31/08/2011 Midlands Today


31/08/2011

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LineFromTo

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

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The headlines tonight: Divided families: after his son was taken

:00:12.:00:19.

to Thailand, a father campaigns to help other parents. I realise

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nobody would help so I had to do it myself.

:00:22.:00:25.

Demands for new safety measures after a spate of drownings in the

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River Severn. It has taken too many lies, he will be next?

:00:33.:00:36.

Crops in the shops two weeks early, thanks to the fast-fading memory of

:00:36.:00:39.

an unseasonably hot spring. And he'll train here for 2012, now

:00:39.:00:49.
:00:49.:00:56.

another national squad will make Good evening and welcome to

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Wednesday's Midlands Today. Tonight more and more parents face the

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agony of seeing a child snatched and taken abroad. There's been a

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big increase in the number of children abducted and taken by one

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parent against the wishes of the other. A leading charity working in

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the field says cases are up by a third this year. One father who saw

:01:15.:01:17.

his own child taken is now campaigning to help other parents

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who face a similar ordeal. Our special correspondent, Peter Wilson,

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has been investigating. What would you do if you came home

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and found your foreign-born wife had left along with your son? Sean

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Felton from Norton Canes near Cannock had been married for five

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years but his Thai wife known as Kim disappeared with Jo. His father

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spent six months tracking him down using a false Facebook account and

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pretending to be a millionaire American playboy. I looked on

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Google, I saw this handsome guy standing next to a Ferrari and

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basically just set up a false Facebook account. I requested her

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to be friends. He gleaned information and

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eventually tracked his son down to a hut on the Thai-Burmese border.

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He eventually, legally, brought his son home. He wasn't speaking Thai

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or English, I think the trauma he had been through it was gibberish.

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He bob obviously got to hand for, what was it like getting your son

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back -- you have obviously got your hands full. He had got chipped

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teeth, his fingernails had been ripped out on his thumbs, he had

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bruises on his back which were permanent.

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Sean is setting up a charity called Abducted Angels to give other

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parents advice. Since I have been talking to people all over the

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world and helping them, that has boosted me up again. The fight I

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had searching for him, it has helped me carrying on an helping

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all these other people. Almost three years ago, this Birmingham

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mother received a text message from her estranged husband saying he

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wouldn't be bringing her two sons home after his weekend with them.

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Instead, he was fleeing the country to Syria. Despite all the recent

:03:15.:03:23.

protests and upheavals, Dr Yusra Abo Hamed did eventually find them.

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These CCTV pictures show the moment when she was reunited with Sami and

:03:27.:03:37.
:03:37.:03:37.

Rami. But the trauma the children experienced was awful. They were

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extremely damaged, the little one, when we first saw him, I opened by

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an arms, he wanted to come at me. And the other started to shout at

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me. I felt at that moment he was too scared about his brother, that

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they were going to take him away from him.

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One Midlands charity, Reunite, has seen a 34% increase in reports of

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children being removed from one parent and abducted abroad by

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another. Tonight Dr Abo Hamed had a meeting with the British Foreign

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Office but her fight to get her children back seems no nearer

:04:14.:04:24.
:04:24.:04:25.

In our Leicester studio now is Sharon Cook from Reunite, an

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international helpline and advice centre for parents worldwide who

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face these types of problems. The increase in people contacting you

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this year is astonishing 34%. Why do you think it is? Unfortunately,

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it increases every year and we believe it is due to mixed national

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marriages. Trouble is more available to people now and more

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affordable -- travel is more affordable. And people often work

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for international companies, travel abroad for work and we are seeing

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more people relocate to foreign countries. We are seeing a downside

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of our global society, the increase of marrying into different

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cultures? Possibly, yes. Without talking about specific cases, we

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saw a man in our reports and a woman who still has not been able

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to get her son's home. Do you think it is more difficult for women?

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not necessarily, I think it is different for every parent --

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difficult for every parent but it is different for different

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countries. It may be more difficult for children and parents to go to

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court. Briefly, are the authorities doing enough to help parents whose

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children have been abducted? Again, that is difficult also. That is why

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we have focused on prevention measures and tried to get the

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awareness up to parents when it comes to other government

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authorities. If the child is removed to another country, you are

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governed by the law in that country, and that is the case. Thank you.

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Thanks for joining us. Later, with Stoke City the big spenders, all

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the very latest on transfer deadline day.

