned to organised crime gangs", the BBC has been told.

The number of looked-after children aged 16 and over living in unregistered accommodation in England has increased 70% in a decade, Newsnight has found.

Young person
Getty

The West Midlands has seen a big increase in the use of unregulated accommodation - up from 280 in 2009 to 610 children in 2018.

Police forces have raised concerns, saying criminals see the premises as an easy target for recruitment.

Video: What's the weekend weather got in store?

Rebecca Wood

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a cloudy night with some patchy rain and lows of 8C (46F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Police cleared over chase that ended in fatal crash

An inquiry has concluded police were not for blame for a crash that killed a young woman in Birmingham last July.

Sarah Giles (pictured below) died and her boyfriend was seriously injured when Branden Daniels lost control of a stolen Audi A3 and crashed into their vehicle.

He had been pursued by West Midlands Police officers, but the Independent Office for Police Conduct said the chase had been "authorised, proportionate and carried out in accordance with local and national policy".

Sarah Giles
West Midlands Police

The IOPC also said: "The police officers drove a safe distance behind the stolen vehicle and ultimately it was the manner in which the Audi was driven which led to such tragic consequences."

Rail delays expected until 15:00 as line blocked

BBC News Travel

An incident between Birmingham Moor Street and Solihull, which is blocking the railway lines, is expected to cause disruption until 15:00.

The incident is affecting Chiltern Raildways, Cross Country and West Midlands Railway services.

Tickets are being accepted on other services and some bus routes.

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Knife offenders 'don't have anything to lose'

The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police says the £7m extra funding his force has been given by the government to tackle knife crime will help, but won't solve the problem.

Knife crime West Midlands
BBC

Figures published by the police showed in the year up to September in the West Midlands force area there were 3,108 offences recorded, a rise of 19% on the year before and almost double the number recorded in 2013.

Dave Thompson said some offenders "didn't have anything to lose" and were "not thinking about the consequences" of their actions.

"There's got to be a dread of detection, a dread of the consequences, but you know I've looked at some of the cases we had, cases where really the likelihood of the offender being caught is obvious and yet, you know, the incident results in a murder.

"Perhaps because they don't think they have anything to lose and don't live a life where they think anymore further than the immediate."

'Children should visit dentist when first milk teeth appear'

Just 3% of children visit the dentist before their first birthday which shows a "lack of understanding" about oral health, a new study has found.

The figures rise to 12% by the age of two, University of Birmingham researchers said.

Dental check-up
PA

Most children miss out on dental appointments in the first few years of their lives, the report in the Community Dental Health journal reports.

It's recommended parents take their children to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear, with regular check-ups to follow.

Dr John Morris from the university said: "Poor oral health can cause pain and infection, which can affect eating, sleeping, socialising and learning, yet worryingly our research suggests that there is a widespread lack of understanding of the importance of taking children to the dentist before their first birthday."

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

It will be a cool day with lots of cloud and highs of 16C (61F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

Video: What's the weather got in store?

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

It will be a cloudy night with some light showers and lows of 6C (43F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

2019 European elections: How many new MEPs might you get?

BBC News

Half of the existing MEPs in the West Midlands are not contesting the upcoming European Parliament elections.

European parliament
Getty Images

There are 72 UK MEPs currently serving, with one seat vacant. Of those, 43 are seeking re-election and there are 548 other new candidates.

That means at least 30 of those elected from 23-26 May might either never take their seats or serve only a few months if the UK leaves the European Union by the end of October.

Here are some facts and figures about the choice voters have about who represents them in Brussels and Strasbourg.