from BBC News for Birmingham and the Black Country
LGBT+ leaders have called for a visit to Sheffield by an American evangelist to be cancelled claiming he promotes homophobic views.Franklin Graham is due to appear at Sheffield Arena in June as part of an eight-city tour of the UK, which is not open to the public.Mr Graham, the son of the late preacher Billy Graham, has said he believes gay marriage is a “sin”.Sheffield City Trust, which runs the venue, does “not endorse the views”.Mr Graham has been contacted for comment.The protest letter said: “Franklin Graham has repeatedly publicly promoted his homophobic beliefs.”Sent to the Sheffield City Trust, it was signed by 22 representatives of the city’s LGBT+ community.David Grey, chairman of the trust, said it supported the “right to free speech and freedom of expression whilst promoting equality and freedom from hatred and abuse.”There was “a potential conflict between these two moral stances”, but he had met with faith groups from the city and taken advice from South Yorkshire Police, he said.The event was not open to the public and “if individuals or groups aren’t breaking the law then their right to speak freely should be respected,” he added.The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association UK’s website said the tour meant “the truth of Jesus Christ will be preached amongst a nation searching for answers”.More stories from YorkshireCouncillors wrote a cross-party letter to organisers earlier this month warning the visit could lead to protests.The Bishop of Sheffield Pete Wilcox said in November: “Mr Graham’s rhetoric is repeatedly and unnecessarily inflammatory and in my opinion represents a risk to the social cohesion of our city.”Sheffield City Council said it had “just become aware” of the booking and it was not a decision made by the council.The tour during May and June is to also include venues in Glasgow, Newcastle, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham and London.Follow BBC Yorkshire on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coventry City and Birmingham City will both have around half of the available tickets for their FA Cup fourth-round tie at St Andrew’s on 25 January.As the designated ‘home’ side, Coventry, who are groundsharing with Blues this season, will have use of the home dressing room.The two clubs have come to an agreement over the ticket allocation.
But Blues supporters will not be allowed to use their traditional Tilton Road home end.Birmingham fans have been allocated the Main Stand as well as the Gil Merrick Stand Upper and the current home section of the Gil Merrick Stand Lower at the Railway End of the ground. The away section of the Gil Merrick Stand Lower will not be used.Coventry win to set up Sky Blues-Blues derbyCoventry will have use of the Kop Stand as they have had for their home games this season, with the option of using the Tilton Road End if required.The game has also been confirmed as a standard Saturday 15:00 GMT kick-off.In a club statement, Birmingham City said: “Both clubs are conscious of the unique circumstances of this match.”Coventry and Blues have worked closely together this season in making the groundshare arrangement as successful as possible, developing a friendly and productive relationship between the clubs.”And we will continue that work for this tie, to ensure a great experience for all supporters on what has already become an eagerly awaited local derby.”Both Coventry and ourselves hope that all supporters will embrace the uniqueness of the game and make it a memorable show of unity in football.”It’s good to shareAfter Old Trafford was bombed during World War Two, Manchester United shared neighbours Manchester City’s then home at Maine Road. A crowd of 81,962 saw their game with Arsenal in January 1948 and remains United’s record ‘home’ crowd – and the second highest gate ever for an English league game.Charlton Athletic left The Valley in September 1985 to share with south London rivals Crystal Palace. They were at Selhurst Park until Wimbledon moved in as new tenants in 1992. The Addicks then spent a further half season sharing with West Ham at Upton Park before returning to The Valley in December 1992. After leaving Plough Lane in 1991, Wimbledon spent 12 seasons sharing with Palace, before being allowed to relocate to Milton Keynes in 2003. Wimbledon and Palace spent seven seasons in the same division in that era – in which Palace played eight away games at Selhurst Park, seven in the league and another in the League Cup in October 1994.Chester spent two seasons playing in Division Three at Macclesfield’s Moss Rose from August 1990 to May 1992 – a 74-mile round trip. When Macclesfield then won the Conference two seasons later to earn promotion to the Football League, they were denied as their ground was considered not up to league standard.Brighton spent 14 years between leaving the Goldstone Ground in 1997 and moving into their current stadium at Falmer in 2011. The first two of those years, before moving to the Withdean Athletics Stadium, were spent making the 148-mile round trip to Gillingham for home games.Coventry previously made the near 70-mile round trip to Sixfields to groundshare with Northampton for the whole 2013-14 season and the opening two home games of the following campaign, before returning to the Ricoh Arena in September 2014.
