06/11/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


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

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In the Midlands: What next on our economic roller-coaster?


The boss of John Lewis and global enterprise on the prospects at


street level. And see you in court. But it will


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2219 seconds


that be an empty threat if police Hello again from the Midlands. Are


the police playing judge and jury by dealing with crimes out-of-


court? That's one of our talking points today. But let's begin by


trying to fathom out what the events of the past week tell us


about our region's economy. It began with the Government sharing


�100 million from the Regional Growth Fund between 22 Midlands


firms and projects, to create or protect 34,000 jobs. Then came the


figures showing the UK economy was doing rather better than many had


predicted. So what is the direction of economic travel here? With me


today are Paul Uppal, the Conservative MP for Wolverhampton


South West. Before becoming an MP he ran his own business. And Joan


Walley, the Labour MP for Stoke-on- Trent North, a city still smarting


from its failure to get its own enterprise zone, to help bring in


jobs and investment. First, though, we're going to hear


from Andy Street. He's the man now in charge of the Birmingham and


Solihull Local Economic Partnership, one of seven so-called LEPs that


replace the Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands.


Now, whether or not you recognise his name, you'll certainly know


that of his business. He's the Managing Director of the department


store John Lewis. For once the numbers do tell the


story. With 29 department stores, six smaller John Lewis At Home


outlets, and the online johnlewis.com operation, it's one


of the UK's instantly recognised retail brands. One of the things


about leadership is doing the things that are right, not the


things that are popular. And that leader is very much a local here.


He went to King Edward's School in Birmingham, and now his commitment


to his home town is reinforced, both through his chairmanship of


the Local Economic Partnership, and as one of Britain's favourite


shopkeepers, through John Lewis' decision to build their biggest


store outside London as the centrepiece of the New Street


Station redevelopment. Now charged with helping other local businesses


to recover from our economic woes, Andy Street has owned up to the


occasional moment of doubt and uncertainty. I remember the day the


banks were rescued. I took time to read the daily newspapers and I sat


in a coffee shop, thinking, oh, my God, what are we going to do?


John Lewis Partnership is exactly that. The UK's biggest example of


worker co-ownership. Its 76,500 staff are not just employees, they


are partners, which begs the question whether their leading


partner could do even better for himself by joining one of the big


PLCs. I can do very nicely for myself running this organisation,


thank you very much. In terms of being paid sufficiently, we are not


paid as much as my equivalent colleagues but this is a far more


fulfilling job. Not bad for a man who sells two washing-machines an


hour and one Egyptian plain-dye towel every 15 seconds. I caught up


with him on the 25th floor of The Cube building, opening next month


as the �13 million Indigo hotel and Marco Pierre White restaurant,


overlooking Birmingham city centre, now home to an enterprise zone


aiming to ultimately to trigger the creation of 100,000 new jobs across


the region. Many might have located it on the


edge of the city either possibly in a disadvantaged suburb, but this is


the quickest way of achieving economic growth. The city centre is


the most vibrant part of the West Midlands economy and we can stretch


the tout to next spring. What would your advice be too young people,


where they feel very sore they have missed out? They can learn a little


bit about how Birmingham and Solihull have been successful so


far. We have worked really hard to understand exactly what the


Government once and we have been quick to put our case in, and


hopefully, we have met absolutely the criteria. Our evidence so far


is that this has been a success then approach. When you look at the


scale of the challenge this part of the country has in terms of getting


investment in and new jobs, would it help you if George Osborne were


to soften the edge of Plan and move on? They have got to stick


decisively to their deficit reduction plan. But at the same


time, they have got to look for engines of growth and I believe


they are trying to do that. If you look at the Regional Growth Fund,


it is a useful contribution to the region's economy and we have


certainly done very well out of both rounds of that money. In few


look at a company like Emma Bridgewater, very good company, but


they have just laid 20 people off. They said the problem is that they


are not shifting enough stock through John Lewis. So people are


keeping their money in their pockets? I am pleased you said it


was figurative because I do not think they are blaming John Lewis


on its own. People are spending less money but as well as the Emma


Bridgewater story, we are working actively with the best of British


manufacturers and we have got great stories where the design is right,


the quality is right and the price is right. There is still a market


to be seized. My personal view is the best companies will come


through this difficult time. high-speed rail, potentially a


high-speed link between Birmingham and London. A good thing or a bad


thing? It could draw investment away from Birmingham to London.


is cat -- it is categorically a good thing which is why the LEP


came out in support of that proposal. And bear in mind, it is a


cross-party proposal. We have looked at the characteristics for


success of other outstanding city regions and parts of the world, and


good connectivity, not just between Birmingham and London, but between


Birmingham and Manchester, Birmingham and Europe, Birmingham


and Leeds, is a prerequisite. More business will be easier if we can


connect with our big markets. mayor for Bernard -- for Birmingham.


