Rowley Regis

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Eviction threat lifted for motor sports park firms

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Tom Dare

Businesses based at a community motor sports park have been told they won't be evicted at the end of the month, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

A stock car
Motor Racing Live

Birmingham city councillors had voted this week to evict tenants from Birmingham Wheels by the end of the month.

But the authority's now written to the firms on the site confirming they've lifted the 31 January deadline for them to leave.

The businesses have also been invited to a meeting with the council next week to discuss a future arrangement for them to keep working on the site until an alternative is found.

Closing ambulance base would 'put lives at risk'

BBC Radio Stoke

Lives will be lost if a town's community ambulance hub is shut, a former paramedic's told the BBC.

West Midlands Ambulance Service wants to remove the response base in Cheadle, Staffordshire, by the end of March.

Ambulance base in Cheadle
Google

Instead, it wants to convert the rapid response vehicle there into an ambulance as it says the current vehicle only attends 2.2% of calls in the area.

But former paramedic Carole Winning told BBC Radio Stoke she believes lives are at stake: "They're saying they'll have an ambulance here but they won't because they're so busy, they'll never get here."

Cheadle Town Councillor Dave Sargeant said it would take longer for ambulances to respond: "You've got areas like Whiston, Ipstones, Foxt. These are difficult places to get to and, if you think of somebody coming from Newcastle to Cheadle, a minimum time to get here, it's going to be 25 minutes."

The ambulance service said it believed the move would save money and would not change the level of ambulance cover in the area, "if anything, this will increase over the coming months".

Your weather: Much colder and clearer than of late

BBC Weather

It will be a cold night with clear periods and lows of -1C (30F).

A mostly dry and fine day can be expected tomorrow with lengthy periods of sunshine.

Napton-on-the-Hill
BBC Weather Watchers/Steve Blackman

You can find a detailed weather forecast for your area on the BBC Weather site.

Decision on HS2 expected 'very soon'

A decision on whether the HS2 high-speed rail link will go ahead will be made "very soon", said the Transport Secretary today.

On a visit to Birmingham, Grant Schapps confirmed he had received the Oakervee government-commissioned review looking into the costs and benefits of the project.

It was prompted after it was revealed it was billions of pounds over budget and up to five years behind schedule. However, the review itself has come under fire from HS2 opponents.

Mr Schapps was visiting the region to launch a new £22m traffic control centre, partly funded by the government, designed to coordinate between different authorities when there's a lot of congestion.

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He also said that rail operator West Midlands Trains were under the microscope, the reliability of the network has recently been described as "woeful".

Investigation over £15.5m bus depot relocation

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Tom Dare

An investigation has been launched by Birmingham City Council into why the relocation of a National Express bus depot is costing £13.5m more than originally thought.

Bus depot
Google

Earlier this year, it was revealed that relocating the depot in time for the Commonwealth Games would cost the council £15.5m, when previous estimates had placed the cost at £2m.

The report detailing the increased cost was presented as a report to the interim chief executive of the council on New Year’s Eve, leading to accusations that the council was trying to "bury" the bad news.

Councillor Lisa Trickett, who sits on the council’s Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said that she was "deeply concerned" about the process that led to the extra funds being signed off.

'To get zero you are doing something majorly wrong'

Chris, a chef from Shifnal said he would not eat at a one star premises.

He rang Radio WM to say: "You should take notice of the scores on the door.

"It can actually go from zero to five, to get zero you are doing something majorly wrong.

Stock image of a chef at work
Getty Images

"They not only look at the structure of your business, what you're doing, how you're storing your food, where you are storing it, they also look at the practices of where you're getting it from and also, one of the most important things, they are looking at these days about your traceability, your temperature checks and also your allergy lists, you have to keep an allergy list on the premises at all times."

The action officers take are based on a "scoring system" and if they see "an immediate threat to public health" they will stop a business operating immediately.

"As long as they keep a good clean regimen, they keep their paperwork is up to date and they are not handing food in an inappropriate way, it is difficult to get less than a four I think."

Your views: 'If it's not clean turn around and scarper

Many of you have now been having your say through Facebook.

Steve Maguire said: "So we have legislation, laws, rules, guidelines, but less and less enforcement."

And Paula Wilcock said: "Just Birmingham? I bet other city councils are becoming behind as well."

Woman eating
Getty Images

Ringo Sheer said: "Always look at the floors, windows and walls in a fast food eatery, if [they are] not clean turn around and scarper."

Joseph Stephen tweeted: "I wish I was put off but I'm probably gonna get a kebab tonight."

