from BBC News for Staffordshire

Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Stoke and Staffordshire From:

Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Stoke and Staffordshire From:

Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Stoke and Staffordshire From:

A family has raised thousands for a life-saving motorbike in memory of a police officer who died in a crash. Luke Van de Sande, 28, was killed when when his bike left the road and hit a tree in Staffordshire.His family is fundraising for a DocBike, to be ridden by volunteers who will deliver emergency roadside care and point riders to training sessions.”We just don’t want anyone else to go through this,” said his mother Carol Close.Mr Van de Sande, of Trentham, who served with Staffordshire Police, crashed in Cold Meece, near Stone, last August.”He was so happy, mischievous and fun….Even on the darkest of days he could lift the spirits of anybody,” Ms Close added.Latest news from the West MidlandsThe Luke’s Legacy fund has so far raised £9,000 for the DocBike charity, and Staffordshire Police, who said Mr Van de Sande was “greatly missed”, have donated a decommissioned motorbike.It will be the first time DocBike has expanded outside Dorset, where it started in 2013, with further vehicles planned for Northamptonshire and Yorkshire.”When motorcyclists are involved in high speed collisions it’s often too late,” said charity founder and intensive care consultant Dr Ian Mew.”We try and make them aware of why motorcyclists get knocked off their bikes and make sure it doesn’t happen to them,” he added.DocBikes are equipped to provide roadside care in an emergency, but must be ridden by clinicians with advanced motorcycle training.According to DfT figures, 354 motorcyclists died in 2018, accounting for 20% of road user fatalities.Dr Mew estimates his scheme could save 250 lives a year if rolled out nationwide.A further £15-20,000 needs to be raised to equip the Staffordshire bike before it can be used.Midlands Air Ambulance said it was talking to DocBike but was not yet in a position to provide clinicians.West Midlands Ambulance service (WMAS) said it was not aware of any advanced clinicians with the necessary motorcycle training but would be happy to look at the practicalities if that changed.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

Stoke City striker Tyrese Campbell has signed a new four-and-a-half-year deal with the Championship club.Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic were both reportedly interested in the 20-year-old son of ex-Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin Campbell, whose current deal expires at the end of the season.But Campbell has now committed himself to the relegation-threatened Potters.

“I’m really pleased that Tyrese has decided to stay with us,” said Stoke manager Michael O’Neill.”He’s an exciting young player with a great deal of potential. It would have been a real shame to see him develop and progress with another club.”We’ve spoken at length. I’ve assured him he will continue to get opportunities in the first-team if he continues to perform at the level we all know he’s capable of.”Stoke City v Swansea CityJoe Allen expects to remain at StokeCampbell will miss Saturday’s home game with Swansea City, having picked up a hamstring injury after scoring the winner in Monday night’s 1 -0 win at Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion, a result that lifted the Potters four points clear of trouble.After making his breakthough at Stoke with four substitute appearances at the back end of their Premier League era in April 2018, he scored twice on his first Potters start – in last season’s FA Cup third-round replay defeat by Shrewsbury Town.He then had a successful loan stint at Shrewsbury, scoring five times for Sam Ricketts’ League One side.He has had more of a chance at Stoke this season, both under Nathan Jones and O’Neill, since his arrival in November.Campbell scored the opener in what proved to be O’Neill’s last win as Stoke boss – the 2-0 home win over Fulham.That was the first in a run of five goals in Stoke’s last nine league matches – and the Potters have won all the four game he has netted in.Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes said: “It’s no secret that there has been some uncertainty about his future with the club as he was attracting a lot of interest, including from clubs in the Premier League.”He has already formed a good relationship with Michael O’Neill and we are really pleased that he feels he can fulfil his ambitions as a Stoke City player.”

