05/07/2011 Midlands Today


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


The headlines tonight: Two arrests as protesters try to


disrupt plans for a giant open-cast coal mine. This is a small crime to


stop the bigger crime of carrying on destroying and devastating the


planet. A turning point in education as


more and more schools bid to become independent academies. The freedoms


and autonomy you endure as an academy will allow you to do things


that you may be haven't thought of before.


A leukemia patient demands a rethink on plans to stop


prescribing the drugs that saved his life.


And one of the world's oldest jet aircraft comes home to a place of


honour in the city where it was Good evening and welcome to


Tuesday's Midlands Today. Tonight, angry scenes at the site of a huge


open-cast coal mine as protesters chain themselves to excavating


machines. They're trying to halt the mine on the outskirts of


Telford. It could eventually produce up to 900,000 tonnes of


coal, but the protesters say it would scar the landscape and the


fuel it produces would pollute the atmosphere. Here's our Shropshire


This footage shot by protesters at an open-cast mine site shows one of


them on machinery, fastened to it by the neck. Other campaigners are


seen here on the site run by UK Coal at New Works in Telford. At


their protest camp later, a witness described what happened. So we


access the site, run down and had the bicycle locks, will not our


next arms to the diggers and disposed of the keys so they could


not be accessed. And we were there for several hours which stopped the


diggers working complete bid. people might say why put yourself


in danger by chaining yourself to the machinery? As far as we are


concerned, this is a small crime to stop the bigger crime of


devastating the planet. Two men were arrested. Clearly whilst we


would seek to facilitate lawful, peaceful protest at what has


happened here today is not lawful for.


Environmental protesters set up camp here in March last year. Today


UK Coal said it would now seek a court order to evict them. But


protesters have dug tunnels and built tree houses. They can


peacefully cut myself out of the tunnel and out of the tree houses


but we are not going to fight but I am going to be locked in when I am


in my tunnel so they will have to cut me out.


Work on the site continued around three hours after the arrests. This


the reaction of the company. don't know whether they realise how


unsafe and act they carried out. Not only for themselves, they have


no proper footwear or anything like that, but also for our operatives.


If one of those had to swerve and it caused an accident, that would


be a problem we would have to suffer. UK Coal says the 900,000


tonnes of coal extracted from this site over 32 months will meet the


energy needs of one million homes for one year.


Tonight two men remain in custody, arrested on suspicion of aggravated


UK Coal said that those involved in illegal activity had had their


moment and it was now time for the company to do their job. A


spokesman said that once a court order was in place, a specialist


eviction team would be employed with the protesters insisting they


have no intention of leaving. Later, the sky-high price of gold


and how it's being blamed for a The quiet revolution that's taking


place in our classrooms now - what it could mean for the future of our


children's and grandchildren's education? It was under Labour back


in 2002 that the first academy school opened. It was free of local


authority control and directly funded by the Government. There are


now 801 across the country But since June last year, and the


new coalition government, applications have soared. A third


of secondary schools are now bidding to become academies,


including 122 here in this region. But opinions remain bitterly


divided, as Giles Latcham has been A public meeting in Walsall for


parents of children at two schools planning to break away from local


authority control and take charge of their own finances. But there


are plenty of sceptics. You have got no local authority help. Prices


of everything will go up. Uniforms, meals, school trips, everything. In


my eyes, it is not a very good idea at all.


The idea is for Hatherton Primary to merge with a nearby College to


create a single high-performing academy and the governors say the


uniforms will be supplied free. But teachers aren't convinced either.


There's of this a lot of scare stories around the country of of


academies where people have lost their jobs and have been facing


difficulties. What they want his assurances and they are not getting


them at the moment. At this school in Sutton Coldfield,


teachers opposed to academy status walked out in protest. But


elsewhere it has worked. It is a well-known place now and the


opportunities and exam results and everything has been so improved.


The people look forward to coming to school here because the place,


the building we have got, to look at it is amazing.


This academy in Tipton replaced a struggling secondary and three


years on, results are vastly improved. So supporters of


academies so they are all about freedom. To change the curriculum,


freedom to restructure the school year, they have five terms here


instead of three. Freedom to pay teachers more and here they do.


Freedoms and autonomy that he enjoyed as an academy will allow


you to do things that you have not thought of before. And as long as


that makes a difference to young people and their learning and the


outcomes and ultimately how they are with in the community, it can


only be a good thing. Bournville in Birmingham and


another school planning to convert to an academy. But here, parents


are still doubtful. Some of them ask where the accountability is.


