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Tony Blair: 'Cooper was one of Labour’s most committed and passionate local government leaders'

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has paid tribute to Councillor Darren Cooper, Leader of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, who passed away yesterday, aged 52.

Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper passed away yesterday. Credit: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire/Press Association Images and Sandwell Council.

Darren Cooper was one of Labour’s most committed and passionate local government leaders of the last twenty years and stood resolute in his support for the people of Sandwell.

A long-serving councillor, he worked diligently to implement Labour’s core values of social justice and equality of opportunity despite the huge challenges faced by local government over the last few years.

My deepest sympathies are with Darren’s family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.

– Former Prime Minister Tony Blair


Sandwell council leader Darren Cooper passes away

The leader of the Sandwell Council, Darren Cooper died last night, the council has announced. He was 52.

Councillor Darren Cooper, the leader of Sandwell Council, was 52. Credit: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council have issued a statement saying: "It is with great sadness that we confirm the death of the Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Darren Cooper who died last night."

Councillor Darren Cooper had represented the Soho and Victoria ward in Smethwick since May 1991 and became Leader of Sandwell Council in December 2009.

Deputy Leader, Councillor Eling will now assume the role of Leader of Sandwell Council, in accordance with council procedures, said the council in a statement issued today.

This is of course a terrible shock to everyone who knew Darren.

He was hugely liked and respected by both his colleagues at the council and the constituents who he was dedicated to serving.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife and family and we ask on their behalf that their privacy be respected at this extremely sad and difficult time.

– Deputy Leader, Cllr Steve Eling

Student charged over hoax bomb threat to Sandwell college

Police have charged the student over a hoax bomb threat Credit: PA

A man has been charged over a hoax bomb threat made to a college in Sandwell.

Scott McLaughlin from Cavendish Road in Edgbaston, was arrested by officers on Wednesday − the same day as the threats were made.

The 22-year-old has been charged with the offence of bomb hoax.

The case is not being linked to any of the recent telephone hoax call crimes at schools in the West Midlands.

He was bailed to appear at Sandwell Magistrates Court on Friday 26 February.


More hoax bomb calls to West Midlands schools

The hoax calls were made this morning Credit: PA

Seven schools have been targeted by bomb hoaxers this morning with a series of calls made from around 8am.

The schools affected were:

  • Leasowes High School in Dudley.
  • Holly Lodge Foundation High, Oldbury Academy and Perryfields High Schools in Sandwell.
  • Edgbaston High School for Girls, King David and Kind Edwards Boys Schools in Birmingham.

Last month, hundreds of pupils were sent homeafter hoax calls were made to schools in the West Midlands.

As with the previous alerts each call was immediately and individually assessed by the force’s specialist intelligence cell and counter terrorism experts.

Again there was no credibility to the threats which are believed to be linked to those made across the UK on January 19, 26 and 28 and February 1.

– West Midlands Police

Police investigation begins into school bomb hoax

Some schools chose to evacuate all pupils Credit: ITV News Central

A police investigation is now underway after four hoax bomb threats were made to schools in the West Midlands.

The calls were received between 9am and 9.30am this morning at schools in Halesowen and Oldbury.

A police investigation was immediately launched to find the person responsible.

Several schools, including Bristnall Hall Academy, decided to evacuate their students, although this was not on police advice.

The schools affected were:

  • Oldbury Academy, Pound Road, Oldbury
  • Holly Lodge High School, Holly Lane, Oldbury
  • Bristnall Hall Academy, Bristnall Hall Lane, Oldbury
  • Leasowes High School, Kent Road, Halesowen

"These false and malicious calls resulted in lost opportunities for local young people, many of whom are preparing for exams. They also wasted valuable police time which would have been better spent targeting criminals, supporting victims and preventing crimes."

– Superintendent Richard Youds, West Midlands Police

Officers say they are also aware of similar calls made to schools outside of the region around the same time. The investigation will work to establish if these are linked.

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