06/09/2011 Midlands Today


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Hello. Welcome to Midlands Today with Suzanne Virdee and Nick Owen.


The headlines tonight: Problems at Stafford Hospital were shocking


admits the former Health Secretary, but he didn't know about them, he


says, when he approved it for elite status.


We gave officers facing rioters plastic bullets says the chief


constable, but not a shot was fired. Policing needs to be left with the


police, and the consequences of being left on the street can be


dangerous to the wider community. Fish rescue as the region suffers


its driest summer since 1976. And how the RSC in Stratford has


inspired a theatre company in Good evening. Welcome to Tuesday's


Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight: the former Health


Secretary tells the inquiry into appalling standards of care at


Stafford Hospital that the "shocking events will forever be


etched in his mind." Andy Burnham also admitted he put


the hospital forward for Foundation status, which meant it could be run


independently of the Department of Health on the basis of a four-line


memo. Our Staffordshire reporter Liz Copper is in Stafford now. Liz,


how have the relatives of patients who died at the hospital reacted to


Mr Burnham's evidence? This is day 115 of evidence here at the inquiry.


I think it's fair to say for the families, this was one of the most


eagerly anticipated days of evidence. It was a chance to hear


from the man at the heart of Government as events in Stafford


unfolded and as decisions were made. Arriving at the public inquiry,


which, when in Government, Andy Burnham had argued would not be in


the best interests of health care in Staffordshire. He began his


evidence by saying the events in Stafford had been shocking and


terrible and would be forever etched on his mind.


He was questioned about his time as a junior Minister when he'd given


support to Staffordshire Hospital's application for Foundation status.


Counsel to the inquiry, Tom Kark QC, asked him about a single paragraph


in the briefing note he was given. There were just four lines


specifically on Mid Staffordshire: "Is that the sum total of


information about this Trust" Andy Burnham replied, "Yes, There was a


all that was put to me". The inquiry heard the business case was


described as marginal but there was a can-do approach. Andy Burnham


said, "In retrospect, the can-do attitude was basically a cavalier


attitude. Mr Burnham became Secretary of State for Health three


months after the highly critical Health Care Commission report into


care at Staffordshire Hospital. It was then he had deal with what was


described as the aftermath of a pretty explosive report. These are


pictures taken by the campaign group Cure the NHS who lobbied Mr


Burnham in his constituency following that report's publication.


The campaigners gave their reaction to his evidence. These Ministers


and MPs - they're living in a bubble, and I think his evidence is


exposing that. They haven't really got a grasp of what's going on in


the outside world, only what the civil servants tell them.


Burnham said improving standards and confidence in the hospital had


been his number one job. He said the failings had been local


failings by the Trust, the board and senior management.


Mr Burnham left the inquiry without making further comment. His former


Ministerial colleague, Ben Bradshaw, will be giving his evidence


tomorrow. As the inquiry resumes after its summer break, it's due to


hear from a number of high-profile witnesses now after the former


Ministers have given their evidence. We're due to hear from a number of


high-ranking Department of Health officials. They're expected to


include the former Chief Medical Officer and also the NHS Chief


Executive. An inquiry is expected to conclude hearing its evidence at


the end of this autumn. Thank you very much indeed.


The BBC Staffordshire website has all the background and the very


latest information on the Staffordshire Hospital inquiry.


You're with Midlands Today. Still ahead:


Are you ready for the final switchover?


It's emerged police officers were issued with plastic bullets as they


faced rioters and looters in Birmingham and the Black Country


last month. The Chief Constable, Chris Sims, said no shots were


fired, but he defended his force's tactics.


Our special correspondent Peter Wilson spoke to him during a debate


in Birmingham, organised by the BBC, which focused on the causes of the


riots. The moment last month when gangs in


Birmingham turned their guns on the police. The police released this


video partly in response to accusations that they'd stood back


while looters plundered shops. The deaths of three men who had been


standing on the Dudley Road protecting local businesses put an


end to the riot. Last night at the city's town hall almost Thieu


people came together to debate the causes and the solution -- thousand


people came together to debate the causes and the solutions to the


unrest. As these events settle on our minds, we need to understand


that policing needs to be left with the police and that the


consequences of being on the street can be dangerous to the wider


community. There is a massive gap between the have's and the have


not's. This is something that that went... The Radio Four debate


looked at a broken society, broken families, dysfunctional politics.


