08/07/2011 Midlands Today


08/07/2011

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

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The headlines tonight: A grieving mum tells how she was

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wrongly arrested over the death of her son. Just to think they would

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even think I did that to my child, who was my world, my everything.

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"Give him the maximum punishment", says the father of a Warwickshire

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teacher killed in Japan. Hundreds attend the funeral of a

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soldier shot dead in Afghanistan. And over 1,000 years-old and more

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:00:39.:00:53.

popular than ever with tourists. We Good evening, welcome to Friday's

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Midlands Today, from the BBC. Tonight, a mother accused of

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murdering her three-year-old son speaks out to clear her name.

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Police arrested Abby Podmore after her son died following a harrowing

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series of events earlier this year. Alfie Podmore first became ill on

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2nd February and was sent home from nursery. The following day he was

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taken to Birmingham Children's Hospital with a high temperature,

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shoulder pain and a rash. Alfie was sent home after being diagnosed

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with a virus. But on 6th February, his mother found him dead in bed.

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To her horror, Abby was in police custody within hours, on suspicion

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of killing her son. Joanne Writtle has this report.

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I was devastated about losing my little boy. I was crying my eyes

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out, saying, this isn't real. Maesteg mum was sitting with me and

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even said, you must be joking. The officer lent into her face and said,

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we don't joke about these things. Abby Podmore describes the moment

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she was arrested, falsely accused of murdering her toddler. She was

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held at Bournville Lane police station in Birmingham for 18 hours.

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They took photos of me, fingerprints, cut my nails. They

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did that and then obviously, I was kept in the cell. All I had was

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Alfie's picture. A postmortem later revealed Alfie Podmore had died of

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natural causes, after suffering from pneumonia and septicaemia.

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Abby says she tried to tell police that he'd been ill. I even showed

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them the medication and everything I was sent home with with Alfie. My

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worst nightmare came true. All I have wanted was to see my little

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boy... And then they would not let me see him for 10 days. By that

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time, Major had taken its course and it did not look like him any

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more. -- nature had taken its course. Alfie's bedroom in Quinton,

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in Birmingham, is still full of toys. But Abby, a trainee dental

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nurse, has only just moved back home, worried about false rumours

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and bad memories. Is there a message you would like to get out

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your community? I never heard my little boy. He died of natural

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causes. -- I never hurt my little boy. He was taken to hospital with

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what he had and then I had to deal with finding him and then getting

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arrested. Abby and her family have consulted a solicitor. There are

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grounds for concern and we are waiting for the police to try to

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establish whether there is any justification at all as to why Abby

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was taken into custody. He was amazing. He was always smiling,

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singing. He always liked cuddles and kisses. Just so bright... He

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was my world. Our reporter Joanne Writtle joins

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us now from Bournville Lane police station in Birmingham. What have

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the police had to say about this? It was here last February that Abby

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Podmore was bought by officers and West Midlands Police have issued a

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statement to us saying that the complaint is being looked into by

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:04:25.:04:27.

their professional standards And what have Birmingham Children's

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Hospital said? They have also given us a statement saying, quite simply,

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investigations are ongoing, but it has become clear that there was

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more they could have done to help Alfie. We are devastated by what

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happened to him and would like to express our deepest sympathies to

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his family. Meanwhile, an inquest is due to be heard at Birmingham's

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Coroner's Court, when the family says they hope to learn the answers

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to many of the questions they still have.

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

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BBC. Later in the programme... be, or not to be, that is the

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question... Which of these boys will make it into the Shakespeare

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competition? The father of the murdered

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Warwickshire teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker has asked a judge in a

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Japanese court to impose the maximum sentence allowed on the man

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accused of murdering his daughter. Bill Hawker was giving evidence

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today in the trial of Tatsuya Ichihashi in Chiba, in Japan, who's

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already admitted raping and strangling Lindsay Ann. Earlier, I

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asked our correspondent Roland Buerk what happened in court today.

