05/09/2011 Midlands Today


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Welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines: and prepared and slow to


respond. Criticism of the police after the Birmingham riots. There


was in position to -- insufficient rind trade police officers.


famous old family company is saved. The strength of demand and the


global reach of the business is an attractive deal. The toughest


trading conditions in 40 years, the battle for survival on our high


streets. And Staffordshire's because and bishops padding up as


they play to keep hold of one of Good evening and welcome to


Monday's Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight, could or should


police have reacted more quickly during the Birmingham riots. Claims


are being made by its residents in Handsworth, saying police were


unprepared for the riots and slow to respond. It is part of evidence


to a committee of MPs investigating. West Midlands Police have defended


their tactics and said they will be publishing their own findings into


the policing of the riots on a Thursday.


Back to its vibrant and bustling self, Handsworth's famous Soho Road


shows few of the scars. But rioting was a fierce here, looting


sustained, and the way the police handled it is still a bone of


contention. They were caught out. Half the police looked like they


were scared. You cannot suddenly go, there is a load of cobblers to deal


with it. You just do not know where it is going to break out. -- a load


of coppers. A fortnight ago, at a conference, traders and community


do workers discussed the trouble in Handsworth. Their evidence has been


put into a document. The riots caught the police on the hob, it


says. The police failed to engage with members of the local community,


leaving them by and large to defend their own premises. It says that


officers should have been at the incident in Winson Green where


three men were run over and died. They had insufficient resources to


deal with the incidence in the city centre and when the riot police


were asked to divert their attention to the Soho Road in


Handsworth, much of the damage had already been done. There were


insufficient officers. Kernail Singh was at a council read a


biased sale -- session today. When the riot started, he called the


police to his shop but they did not come. I am not blaming but I know


it was a very hard time for everybody. And a jeweller who took


part in last month's conference is in no rush to criticise police.


They could have been so representation -- some


representation on Soho Road to allow some response, but hindsight


is a wonderful thing. For the Government, the Tyneside involves


the learning of lessons. Majesty's constabulary have been


asked to look at what happened so that lessons can be learned for the


future to deal with disorder. comment from the police today. They


will present their own report into the handling of the riots to MPs


later this week. Up to 900 people are expected


better public debate about the riots in Birmingham Town Hall


tonight. It is hosted by BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Our


correspondent is there now. With the Straits -- streets quiet for a


few weeks now, his is a chance to dig deeper into any lessons that


can be learnt? It is certainly not quite here at Birmingham's


magnificent town hall. The crowds are flocking here half an hour


before the show gets under way. Back in 19 No 1 this very hall was


the scene where David Lloyd George was taking part in a political


debate. He had to be is smuggled out as a low full -- local police


officer because there was a mob outside. We are not expecting


tonight's debate to be quite as rioters as that. The man who is


going to be in charge of the whole debate is here, from the Today


programme. Will you get to the heart of what caused the riot?


hope so. We are trying not to have an evening of political speeches.


They have their place and people can make their points in them but


this is an effort to try to get some people from community


organisations, from the churches, von local government, from the


police, to give their view in a very practical way, first of all


from what happens and whether we need to get a handle on the detail


of what happened, and then to argue bats about where the beginnings of


solutions arise, and the interesting thing, I think we will


all struck by the events in early August that most sensible people,


whether in politics or not, said, something has happened that is


bigger than normal and that is the point. As we have already said, we


are hoping that lessons will be learnt and we will be bringing you


the update on this debate throughout our bulletins tonight


and tomorrow. Thank you. You can follow that debate online with a


video coverage via the Today programme website or on Twitter.


There will be full reaction and coverage on BBC WM and your local


radio station tomorrow morning. Still ahead: Faster trains to


London but far fewer places to buy your tickets, with plans to shut


dozens of booking offices at There has been relief, joy even, in


Kidderminster today, with news that the world famous carpet making


company Brintons has been saved from closure. The company, which


employs 700 people in the UK, had debts of �20 million. It has now


been brought by an American private equity firm.


Brintons Carpets have featured large in this man's life. 37 years


ago he followed his father into the Kidderminster Thatcher. A lot of


people have family who worked here. And suddenly it looked as if his


hopes have been realised, at least for the time being, with investment


from anti-American business. secures the future. It gives us a


route back to profitable growth. Brintons, which began and 1783, now


has factories in India, Portugal and is about to expand into China.


