22/07/2011 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines: worst of all - a


damning report says people here have fewer qualifications than


anywhere else in the country. cannot see how those people will


get any of these double jobs in that private sector without the


training. Families' fury - the derelict homes cannot be demolished


because they are in a conservation area. You're still living in a


decimated aerial. Ridiculous. the club in debt and a player


exodus - Blues fans form a protest group to oust the club president.


And a makeover to turn back visitors to what was once one of


Good evening. Tonight, bottom of the class. How we are lagging


behind the country when it comes to education. One in three adults have


no qualifications at all in Birmingham, that is according to a


report from the university and college union. It was a whole


generation of people will fail to meet their full potential and they


want the government to address the problem urgently. The Prime


Minister warned he close down failing schools and replace them


with academies. Being stretched and challenged, the


children at Codsall School are the lucky ones. There are six times


more likely to end up with qualifications here than if they


had been born less than 30 miles away. He we are just down the M6


where it is a different story. This is the Hodge Hill constituency and


according to a survey, one in three people of working age here have no


qualifications whatsoever. I have no qualifications. It might be


because there is a lot of poverty here. I have qualifications. I have


an NVQ and GCSEs. It leads the list of eight areas listed in the top 20


blackspots in the West Midlands. have whole communities here in the


West Midlands where people between 16 and 64 have no qualifications at


all. Other blackspots include Birmingham Ladywood were a quarter


of adults have no qualifications. Stoke-on-Trent Central also fares


badly. In South Staffordshire, the figure drops to 5.8 % and stone


comes out best with just over 5.6 % of adults having no qualifications.


The MP for one of the worst affected places says a whole


generation is being led down. young people in Birmingham are rich


in talent but their hopes are being dashed by the tripling of tuition


fees, cuts to maintenance allowance and the closure of projects


designed to help people back to work. The Prime Minister was quick


to refute claims it was down to government cut. David Cameron used


a visit to Jaguar Landrover to announce a �25 million fund to


create 10,000 apprenticeships. is not about money. What cities it


is about failure in terms of tolerating bad standards. What


Michael Gove has said is he will not tolerate schools that fail.


They will be taken over by academies. Codsall School which had


an outstanding Ofsted report says they deer qualifications to the


individual. Students need good levels of qualifications, so that


is our job to make sure they go from this school prepared to be


successful in whatever they choose to do. School's out for summer but


it seems far our region's children There is not a level playing field.


Perry Barr was another area which fared badly in the report. 19 % of


adults there have no qualifications but once caught trying to make a


difference is Perry Beeches Secondary. It was classed as


failing just four years ago but recently won the national title of


Outstanding School of the Year. Joining me now is their head


teacher at Liam Nolan. You are what they call a super head teacher.


Great at inspiring young people. What is the first thing that needs


to be done to turn the statistics around? I do not think it is quite


May. It is about the community realising how important it


education is. People like me and my youngsters, we do not win the


lottery. That is not our way of getting jobs and achieving in life.


It is making our communities realise that education is the way


through. Getting decent qualifications in practical subject


boring subject that mean you can go to higher education is important


for our youngsters and that is what we have done here. 74 % of our


youngsters lead -- leave... I note you have some great results but I


want to ask, it is really tough in some areas because pupils have no


families with history is of qualifications and some tennis they


have never even worked. You are right. Some of our youngsters here


are second or third-generation youngsters who have unemployment in


the family or without qualifications. But what you have


to do it is instil in those communities and families that if


you do not pass the exams in school, there are still chances and


opportunities beyond school time in our local colleges, but also to get


those grades while you are in school and it has worked here.


Although we are up to criticism, this is one of the best schools in


the country. You have done a fantastic job. The PM says failing


schools, he was shut them and turn them into academies. Is that a good


idea? Perry Beeches is becoming an Academy the summer and it is about


time we have created families of schools, so that schools that were


not doing well sit alongside schools that are doing well and we


can learn from each other, which is the best way forward. It is the


young people that are important. Thank you.


Later: as we await the arrival of Jamaica's finest athletes for the


Olympics next year, celebrating one of the island's best loved exports.


