21/07/2011 Midlands Today


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


The headlines tonight: an end to the former career search for


justice for the family of Lindsay Hawker murdered in Japan. We can


try to rebuild the life which must have been on hold for the past four


years. On time and on budget, the new New Street station that will be


a gateway to the second city. schedule and on budget, and the


first phase which will lead us towards 2012. Union fears for what


they say is the creeping privatisation of the police force.


And a million pounds of lottery money to preserve a monument to the


Good evening and welcome to Thursday's Midlands Today. It's


taken four years but tonight one family's determination to bring a


killer to justice has finally paid off. When Lindsay Hawker was found


murdered in Tokyo in 2007, it changed the life of her family for


ever. Lindsay's parents have been back and forth from Coventry to


Japan fighting to keep the investigation going. And today they


were in court to see the man who killed her jailed for life. Joanne


Writtle has the background to the fight for justice for Lindsay. A


warning - this report contains flash photography. Lindsay loves


Japan, and you have not let her down. Thank you. -- loved Japan.


Four years of grief and emotion flooded out as Lindsay Hawker's


father, surrounded by his wife and other two daughters, spoke briefly


after watching Tatsuya Ichihashi receive a life sentence in a packed


Japanese court. We have waited four-and-a-half years to get


justice for Lynsey and we have achieved that and we are very


pleased. -- for Lindsay Hawker. Ichihashi admitted raping and


strangling 22-year-old Lindsay, from Brandon near Coventry, but


said he did not intend to kill her. Her body was found in a bath of


sand and soil on the balcony of Ichihashi's flat in Ichikawa, east


of Tokyo. Lindsay's death made a lasting impact on her community


back here at home, as her former headteacher described. the she was


the daughter we would all love to have and the commemoration service


at Coventry cathedral was packed. It shows just how many other people


she had touched by the age of 22. It was in March 2007 that Lindsay


gave an English class to Ichihashi in a Tokyo coffee shop. Afterwards


she went to his apartment, telling a taxi driver to wait. But after


seven minutes the driver left. The following day, the language


school called Lindsay's father to say she was missing. Ichihashi


escaped when police arrived at his apartment. Officers found her body


on the balcony. In the months that followed the family's appeals for


help attracted massive media attention. In 2008 Lindsay's family


marked the first anniversary of her death with a fresh appeal in Japan.


Then in November 2009, Ichihashi was arrested at a ferry terminal in


Osaka. Earlier this month, Bill and Julia Hawker arrived in Chiba to


watch the trial of the man who killed their daughter.


Pictures of Lindsay Ann Hawker made headline news around the world. For


her family here in the Midlands, the pain will never cease, but


today brings closure to a four-year nightmare. It was the power of


fresh images showing Ichihashi's new face after cosmetic surgery


which marked a breakthrough in the hunt for him. He had changed his


appearance. A month after these images of him were released, he was


spotted by a member of the public. Lindsay's family travelled to Japan


frequently, determined to keep fighting for justice. They spoke


out many times. I read in press reports that this man was a


businessman. This was not a businessman, I believe this man was


a loner. I had planned to join her in June, we were going to live


together and then travel the world together. I loved her, so, so much.


Lindsay Hawker went to Japan as a young graduate to teach English,


never to return. As Ichihashi begins a life behind bars,


Lindsay's family will try to A little earlier I spoke to the


BBC's correspondent Roland Buerk who has followed the case from the


start. I asked him about the Hawker family's reaction to the sentence


of life imprisonment. Again there The prosecution were calling for a


life sentence even though as you say, the Hawkers had asked for the


maximum punishment under the law. Today it was not a possibility, the


judge and the jury could have delivered a death sentence and the


Hawkers said they were satisfied with the trial.


So will he be freed up some point, do you think? He has been given an


indefinite sentence. No minimum paraffin number of years or maximum


tariff either. -- no minimum tariff in terms of numbers. This has been


extremely high profile here in Japan, Ichihashi was the most


wanted man in the country. That might affect whether he gets


released. You did say, it has been high profile. What has the reaction


been for ordinary citizens? Dozens of television crews were covering


this trial and in terms of the number of people who wanted to get


in, hundreds of people queued up today to try to get into the few


seats available for the public in the public gallery. So many in fact,


that the court officials had to organise a lottery to distribute


those seats. Incredible. We have heard during the trial that


Ichihashi wrote a book confessing to the killing. Will that be freely


on sale, now the verdict has been passed? The book is extraordinary


because it is full of drawings he made while he was on the run.