Amazon is to get a multimillion-pound tax rebate after a legal row over the size of one of its warehouses.Cannock Chase District Council will have to repay the online retail giant in the region of £3m and has warned this will “severely deplete” its funds.The authority said business rates on the site in Staffordshire were revised after Amazon argued its mezzanine floors did not count as floor space. Amazon said its payments locally were part of its £18bn UK investment.Critics say the company, one of the richest in the world, should be paying higher not lower business rates, and complain there is no “level playing field” between Amazon and other retailers.The firm has previously come under fire for the amount of UK corporation tax it pays. The local authority says while financial details are still to be ironed out, it expects to repay Amazon about £3.2m overall, with the refund back-dated to the 2011 opening of the site in Rugeley.Council estimates also suggest Amazon’s ongoing liability will reduce from £1.7m to £1.25m annually, following the revaluation.Stuart Richards, of union GMB West Midlands, said: “It looks like Amazon is happy to rely on our vital public services, but then pay as little as possible to actually support them.”A question of flooring had unfairly skewed recalculations in Amazon’s favour, the council’s town centre regeneration boss said.Citing an economic “blow”, Gordon Alcott added Amazon was additionally benefiting from its site being deemed “basic”.Original rates appealed by Amazon had related to the occupied floor area, Mr Alcott said, with rent payable per square metre. But a revision was made “due to mezzanine floors not counting” as floor area.As Amazon, he added, branded the Rugeley site a fulfilment centre – in that it supplied goods direct to the customer – the rates system saw it as a “basic” warehouse rather than a retail one.”[This] means that Amazon is paying substantially less than retail warehouses, and a fraction of the cost per square metre of high street shops.”Saying he felt sorry for town centres, Mr Alcott said there was not a “level playing field”.An Amazon spokesperson said: “Business rates are part of Amazon’s broader £18bn investment in the UK since 2010”, adding payments contributed to a total tax contribution of £793m during 2018.

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No-one took full account of how complex and risky the HS2 high-speed rail project was likely to be, says the government spending watchdog.The Department for Transport (DfT) and HS2 Ltd did not allow for all uncertainties when estimating initial costs, said the National Audit Office.In 2015, HS2 was due to cost £56bn.Earlier this week, however, a leaked government-commissioned review suggested that the total could reach £106bn.The DfT and HS2 Ltd “have not adequately managed risks to taxpayer money”, the NAO said in a progress update.This led to the project being over budget and behind schedule, it added.”Significant challenges to completing the programme and delivering value for taxpayers and shareholders remain,” the NAO report said.Lessons to learnThe first phase of the project, between London and Birmingham, is due to open at the end of 2026, with the second phase to Leeds and Manchester expected to be completed by 2032-33.Despite concerns about the rail link, Europe’s largest infrastructure project, work is not on hold and the project currently gets through about £250m a month.Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “There are important lessons to be learned from HS2, not only for the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd, but for other major infrastructure programmes. “To ensure public trust, the Department and HS2 Ltd must be transparent and provide realistic assessments of costs and completion dates as the programme develops, recognising the many risks to the successful delivery of the railway that remain.”A DfT spokesperson said: “The department has supported this review and is already acting on many of its recommendations. To ensure transparency around the project, we have worked closely with the NAO to provide information on the latest cost and schedule estimates for HS2. “We recognise that there have been significant underestimations of both the cost and schedule of HS2 in the past, which is why we commissioned the Oakervee review to provide advice on whether and how to proceed with HS2.”Employers’ organisation the CBI said that whatever the misgivings, the project should go ahead.Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, said: “HS2 is an ambitious project and the National Audit Office’s report usefully highlights the challenges of delivering large-scale infrastructure. But what is clear to the CBI, and business generally, is the colossal cost of not delivering HS2. “If the government truly believes in levelling up the regions, especially the Midlands and the North, it should deliver HS2 in full. “It is exactly the post-Brexit project the government should be championing.”This is a slap on the wrist for HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.When you consider the massive overspend on HS2, headlines about underestimating the scale of the project and not acknowledging associated risks are hardly surprising. As the government decides the fate of the project, there are a few interesting nuggets. The report paints a picture of a high speed line like no other in Europe. HS2 plans 18 trains per hour. Other lines in Europe typically run between two and six trains an hour. The incredibly high spec justifies the high price tag, supporters say. Critics say it’s one reason why the project is flawed. The government’s review of HS2 has looked at a series of options, like reducing the spec of HS2. But as this report acknowledges, civil servants have looked at ways of making the project more affordable before. In short, tinkering with aspects of this project, like reducing the very high speed of the trains, wouldn’t save huge amounts of money. There is a stark contrast in its assessment of the two phases. Although it criticises the substantial overspend on phase one – London to Birmingham – the National Audit Office does now believe that the costings on that part of the project are “robust”. Inevitably phase two – Birmingham to Manchester and Birmingham to Leeds – which is at a very early stage, is in a very different position. In fact phase two is at such an early stage that this report concludes that no assessment for the overall cost of HS2 can be made with any real certainty. We visited two vast construction sites at Curzon Street in Birmingham and in Solihull. When you see the scale and type of work underway, like moving a bridge over a motorway, then it is hard to imagine that the government will pull the plug on phase one. Given the scepticism of some figures within government and recent leaks in the media, the future of phase two is less certain.

