27/06/2011 Midlands Today


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


The headlines tonight. "They'll save lives". Fire chiefs


call for sprinkler systems to be fitted in all new homes. Remember,


years ago we had a campaign to get seatbelts fitted to all cars. This


is a similar sort of thing in people's houses. Look at the


difference that made. Four people arrested after reports


of a shooting in a Warwickshire village. We have lived here for


nine or 10 years and I haven't seen anything like it.


Fears that hundreds of jobs could go, under plans to cut emergency


surgery at Stafford Hospital. And vibrant at the Villa, as


thousands of fans stream in for the Good evening, welcome to Monday's


Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight, "change the law to save


the lives of hundreds of people killed in house fires". That's the


appeal today from senior firefighters who want to see new


legislation introduced to force builders to fit all new homes with


sprinkler systems. 347 people died in house fires across the country


last year. In the Midlands, 35 people were killed. The worst-hit


part of our region was the West Midlands Fire Service area, where


16 people died. The law has already been changed in Wales, but in


England, developers are worried about the cost. The Government has


also said it has no plans to change the law. Joan Cummins has this


exclusive report. Two identical houses in Stratford


Upon Avon designated for demolition, but now destined for a graphic fire


demonstration. The house on the left doesn't have sprinklers. The


one on the right does. Warwickshire Fire Service invited me to witness


the devastating reality of a raging house fire. As you can see, it has


been a matter of seconds is as the fire has taken hold and smoke is


rising in the building. If you were living in this house, it could be


potentially fatal. As the fire intensified, time for a quick exit.


You saw how quickly this room filled with toxic smoke. There is


every possibility that if you had been asleep on the sofa, you would


not have woken up. Next door in house number two, the fire started


in exactly the same way but ended abruptly and differently. When the


temperature hit 68 degrees Centigrade, the sprinklers


activated, the flames were quenched and a grey smoke filled the room.


Fire fighters are still dealing with the fire in this house but you


can immediately see that the level of smoke coming out of the windows


is nothing compared to the earlier house. I think it is a no-brainer


because I want the people of Warwickshire and the rest of the


country to be the safest they can be. That is why we are trying to


lobby for support and impress upon people the benefit of sprinklers


because I think they should be introduced as standard,


particularly in new houses and social housing. This should be on


the start off the plans. Caroline Tucker, from Swansea, suffered


life-changing burns when she was 11. Her four-year-old sister died. And


23 years later, Caroline knows first-hand the emotional cost of


fire. I wouldn't want my worst enemy to go what I went through.


Nobody deserves that. You have people staring at you in the street.


You have got children running a wear from you. Caroline


successfully lobbied the Welsh Assembly this year to introduce


legislation in 2012 that insists that sprinklers are fitted to new


homes. She can't understand the reluctance to extend this


legislation throughout Britain. Could she look me in the eye and


say, it is not worth that. I don't think so. Fitting sprinklers to a


new house can cost around �2,000. The Home Builders Federation, who


represent private developers, say they'll abide by law changes but


say the cost of the long list of requirements is making many sites


non-viable. In other words, it's all about cost, something that


gives social housing providers a similar dilemma. There's lots of


pressures on our funding and we have lots of different priorities.


Once we have finished building the properties, we don't have much


money left. We are not private developers and we do not make a


profit. In a statement the Government said:


"There are no plans to force builders to fit sprinklers in new


homes. Extensive analysis has shown that this is neither necessary nor


cost-effective". Joining us now is Nadhim Zahawi,


the Conservative MP for Stratford- upon-Avon. His constituency covers


the Warwickshire Fire Service area. This seems like a great idea. Are


you disappointed your government says it has no plans to change the


law and make sprinklers compulsory in all new homes? It is a good idea.


You heard from the people in that film and Caroline is a very


powerful advocate for the sprinkler system. We saw the effects on those


two houses in Stratford. Legislation is not felt to be the


be-all and end-all of what needs to happen. The minister things using


the Localism Bill and a Big Society agenda, working with the planning


authority and the housing associations, with builders and


developers, you can actually get a real movement together. If you


think about it, if the new-build builders use this as a way, and a


selling point, it can... But it will be a lottery. Some new homes


will have it and some won't. That seems unfair? Only if you only get


certain people doing it. But if we are to get real movement, I think


it has to come from bottom-up, rather than top-down. More


legislation is not necessarily a good thing when you are trying to


get more houses built and the economy working again. For us to


add to the great big line of rules and regulations that already hamper


companies, it is not necessarily the right thing to do. Some of the


people we saw in our report might disagree with you. One lady was


very badly disfigured and she says a sprinkler would have saved her


years of agony? Absolutely, and as I said, Caroline is a very powerful


champion for the use of sprinkler systems and she has run a very


powerful campaign. The deputy chief and all of Warwickshire Fire


Service want to see more sprinklers but legislation is not the only way


we can go about it. We need to work together, using the Localism Bill,


and with society to make sure this can happen. We have run out of time.