Families have reacted furiously after council refused to give the


go-ahead to demolish abandoned homes. The houses are due to be


pulled down as part of a regeneration scheme to improve


housing in Stoke on Trent, but the council says they cannot be


bulldozed because they are in a conservation area.


Middle poured in Stoke-on-Trent is classed as a regeneration zone.


These streets are now also in a conservation area. Mick Poole have


lived here all his life. He is dismayed at the progress of the


plans to improve homes here. plans were to knock these downs and


get a private builder to build them. Build new properties and it would


have looked nice. But all that has gone by the board now because they


have run out of money. These houses were due for demolition but now the


council has turned down plans on the grounds it would be detrimental


to the character and appearance of the area. It is like living in


Beirut. You cannot say it is something nice to look at. It is


diabolical. You have all the people out now, they might as well knock


them down and build new ones. are still living in a decimated


airier. Ridiculous. You just wonder what is happening. Disgusting.


There is nothing here in Middleport. Boarded-up houses. This was


declared a conservation area earlier this year. It means,


according to the council, that different rules apply here. The


council says it is sympathetic to family's concerns. There Rye


Heritage issues at stake. It is important we get it spot-on. It is


unclear when or if these houses will be cleared, nor is it certain


what will go in their place. In other news, hundreds of jobs


have been secured at a biscuit factory after its parent company


announced plans to keep it open. The Fox's biscuit plant in


Uttoxeter was thought to be under threat. Northern Foods had


previously announced it planned to replace them with one new factory


but the company now says it will invest �27 million to keep both


sides open. Engineers have given their support


for plans for a new high-speed train line between London and the


Midlands. Institute of Civil Engineers says cutting journey


times between Birmingham and the capital will regenerate parts of


the Midlands as well as increase capacity. Their support comes days


after the Institute of Economic Affairs said the plans were


economically flawed. It is not so much about the journey times, it is


much about the capacity increases that high-speed will bring. It


brings a change in capacity that we need. Two Birmingham MPs are


putting their differences to one side to work together against plans


for a directly elected mayor the city. Three years after the


electors voted to get rid of the role, Birmingham and Coventry are


both due to hold a referendum on the proposal next frame. -- spring.


A clear thumbs-down from the electorate of Stoke-on-Trent for


the idea of a big city boss to re- energised local-government, but


Boris Johnson and before him Ken Livingstone had proved formidable


champions for London. But this is not London, say MPs from different


parties joining forces for what they see as dictatorship. If you


elected me, you will have one person, all powers will be


concentrated in his hands. What role has the council got? You have


100 elected councillors pay money every year, what will they do?


Lib Dem MP would consider standing himself although he does not think


there should be a contest at all. It is a bad idea to concentrate so


much power into a one individual. However, if I sorted out the


problems in family courts by the time one goes to nomination, I


would be interested. The fact that he is a man of strong and clear


opinions on this and everything else, it is great and it is


wonderful that he is sticking his neck out. Already throwing their


hats in the ring the former Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington Sion


Simon, the leader of the city's Labour group are that Paul and John


Bull lookalike way you go. The former Labour Defence Secretary Bob


Ainsworth could also become a candidate in commentary. We have


been here before in a reference -- referendum 10 years ago. The idea


was rejected and almost all councillors opposed it. Now the


mood of that opposition may just be softening a little. If the


referendum next May delivers a yes vote, they would be under starter's


orders for 12 months on end. Patrick is with us now. Referendums


next year, maybe then, elections after that. It seems like a long


process. Supporters of the idea think it is ridiculous, it is far


too long they to generate a bit of a man term with this referendum and


then you say we will go into suspended animation and to


dissipate all that energy. Far better to move smoothly through a


campaign phase in the autumn and have elections then. Against that,


it would be more expensive. It would be cheaper to have male


elections on the same day as main elections. Any others who have come


into the reckoning? Clare Short, Birmingham lady would MP, Mike


Whitby the Conservative lead the -- leader of the ruling coalition.


