27/07/2011 Midlands Today


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Good evening and welcome to Wednesday's Midlands Today from the


BBC. Tonight: 14 years' jail for a former foster carer who abuse


children as young as five. vulnerable children were preyed on


by him and they did not know who would believe them at that time.


Fury over bus routes and the Black Country, some people cannot get to


work. We have no transport whatsoever, the just stuck.


Creating stars of the future, the region's first Academy for the


Performing Arts prepares to open its doors. And what stories they


could tell - archaeologists find Good evening. He took away their


childhood, leaving indelible psychological scars. Those were the


words of a judge as he sentenced a former foster carer and parish


councillor to 14 years in jail for child abuse. William Barber was


found guilty of sexually abusing eight children over a 12-year


period. Some of his victims were as young as five years old. Police


described him as a predatory paedophile who used his seemingly


respectable image as a cover. As Sarah Falkland reports, he


maintained his innocence from the outset. From what you have said,


you deny the allegations? Absolutely. He claimed he'd never


touched a single child. But he was lying. Barber used his position as


a foster parent and councilor to assure couples he could look after


their children. The 60 year-old from Gloucester assaulted them at


his home and in a caravan in the Forest of Dean. My mum used to go


round for a cup of tea with his wife. I was four or five when it


started. I knew not to say anything. It was instilled in you. It was


unspoken that it was a special thing between us which I was not to


mention. Julie was just one of Barber's eight known victims.


William Barber portrayed himself as a pillar of the community, he was a


foster carer and in charge of the Tennis Association and on the


parish council. Everybody trusted him and held in high regard. The


vulnerable children were preyed upon by him. And they did not know


who would believe them at that time. Gloucestershire County Council have


made it clear that none of Barber's victims were children he'd fostered.


And they've pointed out that checks on potential carers are now much


stricter since the times of Barber's crimes. Judge James Tabor


told victims it had been a terrible ordeal for them and that he was


very impressed with the dignity shown by those who gave evidence.


Passing sentence on Barber, he said: You have not shown one


scintilla of concern for your victims, only for yourself. One of


Barber's victims, who was abused from the age of six, gave her


reaction to his sentence. I went for several years thinking he'd got


away with it but nothing will be good enough for what he put me and


the other victims through. Although the fact that he's been found


guilty and sent to prison means I can now try and move on and get


some closure. Barber will serve seven years before he's considered


for release. He'll remain on the sex offenders register for life.


And you can read more on that on the BBC Gloucestershire website.


Later in tonight's programme: They're treating patients on a


virtual hospital ward before being unleashed on the real thing. It was


billed as a �22 million state-of- the-art bus station right at the


heart of a modern, integrated transport hub. It was hoped it


would prove to be the catalyst to encourage more people using public


transport. But 10 days after the new facility opened and a series of


new routes were also introduced, thousands of people in


Wolverhampton are complaining. Bob Hockenhull has been investigating.


Wolverhampton's new bus station has been described by some as a


facility that people need and deserve. But the opening has


coincided with new routes and timetables, and that has angered


many. I normally have the 79, it has gotten worse. Turn it back to


normal because it is confusing. Residents like Pat Fullwood say


services they use have been either merged, diverted and reduced.


are just totally cut off and have no transport. We're just stuck.


Thank you. In nearby Wednesfield, the local councilor's already


collected 2000 signatures from angry passengers who claim they


can't get to the shops. It is no good having first class or world-


class facilities when residents that I represent have no provision


for a bus service to get them into the High Street. To do their


shopping, pay bills and do their banking. They will probably never


get to see that bus station. Traders are worried, too. The old


generation, from the outside, they are struggling to get to the centre,


now. This is seen as embarrassing and disappointing for those who see


the station as a world-class facility. The centre of a transport


hub linking bus, train and trams and at a time when more people want


to use public transport because of high petrol prices. Transport


managers say the new timetable would have been brought in whether


there was a new bus station or not. I don't want us to quickly react


and do something which potentially helps solve one difficulty and cost


is another so we're still looking at those issues and talking with


the councillors. We have a petition that was received and we're looking


at options to see what we can do. It's hoped the controversy won't


detract from the city's hopes to make the bus station a spur for


economic regeneration. Our transport correspondent, Peter


Plisner, is at the bus depot now. This is a bit of a PR disaster - is


the new bus station really to blame for this? Nothing to do with the


new bus station, these changes were happening anyway and they were


introduced at roughly the same time. The company says these changes


happen after a major consultation and there were hundreds of


responses but the bottom line is there is less money around and


private companies like National Express are making best use of


existing resources. Obviously, these changes are not popular,


hence that petition. With petrol prices rising, people who might


consider abandoning their cars could be put off by things like


this? There is evidence of something called a modal shift were


people shift from the car to the train and also buses because of


higher prices and the effects of the recession but what people want


is a decent alternative with a local connection and that is where


the bus scores. But we're heading in the opposite direction with


these changes, like the changes. Can these problems be overcome?