Thank you for joining us. And you can see more from that


report from Joan Cummins on the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire website.


Thanks for joining us. You're watching Midlands Today, from the


BBC. Later in tonight's programme, sell-out concerts for Take That at


Villa Park tonight and tomorrow, but you wouldn't want to be soaked,


now, would you? Find out what weather's doing later on.


Four people from Coventry have been arrested after reports that a man


was shot dead. The victim, who hasn't been named, was killed just


yards away from a Methodist church hall in the Warwickshire village of


Bulkington. Detectives believe that he was deliberately targeted by his


killers. This report from Sarah Falkland.


Just a few doors down from the Methodist church, and at a time


when everyone else was enjoying the blazing sunshine yesterday, a man


was murdered in an outbuilding at the back of this house. The police


arrived just before 4pm yesterday afternoon and found a man inside


with very serious chest injuries. They have described this as a


violent murder and say the victim had been specifically targeted.


Neighbours say this is a shared house occupied by a group of men.


They are a mysterious bunch. But they never bothered us at all. In


fact, they often come and borrow some of my tools. They borrowed a


wheelbarrow and some stores and a hammer because they have been doing


a lot of work on their property. Witnesses inside the house managed


to escape through windows. They're said to be deeply traumatised.


Roads in the village were sealed off for much of the day. It was so


surprising for Bulkington. We have been here for 10 years, we came up


from Kent. And it is lovely here, nice and quiet. I have never seen


anything like this before. It is very unexpected to see the police


like this. The minister at the Methodist church said the murder is


a shocking reminder of how society has disintegrated. It is a sad


reflection of the fact that, in a sense, the church, although it is


hello ground in itself, it's reached doesn't necessarily go very


far beyond. -- its reach. A gang of four men were seen running from the


house. Police are keen to hear from anyone who saw them.


The BBC has seen confidential documents which suggest all


emergency surgery could be taken away from Stafford Hospital. It's


feared this would add to the financial pressures on the Trust,


which needs to save �42 million over the next three years. Almost


�31 million of savings are needed because of inflation and the fact


the hospital's income is being frozen for certain treatments. A


further �7.5 million drop in income is forecast because the Trust is


seeing fewer patients. It'll also lose an additional �4 million, when


it stops providing services such as complex surgery. The hospital is


currently at the centre of a public inquiry into poor standards of care.


Our health correspondent, Michele Paduano, reports.


Stafford Hospital has been the focus for all the difficulties in


the NHS. A series of catastrophic reports about poor care and


committed campaigning have severely dented its reputation. It now faces


serious financial challenges, as services are taken away. This


confidential document is a work in progress but it suggests all


emergency services should be moved from Stafford to Stoke-on-Trent.


That complex surgery should be done on a shared rota and that children


should only be operated on during the daytime for minor surgery.


Labour supporter Diana Smith runs a blog. She fears the constant attack


on the hospital has damaged its long-term future. We have had over


three years now of very negative publicity, so people will make the


assumption, this is a bad hospital and we can do without it. That is


not necessarily helpful to the people of Stafford. Over 100 people


have been involved in drafting the report. The hospital's medical


director says the changes to surgery are in the best interests


of patients. Some of the major cancer surgery is already done in


Stoke, so we are building links with all of our partners. It will


be up to the public to decide how we provide the service but the key


message is that this is good news for the patients, which will give


us the outcomes we want. At the cafe where the campaign to expose


the failings of Stafford began, there were concerns as to how cuts


of �42 million could be achieved. What we are hoping from the inquiry


is that he will identify some of this money that can be saved, and


yes, I do think money can be saved is safely, but where that amount of


money can be saved, I don't know. The MP for Stafford Hospital


recognises finances are tight. think it will be extremely


difficult, but I would also point out that other hospitals are in the


same position. We're going to have to face up to the reality that they


are expensive, and with an ageing and growing population, the needs


are greater. A public consultation will now find out how people react.


Increasing numbers of companies in China want to do business in the


West Midlands. That's the message following the visit of Chinese


Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to the region yesterday. A total of 16


firms from south-west China alone are known to have investment plans


in the pipeline. The news comes on the day Britain secured major trade


deals with China worth �1.4 billion. Cath Mackie reports.


They lit the Beijing Olympics and are hoping to do the same in London.