But it was hit hard in the recession, resulting in debts of


�20 million. The New Deal wipes the debts clean. Coppetts here are sent


all over the world. Its company has a proud 228 year history and it


hopes now it has secured its future. This woman joined the firm in the


footsteps of her parents and grandparents. It is a positive


thing that we have the company come in to help out. The key thing for


people who work here are jobs. How safe are people's jobs? In life you


cannot give guarantees. What we now have is a venture capitalist, a


private equity company, and that means all our units have to remain


competitive for the future. But there are no plans to change


anything today. So the pressure is on, as the American bank Rollers


will want to see a healthy return on their investment. But for now at


least, there is a sigh of relief. Other news and a pilot who died


when his light aircraft crashed on Friday afternoon has been named as


52-year-old Clive Greenaway from Stratford-on-Avon. His plane came


down in fields near the A1 close to Peterborough. It is thought to have


hit power lines coming into land. He had taken off from Long Marston


airfield in Warwickshire. A teenage girl has been sentenced


to life in prison for killing a father of two from Stoke-on-Trent.


Sheree Smith, 19, was found guilty of murdering Andreas Fantousi last


November. He was stabbed outside his house in Tunstall. Michael


Gordon, 22, was sentenced to ten years after being convicted of


manslaughter. The public inquiry into the circumstances of the


Stafford Hospital scandal has started again after a summer break.


Today, the inquiry heard that the body organising the training of


doctors at the hospital was unaware of the extent of failings which


contributed to the deaths of patients. As our health


correspondent Michele Paduano reports, the investigation is in


its final phase, with several high- profile witnesses about to give


Day 114 of the public inquiry. This time it was Dr Elizabeth Hughes,


head of the West Midlands Deanery, responsible for the education of


junior doctors. But it has all been said before. Poor communication,


doctors scared to speak out. Lack of scrutiny. When I took up my post,


I did not find any evidence of So far, perhaps the most high-


ranking casualty has been Cynthia Bower. Now head of the organisation


responsible for quality, she missed the seriousness of what was


happening at Stafford. This inquiry should be over by the end of


November but we are still to hear from senior politicians and the big


hitters from the Department of Health. By crispers, some big


reputations could be in tatters. -- by Christmas. And tomorrow, former


Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham gives evidence. He was


hounded by Cure The NHS outside his constituency. We want every person


that died in that hospital examined. And over the phone. You had no


choice, Andy, you had no choice. You have ordered a secret inquiry.


He appears before the inquiry that he never wanted. What did he have


to prove to pass it forward for the Foundation Trust? Was he looking at


serious untoward incidents, complaints, failure in patient


safety? It was so obvious about hospital. Later this month, we will


hear from the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, who has


to explain his role in the failures that led to an unknown number of


Great to have you with us this evening. Still to come:


Something of a warning from Shefali. Yes, look away later if you do not


like rain. There is plenty of it this week and it is heading our way


soon. And free food - harvesting unwanted


apples and other fruit to give to A fast new rail route to London


began operating today in competition with Virgin Trains.


Chiltern Railways unveiled its Mainline service, which reaches the


capital from Birmingham in just 90 minutes. The launch follows a


multi-million-pound investment in the line. Our transport


correspondent Peter Plisner was on this morning's first train.


Arriving at London's Marylebone Station, a couple of minutes late


but still much faster than before. After years of planning, the new


service is finally on the move. Special Mainline trains feature


free Wi-Fi and instead of first class, there is a business zone,


and that is where we caught up with businessman Roy Ellis. I think wet


Chilton scores is the fact that they are more spacious. But space


was at a premium elsewhere on the train, with some preferring to sit


on the floor. Nevertheless, passengers seem to like the service.


