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Until just a few days ago Maximus the cat was in a sorry state having lived on the streets of the West Midlands for 10 years. But ever since the story of his rescue hit social media, thousands of pounds has been donated for his care. Maximus was picked up in Great Barr, Sandwell, by the Stray Cats Rescue Team West Midlands, suffering severe dehydration.His claws were also so long he couldn’t walk and he has FIV – an immunodeficiency virus similar to HIV.
Elusive artist Banksy has created new artwork in Birmingham, a festive-themed piece highlighting homelessness.The artwork features in a film on Instagram that shows a man named Ryan on a bench being “pulled” by two reindeer painted on a brick wall in the city’s Jewellery Quarter.It has been viewed over 1m times since it was posted earlier.Hours later though, the work was defaced by a vandal who sprayed red noses on the reindeer.Barriers had been installed, but the person managed to jump them, BBC Midlands Today reporter Ben Sidwell tweeted.Unveiling the work, Banksy praised the generosity of people who gave Ryan food and drink while they filmed.The post said: “God bless Birmingham. In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter – without him ever asking for anything.”Pete Smith’s jewellery studio and workshop Vault 88 is located on Vyse Street, opposite the artwork.He saw it when he arrived for work on Friday and said it had been attracting a lot of attention since the Instagram post.”The world and his mother is outside,” he said.”There’s been people taking pictures of themselves on the bench. It’s brilliant. It’s very, very clever.”He added the artist’s praise was “good for Brummies”, and showed “they care”.Latest news from the West MidlandsLuke Crane from the Jewellery Quarter Business Improvement District said it was now a priority to protect the artwork.
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“We are very keen to make sure it is a part of our community and not something that is taken away,” he said.”I think it comes at a great time of year – we obviously didn’t know it was coming, but what a great time. “And it’s obviously about giving at a time of need for the homelessness that we have in these areas, and it’s something that we’ve been working in partnership with the council and other organisations to try and tackle, so it’s great to see it in our area.”Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Three travel classes will be available on a domestic UK railway line for the first time in more than 60 years.Avanti West Coast, which has replaced Virgin Trains on the West Coast Main Line, will offer premium economy as well as standard and first-class seats.The new middle-tier fares have not yet been revealed.The operator has also vowed to improve the carriages used, with a £117m refurbishment of the Pendolinos and a replacement for the Super Voyagers.Matthew Gregory, chief executive of FirstGroup, which owns the franchise with Italian firm Trenitalia, said the change in policy was “about seeing if we can offer a more flexible offering that suits more price points”. Third-class rail travel was abolished in Britain in 1956 and renamed second class before later being branded standard class.In Italy, Trenitalia has four classes on its high-speed Frecciarossa services, while cross-Channel rail operator Eurostar offers three classes of travel. Rail expert Mark Smith, founder of Seat61.com, said: “When it comes to intercity travel, there does seem to be scope for having some extra classes, but it depends what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.”The operator has also announced plans to double the frequency of services on its London-Liverpool route to two trains an hour.”With the modelling that we’ve carried out, we believe Liverpool is a market that is underserved,” said FirstGroup managing director Steve Montgomery.”If you’ve got a half-hour frequency, people are more inclined just to turn up and go. I think that’s really important for that market.”The operator has also promised to improve catering on board its services and offer more reliable wi-fi.
A teddy bear that was said to have been present during World War Two battles has sold at auction for £4,000.The bear was a gift to 76-year-old Tom Matthews, of Stafford, from his father after the war.His father, Tom Snr, received it from a Dutch woman after he was stationed in her village which had been “stripped bare” by German forces, in 1944.Used as a pillow at the time, it was bought by a teddy bear collector from London.Mr Matthews said his father had used the bear as a pillow when he slept in his tank during the Battle of the Bulge.He also said the bear had crossed the Rhine, come under shell fire and was on display during an Allies’ victory parade in Berlin.Latest news from the West MidlandsJill Gallone, from Hansons Auctioneers, said it sold for 10 times its low estimate of £400. It was bought by Kirsty Johnston from Barnet, London, who has a collection of over 1,000 bears.”We are absolutely delighted for both the seller and the buyer. It is a wonderful result and we are delighted for all concerned,” she said.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
Tonnes of rubbish have been dumped in the grounds of a derelict hall in the West Midlands.The fly tipping at Grade-II listed Great Barr Hall is enough to fill about 15 bin lorries and is causing a strong smell, resident Sally Hall said.One resident said he estimated up to four tonnes of rubbish had been dumped there.The land is privately owned but councillors have been to visit the site since it happened on Saturday.A smaller amount of rubbish has also been dumped on the nearby Nether Hall housing estate, which is owned by Bovis.The hall landowners have yet to get in touch with Walsall Council to discuss the removal of the rubbish, councillor Mike Bird said.Latest news and updates in the West MidlandsMs Hill said she was shocked by what she and other residents had seen.”It’s never happened [there] before, I’ve never seen fly tipping on this scale anywhere before, it’s obscene,” she said.”The smell is unreal,” she said.”When it rains it’s going to wash such a lot of disgusting material into the stream adjacent to it.”‘We will find you”Mr Bird said he estimated between three or four tonnes of waste had been left.He said he understood the perpetrators cut locks on the gates to access the hall’s land and then added new ones.CCTV cameras in the area are being checked, he added.”The message is, we will find you and prosecute you,” he said.”It’s not alright to dump rubbish like this,” he said.According to Historic England, Great Barr Hall is an 18th century landscaped park associated with a country house. It also has links to landscape designer Humphry Repton and architects John Nash and George Gilbert Scott.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
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