26/06/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


26/06/2011

Jon Sopel and Patrick Burns are here with the top political stories of the week.


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In the Midlands, manufacturing Eagles economic recovery. Business

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warns of a skills crisis. In Shropshire, they are seeing red

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over green electricity. Powered over green electricity. Powered

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2516 seconds

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Hello again from the Midlands. Teachers walkout on Thursday over

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pensions, and Unison threatened mass action in October over pay

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cuts. Where is the economic recovery led by us in the

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industrial heartlands? Some companies are doing spectacularly

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well. JCB diggers and Jaguar Land Rover are posting record profits.

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But chronic structural weaknesses remain, not least what some

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business leaders are calling a school crisis. It used to be that

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the skills of the workforce was one of our proudest boasts of -- boasts.

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So what has happened? We will be asking our guests. That is all

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coming up later. First of all, the drive to up-skill and re-skill our

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workforce for new jobs in new industries. I and 26 years old and

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I am a budding entrepreneur. I and 22, by graduate this year, and I am

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a fashion designer. I and 32 and I have set up my own fashion business.

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Three students at Birmingham City University on the verge of starting

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new businesses. It is not about education, education, education as

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is his -- as it is skills, skills, skills. When you go back, you are

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not just an academic, you are also employable. The University has

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launched an employable universe -- student programme. They have been

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working with businesses. My job is all about working with students to

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make sure they are developing satisfying careers. Helping it all

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is a former Midlands Business woman of the year. We are designing

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courses to meet their needs. We are getting a good response from the

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employers, and we are giving our youngsters the best chances of

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getting jobs. For many, this type of collaboration cannot come soon

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enough. Philip Oliver started this video-game company in his bedroom.

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Now it is one of the biggest in the world, employing 200 people in

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Leamington Spa. Everyone is screaming about the lack of IT

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qualified people. This is a nationwide problem. He is just back

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from Reed E3 Video Game Conference in Los Angeles, a showcase for the

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industry which is worth �250 million to the West Midlands

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economy. First, we have to inspire children to engage in IT.

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Technology is changing at such a pace that it is difficult for

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education to keep up with that. By the time they have written the

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curriculum, the industry has moved on. The interest -- they have to be

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more adaptable. Several businesses have taken part in a survey that

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the chamber of commerce is calling a skills crisis. Many employers

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said that they found jobs were difficult to fill. Particularly in

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IT. There are still complaints about standards of Britain and

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spoken English, and the key demand is for investment in training at

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all levels. The skills shortages, for many businesses, is a real

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crisis to them, and what the government should be doing, as it

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ploughs billions of pounds into the education sector, is to ask the

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education sector to be more adaptable to the needs of

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businesses. We need to balance the demand side of the supply-side.

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is the -- so here is the headline. UK suffers skill shortage. This

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headline was from 2000. 11 years ago. Politicians are are under

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renewed pressure to change it. Has the education system be paying up

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to now? If you look in this area, I am told we have 200,000 people who

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have no qualifications. Something has gone wrong. The government has

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talked of a need for a skills revolution. What business is saying

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is that the time for talking is Applications close this week for

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the second wave of government enterprise zones after the ones in

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Blackburn and Birmingham. -- in the Black Country. So to our guests.

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The Labour MP for Dudley North, in Austin, chairs a new MPs' committee

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to try and get our region competing effectively in this fast-changing

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world. So too has Laurie Lee Burke, and Chris Kelly. Ian Austin, you

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are one of a number of members of this committee who is going to be

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meeting fines cable tomorrow. What are the sort of arguments are you

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going to be making? As we saw in the film, we space major challenges

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in this region. We have seen lots of people doing well, but we face

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big talent is still. We have more at the end our fest Chef of

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problems. We need better standards in schools and colleges and

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universities. We need more apprentices, and we need more

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investments. The West Midlands has seen a 75 % increase in

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apprenticeships since the coalition came in. They are getting in where

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your government failed to go. choose to be 60,000 apprentices.

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Now we have four times that. We had the best performing apprentices

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here in the West Midlands. I do not want to strike a party political

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note. I want to see the new government do it as well. Are you

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doing it? Yes, absolutely. We smashed our target on

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apprenticeships. That is going great. What we need, I think, is a

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closer relationship between business and our educational

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providers to make sure that they are in tune with providing the

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skills that we need to enable business to continue on its

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trajectory. There was a suggestion that there was a disconnect between

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what is coming out of the education system and what businesses want,

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which may be seen as a sorry commentary on many years of

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compulsory schooling to age 16. might be, but we have the local

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enterprise partnerships working now. Their objective is to represent the

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interests of business, and they will be consulted on all aspects of

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educational policy, to make sure that we get the right people in the

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right jobs. Are the enterprise partnerships working? There was a

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lot of concern went your government round-up the investment agencies.

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The Black Country is doing a fantastic job. They hit the ground

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running. I think it is really working, and having business people

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on board in a way that it was not achieved before his fallible for

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the economy. Let me bring in what one of our tumours said. What are

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the role - for what is the role of the university's? Wolverhampton

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University in the Black Country has very good links with the programme.

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They are the universities with other specialist areas. We have

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technology and innovation centres as well which brings together the

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technology we need to get the business together with the clever

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brains of universities. Another duet says that science and

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engineering departments should be funded to provide mentoring

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services. We need more businesses coming through than that -- like

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that can be -- computer games business. This is a serious issue.