Alfred Critchley, 99, has had faeces and dirty water flooding his garden for three months from a burst manhole cover.His son David Critchley, is increasingly concerned for his health and said he made repeated calls to the authorities in Birmingham to fix the problem.Severn Trent Water has discovered it was caused by a fatberg in the drain caused by grease poured into sinks from nearby properties.It has fixed the problem and the city council said it had contacted its tenant to check on his welfare.
A burglar “must have known” he was walking over a dead woman in order to steal her most valuable belongings, police said.Carl Port, 50, broke into the home of 81-year-old Jean Whitmore as she lay dead on her living room floor in Rydal Way, Hall Green, on 26 April.Ms Whitmore had died of natural causes about 10 days before Port raided her home.He was jailed for six years for fraud and burglary at Birmingham Crown Court.Detectives were called to investigate the death as a possible murder, but a post-mortem examination found she died from natural causes and placed the date of death somewhere between 15 and 16 April.Police discovered Ms Whitmore’s bank card was used 12 times after her death and got in touch with her bank to cancel the card. Port, of Hamlet Road, Hall Green, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud, but denied burglary. He was convicted of that charge at Birmingham Crown Court and sentenced on Monday.His home and campervan were searched and three jars full of Ms Whitmore’s jewellery were found inside.Speaking after the case, Det Con Alan Reeves, said: “Port must have known that she was dead, as he would have walked over her in order to get into the house and steal her most valuable belongings.”It’s truly shocking that he didn’t call for help or let anyone know that she’d died. It’s even more shocking that he continued to use her bank card up until it was cancelled six days later.”In a statement released by Ms Whitmore’s family they said she was “such a proud lady and she wouldn’t want to bother anybody”.”When Jean passed away we were shocked to find out not only that she’d died but had in fact been burgled in her own home as she lay deceased. It was truly shocking.”
A whistleblowing former detective has called for police officers to be prosecuted for “deliberately ignoring” the sexual abuse of young girls. Maggie Oliver said historical abuse between 2003 and 2005 was met by “gross criminal neglect at the top echelons” of Greater Manchester Police (GMP).On Tuesday a report criticised the way authorities handled cases and GMP later admitted “authorities fell short”.The force has been asked to respond to Ms Oliver’s comments.Ms Oliver, who resigned over the way cases in Rochdale were handled by the force, said: “These are not mistakes – I want to make it absolutely clear – these were deliberate acts to bury and ignore the abuse of many, many vulnerable children.” The independent review focussed on the 2003 death of 15-year-old Victoria Agoglia and its aftermath.Police identified at least 97 suspects, but “very few” faced justice, its authors found.GMP’s Operation Augusta was set up in February 2004 to tackle “the sexual exploitation throughout a wide area of a significant number of children in the care system by predominantly Asian men”, the report said.A major investigation team quickly identified 26 potential victims and 97 people potentially involved in child sexual exploitation. But, 16 months later, Augusta had been formally closed. That decision, the report’s authors said, was “driven by the decision by senior officers to remove the resources from the investigation rather than a sound understanding that all lines of enquiry had been successfully completed or exhausted.”One of the officers identified in the report as “Chief Superintendent A” is the serving Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, who, at the time, was a GMP divisional commander.’Very sorry’In a statement, he denied being involved in Operation Augusta or telling a meeting that the operation would close on 1 July 2005 because he was “unable to put permanent staff” into the investigation.”Whilst I have no recollection of this discussion and no other documents are held by GMP in this case I do not believe an investigation of this type initiated at a Force Level would have been terminated by a local commander. “It is clear Greater Manchester Police and Manchester City Council should have done a better job. As a member of the force at that time, I am very sorry we did not do a better job. “However I am very clear I would not have closed an investigation like this.”
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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said there had been an institutional mindset in which young, vulnerable girls were not seen as the victims but as the problem.Ms Oliver said she was relieved the report had given “public exposure” to “the failures of the authorities to deal with serious sexual abuse of dozens of children”.She continued: “My real anger about the whole of this 15-year journey is that the report makes it very clear that we had absolutely sufficient evidence to prosecute these serial paedophiles.”And for that, we need accountability. This was gross criminal neglect at the top echelons of Greater Manchester Police. Covering up the truth.”For me, accountability means taking those senior officers who made these decisions in front of a court. They should be charged with misconduct in a public office.”
