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Charges scrapped for 'spending a penny' at rail stations

Toilets at three of England's busiest stations are to become free to use as a "long-overdue Christmas present for passengers", Network Rail has said.

Toilet sign

It currently costs 30 or 40p to spend a penny at Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Leeds.

However, from 17 December, toilets will be free for passengers to use thanks to a £15m boost announced by Rail Minister Andrew Jones.

A spokesman said it was the "first" of a number of planned improvements.

In the year 2016/17, Network Rail received £4.8m from the stations that charge for using toilets.

That was down from 2015/16, in which £5.4m was paid by passengers using toilets.

What now for the Premier League title race?

Phil McNulty

BBC Sport chief football

Manchester City have blinked first, Liverpool have taken over at the top, and the Premier League title race is well and truly on.

Pep Guardiola's reigning champions will remain favourites because of sheer weight of quality, but Liverpool hovered in their shadow in second place before their 4-0 win at Bournemouth and City's defeat at Chelsea sent them to the front.

The Reds are now the only unbeaten team in the division so how, if at all, has this 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge changed the face of the title race?

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola

Negative press emboldens racist rhetoric - PFA

BBC Sport

Negative press coverage of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling "emboldens racist rhetoric", says the Professional Footballers' Association.

Raheem Sterling

Sterling, 24, posted on Instagram on Sunday saying newspapers are helping to "fuel racism" by the ways in which they portray young black footballers.

Sterling was allegedly racially abused during City's 2-0 defeat at Chelsea.

"It is evident that he is often singled out and treated more harshly than his colleagues," said a union statement.

Janelle Monae lined up for Manchester International Festival

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and actress Janelle Monae is to make her debut at the Manchester International Festival next year, the festival's organisers have announced.

Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae

Monae will perform on the festival's opening night on 4 July, alongside fellow stars including Yoko Ono, Idris Elba and Kwame Kwei-Armah and Skepta.

Newspapers fuel racism, says Raheem Sterling

BBC Sport

Newspapers are helping to "fuel racism" by the ways in which they portray young black footballers, says Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

Raheem Sterling

Sterling, 24, posted on social media a day after suffering alleged racist abuse from Chelsea fans during City's 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea and the Metropolitan Police are investigating the allegations.

"All I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity and give all players an equal chance," he said.

The Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS) said it hoped Sterling's comments would "serve as a wake-up call not just for the newspapers, but all the media".

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Raheem Sterling

Katie Falkingham

BBC Sport

Newspapers are helping to "fuel racism" by the ways in which they portray young black footballers, says Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling.

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N'Golo Kante celebrates

Phil McNulty

Chief football writer at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea inflict a first Premier League defeat of the season on champions Manchester City to breathe life into their own title challenge.

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Manchester United

Michael Emons

BBC Sport

Manchester United record their biggest league win of 2018-19 as they beat Fulham - a match Claudio Ranieri describes as "11 lambs against 11 wolves".

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The story of Buzzcocks' pansexual punk anthem Ever Fallen in Love

Ian Youngs

Entertainment and Arts Reporter, BBC News

Everybody has fallen in love with someone they shouldn't have fallen in love with, so everybody can relate to the famous Buzzcocks song.

Pete Shelley

But not everybody knows their late frontman Pete Shelley, inspired by a line from the musical Guys and Dolls, wrote it about a man.

Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) only reached number 12 when it was released in September 1978, but it's now seen as a bona fide classic.

The BBC's Ian Youngs tells how Leigh-born Shelley came to write the number.

Mourinho 'happy and committed' to Man Utd

BBC Sport

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is "very happy" and "fully committed" to the club, according to his agent.

Jose Mourinho
Getty Images

Mourinho's position at the club has been under scrutiny this season with United currently eighth in the Premier League, eight points off the top four.

The Portuguese, 55, signed a contract extension at Old Trafford in January but has been linked with a return to former club Real Madrid.

"It's totally untrue," said his agent Jorges Mendes via a statement.

Ice Christmas tree for city's homeless

A Christmas tree cut from more than a tonne of ice has been put up in Manchester with the hope that presents for the city's homeless will be left underneath it.

People were invited to place unwrapped gifts at the foot of tree
People were invited to place unwrapped gifts at the foot of tree
It is hoped the tree, cut from a tonne of ice, will encourage the giving of gifts to Manchester's homeless.

Manchester forensic lab error drug offences quashed

At least 40 motorists convicted of drug-driving offences have been cleared after evidence of manipulation was found in the forensic testing process at a Manchester laboratory.

Woman putting liquid in test tubes
Getty Creative
Most of the cases under investigation involved traffic offences

The motorists had been banned from driving and in some cases fined, but their convictions have been overturned.

About 10,500 test results are being reviewed after data was allegedly manipulated at a Randox Testing Services in Manchester.

The National Police Chiefs' Council described it as a "most serious breach" of forensic science standards.

North West weather: Rainy and windy but staying mild

Windy and mild this afternoon with more rain, although it should ease off later. There may be some clear spells in the early hours, and it will stay mild ahead of a windy day tomorrow.

