15/06/2011 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today with Nick Owen and Suzanne Virdee.


Take a pay cut or face redundancies - the stark choice for council


workers. Our members are going to be


extremely worried about what will happen. As unemployment falls by


more than anywhere else in the country, there are signs house


building is recovering. We have taken 60 % of their staff


are back, we lost during the recession and hope to take on


another 20 % by the end of the year. They really don't want him - angry


scenes at Villa Park as fans make their feelings know about ex-Blues


boss Alex McLeish taking over. And inseparable in Afghanistan but


after this soldier died, how the dog he saved has found a new life


with his family. We have a British bulldog at the home at the moment.


Good evening. Tonight, battle lines drawn as a council tries


to/workers' pay. Shropshire Council insists cutting pay will cut -- or


cutting jobs will be the only way to save millions of pounds.


Pay will be slashed by 5.4 %. The council is negotiating with news --


is negotiating with unions. They could dismiss 6,500 workers and


then rehire them under the new terms and conditions.


As unions elsewhere in the public sector have voted to strike, what


is happening in Shropshire is being closely watched.


Protecting jobs and still pumping money into front line services,


Betty Shropshire Council's argument for pushing through the 5% pay cut.


-- that is. I am angry and worried about what is going to happen.


People make the decisions based on their finances. We have had a


reduction in pay because we have had their pay increases for two


years. In October before Christmas, they will be facing �1,000


reduction in their salary. Second in command, 10 MacCabe, will see


his �135,000 salary drop by a �7,000 over two years. I am not


saying the staff are happy. They won't be happy to take a 5% pay cut


on top of pay freezes. We need to have our staff on board because


they are the people who deliver services. For the council is hoping


to reach an agreement with unions. If no agreement is reached, the


council plans to get rid of staff and then we hire them. It is


legally possible to do this provided they have carried out


correct consultation. They can issue notices of termination and


offer re-employment. Those using the service had mixed views in this


library. 5% is a horrendous amount. Not in agreement with that.


have to make cuts somewhere. The people with cuts being made to


their salary are going to feel it the most. The private sector has


seen this before. In 2008, two- thirds of GMB union members at JCB


in roaster voted for a theatre for an hour week. A year later, Jaguar


and Land Rover staff voted for a one-year pay freeze and four-day


week to save �70 million. Inflation on essentials like food is racing


on heads at 5%. At the same time, the pay cut the council workers are


facing is also a 5%. Those earning below �13,000 won't see a dip in


pay. The proposals will go a bit for council later this month. --


before council. Earlier we asked you what you


thought. Malcolm says, he thinks they should be a national strike to


bring an end to this Mickey Mouse Government.


Mrs Gilbert says, it is about time the public sector joined the real-


world. In the private sector, this is a way of life.


John Price says, accepting cuts in pay will be easier if any example


was set by management instead of greed and bonuses.


Thanks for your comments. We will keep you in touch with that


situation at Shropshire Council. There was far more positive news


today on jobs overall. Unemployment in the West Midlands has fallen by


the biggest margin in the country. 200 and that to 5,000 people were


unemployed in the region between February and April and that is a


drop of 20,000 on the previous quarter.


Peter Plisner is at a housing development in south Birmingham.


Very positive news on jobs. Part of the reason appears to be a


recovering in the house construction industry.


Indeed, the show houses are amongst the most modern homes in the region


and next door, you can see more houses are going up. After the


toughest recession, the housing sector has ever seen, more and more


sites are being developed and there are plenty of buyers -- by his


interest in houses like this. The developers have been surprised by


Signs of life in the housing market and that this show hosts -- a show


house, there has been a brisk trade. It is a good time to buy at the


moment because the prices are quite reasonable. We have decided it is a


good opportunity for investment and hopefully in the latter years, we


will get a good return. Housebuilders were first to feel


the chill wind of the recession. They have been the last to recover.


Cheaper mortgages and Government incentives are encouraging more


first-time buyers. The site has woodland on the front and side. The


company building here say it can't come soon enough. Mortgage


availability is easing and the low interest rate is helping. There has


been a heavy reduction and the number of transactions and


therefore there must be some demand. New homes mean that new jobs. For


every new house that is built, around 1.5 permanent jobs are


created. Here, around 3,500 new homes have gained planning approval,


a rise on the previous three months. It is excellent news for so Cran


trick -- sub-contractors. They are taking on staff after laying off


around sake -- 70 carpenters during the recession. Compared to the last


three years, it is feeling good. We have taken 60 % of the staff back,


and we are hoping to take on another 20 % by the end of the year.