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There was an extraordinary emotion to the day. Bill Hawker spoke in

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court. He began by stopping near the man accused of murdering his

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daughter, Lindsay Ann Hawker, and that was Tatsuya Ichihashi. He said

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their lives had been torn apart by her death in March 2007. Her body,

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of course, was found in a bathtub full of soil and sand in a Tatsuya

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Ichihashi's flat. He did ask for the maximum sentence possible for

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Tatsuya Ichihashi if he is found guilty. Bill Hawker said the court

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should show no mercy because Tatsuya Ichihashi had shown none

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too Lindsay. At what is the maximum punishment in Japan for this kind

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of defence? It does retain the death penalty. That phrase did not

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pass Bill Hawker's lips. In the past, when Lindsay Ann Hawker's

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flatmate was called to give evidence, she said he -- she felt

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Tatsuya Ichihashi should get the full sentence. It would be unusual

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for that tour happened. In Japan, it is normally reserved for those

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who have committed multiple murders, not just one. And there is the

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possibility that the family could question Tatsuya Ichihashi

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themselves. Do you think that could happen? I think it is pretty

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unlikely because there is a new judicial system that gives families

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more save. The lawyer did get a question Tatsuya Ichihashi today

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and he was asking the accused about plastic tags and ties he had used

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to bind the wrists and legs of Lindsay Ann Hawker. The defence in

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this case is saying that although Tatsuya Ichihashi has admitted to

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raping her, he killed her unintentionally. The defence say he

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should be facing a lesser charge, one of inflicting injury causing

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death. What happens now? What we are expecting is more evidence from

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Bill Hawker on Monday. He will be questioned by the defence lawyers.

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A verdict in this case is expected on 21st July. Thank you.

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Missing girlfriend and boyfriend Charlotte Ford and Luke Jarvis have

:08:17.:08:21.

been found safe and well in North Wales. Following an appeal from

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their parents, a member of the public called police saying they'd

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seen the 15 and 16-year old in Rhyl. They were last seen at Dudley bus

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station almost a fortnight ago and are being brought home to their

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families in the Black Country. Hundreds of mourners have paid

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their respects at the funeral of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

:08:45.:08:48.

Private Gareth Bellingham, who was 22, was laid to rest with full

:08:48.:08:50.

military honours. He served with the 3rd Battalion the Mercian

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Regiment, the Staffords. He is one of 375 British soldiers to have

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lost their lives in the conflict so far, 32 of them from our region.

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Liz Copper reports. His coffin, bourne by his comrades,

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Private Gareth Bellingham was described as a soldier who was a

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fearless and loyal friend. He was shot whilst on patrol last month in

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Helmand province. He was 22 years- old. Members of his regiment say

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his loss has created a gulf. Somebody said he was able to make

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friends in an empty room and he is just that sort of character who

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would come out, go anywhere and meet people. He just had a bubbly

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personality which people used to warm to. Hundreds of mourners

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packed St George's Church in Newcastle-under-Lyme. They heard

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how Private Bellingham was held in high esteem, not just by his

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regiment, but also by the Afghan forces he was working alongside.

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Closer to home, his death has been felt keenly by the entire community.

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There is a pride about our young men who still feel called to be

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there for their country. And, yes, this will draw people together. And

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in a way, make it more real to people. About the dedication of

:10:25.:10:29.

these young men. After the funeral, a committal ceremony with full

:10:29.:10:38.

military honours, including a And as the cortege made its way

:10:38.:10:41.

through the streets, applause, on a day when a town came together to

:10:41.:10:51.
:10:51.:10:54.

pay tribute to bravery and self- The Culture Secretary has said he

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wants to see small local TV stations set up across the country,

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and already in Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent people are working

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to make that idea a reality. It's inspired by the American system,

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where viewers often have four or more local news programmes to chose

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from. David Gregory has been in America to find out more.

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Visiting America, you notice they have a lot more local TV than we do.

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Like CBS 42, Birmingham Alabama. So we're spending the day here.

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Looking at this potential running order, this could be an edition of

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Midlands Today. We have travel, weather and budget cuts. And where

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we have cattle in Herefordshire, they have armadillos with rabies.

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There are four stations providing local news in this part of country,

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all funded by advertising. So who wants to advertise on local TV?

