15/06/2011 Midlands Today


15/06/2011

The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.


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

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

:00:09.:00:14.

workers. Our members are going to be

:00:14.:00:18.

extremely worried about what will happen. As unemployment falls by

:00:18.:00:21.

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

:00:21.:00:27.

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

:00:27.:00:31.

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

:00:31.:00:36.

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

:00:36.:00:39.

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

:00:39.:00:42.

boss Alex McLeish taking over. And inseparable in Afghanistan but

:00:42.:00:46.

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

:00:46.:00:56.
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with his family. We have a British bulldog at the home at the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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then rehire them under the new terms and conditions.

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

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is happening in Shropshire is being closely watched.

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Protecting jobs and still pumping money into front line services,

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

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

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

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

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

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

:02:31.:02:38.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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legally possible to do this provided they have carried out

:03:08.:03:13.

correct consultation. They can issue notices of termination and

:03:13.:03:19.

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

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

:03:27.:03:33.

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

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

:03:36.:03:41.

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

:03:41.:03:50.

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

:03:50.:03:54.

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

:03:54.:04:01.

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

:04:01.:04:06.

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

:04:06.:04:13.

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

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

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before council. Earlier we asked you what you

:04:25.:04:28.

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

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bring an end to this Mickey Mouse Government.

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

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

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

:04:45.:04:49.

was set by management instead of greed and bonuses.

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

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situation at Shropshire Council. There was far more positive news

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

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

:05:05.:05:09.

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

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drop of 20,000 on the previous quarter.

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Peter Plisner is at a housing development in south Birmingham.

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

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recovering in the house construction industry.

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

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

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

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

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

:05:48.:05:58.
:05:58.:06:00.

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

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

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

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

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will get a good return. Housebuilders were first to feel

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

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Cheaper mortgages and Government incentives are encouraging more

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

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

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

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been a heavy reduction and the number of transactions and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the jobs in the other sector. Despite the picture with

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

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

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beginning of a journey. This Government set about rebuilding our

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

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

:09:09.:09:12.

private sector companies like housebuilders are recovering from

:09:12.:09:15.

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

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

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There's more confidence in the private sector that managing

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

:09:29.:09:33.

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

:09:33.:09:39.

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

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

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

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

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

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tussle between Birmingham City and Aston Villa over former Blues

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

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they don't want McLeish at Villa Park.

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Nick is there for us now. What is happening?

:10:19.:10:23.

It is starting to quieten down about around 300 Aston Villa

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supporters were very angry at disappointment of Alex McLeish.

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

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

:10:37.:10:43.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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him imminently about the job. Birmingham responded cooling the

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

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complaint with the football authorities at what they call this

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

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

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

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

:12:13.:12:17.

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

:12:17.:12:22.

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

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

:12:27.:12:32.

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

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

:12:37.:12:42.

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

:12:42.:12:52.
:12:52.:12:52.

Alex McLeish will be the new Now, other news.

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

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

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

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

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Cath Mackie reports. Aged 90, farmer Jack Sparey has

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:15:01.:15:03.

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

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

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

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in Florida has allegedly confessed to another prison inmate. Shawn

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

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Cooper from Warwick and his university friend James Kouzaris in

:15:18.:15:23.

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

:15:23.:15:29.

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

:15:29.:15:31.

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

:15:31.:15:36.

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

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

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

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

:15:46.:15:50.

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

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for their views with nearly two thirds backing the plans.

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With unemployment down in the region, another boost to the

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

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

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

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

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Hockenhull reports. It looks like something out of

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

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

:16:25.:16:33.

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

:16:33.:16:37.

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

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

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

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separate materials like plastic, textiles and cardboard which were

:16:46.:16:50.

previously considered unusable. Strong magnets take out metals and

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

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

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

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

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

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

:17:15.:17:25.

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

:17:25.:17:30.

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

:17:30.:17:36.

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

:17:36.:17:39.

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

:17:39.:17:46.

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

:17:46.:17:48.

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

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

:17:51.:17:56.

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

:17:56.:18:00.

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

:18:00.:18:10.
:18:10.:18:12.

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

:18:12.:18:15.

today as a Shropshire village welcomed a new wave of London

:18:15.:18:18.

evacuees. The evacuation from Britain's cities involved nearly

:18:18.:18:22.