I think it was needed because it was a very popular line. You can


get And there was even praise from a seasoned rail travellers. It is a


rather charming rich. You feel like you're on the M40 rather from the


M1. In the past, Chiltern trains have offered cheaper at first but


now it with the Mainline service, they can compete Faster trains come


as a result of a big investment programme. There is also a much


simplified fares structure but, as a result, some, like Gordon


MacDonald, can no longer travel on cheaper fares. The price has gone


up to lead a �50 or �75 return, which is a huge hike. Chilton admit


that some people are having to pay more. Whenever you change things on


a railway, there will inevitably be a small number of people who are


disadvantaged but the majority of people The new service means that


from today there is even more choice of both fares and trains to


London throughout the day. Well, Peter joins us now from


Birmingham's Moor Street. Sounds like a mixed blessing for rail


travellers, Peter? It is. We have improved rail services but some


people are having to pay higher fares and tonight there are even


more concerns on the railways. The debt now could be told in 40 did


61 ticket offices are now under threat. It all emanates from a


report a few months ago into the savings for the railway and that


list has emerged today as a result of that report and research done by


a rail union. I emphasise that these are only proposals at the


moment but you can see when this might happen, with increased use of


ticket machines and the internet for train bookings. The Government


has not made any comment about the publication of this list but they


are due to respond some time within the next couple of months. Thank


you. "It is the pit of despair," the


words of one retailer today trying to navigate some of the worst


trading conditions on the high street in four decades. And figures


suggest the retail sector here is being hit harder than anywhere else


in England. Footfall - that is the number of people going shopping -


is down 6.6% and 10.5% of the shops in this region are vacant. Anxious


times for retailers with 109 shopping days until Christmas,


traditionally their busiest time of the year, as Ben Godfrey reports.


It is the big high street survival battle. From the might of the


glossy mall to the plight of the small trader. Simon Mauri lost jobs


at three high street chains before deciding to go it alone. Shiny


Gifts in Bromsgrove is surviving, just. Sales are down by a third so


suppliers are not always paid on time. Some days I in a -- I am in a


pit of despair but I have to keep friendly. People are spending less.


It was as if there was a tap that switched off as soon as the


Government announced August has been another traumatic month for


trading. The head of the Co-op has warned of some of the worst


conditions in 40 years. Shoppers are watching their wallets. It is


difficult for everybody with money. We are quite careful. Not very


confident at the moment. Very careful at the moment but


optimistic. Today, Solihull's showpiece, the Touchwood Centre,


celebrated a decade in business. Sales are up 8% year on year. The


success is enticing more big-name traders. It is about developing


more of an experience in store to complement retell presents and


those retailers who can be as are the ones who will capitalise on the


current spend and we move forward. Solihull seems to have a conveyor


belt of people ready to spend money. It is one of the most affluent


boroughs in the UK, but not everywhere will say the same. Back


in Bromsgrove, Simon Mauri has got some elusive customers, but he is


going to need many more to succeed and cover business rates of around


�6,000 a year. How confident are you that this business will still


be here in a year? It will be tough. I do not wanted to let this be any,


this recession. A drop in tax and VAT is next on the shopping list of


this independent trader. Well, I am joined now by Kevin


Breese from Retail Birmingham. Thank you for coming in. Are you


worried, or should we all be worried, about the number of empty


shops? You are suddenly looking at one in ten shops in the UK and


certainly the region. That is not too different to what it has been


for a number of years and we have to remember that there will always


be a churn and good retailers and not so good retailers. But that is


not too different to the last couple of years and what we have to


get used to is that it will be a tougher time for others. But we saw


a shopkeeper in that report he was beside himself with worry, not


getting people through the door like he was before the cuts so


there is some correspondence between recent cuts. I think


councils and bodies have to work harder. I do not think it is about


a VAT decrees at all. What it is about his local Government making


more abilities before the local traders. That is the single biggest


problem. �6,000 in that small shop. The business rate is a massive


amount of money. We have to push the Government to let that money


estate in the regions. What we have to do is get it back and then use


it for developing local economies. People like Birmingham retail, are


you pushing for the Government to do that? We continually have a


voice, working with people like British Retail Consortium. We have


to help retailers across the whole of the region actually prosper, and


whether that is an independent retailer or a shopping centre,


everybody needs to work together. Briefly, we are hearing about the


big shopping centres doing OK, people still going there,


destination shopping, but do you think the humble high-street has a


future, or is it dying out? It is absolutely must have. I have


visited many shopping centres in the last 12 months. Birmingham is


absolutely fantastic. We have to develop that more because it


creates the excitement and not just cloned high streets. Thank you. On


to sport and three of our rowers have made themselves favourites for


Olympic gold after winning world titles over the weekend. Anna


Watkins from Leek in Staffordshire triumphed in the double sculls,


while there was also called for Gloucestershire's Alex Gregory in


the men's four. And Zac Purchase from Tewkesbury looks a good bet to


retain his Olympic crown after winning the lightweight sculls with


Rugby and rugby and Worcester began life back in the Premiership with


an impressive win over Sale. They were rewarded with a 17-12 win,


including this try from Mark Now, a big week for clergy in


Staffordshire, at least for those men of the cloth who wear


cricketing whites. Bishops and reverends, ministers and lay


preachers are bidding to retain the Church Times Cup, which they won


last year. It is the oldest one-day cricket knockout cup competition in


the world. So Ian Winter has been to meet the Lichfield Diocese team


as they prepare for Thursday's cup final.