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24 bodies have been pulled out of the River Severn in Shrewsbury in

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just six years. Although the majority were suicides, others were

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people who'd been drinking and fallen in. Police are now working

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with pubs in the town, but relatives of those who've died

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accidentally say more safety measures are needed. Cath Mackie

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reports. It's a heartbreaking site. Emma

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Davies brings her little boy Oliver to the river in Shrewsbury where

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his father drowned. We were asked not to film the child's face. Mark

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Hodnett had been on a night out with friends earlier this month and

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was on his way home when he fell into the river. It is a river,

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people come to see it, but it is too dangerous. It has taken too

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many lives. He will be next -- who will be next? The town is pretty

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much enclosed by the River Severn. 24 people have died here in the

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past six or seven years. Police say up to ten were drunk and walking

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home alone. The water might look idyllic today but the sad fact is

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that according to the police, more people drown in the river here in

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Shrewsbury than in any other town of a comparable size in the whole

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of the UK. We are working with pubs and nightclubs, they are helping to

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find people who are intoxicated and help them make their home way

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safely. Catherine Moore-Hughes' fiance,

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Josh Wreford, drowned after a night out last summer. She supports a

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campaign for improved river safety including more railings. It could

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have been stopped, there is no need. Do people have to take

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responsibility for how much they drink? People will be drinking and

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walk past the river so they should do something to prevent that

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happening. We will put more fencing in where risk assessments indicate

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there is a particular risk, but in reality, it presents its own

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practical problems with flooding, The council say they've made other

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safety improvements too. It's hoped this latest tragedy will at least

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raise awareness. Oliver Hodnett will be two next week, the first of

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many birthdays without his dad. I'm joined now by Peter Cornall of

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ROSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents who's

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outside their headquarters in Birmingham. Is this a problem

:08:29.:08:39.
:08:39.:08:42.

that's getting worse? Certainly with alcohol-related journeys. The

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numbers of people that are drowning as a result of possibly taking a

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trip home along the river after they have been out having a drink

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and having a good time, that seems to be the case. What, if anything,

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can be done to prevent deaths at there? I think it is a case of

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trying to break the journey in a couple of places. Silage and public

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rescue, but also to make people aware of the hazards of drinking

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water slides -- signed age and public rescue. Getting the warning

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message out as well that alcohol and walks alongside the water do

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not mix late at night. It is difficult to fence off an entire

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river, isn't it? Yes, and we would not like to see that. If fencing is

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used, it should be used in the right place. There is an onus on

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responsibility of the individual as well so it is getting the balance

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right. We do not want to put a fence across the whole of the River

:09:56.:10:06.
:10:06.:10:06.

Severn. A spinal anaesthetic, which was

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mistakenly kept in place for more than two days, has left a teenager

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permanently paralysed from the waist down. Sophie Tyler from

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Newport in Wales was 14 when she was admitted to Birmingham

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Children's Hospital in 2008 to have gallstones removed. But an epidural

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she'd been given for pain control was left in place for too long,

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causing permanent damage to her spinal cord. It was depression at

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first. I just lay in bed wishing that it had never happened. Or was

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in that they had killed me. Because I had to live with the reality and

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consequences of someone else's mistake.

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Birmingham Children's Hospital said staff were deeply sorry for the

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distress caused to Sophie and her family. The Chief Medical Officer

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:10:59.:11:02.

The Solihull carmaker Land Rover has released the first images of

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the car on which it plans to base an all-new version of its iconic

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Defender. The DC-100 will make its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor

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Show next month and is due to go on sale in 2015. The first Land Rover

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was introduced in 1948 and the Defender name was first used in the

:11:19.:11:29.
:11:29.:11:29.

early 1990s, shortly after the launch of the Discovery.

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Two fire stations in Warwickshire shut for the final time today

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despite fierce opposition, led by the Fire Brigades Union.

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Warwickshire County Council says the decision to close them was

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taken not to cut costs but to improve the service. Nadine Towell

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It served the local community for more than 50 years. But today,

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Brinklow Fire Station in Warwickshire was forced into

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retirement. Last night, a closing ceremony was held to mark the

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occasion. In Brinklow and in Warwick, the retained fire crews

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have been scrapped. Local people and the union campaign strongly

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against the closure plans but as of 9 o'clock this morning,

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Warwickshire has two few fully operational fire stations. We have

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always said this is about safety of firefighters and the public. With

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the reduction of people, you have not got as many people to help each

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other. The fates of these fire stations

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were sealed last summer when county councillors agreed with proposals

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put forward by the Chief Fire Officer. It will be covered from

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Nuneaton and rugby, but it is not like having your own fire station

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down the road, is it? Suddenly it is upon us now and it is here so it

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is a bit sad. The county council says the

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closures are about improving the fire service and not cutting costs.