A good thing or a bad thing? What really stands out is knowing who is


accountable. Birmingham City Council is a big organisation and


it is very clear who leads it. I am sure the current leader feels very


accountable. So we already have good performance in that respect,


but my personal view is that a personally elected mayor can take


that one step further. That was Andy Street, and there is more on


it might blog. Joan Whalley, you obviously very


disappointed about the lack of an enterprise zone. But he said his


job is to concentrate on his own and that the success he had is by


working very closely with the Government to find out exactly what


they wanted and to work hard to deliver that quickly? We would say


that in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, we did just that.


The problem was that the Government ring-fenced the number of local


enterprise zones. You can imagine the angle right the way across the


political parties and across the Chamber of Trade when we were not


included in phase one or in phase two, and then the Government


announced a further two and we had had more job losses than some of


those areas and we were somewhat successful. It is very easy to say


how it is possible to go about doing it but if you do not have


that enhanced status, it is difficult to see that, no matter


what the Government does, you can create those jobs. I think there is


a lot of general sympathy? The case for Stoke is beyond doubt. We were


led to believe in the first round, and I ask parliamentary questions


on this, that it was about population figures and we would


have qualified on that criteria there. We were very clear on what


we wanted and I feel we now have to live with the fact that we have to


find another route. Paul Uppal, you can understand how Joan Whalley


feels, because in trying to rebalance the economy, you have a


situation where you have an enterprise zone on the board of


your city, which is great, but just up the motorway, Stoker, which


appears and feels to get nothing. can appreciate her point of view


and empathise but I think it is important that we say this. We can


engage in political rhetoric on this but it is not going to help


anybody watching this programme getting your job or sustain jobs.


There is some good news out there. There is the Jaguar Land Rover


story. But that does not help stoke very much? I think it helps all of


the West Midlands regions. And the whole story, they should be


congratulated on that and it helps cement the relationship. They are


cementing the region and there are some good news stories out there.


There was one from York constituency, in pottery? They


needed jobs and then things took a turn for the better? Absolutely.


This is not about political rhetoric. It is about getting what


we can from the Regional Growth Fund, enhanced capital advances and


I think this pottery is a great example. We have this Trust which


has benefited from the Regional Growth Fund and now we have a


further next door neighbour pottery, which is also a recipient of the


second round of Regional Growth Fund. What we see is bottom-up


regeneration, linking in. I think having the support of His Royal


Highness really helps. What did the Trust do? They recognised that


there, we have a piece of heritage which we would otherwise lose, that


we had to find a way of protecting. And given the new owners that were


there, he would see how you could come in and bring his expertise and


brings more units to help small businesses starting up and then


more people come through Stoke-on- Trent through the canal by any


other means. I think he put another 7 million into it, didn't he? Let's


hear what he had to say of. Once I heard about it and discovered how


unique it was, I have to see if we could make sure it was saved and


the work was able to remain intact, because it is a very special and


unique survival and still incredibly popular all around the


world. But higher also wanted to try and see if we could use this


remarkable place as a means of helping to gradually regenerate


other parts and indeed to spread things further out into Stoke-on-


Trent. Half the battle, I think, is to rebuild self-confidence and hope.


And bring in investment from elsewhere. Here, for instance, we


had to bring in private investment. Paul Uppal, it comes to something


when you have to rely on the edge of the throne to come to the


rescue? He did speak about self- confidence and hope, and one thing


that has struck me recently, I met Mary Portas because we have had a


big issue with empty shops in more than done. I was going down a road


in a part of Walkhampton, and their bodies the Dudley Road, which are


areas that have difficult conditions. -- part of


Wolverhampton. There is an ambience and atmosphere of can-do. So I


think that message of confidence and hope is a very important one.