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

:18:22.:18:25.

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

:18:25.:18:32.

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

:18:32.:18:37.

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

:18:37.:18:43.

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

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They are not worrying - they are going on holiday!

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Operation Pied Piper, the biggest and most concentrated mass movement

:18:49.:18:52.

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

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

:18:55.:18:59.

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

:18:59.:19:06.

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

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

:19:09.:19:16.

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

:19:16.:19:21.

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

:19:21.:19:26.

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

:19:26.:19:31.

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

:19:31.:19:35.

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

:19:35.:19:40.

their first experience of the British countryside. Which do you

:19:40.:19:48.

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

:19:48.:19:54.

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

:19:54.:19:58.

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

:19:58.:20:03.

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

:20:03.:20:06.

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

:20:07.:20:13.

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

:20:13.:20:17.

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

:20:17.:20:21.

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

:20:21.:20:25.

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

:20:25.:20:33.

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

:20:33.:20:38.

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

:20:38.:20:41.

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

:20:41.:20:50.

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

:20:50.:20:55.

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

:20:55.:20:58.

the years. With just five days to go until the

:20:58.:21:01.

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

:21:01.:21:04.

Shropshire today by the former British number one Greg Rusedski.

:21:04.:21:06.

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

:21:06.:21:10.

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

:21:10.:21:13.

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

:21:13.:21:23.
:21:23.:21:28.

A performance! For two weeks every year, tennis

:21:28.:21:31.

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

:21:31.:21:35.

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

:21:35.:21:39.

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

:21:39.:21:47.

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

:21:47.:21:52.

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

:21:52.:22:00.

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

:22:00.:22:06.

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

:22:06.:22:08.

with two courts unrecognisable, membership numbers have dropped

:22:08.:22:13.

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

:22:13.:22:18.

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

:22:18.:22:22.

in Birmingham, two of the four courts are completely unplayable

:22:22.:22:27.

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

:22:27.:22:31.

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

:22:31.:22:36.

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

:22:36.:22:40.

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

:22:40.:22:44.

British tennis joined the celebrations. Roger, this is a

:22:44.:22:48.

beautiful facility but I have seen tennis facilities in the Midlands

:22:48.:22:52.

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

:22:52.:22:56.

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

:22:56.:22:59.

facility investments, loans and grants, but people may things

:22:59.:23:05.

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

:23:05.:23:07.

promised to the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham but elsewhere

:23:07.:23:11.

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

:23:11.:23:21.
:23:21.:23:21.

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

:23:21.:23:28.

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

:23:28.:23:38.
:23:38.:23:40.

Private Conrad Lewis from Warwickshire was just 22 when he

:23:40.:23:43.

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

:23:43.:23:47.

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

:23:47.:23:50.

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

:23:50.:23:53.

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

:23:53.:23:55.

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

:23:55.:23:58.

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

:23:58.:24:01.

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

:24:01.:24:08.

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

:24:08.:24:11.

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

:24:11.:24:18.

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

:24:18.:24:22.

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

:24:22.:24:28.

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

:24:28.:24:32.

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

:24:32.:24:35.

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

:24:35.:24:37.

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

:24:37.:24:44.

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

:24:44.:24:48.

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

:24:48.:24:53.

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

:24:53.:24:58.

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

:24:58.:25:03.

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

:25:03.:25:07.

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

:25:07.:25:11.

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

:25:11.:25:13.

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

:25:13.:25:16.

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

:25:16.:25:22.

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

:25:22.:25:32.
:25:32.:25:37.

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

:25:37.:25:47.

A wonderful link with Conrad. The weather now.

:25:47.:25:53.

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

:25:53.:25:55.

evening. We have got a lunar eclipse taking

:25:55.:26:02.

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

:26:02.:26:10.

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

:26:10.:26:15.

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

:26:16.:26:23.

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

:26:23.:26:27.

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

:26:27.:26:34.

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

:26:34.:26:39.

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

:26:40.:26:45.

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

:26:45.:26:50.

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

:26:50.:26:55.

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

:26:55.:27:00.

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

:27:00.:27:05.

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

:27:05.:27:10.

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

:27:10.:27:16.

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

:27:16.:27:21.

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

:27:21.:27:24.

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

:27:24.:27:26.

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

:27:26.:27:29.

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

:27:29.:27:37.

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