company says they're listening to complaints and they have lodged a


major review which should report within the next week or two and


that might mean more changes, may be additional bus services as a


result of more funding but these are not isolated cases. We have


been contacted from people elsewhere in the City and they seem


to be equally as unpopular. Thank you. The other news, now... A


senior police officer in Coventry has been suspended following


allegations that he accessed inappropriate material on the


internet. West Midlands Police are investigating. The officer is


understood to be 48 year-old Inspector Brian Hornsby. He was


arrested last month at an address in Bedworth. The engineering


company GKN has recorded a 14% rise in profits for the first half of


this year. Sales at GKN Driveline, which has bases in Redditch and


Birmingham, were up by 12%. Driveline make components for the


car industry. The company's share price has risen as profits were


bigger than expected. Safety checks are to be carried out on part of


Spaghetti Junction at a cost of �2.5 million pounds. Experts will


be inspecting the Tame Valley Viaduct, which carries the Aston


Expressway onto the M6 in Birmingham. They say the money's


needed so repairs can be planned before problems on the 40 year-old


road-link become too severe. The Midlands' first academy school for


the performing arts is due to open its doors to students next month.


It's modelled on the success of the BRIT school in London, which has


helped pop singers like Adele launch their careers. Eventually it


could take up to 1000 pupils. Jackie Kabler reports. This is


Julie Fitzgerald, a 16 year-old singer-songwriter from Lichfield


and this is the almost finished Birmingham Academy, the school


which it's hoped what turned students by Ken into the stars of


the future. We were not aware of the school, I had applied for


colleges and as soon as I checked it out, it was definitely the place


to be. Partnered with the famous BRIT School in London and a TV


company, the academy's due to open in September. This is what it


should look like then. Initially with 325 students and creating 100


new jobs. It has been five years in the making and I have been involved


for the majority of that time so to see this actually here, it is a


privilege to be involved. And to see it happening is quite special.


When finished, there will be a huge screen up their showing the


students' work to the outside world. This is one of 37 specialist


academies in the West Midlands, of those, 10 specialise in business


and enterprise, six in manse, three in technology and two of them in


languages. At partners Maverick TV, staff are hoping their involvement


will help shape the stars and success stories of tomorrow. The


new academy is still a school, teaching all the usual subjects,


just with a bit of showbiz sparkle. If you look at a lot of the


successful people in the creative industries, they have done things


when they were 15 and 16 and they want to get out and do that and the


Academy can encourage that for all the talent in Birmingham. That will


be a wonderful thing. Have you ever felt like there is no where else...


Students of the creative, digital and performing arts, your new


academy awaits. One to watch out for! I know... Good luck. Nearly


six in ten independent retailers suffered a fall in business over


the last three months. The figures are revealed in a new survey from


the British Independent Retail Association, which also shows a


decline in sales in the Midlands so far this year. The downturn is


being blamed on job insecurity and higher food and fuel prices,


leaving consumers with less to spend. This report from Ben Sidwell.


Step inside and it's like going back in time. But much has changed


since the shop first opened in 1880. 131 years later, it is still owned


and run by members of the same family. There are no family


business has left. I think people still like a traditional shop. They


can go into any shop which is basically every shop, there are the


same. All four members of staff have worked here for over 40 years.


The business has been their life. But things and retail have changed.


It is one of those other functions of how people's lifestyles are


changing and people do not by as much time as they used to. In the


City, they are not alone. This is Russell and draw, another family


owned business that has been in the city since the 1800s. That was


until last month, when they closed for the last time. It isn't just in


Worcester that independent shops struggle. According to figures by


the Birmingham based British independent retailers Association,


in the Midlands, they have seen their overall average performance


dropping by 3.9% compared to the same period last year. And many


have been hit even harder. When asked how confident they felt about


the Red Ed, only 4% said they were confident about 61% were anxious.