More from BBC Weather

Have Man Utd fans reluctantly accepted their team's 'B-List' status?

BBC Sport

Manchester United's hopes and ambitions have slipped so alarmingly this season that a routine show of grit that left them eighth in the Premier League drew warm applause from Old Trafford at its conclusion.

Jose Mourinho's side battled back twice to earn a point in an eventful, if scrappy, 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

But was the sanguine reaction at the final whistle acceptance this is now as good as it gets under the current regime?

Rail strikes to continue after talks collapse

Talks to avert more strikes by rail workers in a long running dispute over guards on trains have collapsed.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said more walkouts on Northern would now go ahead every Saturday in December.

Northern train

The RMT called the firm a "basket-case" franchise and a "disgrace", blaming it for the breakdown in talks.

Northern said "all options" would be "considered" over a second member of staff on its services.

Northern has warned passengers of major disruption during the next round of strikes - planned for 8, 15, 22 and 29 December - with "very few trains" running after 17:00 GMT on those days.

Rochdale dealer who set up drugs ring on release from prison jailed

A drug dealer who set up a network of contacts to sell heroin and cocaine just hours after being released from prison has been jailed again.

Mohammed Fazal

Mohammed Fazal, 32, led an operation dealing the drugs across the North West and Midlands over a 10-month period.

Police raids related to the gang's activities seized 13kg of Class A drugs and more than £100,000.

Fazal, of Oswald Street, Rochdale, was jailed for 15 years at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.

Fury wants Wilder rematch at Old Trafford

BBC Sport

Tyson Fury says he wants a WBC heavyweight rematch with Deontay Wilder at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium next summer.

The 30-year-old from Wythenshawe was awarded a controversial draw after his bout with champion Wilder in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Tyson Fury
Getty Images

Fury, who watched United's 2-2 draw against Arsenal on Wednesday evening, said his promoter had suggested the rematch be in London.

"Frank Warren said Arsenal but I said 'no, let's have it at Old Trafford'."

North West weather: Cloudy and wet but feeling mild

BBC Weather

Cloudy and wet for most of the day with some persistent rain this morning. But it will be a mild day with highs of 13C.

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England fast bowler Liam Plunkett bowling in practice in Sri Lanka

England fast bowler Liam Plunkett will join Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League this winter after Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson is ruled out with a back injury.

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Coronation Street actor Peter Armitage dies age 78

Coronation Street actor Peter Armitage, who played Bill Webster on the show, has died aged 78.

The actor first appeared on the long-running series, as Kevin Webster's father, more than 30 years ago.

No cause of death has been given, although four years ago Armitage revealed he was in remission from bowel cancer.

His death was announced on Twitter by former co-star Charlie Lawson, who plays Jim McDonald.

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Man Utd fans urged to use public transport

Manchester United fans travelling to tonight's home game with Arsenal have been urged to use public transport to avoid traffic congestion.

Manchester United play Young Boys at Old Trafford in the Champions LeagueLeague
Getty Images

Transport for Greater Manchester is also advising supporters to use park and ride services for the game, which kicks off at 20:00.

About 75,000 people are expected to attend, with travel disruption expected during rush hour.

Traffic chaos has led to delayed kick-offs already this season, with the club being fined after the team coach was delayed in October.

Manager Jose Mourinho even got out of the coach to walk to the Champions League game with Juventus.

North West weather: Rain will ease and it will feel milder

BBC Weather

The rain should ease off later this afternoon, perhaps with a few cloud breaks developing. Feeling milder than it was yesterday with highs of 10C.

More from BBC Weather

Bouncer attack club licence suspended

A nightclub where a teenager and his friend were attacked by bouncers has had its licence suspended pending a full review.

Doormen from Manchester's Factory 251 were sacked after Joe Sharratt, 18, was knocked out outside the club on Sunday.

Manchester City Council's licensing committee made the decision following an urgent review of the club's licence.

Footage showed rugby league player Mr Sharratt being felled and his friend Leon Cooper, 18, being hit repeatedly.

Solicitors representing Factory said the club would not be challenging the ruling.

Disabled Manchester United fans call for netting protection

BBC Sport

Disabled Manchester United fans have called for netting to be put up at Old Trafford to protect them from missiles hurled by away fans.

Netting in front of Young Boys fans at Old Trafford
Getty Images

The disabled supporters' section is below where visiting fans are housed.

Manchester United Disabled Supporters Association (MUSDA) says flares, bottles filled with urine, coins and pies thrown by travelling supporters have landed in their section.

Netting was used for Champions League games against Juventus and Young Boys.

Now MUSDA is pressing to make that permanent.

BreakingNightclub licence suspended after bouncer attack

A nightclub where a rugby league player was treated as a "punchbag" by bouncers has had its licence suspended.

Bouncers from Manchester's Factory 251 were sacked after Joe Sharratt, 18, was attacked outside the club on Sunday.

Manchester City Council's licensing committee made the decision following an urgent review of the club's licence.

Video footage showed Mr Sharratt being thrown to the ground before door staff repeatedly punched his friend.