Ichihashi has in fact while on remand offered the Hawkers offered


the rights to the book as a gesture of apology. But they say they want


nothing to do with that money. understandable, thank you for


joining us. Still ahead tonight, what it's like


trying to run a business in the region's worst unemployment


blackspot. It is a month-by-month prices at the moment. We really


Police have begun a murder inquiry after a teenage boy was stabbed to


death in Birmingham. The 17-year- old was attacked on the Coventry


Road near the Small Heath Retail Park at around 5pm yesterday


afternoon. He was taken to hospital where he later died. Police say


they believe the teenager was specifically targeted. It was not a


random attack and I am appealing for witnesses. This is a busy road


so anybody who was driving through this area at around 5 o'clock


yesterday, we are appealing for them to come forward.


A schoolgirl committed suicide by falling in front of a train, an


inquest jury has decided. The body of 15-year-old Natasha MacBryde


from Worcestershire was discovered on the railway line near Bromsgrove


station in February last year. The inquest heard she'd used the


internet to research methods of suicide.


Controversial proposals for the biggest wind farm in the region


will definitely not go ahead. The company behind it has decided not


to appeal after planning permission was refused. Scottish Power


Renewables wanted to build five 120-metre-high turbines on land


near Lenchwick in the Vale of Evesham. But in January this year,


Wychavon District Council turned down the application.


An exclusive look now behind the scenes of the most complex


construction project in Europe. That project is the complete


rebuilding of Birmingham's New Street Station. The whole thing


will cost around �500 million and work has to go on while the


existing station is in constant use. Here's our business correspondent,


Peter Plisner. Today at New Street the trains were


running as normal but high above the station, major demolition work


is under way. Covered from top to toe is what used to be Stephenson's


Tower, an old block of council flats. It's coming down to make way


for part of the new station. It is a spectacular view from up here but


the people working up here cannot add married, these buildings have


to be down early in the new year and you can see some of the old


lift shafts. We have got one machine doing the breaking out,


using the hydraulic breakers and we are using another machine to lower


the material away into the skip and take it away.


Every week and a half between now and Christmas, one floor of this


block will disappear from the Birmingham skyline forever. And


because it's in the centre of the city, it can't be blown up. We are


right by the live station, it would not be appropriate. This is more


environmentally friendly because we can control activities in terms of


an explosion, that would leave a big cloud.


Elsewhere there's plenty of other activity. This is the old


Pallesades shopping centre car park. It will being a vast new concourse


the size of the pitch at Wembley Stadium. Much of the work at New


Street is to happen behind hoardings, already several shops


have disappeared inside the Pallesades. Plenty of work going on,


they are waterproofing then they will take up the fall below us and


that will create an atrium, the centrepiece of the new station.


And this is what it will look like when it's finished. This new fly-


through shows just how radical the changes will be. More space, more


entrances, more lifts and escalators but above all,


thoroughly modern. But building the new station hasn't


been without its problems. It is difficult to work on a structure as


old as this one. With all the services and cables and trunking,


we are constantly finding bits which don't appear on drawings but


we have to work around it and get on with it.


And that's exactly what they're doing. The first phase of the NEW


New Street should be complete late next year and the whole project,


including a new John Lewis store, should be finished in 2015.


Welcome signs of much-needed investment as new figures show that


the West Midlands was hit harder than anywhere else in the country


during the recession. Unemployment in the region rose by 6% between


2005 and 2011. At its peak in 2009, the unemployment rate hit 10.4%.


The worst affected area was Wolverhampton where 7.7% of the


workforce was still claiming benefits last month, the second


highest rate in the country. Cath Mackie reports now on how


Wolverhampton is recovering from the recession.


If there was ever a man in need of a stiff drink, it's John Deniston.


He invested �250,000 in the White Rose Hotel in Bilston and he's


waiting for a return on his investment. We are living hand-to-


mouth. You only think about how to squeeze blood from the stern


because really there has not been anybody with the available money to


spend. They are all staying in, drinking in and dining in. Clearly


he's not the only anxious investor in this area. 1,300 homes were to


be built at the Bilston Urban Regeneration Project but developers


pulled out. While in Wolverhampton, a �300 million development at


Summer Row collapsed. So news that this area's fared worse than most


in the recession has come as no surprise. As a student, it has hit


us quite hard. It seems to be closing down gradually. I don't


think it is as bad as it is painted, Wolverhampton has got a bad name


and that is a shame. People here talk of a 40-year


decline in manufacturing, so I guess it would be easy for me to


stand here and paint a pretty pessimistic picture of this city,


but that wouldn't necessarily be fair to tell the whole story,


certainly as far as the council's concerned. The new leisure centre


is due to open next year. Charles Green's job is to spearhead


regeneration in the city. Building on a leisure centre and school


academy is well under way at the Bilston project. There's investment


too planned for Summer Row and for schemes across the city. We are


working with partners to bring forward site for any development,


creating new jobs, helping people who are out of work into work so it


is a difficult time that we are working hard to get over it. This


area has got a very high work ethic. We have got thousands of businesses


with millions of people -- 500,000 people working. As for John


Deniston, he's hoping the turnaround in his fortunes happen


before it's too late. Earlier I spoke to former CBI


Director General, Lord Digby Jones, who's a business ambassador for the


UK. Was he surprised this region was hardest hit in the recession?


