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Criminals clear snow from Midlands paths

8 January 10 13:12 GMT

Offenders have been drafted in to help clear snow and ice from pathways in the West Midlands as the freezing conditions continue.

Teams of people serving community sentences are clearing frozen snow off paths at churches and parks, including Sutton Park.

The move came as temperatures dropped to -13C (8F) in parts of the region.

The icy conditions also caused long delays for passengers using Birmingham New Street station.

Signalling problems just outside the station at about 1010 GMT led to delays of more than an hour on some services to and from London and the east of England.

Faulty equipment

Many trains were cancelled, diverted or were terminating outside Birmingham.

Network Rail said the problems had been caused by electrical faults and they were trying to determine if that was due to the freezing temperatures.

A spokeswoman said services were starting to return to normal.

The groups of offenders have also been using grit from council bins to treat roads as part of their supervised community service.

A spokeswoman for the West Midlands Probation Service said churches, schools and other groups had approached them asking for help to clear their pathways.

She added that the offenders could see a "real public benefit" to what they were doing.

The emergency services urged drivers to avoid non-essential journeys because of treacherous driving conditions with black ice affecting minor roads.

West Midlands Police said they dealt with many accidents caused by vehicles skidding on black ice on Thursday.

More than 120 schools across Birmingham and the Black Country remained shut on Friday.

The Met Office said temperatures were unlikely to rise above freezing in the West Midlands at any point on Friday.

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