Mary Rhodes asks whether a centuries-old tradition is about to end on health and safety grounds. And Jasper Carrot meets radio presenter Ed Doolan as he prepares to retire.
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Hello and welcome to Inside Out, with stories you need to know about
Tonight, protests from Black Country horse keepers, as the
bailiffs move in to catch the wild horses of Sandwell and remove
tethered horses from council land. They're part of us. If the horse
isn't here, there's nothing for us really, cos that's all we've got.
Anti-capitalism or anti-government cuts? We go behind the scenes of
some new protest movements and meet others who say austerity measures
have not gone far enough. Time for us to get real! Let's face up to
the truth. Our public finances are in a total shambles. Britain is
skint. And Jasper Carrott has the story of
a radio legend, as he catches up with the consumer crusader from BBC
local radio. That's all coming up on tonight's Inside Out, with me,
Horses have been a feature of our landscape for more than two
centuries. The origin of the Black Country horse is the need for
industry to have some kind of infrastructure, which means haulage
and logistics in modern terms. They're a legacy of days gone by,
but at one time, these horses were the power behind the Industrial
Revolution. All these were carrying goods between pits and forges and
foundries and ironworks in the Black Country, and of course moving
the finished goods out of the Black Country. But horse-ownership, like
the industries they once powered, could soon be a thing of the past,
as Sandwell Council has decided that grazing on public land will no
longer be tolerated. On public open space, the council will not allow
any horses to be tethered or loose. And so the horse owners of Sandwell
have become locked in battle with the council, as they fight to
preserve their way of life. The sight of horses tethered and
grazing on open spaces in parts of Sandwell is a common feature of the
landscape. They're part of us. If the horse isn't here, there's
nothing for us really, cos that's all we've got. Horses have been in
Malcolm's family for generations. He grew up with horses as a young
boy. It's something he hopes his children will also be able to do.
can remember my grandad giving me a horse when I was younger, and he
said, "This is your horse". I basically worked myself up. Now
I've got six horses, so I've done it all myself. They're my life to
me, to be honest. That's all I work for, all I live for. My family and
my horses. The horses are more than an old tradition. They represent
quality family time. It's a commitment and responsibility they
learn at a young age. If my mate's saying, "Do you want to come out to
play?", and my dad asks me if I want to ride the horse, I'd rather
ride my horse, basically. All these kids here being in trouble, playing
out too late. I'm missing that, getting out of trouble, keeping out
of trouble. I want my children to have what I've had. Cos I've been
brought up with horses the old- fashioned way, I've learnt a lot of
respect for people and animals. So I want my children to be brought up
exactly the same way as me. Put them in the stable. Good lad.
while some horses are tethered, others have been set loose. Locals
told us they were dumped years ago and have been roaming free and
breeding ever since. They say the tethered horses are not the problem.
But the council disagrees. We've been using this land for... It's
been over 60, 70 years, the land's been used for horses. Horses was
around here before the councillor was even born, I suppose, and
houses was built. So I don't agree with trying to change the way it is
in the Black Country. That's all we do. Horses, horses, day and night,
that's all we do. Mix with the horses. We don't drink, we don't go
out. But the horses are not a welcome sight for everyone. Many of
the residents in this area believe they pose a danger and a nuisance
to the community, and want the council to act. On the grounds of
public safety, earlier this year, Sandwell Council introduced a
strict no-grazing policy across all of its parks and green spaces.