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you drive through town you will see 17 different fast food restaurants.

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They are all interested in advertising with us. So... Everyone.

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We take it. This is one argument for local TV in the UK. That

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there's an untapped, under-served pool of potential advertisers. But

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one Midlands agency has crunched the numbers... And doubts that.

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Because I cannot see that there would be any real demand from the

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consumer, I cannot see who would be watching local TV. And if the

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television station doesn't have an audience, they haven't got anything

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to sell. But others who have already expressed an interest in

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local TV disagree. I am chairman of a theatre company. We and 40

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theatres around the country. We cannot afford, by and large, to

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advertise on regional television. We would love to advertise on local

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television. But we are not trying to bring the whole American

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television system to the UK. The idea is to graft additional things

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on top of it. The question is, well that work?

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Armadillos with rabies! That is different, isn't it?

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So what can we learn here from America's experience of local

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television? Our political editor, Patrick Burns, is here with us.

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Patrick, it does seem to work over there? It does. Most of the

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successful local channels there have the backing of the big US

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networks. That is definitely not the route the Government one to go

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through here. It is very much rooted in local communities and

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there is no shortage of people coming through with business plans

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for it and a warning for the regional press. I would be worried

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if I were a local newspaper but we can work with them because we know

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them. ITV and BBC, they deliver local news. But they do not deliver

:13:50.:14:00.
:14:00.:14:01.

it in the style that city television world. -- City TV will.

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Local TV in Great Britain failed to make money, when for most people

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there for only five television channels. So why would now work

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when people have the choice of 500? Does Gary Hudson have a point?

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We've seen local stations here in the past and they all failed.

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what is different now is that the BBC can help prime them with a

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budget of �40 million. Today, the BBC put out his statement

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confirming its commitment to plurality. When can we expect these

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new local stations to start going on the air? The Government of

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forcing the pace. Would you believe, in a year from now, some of these

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channels could start going on air. You can find out more from my blog.

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And there's more on this, including the man who's planning a station in

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South Warwickshire, on this Sunday's Politics Show at the

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earlier time of 11am, here on BBC One.

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Now, we all learned it at school, but apart from some very famous

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lines how many of us can recite a passage or a whole Shakespeare

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sonnet? Well, students are being asked to do just that to win the

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title of Schools Shakespeare Champion. It's for a BBC Programme

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which will coincide with the RSC's World Shakespeare Festival next

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April. Here's Satnam Rana. If you tickle us, shall we not

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laugh? A final rehearsal for George from

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King Edward VI School in Stratford- upon-Avon. He's one of 18 boys

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competing to take part in Off By Heart Shakespeare, a BBC contest to

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find a Schools Shakespeare Champion. I would like to get far in this

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competition. It would be very nice. I am sure I can if I put my mind to

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it. The setting - the school hall, but not any old school hall. This

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is where the Bard himself was educated. Speak not! Reply not! Go

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now, mauve. The battle of the words gets underway. Have you not hands,

:16:09.:16:19.
:16:19.:16:19.

organs, dimensions? How was it for George? I think I did quite well.

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The decision now lies with these judges behind me. They will pick

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three boys who will make it to the regional heat of the Off By Heart

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Shakespeare, which takes prays in the autumn. -- which takes place.

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To get this far has been an achievement for many of these

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thespians. The whole contest so far has challenged the boys' perception

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of Shakespeare. And then the winners. As these three get ready

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for their Autumn run, you, too, could be joining them. If you know

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a school that would like to take part, you can get details on our

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website. Take a bow! It is a long time since

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I remember doing any Shakespeare. Thanks for joining us this Friday

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evening. Still to come in tonight's Midlands Today, Genelle's got all

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the details on the weekend weather. Mixed weather over the weekend, but

:17:12.:17:15.

it is a slowly improving picture. Find out all the details later in

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the programme. Dan's here with the sport now, and

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it's a big weekend of athletics. Birmingham stages its own mini-

:17:28.:17:31.