I had a problem that the school could not resolve, I could go to my


local councillor who has been elected to represent me and I could


take it up with them. But I will not be able to do them when the


school becomes an academy. A decade on from the first academy,


they're still controversial for many people. But for many others,


it's a simple equation. Academy Joining us now is Professor Stephen


Gorard, an education expert from Birmingham University. Do you think


academy schools are good for our It is not a question of what I


think, the evidence shows -- there is no evidence that they do better


with equivalent children. They were intended to circumvent the ban on


schools in failing circumstances becoming specialist schools. But


has disappeared. Looking at the new academies, do you think they are a


good thing? Will they provide better education long term? Many


schools want to become them. Yes, and some reasons are financial why


they become academies. This is not a choice for an individual school,


but many of the schools have become academies will have seen through an


entire cohort of students... What I think they have done is change the


intake to schools. Were they have been in disadvantaged areas. They


have prevented schools from getting into a spiral of decline. Do you


think generally too much has been made of talk of academies against


Lea schools. All any parent wants is for their child to go to school


to do well and be happy. Of course. If they clearly worked or clearly


did not, we would be arguing about whether it is a control. Council


control is not an issue here. We have got good data on 50 of the


schools now. And all the improvements have been about 50-50.


Thank you. A cancer patient is fighting to


keep available on the NHS a drug he says saved his life. Kris Griffin


has had leukemia for more than three years and he wants other


patients to have access to the drug. But it's thought NHS funding will


soon be withdrawn after a recent review decided it was too expensive


and not always effective. Cath Two pills which Kris Griffin says


are keeping him alive. He takes them every morning at his home in


Kidderminster to fight his chronic myeloid leukemia or CML. They have


eradicated the majority of the leukaemia in my system. The feeling


I have when I take them is utterly thankful of the system, it makes me


very humble and it is very very surreal.


Kris is taking dasatinib, one of three drugs that CML patients are


offered as a second line of attack against the disease. The other two


are high-dose imatinib and nilotinib. The cost is over �30,000


per patient per year. And it's these three drugs which could lose


NHS funding under a proposal from NICE, the drug advisory body. They


are questioning not only because if -- cost effectiveness but the


clinical effectiveness of this. What would you say to this? I would


love to sit and debate with them and get them to put a price on my


life. In 10 years, we have progressed on to the second and


third generation drugs. What is the point in developing them if we


cannot use them? Needless to say, it's emotive.


Leukemia patients protested at a meeting of NICE in Manchester last


month. MPs too are being petitioned. Kris Griffin's MP says if funding


is withdrawn, there are other ways. There is money available and if


consultants and patience think that NICE may have got it wrong, there


is a route through that through the cancer drugs fund.


Kris is in remission and about to become a father. It is madness.


Lovely, though? Yes. Lovely. NICE say the guidance doesn't mean


that people currently taking the drugs will stop receiving them. A


final ruling on funding will be Detectives have offered a fresh


appeal for information. Richard Deakin, who was 27, died


after he was shot while in bed at his home in Chasetown. It's


believed a black Corsa, found abandoned less than a mile away,


had been used as a getaway car. A �20,000 reward has been offered for


information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.


Duran Duran have -- postponed their tour because of the lead singer's


for his problems. Simon Le Bon has been told to get physiotherapy


treatment. The ban so they hope to my schedule as many of the


performances as possible. The Shropshire Hills have been put


on a map of Countryside Under Threat. It's been produced by the


Campaign For The Protection Of Rural England which says plans to


run power lines through the county could spoil an Area of Outstanding


Natural Beauty. They're worried the Government is making it easier for


developers to carry out projects which harm the countryside by


reducing the powers of local authorities.


The NHS in Gloucestershire has started using reminiscence pods to


help dementia patients. The pioneering therapy allows patients


to talk about a specific era with the help of a portable living room.


Talking about the radio or TV programmes they remember, for


example, can help jog patient's memories and reconnect them with


their past. A heart specialist who was


dismissed after a nine-year dispute with a hospital trust has been in


court today to try to get a ruling that his sacking was illegal. Dr


Raj Mattu blew the whistle about patients dying in overcrowded bays


in Coventry in 2001. Our health correspondent, Michele Paduano,


reports from the High Court in London. He was then suspended in


bullying allegations, it has cost the system �6 million. He was


eventually sacked last year. Our reporter reports from the High


Court in London. October last year. Dr Raj Mattu


lying seriously ill in hospital bed. His GP, Dr David Buckley and a


medical specialist, wrote to university hospitals in


Warwickshire asking to delay a disciplinary hearing in November


because of his illness and distress making his illness worse. The


chief-executive of the hospital disregarded the letters and sacked


Dr Raj Mattu without him giving evidence in his defence. The


barrister told the court that this was unfair and so but the trust


knew that Dr Raj Mattu was unfit to attend and should not have gone


ahead. He argued that the human rights had been breached because Dr


Raj Mattu was not afforded an independent inquiry and because


effectively his career as a doctor had ended.