was not, I was extremely saddened but it is not a surprise. The base


was a manufacturing exporting base and people did not buy and then and


the stuff we did so around the world, they were not buying it.


Birmingham, the West Midlands gets hit and secondarily and this is the


real key, the region has made it more of a problem to make the


transition and if you do value added stuff, stuff the world will


buy, and stuff that Britain will buy, you cannot sell it on price,


it is called a commodity, you have to select on your skill. -- sell it


on your skill. We have one of the lowest skills bases in the country


are. We have a company it expanding looking for engineers and could not


find any, they had to go abroad. And for the region that gave the


world the industrial revolution, it is awful. We have got to get


ourselves up to tomorrow and that means give people skills. You could


do -- you have got things like Jaguar Land Rover and companies


like that but what we have got to give the world is skilled engineers.


You are positive, a qualified positive, shall we say the. We have


got some good universities and the Top End will be fine, but people


understand. The qualification on the positivism is we have got a lot


of young people, the highest population of people under 25 in


Britain. Therefore we need for Liam and economic activity to make it


happen. Thank you. A 72-year-old woman found dead at


her home died from severe face and neck injuries, a postmortem's


revealed. The pensioner was found at a house in Harborne in


Birmingham on Tuesday evening. Police and forensic teams are still


at the scene. A 44-year-old man's been arrested on suspicion of


murder. He's still being assessed in hospital.


Several private companies have expressed interest in taking over a


care home in Herefordshire. The community-run Chestnuts in Ross-on-


Wye was forced to close after 20 years when the rent was doubled.


Half the residents have already moved out of the home and more than


30 members of staff were given their notice earlier this month.


The new Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford on Avon has been


shortlisted for a prize. It is one of six projects in the running to


win the Stirling Prize for building of the year. The theatre is


officially reopened by the Queen in March following a refurbishment.


Still ahead tonight, we meet cricket-mad Kearan and find out how


he's determined to succeed in the sport he loves.


And after a brief appearance this afternoon, it looks like the sun


may come out to play this weekend. The improvements begin tomorrow.


On the day more than 30,000 job losses were confirmed in police


forces around the country, unions say they're concerned about what


they're calling "creeping privatisation". West Midlands


Police have confirmed they're exploring the possibility of a


partnership with the private sector. As part of a pilot scheme, the Home


Office wants them to investigate ways they can transform the way


policing is delivered and also reduce costs. Sarah Falkland has


West Midlands Police is having to save �126 million over the next


four years. Could a private partnership be the only way of


satisfying the public's expectations? They want us to be


better at answering calls, at dealing with their problems and


this is a rude we are examining in the context of taking substantial


financial losses. Last year Cleveland became the


first force to enter into a private partnership. 500 backroom staff


were employed by French firm Steria in a deal heralded to save �20


million over ten years. The Police Federation here say there are


already signs that public aren't receiving same service, and that


Steria are already eyeing police interview teams and prisoner


handling staff. The West Midlands Chief Constable's


distanced himself from what's happened in Cleveland. He says


outsourcing is a tired model. But just by confirming he's exploring a


potential partnership with private sector, he's raised concerns that


this is the break-up of the police family. We are concerned that the


Home Office and the Government is driving a privatisation agenda and


that is what is happening here. If the Home Office pilot here in


the West Midlands is judged a success, private partnerships could


be imposed on every police force in the country. The opposition leader


today voiced concerns. The issue is that with �1 in every five being


taken at a police budgets, there will inevitably be cut in front


line services and that is what the Government has been warned about


but they have gone ahead anyway. Potential schemes will be put


before the police authority in September.


A factory that's a time capsule of Victorian life is to be preserved,


thanks to �1 million Lottery grant. The work done there involved the


funeral trade, putting the final touches to the coffins of, amongst


others, Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill


and Princess Diana. Here's Ben Sidwell.


Looking at this building today, it's hard to imagine it used to be


the leading coffin fitting factory in the world. Known as the Coffin


Works, Newman Brothers operated on this site for over 100 years. When


they closed in 1997, they left nearly everything in the factory.