Olympics on Sunday. The city hosts its first ever Diamond League

:17:31.:17:35.

athletics meeting at the Alexander Stadium. And it's attracted some of

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the world's finest athletes, including the world's fastest man

:17:37.:17:43.

and woman so far this year. This report contains flash photography.

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A woolly hat? In July?! Well, I suppose if you're the world fastest

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man in 2011 and you come from Jamaica, you can get away with it.

:17:56.:18:04.

And he remembers the weather from his last visit. I think it was

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raining! It went OK in the 200. There was a good crowd and good

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support. You know, once you have the support, everything else can

:18:15.:18:20.

work. Asafa Powell has yet to win a world or Olympic gold in the 100

:18:20.:18:23.

metres. But he became the fastest man in the world this year, with

:18:24.:18:31.

9.77 seconds. Could he win this year's title? And those lucky

:18:31.:18:34.

enough to have tickets for Sunday's sell-out will also see the world's

:18:34.:18:37.

fastest woman, Carmelita Jeter. She's become a regular visitor to

:18:37.:18:43.

Birmingham. I am very pleased to be back here in Birmingham. You treat

:18:43.:18:49.

me so well so I will always return. We you respond to that with a good

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performance on Sunday? I really her pan prayer I give a good

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performance for the fans. I will compete to the best of my ability.

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The one thing that's changed since her last is the improvement of the

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Alexander Stadium. Jeter and Powell both plan to use it next year as

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their 2012 Olympic training base. But if the weather's bad, they'll

:19:08.:19:18.
:19:18.:19:20.

have to bring their own woolly It has many different names and it

:19:20.:19:26.

is guaranteed to be one of the most popular sports in the Olympic Games.

:19:26.:19:33.

Earlier, I headed over to Birmingham, where 55 Tennis Table

:19:33.:19:36.

tables appeared. And I say to the world, ping-pong

:19:36.:19:39.

is coming home. He was talking about London 2012. But if only

:19:39.:19:42.

Boris had been in Birmingham today, because the city's just gone table

:19:42.:19:46.

tennis-tastic. And everywhere you looked, people were itching to have

:19:46.:19:55.

a go. It is good. I like playing it. It is good exercise. I saw this

:19:55.:20:01.

when I came down to the library and I started playing. I love it.

:20:01.:20:06.

a game everyone can play. No matter whether you are a to or 80, you can

:20:06.:20:10.

pick up a bat and play. Fitting neatly into that age range, I

:20:10.:20:14.

grabbed a bat and went to pick up a few tips from the experts. Danny

:20:14.:20:17.

Reed and Chris Doran are ranked amongst the top five in England.

:20:17.:20:21.

They both play professionally in Europe. And next month they're off

:20:21.:20:27.

to China to train for next summer's Olympics. In amongst the crowd, a

:20:27.:20:32.

couple of familiar faces gave the royal seal of approval. I have won

:20:32.:20:38.

a few games but maybe we will take it a bit more professionally.

:20:38.:20:43.

is competitive as well. everybody saw the funny side but it

:20:43.:20:48.

was the Victorian upper classes who made table-tennis popular. You can

:20:48.:20:54.

now play ya in St Paul's Square, one of the 55 tables dotted around

:20:54.:21:00.

the city. -- now play here. It is great fun and great to get people

:21:00.:21:04.

involved. It is great to see people you haven't played before getting

:21:04.:21:10.

on the tables in random places and enjoying it. Back in May, two of

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the most powerful men in the world decided to take part. They found

:21:15.:21:21.

they might just have met their match in these two.

:21:21.:21:26.

With the royal couple playing table tennis in Birmingham, who are those

:21:26.:21:36.
:21:36.:21:40.

impostors who went to Canada? know! A fabulous name.

:21:40.:21:43.

It's longer than Hadrian's Wall and is a truly demanding long distance

:21:43.:21:47.

walk. We're talking about Offa's Dyke. The 177-mile footpath is 40

:21:47.:21:50.

years-old and more popular than ever. It follows an 8th-century

:21:50.:21:53.

mound and ditch built by King Offa. Despite its success as a tourist

:21:54.:21:56.

attraction, there are fears the upkeep of the path might be

:21:56.:22:01.

affected in the future by spending cuts. Bob Hockenhull reports.

