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Welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines...
Calls for Government help to create 10,000 jobs in an area where 10 %
of the workforce is unemployed. I am encouraged by the real sense
of leadership and ambition. As fire services look to make big
cuts, how one brigade has managed it already, they say without
putting lives at risk. Can generous Midlanders do it again,
after raising millions for Pakistan, a fresh appeal for famine victims
in Africa. And found by a man with at a metal
detector - after the Staffordshire Good evening. Welcome to
Wednesday's Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight, fighting to bring
thousands of jobs to Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, a Government
minister was today given the hard sell by business leaders desperate
to secure an Enterprise Zone for the area.
That could mean 10,000 new jobs as companies are attracted by lower
companies are attracted by lower business taxes and simpler rules to
stop the competition is fierce, with up to 25 areas in England
chasing 10 zones. Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
have already missed out once, so will the Government now deliver a
The minister for business, innovation and skills being shown a
test-bed in Stafford. Mark Prisk is on a two day visit to the region
hearing about priorities for job creation and economic growth.
It is really about the ability to kick-start local economies and our
ambition to make sure we balance the economy so that we ensure that
not just services and the south- east, but the Midlands strength is
strengthened. In manufacturing and developing
power transmission, there has been investment in the past few years.
It is Stafford's biggest private sector employee-owned -- employer,
with 2,000 workers and more dependent on the factories and
laboratories. A in developing the complex systems
here, we require many components and products, and we reached out to
the local supply chains in the region and across the country.
This is one of the sites the local Enterprise Partnership hope will
become an Enterprise Zone. Entrap - - attracting employers back will be
the challenge. This is the first time for a generation we have had a
united and determined effort to bring certain businesses into these
three areas. Beforehand, it has been a mix-and-match, with
different councils wanting to do this, that or the other, but this
time we are acting together. There have been previous plans to bring
new economic life into sites such as this, but some experts are
sceptical of the ambitious targets. The Enterprise Zone is to encourage
companies to move there. We may get displacement across the southern
region. Companies already here just moving, and best is not additional
jobs. Transforming the economic landscape will not be easy. The
decision on whether it will be granted Enterprise Zone status will
be delivered by the end of the year. Emir, I spoke to one of the
region's MPs, John Whalley, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North. She
told me what she thought an Enterprise Zone would do for the
area. We need jobs, investment for the
area, and the tax and business rate incentives that would come from an
Enterprise Zone status. Do they really work? Two separate
think-tanks have said they are ineffective and expensive.
There is no one solution to how to get the investment we needed. There
is always a danger there could be displacement from Enterprise zones,
but now Enterprise zones are just about that the only show in town in
terms of getting extra support for job creation in stunt to -- Stoke-
on-Trent, and that is why I and my colleagues across the border are
doing all they can to press for the special status for North
Staffordshire and for this -- the three sites we have identified.
you have any doubts about the areas economic potential?
Are we are looking for sustainable development. We are looking to
attract been technological industries. We want a whole series
of people to come and invest in Stoke-on-Trent. We have a transport
infrastructure, a skilled workforce and an Enterprise Department
working with all local councils to do everything we possibly can to
get Government support for this job creation that is so urgently needed.
Do you really have a skilled workforce? 10% are out of work.
We have people needing jobs, and we have a dedicated and a loyal
workforce. The people of North Staffordshire need this investment.
Joanne Whalley, talking to us earlier from Westminster.
Still ahead... 30 years of the Lichfield Festival, but what is the
Up to 120 library staff could lose their jobs as Warwickshire County
Council tries to save millions of pounds. Staff were briefed today on
plans to make 50 full-time posts redundant. That is the equivalent
of between 80 and 121 jobs. It is hoped the staff can reduce their
hours or take voluntary redundancy. A 22-year-old man has been arrested
for aggravated trespass at a rock local -- aggravated trespass at an
open cast coal mine. Broadcasters have been at the site at UK Coal's
mind, and the company has been trying to remove protesters since
they set up in March last year. Fire brigades -- a fire service in
the region has managed to reduce its expenditure by �1 million in
the past year. A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue
Service attends on average 46 incidents every day. Fire bosses
say the cuts will not compromise community safety and have taken
advice from frontline firefighters. It is important to engage the
workforce, the people doing the job on a day-to-day basis, in that
change process. They see where the inefficiencies are.