They've employed the services of a horse bailiff to issue notices and
remove illegally tethered or roaming horses. Malcolm's father
Philip says they understand the council's safety concerns, but
argue that the problem is not with their horses. I agree with the
loose horses. They are dangerous, yeah. I totally agree with the
loose horses. But our horses are never, never loose. If they're
loose, they're tied up within two or three minutes. There's somebody
always here to put them back on the tethers. They've never had hassle
with us on the city, never. They've never caused no accidents or
nothing, our horses have. We've had them all our lives. Since early
this year, the council has introduced bailiffs to enforce
their policy and seize horses illegally grazing on council land,
whether loose or tethered. But the horse owners have serious concerns
over the practice of the bailiffs and told us: The bailiffs are
targeting tethered horses are failing to tackle the horses
roaming loose. The bailiffs are removing tethered horses without
giving owners the required notice or opportunity to move the animals
themselves. And the bailiffs are impounding horses at night,
something the owners believe is unnecessary and causes great
distress to their animals. This footage was given to us by one
horse owner. She didn't want to be identified, as she was afraid her
horse would be taken again. We're unable to verify its authenticity,
but she claims it shows the bailiffs taking her horse at night,
breaching government and industry guidelines. It got taken of the
night time. The bailiffs came and take him at 11.30pm at night.
you have any warning? No. They said they warned us but I know for a
fact that they never cos I went over there every day. How much did
you have to pay? It was about �4 short of �2,000. Nearly �2,000?
Yeah, definitely. Rossendales refused to take part in the
programme, but in a statement told us: The Local Authority tells
Rossendale's which sites to attend and loose horses are removed first.
Notice is always given, but if ignored, there is no alternative
but to remove them. Of 14 animals taken, only one was reclaimed.
Horses taken at night are handled by qualified officers who treat
them with the utmost care. residents we spoke to tell us
they're willing to help deal with the stray horses, and simply want
somewhere safe to graze their animals. The council keep saying
they've got no money and then want to get rid of pieces of land. We're
willing to pay for pieces of land. We're willing to pay for this over
here to keep our horses on. Today, the horse owners are taking their
battle to the Council House, in the hope of speaking to someone. We've
emailed them, we've been up there, we've phoned them. We've done
everything and nobody wants to speak to us. We handed a petition
in with about 350 signatures, and still nobody has come back saying
what's happened to the petition or if anybody's going to do anything
about it. If it comes to it, I'll do them every week until the
council talk to us and sort something out. So how did you get
on? No reply. Just been to the council, asked them if somebody
could come out and talk to us. And he's just said straight, point
blank, no. Nobody's coming out to see us, point blank. What do you do
now? Just keep doing these till something gets sorted out.
Somebody's got to talk to us. They've got to compromise halfway
somewhere along the line. But later on that afternoon, there was
someone available to talk to us. Councillor Ian Jones started by
explaining the council's position. They are breaking the law. We have
employed bailiffs, which all the horse owners know, because they've
petitioned. They are fully aware that on public open space, the
council will not allow any horses to be tethered or loose. Resident
and horse owners say the council ignore their complaints if the
stray horses are on private land. You will see horses on private land.
And on private land, the council is not responsible for those horses.
So it is these loose horses that are causing the problem, and yet
the majority that have been taken by the bailiffs are the tethered
ones, and I appreciate what you're saying, that it's a safety issue...
Well, no, no. It's the loose horses that are causing the problems.
They're the ones that should be taken? We should do both. One of
the issues with the tethered horses, as I've said, and the government
regulations from DEFRA about no tethered horses around rights of
way and other public footpaths means that they are breaking the
law. So how many of the stray and roaming horses have the council
taken? I think it's about three or four at the moment. How many of the
tethered horses? About 12. owners have been in touch with the
bailiffs and the bailiffs have said, "There will be a charge to return
your horse". The owner pays the �2,000, gets their horse back.
You're back to square one? that's where responsibility comes.
If the horse is back on the land, you haven't solved the problem?
don't have to solve the problem. The council does have grazing land
that horse owners can hire at Sandwell Valley Country Park. But
it's full and there's a five-year waiting list for places. So with no
alternative sites available, and both the horse owners and council
refusing to back down, this is one battle that could take a long time
to resolve. We had a very rich family life but the horses are all
we've got and the tethering's all we've got as well. We won't stop
having them. They'll never, never stop it. Never. They can do what
they want. We'll never stop. So what do you think? Is it fair to
tether horses, and what can the council do to round up the ones
Now, they've been camping out in cities across the world. Anti-
capitalist and anti-cuts protesters outside St Paul's Cathedral in
London were mirrored by smaller tented protests, including one here
in Birmingham. Earlier this year, Tony started filming some of the
new protest movements which have sprung up in response to the
economic crisis. Here's his report. CHANTING: Topshop! Pay your tax!