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Britain's longest scheduled ancient monument passes through beautiful

:22:03.:22:05.

and remote countryside in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

:22:05.:22:08.

Offa's Dyke, a ditch built by the King of Mercia to keep the Welsh

:22:08.:22:12.

out, may be 1,200 years old, but the long distance footpath next to

:22:12.:22:19.

it has only existed since 10th July 1971. And to celebrate the 40th

:22:19.:22:23.

anniversary, this halfway Fingerpost has been elected on the

:22:23.:22:29.

hills above Newcastle, telling walkers they are exactly midway

:22:29.:22:35.

between these two places. The grand opening made national headlines.

:22:35.:22:39.

Since then, tens of thousands of walkers have enjoyed the scenery.

:22:39.:22:43.

People who have walked it have said they did not know we had such

:22:43.:22:48.

countryside in Britain. It is old- fashioned countryside, lots of

:22:48.:22:53.

small trees, hedgerows and pathways. But the path comes at a price.

:22:53.:22:55.

Eight different authorities contribute to its upkeep, so could

:22:55.:23:00.

funding be a problem in the future? We do not know yet but there are

:23:00.:23:06.

cut left right and centre, and the management of the path are both

:23:06.:23:09.

funded from the public purse. funding is available, work is being

:23:09.:23:11.

carried out to improve accessibility. It's estimated

:23:11.:23:17.

visitors have increased by 25%. have been working very hard with

:23:17.:23:21.

the landowners and manager of authorities to try to move as many

:23:21.:23:27.

styles as we can and it makes the trail as accessible as possible to

:23:27.:23:30.

everybody. Is there great danger the place might lose its

:23:30.:23:37.

tranquillity? I don't think so, because we have a 177-mile trail

:23:37.:23:41.

here, and like today, there is a few people walking and it is never

:23:41.:23:46.

going to be like the Lake District and his other places. Even so,

:23:46.:23:51.

people travel from all over the country to take on the challenge.

:23:51.:24:00.

What I appreciate about it is that it is so unspoilt. We have been

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elsewhere but here, the people and scenery make-up for it. Those who

:24:04.:24:07.

live near the path largely don't seem to mind the attention it

:24:07.:24:13.

brings. They are very important to our tourist trade. This Sunday, at

:24:13.:24:16.

the Offa's Dyke Centre in Knighton, there'll be a fair to celebrate

:24:16.:24:26.
:24:26.:24:36.

By Sunday, we are expecting to have some fairly decent weather. This

:24:36.:24:40.

evening, we are expecting any showers to be scattered. That is

:24:40.:24:44.

because they were quite prominent today and quite heavy, but we're

:24:44.:24:48.

expecting they will be fewer and further between. We will actually

:24:48.:24:52.

have some sunshine next to him between the scattered showers for a

:24:52.:24:59.

nice end to the week. From this radar picture, you can see how many

:24:59.:25:03.

showers have gone through in the day. One minute we had sunshine and

:25:03.:25:12.

the next, it was chucking it down! We should have more brightness

:25:12.:25:17.

tomorrow and drier spells overnight. The temperatures are the same as

:25:17.:25:21.

last night. Those carry through to tomorrow's so there will be fewer

:25:21.:25:31.
:25:31.:25:31.

showers and a bit more sunshine. We are looking at times of 22 degrees

:25:31.:25:36.

Celsius on Saturday, so if you are in the sun, it will feel very

:25:36.:25:43.

pleasant. By Sunday, those showers should fade away completely. Sunday

:25:43.:25:48.

night, fairly mild, just a touch cooler than tonight. High pressure

:25:48.:25:51.

begins to build and takes charge and we see temperatures rising as

:25:51.:25:57.

we go into Monday. Still a few showers, but mainly sunny.

:25:57.:26:04.

That is lovely. Let's have a look at tonight's main headlines. The

:26:04.:26:07.

Prime Minister's former spin-doctor is arrested in the phone-hacking

:26:07.:26:10.

inquiry. And here, a grieving mother tells

:26:10.:26:14.

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