The severs has a budget of �42 million per year and needs to save
�4 million over the next four years. The plan is ahead of Segel. I am
quite didn't we are going to make the savings required.
-- ahead of schedule. We will minimise the disruption to
the workforce, protect community safety and in no way compromised
firefighters safety. Area today, the service attended a
collapsed building in Stoke-on- Trent. One big cost-cutting
exercise is reducing the number of fire engines set out to false
alarms. Last year, the service attended more than 5004 farms. They
aim to reduce that by 2,000 this year. At a cost of �250 per call-
out, that will help to save �500,000 per year.
At Sandford community fire station, schoolchildren are being put
through a drill. The fire service say the role of the fire officer
and is changing, and it is now all about education and prevention.
were are all potentially at risk from fire in the home unless we
take simple steps. That is the type of education we
are delivering to young people, to community groups.
The service admits, with savings this large they will have to be job
cuts. Staff will also take a pay cut. It has actually been able to
increase the number of fire stations, from 30 to 33.
The levels of malnutrition among children fleeing Somalia's drought
could lead to agreement tragedy of unimaginable proportions. That is
according to the United Nations. It is the worst drought in 60 years,
and Birmingham aid workers are in Africa now helping with the belief
effort. Our correspondent is at the headquarters of Islamic Relief.
There is a 40,000 strong community from Somalia here in the Birmingham.
We are at one of the warehouses of Islamic Relief. These clothes will
be sent to charity shops across the country to raise their vital funds
needed to buy food, hygiene equipment, water and so on. I am
joined by Jenny Cosgrave from Islamic Relief, and Mohammed Sharif,
a Somalian community leader and analyst. Tell us what you are doing
to help? And Islamic Relief has been working
for many years in the region. We are making sure people have
access to clean and safe water. We have been providing 35,000 people
with clean water, seven litres per day that you need to survive. We
have also been providing food for around 21,000 people, and we have
also been making sure that over 1,300 women and young children have
access to medical care. Describe what their reaction is
within the Somali and community. The Somali people in Birmingham are
very sad and desperate about this campaign. It is horrific at the
moment, and they are thinking about the issue back home, discussing how
they can help. All of the Somalis coming into Birmingham are really
talking about the issue of the drought in Africa.
It is a huge talking-point. Islamic Relief have said an initial target
of �5 million, but of course the Pakistani and -- the Pakistan
appeal last year raised 30 million, so they are hoping to exceed
expectations. A rare collection of Roman coins
dating back well before the time of Christ is to go on show to the
public. They were found by a man using a metal detector. It is the
earliest Roman hoard ever found in the region.
Edge Hill in south Warwickshire, famous for one of the biggest
battles of the English Civil War, and now for the largest discovery
of Roman coins in the region. I have spoken to the person who found
them, who has asked to remain anonymous. He told BT was on the
way home, went the metal detector at me denies. -- he told me he was
on the way home. He said although he was grateful for the treasure,
this is about reminded us of the history of Warwickshire. Buried in
a pot for almost 2,000 years, some 1146 silver coins were uncovered.
Some of them were made almost 200 years before the birth of Christ.
After being verified and catalogued, they are about to be put on display
at the Warwickshire Museum. They told us it is the largest
hoard of early Roman coins in the West Midlands, and probably the
second largest in the country, so pretty significant for Warwickshire.
The detail is incredible, showing a range of Roman emperors, including
Julius Caesar and Emperor neo-. They are also revealing of the
obsession with animals and gods. One of my favourites is this coin,
dated around AD 45. The inscription on it means, we
came, we saw and be conquered. Although the Romans were none to
have some settlements in the county, and the discovery of this Roman
hoard has prompted more questions than answers.
It was a big saving, that is the intriguing thing, he put these
altogether and needed to bury them in the ground? Why did they not
come back? This weekend, the public will be given the first opportunity
to ponder the mystery of the coin treasurer and why it was buried in
A fascinating mystery! There's much more on our Facebook page.