In the very heart of Cannock, St Luke's Church has been a familiar


landmark since 1100 AD. The Reverend Peter Hart cannot remember


that far back, but he does have fond memories of his previous


career as a professional footballer. But when he is not preparing for


communion, the former captain of Walsall Football Club has another


sporting passion. I do not talk about it a lot, to be perfectly


honest, but people are interested and Maisie even surprised a little


bit. -- maybe even surprised. Because the Reverend Hart is a very


keen cricketer, and he is off to meet other members of the Lichfield


Diocese Clergy team for their last practice match before Thursday's


final. We will be doing our utmost to bring the cup back to Lichfield


Diocese but again, as long as we play well as a team, we will enjoy


it and we have got a chance. This restaurant has arrived just in time


for the toss. He is also a Methodist superintendent and he has


a good excuse for being late. doing a funeral. You would never


get Andrew Strauss saying that. you would not. But you would never


get in to captain this model I've! They are a very accomplished


cricket team. Last year they got their name on the Church Times Cup


and they are in no mood to loosen their grip on the silverware. Derek


two bishops from Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, but neither of them


will be on the bench on Thursday. I understand it has not been retained


for the last 20 years or so by any team, so that will be an


achievement in itself. It gave a real feel-good buzz around the


diocese. Do you pray before a match like this? We do not, note. But


with thank God for the enjoyable game we are going to have. Do not


be surprised if the game gets a mention in Sunday's sermon at St


Luke's Church. Quite right, too! Let's hope it


will be good weather for this. I Yes, a bit of a mish-mash of


whether this week. Hopefully by the end of the week it should be


warming up a little bit. It is definitely dominated by low


pressure and you can see the swathes of Blue passing through and


that is the rain. The wind is not - - is quite strong. One of the


wetter periods this week will be tonight. This rain will be moving


in by about midnight, through the early annas and you can see from


the darker colour that there are quite a few in Test bus. -- the


early hours. -- A few intense bursts. The wind will be


strengthening as the rain heads in, so quite a wet and windy end to the


night, setting us off for the day tomorrow. With in the rain moving


quite quickly, by the time most of you are in -- heading into work, it


will be better. Quite sunny by the afternoon. The odd shower.


Temperatures rising to 17 Celsius or 18 Celsius tomorrow. It will


feel cooler in the wind. Gusts of up to 35mph. For Wednesday, showers


and sunshine. We have rain for Thursday, showers on Friday that


temperatures will start to look up Well, of course, September is the


peak time of year to pick apples, and it is a really good crop this


year. Many, though, go to waste, left unpicked in suburban gardens.


But a group calling itself the Urban Fruit Collective aims to end


all that and it will be giving the fruit away free, as Kevin Reide has


been finding out. A typical back garden in Coventry


and a treat with more than enough apples to go around. -- an apple


tree. Now these volunteers are harvesting them for others.


next door neighbours were having their Pears picked and we saw some


body in the true. They called around and saw our apples and said


could they pick them if we did not use them, to give away to people


who would like them. This is where they end up, added food bank in


Coventry City centre. This is great. We are always looking for new


sources of food and this time of year, with the harvest and fruit


coming in, it is good to connect with a group willing to go out


there and collect. It is developing community togetherness, saving


wasted fruit and healthy vegetables as well. And helping people and


sharing things out. Stopping the food going to waste. This weekend's


harvest was particularly successful. From one tree alone, they were able


to collect enough apples to fill seven of these boxes. For this


mother and daughter, they are some of the first to benefit. She and


her partner are both unemployed and reliant on food handouts. This week


it relies on some of the -- it includes some of the fruit harvest.


It is a good idea. It is early days yet, but with such a good harvest,


help us of all ages are being drafted in. Some more willing than


others. Mother has been shoving me up trees.


I think she is all right! Let's take a look at the headlines. As


the first free schools start the lessons, the Government insists


they will not be just for the privileged few.


And police were am prepared and too slow to respond to the Birmingham


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