The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.
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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today with Michael Collie and Suzanne
Virdee. The headlines tonight: Strike warning as council workers
prepare to apply for their own jobs. Probably lose about �3,500, which
will eat into my savings for my retirement, really. The bottles
whose contents could have killed - hundreds of bottles of fake alcohol
taken off the shelves. There is a high level of methanol in there.
There are two other chemicals associated with cleaning products.
Job worries in the carpet industry as a historic manufacturer
considers a takeover. And cricket's stars come out in Birmingham ahead
of England's crucial test match Good evening. Welcome to Monday's
Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight: A union warns of a "series
of strikes" this autumn at one of our region's councils. It comes as
thousands of Shropshire Council workers are to be balloted over
industrial action. Unison will tell Shropshire Council on Wednesday
that it's opening that strike vote next week. It's happening because
6,500 staff have been told they'll be dismissed next month and then be
re-employed at lower salaries as the council tries to protect jobs
and save �76 million. It's one of only a handful of councils in the
country pursuing the "fire and re- hire" policy. Ben Godfrey has this
report. Malcolm Allmark's due to retire in
four years, but he told me he's had to think again. The site manager at
Shropshire Council was told he'll be fired and only re-hired if he
accepts less money. 6,500 people from admin staff to social workers
have been told they'll be dismissed at the end of September.
response was to send out the ballot paper.
If you earn less than �13,000, your salary remains the same. We have
tried to put forward alternative ways of saving the amount of money
that we need to save. On members are telling us very forcibly that
they are going to be calling industrial action.
So is there a precedent? Look at Southampton. Here the city council
has just been through its own so- called "dismissal and re-engagement
plan". Most workers signed the contract, but there's since been 12
weeks of strikes, and bins are stacking up. That won't happen in
Shropshire - refuse collections are privatised. In fact, to avoid
dipping into a pool of public money, even the Quarry swimming baths in
Shrewsbury will soon be privately managed. We asked people whether
they sympathised with the workers. It seems there is a lot of people
working for the council, maybe they could have made it a small amount
of people. With that is the way they are going to save their jobs.
Needs must. They are overpaid anyway.
The strike ballot opens next wednesday, with the result a
fortnight later. As dark clouds formed over Shire Hall, no one
inside was available for an interview. In a statement,
Shropshire council says it is disappointed by news of the ballot.
This will save making between 405 hundred redundancies, and many
staff say they will accept the changes, according to the council.
Joining us now from our Southampton studio is BBC South's political
reporter Alex Forsyth. Alex. How does the situation in Southampton
compare with what's being proposed in Shropshire? There are huge
similarities between the two, but staff in Shropshire have it
slightly worse. Here we are talking about pay cuts at up to 5.5%, and
staff on less money will take less of a pay cut. In fact, those who
earn less than �17,500 will not have a pay cut a tall. But they are
being told that if they don't sign up to this, they will lose their
job. Here What impact have the strikes had in Southampton?
departments have been sent out on strike a week or two at a time.
Some libraries have had their opening hours reduced. But by far
the biggest impact here in Southampton have been the bin
strikes, some of the binmen have been out for two months. If you
went out into Southampton a few weeks ago, you would have waded
through piles of rubbish, and the smell permeated the streets.
there any end in sight to the dispute there? I think because
Southampton was the first council in the country to implement these
pay cuts, the union have focused here. I think they thought the
ethic of stoppage here, they could stop it elsewhere. There have been
lots of talks, but so far no resolution. The council here are
saying that if they don't cut pay, they will have to cut jobs.
Later in tonight's programme: Learning how to make the perfect
oatcake - courtesy of Robbie Counterfeit wine and spirits that
are so toxic they could kill drinkers have been seized from
shops. Hundreds of bottles have been taken off the shelves by
trading standards teams. Bootlegging is a growing problem,
costing the taxpayer an estimated �600 million a year. Here's our
They are backed up as evidence, but all these bottles were on sale at
off-licences in North Staffordshire. The team responsible for seizing
the spirits had also subjected them to scientific test. The results are
startling. There is a high level of methanol in there, and to other
chemicals that are associated with cleaning products. The potential is
that it could cause of blindness in somebody if they drink sufficient
quantities, and also there is a possibility of causing death.
Counterfeit wine has also been recovered, produced by criminal
gangs. These bottles have all been seized with and the last few weeks.