Back in 1982, the relatively unknown acting trio of Stephen Fry,
Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson performed at a new arts event in
Staffordshire. Fast-forward to 2011 and the Lichfield Festival now
enjoys international acclaim. As it celebrates its 30th birthday, what
does the Festival mean to the cathedral city? Our correspondent
has spent the date there. It has been a day of frantic
preparations. It is the 30th Lichfield Festival. Things may be a
little quiet here now but it all begins in earnest tomorrow evening
with more than 500 artists due to perform here, it is promising to be
quite an event. 30 live size pigs, decorated by
schools and community groups to represent 30 years of the Lichfield
Festival. They have had two months to paint them and now they will be
around the city in different venues. There are 30 because it is the 30th
anniversary. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will play
tomorrow night and an opera singer will perform in the cathedral.
Across the city, more than 80 events will be taking place with
more than 500 artists appearing at theatres, hotels and in the streets.
The Staffordshire born poet Laureate to Carol Ann Duffy who is
appearing at the festival has written a special poem. Last year,
10,500 tickets were sold with more than 30,000 tickets attending. The
economic impact of the event is estimated to be around �1 million.
It is certainly something which dry spot for into the city centre to
the businesses, cafes, shops, hotels. It is certainly something
that is welcome for City traders in these tough times. It is one of the
busiest times. We have other festivals as well, but this does
generate a lot of income. It can only be good in this day and age.
Now, they see them here, they seek them there. If you see the festival
paid as he hides at various locations, you will be given two
tickets to the festival -- the festival paid for. I am joined by
the festival director now. It is the 30th anniversary, is it going
to be better? It is certainly going to be big. We have got a whole
range of things, orchestras, international musicians from all
around the world to celebrate with us in Lichfield. We have got
special guests, Michael Moore play ago. We have put many of his books
across the city for people to pick up and take 10. Carol Ann Duffy has
written a special poem. The film producer Lord Puttnam is coming and
also we have an array of world musicians, dancers, comedians and
authors. They are all coming here to celebrate. We also have free
events of people in the local community. There will be a market
this Saturday. Fireworks. And on the 17th, we will meet for a
special festival birthday party. People can come and join us for a
piece of cake and help us celebrate our birthday in style. They are
very important role the festival has for the City? It has an
important cultural role. And it was founded to bring high quality art
here. We also foster the skills of our children and local community.
Plenty of tickets left if you fancy coming along.
Still ahead, an ancient art from Pakistan. How taxi drivers here are
ditching their cabs and jumping on horseback to recreate the sport.
And reports of hail and thunder storms debate. Is there more to
come? -- thunderstorms to date. There is a big Olympic at the me in
sport are tonight. First of all, the opening instalment of what
could be another football transfers are good. It will get resolved
sooner or later. Aston Villa have turned down a �15 million bid from
Liverpool for their England players Stuart Downing. He was the player
of the year last season for Villa. He scored eight goals. He has got
two years left on his contract. It is believed that Villa would want
at least �19 million if they were to sell him. The London 2012
Olympic torch relay will be will be a celebration lasting 70 days. It
will start next May and 8000 people will get the chance to take part.
Their job is to carry the torch, being made in commentary.
-- in Coventry. For the first time in their lives, these bill bumph
from Edgewick Primary School -- these children from Edgewick
Primary School. The London 2012 torch will go on show in Coventry.
8000 more torches will be made, one for each torch-bearer in the relay.
I like it. It is a shiny fast up I like that it has got 8000 bits on
it. Someone else excited to see the taught his Phil Bouser with his son
Harry. He was a torch-bearer during the 2004 Athens Games and has the
souvenir to prove it. You never think you are going to be a torch-
bearer. It was probably the slowest 400 metres I have ever run. You
want to savour the moment. I think the Olympic torch symbolises so
much because the flame is the Olympic Games, probably more
powerful than the rings and other images, it is the flame that comes
from grease and line is the Olympic golden. Anyone can be nominated to
be part of the relay and one way of doing it is to climb into the back
of this Coventry made London taxi. That is what these people have done.
It looks good. Also there today, a man from the Coventry company which
has won the contract to make the thousands of tortures. There has
been so much bad publicity over the past 10 years with companies
closing, unemployment. People have said that Coventry has lost its
skills but they are still here. deadline for internet nomination
has now ended but there is another chance to nominate when the torch
for a Rolls into Cheltenham and Birmingham in August.
