08/08/2011 Midlands Today


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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


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