Counterfeit alcohol is becoming a growing problem. And the potential
dangers were highlighted last month after the explosion which killed
five men at an industrial estate at Boston in Lincolnshire. Police
suspect it was an illegal vodka distillery. For reputable sellers
of alcohol, like here at the Duke William pub in Burslem, the
increase in couterfeiting is unwelcome. The reason for the rise
is partly put down to economics. is because of the recession. There
is a market for it now, isn't there. People have less money in their
pockets, so there is a niche in the market. For anyone caught
counterfeiting, the penalties can be harsh. Whoever produced these
bottles could face up to two years in jail if they're prosecuted. Liz
Copper, BBC Midlands Today, North Let catch up with the rest of the
day's news. A Port Vale footballer has appeared in court charged with
rape. 22-year-old defender Clayton McDonald, who recently joined the
club from Walsall, is charged with raping a woman at a hotel near
Rhyll in north Wales in May. He's been jointly charged with the
Sheffield United striker Ched Evans. A statement on the Port Vale
website says Mr McDonald strongly refutes the claim.
Nearly �10 million-worth of machinery has been stolen from
farms across the region. That's according to a survey by Stratford-
on-Avon based NFU Mutual, who say "agricrime" has risen by 17% over
the past two years. Many farmers are now having to invest in
immobilisers for tractors. Lawnmowers and jetwashers are most
commonly targeted, followed by quad bikes.
A global private equity firm has confirmed today that it's in talks
about taking over one of the biggest names in the region's
carpet-making industry. Brintons has been making carpets in
Worcestershire for more than 200 years. There are concerns that any
takeover could lead to job losses. Andy Newman has this report.
They have been weaving carpets here since 1783. But is the historic
fabric of this family run business about to be unpaid? Talks are under
way on a deal which could lead to ownership of the Kidderminster
factory being handed over to foreign investors. In a statement,
the managing directors said that Barrington's are in discussions
with the global private equity company, but would go no further.
We understand that company is the Carlyle Group, based in the United
States, although we cannot officially confirm it. My concern
would be a private equity company were only interested in buying the
name, had no interest in the very historic connection with
Kidderminster, and simply wanted the name, and had their main base
in another country and wanted to shift manufacture. Concern for jobs
in industry which is already a shadow of its former self-. This
was the factory in the 1930s, thousands pouring out of the gates.
Today it is hundreds. Many more worked at other firms, in a town
where 33% of the entire work force made carpets.
If back in the 1960s, there were no fewer than 60 carpet companies in
the Kidderminster area, employing 17,000 people. Today there are just
five main competitors left, employing just 200 people -- 2000
people. Mike was a Barrington's employee for 30 years, and went on
to become chief executive of the Carpet Foundation. He believes this
deal may be unwelcome, but necessary. There will be many
people who will born -- mourn the loss of the influence, because they
have a wonderful record over the years, but we have to be realistic.
Nobody predicted a recession, and we are now stuck with a situation
where all manufacturing companies are finding life very difficult.
after famous names like Cabaret, another Midlands brand with a
worldwide reputation could end up in foreign hands. More news is
expected in the next few weeks. A lot of people in Worcestershire
with great interest in what happens there. We will keep you up-to-date.
There's just one month to go now until the final stage of digital
television switchover here in the Midlands, when the Fenton and
Sutton Coldfield transmitters make the big switch. Our science
correspondent David Gregory reports now on someone who was so impressed
by the help they got, they're now making sure they spread the word
She is a busy woman about Redditch, but Kathleen still enjoys high
quality TV. Oh, John Barrow man! I love him.
So she's made the switch to digital, and she was delighted to find she
qualified for free help. He got the little box out, turned the
television around, put all the things in, showed me how to do it,
and he was nice. Her daughter, Mayor of Redditch no less, was so
impressed with the scheme, she's helping get the word out too. So
you were doing a bit -- doing your bit to tell people about the scheme
yes? Yes, because if people don't know what is happening, if people
do know of anybody who was on their own, they should go and check that
they know what is going on. Half the Midlands has already gone
digital. The remainder switches in a month. On 7th September, if you
haven't done anything you'll find BBC Two will disappear. It's a
warning you're about to be left behind. But there's plenty of help.
We are doing around 1,000 installations a day. The
installation involves putting the boxing, and the installer will take
the time to explain how the equipment works, and they won't
leave that person Bolm at home until they are comfortable with the
new equipment. If you qualify for help with digital switchover, you
were sent a letter. But we will give you the contact details to
find out more a moment if you have lost it. And you can make sure you
continue to get your little bit of Barrowman.