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We are halfway through our improvement plans and we have

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increased firefighter training which we said we would do and

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reduced our unnecessary journeys to on wanted fire alarms by 70%, we

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said we would do that. And there is 15% less house fires in and around

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Warwickshire. We said we would do all that.

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A third fire station, Studley, will close next year.

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Still to come this evening, it's the last day of August, but did it

:13:27.:13:30.

live up to expectations? See what you think later.

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And the Brummie legend whose boxing memorabilia is being auctioned. The

:13:33.:13:43.
:13:43.:13:49.

fascinating life story of Gentleman The future for generating large-

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scale solar power in this country has been thrown into doubt after

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the Government changed its rules on subsidies. For one Birmingham

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company, it means a promising new source of business has been cut off

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at a very difficult time. Here's our science correspondent, David

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Gregory. Building projects like this which

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have been mothballed us -- our size of a slowdown.

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The economic outlook for many companies is still gloomy.

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Birmingham electrical contractors JT Hawkes usually wire up big, new

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buildings. Usually. It stop. Doors have shut with the recession and so

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we have looked for other avenues of business.

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And there's one sector that appeared to have a bright future.

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This is a plan view of the development. Each of these blue

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strips is four rows of solar panels. It's one of Britain's biggest solar

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farms to date. Normally it would take three months to complete the

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wiring. But they did the job in just half that time, racing to

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finish before the Government slashed solar power subsidies for

:14:56.:14:58.

big installations. And cutting subsidies has cast a shadow over

:14:58.:15:06.

this new line of work. I have had a company from Italy phone me, two

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from Germany. Each one has suddenly said no, the client will not go

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ahead. With the cutting of subsidies, it's

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unlikely anyone will attempt something on this scale again,

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closing off a promising new source of business for this company.

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And David joins us now in the studio. So, David, why has the

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Government changed the rules? There's only so many subsidies and

:15:31.:15:36.

the Government is trying to refocus things. If you talk to the

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Government department responsible, they say large-scale solar farms

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could soak up the money intended to help small businesses and homes

:15:43.:15:47.

generate electricity. They are trying to generate things away from

:15:47.:15:54.

beget schemes to smaller schemes. - - from bigger schemes. So where can

:15:54.:15:59.

people start? It is a bit overwhelming. It is like putting in

:15:59.:16:03.

a kitchen or double glazing. Ask friends if they would recommend

:16:03.:16:08.

companies, get some quotes and then also there are two different

:16:08.:16:18.
:16:18.:16:21.

schemes that somebody should be a part of. Also with those two you

:16:21.:16:30.

should be up to a good start. All the details are on my blog.

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background noise was a bit difficult to fight against! We will

:16:33.:16:38.

come back to that later. Not too much solar energy around

:16:38.:16:45.

this summer. It's been the coldest August for 17 years. Despite that,

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farmers say many crops are reaching their peak two weeks early and its

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all thanks to some unseasonable weather earlier in the year. It may

:16:52.:16:55.

seem a distant memory, but this spring saw under 50% of normal

:16:55.:16:57.

rainfall and across England it was the warmest spring ever recorded.

:16:57.:17:00.

Temperatures, in fact, hit 28 degrees Celsius during April. Andy

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Newman reports now from the fields of Worcestershire.

:17:02.:17:08.

Runner beans, winning the race to be harvested. It may be late August

:17:08.:17:11.

in the fields of Worcestershire, but it looks more like early

:17:11.:17:13.

september. At Top Barn Farm near Worcester they're picking not just

:17:13.:17:17.

beans but other crops, up to two weeks early, and its thanks to an

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unusual sequence of weather conditions. We had an early spring,

:17:25.:17:28.

a very dry spring and that has brought a lot of the crops on early.

:17:28.:17:32.

The lack of rain has not been an issue, we can irrigate but in

:17:32.:17:36.

general, it is the climate that has brought the runner beans on a day

:17:36.:17:42.

earlier. And the orchards are hanging prematurely heavy with

:17:43.:17:48.

fruit. These apples would not normally be as rosy and juicy as

:17:48.:17:53.

this for another couple of weeks but they are ready to eat today.

:17:53.:17:57.

More exotic crops like butternut squash have also been thriving in

:17:57.:18:03.

the unseasonal conditions, and an added bonus for grow are trying to

:18:03.:18:07.

diversify into new markets. It is good, to be honest. To be up to get

:18:07.:18:12.

them on to the shells early is good for the farmer, sometimes we see a

:18:12.:18:16.

modest increase in price and also good for the consumer. In a world

:18:16.:18:20.

of global warming and broken weather patterns, it seems even our

:18:20.:18:27.

plant life cannot be relied on to stick to a timetable. It means an

:18:27.:18:30.

early autumn effectively for the farmers, let's hope winter does not

:18:30.:18:37.

follow suit. Football now, and it's one of the

:18:37.:18:40.

most frantic days of the season with clubs scrambling to make

:18:40.:18:43.

signings before the transfer window shuts until January. And it's Stoke

:18:43.:18:46.

