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Long-serving Midlands MP to stand down

Black Country MP Sir Richard Shepherd is to stand down Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

One of the West Midlands’ longest-serving MPs is to stand down after 35 years in Parliament.

Black Country MP Sir Richard Shepherd has written to the chairman of his constituency party to say he will not stand again at next year’s general election.

The Tory, who has represented Aldridge-Brownhills since 1979, is 71. He was knighted in 2003.

Coventry to stage Monaco-style motorsport racing

Monaco-style street racing is set to come to Coventry next year, becoming the first city in recent times to stage competitive motorsport on its public roads in the UK.

The city council has given the go ahead to the racing by using new government laws designed to allow cities to host motorsport events.

Coventry's ring road Credit: ITV News Central

British Formula 3 cars and British Touring Car Championship cars will be among the vehicles used.

The organisers of the Coventry Motofest 2015 event will stage competitive time trials on Coventry's ring road following on from the Government's decision to grant councils powers to turn public roads into temporary racetracks.

Racing will be subject to approval by the Motosport Industry Association (MIA).

Action in the pouring rain as the cars speed around Birmingham streets in 1986 Credit: Sport and General/S&G and Barratts/EMPICS Sport

The last time competitive motor racing came to a Midlands city was the Birmingham Superprix in the 1980s.

Sponsored by Halfords, racers competed around a street circuit in Birmingham city centre from 1986 to 1990.

A British Touring car Credit: Nigel French/EMPICS Sport

"We are so excited to announce competitive motor sport on the Coventry Ring Road.

With Coventry's rich motoring heritage and history, it feels like the right fit to be racing in Coventry and we can't wait to make it happen."

– James Noble, Motofest Festival Director

"I'm really delighted that we will see some competitive time trials on our iconic Ring Road as part of Motofest next year.

We have a rich motoring history and I don't believe there is a more appropriate city to host an event like this. Our city centre was transformed into a showcase celebration of the city's rich motoring history but this event also provides a glimpse into our automotive future."

– Cllr Abdul Khan, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Sports, Parks and Events

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Coventry Council warns of further cuts to services

Coventry City Council's budget gap is expected to increase to £65m by 2017/18 Credit: BPM Media

Coventry City Council has warned that government spending cuts will continue to put services under pressure and that they will never return to pre-2010 levels.

The budget gap - which currently stands at £15.1million - is set to increase to £65million by 2017/18.

Councillor Damian Gannon, the Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources, has said that difficult decisions will have to be made about services ahead of next year's budget setting.

"We’re facing some stark choices over the coming months, and it’s important we’re honest with residents about these choices. There’s no doubt people will be losing services they’ve come to take for granted.

“But we’re absolutely determined to use scarce resources to make sure our most vulnerable residents – children and old people alike – continue to be protected.

“At the same time we’d be failing Coventry people if we didn’t continue to invest in the city and its future.

"But in other areas we will be making decisions that will mean reducing or cutting services completely. Over the coming couple of months councillors will be looking at the detail of options being developed by council officers to help us meet the budget gap, but they’ll have very little choice about where to make cuts.”

– Councillor Damian Gannon, the Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources

Council chief: Some services will simply have to go

Bosses at Birmingham City Council have warned that some services currently used by residents will be lost altogether as part of sweeping budget cuts in the coming years.

The authority – which has already cut around more than £465 million since 2010 – is facing a further £300m of cuts by 2018.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore told ITV News Central they had exhausted options involving devolution to district councils and outsourcing, and warned that some services would be lost completely.

The council has undertaken a review of all its services and ranked them, with those coming lowest more likely to face severe job cuts or to be axed altogether.

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BTP holding preventable railway suicide conference

British Transport Police, along with Samaritan volunteers, are holding a conference in Coventry today to talk about what more can be done to reduce the number of preventable suicides on railways.

A stock photo of a train Credit: Lewis Stickley/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Official figures show there have already been 279 suicides or suspected suicides on the rail network this year.

Network Rail is undertaking a series of trials, including installing calming blue lights on platforms. Sensors will also be added near the platform edges which will be triggered when someone gets too close.

Extra £30m pledged for Birmingham children's services

An extra £30 million will be ploughed into Birmingham’s troubled children’s services department next year, with new jobs to be created, it can be revealed today.

It comes as the council struggles to find an extra £300m in expected cutbacks in the coming years.

City council leader Sir Albert Bore said the extra money will be spent on bringing the department up to scratch, including recruiting a number of new social workers.

He added that bosses were hoping for “some good news soon” in the hunt for a new director of children’s services, after their last appointment Bernie McNally quit in the middle of her month-long induction period. He argued that problems recruiting and retaining social workers was not a problem exclusive to Birmingham.

Sir Albert said the authority would be applying to the government in the hope of receiving extra funding to help improve the department, which has been rated as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted for the past six years.

Birmingham City Council has to make £300m cuts in the next four years Credit: PA

But, he warned, if the answer from Westminster was no, the money would have to come from yet more budget cuts.

The council has already made some £465msavings since 2010, with more than £300m of cutbacks still to come by 2018.

Sir Bore’s comments came ahead of the release of a consultation report, which is appealing for people to contribute their views on where the axe should fall ahead of the 2015/16 budget.

Pat McFadden becomes Shadow Minister for Europe

Pat McFadden, the Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East, is joining Labour’s Foreign Affairs team as Shadow Minister for Europe, Labour Leader Ed Miliband announced today.

Pat McFadden MP Credit: PA

He takes over from Gareth Thomas who moves within the Foreign Affairs team to become Shadow Minister covering the Middle East and North Africa.

Ian Lucas goes from the Foreign Affairs team to Defence covering international security strategy.

Yvonne Fovargue moves from Defence to Education replacing Rushanara Ali as Shadow Minister for Young People.

I’m delighted to be joining the front bench at this crucial time.

I want to make the hard-headed, patriotic case for both Britain in Europe and for change in Europe so that it works for working people.

Labour believes that Europe can and must be made to work better for Britain but we understand that the right road for Britain is change in Europe, not exit from Europe.

– Pat McFadden MP

John Mann MP uses Twitter to gather alleged historic abuse information

John Mann, the MP for Bassetlaw in Nottinghamshire, has taken to social media to gather information about allegations of historic child abuse.

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