While Mark Robertson said: "If you cannot cook - good luck."

What does the FSA think of what is happening now?

On the whole, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) seems happier with the action now being taken by Birmingham City Council.

Stock food hygiene rating image
Getty Images

Michael Jackson, head of regulatory compliance, said: “The effective enforcement of food law plays a vital role in protecting public health.

“When a local authority is not performing as it should, we’ll take appropriate steps to make sure that it meets its obligations.

“We’re pleased to see the response by Birmingham City Council to the concerns we raised about their performance and will continue to work with them to ensure the necessary improvements are made.”

When will those outstanding inspections take place?

With regards to progress on checking those outstanding premises, Mr Lankester (currently in charge of regulation and enforcement) said: "In the last week all of the highest risk premises have been done."

He said the department intended to have checked all of the businesses within two years.

Image of food
Getty Images

"What [The FSA] have said is that every inspection we have carried out, they can find no problem with the quality of work we have been doing, and the council does a lot of enforcement, they counted that as a priority to actually ensure when we found a premises wasn’t in good order, we dealt with it and followed it up," he said.

“What we haven’t managed to do is keep track with the number - we will be doing that and we are in the process of upping our game on that particular area."

He also said he was "quite happy" to eat out in Birmingham and was confident the standards in most eateries was good - and inspectors want to work with the ones who aren't to make sure they comply.

Severe accident: M6 West Midlands southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands southbound severe accident, at J7 for A34 Birmingham Road.

M6 West Midlands - Two lanes blocked and queues on M6 southbound at J7, A34 (Great Barr), because of an accident.

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

How bad are things in Birmingham?

In a letter sent to the council a month ago, the FSA's chief executive Emily Miles said she was "extremely concerned about the effectiveness of the food safety service being provided by Birmingham City Council and about the potential risks to public health".

The FSA says the council has a "growing backlog" of more than 1,000 overdue inspections for premises already rated - 70% of which are deemed "high risk".

Aerial view of part of Birmingham
Getty Images

It also says a further 1,200 premises are yet to receive a rating at all, 86% of which are likely to fall into the high-risk category

On top of all of this - it is estimating at least 1,000 new registrations will be made this year.

And in addition to its worries about inspections, the FSA has said it has concerns about a "reduction" in the number of complaints about hygiene that are being inspected.

So even the grubbiest takeaway might be getting away it.

What is the council meant to do?

All local authorities have a legal duty to enforce the Food Safety & Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.

Councils can inspect a business at any point and, after an inspection, the business will get a rating from 0-5, with zero meaning “urgent improvement is necessary” and five showing a premises is “very good”.

How often a business is routinely inspected will depend on the type of business and its previous record. Some premises might be inspected at least every six months, others much less often.

Stock image of someone checking the temperature of food
Getty Images

Officers will offer help and advice on food safety. They can take action if they find that standards of food hygiene are not good enough.

In serious cases, this could be closing the premises or prosecution.

Thousands of food premises not inspected in Birmingham

Going out to eat is supposed to be a treat isn't it?

But if you go out to eat in Birmingham, there is a chance you may find yourself somewhere where the food safety is completely unknown.

That is because more than 1,000 “high risk” food safety inspections have been missed by Birmingham City Council, it has been revealed.

Food hygiene ratings
Getty Images

The details came from a Birmingham City Council licensing committee meeting earlier this week.

But it isn’t the first time there have been problems like this in Birmingham.

In 2018, consumer watchdog Which? said Birmingham was the UK's worst area for food hygiene, because not enough businesses were visited within 28 days of opening.

Man suffers burns and smoke inhalation in pub fire

A man suffered burns and smoke inhalation in a fire at a Birmingham pub.

Fire crews and paramedics were called to the Eagle and Tun pub on Banbury Street, Digbeth, shortly after 21:10 on Thursday.

The patient was taken to hospital.

Fire crews remain at the scene, with a fire investigation expected to take place today.

Signalling fault delaying rail services

BBC News Travel

A signalling fault is delaying rail services between Birmingham New Street and Cheltenham Spa.

Disruption is expected until 09:00.

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Severe accident: M6 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands northbound severe accident, from J6 for A38 Tyburn Road to J7 for A34 Birmingham Road.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed, queues for six miles and delays on M6 northbound from J6, A38 (Spaghetti Junction) to J7, A34 (Great Barr), because of an accident involving four cars. Travel time is 25 minutes.