Digby Jones has said in the past that he would be interested and Bob


Warman, we have heard of him, the news presenter is apparently


considering his options. Presumably there will be others? A supporters


say there should be an ambitious head hunting exercise. To ginger up


the really top talent and the public life of this country. Thank


Record numbers in our prisons, but how does it actually feel to be in


jail? And after a week of bad weather,


this week will be brighter and a bit warmer.


The prison population of England and Wales has hit a new record high.


There are now more than 85,500 people locked up in our jails at a


cost of millions of pounds a year. It has reopened the debate of what


to do with offenders. Is the money better spent on


rehabilitation projects? A replica sell has been set up on the streets


of Stoke-on-Trent. These former inmates are re-


enacting time spent in prison. They are part of the Go to Jail project


which hopes to raise awareness about living conditions, cell size


and privileges. The standard sale size was meant for one, but with


the prison population in England and Wales almost doubling of the 20


years to over 85,500, overpopulation has become an issue.


Inevitably the size of the cell is crucial, and if you want to help


people rubella -- rehabilitate, they need that space. Across the


region there are five prisons of a capacity, including Shrewsbury


Prison which is 65% of capacity. Hewell Prison is 16% and Dovegate


in Staffordshire is 7% above capacity. More than 50% of inmates


are shown to be defend within a year of being re release. Akiel


served six years for drug offences and has not really offended, but he


believes overcrowding has a detrimental effect. For somebody to


nourish themselves mentally, they need their own space. Just not


being too close to someone, smelling their body smells, it's


that Iraq... I think that is a basic human right. Visitors have


mixed views. It is like shoving a big Alsatian in a budgie cage. It


is inhumane. I do not think they should make anything easy for


people up there. But space is running out. Today the government's


announcement means there is just under 2,500 spaces left in England


and Wales, and projects like this raised questions about whether or


not offenders should go to jail. A series of events are being held


across the region this weekend to mark the countdown to next year's


Olympic Games. One of them, Jamaica Live in Birmingham, will see a


celebration of culture, food and music, and all this week we have


been looking at the City's Jamaican connections. Our Arts and Culture


correspondent Satnam Rana looks at her reggae has influenced


performers. A look at what is to come in


Birmingham's Victoria Square tomorrow. The next generation


bringing Caribbean signs to the city, which will host the Jamaican


track and field team in 2012. But the signs of Jamaica have been with


us for over five decades. Kingston time, the place I long to be...


When you think of reggae and Birmingham, UB40 comes to mind. The


genre went mainstream in 1978, but Formed in Handsworth, this band is


famously remembered for Handsworth Revolution. We were talking about


how things were then, and we were expecting a revolution because that


is what was building up within us as individuals. Back in his old


stomping ground, the former vocalist's memories are very vivid.


We did not here ourselves or the music from Jamaica on the radio, it


was what was heard at home, it was on the sound systems... It was a


whole alternative experience. many Jamaicans came to make burning


began and surrounding cities their homes from the 1950s onwards, with


the then came music and culture. But what role does reggae play in


society today? This is the height of the Jamaican community in


Birmingham, and the heart with regards to music is still reggae.


But his musical journey has taken him to new notes. He has gone on to


form the UK's only reggae Philharmonic Orchestra.


challenges expectations when you say reggae. This orchestra is the


evolution of everything Caribbean, everything British, and what is


just to come. -- what is still to come. This musical journey will


continue to change, along with society and its culture.


Let us join Satnam now. She is in Cathedral Square in Birmingham.


What are the highlights for the weekend? Look at this, the No Fit


State Circus will be live in Chamberlain Square tomorrow as part


of the Birmingham Hippodrome's Open weekend celebrations. Elsewhere, in


Worcester, 12 Moves Flashmobs will be taking place - dancers begin


creatures to life from Worcester to Droitwich to Bewdley. If you fancy


dancing yourself, head to Coventry. You can breathe the beat with


others. On Sunday, BBC Midlands will be at the Blists Hill Museum


in Shropshire, for some community games, and you too can try your


hand at Victorian activities. If you fancy South Asian arts, head


down to their The Public in West Bromwich, where you can attend the


Arts Mela hosted by Sampad. Across the region over 60 events are


taking place, you can get them by going to the BBC website and


navigating your way through to Open Weekend. Back to you.