Back here, it seems many people are taking the chance to relive


shopping days of the past. It is a shame, it has been for it here for


so long. It is a tragedy for the area. The family still have not


received an offer for the building. When they do, this chapter of


Wester's retail history welcome to an end. Joining us now is Michael


Weedon from the British Independent Retail Association. We heard about


two businesses in Worcester there. What's the picture like across the


rest of the region? Across the region it is interesting because


the Midlands is in the middle of the scale. From falls of 12%, some


places are better than others. What London has been bad, West Midlands


is in the middle. Six out of 10 independent retailers tell us that


business is down in the last quarter against last year. At the


same time, things were good before that but on balance not a great


place to be. We have an e-mail from Harry who owns a shop, he says the


problem is very high business rates in muster. Is that a common


problem? Our councils to agree? Somebody has to pay so business


rates have to be there for a purpose. Business rates are a


problem across the country and retailers began small will be


hurting. Also rent. Rising rent is a big problem. That is a real


difficulty for retailers and of business falls but the rents only


go up, you get squeezed. Everybody likes shopping in a place where


there are lots of independent retailers. Are we seeing the slow


death of that? It might be difficult to believe, but the


Palace on the high streets across the country over the last three


years has swung in favour of independent shops because chains


have been shutting their doors more quickly than that the independent


shops and this year, research shows that as many independents have


opened as have closed. That is bizarre. With the growth of


superstores and online shopping, you would have thought it was the


opposite? We're talking about the High Street, these become available,


people who have dreamt of running a shop and many are redundant or are


just dreamers, possibly mad, they see this opportunity and they take


it. These people will open shops and they can save the High Street.


If they are allowed to. Thank you. It's technology more usually used


by companies like Jaguar. But now Keele University is using cutting-


edge virtual reality to put pharmacology students through their


paces. They're treating patients on a virtual hospital ward before


being unleashed on the real thing. And, as our science correspondent,


David Gregory, discovered, the new technology is opening up all sorts


of possibilities. I'm stepping into a virtual hospital ward and then


using a 3 D glasses. The effect is extraordinary although you will not


get quite the same effect at home on the television. The system


tracks for I am looking, patience even react. It is an important tool


for students. How to operate in a busy ward? You might just be


talking to one patient but there are lots of other things going on.


If it really prepares you. In 2009 we reported on Keele University's


virtual patients. The virtual ward takes things even further.


Pharmacology students can check notes, and monitors. But there are


plenty of other clues to a patient's health to watch out for.


Perhaps look at the colour of the skin and the colour of their eyes,


if there is any slight tremor in the hand, things like this can give


the student the clue as to what is wrong. This technology is more


usually found in the car industry. And the team don't just use it for


hospital wards. The biggest challenge with students is getting


them back out once they have started working! It can take


students inside molecules or inside the human body. In fact, it may


well have uses beyond teaching. This Israel patient data. You can


go in here with colleagues and examine and plan how to do things


in 3 D. In the meantime, what do was learn in the virtual world


makes them better prepared for the real thing. You can read much more


about that research on David's blog at bbc.co.uk/davidgregory. Still to


come in tonight's programme: Dreaming the dream - can our


rhythmic gymnasts strike gold at London 2012? Meanwhile, it looks


like the dream is over for us. The weather has hit its peak but what


comes next? I'll have the full details for you later. Try not to


be alarmed but more than 20 skeletons have been dug up in the


Worcestershire village of Kempsey. It's a relief to know they date


back around 1000 years. Archaeologists say what they're


unearthing suggests the village may once have been an important


administrative centre to rival nearby Worcester. Andy Newman


reports. Scratching at the human remains from the distant past.


Former residents of the village who last trod the feels of Foster Show


around 1000 years ago. Next to St Mary's Church in the village,


archaeologists have found a medieval extension to the present


graveyard where 23 skeletons have so far been discovered. More are


almost certain to follow. clearly shows that this was an


important ecclesiastical centre. There is building material within


the soil that we are excavating and it appears to indicate there was a


pretty substantial medieval building here on the site.


particularly interesting find is in his grave when there are two


schools, one on top of the other and that does not mean to people


were buried together, it illustrates that burials were


haphazard and one grave has disturbed another and the Richhill


skull has simply been placed on top. Other evidence adds weight to the


theory that next to the church there once stood at Bishop's Palace,


where kings and queens would have been entertained. It means that


what is now a sleepy village was once an important administrative


centre. I find it absolutely incredible that we were made aware


of this. Been brought up in the area, I never even knew about this.


It will be interesting to know what really happened to these people. To


get the evidence of when it was and why they died and get some proper


forensic evidence, that would be exciting. That evidence is being


gathered as the finds are taken away for exact dating and other


tests to find out more about these distant ancestors and the life they


lived in the important village of Campsie. Fascinating stuff.


Slightly spooky! It is, sadly! We might find out in a few months. You


have specialist knowledge?! The first-ever performance by a brand


new orchestra took place here in the Midlands this afternoon. The


National Orchestra For All is made up exclusively of talented young


people from economically deprived areas. It's inspired by a similar


project in Venezuela. Kevin Reide went to see them perform. The


newly-formed National Orchestra for All in rehearsals this afternoon at


the University of Warwick. Later they'll be performing to an


audience of more than 700. It's made up of children who might not


otherwise get the chance. There are lots of August is out there. They


tend to be for the elite and what the National Orchestra for all does


it opens up the doors to children for all standards and stages.


youngsters have only been together since Sunday but they're enjoying


the so far. It is amazing, the opportunities, it is just amazing.