City who've been by far the busiest of our clubs, as Nick Clitheroe

:18:46.:18:50.

reports. After three years in the Premier

:18:50.:18:53.

League Stoke City are becoming an established force and all the signs

:18:53.:18:58.

are that they want to take that next step up. Two new strikers

:18:58.:19:01.

could be on their way to the Britannia Stadium. A fee has been

:19:01.:19:04.

agreed with Birmingham City for Cameron Jerome and this evening it

:19:04.:19:08.

seems Peter Crouch is on his way to the Potteries for talks. It's all

:19:08.:19:14.

left the fans hanging around the club excited but a little confused.

:19:14.:19:17.

Frustrating really, but you have to trust the manager. We should be all

:19:17.:19:23.

right. A big amount of fuss over a lot of nothing, really. Linked with

:19:24.:19:28.

a lot of players and we have not seen much happening. It has been

:19:28.:19:32.

hectic in the training ground. We have been walking to and from. We

:19:32.:19:36.

don't know whether it will happen. Jerome's exit might not be the only

:19:36.:19:38.

one from Birmingham City. The central defender Scott Dann has

:19:38.:19:41.

travelled to Blackburn for a medical even though no fee has yet

:19:41.:19:45.

been agreed by the two clubs. Across the city Aston Villa are

:19:45.:19:48.

close to signing the midfielder Jermaine Jenas on a season long

:19:48.:19:50.

loan and the defender Alan Hutton permanently from Tottenham but it's

:19:50.:19:56.

all quiet at Wolves and West Brom. And if you're a fan of Villa, Blues,

:19:56.:19:59.

Albion or Wolves there's a Football Phone-in with Mark Regan about

:19:59.:20:09.
:20:09.:20:10.

today's transfer activity on BBC WM Very exciting but frustrating.

:20:10.:20:14.

With just under a year to go to the London Olympics, we already know

:20:14.:20:17.

two of the biggest track and field teams, the US and Jamaica, will be

:20:17.:20:20.

basing themselves in our region. Other countries are expected to

:20:20.:20:23.

send their athletes here too. Among them, the tiny Caribbean island

:20:23.:20:25.

state of Dominica. Ben Godfrey has the details of this latest

:20:25.:20:33.

announcement. Which sport and where are they going? Take a look at this

:20:33.:20:37.

because I am at Wolverhampton, the boxing club. It is all about

:20:37.:20:43.

sparring in a nice Indoor gene. In Dominica, it is all done at hitting

:20:43.:20:52.

eight punchbag hanging from a tree. They are coming to the area but

:20:52.:21:00.

they are not the first, Birmingham is also receiving the US and

:21:00.:21:05.

Jamaican team. And the boxers, the four Dominican boxers are coming

:21:05.:21:13.

here. It is around 4,000 miles away, has a population of around 75,000

:21:13.:21:19.

people, and the boxers are heading to Wolverhampton. Let us talk to

:21:19.:21:26.

John Thomas, an amazing trick, how did you get the box as coming here?

:21:26.:21:32.

We helped boxes earlier with all the equipment. The equipment you

:21:32.:21:37.

have sent over a has inspired boxes over in that country? Yes, that is

:21:37.:21:42.

correct. The offer has been reciprocated as well. What do you

:21:43.:21:48.

need to do to get this gymnasium ready for the boxers? We basically

:21:48.:21:55.

need finance because we are putting up 20 people, four boxes and we

:21:55.:21:58.

need the finance, that is the main thing. Somebody somewhere to help

:21:58.:22:07.

us. How important is it to the City of Wolverhampton? This is one of

:22:07.:22:11.

the best things that has happened to Wolverhampton since been made

:22:11.:22:17.

the city. OK, we will leave it there! That take a look around this

:22:17.:22:20.

gymnasium or stop young lads here sparring at the moment. They

:22:20.:22:25.

started from the age of eight and men are here as well. We have had

:22:25.:22:30.

British champions here as well. It takes in a lot of people from local

:22:30.:22:37.

schools. And be that there is up for big things. One more thing

:22:37.:22:47.
:22:47.:22:48.

about America. We have heard about boxing because one Frank Bruno, --

:22:48.:22:58.
:22:58.:23:02.