Down the road at Longbridge, more evidence of a revival. Houses are


being built on the site of the old Rover car factory. People are


looking and saying, "we have seen residential developments and this


is an opportunity to get into the housing market early.". We are


clearly not out of the woods yet. This is the picture on another part


of the site where a second promised housing development has yet to


materialise. We have seen a fall in unemployment today. Is there


evidence that we could see this long term? It is still too early to


say. More jobs are being created in this area. The developer of the


Longbridge site are about to go out to consultation for more horse that


-- for more houses on aside. One thing we don't know is the state of


the jobs in the other sector. Despite the picture with


unemployment that could go up, the Skills Minister he was in a patch


today, says he is encouraged. is great news. It is at the


beginning of a journey. This Government set about rebuilding our


economy, dealing with a deficit and investing in our people, our


infrastructure. We want to make it more sustainable and robust.


private sector companies like housebuilders are recovering from


recession, we should be in a good position to apply many of those who


are about to lose their jobs in the public sector. That is the hope.


There's more confidence in the private sector that managing


directors I have been speaking to are still cautious. They have faced


a tough recession and they see it is too early to be creating too


many new jobs at the moment. Later, we will be at the unveiling of a


new multi-million-pound plant which is adding to create jobs and go a


way to saving the planet. For also, reliving our history as


children from the East End of London had to Shropshire for a re-


run of the exodus on evacuees. On to the increasingly bitter


tussle between Birmingham City and Aston Villa over former Blues


manager, Alex McLeish. Some fans are making it clear tonight that


they don't want McLeish at Villa Park.


Nick is there for us now. What is happening?


It is starting to quieten down about around 300 Aston Villa


supporters were very angry at disappointment of Alex McLeish.


They staged a sit-in on the streets outside the main gates here at


Villa Park. They were angry. They had been small numbers but it grew


and grew. There have been on the payment -- pavement and took over


the road. They don't want Alex McLeish here as the next manager.


Let us hear from some of the fans. If you have ambition and direction


this club, we would not be thinking about employing him. They have to


learn that this is not good enough. Our credibility is bankrupt. The


country is laughing. They are laughing at the board. For he is


hour rivals manager. We don't like Birmingham City and they don't like


us. We don't want him. For please, go away and go to Scotland. Leave


us alone and get out the country. You are useless. Some passion there.


First, things are cranked up. Villa announced that they consider


McLeish to be a free agent who would -- and they would interview


him imminently about the job. Birmingham responded cooling the


actions eight taint on football. They said they would lodge a formal


complaint with the football authorities at what they call this


tap up attempt. Nick, what you think will happen next? Alex


McLeish has interrupted his holiday to come back and talk today in


London. Fetters with a view to appointing him as manager if they


believe he is the right candidate. That is with their view. You have


to wonder, would be really put themselves through this if they


weren't going to appoint Alex McLeish as their new manager? Alex


McLeish is a very tough man. He has managed Rangers in Scotland. You


have to be hard to do their job. He was a tough centre-half in his


playing days. He will not be put up -- after bathing the club will give


him the job. We will have to wait to see what will happen. Maybe it


Alex McLeish will be the new Now, other news.


After 150 years, a part of farming history has closed its doors.


Thousands of animals have been bought and sold in that time at


Hereford cattle market, but now it's moving to new premises. But


it's the redevelopment of the old site that's causing controversy, as


Cath Mackie reports. Aged 90, farmer Jack Sparey has


been coming to Hereford cattle market for over 80 years. And today,


he's come to say goodbye. To me, it is a sad day. But I have had my


turn. So I mustn't grumble. After 154 years, the livestock sales are


coming to an end on this city centre site - the market's moving


to purpose built premises on the outskirts of the city. It will make


it easier for us to have the Newmarket there because we won't


have congestion. It is easier out of town but it is sad. The road


system cannot cope. It is a marvellous piece of history.


Unfortunately, it has got to move on. But it is very happy memories


and looking forward to a future. Today, though, is not all about


nostalgia. There are real political arguments over the future of this


site and whether or not its redevelopment will be good or bad


for Hereford. Shops, restaurants and a cinema will replace the


livestock pens. When you think of multiplex cinemas wanting to come


to Hereford for the last 15 years, this is a sensible place to develop


for. But detractors say it'll cut the city in half. The It's Our


County party grew out of the opposition, winning seats at last


months local elections. I welcome the shops, don't get me wrong.


