13/11/2011 The Politics Show West Midlands


13/11/2011

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


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In the Midlands, we will remember them. Bob Ainsworth reveals their

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heavy responsibilities and frustrations of high office. And

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1884 seconds

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Hello again. Later we will be asking why MPs are giving their

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backing to high-speed rail. First, �6.7 million was raised in this

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region alone last year by the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal, to

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help and support the armed forces. That was nearly one-fifth of the UK

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total. What sort of shape are the defence forces in? Peter Luff

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should know, he is responsible for equipment and technology. Steve

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McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak. That constituency

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borders the internationally renowned Centre for Defence

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Medicine in Queen Elizabeth Hospital. We also have a Dawn

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Turner from Rubery in Worcestershire. She is a very proud

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mother, who has two sons that you are serving in the military. Tell

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us about them. One is in the Royal Artillery, the other is in the

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Royal Horse Artillery. They both joined at 16. The eldest has done a

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tour in Iraq, the younger one has done a tour in Afghanistan. We are

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no rating -- we're waiting for my eldest son to go back to

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Afghanistan. You must be extremely proud of them. As a family, you are

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just perfectly committed to the cause they are engaged in?

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course. I am very proud. Pride always comes with a price, and that

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is the worry of the knock on the door. The ringing phone. I am

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extremely proud. All of us can identify with that. Plenty to talk

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about today. I have been talking to Bob Ainsworth, the former Secretary

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of State for Defence. He joined me in the Westminster studio to

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reflect on his period at the men and -- his period at the Ministry

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of Defence. There was a lot of debate about equipment. When you

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have people in harm's way, Afghanistan is about the most

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difficult operation the British forces have done since Korea, there

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can never be enough. Just the other night, I spent some time with the

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brigade that have just come back, and they are getting the benefit of

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decisions that were taken a very long time ago. To talk about the

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delay like that, that is difficult if you think about the love one's

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of soldiers who are right there. One reason problem was getting

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ballistic protection for small vehicles. -- one reason problem. We

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now have it. It has been built in the Midlands but it was designed

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from scratch in order to get that dynamic. The military covenant is

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something that you and other ministers have spoken of in strong

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support. It enshrines the obligation from the state to be

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able to put their way -- from the State for people who put their

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lives on the line. You have put it in a document. I did, it put

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obligations on every department of government to deliver for around

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forces. We had it in our manifesto. -- are our own forces. But we

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should have read in a legal document. David Cameron said he

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would. The Colonial Service gives us good value for money. --

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coronial service. But there is no good standard that runs throughout

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it. They teach the other departments lesson, but at worst

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they are dreadful. Does it surprise you there might be to -- and

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jealousy that creeps in. There is a resentment that other people feel

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the service community are getting preferential treatment? Nobody else

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is asked to put their lives on the line and take orders to walk into

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extreme danger. When people are injured in those circumstances, it

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is absolutely appropriate. The overwhelming majority of civilians

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if they think about it, support that. It is not special treatment.

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Is his return for sacrifice and for services given to the nation. -- it

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is a return. Bob Ainsworth giving us a sense of the extreme pressure

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on any Secretary of State. Peter Luff, can you identify with that

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frustrations he felt. There is the delay, night time goggles, body

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armour, getting them out to the front. I can, and there is to

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sources of that delay. Political will and technical issues. -- two

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sources. There is no point having new equipment taken out to

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Afghanistan if they cannot use it. Training is important. It does take

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a long time. The troops have never been better equipped than they are

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now. So would you say to Dawn Turner, whose sons are out there,

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that the situation is now resolved. I can. Like all, I met three

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Commando last week. They are delighted with the equipment. They

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say it is performing better than expected. I can say that our boys

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and girls have exactly what they need. You are benefiting from a

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hard work that Bob Ainsworth put in? He did. He did a lot of good

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work. But we inherited a financial mess and we kept the process going.

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I am very happy that the people in Afghanistan have that equipment now.

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Steve, you will be keeping watch on this issue. I think where they are

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taking measures to protect the troops, we will give them our total

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support. People do not want to see political parties squabbling about

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the treatment of the armed services. Obviously some areas we have

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reservations, we want to know what has happened to the dedicated wards

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but the Prime Minister promised. We do not think the decision on

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pensions is correct. We think a number of people who stand to lose

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out quite heavily. -- will lose out. So we will push them in those areas.

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Those issues resonate very strongly in this part of the country. We are

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told that one in eight of all new recruits are from the West Midlands.

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There is a real affinity in this part of the country, is there not?

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There is. It is important these guys keep contact with your family.

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I must agree with Peter, my sons have commented on what an

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improvement has been made on the equipment. The helmets bit better,

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the lights do not fall down. These things make the difference. -- fit

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better. Are you satisfied that the armed forces covenant is been taken

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seriously? To a certain degree. There is

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obviously areas that need to be looked at. For example? A few weeks

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ago there was a young soldier who lost his life, and his family were

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absolutely devastated when his wages came through, and he was

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docked 10 days because he died 10 days before the pay-day. We know

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all politicians do not discuss individual cases, but the Ministry

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of Defence does need to look into this to make sure that that is

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prevented in the future. Peter Luff, that does seem particularly bad.

