News Council tax set to rise by as much as five per cent

The amount paid by households towards the cost of policing looks set to rise by up to five per cent this year as the Government faces a potential show down with its flagship Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who are demanding above inflation increases in council tax to combat swingeing budget cuts.

Bomb disposal team is called to mosque in Walsall after suspicious item discovered

Residents say an explosion was heard on Friday evening before the item was discovered on Saturday

TUC 'austerity bus' visits struggling West Midlands towns as it tours country to highlight the impact of Coalition cuts on UK workers and families

Paul Mason has worked in the same factory in Cannock, Staffordshire, for 29 years. When he joined the business, which makes plastic parts for the automobile industry, it was the third biggest factory in town, employing around 500 people. Nearly three decades on, the number of staff has dropped to just 120.

Ex-footballer's son James Francis denies burglary

The son of former England footballer Trevor Francis has denied stealing ladies' shoes and souvenir football shirts from a cottage belonging to ex-Aston Villa player Lee Hendrie.

Missing boy Romeo Mayhead found after police search in Walsall

An eight-year-old boy who was reported missing by his family has been found after a police search operation.

Washwood Heath Muslim Centre in Birmingham where three men and a police officer were stabbed

'Hero' police officer stabbed at mosque is discharged from hospital

The police officer heralded a hero after being stabbed in the chest and stomach while he disarmed a knife-wielding attacker at a mosque is to be discharged from hospital.

Australia captain Michael Clarke is yet to feature in this year's Champions Trophy

Champions Trophy: Australian captain Michael Clarke could return to action for crucial clash with Sri Lanka

Clarke has missed both of their Champions Trophy games due to a back injury but is hopeful of playing some part in tomorrow's Group A decider

County cricket round-up

Bowler of the day

Adil Rashid has made more headlines for his batting this season, with three centuries in the championship. Today, he proved he can still be a match-winning leg-spinner, taking 5 for 78 to set up Yorkshire for a 10-wicket win over Middlesex just before lunch on the final day at Lord’s, taking them to the top of the First Division.

Man calls 999 to complain prostitute is too ugly

A man has been warned by police after he dialled 999 to complain about a prostitute's looks after meeting her outside a hotel.

Okore played for FC Nordsjaelland before agreeing terms with the Midlands club today

Transfer confirmation: Aston Villa sign Denmark international Jores Okore

Former Villa captain Martin Laursen scouted the 20-year-old defender on Tuesday

George Bailey, Australia’s stand-in captain, made 55 before being bowled out

Champions Trophy: George Bailey needs quick change of fortune as problems mount

Australia 243-8 New Zealand 51-2: Bad weather leaves Australia relying on others if they are to advance to semi-finals

The elderly with experience fear joblessness more than the young

UK unemployment: Over-65 workers hit record 1m with modest growth in jobs market

But unemployment rate remains well above pre-crisis levels and pay growth is still weak

Man held after police officer hit by car in Birmingham

Officer suffered suspected fractured pelvis attempting to stop vehicle

Baroness Knight: 'Homosexuals are lovely,
Enoch Powell was right – and abortion is too easy'

After nearly half a century in Parliament, the Tory peer, 90, is not going to let fear stop her expressing her views, she tells Andy McSmith

A lovely summer scene unless you suffer from hayfever: rapeseed blooms in a field near the village of Brewood in South Staffordshire

Summery weekend is nothing to sneeze at... unless you suffer from hayfever

Temperatures could hit 25C over the weekend

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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there