England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

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.

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

Widening work finished early 'due to lockdown'

BBC Radio Stoke

Roadworks on the A500 in Stoke-on-Trent have been removed as work to widen a 1km-stretch has finished three months early due to the lockdown.

A500 with roadworks removed
Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Highways England started the scheme in February 2019 to add an extra third lane between Porthill and Wolstanton in both directions to ease congestion.

It had expected to finish this autumn but spokesman Mike Hillier said quieter roads during the Covid-19 lockdown meant they could work faster.

"It allowed us to moved some of the work we'd do on nights on to days and we get a longer working window during the day which means we can complete the work more quickly."

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

BBC Weather Watchers/Dammo

Schools and care homes monitored in city's outbreak plan

BBC Radio Stoke

Schools, care homes and hospitals in Stoke-on-Trent are being closely monitored for any swift increase in coronavirus cases, the local authority says.

Woman wearing a face mask
Getty Images

The city council, like others across the country, has drawn up a plan to deal with an outbreak and published it following the lockdown in Leicester.

The East Midlands city is the first to experience a local lockdown, after a rise in coronavirus cases.

Stoke-on-Trent's plan sets out how to manage such an outbreak locally and includes investigating cases of high absenteeism from schools or workplaces and high levels of hospitalisations due to Covid-19.

We've had around about 67 cases in the last 10 days. If you look at Leicester, they've had nearly 500 cases in the last 10 to 14 days so we're in a very, very different position to where Leicester is."

Paul Edmondson-JonesDirector of Health Integration and Wellbeing, Stoke-on-Trent City Council

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.

More than 2,000 calls to police over lockdown breaches

Staffordshire Police took 2,020 calls relating to reports of lockdown breaches in Stoke-on-Trent between 14 April and 20 June.

The figure for the whole of lockdown is likely to be higher, but the calls weren't categorised as being related to coronavirus before 14 April.

Police car
Staffordshire Police

The force said the majority of the calls were about groups of people gathering.

'Significant drop' in positive Covid-19 cases in city

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The Local Democracy Reporting Service in Staffordshire has been covering these stories in the past few days:

  • The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in Stoke-on-Trent has dropped significantly from its peak, health officials have heard. The city council's director of health and wellbeing said from a high of 40 or 50 confirmed cases a day, they were now seeing "an absolute maximum of two new cases a day".
Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Public toilets in several towns in Staffordshire could reopen before Saturday. Stafford Borough Council, which runs the sites in Stafford, Stone, Eccleshall and Milford, said preparations were under way.

  • A compound for up to 22 caravans which are used by motorway workers has been allowed to stay in its current location in Staffordshire. Temporary permission was first given for the site at at Bognop Road, Essington, in 2013 and this month was renewed for a further two years.

Another large oxygen tank passes through county

Another large oxygen tank is being escorted along the A34 through Staffordshire by police today.

It's causing slow traffic through the county and overhead cables are having to removed to allow it to pass.

Oxygen lorry
Staffordshire Police

Here's police with more on what's entailed.

Second huge oxygen tank starts journey across counties

Allen Cook

BBC News

A huge oxygen cylinder has begun a long and slow journey across three counties which is expected to take until the weekend.

One of the cylinders, probably the one from last week, with crowds turning out
Staffordshire Police

It is the second time one of the tanks, which measure 49 metres long and weigh 225 tonnes, has been driven from Cheshire to Warwickshire this month.

On the last journey it became a bit of a star, drawing crowds along the route and being photographed repeatedly on social media.

This second cylinder left Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, on Saturday and is expected to cross into Staffordshire this afternoon.

Drivers have been warned to expect long queues along the route as it will travel at just 5mph.

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.

More than £300m coronavirus grants for region's councils

BBC Shared Data Unit

Councils in the West Midlands have received just over £300m in grants from the government to help them cope with coronavirus, a BBC investigation has uncovered.

The biggest recipient has been Birmingham City Council, which has been given £70.31m and the figure is likely to be higher because one council, Shropshire, didn't say how much it has received.

Simon Clarke
Getty Images

Councils in the region are forecasting a shortfall of more than £377m as a result of coronavirus.

The minister for local government, Simon Clarke (pictured above), said his department was "working on a comprehensive plan to ensure councils’ financial sustainability over the financial year ahead".

He said that would involve working with the councils and that £3.2bn of non-ring-fenced emergency funding had been given to local authorities around the UK already.

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.

Councils facing coronavirus shortfall of more than £300m

BBC Shared Data Unit

Councils in the West Midlands could face a shortfall of about £377m as a result of coronavirus.

They have faced increased costs from supporting vulnerable people, while their income from fees and rates is falling.

Getty Images

A BBC investigation asked councils for their estimated shortfall, the money they have received from the government so far and whether they planned to use a section 114 notice to effectively declare themselves bankrupt.

None of the councils in the West Midlands said they intended to take that route, but 10 of the 14 councils said they forecasted a shortfall as a result of coronavirus.