Hereford needs better shops. But to put them all on one place, on the


age of city centre with four lanes dividing the city, it spells


competition, and all those local businesses that feed off the town


centre will lose out. That theory will be tested when the


redevelopment's completed in 2013. But today was about saying goodbye


to a piece of rural history as the auction hammer fell for the last


time. The end of an era. For more on the colourful history of


Hereford's market and pictures, take a look at the website.


A 16-year-old boy accused of killing a Warwickshire tennis coach


in Florida has allegedly confessed to another prison inmate. Shawn


Tyson is currently awaiting trial for shooting 25-year-old James


Cooper from Warwick and his university friend James Kouzaris in


April. According to court documents obtained by a Florida newspaper,


prosecutors allege Tyson told a fellow inmate he killed both men.


Stoke-on-Trent would benefit from significant regeneration if it was


part of the high speed rail route, according to the city council. It's


now likely to try to secure a station that would be used by the


fast rail link from London to the Midlands. Meanwhile, Birmingham


City Council claims most people living along the route in the city


support the scheme. People living near the proposed tracks were asked


for their views with nearly two thirds backing the plans.


With unemployment down in the region, another boost to the


economy now. A �2 million machine's been unveiled which it's hoped will


create jobs and help cut emissions by turning rubbish into fuel. The


finished product is being used to power a nearby factory and will


prevent 20,000 tonnes of rubbish going to landfill every year. Bob


Hockenhull reports. It looks like something out of


Wallace and Gromit. But its purpose is deadly serious. The shredder has


cost �2 million to install at a waste plant in Rugby and is the


first of its kind in the country. 50% of the rubbish would have gone


to land will a few months ago but now the Schroder has been installed,


only a fraction of it is going to land four and eventually, none of


it will be going to landfill. That's because the machine can


separate materials like plastic, textiles and cardboard which were


previously considered unusable. Strong magnets take out metals and


rubble to leave this. It's called Refuse Derived Fuel and is being


used to power this cement making plant less than two miles down the


road. I feel other companies can use this material. There is a lot


of it and it is the right thing to do morally and environmentally.


alternative is this. The UK dumps more than 50 million tonnes of


waste into landfill every year. Companies are charged �70 a tonne


to dispose of it and that price is set to increase annually. Britain


is behind the rest of Europe in its treatment of waste. It is not


sustainable. We will run out of places to put it soon. Investing in


the shredder has helped secure jobs, it's provided a cleaner alternative


to fossil fuels and it's helping to save the planet.


Still to come tonight: As Wimbledon approaches, what's


happened to our grass roots tennis and when will we ever produce a


champion to take the title? And there's a total lunar eclipse


tonight. Question is, will you be able to see? Find out what the


One of the most poignant episodes of World War Two was re-enacted


today as a Shropshire village welcomed a new wave of London


evacuees. The evacuation from Britain's cities involved nearly


three million people. Children were told to take with them only


essentials, including a knife, fork and spoon, and a warm coat or


mackintosh. It is heart-warming, isn't it? But what would today's


generation make of it all? Here's Sarah Falkland.


It is goodbye to cities. The children had for the special train.


They are not worrying - they are going on holiday!


Operation Pied Piper, the biggest and most concentrated mass movement


of people in British history. Children at St Mary's in Bucknell


in Shropshire were only expecting 62 pupils from a primary school in


Peckham in London. Only it wasn't quite the smooth operation of 1939.


They weren't on board, but they did eventually arrive by bus. This was


the culmination of their history project on World War Two and the


evacuation. They might have been a bit scared of leaving their home


and they might have wanted to stay, but I think they would be happy


they were sent away instead of being bombed. They wouldn't have


seen farmyard animals and so much green. And, yes, it would probably


be difficult. And for many of these modern day pretend evacuees, it was


their first experience of the British countryside. Which do you


prefer? I prefer Shropshire. you? Why? Because at night time, I


will be able to sleep. In Peckham at night time, I wake up early in


the morning because of noise. village hall was the first port of


call for many evacuees. If they would be lined up and picked out by


a host families. Today, the children from Peckham are having a


slightly different experience. Each one of us will be issued with


a look gas mask. A light hearted play about the evacuation, but the


reality could be very different. When it came to going to bed, there


were no -- there was no room for us. There was no preparation and we


were not wanted, obviously. We were taken up to the attic. We opened up


our cases and got into our cases across an open case and covered


ourselves with clothes. There was a warm welcome for today's evacuees,


though. And no rationing! It is a lot more fun when it is not


real, isn't it? That is grim. Some amazing stories have come out over


the years. With just five days to go until the


start of Wimbledon, a new �2 million tennis centre was opened in


Shropshire today by the former British number one Greg Rusedski.