I have been talking to people and they have come out of their shell.


It has really improved my confidence. It has got me to make


friends easier. I was never good at that. I have talked to a lot more


people. It helps you understand other people. They have that


different accents, it is due to last, it helps you with that.


Orchestra's been inspired by a revolutionary social experiment in


Venezuela which began in the mid '70s. It aimed to create social


change by giving poverty-stricken children free access to music. 30


years on, as this is what -- and this is one of the results.


enthusiasm that the young Venezuelan people feel for


classical music, and they have been working hard on how to perform


something in an exciting way, it's not just about playing the notes,


it is about putting your heart and soul into what to do. This is what


we're trying to achieve. National Youth Orchestra is still


recruiting. The long-term ambition is to have numerous orchestras


representing each region. Fabulous! It's not often that Venezuela gets


mentioned on the programme to! Staying with exotic news...


Football and Stoke City have arrived in Croatia for tomorrow's


Europa League qualifier against Hajduk Split. The Potters won the


home leg 1-0, thanks to an early goal from Jonathan Walters. Around


1000 Stoke fans are expected to travel to the game. But if you're


not going, BBC Radio Stoke has the whole game live from 5.45pm


tomorrow evening. You don't miss the trip. Five years ago, teenager


Frankie Jones decided Birmingham was the best place to be if she was


to compete at London 2012. The city had the best coach and the best


facilities. Today, Frankie is the British champion in rhythmic


gymnastics. Her Olympic dream is still very much alive, as Ian


Winter reports. Frankie Jones, shopping for flowers on New Street,


Birmingham. A rare chance to relax away from her rigorous training


regime. You see, Frankie has precious little time to sit back


and smell the roses, because every waking hour is focused on rhythmic


gymnastics. As long as I am confident, I can hopefully perform


to my best. Warning - don't try this at home. If Frankie's warm-up


routine brings tears to the eyes, don't forget that for the past five


years, she's been traveling three hours a day to train five hours a


day with coach Lisa Higgins in top- notch facilities at the GMAC Centre.


And it's paying dividends. Because Frankie, the Commonwealth silver


medalist, is also the British champion. She needs a good


performance at the World Championships next month to secure


her place at London 2012. Bracci does thrive under pressure. We have


known this since the beginning of the year. This is a stepping stone.


Hopefully she is confident and we are confident she can achieve


number one. I have to stay off the floor and keep moving. Otherwise


you get deductions. She's not only really good with the ribbon, she's


also red-hot with the hoop, brilliant with the ball, and if she


fancies a really wild night out, Frankie loves clubbing. Four


difficult disciplines, one dedicated gymnast heading for


London 2012. It's always in the back of your mind. I want to work


extra hard because you know that it's coming. Little goals, big


dreams. Frankie Jones could be in for quite a year. And on Midlands


Today tomorrow we'll be looking at the Olympic Dreams of a 19 year-old


canoeist from Staffordshire. And, of course, the BBC is the official


Olympic broadcaster. For all the very latest news on London 2012,


log onto the website. Indeed. Here's Shefali with the weather. It


has been a scorcher. We exceeded expectations. In the end, we did


pretty well. The hottest place in For us, the hottest part of the


region was Warwickshire with Church Lawford reaching 28 Celsius. It


probably felt even more. And there are changes on the way but tonight


they won't be immediately apparent. The cloud is going to thicken up


from the west to begin with and then the rain begins to come


through during the early hours. 16, 17 in places, it's a very


uncomfortable night. Warm and humid. The rain starts to perk up tomorrow,


beefing up in the south. We are looking at this becoming quite


heavy in parts of Gloucestershire and South Warwickshire and


temperatures -- 10 - 15 mm. That clears off to the east, hopefully


towards the West we can see some late sunshine and while we're in


that rain, it will still be quite humoured so although temperatures


rise, it might still feel quite warm and fresher towards the West.


Then the changes occur. That's from tomorrow night into Friday. Mr to


see a quieter spell of weather, the rain clearing, better skies and for


Friday it is cooler and fresher with house of 21 degrees. There


will be a good deal of sunshine around and as we head into the


weekend, Saturday, isolated showers and heavy showers for Sunday. Thank


you. A look at tonight's main headlines: The former Egyptian


President, Hosni Mubarak, appears in court on a hospital stretcher


charged with ordering the killing of protesters. And a former foster


carer has been jailed for 14 years for abusing children as young as


five. That's all from us this evening, but on tomorrow's Midlands


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