Let me tell you what one of the Richardson brothers said the other


day. He reminded me of the incentives they had bend - 100%


capital allowance, much greater freedoms than the current


enterprise zone sell-out, and he said even then, it was a big


struggle bringing companies in two merry hell, so surely with the


weaker and less generous offer from these enterprise zones, it will be


much harder? With all of these zones, you want to make sure you


are creating new investment and not taking investment from surrounding


areas. So it is important how you have that balancing act. There is a


balance, is and there, Joan Whalley? Yes, and it is about the


economy and the balance and how you factor these things together. The


real message is to Government that it is not just how you deal with


these enterprise zones. It is how every single department of the


government, from local to the Treasury, and what we want in


Stoke-on-Trent and we have said to the Prime Minister, is that we want


all the ministers together to look at our needs and then make sure


that on each and every issue, we have got a faster track into


government. We must leave it there. It is a very important couple of


months for the economy until Christmas. To you both, thank you


for being with us. Serious offences involving indecent


photographs of children, sexual assault and grievous bodily harm


were just three types of crime committed here in the Midlands last


year, where the offenders were punished without going to court.


This was certainly news to me. I don't know about you. And if that


comes as a surprise, it's certainly a concern to one Shropshire


magistrate. He's so worried about an apparent rise in on-the-spot


justice, that he submitted his own Freedom of Information request to


West Mercia Police. He gave his results to BBC Shropshire's


Low level anti-social behaviour. The kind of crime police forces


have the power to deal with themselves without going through


the courts, but some think these powers are being taken too far. One


Shropshire magistrate I've been talking to, who doesn't want to be


identified, decided to try to find out exactly how often these powers


were being used and the types of crime being punished directly by


the police. West Mercia Police dealt with half of all crimes out


of court last year, including some serious offences like distributing


indecent pictures of children, wounding with intent and sexual


assault. Nationwide research carried out by the Magistrates


Association shows similar results. We also saw offences of child abuse,


arson, child pornography and a range of other offences like that


being dealt with either by cautions or penalty notices for disorder.


They are stepping over into dealing with matters and offences which


should properly be dealt within the justice system in a court of law.


Magistrates say there is no consistency either when it comes to


dealing with crimes out of court, making this kind of justice a


postcode lottery. Latest Ministry of Justice figures show that in the


West Midlands, 32% of offences were dealt with through out-of-court


disposals - specifically warnings, cautions or fines, compared to 36%


in West Mercia and 44% in Warwickshire. John Macmillan is a


local solicitor who's been arguing cases in the West Mercia area for


40 years. This is not a judicial process. But it is an


administrative process and a cheap and cheerful way of dealing with


things, sweeping them under the carpet. It is getting crime,


lifting the carpet, shoving it under it and saying, this has not


really happened. The public don't know about it. West Mercia Police


say they only use out-of-court punishments for low-level offences,


but the figures we obtained from our Shropshire magistrate show some


serious crimes were also dealt with in this way. It would be


exceptional for those types of cases, the more serious cases, not


to go to court if we believe the evidence was there to do so. There


will be some occasions where those have been dealt with outside the


court process with the clear consent of the victim and with the


defendant actually admitting the crime, and with the senior


oversight and officer and somebody from the Crown Prosecution Service.


Thousands of people are processed in this custody centre in Worcester


every year. Many will never see the inside of a courtroom. West Mercia


Police says dealing with people out of court is not about saving money,


it's about delivering fair and appropriate justice, as well as


reducing re-offending. But many magistrates remain concerned about


the police playing prosecutor, judge and jury.


Those cases dealt with out-of-court do not go into the national


database, so if I'd commit an offence in Cheltenham and then


again in Stoke, there is no record that I have committed an offence


before. His justice being done or is it being swept under the carpet?


I think that point was made there that if all sides agree, you can


have summary justice, in a sense. It is important that there is an


element of common sense. I would say that, I am Conservative! I


might take a side issue but if it is practical and common sense,


don't have too much of an issue with it. Tony Blair was a great fan


of on-the-spot fines if he could have got it through, so this is not


confined to the Tories and Lib Dems? Absolutely not, and if it


makes sense, why not? The disturbing part is if we are seeing


the whole way in which it is applied to change and if it is


extended to a more serious crimes, because in those circumstances, you


do want to have fairness and justice. A brief word from each of


you - it could be seen by journalists as a way of massaging


the crime figures? Absolutely, especially when there is so much


attention on access to information and have -- if the information is


not there, it is dangerous. It is something we can look at and maybe


it will help with the swift process of justice. But can you reassure


the public that justice is safe in their hands? Absolutely. I think


common sense will prevail. I think the big issue is the cuts to the


police service. We must leave it there. Thank you for being with us.


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