Whose money? Our money! They call themselves UK Uncut. Cut back!
Fight back! Cut, cut, cut back! Fight, fight, fight back! For a
year now they've been arranging to meet through Twitter, Facebook and
old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Their mission is to disrupt and protest,
to make a point about the cuts being imposed. They say cut back!
We say fight back! Their concern is the people who don't normally have
a voice as loud as theirs. Miss Selfridge! Pay your tax! I feel
like I'm a nothing. That I don't count anywhere in this world.
embarking on some very bleak, sad times. You probably hadn't heard of
UK Uncut until these disturbances in London in March. The violence
and vandalism made the headlines at an anti-cuts protest involving half
a million people. Most of those arrested that day were the 145 who
held a peaceful sit-in at the luxury food store, Fortnum & Mason.
They were protesting over alleged tax avoidance by the business's
owners. So we decided to follow the activities of UK Uncut over the
summer. We'd also get the alternative view from those who
believe a policy of cuts is right. Indeed, there are those who think
the cuts should be deeper. It is about time that government started
to stand up for hard-pressed British taxpayers. It looked like
we were heading for a summer of discontent. April - a warm day in
Nottingham. UK Uncut supporters gather on a street corner dressed
as nurses and hospital workers. It's a busy Saturday morning. They
have a list of targets but the police don't know where they are.
All of a sudden, there's a quick march to a bank. Lloyds TSB, a
bailed-out bank, which is 41% owned by taxpayers. This government is
taking the NHS and, in effect, privatising it. They go in to
protest at news the banks made �2 billion profit and paid no tax. And
spent 200 million on staff bonuses. We wanted to know what motivates
someone to get involved in action Can mummy help colour? On that one.
Sam Dixon has lost her job because of the cuts, but says that's not
why she has decided to give up part of her weekend to protest. I'm more
outraged that people are losing services and people's lives are
going to be put at risk. I'm going to be able to find another job and
These are the people Sam means. Those helped by a programme called
Supporting People. It's upset me regarding what's happening to sort
of frontline services, because these people are either going to
end up sort of dying, or needing some severe statutory intervention,
which I find is a complete and utter false economy. May, a rainy
day in Lincoln. Sam and the UK Uncut protestors from Nottingham
are on a day trip gathering new supporters. This time they're
dressed as bankers. We are here to facilitate your peaceful protest,
OK? First time I come across this, but it's very worthwhile. I think
it's a good thing they're doing it. Hopefully some people will listen
and something will change. Once more, it's a peaceful march around
the city. The police keep a watchful eye, but not everyone is
happy with the demonstrations. They're wasting tax payers' money.
Wasting police time as well. If they paid taxes, they'd have an
argument, wouldn't they. They don't pay taxes, they're all students.
Idiots. They're not all students though. They are. I can tell from
here. How can you tell someone's a student by looking at them? I can
tell. It's a week later on a sunny Saturday morning in Loughborough.
Jago Pearson is up early for a student. He's off to London, to a
demonstration in favour of cuts. It's organised by the Taxpayers'
Alliance. There are people here who believe the cuts don't go far
enough. We're not even going to start paying back this debt until
five years' time, at the current rate. And the interest payment is
going to get bigger and bigger and that's money we can't spend on
anything else. What they want are deeper cuts to public services, to
get the economy back on track. is time for us to get real. Let's
face up to the truth. Our public finances are in a total shambles.