Sorry for the extraneous noise, lot going on there! Boxing is a great

:23:02.:23:09.

way of getting rid of surplus energy. I will not ask any more!

:23:09.:23:13.

From boxers of today to a past champion. The Lonsdale belt of the

:23:13.:23:15.

Birmingham boxer Jack Hood is coming up for auction after being

:23:15.:23:18.

wrapped in a pillow case for decades. Gentleman Jack, as he was

:23:18.:23:21.

known, was a national hero in the Twenties and Thirties, the

:23:21.:23:23.

undefeated welterweight champion of Britain, Europe and the Empire.

:23:23.:23:31.

Sarah Falkland reports. In an age before television, it was

:23:31.:23:35.

the light entertainment at thousands flocked to see. Even

:23:35.:23:42.

royalty were fans of boxing. In 1926, one man, Jack Hood was

:23:42.:23:47.

fighting for the British welterweight champion title.

:23:47.:23:50.

According to Prescott is at the time, every round was an epic. It

:23:50.:23:55.

has here it was a contest of brainy manoeuvre. No actual knock-downs

:23:56.:23:59.

but plenty of solid hitting to satisfy the crowd.

:23:59.:24:02.

He went on to defend his title twice, winning the right to keep

:24:02.:24:10.

the Lonsdale belt. Now the gold and enamel treasure is up for auction.

:24:10.:24:17.

It is very emotional. Thinking how hard he worked for it. I have known

:24:17.:24:21.

him come from a seven mile went in the morning and skip. You never saw

:24:21.:24:26.

the rope, it was so fast. I always wanted to skip that fast but I

:24:26.:24:30.

never made it! He was a wonderful dancer as well. Hood's victories

:24:30.:24:33.

were even more impressive because he could only fight properly with

:24:33.:24:36.

his left hand. In his right hand, the bones were

:24:36.:24:44.

very brittle. The knuckle bones used to break. Only around 20 belts

:24:44.:24:50.

like this were ever made. They were commissioned by the bon viveur and

:24:50.:24:52.

explorer, Hugh Lowther, Fifth Earl of Lonsdale. 11 years ago, a

:24:52.:24:58.

similar one belonging to Leamington boxer Randy Turpin went for 23,000.

:24:58.:25:03.

The enamel on it is amazing. And we are very privileged to sell it.

:25:03.:25:07.

Jack Hood retired from boxing in 1935 at the age of 32. He was

:25:07.:25:10.

landlord of a pub in Tanworth in Arden for over 30 years where he

:25:10.:25:19.

hung his champions belt behind the Amazing to be a boxing champion

:25:19.:25:24.

when you have got brittle bones. Unbelievable. What a prize that

:25:24.:25:34.
:25:34.:25:36.

would be as well. And now for a For the Midlands, the figures for

:25:36.:25:39.

the weather will be a slap a different story. I think the August

:25:39.:25:43.

figures will be published on Friday but we can get an overview. It has

:25:43.:25:46.

been drier than normal this August with half the rainfall you would

:25:46.:25:50.

normally expect for Shropshire and also quite dull with less than

:25:50.:25:54.

normal sunshine but temperatures have been around average for the

:25:54.:25:58.

time of year. But some as a whole for the entire country has been the

:25:58.:26:02.

coolest since 1993 and we are just about holding on to that summary

:26:02.:26:07.

weather. Temperatures looking good by Friday. Getting back to tonight,

:26:07.:26:10.

it is quite cloudy across the region. We could see some breaks

:26:10.:26:15.

and where they occur, some mist patches but temperatures will be

:26:15.:26:19.

falling in those areas. Generally speaking, quite healthy between 10-

:26:19.:26:26.

13 Celsius with the lows. And a dry night. Tomorrow morning is looking

:26:26.:26:29.

dole for some places but it is during the afternoon that we see

:26:29.:26:33.

the best of the brightness and sunshine. It is not the sunshine

:26:33.:26:37.

that will list the temperatures, it is the change of the wind

:26:37.:26:45.

directions. Light winds and the best of the temperatures in

:26:45.:26:49.

southern counties. Getting on to Friday, and when the South Eastern

:26:50.:26:56.

lease settle into the area, we will start seen temperatures getting to

:26:56.:27:00.

around 23 Celsius. On Friday, the sunshine breaks through from the

:27:00.:27:03.

damage will. Tomorrow night will be quite clear but the sunshine across

:27:03.:27:11.

all parts coming in and then rain over the weekend.

:27:11.:27:14.

A look at tonight's main headlines: There are reports that one of the

:27:14.:27:22.

men wanted for WPC Fletcher's killing has been found in Libya.

:27:22.:27:31.

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