They literally did just walk out of it and they left everything, tens


of mushroom soup on the shelves! Carbon paper in the draw and a


massive amount of stock. He said this was the polishing shop, this


must have been a tough place to work. Tremendously tough. People


working on polishing leaves for eight hours per day or more


depending on the light and it was filthy, dirty work and they had to


polish as much as this possibly could, because they were on piece


work. Now thanks to almost �1 million


from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Birmingham Conservation Trust are


set to restore the building to its former glory and turn it into a


working tourist attraction. This is the stamp room, probably the most


significant place in the building and that is because nothing really


changed here from when it started in 1894 until 1997.


The company produced coffin fittings for some of the world's


most important people, including One of the last orders they


completed before they closed was for Diana, Princess of Wales'


coffin. A lot of people live and work in Birmingham, do they care if


it remains? I think they care generally about what their city


looks like and how it appears to people outside of the city and they


care about the regeneration and heritage can play an important part.


Included in the restoration are plans to open commercial workshops


for small businesses connected to the funeral industry and a scheme


to train apprentices in conservation skills. It's hoped


that will help to bring this Victorian building back to life.


Ben is at the factory now. Will anybody really want to go and


visit? It is slightly macabre, to visit a place where coffins were


made. Fascinating but not the most cheerful place. There are a number


of people interested in that sort of subject but remember, there were


no bodies here, just part made for the coffins and were sold on. But


you also must remember that this in the late 1800s really was the world


market leader in the industry. At the time when Birmingham was a


manufacturing dominance. It is a snapshot of the city. When will it


be open to the public? Birmingham association now have the


money they need and they are the group that are also behind the back


to back buildings. They were built a while ago, obviously, and


restored and are now a big, popular attraction in the city. They are


hoping people will come here as well. The plan is with all the work


done and the workshops, it will be open to the public in 2015. Thank


But it is macabre. Now the story of a young cricketer


who is quite simply inspirational. Kearan Gibbs was born without hands


or forearms. But he's become a fixture at his local cricket club


thanks to his batting and his bowling. Dan Pallett's been to meet


him. He's a remarkable cricketer, but he


just wants to the part of the team. And he works tirelessly to improve


his skills. You'd think bowling would be impossible without hands


and forearms. Impossible nothing. He has a natural ability for


cricket and the disability does not come into it. Bowling is an immense


achievement for him. Just holding the ball with such a small amount


of body touching the ball, just a small bit of flesh to grip, is


really a huge challenge for the release of the ball and to get the


accuracy is something I can't really understand how he does.


11-year-old Kearen's also handy with the bat. He took up the game


three years ago after joining in with a game of beach cricket.


and determination is all you need to succeed, and he has that. He


concentrates and that is what he loves to do. And if Kearan's not


playing cricket, he loves nothing more than watching his favourite


team, Warwickshire. Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Chris Foulkes and


Darren, I love those. Why do you like them? Because they are all


good at but they are. -- at batting. And now there's a real help with


Kearan's cricketing obsession. The Wellchild charity is installing a


cricket net in the back garden of the family home in Redditch. I have


had windows broken, balls hit me in the head but now that the thing has


been done in the garden, he can go out and do it there.


And if he carries on with this much practice, it won't be long before


Seriously cool, but watch out for your mum! Incredible story a will


stop but he is accurate as well. Brilliant. Good luck. And now for a


This weekend is not too bad after this week, we have seen some


sunshine but it was a brief appearance from the Sun, it has


gone back into hiding, we could see some more showers before the night


is over, that is because of the cloud around but it should be


mainly a dry night to come. Some clear spells and they will stay


with us overnight. We were expecting to see the odd shower as


we go into tonight and it is a fairly mild night, looking at lows


of around 12-13 Celsius. But is not too cold. As we go into tomorrow,


though showers lingering on but there should be lighter in nature


and a bit more scattered than today and we should get some brightness


mixed in with it as well. When we did he see the brighter spells, it


should not feel too unpleasant. -- where we do see the brighter spells.


Tomorrow night, a similar to the past few nights, we will see the


showers easing off, a few clear spells but it is a touch cooler.


Lows of nine Celsius. That means we go into single figures. We are


talking about high and low pressure over the weekend, and if the low


pressure comes any further west, it could put a dampener on things for


Sunday so we are hoping that stays off. We are hoping for a decent


weekend, a bit brighter, drier and warmer than recently. Not much


warmer but warm enough with highs A look at tonight's main headlines:


The murder inquiry at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, now two more


deaths are being investigated. And justice at last for the family


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