In the audience, everyone had a chance to have their say. I don't


agree with everything that happened, and I don't say it's right. I don't


condone it, but again, it wasn't just gangs, you know? It's easy to


label everyone as gang member or a gang or a thug. Like I said, there


were university students and athletes stealing and robbing stuff.


This debate hasn't been only happening on the stage here at the


town hall. The audience themselves have been debating the issues, but


everyone is agreed that there is no easy solution, no silver bullet to


these problems. No silver bullet, but the police


reveal they had been prepared to use plastic bullets. They're part


of the tact take that we would deploy if police came under direct


fire. During the riots, our cameras captured two young women carrying a


40-inch flat-screen TV. They gently put it down in a hotel doorway. The


debate raged on whether harsh environments or just plain greed


had sparked the looting. Many in the audience questioned why greed


was good for top people in the City, but not for the poor and


marginalised. There were undoubtedly banks that were badly


run, and of course we know they have taken taxpayers' money from Us


all, but the key thing is, on the whole, these banks were not


actually breaking the law, and you have to look at other reasons why


things went so badly wrong, and they did. This was not just a forum


for politicians and Westminster insiders. It was a public debate.


The sense that greed is good has led us down a very, very, very dark


and dangerous path, and we should get off it. It's just a lack of


morality in society in general. It's what I want and I want to have.


The knee-jerk reaction we have had over the past couple of weeks has


not actually allowed people to pause and actually think about the


practicalities of how you deal with such a disparate number of people


causing so much disruption for so many different reasons. A Streamed


on to the internet, broadcast nationally on The Today programme,


the Midlands audience felt that their voice had been heard, even if


the solutions to the riots are complex and many.


One of the themes promoted at last night's debate in Birmingham was a


need to promote old-fashioned values among young people.


But can a so-called back-to-basics approach work?


Cath Mackie has spent the day at one inner city school where results


suggest it can. I've got to solve those problems to make you


successful... A rousing start to the term at Perry Beeches School in


Birmingham. Lesson one - taking responsibility. We have a team of


teaching staff. It's your responsibility to find out who they


are. Four years ago just 21% of pupils here got five GCSE's at


grade C or above. Then Liam Nolan took over. This summer the figure


leapt to 75%, including in English and maths. This is an inner city


school in a deprived part of Birmingham, yet in the space of


four years, it went from failing to outstanding, and it says it did it


in just three simple words - "respect, discipline and


standards." We are a very structured school. Students wear a


perfect uniform or they don't come here. They do their homework or


they're detained. They do not speak with disrespect, otherwise, the


parents sit with us and talk to us about where it's gone wrong, so


it's clear where the expectations are. It's a philosophy which has


won Mr Nolan and his school countless awards and led to an


invitation to last night's BBC debate on the riots in Birmingham.


What we need to do is think quick. We need to engage our young people.


You say "we" - is it schools, patients, Government? Yes and I


think it's local councils, local support groups, finding things that


engage young people. We cannot just churn out pupils with nothing.


These youngsters are engaged, but clearly feel let down by society at


large. It's not all of us that's doing bad things. It's the certain


few. There are those that want to do the right thing. The youth


club's funding is gone. It's going to close. What happens to those


students who aren't engaged? More than a quarter of those charged in


the West Midlands riots were under 18, and now surgeons are planning a


campaign aimed at schools to cut knife crime.


We see the consequences, and some of them are dire - death, terrible


injuries, and we also have to deal with the families afterwards.


the focus is very much on the adults of tomorrow. The question is


whether they - and society at large - will learn the lessons of today.


Joining us now from Westminster is the Conservative MP Paul Uppal,


member for Wolverhampton South West, an area that also fell victim to


the riots. Thanks for joining us, Mr. We've clearly got to address


the adults of tomorrow, but how? As you alluded to in the report, these


are long-term solutions. One thing I noticed on the day after the


riots, on Wednesday, a lot of young people came with me and helped


clean up a lot of the shops and a lot of the damage that was done to


the retail units there. They said, we want to show that young people


can have a positive contribution. We do want to put something back.


So of course, there are problem, but there are also a lot of young


people out there who are trying to to do positive things as well.


