from BBC News for Staffordshire

Billy McKinlay has been appointed as Stoke City’s new assistant manager.The former Watford boss, who has also had coaching spells with Fulham, West Ham and in Norway and Spain, links up again with new manager Michael O’Neill.The 50-year-old was O’Neill’s number two with Northern Ireland from 2012 to 2014 before leaving take charge of Watford for just eight days.

O’Neill and McKinlay’s relationship stretches back to their time as players with Dundee United in the 1990s.”I’ve seen Billy work at both club and international level and I know that he’s an excellent coach who I believe is a great fit for us,” said O’Neill, who will stand down as Northern Ireland manager following the conclusion of their Euro 2020 play-offs in March.

One in three young people has not registered to vote, according to the Electoral Commission.Youth worker Jerahl Hall, from Stoke-on-Trent, is trying to persuade young people in his home city to vote in the general election.The 27-year-old works at the city’s YMCA. He has spent the past few years trying to educate people about why they should take part in the democratic process. The deadline to register to vote is 26 November. A film by Catherine Mackie

A payout for residents who lost their retirement homes in a fire was delayed for two months due to a council error.About £58,000 was raised for 130 residents of the Beechmere complex, Crewe, which was devastated by fire.A motion to approve the distribution of the funds should have been made in September but was missed off an agenda, Crewe Town Council said.The meeting was finally held last night and residents will receive about £450 each, but it is not known when.Claire Bagnall, whose 86-year old mother Norma lived in a block destroyed by the blaze in August, called the procedural error “frustrating.””It was a bit careless that it wasn’t listed in the last meeting. It’s an exceptional circumstance, it should have been at the top of their agenda to look after these people,” she said.”I think if they could do it before Christmas, people would be really grateful.”Latest news from the West MidlandsFormer resident Marleene Williams, who lost “everything” in the fire, said she was pleased to hear the money would be split equally.”There’s some residents that still don’t have anything – no furniture, no clothes – so this will come in very useful to try and rebuild their lives. I’d like to thank everybody on behalf of all the residents,” she said.It is not yet known how soon the transfer, which is subject to a legal agreement with landlord Your Housing, will take place.The council, which is holding the funds, has been buying items for the residents in the interim. “On 24th September, council met and expressed a clear desire that monies be transferred. Regrettably this desire did not constitute a formal decision as the issue had not been listed… on the agenda,” a spokesman added.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

The number of compensation claims from West Midlands Trains passengers is currently 10 times higher than average, the BBC has learnt.Figures show 32,000 Delay Repay claims were made in the last month, with about 50% covering half-term week.It follows several weeks of delays, cancellations and strike action.The company, which received about 3,000 claims before a new timetable in May, apologised to passengers, particularly for problems during half term.West Midlands Trains operates London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railways, running services from London Euston to Birmingham and around the Midlands.The figures seen by the BBC relate only to its operations on West Midlands Railways.Passenger Jo Martyr travels to Birmingham from Worcester and said fewer carriages has meant more overcrowding which makes journeys “anxiety inducing”.Season ticket holder Melissa Blewitt said she was claiming over delays to her journeys to the city from Malvern in Worcestershire, but said refunds have sometimes just been pennies. She said: “32p to suffer and not getting home until 10pm at night. It’s fairly appalling really.”It doesn’t justify the conditions we have to suffer and on a daily basis.”Latest updates in the West MidlandsFrancis Thomas, from the operator, apologised for passengers “having to claim at all”.He added: “I would say not enough people do make claims. We would like to see more people claim the compensation they are entitled to.”Mr Thomas said 99% of the claims are paid within 10 days and that annual season ticket holders get a discounted fare and so compensation for delays of between 15 to 29 minutes will be a low figure.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

A dog owner who stabbed his pet then drowned it in a canal was convicted after the RSPCA’s first bone marrow test was used in a prosecution. Chester Magistrate’s Court heard Brendan Murphy, who lives on a barge at Nantwich, anchored his dog Tara with a chain before throwing it in the water.Mr Murphy, 52, has been banned from keeping animals for ten years and given a 10-week suspended sentence.”It is upsetting to think about what she must have endured,” said the RSPCA.The charity was alerted after the decomposed body of the Japanese Akita, was found floating in the Shropshire Union at Nantwich on 6 October 2018, with a chain attached to her abdomen.A post-mortem revealed the animal had been stabbed twice before entering the water alive, where it remained for around three weeks after it perished, the RSPCA said.The vet also found Tara was suffering from a lung disease at the time of her death, which was left untreated.Latest news from the West MidlandsThe dog’s microchip identified Mr Murphy as the owner.At first he claimed he had been unable to afford veterinary treatment and had buried his pet in woodland near Nantwich after she died on the barge, returning later to find the body disappeared, said the RSPCA.But after the charity sent samples from the animal for forensic testing, canal algae present in the dog’s bone marrow confirmed Tara died from drowning, the court heard.The RSPCA said it used this technique, commonly employed by police, because the dog’s body was so badly decomposed. At the hearing on 11 November Mr Murphy was found guilty of three charges of causing unnecessary suffering to his dog by failing to provide veterinary treatment, as well as stabbing and drowning it.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