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was wrong and should not have happened. The overall picture is

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encouraging. The principles are now in lot. We can be held to account

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for anything. -- now in law. It is very good. Given the proximity for

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the centre of defence medicine deer -- the Centre for Defence Medicine

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to your constituency, what you say to the people who say armed forces

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are getting special treatment? have not encountered that myself.

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When I have spoken to civilians, they have been quite proud of what

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goes on there on behalf of our troops. There will always be one or

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two people, it is always possible to find someone like that, but the

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general feeling is everyone is benefiting because some of these

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young people were very badly injured but it tests the doctors to

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the limits in terms of the work they are doing. The civilian

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population benefit as a result of these medical advances. Your son

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received some treatment there himself, did he not? He did, when

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it was based in Selly Oak. He broke his ankle. Where did he get his

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injury? Afghanistan. We found out it was his cousin that flew them

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home. Obviously, Dawn Turner is reassured, but the difficulty as

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Bob Ainsworth said is that this defence cover and we have been

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talking about evolves all the time, so that next service and the next

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service will continue. You cannot keep up with that. -- defence

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covenant. I happen to disagree with Bob Ainsworth about the top --

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about the chief coroner. It is about a whole service. We believe

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the reforms we need to make to make it better for military families can

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be made more rapidly. It has been very good to talk to you Dawn

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Turner, and for the moment, thank you very much indeed.

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There is a good case to build a high-speed rail line, so says the

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Transport Select Committee. They have been examining plans for a new

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generation of bigger, faster trains, starting with a link between

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Birmingham and London. As Andrew Adonis once said, everybody wants a

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station, nobody wants the line. Our transport correspondent found the

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project is not yet a done deal. Believe the spin and you would

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think the committee had given HS2 a ringing endorsement. Go through the

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report and you find a different story. Although the concept gets a

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thumbs-up, there is doubt. The Transport Select Committee are

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asking very deep questions. They have been misgivings about HS2.

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information they are asking for work will completely devastate the

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case for a chest do. The committee is concerned about not only the

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strength of the business case but also investment levels on the

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existing network. MPs want to know how a test to fit into the

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transport strategy. This will go through a long parliamentary

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process, and we suggest the key questions that need to be asked.

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For those affected by a Test do, last week's report says they are

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not the only ones with misgivings. It will become more heated next

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month when the public consultation results are printed. Ministers

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certainly seem to have their work cut out if they are going to have a

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considered response ready in time for the big announcement, following

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public consultation. Steve McCabe, in common with most Labour MPs, all

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the big centres, you are a supporter. But these are not just

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idle criticisms. The environmental impact, financial, damage to rural

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economies, this is substantial staff. There -- substantial stuff.

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That is why we have select committees. My view is this country

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does not have a great history in dealing with these major

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infrastructure transport projects. This one has tremendous potential.

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The benefits to the Birmingham economy are enormous. It is quite

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right that before you embark on a project like this, some of the

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questions and criticisms are addressed. Peter Luff, a final word,

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you are very knowledgeable on the railway industry, should we not

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take on these criticisms? We will listen to the criticisms, that is

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what the select committee does. It is the right idea to build this

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line. We must get the detail right. Will this be on the statute book

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What links Crawshawbooth in Lancashire, Congelton in Cheshire

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and Knowsley Safari Park on -- the statute book?

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There are many beneficiaries of Children In Need. Each year, the

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fund-raising campaign swings into action. We have been to see how one

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minibus has been delivering a healthier way of living for some

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Staffordshire children. It is lifestyle and lack of exercise that

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is the major cause of obesity. Youngsters play computer sport

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rather than doing it. I was the class clown. Just silly comments.

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They would all add up. Now at 15, he is a boxing champion and is

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totally dedicated. His father cannot believe the turnaround.

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transformation has been unbelievable. He is not interested

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in going out with his friends any more. He wants to be at the

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gymnasium. His attitude is completely different. He is a

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different person. Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club, established 1969. Part

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of the big society before it started. It punches well above its

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weight in a poor community. Although it has had lottery funding,

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people feel it has had one hand tied behind its back. I do not know

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when the big society will happen. It has not changed anything for us.

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We are struggling for space. If it was to work, we would have that

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space. Without BBC children In Need funding this minibus, pupils would

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struggle to get here. Some of these teenagers could have been expelled.

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They are now tot by boxing coaches, and have landed 150 GCSEs. It is a

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lot more fun. They make the lessons more fun. I am not in school so I

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come here and it makes me feel better. It is better than school.

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The budget has have for alternative courses. -- halved. Some doctors

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are worried about health inequality. I would agree nationally we have

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got to make certain we do not lose healthily quality -- health

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inequality. The best way out of poverty is education, and people

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who are educated quite simply live longer. In parts of the West

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Midlands, a quarter of children are obese. More than a third live in

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