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European elections 2019: Polls are open

Polling stations have opened for the European Parliament elections.

Polling station

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

Crashed lorry likely to mean lengthy motorway closure

A crash involving a lorry and a car is likely to mean the closure of the M50 between junctions 1 and 2 for some time, West Midlands Ambulance Service has warned.

The collision left the lorry straddling the central reservation and it will have to be removed and the barrier repaired before traffic can return.

West Mercia Police have tweeted to ask people trapped in the queues "not play football in the carriageway like some did."

Crashed lorry
West Midlands Ambulance Service

The man who was driving the lorry and a woman driving the car were both taken to hospital in Worcester for treatment.

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.

Two injured and motorway carriageway closed by crash

BBC News Travel

A crash involving a car and a lorry on the M50 has brought traffic to a standstill on the eastbound carriageway.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was called to the scene at 14:22 and found both vehicles had ended up on the opposite carriageway.

A woman in her 30s who was driving the car and the driver of the lorry were both taken to hospital in Worcester.


West Mercia Police said the road between J1 and 2 is likely to remain closed into the evening.

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.

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?"


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.

Large cannabis farm discovered

BBC Hereford and Worcester

A cannabis farm in Herefordshire which West Mercia Police said could have yielded £3m a year was one of the discoveries made in a week-long drugs operation.

The building, a six-bedroom farmhouse near Leintwardine, was being rented, said the force which found hundreds of plants and equipment to grow hundreds more.


Last week, 19 people were arrested in the force area on suspicion of conspiracy to supply drugs.


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

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.

Fatal house fire 'started accidentally'

A house fire that led to the death of a woman in Hereford was started accidentally, fire investigators have confirmed.

Smoke from the house

More then 30 firefighters from Hereford and Worcester Fire Service battled the blaze on Cobhall Close on Friday afternoon.

A women died in the fire while a man who got out of the house needed hospital treatment for minor injuries.

Police force officer numbers set for 'seven-year high'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Christian Barnett

The number of police officers working for the West Mercia force will reach a seven-year high by the end of the year, its police and crime commissioner (PCC) has pledged.

Police officers
Getty Images

This year, John Campion increased the police precept, the portion of council tax that goes to the local police force, to pay for 115 new officers.

He said the force was "well ahead" of recruiting that number this year and, on top of an extra 100 already promised, would bring the number of officers to 2,145, the most since 2012.

The figure includes an extra 10 officers for Evesham and Droitwich.

Probe continues into cause of fatal house fire

The cause of a fatal house fire in Hereford's still being investigated by the local fire service.

Fire service at house

It said a woman died in the blaze on Friday afternoon on Cobhall Close, Redhill.

At the time, the ambulance service said a man who got out of the property had been taken to hospital for treatment, while a woman from a neighbouring property was assessed.

One neighbour, who didn't want to be named, said: "Windows were exploding, glass was breaking, there was fire coming out of everywhere."

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

No confirmation on reports of woman trapped in fire

Allen Cook

BBC News

The emergency services have not confirmed whether or not a woman was trapped in a house in Hereford during a fire.

Smoke from the fire

Firefighters were called to Cobhall Close, Redhill, at 12:35 and it was thought a woman who lived in the property was unaccounted for.

However, despite the fire service confirming the blaze was out by 15:00, neither they nor West Mercia Police said they could confirm details on any casualties.

All the ambulance service would confirm was that a man who escaped from the house was treated for minor injuries.

Reports of woman trapped in house fire

Tom Edwards

Reporter, BBC Hereford & Worcester

A woman is believed to be trapped in a house in Hereford where a fire has been burning since lunchtime.

Fire Scene

About 30 firefighters are at the property in Cobhall Close, Redhill since being called at about 12:30.

Plumes of smoke can be seen from about half a mile away.


Neighbours described how an elderly man managed to escape the flames, along with a dog.

It's thought a woman who lives in the property is unaccounted for, and the ambulance service said crews were still at the scene.

More firefighters called to battle 'severe' house fire

Allen Cook

BBC News

Six fire crews are now fighting the house fire in Hereford this afternoon which the fire service has described as "severe".

Smoke from house
Stacey Smith

They've been at Cobhall Close since being called at 12:35 and have been trying to stop the blaze spreading along the row of terraced homes.

Photos from one eyewitness appear to show the roof of one house has collapsed.

The fire service hasn't been able to say if anyone's been hurt, but eyewitness Stacey Smith, said everyone was safely out of the building.

Smoke from house on Cobhall Close
Stacey Smith

Dozens of firefighters battle house blaze

About 20 firefighters are battling a house fire in a terraced house in Hereford this afternoon.

Cobhall Close, Hereford

They were called at 12:35 to Cobhall Close and say they're working to put out the blaze in the two-storey house.

Because it's a mid-terrace building, they say they're also working to stop it spreading.

There's no word yet on whether anyone's been hurt.

Rail timetable changes set to come in

Rail timetable changes are set to be introduced across the West Midlands from Sunday.