All very energetic! Football - Birmingham City's


midfielder Barry Ferguson has joined Blackpool. His move is for


an undisclosed fee. Some fans are so concerned about


the club's finances, they are forming a protest group to ask


questions of the board. They are Blues fans, and they are


feeling blue. The more we get out there... But Kevin Roberts, Darrell


Meekcom and Thomas Hill are prepared to do something about it.


This is why they are unhappy. want the club to tell us that they


can keep us going, that they can afford to run the club. If they


cannot, put it up for sale. It it is embarrassing. You cannot hold


your head up in public, we are a laughing stock. A all we get is


bits back of the internet, nobody is standing up and saying anything.


We just want integrity, honesty. They have formed an online campaign


group calling for Carson Yeung to leave Birmingham City. They plan to


protest at next week's home friendly against Everton. It has


been a six month roller-coaster ride for Birmingham City, from the


joy of the calming clock to the John... Now president and part


owner of Carson Yeung faces five charges of money-laundering in his


native Hong Kong. He has given his 18-year-old son Ryan a place on the


board. The club have sent me a statement where they say that other


fans on social media are stressing how important it is to back the


club. The promise to keep fans in forms of development. These fans


say they will back their new manager and the team, but they were


worried that they will be hampered by off-the-field problems.


The fans I have spoken to are very deeply concerned about the future


of Birmingham City. Now, in its heyday as one of


England's great country houses it was visited by King Edward the


Seventh and Edward Elgar. Witley Court stands in glorious


Worcestershire countryside. Net tens of thousands of pounds have


been spent recreating its gardens in an attempt to dig halt the


decline in visitor numbers. In its heyday, Witley Court stood


in 25,000 acres of parkland. Owned by the Earl of Dudley, it hosted


many an extravagant party. All that changed when much of the house was


destroyed by fire in 1937. The restoration of this but there for


some fountain got 72,000 visitors to the site eight years ago, but


numbers have dwindled. Compared to before, visitors are still above


what they were before. But we are competing with a lot of tourist


attractions, we are a very weather dependence site as well. To boost


tourism, gardeners have re created the landscape designed by him


renown Victorian architect, William Andrews Nesfield, in an Italianate


style. Even down to things people regard as mistakes, in the side


beds some of the circles are not the same size, and we had to


recreate that. Hopefully people will come back year after year


because it is never going to look the same two years running. It is


always going to be a slightly different design. We have got lists


of plants that we know were used in this garden, it is quite a big list.


Colourful, manicured, intricate, but it is not just formal gardens


that England -- English Heritage are relying on. This lake has been


created also. You can see kingfishers, great crested grebes


and other birds that live on the lake. Opening up the food path


gives visitors here a new perspective. There are great new


views of the church and Witley Court, the use that once would only


have been enjoyed by the Isle of Dudley and his visitors. Now, the


We will have a bit of sunshine this weekend, but not a wall to wall.


Tomorrow is going to be a slow improvement on today in terms of


brightness and less wetter weather. This weekend high pressure is going


to remain in charge for us here, making the weather becomes settled,


brighter, less in the way of showers, but there will be some.


Tonight, any showers we have seen will be clear ring to expect a


mainly dry night to come with a few clear spells to come. Temperatures


well below, but not that low. Nose of nine Celsius overnight tonight.


Those clear spells mean a bright start to tomorrow, rather on the


sunny side but the warm weather means a few showers will spring up


with fair weather cloud. The showers will be like, and fairly


well scattered. Highs of 20 Celsius, 68 Fahrenheit. It will feel OK in


the sun. Tomorrow night, it should be dry. Lows of around 12 Celsius


as we go into the start of Sunday morning. Over the next few days we


are talking about that was settled weather - 21 Celsius, settled into


the start of next week. A little bit of summer.


Thanks very much. A look at tonight's main headlines. A bomb


causes a massive explosion in Oslo. At least seven people have been


killed. A shocking new report reveals


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