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500 fare dodgers caught in five days

More than 500 fare dodgers have been caught in Birmingham in five days during a new operation from British Transport Police.

Operation Loop was working in Longbridge, Northfield and Sutton Coldfield stations last week. They issued 522 £20 fines plus prosecuted 14 people for travel fraud.

Operation Loop catches fare dodgers Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

We know from our experience that there is often a link between fare evasion and anti-social behaviour.

British Transport Police will continue to work with London Midland to ensure that we respond to passenger concerns relating to their safety on the railway.

– Inspector Chris Casey, of West Midlands Police

British Transport Police say that in a survey of passengers - fare evasion was a top passenger gripe.

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MP John Hemming calls for investigation into exploding manhole covers

Yardley MP John Hemming has called on utility companies to investigate the growing rise of exploding manhole covers after one narrowly missed a two year old girl.

Mr Hemming said that there were under ten reported exploding manhole covers a year a few years ago rising to more than 60 last year.

I have written to OpenReach (BT), Western Power (the MEB) and National Grid to pin down what is going on and why when the same thing happened at the same location 9 months ago that it still happened again.

Although it is good to report that no-one was hurt in this instance, people have been hurt on other occasions. The HSE raised the issue with the utilities companies last year, but it is unclear that this has resulted in the right action.

I have put in a parliamentary question about this and will keep constituents in touch with the outcomes.

– MP John Hemming

Karen Mhlanga was walking along Warwick Road in Acocks Green with her parents Sanele and Francis, when the metal covers flew up from the ground.

The National Grid say they're investigating the explosion, on Thursday, January 22, but they have ruled out a gas escape.

Warwickshire Guides group's loom band record bid

A Guides group has been taking part in a world record bid to make the longest loom band for charity Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Warwickshire Guides group has been taking part in a world record bid to make the longest loom band for charity.

The girls from 3rd Southam Guides worked together to make a loom band which measures just over 108 metres.

The band has been sent to the Loom to the Moon fundraising campaign, part of the Blue Skye Thinking charity, which was set up to raise money and awareness for Brain Tumour Research.

Five-year-old Skye Hall, from Oxford, died in August last year from complications of his treatment for an aggressive brain tumour but wanted to raise money to "help doctors make other children better".

Before Skye died, he launched the fundraising campaign to break the record for the longest loom band. This idea was inspired by his favourite past-time whilst sitting in the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber (which mimicked a space ship) for hours each week, looming.

The band was sent to Blue Skye Thinking and it will be joined to Skye's master loom band which currently measures more than 25,600m. The group also sent a #10 donation to the campaign.

"As part of their work towards a Craft Badge, our Guides had an evening looming in the summer term.

"During this they decided that they wanted to beat the world record for the world's longest loom band. Coincidentally the next day, a friend of mine posted a link to Loom to the Moon on her Facebook page as her daughter went to the same school as Skye, and I thought this was the ideal opportunity for the girls to achieve their goal and also raise awareness for a good cause. "The girls continued with the Loom in their own time from summer to Christmas and everyone really enjoyed being part of the process."

– Guide leader Louise Beale
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