A dog walker who said she lost five pets in her care has been banned from keeping animals for five years.Louise Lawford admitted four animal welfare offences relating to her business Pawford Paws in Birmingham.Prosecutors rejected her claim the dogs ran off – but said they could not prove what happened and had to drop charges relating to the pets’ disappearance.She was called a “dog killer” by someone in the public gallery, which the judge described as “outrageous”.Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard Mrs Lawford, from Erdington, had been placed in a position of trust and left customers anguished.The fate of the missing “Tamworth Five”, Ralph, Charlie, Pablo, Maggie and Jack, which disappeared after a walk in Hopwas Woods near Tamworth on 23 June, remains a mystery. Some of the pets’ owners were in court to witness Mrs Lawford being sentenced.”The dogs were never found, despite being chipped and there being extensive searches,” said Jonathan Barker, prosecuting, adding he did not accept Mrs Lawford’s account that the dogs got lost in the woods, but could not prove otherwise.Speaking after the hearing, the dogs’ owners – who say they “know” their pets are dead – said they would take civil action against Mrs Lawford.”It’s a positive outcome because the court just did not believe the dogs were lost,” one owner Becky Parsons said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”She said the past six months had been “an emotional rollercoaster” and that she was so upset at losing her dogs, Pablo and Maggie, that she “couldn’t face going back” to her house and has had to move.The case, brought by Birmingham City Council, has attracted much attention on social media, and Mrs Lawford was called a “dog killer” when she left court briefly before sentencing.Analysis by Phil Mackie, BBC News correspondentDistrict Judge Joanna Dickens was right to describe this as a “very strange case”.The investigation began when the five dogs vanished, but criminal proceedings ended today and we still don’t have any answers. What happened last June remains a mystery.The dogs’ owners are convinced they’re no longer alive, and have their own theories about the circumstances, but we must wait until they bring a civil case against Mrs Lawford before we find out what they think happened.The decision not to pursue charges relating to their disappearance may at first seem baffling, but the owners of the “Tamworth Five” say it will help their civil case, as it means that the dog-sitter’s explanation – that the dogs ran away – hasn’t been accepted in a legal setting.Mrs Lawford’s legal representatives said she had also been sent anonymous death threats online. She said she was suffering “extreme emotional and physical stress” when the dogs vanished in Tamworth in June 2019.Latest news from the West MidlandsShe had separated from her husband in March and suffered a nervous breakdown when she made the “foolish decision” to continue her dog-walking duties, the court heard.Describing it as “a very strange case”, Judge Joanna Dickens expressed frustration she could not take the disappearance of the dogs into account when sentencing Mrs Lawford.The former dog walker, who has already had her licence revoked, admitted breaching conditions including limits on the number of dogs she boarded at any one time, boarding dogs from different homes, as well as failing to seek treatment for the dog with a skin condition.Mrs Lawford’s defence said she expressed “extreme and continuing remorse for what happened to the dogs”.”This is well-intentioned but incompetent care,” her legal representative Tom Walking said.The 49-year-old was fined £800 and banned from owning dogs for five years for breaching her licence conditions and failing to seek treatment for the dog that developed a skin condition while in her care. She must also pay costs of £2,616 and a victim surcharge of £80.Her sentence means she will have to give up her elderly pet labrador.Birmingham City Council welcomed the sentence, calling the case “unusual and upsetting”.”Only Mrs Lawford knows the truth of what happened to the five beloved pets placed in her care,” said Vicky Allwood, the council’s senior animal welfare officer.Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone

Port Vale striker Tom Pope has been given a one-match suspension for improper comments made on Twitter, the Football Association has announced.The 34-year-old has also been fined £1,500 after a breach of FA Rule E3 was found proven by an independent panel.BBC Radio Stoke reports the charge is unrelated to the investigation into a social media post earlier this month, which some alleged to be anti-Semitic.

In November, Pope was given a one-game ban relating to his social media use.As a result of his latest suspension, Pope will miss Saturday’s League Two match away at leaders Swindon Town.Pope also made the news with a tweet he posted last summer mocking John Stones.The former Crewe, Rotherham and Bury striker claimed he would score 40 goals every season if he played against the Manchester City and England defender every week – a prediction he revised to 50 goals per season after scoring against City in the FA Cup third round on 4 January.

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