An additional 186 Sunday train services have been announced by Transport for Wales. The train operating company said Sunday services would be “transformed” from December by a 40% increase. It said it was a “significant step towards the creation of a truly seven-day railway”.Economy and Transport Minister Ken Skates described it as a “dramatic increase” in services that would “increase connectivity”. Transport for Wales (TfW) said the new services would provide a boost to tourism and provide “essential links between cities, towns and villages”.  The announcement includes: Four services in each direction between Llandudno Junction and Blaenau Ffestiniog, making it a year-round service
The single service between Machynlleth and Pwllheli increased to five in each direction
A Cardiff Central to Maesteg service for the first time
More than doubling the number of services between Cardiff Central and Swansea from 14 to to 29
Services from Cardiff to Gloucester starting two hours earlier than during the December 2018 timetable
Faster direct journey times between Shrewsbury and Crewe with most Marches services stops removed, and stopping services increasing from nine to 16
Services between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury increasing from 16 to 21
The Chester to Crewe summer service becoming year-round
Thirty-two new services between Llandudno and Llandudno Junction
Seven extra services between Rhymney and Cardiff
Services to or from Caerphilly increasing from 16 to 45
Hourly service between Treherbert and Cardiff, increasing from 15 to 28
Enhanced Barry Island service, making it similar to the current summer timetable all year
The Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay shuttle will increase from 100 services to 130 and will run until 22:00 – previously services finished at 19:00
The summer timetable along the north Wales coast will run all year
Mr Skates said: “Transport is fundamental to the success of our economy in Wales and this dramatic increase in the number of Sunday services will increase connectivity between our cities, towns and villages.”These services will improve access for social, recreational and educational opportunities, as well as employment opportunities. Later services will also increase options for people attending late night events across the country.”James Price, chief executive for Transport for Wales, said: “This significant increase in Sunday services is an important commitment that we made when we launched our new rail service over a year ago, and follows the successful launch of our May 2019 timetable, where we introduced direct services between Liverpool and Wrexham for the first time in decades.”We hope that our customers and potential customers will welcome these services as an important step in building a transport network that the people of Wales can be truly proud of.”

Ten people have been arrested in raids across England in an international human trafficking investigation.A total of eight women aged 18 to 30 were rescued during the operation led by South Yorkshire Police, which was supported by officers from Romania.The women were taken to a “place of safety” and the suspects, eight men and two women, remain in custody.Addresses were raided in Staffordshire, Norfolk, London and the Northumbria force area.The suspects, who are aged between 19 and 38, were held on suspicion of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and money laundering.Similar activity took place in Romania while the UK warrants were being executed, resulting in the arrest of a 37-year-old man.

Sixty dogs have been rehomed after they were recovered from a suspected puppy farm.The canines, which included Chihuahuas, German shepherds and a bullmastiff, were seized from an address in Cannock on 7 October.The Dogs Trust, which took care of the animals, received 600 calls and emails from people all wanting to give them a second chance.The public response was “amazing”, rehoming manger Emma Healey said.The raid was carried out by Staffordshire Police, Cannock Chase Council environmental health service and the Dogs Trust after the owners “declined to surrender them to the care of the council.”An investigation is “ongoing”, a council spokeswoman said.Over half of the rescued dogs were looked after in Kenilworth, while the rest were split between kennels in Shrewsbury and Merseyside.Gemma Bentley, who is adopting two-year-old Chihuahua Penelope, is pleased she can provide a permanent home.”We always said that if we were to have another one we wanted to give a dog a chance at a better home,” said Ms Bentley, from Walsall.While Tracey Sims, from Coventry, is adopting four-year-old Tessa.”Tessa is going to have the best home ever,” she said. “I think it will be really nice to give an old dog a new home.”People pick up puppies quite easily, but the older dogs don’t always get that chance.”Latest news from the West Midlands”We’ve had hundreds of visitors to the centre. It’s been amazing,” said Ms Healey from the Dogs Trust.”We have found homes for all of the dogs and more so. Some of the dogs that were here already have found homes off the back of the appeal.”Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

