31/08/2011 Midlands Today


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


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


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


nobody would help so I had to do it myself.


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


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


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


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


another national squad will make Good evening and welcome to


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


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


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


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


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


his own child taken is now campaigning to help other parents


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


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


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


Felton from Norton Canes near Cannock had been married for five


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


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


pretending to be a millionaire American playboy. I looked on


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


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


to be friends. He gleaned information and


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


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


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


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


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


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


bruises on his back which were permanent.


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


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


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


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


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


mother received a text message from her estranged husband saying he


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


they were going to take him away from him.


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


children being removed from one parent and abducted abroad by


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


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


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


international helpline and advice centre for parents worldwide who


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


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


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


marriages. Trouble is more available to people now and more


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


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


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


of our global society, the increase of marrying into different


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


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


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


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


difficult for every parent but it is different for different


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


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


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


we have focused on prevention measures and tried to get the


awareness up to parents when it comes to other government


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


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


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


the very latest on transfer deadline day.


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


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


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


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


accidentally say more safety measures are needed. Cath Mackie


reports. It's a heartbreaking site. Emma


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


safely. Catherine Moore-Hughes' fiance,


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


campaign for improved river safety including more railings. It could


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


outside their headquarters in Birmingham. Is this a problem


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Severn. A spinal anaesthetic, which was


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


permanently paralysed from the waist down. Sophie Tyler from


Newport in Wales was 14 when she was admitted to Birmingham


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


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


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


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


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


consequences of someone else's mistake.


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


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


The Solihull carmaker Land Rover has released the first images of


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


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


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


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


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


Two fire stations in Warwickshire shut for the final time today


despite fierce opposition, led by the Fire Brigades Union.


Warwickshire County Council says the decision to close them was


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


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


Brinklow Fire Station in Warwickshire was forced into


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


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


have been scrapped. Local people and the union campaign strongly


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


Warwickshire has two few fully operational fire stations. We have


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


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


other. The fates of these fire stations


were sealed last summer when county councillors agreed with proposals


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


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


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


is a bit sad. The county council says the


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


We are halfway through our improvement plans and we have


increased firefighter training which we said we would do and


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


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


Warwickshire. We said we would do all that.


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


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


live up to expectations? See what you think later.


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


fascinating life story of Gentleman The future for generating large-


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


the Government changed its rules on subsidies. For one Birmingham


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


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


Gregory. Building projects like this which


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


The economic outlook for many companies is still gloomy.


Birmingham electrical contractors JT Hawkes usually wire up big, new


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


we have looked for other avenues of business.


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


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


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


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


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


finish before the Government slashed solar power subsidies for


big installations. And cutting subsidies has cast a shadow over


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


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


ahead. With the cutting of subsidies, it's


unlikely anyone will attempt something on this scale again,


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


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


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


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


Government department responsible, they say large-scale solar farms


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


generate electricity. They are trying to generate things away from


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Newman reports now from the fields of Worcestershire.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


earlier. And the orchards are hanging prematurely heavy with


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


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


More exotic crops like butternut squash have also been thriving in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


most frantic days of the season with clubs scrambling to make


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


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


reports. After three years in the Premier


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


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


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


agreed with Birmingham City for Cameron Jerome and this evening it


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


one from Birmingham City. The central defender Scott Dann has


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


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


close to signing the midfielder Jermaine Jenas on a season long


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


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


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


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


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


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


basing themselves in our region. Other countries are expected to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the best things that has happened to Wolverhampton since been made


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Birmingham boxer Jack Hood is coming up for auction after being


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


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


undefeated welterweight champion of Britain, Europe and the Empire.


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


the light entertainment at thousands flocked to see. Even


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


fighting for the British welterweight champion title.


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


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


but plenty of solid hitting to satisfy the crowd.


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


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


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


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


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


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


were even more impressive because he could only fight properly with


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


normally expect for Shropshire and also quite dull with less than


normal sunshine but temperatures have been around average for the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


directions. Light winds and the best of the temperatures in


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


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


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


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


all parts coming in and then rain over the weekend.


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


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


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