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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