A lot of people are in despair at the way young people don't care,


have a built-in no conscience. How do we break through? One thing I


liked about that report is the emphasis on the values of respect,


discipline and standards. Besides being an MP, I am also a father to


three children. I think the most important job I have is to teach my


children what is right and what is wrong. I think it's vitally


important we address that. If you're not getting discipline in


the family, it's important we get it at school. When did we reach a


point in this country when it became acceptable and almost


fashionable to disrespect teachers? It's about our values. The me-first


culture, the celebrity-obsessed culture that we almost have - there


are hundreds of thousands of heroes who are watching this programme,


people who do the right thing, raise their children, go to work,


pay their taxes - those are the values that made this country great


and our city and region great. You're in Government, and you have


to get that message out to the ones not thinking like that. How? It's


important. It's going to take a long time because this ship has


been going in one direction for a long time. I think it's important


we talk about this, have discussions like this evening and


like we did last night. It's important we stress the long-term


values rather than the short-term- ism we have had in the past. Thank


you very much indeed. Thank you.


You can hear more of the Birmingham Town Hall debate on our Facebook


page, and you can also join the discussion about the way forward.


A round-up of other news now: A 28-year-old man has been arrested


on suspicion of attempted murder after a knife attack on a busy


street in Birmingham. Police were called to the Hodge Hill area of


the city yesterday afternoon following reports of a man lying


injured outside a property. The victim was airlifted to hospital.


The trial of seven men accused of charges relating to sexual


exploitation and child prostitution has collapsed after running for


more than three months. A judge at Stafford Crown Court


formally discharged the jury from reaching verdicts on 49 charges


variously denied by seven men from Wellington and Sutton Hill in


Telford. A decision is underway into whether there will be a re-


trial. It's been fish rescue day in Herefordshire as it was revealed


that this region's had its driest summer since 1976.


The fish were recovered from the River Teme, the third such


operation in the last month after water levels fell to dangerous


levels. Kevin Reide reports. The River Teme at the village of


Leintwardine in Herefordshire is looking more like a gravel pit than


its normal picturesque self. A dry summer and regional weather


variations mean the flow has all but gone, and it's not since the


famously hot summer of '76 that it's looked quite like this.


Well, i'm in right in the middle of the river near to the English Welsh


border, and normally it's one to two feet high at this time of the


year, but as you can see, it's completely bone dry. The fish are


trying to survive in the few remaining small pools, but water


quality is poor and they're vunerable to predators. So for the


sixth time this year the environment agency is carrying out


a rescue operation. Well, we use electro--fishing equipment, which


puts a small current of electricity into the water, and it just stuns


the fish for five to ten seconds, long enough for us to net the fish.


The fish in this part of the world are largely unaffected by man. That


means they're particularly important as they're classic


examples of their species. These brown trout are especially special


for this part of the River Teme. They're wild fish. They have not


been cross-bred with stocked brown trout, so these are very valuable


to us and valuable to their own species, you know, because the


genetic strain of them is as pure as you'll get. Other important


species like eels and salmon are also being rescued. What we'll do


with them is we'll take them down to a bit of river that has plenty


of water in it, and they'll be fairly safe and secure. Otherwise,


they are going to perish. So far more than 4,000 fish have been


rescued, and the Environment Agency says there may be similar


situations in other areas. It's asking anyone who has similar


concerns about a river near them to call their hot line.


A most beautiful part of the world. What a shame.


Still to come this evening: Living the dream - one more big


amateur tournament, and Andy becomes a professional golfer.


And after the driest summer for 35 years, don't knock the rain. Is


there more on the way? Find out later.


It's the end of analogue television in the Midlands tonight. As the


second half of our region prepares to make the big switch.


Our science correspondent David Gregory's been behind the scenes at


our biggest TV transmitter to see what going digital has involved and


what it means for the viewer. His report contains some flash


photography. 860 feet of television engineering


- the Sutton Coldfield transmitter. Just like the rest of us, it has


been preparing to go digital. Inside the broadcasting bunker,


what must be the most famous switch in the Midlands. Tonight at


midnight the process begins, and they'll throw this switch and after,


what, nearly 50 years, analogue BBC Two will disappear from the


Midlands completely. Losing BBC Two, though, is just the


start. OK. Today, the Sutton Coldfield and the Trenton


transmitterer going to start the switchover process. Overnight


tonight, the BBC Two analogue process will get turned off forever.


