Up to 400,000 homes need to be built in the West Midlands over the next 20 years to accommodate an increase in the number of people living alone, the Government has announced.

The housing projections, based on information from the 2001 Census, said the region's current 2.2 million households will rise to 2.6 million by 2026.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said the national annual growth in homes will be 209,000 a year, with one person households making up 150,000 of that growth.


Birmingham's Lord Mayor is reconsidering a cash plea from campaigners who are setting up a museum remembering the flooding of a Welsh valley to supply city water.

Requests for cash to support the new Community Museum in Rhayader were initially rejected by Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby.

However, the Lord Mayor, John Hood (Con Sutton Vesey), has written to the chairman of the Community Arts Rhayader and District (Carad) to discuss possible funding avenues.

Every day, tens of thousands of gallons are transported to Birmingham from the Elan Valley reservoir in Powys.


David Cameron's first months as Conservative leader will be judged by local election results in cities such as Birmingham and Coventry, Tory strategists said.

But they were eager to play down expectations and admitted they could not be sure of retaining control of authorities such as Birmingham, which they currently run.

Mr Cameron, who won the leadership in December, has vowed to win back Tory support in the cities, and attention will focus on his party's performance in metropolitan areas in the May 4 local elections.

Aides pointed out the Tories were effectively starting from scratch in cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, where they have no councillors.


A Midland war hero famed for his fighting spirit and incredible leadership on the battlefield has died aged 81.

General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley, who recently became an outspoken commentator on Army affairs, was awarded a DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for his outstanding leadership qualities at the 1951 battle of the Imjin River in Korea.

Sir Anthony was a prisoner of war in Korea, tackled the rebels in Aden and Cyprus and faced down the IRA which tried to blow him with a hosepipe bomb but was foiled because of a hosepipe ban.

Sir Anthony went to Korea in 1950 as adjutant of the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment during its epic stand on Hill 235, when the 29 Infantry Brigade was attacked by 10,000 Chinese troops and 1st Gloucesters were surrounded as they held their ground.