Dr Raj Mattu seemed here with his wife will undergo cross-examination


tomorrow. -- seemed here with his Thanks for joining us this evening.


Still to come, whisper it quietly, but the football season's just


around the corner with some of our David Cameron will tomorrow outline


plans to reduce Britain's military presence in Afghanistan by the end


of next year. The Prime Minister, who's on a visit to Kabul, is


expected to bring the number of British troops in the country below


9,000. That could affect the Mercian Regiment which recruits


largely from the Midlands and is serving in Afghanistan. With them


is BBC WM reporter, Louise Brierley. I spoke to her earlier in Camp


Bastion and asked her about the conditions she'd found there.


has been another hot day here in Afghanistan, up to 42 degrees


Celsius, that is not too bad here in Camp Bastion with air-


conditioning but on the front line, they are living in very basic


conditions. They are living on rations with no air conditioning


and carrying 80 kilograms on their backs, that is more than I way. And


they do not have tea breaks here. They work seven days a week, out


for six months at a time and only go home for two weeks during that


period. David Cameron has been there talking about the security


handover, I believe the three Mercians have been helping with


that? Yes, the Afghan national police and Afghan army taking over


their own security. That is something that three Mercian are


involved with. They have been training the army to use everything


from metal detectors to reading maps. That is something you would


not have seen here a few months ago. They are also getting Leeds on


operations. But people I spoke to say there is still a lot to do here.


Can you give us an idea what we will be seeing on your report on


Midlands Today next week was Mike we would -- we will be talking


about the Mercians involvement with the Afghan national army. I have


been talking to young soldiers who served with Private Gareth


Bellingham who sadly died three weeks ago and may have been paying


their tributes but on a lighter note, we will also be looking at


life back at base here et Camp Bastion, what people do to chill


out, everything from going to the gym to Pizza Hut, things you might


not expect to see here in Afghanistan. Louise Brierley art in


Afghanistan with the Mercians. The sky-high price of gold is being


blamed for a spate of muggings targeting Asian women. Thieves are


snatching valuable gold necklaces and even earrings from victims.


Andy Newman reports. Indian gold. High quality, high


value, and in high demand in the criminal underworld. Some of these


necklaces are worth �5,000 each. In recent weeks on the streets of


Handsworth and Sandwell there have been a series of jewellery snatches


mainly targeting middle-aged Asian women. Four took place in the last


In one typical incident, a 16-year- old woman was walking on a street


in Handsworth when she was tapped on the shoulder. As she looked


round, the robber grabbed her necklace and ran off.


The police say because the robberies are opportunist they


could be avoided if women wore their jewellery less prominently.


It is a case of covering up, not wearing a jury overtly. Don't


advertise the jury if you are wearing. -- jewellery.


Jewellers confirm that the record price of gold is probably


contributing to the trend. They say they're trying to do their bit to


thwart the thieves. We tell customers to be careful with what


they show. We are also working with the police to operate a radio


scheme whereby we can liaise with the police and local traders about


what is going on on the street. With immediate effect.


As the message for increased vigilance goes out, the advice to


people who own expensive jewellery seems to be that you can still wear


it with pride, but wear it with They are beautiful.


And you can hear more about those street robberies in Phil Upton at


Breakfast on BBC WM tomorrow morning.


It may only be 5th July, many of us have yet to enjoy our main summer


holiday, but the new football season is already upon us.


Birmingham City and Walsall were back in training this morning. And,


as Dan Pallett found out, for many the season never really went away.


Oh, no. That's the last thing a player wants to see at pre-season


training. Footballs in the bag and a mini-assault laid out on the


pitch instead. The hard work starts here for League One Walsall. In


fact, it hardly ever ends. Especially if you're a new signing.


This is the first time out of contract so for me personally, I


was looking at my phone all the time and waiting for it to ring so


I perspired by holiday for as late as I could. And then as soon as I


went on holiday, it still happened. So I was on the facts were seen


sorting it out from the hotel. -- on the fax machine.


Fitness is the early priority. The new season gets under way on 6th


August. This exercise are getting the players fit without injuries.