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If you are a struggling small business, you want to bring in

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graduates. Universities and businesses should form big links,

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and I am not sure MPs he, with the resources they have... There is

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further funding coming for the schemes. Every area is well

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represented and fully resourced. this scale crisis, what a terrible

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irony it would be, if Jaguar Land Rover was to set a plant in the

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Black Country. The test would be whether it sucked in people from

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elsewhere. We should have an ambition for the mess with -- West

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Midlands. We want to beat the West Midlands to be the biggest increase

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in skills. In your government, we saw education, education, education.

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Still we have under skilled people. We made a big improvement in

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schools standards, but to be doing enough? No. We need to do more.

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are working as one to make sure whatever policy we come up with is

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going to be the best for growth in the West Midlands. Are you stack --

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happy with standards of academia? Some of the employers have been

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talking about basic English. thing I am most disappointed about

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is the fundamentals. It is an absolutely vital first step to

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taking on an apprenticeship. 200,000 people in the West Midlands

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have no qualifications whatsoever. None at all. How worrying is that?

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That is shocking. I think it underlines why we should set for

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our Regent the addition to set the biggest increase in school

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standards. Some good things are happening now. I have said in the

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interaction the you are setting aside your party political

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differences to do this. His is a nicety, of are you genuinely

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meaningless? Are you really working together? Absolutely. We really do.

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We have had meetings with pins cable, we really do, all of us, a

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have our roots and the West Midlands background at the fore.

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have concerns about some policies. But we have a different government.

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We are in opposition. There are things that the government are

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bringing forward, and I have to make sure that I get the best but I

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can thought he will I represent. the West Midlands, the

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Conservatives and Liberal Democrats won a majority of seats, so it it

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is a our programme, but it is right that Labour have worked together

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with us. Think you're very much indeed. -- thank you. You can join

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As if delivering the economic recovery wasn't enough, the

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government are coupling it to their green revolution. Lower carbon

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emissions and greener energy. Plans for green electricity have made

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some people in Shropshire see red. If controversial plans to see eight

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Super will wind farms go ahead in Wales, National Grid would want to

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connect them to their network via a series of pylons through Shropshire.

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With our ageing generation of coal- fired power stations nearing the

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end of their lives, how to reconcile the demand for renewable

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sources with the desire to protect These are the unspoilt views in

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Shropshire. Jim Murray has lived here for 25 years. They are now

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worried that their rural idyll could be ruined for ever. There are

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plans to build a high-voltage pylons through here. The reason

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people live here, and big reason why people come to visit is the

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fact that it is totally and utterly unspoiled, ancient countryside. We

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have been guardians of this area for many other people. Many people

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in the West Midlands use this place as their area where they come and

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regenerate and feel at peace, and if we do not save it, it will not

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be there for them. National Grid is looking at constructing a, to take

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energy generated by wind farms in Wales through took their customers

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in Oswestry and Shrewsbury. There are -- they are building a sub-

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station in Cefn Coch or Abermule. It could mean miles and miles of 50

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metre high pylons. Communities in Shropshire are united in their

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opposition to their plans, but it will not be until late in the year

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when the battle really gets under way. That is when the National Grid

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will unveil their preferred sub- station and route through the

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network. The worst-case scenario would be pylons. They would prefer

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to see underground cables. National Grid has said that no decision has

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been made as yet. Our estimates are 1.6 billion -- �1.6 million per,

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tut. The estimate for -- �1.6 million per kilometre or. It is

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considerably more with underground cables. Many people questioned

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those figures. The cost of all this falls on the consumer, which is

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every one of us. We all use electricity. I don't think that in

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land wind farms are the solution. We need to take a big breath and

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look at what is out there, and review the policy, and that is what

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I hope will come out of this. is anger in Wales too. Now, the

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Welsh First Minister wants to cap the number of developments would go

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ahead. If we stick to the limits in Tan 8, it will limit the amount of

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electricity they will produce. In Shropshire, that will solve a lot

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of our worries. There's also worries about flooding and so forth.

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It is a step in the right direction. Some of the county's politicians

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will be meeting national grid in the next few weeks. But for now,

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people in England and Wales face an It is ironic, isn't it, but in the

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name of environmentally friendly electricity, but we do threaten the

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lovely environment there? speaking -- speaking personally, I

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think there's a certain beauty to wind farms, but by... Not everyone

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agrees with you! There has been a chorus of protest. I am more

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concerned about the pylons. They are ugly, they too stretched across

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the countryside, and you do see them across our countryside. If

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there were an alternative way to carry that electricity, I think

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that would be good. Hearing Keith Barrow there, the Conservative

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leader of Trott Chick Council, he says he is not can stir --

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convinced about wind farms. He is crying out for a policy lead from

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the government. We have been indicated that from our policy bill.

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That is not a leader from the government. We are in parrying

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position -- empowering people to make decisions for themselves.

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Underground cabling is an expensive process to go through as well. When

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money is tight, these expensive options may not be always possible.

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I suppose, thinking back to our early conversation, we might get

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West Midlands industries making the wind farms! There is a business in

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our constituency making ball- bearings for the wind turbines. If

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we get colleges and universities working with us, we can help.

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will continue this conversation another time. Just a reminder as we

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