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HS2 staff could be 'paid more than Prime Minister'

When built HS2 would run from London to Birmingham, then fork up through Staffordshire and to the East Midlands. Credit: HS2 Ltd

The Transport Secretary has said it's vital to get the "best people" working on HS2, after it emerged that thirty staff could be better paid than the Prime Minister.

Patrick McLoughlin says HS2 must attract the 'best people' Credit: PA

The Transport Secretary & Derbyshire Dales MP Patrick McLoughlin said the proposed salaries were within the budget set and would involve hiring engineers with established skills.

But he said all salaries would have to be approved by the Treasury.

Bob Jones' wife criticises election call before funeral

Bob Jones PCC died suddenly on Tuesday Credit: PA

The wife of the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones has said it's disrespectful to call an election before he's even been laid to rest.

The 59 year old died suddenly in his sleep on Tuesday. A by-election was triggered by two electors making a formal demand which means voters will now go to the polls on Thursday 21st August.

Council leaders in Birmingham had hoped the campaign would be delayed until after his funeral.

Read more: Bob Jones: a look back on his life and achievements


Chuka Umunna left red-faced over Worcester radio gaffe

Chuka Umunna MP, Shadow Business Secretary Credit: PA

Chuka Umunna has become the latest high-profile politician to be left red-faced by a local radio gaffe after mispronouncing the name of a well-known West Midlands city.

The Shadow Business Secretary took to the airwaves in Worcester to plug Labour's regional growth policies.

But he so badly mangled its name during an interview that it ended up sounding like "Wichita", the US city made famous by a Glen Campbell hit.

The howler was seized on by BBC Hereford and Worcester which used the song in a segment the next day mocking his error.

Local Tory MP Robin Walker said it proved Mr Umunna, the MP for Streatham in London, was part of a "metropolitan" set which was out of touch with voters beyond the capital.

But a spokesman for the shadow business secretary said "of course" he knew how to pronounce the name of the city and that it had been a simple "mistake".

And he hit out at Conservatives for focusing on the slip rather than debating policies.

The spokesman for the Shadow Business Secretary, said:

This was a mistake in one of many breakfast radio interviews Chuka has done this week promoting Labour's ambitious plans to decentralise power and spur better-balanced growth," he said.

The fact is that of course Chuka knows how to pronounce the name - he simply made a mistake in a live interview.

Rather than engaging with Labour's plans to boost local growth and help small businesses, local Tories are instead focusing on a mistake in a radio interview.

A key marginal seat, "Worcester Woman" was one of the groups of voters targeted by Tony Blair as he secured a landslide win for Labour in 1997.

Mr Walker told MailOnline:

There is a serious side to this. It shows that they continue to be a metropolitan party focused on the big cities, rather than places like Worcester. Chuka should know better - he has been to Worcester.

His leader has been something like eight times in three years. Every time he comes their share of the vote has fallen. So I hope they keep coming, and eventually they will learn the name of the place.

Labour leader Ed Miliband faced embarrassment when he was unable to name the Labour leader in Swindon during a radio interview in the Wiltshire town and Prime Minister David Cameron denied Chelmsford had been unfairly targeted for cuts - when he was on air in neighbouring Colchester.

Firefighters stage seven hour strike over pensions row

by Chris Halpin

Firefighters across the Midlands walked out for seven hours today in a row over pensions.

More than two hundred firefighters joined a rally in Birmingham City Centre to protest against government plans to increase the retirement age to sixty and for firefighters to pay more into their pension pots.

Over 30 incidents in West Midlands during fire strike

More than 30 incidents were reported to the West Midlands fire service during todays seven hour walkout as the row with the government over pensions continues.

The fire service say none of the 31 incidents involved any serious injury.

Read: Firefighters seven hour Summer Solstice Strike ends

Although this is a national dispute, it clearly affects us here in the West Midlands. Today’s seven hours of industrial action again required us to implement our contingency plans so we could continue to deliver a service to our communities. Fortunately, none of the 31 incidents to which we deployed between 10am and 5pm involved any serious injury.”

– West Midlands Fire Service spokesman

Firefighters seven hour Summer Solstice Strike ends

Dozens of firefighters took part in a mass protest in Birmingham
Dozens of firefighters took part in a mass protest in Birmingham Credit: ITV News Central

Members of the Fire Brigades Union have been striking for seven hours today in an ongoing dispute with the Government.

Dozens of firefighters took part in a mass protest in Birmingham over changes to pensions and increasing the retirement age.

Fire services across the Midlands were running at a reduced service, with contingency plans in place for emergencies but are now running as usual.


Government say FBU 'not serious' about finding resolution

The Government has released a statement saying the continued strike action from the Fire Brigades union shows they aren't serious about finding a resolution.

The Department for Communities and Local Government have released a statement saying the deal they're offering is fair.

The Government believes a solution can be reached, but not under the shadow of industrial action, which only serves to damage firefighters' good standing with the public. By disrupting constructive discussions and an open consultation in this way the FBU has once again shown it is not serious about finding a resolution. The deal on the table is fair and gives firefighters one of the most generous pensions in the public sector. Additionally the proposals protect the earned rights of a higher proportion of members than any other public sector scheme."

– Department for Communities & Local Government

Fire service say public don't want 60yr old firefighters

The chair of the West Midlands Fire Brigades union says the public don't want sixty year old firefighters running into burning buildings.

Steven Price-hunt has been speaking out during a rally for firefighters striking in Birmingham as the row with the Government over pensions continues.

You can read more on how the fire strikes will affect you here

Fire service warns people to take care during strikes

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue service is warning people to take care during today's strike by members of the Fire Brigades Union in a row over pensions and raising the retirement age.

Area Manager Gavin Tomlinson says people should test their smoke alarms and be safe if they're planning barbecues in the warm weather.

In pictures: Firefighters hold mass rally over changes to pensions

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