Four councils, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Solihull and Worcestershire didn't give any shortfall estimates and a fifth, Warwickshire said it expected a shortfall, but couldn't say how much.

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.

Weather Watchers/Fraser

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

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.

County's libraries to begin phased reopening

Staffordshire's 43 libraries will begin reopening from 6 July.

The first to reopen will be those in Burton-upon-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stafford, with the others following in the weeks after.

But, Gill Heath (pictured below), the county councillor responsible for libraries, described it as "not a return to normality, but a welcome step towards it".

Gill Heath at Stafford Library
Staffordshire County Council

Ms Heath explained staff will be running an "order and collect" service to begin with, so there will be no browsing and limited numbers allowed inside.

Meeting rooms will also remain closed and there will be no access to toilets, PCs, printers, photocopiers, or bus pass renewals.

Thunderstorms to follow hot spell

BBC Weather

You've got one more day of this mini-heatwave before the thunderstorms return tomorrow evening.

They're forecast to start in the western parts of the region and last all through Friday and Saturday too.

Hopefully you weren't planning a barbeque.

View more on twitter

Severe accident: A50 Staffordshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A50 Staffordshire both ways severe accident, near Lordship Lane.

A50 Staffordshire - An accident on A50 Victoria Road in Fenton near the Lordship Lane junction. Traffic is coping well.

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

Giant oxygen cylinder proves unlikely crowd attraction

Allen Cook

BBC News

The huge oxygen cylinder which has been making its way slowly across Staffordshire for the past few days has become an unlikely attraction for people.

The cylinder at one stage of its route across Staffordshire
Staffordshire Police

It might be due to the lockdown but crowds have regularly been turning out along the route as the wide load travelled across the county, having begun its journey on Monday in Cheshire.

Crowd along part of the route waiting for the cylinder
Staffordshire Police

People have tweeted themselves having their photo taken alongside it and Staffordshire Police has also offered the odd photo opportunity:

Police photo opportunity
Staffordshire Police

The cylinder's journey is now expected to finish tomorrow in Coleshill, Warwickshire, but if you missed seeing it, don't worry - another three will be making the trek in the next six weeks.

What's the weather got in store?

BBC Weather

It will be a mostly cloudy day with outbreaks of rain, which could be sharp at times.

As the afternoon progresses, the rain will ease to leave it largely dry with sunny spells and highs of 18C (64F).

Weather Watchers/Angus and me

Thunderstorms and heavy rain set to continue

Allen Cook

BBC News

Parts of the West Midlands are being warned to be prepared for more heavy rain and thunderstorms over the next day or so.

Lightning over Barlaston last night

A yellow weather warning for thunderstorms is already in place across the whole region until midnight tonight.

There is then a yellow alert for heavy rain from 03:00 on Thursday until midday.

It's then followed by one for thunderstorms from midday until 21:00 on Thursday but this time covers parts of Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Weather: Showers set to continue

BBC Weather

A cloudy start with more showers, which could be heavy and thundery, forecast.

These could be mixed with some sunny spells later. High: 21C/70F.

Lydbury North
Lydbury North, Shropshire, this morning

The showers should ease through the night although there may be the odd one still around. Low: 13C/55F.

You can keep up-to-date on the latest forecast for your area by checking the BBC Weather website.

Thunderstorms expected to bring disruption

Thunderstorms could cause flash flooding, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds across the West Midlands the Met Office is warning.

BBC Weather Watchers/Stokie Gaz

A yellow weather warning has been issued from 13:30 until 06:00 on Wednesday for the whole of the region.

Further storms are expected to cause disruption from 12:00 to 21:00 on Wednesday, it said.

Floods warning with thunderstorms forecast

Parts of Staffordshire and Shropshire could suffer flash flooding today due to thunderstorms.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning from 13:00 until 21:00.

Area covered by warning
Met Office

As well as flooding and transport disruption, it warns buildings could be damaged from lightning strikes.

Weather: Thunderstorms ahead

BBC Weather

The rain that has been around today should clear through the first half of tonight leaving the rest mainly dry and cloudy. Low: 13C (55F).

Claverley, Shropshire today
Claverley, Shropshire today

Tomorrow's expected to start sunny but then turn cloudy with heavy showers and thunderstorms forecast. High: 23C (73F).

Keep up-to-date with the latest forecast for your area by going to the BBC Weather website.

Charity biker festival pushed back to 2021

An annual charity ride and festival raising money for the Midlands Air Ambulance has been postponed until 2021.

Midlands Air Ambulance helicopter

Organisers of the Bike4Life event had already postponed it from April due to the pandemic, but now say they haven't been able to find a replacement date this year.

They also say the current state of the economy means they couldn't be sure firms would be able to attend so they're now looking to agree a new date for 2021.

The event sees bikers ride to RAF Cosford, Shropshire, where the air ambulance has a base, for the festival.