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Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor for the North West, said he believed police made budgeting and “resourcing” decisions before people’s safety.He said: “Resourcing is a choice. And senior leaders in policing chose to allow children to be raped.”I think Maggie has put her finger on it. It was a culture. “We didn’t understand grooming back then. Grooming was a relatively new concept for people in policing to understand.”They seemed to think that because the victims weren’t coming forward, there was nothing to worry about.”
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A fire at a restaurant which tore through 80% of the site and saw a partial roof collapse is thought by investigators to have started accidentally.Crews were called to African Village in Perry Barr, Birmingham, shortly before 16:00 GMT on Tuesday.Forty firefighters attended the blaze on Birchfield Road at its peak.Crews are set to return to check for hotspots on Wednesday after extinguishing the flames overnight.West Midlands Fire Service said investigators believed the blaze started accidentally, but inquiries into the cause would continue.Birchfield Road was closed by emergency services during the operation and reopened in the early hours of Wednesday, but the fire service warned traffic could still be affected. On Tuesday evening, the fire service said a ladder was used to rescue a man from a first-floor window of the restaurant, while another person escaped unaided. A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said its crews were not required to attend as “no persons were injured”.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.
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When Morgan Gibbs-White was called a “monkey” during the Under-17 World Cup final three years ago, it was the second time he had been racially abused. The first had been during an English Schools national cup quarter-final.”I think I was about 15,” the Wolves forward tells BBC Sport. “We were winning 4-0 or 5-0 and there was a heated situation. One of their players started being racist to me. He eventually got kicked out of the sport.”
The alleged perpetrator of the second incident avoided a similar fate. During the match, which England won 5-2, Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster asked Gibbs-White if he had heard one of the Spanish players call him a “monkey”. Gibbs-White said he had, but wondered whether he was alone in thinking that.The incident was raised with world governing body Fifa, which ruled a year later there was not “sufficient evidence” to warrant punishment.Gibbs-White had become a statistic – another professional footballer who had been racially abused.During that season, anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out reported there were 304 complaints of discriminatory behaviour relating to race and faith in England. That increased to 334 the following season, and there was a further 43% increase in racist abuse alone during 2018-19.”Racism will never stop,” says Gibbs-White. “I think because racism is talked about a lot more, this is what racist people thrive off. They step out of line and try to create a scene or make a statement.”Despite that, the 19-year-old is hopeful about the future. He adds: “With more awareness, the more it should die down. It’s not fair to judge people on the colour of their skin. We’re here to play football and not get verbally abused.”Government must work with FA on racism – Elliott’Cyrille became like a family member’During his formative years, Gibbs-White came to the attention of former England striker Cyrille Regis.Regis, a football icon who fought prejudice during three decades as a player, was an agent at the time and had been alerted to Gibbs-White’s talents by the player’s father, who had become a good friend.”He used to come and watch me a lot, all over the country,” Gibbs-White says proudly. “He said he wanted to work with me and help me become a better player. “From then we clicked – he became like a family member.”
British number one Dan Evans beat Alexander Bublik to reach the quarter finals of the Adelaide International.Evans needed just 75 minutes to beat Kazakhstan’s Bublik 7-5 6-2.The Briton, who will be seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time when the Australian Open begins on 20 January, will face either Russia’s Andrey Rublev or American Sam Querrey next.
Elsewhere, Britain’s Kyle Edmund claimed his first victory of the year at the Auckland Open.Edmund, who has slipped to 67 in the world rankings, beat Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich 6-2 4-6 6-3.He will play either Italy’s Andreas Seppi or French seventh seed Adrian Mannarino in the second round.Live scores, schedule and resultsPlayers struggle with poor air quality in Melbourne
Trips through Birmingham city centre by private cars could be banned under plans to cut traffic and pollution. Private vehicles will be able to drive into the city, but would have to go to the ring road to access other areas. In a newly published transport plan the city council is also looking at rerouting the A38 and making residential roads a 20mph limit. It said it wanted to encourage the greater use of public transport, walking and cycling.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.