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Choirs chosen for World Cup welcome

Choirs chosen for Rugby World Cup welcome events Credit: Tim Goode/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Three school choirs from the Midlands are among 20 to have been selected to welcome teams to England for the Rugby World Cup.

Choirs will perform the official Rugby World Cup anthem, World in Union at ceremonies that will welcome the teams officially to Rugby World Cup 2015.

Bishop's Cleeve Primary Academy from Cheltenham will welcome Tonga in Cheltenham. Isbourne Valley School from Gloucestershire will welcome Scotland in Gloucester Alderman’s Green Primary School from Coventry will welcome Ireland in Burton Upon Trent.

"Great people make great events and it is wonderful to see such incredible levels of excitement and enthusiasm from the schools who will welcome the world’s best players to Rugby’s greatest event."

– Bernard Lapasset, World Rugby Chairman

"Schools across the nation are eagerly looking forward to Rugby World Cup 2015 and it is fantastic to see such a wide range of them playing an active role in the Welcome Ceremonies."

– Steve Grainger RFU Development Officer

Birmingham businesspeople welcome combined authority

Coventry Council House Credit: BPM

Birmingham's Chambers of Commerce have welcomed Coventry City Council’s decision to move a step closer to joining a combined authority.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) said the agreement by the Labour controlling group at last night’s meeting to move towards joining forces with Birmingham was “a brave and historic step”.

Four Black Country councils and Birmingham City Council have already agreed to create a combined authority and Coventry Council now aims to follow in their footsteps. A statement from Coventry City Council states that it also anticipates Solihull will join the group.

The council has also said it would like Warwickshire to join the proposed authority.

“This is an important milestone in the history of the West Midlands.

“Businesses in the region will fully support this move, not least because the Chancellor has made it abundantly clear that only combined authorities will be given increased powers, including those relating to economic development, transport and skills.

“Already a combined West Midlands authority feels like a real Powerhouse with involvement from the Black Country and Coventry and we now urge Solihull to follow suit.

“We congratulate all of the authorities for taking such swift action on this in the wake of the General Election and we are sure it will go down as a brave and historic step.”

– Greg Lowson, president of Birmingham Chamber

Police seeking arsonists who caused £500k of disruption

The British Transport Police is investigating what happened Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The British Transport Police is asking for the public's help in tracing those responsible for a pair of arson attacks close to the railway line in Coventry.

The fire in the early hours of May 2 caused more than half a million pounds' worth of disruption and damaged the rail network.

A passing train driver reported seeing a fire on the line between Tile Hill and Canley stations shortly after 1.30am. Police and fire crews put out the fire, and discovered another blaze a mile down the track towards Tile Hill station.

“Officers attended Berkswell station to reports of a cable theft, and were informed by Network Rail staff about a train driver seeing a fire.

"Network Rail halted all trains in the area and turned off the power to allow fire crews to extinguish the fire and officers to investigate the fire near Templar Avenue. “It quickly became apparent that there was a second fire alight, around one mile away, just north of Tile Hill station. The fire service again attended and were able to extinguish the fire.”

– Sergeant Marcos Dominguez, leading the investigation

Officers carried out a thorough search of the entire area once it was safe to do so, but did not find anyone. Once both of the fires had been extinguished, Network Rail turned the power back on to the tracks, and officers and fire crew cleared from the scene.

In total, 75 trains were cancelled as a result of this incident, and a further 2,500 were delayed.

Network Rail is offering a £15,000 reward for information which leads to the arrest of the arsonists.

Patrols have been stepped up and CCTV is being gathered from surrounding businesses as BTP continues its investigation into this incident.

Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40.


Man in court accused of stealing stick from 82-year-old lollipop man

A lollipop stick Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A man is to appear in court charged with stealing a lollipop man's stick.

Unemployed Robert Pritchard, of Bolingbrooke Road in the Stoke area of the city stood before magistrates on Friday accused of robbery.

On 21 January an 82-year-old crossing attendant was helping children across the road when a man grabbed his lollipop stick and ran off. In the struggle, the pensioner fell to the ground.

Officers investigating the crime released CCTV footage of the incident drawing messages of support from across the country.

Following a brief appearance, Pritchard’s case was automatically referred to Coventry Crown Court for 21 August.

Recycling club being launched in Coventry

Stock photo of recycling bins Credit: Stephen Rafferty/Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

A recycling club which rewards residents and local good causes for recycling is being launched by Coventry City Council today.

Residents can win rewards such as mobile tablets and garden centre vouchers.

Coventry recycles just under 36% of its rubbish, compared to an average of 43.5% nationally.

Coventry man on trial accused of trying to join friends fighting in Syria for Islamic State

A man from Coventry has gone on trial accused of trying to join friends fighting in Syria for Islamic State.

Prosecutors claim Zakariya Ashiq, from Foleshill, failed in his attempt to get into the country last November and was arrested when he returned to the UK.

The Old Bailey has been told that police found evidence on Ashiq's computer including chat room conversations praising Islamic State, but he told police these conversations were just to wind people up.

He denies preparing acts of terrorism and assisting others to prepare for acts of terrorism. The trial continues.

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