Kathleen will be delighted! People who qualify are 75 or over,
a registered disabled, registered blind or partially-sighted, or in a
care home. The number is here on the screen. Somebody will come out
by appointment, for free, and fit a digital box, and make sure you know
how it works. That is held for specific groups of
people. What about the rest of us? Yes, you have to go and find the
money will feel a TV or your Freeview box. There is another
number that you can phone. These are the technical people with
regards to any questions that you might have. They have the manuals
for all the TV's and Freeview boxes that you might have. The first half
went fairly smoothly, so we are hoping that this will, as well.
So there is a final switch later? Yes, all the details are on the
website. Still to come in tonight's
programme: England's cricket stars meet their public - but will they
be good enough to be crowned the world's top test side at Edgbaston?
And I'll be here later with the latest weather for the Test - and
the news isn't great. There could Swimming in rivers and lakes was
once a popular pastime, especially here in the landlocked Midlands.
But health and safety fears resulted in a bit of a decline, and
jumping in your nearest lake wasn't thought advisable. I am not sure
about Now, though, enthusiasts are reporting a revival of so called
"wild swimming". Bob Hockenhull caught up with a group of "wild
swimmers" at Carding Mill Valley in Shropshire.
In recent years, this reservoir has been officially out of bounds for
swimmers. But now it's one of a number of locations where
organisations such as the National Trust are encouraging wild swimming.
This walking group is taking advantage of the trend. People have
stopped doing things outside, they have eased off a lot. And suddenly
everybody has started coming back to it. Until the 1970s, swimming in
your local river or lake wasn't considered unusual. In some cases
diving platforms were set up alongside the water.
Since then, Britain has become much more health and safety conscious,
but the river and lake summing associations has only a small
proportion, about 12%, of drownings are as a result of people swimming
in the water. Most accidents occur when people fall in - many have
been drinking alcohol. The National Trust owns the reservoir, which
once supplied water to Church Stretton. Up to now the trust had
discouraged swimming here, so why the change of heart? Of the
National Trust has had a huge campaign to get people out of doors,
and part of that is embracing things like while slumming. What we
ask is that people don't do it alone, make sure someone knows
where you are, and make sure that you are aware that there is no
lifeguard here. So what did these intrepid swimmers
think about the experience? Swimming pools are follow if the
chlorine, and you have to wear goggles. It is much nicer. It in
the open air. It is lovely. After walking all day, it is really
refreshing. It might be cold, but these
enthusiasts say they'll definitely be back for more. Bob Hockenhull,
BBC Midlands Today, Shropshire. Refreshing! Is that a word for
perished? Excitement is building ahead of the
third test match between England and India at Edgbaston, which
starts on Wednesday. If England win, they'll replace India as the
world's number one Test team. Nick Clitheroe's at the Council House in
Birmingham - an unusual place to talk about cricket, so Nick tell us
Yes, phenomenal interest in this game, with more than 85,000 tickets
already sold for the first test match at the new look Edgbaston.
England's current success has really captured the imagination of
the fans, and they got a chance to get a few tips from their heroes
Hello, mate! English cricket is riding a wave of success. Victory
in the Ashes last year has been steadily built on. Even so the size
of the crowds who turned up in Birmingham city centre this morning
surprised the players they'd come to see. It is massive. It is good
to see such a massive turnout. The start of the football season,
interest usually drops off, but it hasn't this year. And if you were
in any doubt about the excitement been generated, just look at the
size of the queue here for autographs. All this talk about the
demise of Test cricket, and it to me it is the best form of the game.
England is doing so well, it is lovely to get the grass roots up
and going. You could never get as close to football players like this.
If I was younger, I wouldn't be seeing all these players!
This was Cricket in the City - an initiative launched by the ECB to
spread the word about a sport enjoying its time in the spotlight
and make sure children all across the Midlands persuade their parents
this is the sport for them. It won't do that ambition any harm if
England seal a series victory and number one spot by winning at
Edgbaston to rise to the top of the Test rankings. It is always a
unique atmosphere at Edgbaston. It is a very passionate, very
knowledgeable public in Birmingham. You only have to go to Birmingham
City or West Proms -- West Brom to know that the fans know what they
are on about. This England team are breathing new
life into the sport. I am sure India will have something
to say about that. And joined by one of their squad. You have had a
fantastic reception here from the Indians and the square. Yes, a
fantastic reception. It is nice to see people come and support you. It
is nice to see the youngsters here, as well. How much are you looking
forward to playing? I am really looking forward to playing, and
just happy to be in the squad again. I'm really happy that I'm back in
the side, and very eager to play. I'm sure there is determination
among the Indian team to get back into the series. Yes, you lose some
and then you win some, and it is time for us to pick ourselves up.