It's claimed more people play tennis every week than cricket,


rugby union and rugby league combined. But several clubs in the


region have seen membership fall so low, they're on the verge of


A performance! For two weeks every year, tennis


becomes the nation's favourite sport and we hold our breath and


dream that one day a British player will be crowned Wimbledon champion.


And could it be that a future champion is discovered here at the


new �2 million tennis centre in Telford? My father used to play


tennis and we started in the park. That is how I got involved. I gave


it to go and made a career out of it. Despite the investment, it is


not so pretty and other clubs. Bilston Tennis Club is on the edge,


with two courts unrecognisable, membership numbers have dropped


dramatically. If things don't change in the next couple of years,


it is more than likely this club is not going to be around. At Yardley


in Birmingham, two of the four courts are completely unplayable


and have fallen into such a state of disrepair that until recently


this club was on the brink of closure. It's is up to us and


coaches like us, to think out of the box, get into schools, try to


find some funding and good activity going. In Telford, the top man in


British tennis joined the celebrations. Roger, this is a


beautiful facility but I have seen tennis facilities in the Midlands


that have got weeds growing up the outside courts. It is not about the


facilities but the people as well so what we can do is help with


facility investments, loans and grants, but people may things


happen. As well as spending money here, up to �5 million has been


promised to the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham but elsewhere


there is a desperate need for support and funding, and there is


no doubt some of the region's We do see some sad courts around.


They are expensive to maintain. But in two weeks, and they will all


Private Conrad Lewis from Warwickshire was just 22 when he


was shot dead in Afghanistan. Before he died he'd started to look


after a stray dog and vowed one day to bring her home. Well, now his


family have fulfilled that promise, as Kevin Reide's been finding out.


Conrad Lewis in action in the Nad Ali district of Afghanistan. As


well as befriending the locals, he also took to this three-year-old


stray mongrel who he named Pegasus after the Parachute Regiment's


emblem. Sadly, Conrad was never able to fulfil a vow to take her


out of harms way and bring her to the UK. But now, just months after


his death, his family with the help on animal charity, have answered


his wishes. He loved the dock. He wrote about her extensively. At


Christmas, he said he would have liked to bring her back, so we have


completed that for him. With the help of the Dogs Trust. She is


howling to him out there. She was by his side throughout that period.


Pegasus will have to stay in quarantine until November, and then


she'll be allowed to join Conrad's family. It's something they're


really looking forward to. It is heart-wrenching coming here every


weekend and seeing her and wanting to take her home, and her wanting


to come home, but it is going to be worth it in the end. She is really


placid, easy to get along with. And... She would join the family


really well. You think what she has been through, the life she could


have had, and hopefully the life she will have from now on. She will


be very loved for. And back at the family home, they're already


immortalising Conrad's love of his four legged friend in this painting.


It show's him and his colleagues in armed combat, whilst Pegasus scours


the floor for scraps. She can now expect a much more comfortable and


She doesn't want to say goodbye. She will be all right soon.


A wonderful link with Conrad. The weather now.


The re and Bob has been tame, but we have still got some showers this


evening. We have got a lunar eclipse taking


place tonight, so will you be able to see it? Probably not. This will


happen at 9:30pm, and by 11pm, we will have more rain. This is where


we are. This cold front and this other front, with a bundle of


showers. The secluded front creates the swell of rain. Tonight, we have


got showers, a line of them running through Eastern parts. They will be


moving away this evening, so perhaps some brief clear spells. By


the end of the night, it is going to be covering most of these


southern half. Further North, it is looking dry, but there is a lot of


cloud around, leaving it reasonably mild. For the morning, it is


looking damp and grey, especially in the South and East and the rain


clears away quickly to the East followed by quite a few showers,


widespread, heavy showers, some of them turning thundery. There will


not be much sunshine in between. They take temperatures up to 19 in


the South, but only 15 in the North, and could turn breezy. Heavy rain


on Friday. That is a good thing, I suppose.


A look at tonight's main headlines: Another union joins the protest


against pension cuts. Civil servants vote to join teachers in a


walk out on June 30th. And staff at Shropshire Council


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