Eight athletes have returned home to the Midlands with medals from
the Special Olympics in Greece. The competition was hot, in more ways
than one. The British team were struck down by a nasty virus but
that did not stop them from being Athens Greece, 2011 Special
Olympics. The fireworks may have died, but listen carefully, it is
the jingle jangle of medal on medal. It is music to the ears of Richard
Murphy and Jamie Dancyger. Back home in Bromsgrove, they have just
come back from Athens, to share a host of memories and a clutch of
medals to celebrate their athletics success at the Special Olympics.
Did it live up to expectations? we were going to make history, have
the experience of our lives. Everyone's dream is to become a
world champion, to become the best of the best. We beat the best of
the best. We gave everything we ever had. He won ever forget it?
No Wave. I was almost crying. A great feeling. I cannot believe I
have done it. We met Richard and Jamie three weeks ago as they
prepare to join 7000 athletes with learning difficulties that the
Special Olympics. When they arrive, it was flaming hot and many of the
British team went down with a nasty virus. But nothing could one could
prevent Phil Bouser and Jamie Dancyger from winning medals.
proud moments. You are used to doing it locally, that is fine. But
doing it at a World Games, it is massive. A I am so proud. I was
hoping to get a medal and I did. I was so excited just to be there. A
great honour. They will never forget their Special Olympics
experience but tomorrow they are back to earth with a bump because
Thursday night is training night at the Rylands Centre in Bromsgrove.
Great to meet them. And Richard and Jamie were not the only medal
winners. There were gold medals for gymnasts Richard Hammond and Sarah
Whitehouse, Jane Hinett in the tennis and Briony Johnson in the
badminton. There was a silver for Gwillam Jones in the table tennis
and bronze for Darren Roberts in the badminton.
Well done to all of them. The latest call from Edgbaston in
the Twenty-20. Derbyshire made 162 for 5 in their 20 overs against
Warwickshire. A sport of a very different kind.
It is called tent-pegging and it dates back hundreds of years. It
originates from Pakistan and a group from Birmingham have decided
to try to keep the sport alive. It involves swapping taxis or courses.
Take a small group of cab drivers, give them some well-groomed horses,
add in some very sharp lances and you have got a piece of Pakistani
heritage being played out in a small corner of the Midlands.
This is the sport of tent-pegging, it dates back hundreds of years,
originating from h in military tactics. They used to come out at
night and they used to run, take the 10th, -- take the tent. The end
of the game is spot each rider to try and lance a wooden tent peg out
of the ground. Points are awarded for piercing, picking it up and
carrying a to wait. The pegs are made out of date wood and are from
Pakistan and a specially treated so that it will stick like glue to the
lance. The men on horseback make up Prince Malik's Lancers. They have
got almost 100 years' experience between them. They say that anyone
can take part. People who ride horses, showjumping, cross-country,
dressage, they look very difficult, you have to put the practice in.
This tent-pegging, we have taught lads within four or five weeks.
Each year, they compete at events from across the globe -- ad that
events a round the country. We have to remind ourselves of where it
came from. These people are from Birmingham and Pakistan. They are a
fantastic example of how we can work together to present it.
Today's practice was cut short by the British weather. There was
still time for the next generation of the Prince Malik's Lancers to
give the ancient sport a go. Very impressive indeed. Now the
The cricket is on at Edgbaston. They may be caught out by the rain.
But I think they could be lucky as the match will be ending in half-
an-hour. There have been lively showers across the region. There
have been more in the north where there has been hail and thunder
storms. There have also been thunderstorms in Birmingham itself.
There is more rain overnight. The next wave of rain after yesterday's.
It will be more active and there will be stronger winds with it. The
rain is in the West, heading our way, moving eastwards. Some of it
could be quite heavy. It is breaking up as it moves eastwards.
The north of the region, Staffordshire, will bear the brunt
of the heaviest outbreaks. As it tears later on, there will be more
showers. It will turn windier, gusts of 40 p to 50 mph. There will
be a lot of cloud. A temperatures holding up. There could be 10 to 15
mm of rain. Tomorrow is a day of sunshine and showers once again.
There could be longer spells of rain. They could again be hail or
thunder. It is mild in the sunshine, temperatures up to 19 degrees.
Colder in the showers with the winds picking up.
Let us have a look at the headlines. The Prime Minister promises a
public inquiry into the phone hacking scandal now engulfing the