Britain is skint. I'm not a public schoolboy. State educated. We've
got to accept that everyone's going to get hit in various different
ways by any cuts that are happening or any further cuts maybe we are
calling for, but the fact is that we can't let our vested interest
get in the way of what's good for the country and what's good for,
say, our grandchildren in 50, 60 years' time and for the future of
the country. June. Nottingham, and around the country the teachers are
on strike over pensions, and UK Uncut are supporting them on a
March. This is another example of the mess the bankers have left us
in, and the Government are expecting the taxpayer to foot the
bill. But a decision has been taken to save money on the public sector
pension bill. And for people like Jago Pearson that's the right thing
to do. There are people out there who do believe the cuts are right,
and we could be going further in some cases. Take away the
bureaucracy, and of course the most important thing, the European Union,
we spend billions of pounds every year on the European Union. It's
just about time that stops. August. Riots in London. Disturbances and
arrests in Nottingham. While there's injustices and inequalities
taking place on that scale then I'll be taking part in whatever
actions I can get to. October. Westminster. UK Uncut from
Nottingham join in. And now they occupy the Old Market Place in
Nottingham. A movement of outrage, which isn't showing any signs of
going away. Finally tonight, we pay tribute to a BBC local radio legend
who's giving up his daily consumer show on Radio WM, and just like Sir
Terry Wogan severely cutting back on his broadcasting hours. This is
the story of Ed Doolan, brought to you by Jasper Carrott. It's 11.50
and Ed Doolan is getting ready to go live on air. He's done this more
than 9,000 times. But today, for the first time in four decades,
he's nervous. He's hiding it, but he is quite upset about today. I
think there'll be a few moments later on in the programme. Ed is
one of the longest serving radio presenters in the world. He's
interviewed the grandest and the greatest. But this is his last show
before going into semi-retirement. There's a certain nervousness which
I'm not used to, because I don't get nervous. I used to. For 40
years Ed has used his microphone to stick up for Brummies and challenge
authorities. When he gets on to you, you're going to get a tough time.
We had some fearsome rows. I was scared stiff. Ed is our voice. He's
fearless. He was even named one of history's 100 famous Brummies, but
what few realise is that Ed isn't from Birmingham at all. He's
Australian. G'day. So, how come a complete outsider from Down Under
became one of this city's most famous adopted sons? Let's find out.
We're going to be having our usual consumer phone-ins. I'm itching to
know why Ed ended up in Brum in the first place, leaving Sydney's sun-
drenched harbour behind. So why would a snotty nosed kid from the
suburbs of Sydney want to come to Birmingham and do local radio for
the BBC? Well, what I wanted to do was to do radio. I was obsessed
with radio from about the age of four or five. A typical evening in
the Doolan household was to sit down and watch my mother doing the
ironing, and listen to the transcription service, the BBC
transcription service that they were sending through. And they'd be
broadcasting people like Frankie Howerd, The Goons and Take It From
Here and Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh. I loved it. For the ninth time this
season, Much-Binding takes the air. Inspired by a notion that British
radio was the place to be, a fresh- faced Ed Doolan journeyed to our
shores. Soon he got his chance on Birmingham's brand-new commercial
station, BRMB. BRMB, playing Birmingham's best mix of the 80s,
90s and today. I've brought Ed back to see how things have changed.
Gone are the pictures of David Essex and ABBA. In those early days,
Ed was an outsider and desperately needed to get Brummies on his side.
He told friends he had a plan. remember Ed telling me he heard a
show in Australia on radio that changed his life. It was somebody
trying to get social justice and trying to change things and make a
difference to people by a radio show. Ed thought "I would like do
that, I would like to have my programmes make a difference to
people." Across the West Midlands, on 95.6FM, Lunch with Ed Doolan on
BBC WM. Ed's programme certainly made a difference to listener Sam.