We want to go out there and win a few matches. And keep that No. 1
ranking in the world? Yes, you don't get that easily, so we want
to hold on to that! We just want to get the result our way. I hope you
enjoy yourself in Birmingham and enjoy the new look Edgbaston. That
will be a really exciting test on Wednesday, England against India,
the third match of the series, it will be a fantastic few days at
Now, the Football League season got Both Birmingham City and Coventry
City suffering defeats in the Championship. But in League One,
Walsall fans may have already seen their goal of the season, as Ben
Sidwell reports. A new season and a new man in
charge at Birmingham City. Chris Hughton must have been delighted
with the way things started. But Birmingham began life back in the
championship with a defeat. It is certainly going to be a long season,
this one. There are a lot of good teams to play, and we need to keep
determination and enthusiasm, and we will pick up results. A There
were more sending-offs than goals as Coventry took on Leicester at
the Ricoh Arena. Former Aston Villa and England striker Darius Vassell
got his marching orders after just 11 minutes, and Coventry were also
down to ten men before half time, Carl Baker getting a straight red
for this challenge. The only goal of the game came early in the
second half, Lee Peltier earning all three points for Leicester.
Walsall spent most of last season battling for their Division One
lives, but they started this one with a 1-0 win against Leyton
Orient, and what a goal, too. Adam Chambers, with one of the best
finishes you'll see at the Banks' Stadium all season - on his debut,
against the side who let him go in N new season, but the same old
argument, with the Port Vale fans calling for the board to go. On the
pitch, Louis Dodds scored an injury time equaliser as the sides drew 2-
2. Former Port Vale striker Justin Richards got two goals on his debut
for Burton Albion at Torquay, but the home side fought back from 2-0
down to snatch a point. And if your team's goal wasn't
there, don't despair. Just log on to the BBC Sport website where you
can find the goals, along with more news and interviews from your club.
If you're having your tea right now, what are you having? Maybe an
oatcake? I only ask because today is National Oatcake Day - a day
when lovers of the Potteries delicacy tell the world all about
it. That's if campaigners get their way. The oatcake has been eaten in
Staffordshire for hundreds of years, and some half a million are made
every week. Even Robbie Williams' dad is a fan, as Laura May McMullan
The humble Staffordshire oatcake is It doesn't sound like much of a
delicacy, but it all depends on what you fill them with. Two bacon
and cheese, please. Two sausage and cheese. You can put anything on the
new like. People in Stoke on Trent prefer cheese and bacon.
Well, now there's a group of oatcake lovers who are campaigning
to achieve a National Oatcake Day! Today in Hanley they seemed to be
going down a treat. It is not just an oatcake. You have got the
pottery, the football. Oatcakes bring people together. People on
mad over oatcakes. They will travel for them. It has been born and bred
into them. And with more than 10,000 supporters of the campaign
so far, it looks like they're hitting the spot. We love them
because they are from Staffordshire. If everybody knew about them, they
would be mass produced, and they wouldn't be very good. And there
are a few famous fans as well. I don't know why, but they don't sell
them in Beverly Hills in California! Well, of course we've
got pancake day, there's a Cornish pasty day in August, and there's a
national fish and chips day, which was started in May last year. So
why not make August 8th national oatcake day? I do actually think
the date needs thinking about a little more. Across the city, more
than half a million oatcakes are produced every week. Campaigners
believe there's definitely an appetite for the Potteries' best-
And why not? Cheese and bacon are the top ones! Now, as promised,
Shefali Oza's here with a look ahead to what the weather has in
store. Will the sun be shining for Not really. Let's just cut to the
chase and look at what is going on for the beginning of the cricket.
We don't go into the weekend on this table, but you can see it
isn't looking promising for the start of the test. This is what is
going on on the pressure chart. We have this ridge of high pressure
from tomorrow, but then this rain starts to push in. It is a classic
wishbone formation, two fronts a hinged at the top. Wind it will
start to increase as those isobars squeeze together. Temperatures
today were under par for the time of year. He would normally expect
23-24 Celsius, but we only reached 18 today. It will become cooler
overnight. We could see a trickle of showers coming in through parts
of Shropshire, but otherwise it is dry tonight. Temperatures could
fall as low as five Celsius., otherwise tens and elevens. We
maintain that a little flicker showers through the north-west
going into tomorrow. For the rest of us, it is dry, but we will see
the cloud infilling from the north- west. Temperatures again, 18 or 19
Celsius, but coupled with a brisk wind. For the rest of the week, it
A look at tonight's main headlines: More violence on the streets of