NVC is the biggest lighting company in China, and when they looked to


expand, they came here to Rubery, near Birmingham. Birmingham is the


centre of this sort of industry and it gives us easy access to the


whole of the United Kingdom. It also has a very high quality of


labour force. 80 people work here and the site's being extended to


create around 140 jobs within three years. What they want to do his own


a lighting Company in this country but with it UK management and a UK


feel. We sell UK products and it helps us in the UK but also to


export to other countries like Africa. According to the City


Council, Birmingham has attracted more Chinese investment than any


other city in the UK, since 2003. 600 jobs have been created and it


looks as if more are in the pipeline. China is not only


pursuing economic development... Lindsay Li's job is to help Chinese


businesses invest in the UK, and more of them want to come to the


West Midlands. From a region, south-west China, we now have maybe


16 active projects in the pipeline. So we are helping them to get to


the UK. But there remains the thorny issue of human rights in


China. A small protest group greeted the Chinese Premier at the


Chinese-owned MG Rover at Longbridge yesterday. But Downing


Street rejects suggestions trade is being secured at the expense of


human rights. Jeffrey Yap set up his laundry company in Birmingham


26 years ago. He hopes closer trade will lead to more openness. When


you let the cat out of the bag, you cannot put it back in. It is good


that China is now expanding, and engaging the West. And if that


opens the door to a potential market of over a billion people,


West Midlands businesses will be hoping to clean up. You were going


to speak as well, when -- weren't you!


You're watching Midlands Today from the BBC. Thanks for joining us this


Monday evening. Still to come, one day this car could drive itself.


It's under development at a new �10 million centre, which opened today.


And heading towards their centuries but still going strong. We'll be


meeting the cricketing stars of Worcestershire's over-70s side.


Tens of thousands of pounds worth of trade is being lost in the


Midlands because of the ongoing conflict in Libya. The conflict has


now been underway for 100 days and one company has been forced to


abandon a growing export market to the North African country. Bob


Hockenhull reports. Business with Libya was expected to


double for this Birmingham wholesaler this year. Awan


Marketing exports goods ranging from chocolate to cleaning products


to the North African country. But it was forced to abandon a �150,000


order from Libya earlier this year when no shipping was available


because of the troubles. We were stuck with this product and they


thought it may have been temporary. This lasted a few months and


eventually we had to liquidate the stock. We took a �25,000 loss. But


we see this as a short-term loss. Although it is painful, we hope the


climate will change. With it Europe struggling economically, this was


seen as a potentially good export market. That is until the trouble


started. I think the situation in Libya has undoubtedly depressed the


trade flows between our countries. If you are not getting the money,


you will go elsewhere. So it is not helpful. There is one thing the


Midlands is still exporting to Libya, though. Aid. The Birmingham-


based charity Islamic Relief has already sent �2 million worth of


medicines and food supplies. This recent footage shows the charity's


aid workers helping refugees on the Tunisian border. Moustafa Osman has


just returned from there. The more the war intensify his, the more we


will get refugees coming out of the country, so we have to prepare for


that and be prepared all the time. But with an arrest warrant now out


for Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, the hope is this conflict will end


soon so that business and not charity can be our main export to


the troubled country. Around 50,000 Take That fans will


pour into Villa Park tonight for the first of two sell-out shows by


the pop superstars. For Stoke-on- Trent boy Robbie Williams, it's


almost a return to home turf. Our arts reporter, Lindsay Doyle, has


been following the build-up of excitement. Lindsay, Take That fans


have had a lot of publicity lately for being, well, rather exhuberant?


They certainly have a reputation and the guys here at Villa Park


have certainly been living up to that reputation. We have had


singing, flamboyant outfits and even screaming, and that was before


the doors opened. And the loss of the excitement seems to be down to


a certain lad from Stoke. band's attendance records is


breaking other records. Are you going to come to the concert with


these masks? Yeah! We are. We have come from southern Ireland. It is a


long way. It is tiring. We cannot believe we are here. Are you going


to be screaming? Yes! The new show promises to be even more


spectacular than they show in 2008. With Robbie Williams touring with


Take That for the first time since 1995. We are happy because the


hotel is full and so are many of the others, but the key is to offer


competitive rates to make sure the price of a concert ticket is not


going to be outweighed by the price of a hotel. Take That's popularity


has come a long way since the early 90s, to this. Back at the Villa


Park, there was decided confusion over the queue. It is an absolute


shambles in terms of the officials doing the queues. They are letting


people in the back. We have been waiting for three hours. Throughout


the day, fans were warned not to fall for fraudsters selling for


counterfeit goods. The quality of the T-shirts is poor, the money


does not go to the band and the money is likely to end up in the


pockets of criminal gangs. There will be selling drink inside the


stadium, so that is a concern. I think a planning we have done with


the club prior to this arrangement will make sure things pass safely


and I have made sure we have got sufficient resources on to achieve


that. Finally, the doors open for what is bound to be a great night.