A man who drowned while swimming in a reservoir on a day out “ignored” safety warnings, a coroner has said.Carl Storer died after getting into difficulties at Chasewater reservoir in Burntwood, Staffordshire, on 30 June.Cannock Coroner’s Court heard the 21-year-old disappeared under the water after going in to get a friend’s child.”People just do not seem to appreciate how cold these lakes and rivers are and how dangerous they are,” said assistant coroner Ian Smith.Mr Smith recorded a conclusion of accidental death and the cause of death as drowning.Mr Storer, from Tamworth, enjoyed a BBQ with friends and their children, aged 10 and 13, before going in to the water, the inquest heard.Emergency services attended the scene but his body was recovered a short time later.It was previously suggested by police that Mr Storer died while trying to save a young girl but the coroner said this was not the case.”Carl went in the water to fetch the children out – he was not saving their lives,” Mr Smith said.”Sadly, it appears that all concerned ignored the warnings they were given around Chasewater.”Giving evidence, Det Sgt Andy Curran, from Staffordshire Police, said there were multiple signs warning of the dangers of swimming in the water.”They would have been obvious to anybody going to the area,” he added.A tribute issued by Mr Storer’s family after his death said he would be “deeply missed”.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

If you want to understand why Labour confounded the polls in 2017 – preventing Theresa May from winning a Commons majority – look no further than Cheshire.Before that snap general election just the spout and lid of this teapot-shaped county were red, including the party’s most marginal constituency in Chester.In the end, their majority in the county town soared from 93 to more than 9,000.To add insult to injury, they took three more seats from the Tories – Weaver Vale, Warrington South and Crewe & Nantwich (which they won by only 48 votes).Labour were able to inspire thousands of people to go to the polls who don’t normally come out to vote. In Chester, for example, the overall turnout rocketed by 5,000 but the Conservative vote didn’t move.The city was flooded with Labour placards and doorknockers. I’m told turnout at the polling station used by the University of Chester’s 10,000 students was significantly up, which it’s thought helped Jeremy Corbyn.But Labour also seems to have benefitted from a lack of smaller competitors – in Weaver Vale, Warrington South and Chester UKIP didn’t stand in 2017, whilst there was no Green candidate in the latter two as well as Crewe & Nantwich.What about the Lib Dems?The Liberal Democrats could have a key role to play in marginal Warrington South, which was a three-way split back in 2010.Conventional wisdom might assume the Lib Dem vote then went to Labour and so could go back now. But Lib Dem support at council elections is centred on the relatively affluent suburbs and villages south of the Manchester Ship Canal, so the party could threaten the Tories too.Jo Swinson’s party has a well-worn infrastructure there, where they’ve been campaigning against the Labour authority’s plans to build 9,000 homes on greenbelt land, whilst attacking the Conservative government’s guidelines which the council must work to.If they are being optimistic, they might even be looking towards the apparently safe Tory seat of Congleton. The Lib Dems used to run the borough council there and took 31% of the vote in 2010.The Brexit factorBoth Labour and the Tories could also have much to fear from the prospect of Brexit Party candidates standing everywhere.They came a clear first in the European elections in the boroughs of Halton and Warrington, suggesting they could damage Labour in their traditional heartlands in seats like Halton, and Warrington North. Crucially it could make a key difference in Runcorn within the marginal seat of Weaver Vale.In Crewe & Nantwich many former UKIP voters seemed to go back to Labour in 2017. Will Mr Corbyn doing his utmost to keep Leave voters from working class Crewe communities onside and away from the Brexit Party and the Conservatives be enough?At the same time the Labour Party knows it needs to reach out to Conservatives in places like Nantwich. Two years ago it scored very well with a high-profile campaign about school funding.Green credentialsAnother campaign issue that the Conservatives may hope to have neutralised is fracking – opposition to it was successfully harnessed by Labour in the Weaver Vale constituency two years ago.Parts of Ince Marshes near the traditionally Conservative areas of Frodsham and Helsby have been targeted by energy firms for the last two years, and earlier this year the vehemently anti-fracking Greens unseated the Tories in Helsby at the council elections.The Conservatives have now called a halt to fracking, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats have advocated a permanent ban.All eyes on Eddisbury?One place that is not normally interesting to watch come election night is the usually safe Conservative seat of Eddisbury – the rural heart of Cheshire plus the town of Winsford – which was finely split in the EU referendum.The sitting MP Antoinette Sandbach was thrown out of her party after rebelling over Brexit and has now joined the Liberal Democrats.She got 29,192 votes last time and her new party got just 2,804. So she has a mountain to climb but we know there are a lot of Remain voters there who seem to have voted Conservative last time round. She will be hoping to unite them behind her.Labour did extremely well in Cheshire two years ago but holding on to its existing seats in the county may well be their limit this year.To take Macclesfield, a town that has been represented by the Conservatives for more than 100 years, Labour would need to repeat the 7% swing from the Tories that they managed two years ago.A hard but not impossible task, perhaps. But if they manage to paint the likes of Macclesfield red, Mr Corbyn may well end up in Downing Street.You can find out who is standing in your constituency by clicking this link and entering your postcode.


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