West Midlands Railway is bringing in a number of new services, including one extra train an hour between Shropshire and Birmingham on weekdays and Saturdays and more trains on Sundays, additional evening services from Worcester and Hereford to Birmingham and an extra evening service between Kidderminster and Worcester.

It is also adding more carriages to services between Coventry and London and new direct trains to destinations such as Liverpool, Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe.

West Midlands Railway train
West Midlands Railway

Chiltern Railways is creating a new direct service from Stratford-upon-Avon to London, doubling the number of weekday trains it runs to the capital.

Cross Country trains, which stop in Birmingham, have also made some changes to their timetable.

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.

Under-fire schools trust 'back on the right track'

The new chief executive of the Bishop Anthony Educational Trust says a recent Ofsted evaluation was "very disappointing", but he is in "absolutely no doubt" it is now moving in the right direction.

A letter from Ofsted particularly criticised the previous leadership of the trust, which runs 16 schools across Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and says it "has not been successful enough in improving the quality of education for pupils".

The trust was set up by the Diocese of Hereford and the Ofsted report was drawn up following a visit in March.

Child writing
Getty Images

Andrew Teale says since he was appointed CEO in January "we have started a process to transform this multi-academy trust and provide better support for our academies".

He added "I firmly believe that in many areas we are already on the right track and that over the next few months the exciting and ambitious plans we have for further change will ensure that the multi-academy trust will, once again, becomes the strong school leadership body that it should always have been.”

Schools trust has 'failed' head teachers

An education trust that runs 14 primary and two secondary schools in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire has been heavily criticised by inspectors.

Ofsted said the Bishop Anthony Educational Trust had been "set up with good moral intentions and a clear purpose of meeting an educational need in the community" but had "failed".

Generic classroom

It said the weakest schools and lowest achieving pupils had been particularly let down, with three of the trust’s schools judged to require special measures in the most recent inspections and one requiring improvement.

A summary of the report said where there were improvements - 11 schools in the trust were judged good or outstanding - it was often due to head teachers or governors, "rather than the contribution and effectiveness of the trust".

Ofsted has made a number of recommendations, but welcomed the appointment of a new interim chief executive, who it said had a good understanding of the trust's weaknesses.

Pupils in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire deserve to have as good an education as those in other parts of the country. The Bishop Anthony Educational Trust was set up to do just that, but we have found that its good intentions have not brought about the change that is needed to improve pupils’ experience."

James McNeillieOfsted

Video: Your 50-second weather forecast

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

After a fine start it will a dry sunny day with some cloud and highs of 17C (63F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands

More dry weather on the way tonight

Shefali Oza

BBC Midlands Today

The dry, fine weather's set to continue tonight in the West Midlands - here's the full forecast for the night and tomorrow:

Shefali Oza

To get a latest forecast for your area at any other time, head to the BBC Weather website.

Former PC found guilty of gross misconduct

A former West Mercia Police officer has been found guilty of gross misconduct while serving on the force.

In October, Laura Lawson admitted assaulting a 17-year-old boy while attending a disturbance in Rugby in 2017 and was given a three-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, at Worcester Crown Court.

At a hearing at the Hindlip headquarters yesterday, Lawson was found to have breached the standards of professional behaviour amounting to gross misconduct and was told she would have been sacked, had she not already resigned.

The West Mercia Head of Professional Standards, Supt Helena Bennett, said: "A serving police officer receiving a criminal conviction for assault brings discredit on the force and is completely unacceptable when we are responsible for protecting the public from harm."

River fencing plan after boy, 4, pulled from water

Fencing could be installed along a stretch of the River Wye in Hereford after a four-year-old boy fell into the water in March.

Herefordshire Council is trying to trace the landowners of a section in Rotherwas and says it would need their permission to install any barriers.

River Wye in Rotherwas

The boy was pulled from the water and taken to hospital in a life-threatening condition, but has since made a good recovery.

Crash shuts city road

A traffic collision has closed the road leading to the St Martin's Street swimming pool in Hereford.

Herefordshire Council said the street was closed between the A49 and the leisure pool entrance.

Road closed

Another dry, sunny day

Alex Hamilton

BBC Weather

Any early patches of mist should soon clear away leaving a dry and fine, sunny day.

Here's the full forecast for the West Midlands for Wednesday:

Alex Hamilton

You can get a latest forecast for your part of the region at any other time by going to the BBC Weather website.

Counties' four CCGs propose merger

BBC Hereford and Worcester

There are proposals to merge four clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in two counties into just one group to save the local NHS £2m.

Doctor typing on keyboard
Seb_Ra/Getty Images

The CCGs covering Herefordshire and Worcestershire said they had been set a target by the NHS to cut running costs by 20%.

They said creating one group for both counties would achieve the saving and they're launching a consultation programme next month.

It's the second proposed merger of CCGs in the West Midlands this month, following plans in Shropshire.

CCGs replaced Primary Care Trusts in April 2013 as the NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of healthcare services locally.

Video: What's the weather got in store?

Rich Davis

BBC Weather presenter

It will be a dry night with mainly clear skies and lows of 3C (37F).

Latest weather for the West Midlands