This is a big concert, isn't it? When is the last time Birmingham


played host to such a big show? am told Villa Park has not played


host to such a show of on this scale since Bruce Springsteen last


played here, 16 years ago. They have to be up-to-date on current


police practices and they travel to Sunderland and Manchester, where


Take That have already played, and they took advice from police forces


there to ensure a smooth night tonight. In Manchester there were


reports of trouble involving some of the fans. What is the police


presence like there tonight? There are a lot of police. The trouble in


Manchester was slightly exaggerated by a tabloid, I have to say. There


was arrested for drunken and disorderly behaviour and a few were


rejected from the gig, but the police are confident. There are


enough officers here and the mood is fantastic. The crowd just seem


to want to have fun. I think they're going to have a great time!


Had lots of women, more than men. The region's motor industry


received another boost today with the opening of a new �10 million


test track. It will help companies like Jaguar Land Rover develop


technologies which could one day see the creation of cars which can


literally drive themselves. Satellite systems could also be


employed in congestion charging schemes. Our transport


correspondent, Peter Plisner, has more.


Driving forward to deliver a step change for automotive research and


development. This new road network is designed to replicate a city


centre environment where a whole host of new emerging technologies


can be tested safely. This is about testing and demonstrating the new


generation of systems, where road vehicles will talk to each other


and talk by the infrastructure to each other, to deliver benefits in


terms of reduced congestion, safer driving, and so on. One of the cars


driving round the track today virtually drives itself. If your


car has got cruise control, you will probably be used to driving


without your foot on the accelerator. But this car knows


what the road looks like a head and what the speed limits are. By


taking control of braking and acceleration, the car delivers more


than 10% more miles to the gallon. The basic technology is quite


applicable to Electric and hybrid vehicles. As the numbers of those


increase in the marketplace, there's a push to get this out


there. Other technologies that could be tested here include


systems designed to work with congestion charging or road tolls,


and crash avoidance systems. That is part of the vision as well, but


to do that, you have to be able to have somewhere that you can have


cars put in a crash situations, and see whether they behave correctly


and don't have those crashes. might be a few years yet before we


get the car that never crashes, but chances are, it'll have been tested


here. Impressive stuff.


Let's find out how the weather's Temperatures are high today. It is


Warwickshire and Worcestershire that were the hotspots today.


Temperatures ranging from 23 to 25 degrees. Showers were localised.


But apologies to Take That fans, because this evening, we are going


to see the peak in those showers. Some could be thundery, with


torrential downpours with up to 20 mm of rain in some places. But


there are shifting east, so things will turn dry. Still quite sticky


tonight, but you can see those values compared to last night, and


they are much cooler. The wind is easily as well, so a quiet start to


tomorrow. Perhaps some early- morning brightness, and that cloud


will set off sunlight breaks of rain, and then they die away. But


some late sunshine and again, temperatures are cooler. Still


quite a humid, but is due -- it is during the rest of the week it is


Now, if you're worried you might be getting too old to play your


favourite sport, you might want to think again. Today, a group of


cricketers have been showing that age is no barrier to competitive


sport. Dan Pallett went along to Malvern to watch Worcestershire's


over-70s in action against Sussex. Every dressing room needs a


sprinkling of experience. This is one that has it in abundance. Meet


Worcestershire's finest, in the over-70 bracket. The only


difference is now, we have put a spare coffin in their dressing room,


in case it is needed! And we have some extra oxygen cylinders. We


don't have a drink at half-time, we get out the oxygen. A nice gentle


warm-up doesn't hurt. But these are campaigners who know just how to


reach their peak with minimal effort. Players like 77-year-old


Tony Neel. He played his first match in 1949. This week he's


playing four times in eight days. How does your body feel the day


after? Well, I don't seem to be expected to run very much in the


field, so I am fine. I don't struggle. And it doesn't take long


to see why he opens the bowling. The Sussex batsmen struggled to


score off him. Of course, they don't move as well as they used to.


But this was competitive, with both sides defending unbeaten records.


16 overs gone, they have soon emptied this squash. Thirsty work.


But if there's one thing that can inspire a senior cricketer through


a tough session, it's the thought of those delicious teas waiting for


them in the pavilion. What do you make of these fellows still playing


cricket? I think it is absolutely wonderful. My old man loves it.


am very pleased. It means they can carry on playing cricket from when


they were young boys. It seems the launch of an over-80s league is


only a matter of time. That looked delicious. And Sussex


are on the verge of victory, incidentally. Just one wicket left.


A look at tonight's main headlines: Hundreds of thousands of public


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