I've been listening Ed Doolan for nearly 30 years and one day he
saved my life. Sam heard Ed talking on air about a rare health
condition called abdominal aortic aneurysm. Concerned, he booked a
scan. The scan showed up that I had a large aneurysm and I needed to be
dealt with immediately, and the next two days I was with the
consultant at Heartlands Hospital. But Ed really made a name for
himself when he started helping listeners with their consumer
problems. Back then it was pioneering stuff. Hello, this is
the city's engineers department. Thank you for calling to report a
defect. Hello. This is the Ed Doolan Show, on Radio WM. Mr Day
from Edgbaston would like to record a message. Yes. There is a blocked
drain blocked up by the Severn Trent Water authority. For three
months. For three months. If you don't know what the hell's going on
in your own city, there's no help for you. You've got some work to do
with the customers. We have indeed. If there's a problem, he says let's
find the person who can sort that problem out, and he's on the phone,
"Get me the phone number for Fred," whoever it is at the Town Hall. And
he's on the phone. "Fred, it's Ed Doolan here, a lot of people have
been worried about..." and you think he just jumps in with all
four feet, you know. So becoming a consumer champion may have made Ed
popular with Brummies, but it put him on headbutting terms with some
of the most powerful leaders in the region. Isn't that so? Are you
saying there are people working for Birmingham Council who are
frightened that if they say what is going on, that they will be sacked?
That's exactly what I'm saying. it was with Midlands Transport
Chief Phil Bateman that Ed had his most notorious battles. So come on
Phil, how volatile were those early sets to with Ed? Oh, they were
pretty volatile. They were pretty blood and guts - usually my blood,
my guts. I didn't like him at first, that's the truth of the matter. I
felt he was aggressive. Overly aggressive at times. What were the
arguments about? You name it, he'd have an argument with you about it.
He'd be very nice to start with. He'd engage you in conversation,
and then the next minute, your mics went on, the red light went on and
he changed, turned into the Tasmanian devil! Of course Ed
normally came out on top. You ever wondered why you can catch a bus on
Boxing Day? That's one of Ed's many victories, but in 1989 an
extraordinary case came along that really tested the Aussie mettle.
Here a prisoner who absconded from staff at jail gave himself up while
taking part in a radio phone-in. made national headlines when he
took a call from a prisoner on the run. Casting BBC health and safety
rules to the wind, he agreed to escort Steven Winnery into custody
safely. Winnery agreed to be picked up, provided no police were
involved. He also agreed to the presence of cameras. Supposing you
had found a gun, what would you have done? I never thought of that.
I never thought I would. When we got in the car, he thanked me and
said "I don't want to go to the prison. I want to go the nearest
police station." And I said "Well, I don't know where the nearest
police station is." He said, "I'll show you the way." You know, Ed
didn't just help the man in the street, he also helped the man on
the stage. $$NEWLINE# When I get my moped out on the road $$NEWLINE#
I'm going to ride, ride, ride. # When I released Funky Moped in 1975,
few people outside Birmingham knew who I was, but an appearance on Top
of the Pops changed everything. That was thanks to Ed, who had been
promoting the record for weeks. It was my big break. Isn't that nice.
Ed's not retiring completely. Oh no. New shows on Fridays and Sundays
will keep him busy in Brum. But his last daily consumer prog, the show
that made his name, is almost over. It's been an emotional two hours,
so will he be able to stick to his script? The problem is when the
emotions get involved he often discards it and speaks from the
heart. I don't know whether he'll be able to stick to that, to be
honest. As the clock creeps towards the hour, Ed delivers those parting
words. I'll be back live, next Friday, at 12 noon. But now, until
next we meet, thanks for listening. A professional to the end, Ed stuck
to his script, word-for-word. After nearly 40 years of sticking up for
the people of Birmingham, it's little wonder that we Brummies have
made Ed Doolan one of our own. What an honour we have bestowed upon him.
However, Birmingham and the Black Country have a lot to thank him for.
I know I have. Well, that's all for tonight. Join me again next Monday.
Mary Rhodes asks whether a centuries-old tradition of horse keeping in the Black Country is about to end on the grounds of health and safety, plus a behind the scenes report on the Midlands groups protesting against government cuts, and Jasper Carrot meets the legendary radio presenter Ed Doolan as he gives up his daily show championing consumers.