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

Severe disruption: M6 West Midlands southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands southbound severe disruption, from J7 for A34 Birmingham Road to J6 for A38 Tyburn Road.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed and queues on M6 southbound from J7, A34 (Great Barr) to J6, A38 (Spaghetti Junction), because of a break down.

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

Man injured in Digbeth fire

Crews remain at the scene of a fire in Digbeth which broke out last night.

About 20 firefighters attended the blaze on the corner of New Canal Street and Banbury Street after being called shortly before 20:50.

One man has been taken to hospital, says West Midlands Police.

View more on twitter

Severe disruption: M5 Worcestershire southbound

BBC News Travel

M5 Worcestershire southbound severe disruption, at J4 for A38 Halesowen Road Bromsgrove.

M5 Worcestershire - M5 lane closed on exit slip road and it's slow southbound at J4, A38 (Bromsgrove), because of a break down.

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

Severe accident: M6 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands northbound severe accident, at J9 for A461 Wood Green Road.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed and queues on M6 northbound at J9, A461 (Wednesbury), because of an accident.

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

Severe accident: M6 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands northbound severe accident, after J8 for M5.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed and queues on M6 northbound after J8 M5, because of an accident.

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

Man hit by car seriously injured

A man has been taken to hospital suffering potentially serious injuries after being hit by a car.

Paramedics were called to Waterloo Road in Wolverhampton shortly after 13:20.

The pedestrian was treated for multiple injuries before being taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

City's 'highest restaurant' tower block approved

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Carl Jackson

Plans for a tower block set to provide the UK's "highest altitude dining experience" outside London have been approved.

Tower
Glancy Nicholls Architects

The new skyscraper on Broad Street will provide up to 503 luxury apartments, ground floor shops as well as cinema, gym and workshop facilities for residents.

Tower restaurant
Glancy Nicholls Architects

A "sky lounge" restaurant and bar occupying levels 59 and 60 will be open to the public.

Birmingham City Council’s planning committee approved Euro Property Investments’ application earlier today

Tower restaurant
Glancy Nicholls Architects

At 633ft (193m), the structure will dwarf the city’s current highest building, the BT Tower, by around 131ft (40m)

Severe accident: M6 West Midlands southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands southbound severe accident, from J6 for A38 Tyburn Road to J5 for A452.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed on M6 southbound from J6, A38 (Spaghetti Junction) to J5, A452 (Castle Bromwich), because of an accident. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M6 West Midlands southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands southbound severe disruption, between J6 for A38 Tyburn Road and J5 for A452.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed and it's heavy on M6 southbound between J6, A38 (Spaghetti Junction) and J5, A452 (Castle Bromwich), because of a car that's broken down.

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

Severe accident: A449 Worcestershire both ways

BBC News Travel

A449 Worcestershire both ways severe accident, between Caunsall Road and Common Barn Lane.

A449 Worcestershire - A449 Kidderminster Road in Caunsall closed and it's slow in both directions between the Caunsall Road junction and the Common Barn Lane junction, because of an accident.

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

Severe disruption: M6 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands northbound severe disruption, between J8 for M5 and J9 for A461 Wood Green Road.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed and queues on M6 northbound between J8 M5 and J9, A461 (Wednesbury), because of a break down.

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

After the wall fell: Families still waiting for 'justice'

BBC News

It's been three-and-a-half years since a wall collapsed at a scrapyard in Birmingham and caused the deaths of five men and their families have told the BBC they are still waiting for "justice".

Victims of the wall tragedy
BBC

They include a nine-year-old boy who was signed for FC Barcelona and then released, a woman who was pregnant with twins the last time she saw her husband and one man who survived the collapse.

They and others have all spoken to the BBC and said they still have questions about how and why they died.

You can read their powerful stories here.

Severe accident: M6 West Midlands southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands southbound severe accident, at J10 for A454 Wolverhampton Road Wolverhampton.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed and queues on M6 southbound at J10, A454 (Wolverhampton), because of an accident.

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

Severe accident: M54 Shropshire eastbound

BBC News Travel

M54 Shropshire eastbound severe accident, from J3 for A41 Newport Road to J2 for A4510.

M54 Shropshire - One lane blocked and queues on M54 eastbound from J3, A41 (Albrighton) to J2, A4510 (Wolverhampton), because of an accident.

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

Severe disruption: M6 West Midlands northbound

BBC News Travel

M6 West Midlands northbound severe disruption, at J10 for A454 Wolverhampton Road Wolverhampton.

M6 West Midlands - One lane closed and it's slow on M6 northbound at J10, A454 (Wolverhampton), because of a break down.

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