At Birmingham City, the manager is among the new boys. His big


decisions involve which players will be sold to balance the books


now Blues are in the Championship. Will striker Nikola Zigic be


binned? Well, he trained on his own this morning. And then there's the


recent arrest of part-owner, Carson Yeung, on charges of money


laundering. It hasn't affected us in the slightest. We are obviously


conscious of it but business goes on as normal. The important side


for me is that it is dead like today when the players are back and


dealing with the players -- days like today.


Yes, football's back - that's if it ever went away! Wives and


girlfriends everywhere are saying They don't get much football in


between but I think it is great. And we also have the cricket, that


is perfect for you. Yes, I love it! Cricket season and we have got


showers. For most it was moderate burst of rain but the best is yet


to come. It has yet to come. You can see the Kell of rain news in


from the West and that is the pattern for all the rest of the


week. We have got the rain followed by showers. At least the winds are


OK, they pick up and then they come down and the temperatures around


average for the time of year. For tonight, we can see that rain will


clear away to the east. We have got some late sunshine the seeping and


that is an indication that things are drying up. With clear its bells


will see temperatures going down to about 13 Celsius. And then we see


showers moving in from the West, fairly heavy batch of them in


places but it is by tomorrow morning that they really get going.


Heavy ones, possibly some thundery ones in places but in between some


sunshine. And the showers could join to form longer spells of rain.


Temperatures getting up to around 20 Celsius. But the winds will be


picking up especially towards the end of the day ahead of the band of


rain coming through tomorrow night. A wet night tomorrow night with


quite heavy rain, that will be a more active band of rain and then


we have got showers through the rest of the week. Temperatures


around average for the time of year. Night time temperatures are not too


bad. It was a day aviation enthusiasts


will never forget, when one of the oldest flying jet aircraft in the


world came back home. The Gloster Meteor flew into Coventry Airport


close to where it was built, after a painstaking restoration programme.


Our reporter Kevin Reide is there. This Gloster Meteor has been


grounded since 1969, when it was last in service with the RAF. But


over the last 16 years it's been lovingly restored and today it was


arriving at its new home, Coventry Airport.


ARCHIVE FOOTAGE: the first squadron...


The Gloster was first introduced in 1944 making history as the first


jet-powered British fighter. It wasn't renowned for its


aerodynamics but did go on to prove itself as an effective fighter for


the RAF and other air forces. Today's Meteor was built five years


later and piloted by Dan Griffiths. Excellent, it is flying really


nicely. Amazingly, it is flying The Meteor is also famous for its


engines. They're a direct derivative from the jet engine


pioneered by Coventry's most famous son, Sir Frank Whittle. Today


though there was a slight scare when immediately after landing, one


of the engines began billowing smoke. My opinion is that the


lining at the back of the jet pack has come lows and then you get the


very hot exhaust gases which have burned a bit of paint off the


outside but apart from that, it just needs a bit of lagging and she


will be back in the air. The Meteor cost half a million


pounds to restore and is one of only four left flying in the world.


By chance, another of those four was also at Coventry Airport and


left with the same test pilot, en He was very cool about the smoke


coming out of the ancient or DUP artists can draw inspiration from


all sorts of areas but how many are inspired by a terrible personal


trauma? A new exhibition in commentary


features a reconstruction of a spine, damaged by the artist


herself in a serious car crash. 1997, the year that changed this


woman's life foreign a. The last thing I remember his I was driving


down the A46 in Coventry, a man cut me up and I somersaulted and the


next thing I remember, I woke up in hospital. The doctors were really


excited because I was still alive and they said it was a miracle that


I have lived. For somebody who once worked as a model, these are done


who is now 35 knows she will never walk again. And has devoted her


life to coming to terms with their disability. This is an 11 ft


sculpture of my spinal column. I cut it by hand. In the centre you


can see the damage to vertebrates and there is no disc because my


spine does not have a disc above that there to break. And this skin


or muscle actually ages over time. And it changes in appearance. It


looks a bit different here. inspiration through injury,


uplifting those who visit it. is a one-off macro basically to


what we have seen before. to see what trauma she has been in. It is


great that you can touch it. think every day that I am very,


very lucky to be here and alive and this is a celebration of that. And


that is why I am so happy to share The an art of a different sort now,


look at this. A Warwickshire gardener has picked up an award at


the Royal horticulture Society Flower Show. The naked garden used


glass containers full of water suspend plans and that showed their


roods and means knows so well is used for the plant. As the 28th are


just muddle at that. It looks like a laboratory. Let's take a look at


the main headlines. The parents of the murdered schoolgirl Holly Wells


and Jessica Chapman have been contacted by police investigating


the News of the World phone hacking scandal. And here, angry scenes as


Eco protesters tried to hold a giant open-cast coalmine


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