From tomorrow morning, all the BBC services will be available for the


first time. It's taken a lot of work behind the


scenes to prepare for the switch. At the moment, they're testing the


signal, but can't broadcast it. It has to be dumped. That generates a


lot of heat and energy. The energy is temporarily channelled away


through these big pipes. As well as more channels, some 370,000 people


will be able to get Freeview for the very first time, and there is


help for those who need it. We have been do tooing a lot of work on the


ground working with local groups and organisations to get the word


out there about the help scheme because we do write to everyone, up


to three times, in fact, but we know people need hear things from a


trusted voice or friendly face before they take action. We're


telling people at this stage to look out for those that might


struggle and let them know there is help available. By the 21st of this


month, the Midlands will be totally digital.


Thousands of performers from across the globe are to tread the boards


at the World Shakespeare Festival. The event, which was launched in


London today, is expected to be the highlight of the Cultural Olympiad


next summer. More than 50 arts organisations


will take part, including the Iraqi Theatre Company performing Romeo


and Juliet in Baghdad. Ben Sidwell is in Stratford-upon-Avon now. Ben,


it sounds like a major event in Olympic year.


It is famous across the world. Theatre companies from across the


world will be descending on Stratford to perform the works of


the bard himself, as I have been finding out today at the launch of


the World Shakespeare Festival. Announcing a festival like no other


to celebrate the works of William Shakespeare. There is so much


creative talent across the globe that have come together for this


festival, so it's once a-in a lifetime experience. Everybody's


welcome. Next year to coincide with the 2012 Olympics, theatre groups


from around the world will come to Stratford-upon-Avon, London and


other venues across the UK to perform the bard's works. Many


productions will be in the actors' native languages. It certainly is a


once-in-my-lifetime. I have never witnessed anything like this, and


of course, it's the Olympic Games coming to the UK that has made it


possible, really, so you need to take advantage of these moments to


celebrate. Rather than Stratford, it was the British Museum in London


where details of the World Shakespeare Festival were announced


this morning. The British Museum seems a fitting location for the


launch of the World Shakespeare Festival. After all, it's here that


people come to learn about the history of our country. As far as


the arts are concerned, no-one has had a bigger impact around the


globe than Shakespeare himself. yeah - he's famous in Iraq, of


course, and we studied Shakespeare a lot in the theatre or the academy


or university - no, we studied in school. It's not just foreign


actors who will be involved in the festival. There is the odd


midlander too. I have done all right, haven't I?


You know, I have always wanted to work at Stratford. It feels like


home, and it does the best work in the world, and to be part of the


World Shakespeare Festival at the same time, it's a very lovely dream


come true on lots of levels. one million tickets for the


festival go on sale next month, and just like the Olympics itself, this


is likely to be a once-in a lifetime opportunity. Myra will be


playing Beatrix in Much Ado about Nothing if you're interested. One


man who should be playing the lead role but isn't because of the curse


again - broken arm, I am afraid, is Jonathan Slinger. Commiseration on


that. Thank you. Looking to next year, I know you have a lot of


things in the festival. It must be exciting as an actor. Hugely


exciting. We're going to be the focal point for the international


Shakespeare community next year. I am going to be very much in the


centre of it playing some amazing parts, so I am incredibly excited.


With theatre companies coming from around the world with their take on


Shakespeare that must be really interesting as an actor to see that.


I think more than anything else, it's important. I think we can get


stuck in our own ways of doing things and I think in the same ways


corporations around the world are having to take on a much more


global perspective to get their ideas, their inspiration, to


reinvigorate what they do, and to consider the fact that, as Michael


Boyd says, Shakespeare is no longer the property of the English. It's


very much a global phenomenon, read, performed and adored across the


world - it's really important we see other people's take on it.


There was some research out today that said 50% of school children


across the world - they still study Shakespeare - quite incredible.


These are now available at the theatre. And tickets go on sale


October the 10th. Get yours quickly. Thank you very much indeed, Ben.


October the 10th - that's the day - not far away, is it?


Sport is just a hobby for most of us with only the very best able to


earn a living from it. But, for Andy Sullivan, his dream of doing


just that is about to come to true. $$NEWLNIE But first, Andy's facing


the ultimate test for any amateur golfer competing for the Walker Cup


against the United States. Ian Winter's been to Nuneaton to find


out more. The good luck bell above the


wishing well at Nuneaton Golf Club. September is sure to be a memorable


month for Andy Sullivan. He's about to bid farewell to his amateur


status and hello to the high pressure world of professional golf.


But first, Andy's heading north.. For a hot date in Aberdeen, where


the finest amateur golfers from Great Britain and Ireland are


hoping to wrestle the Walker Cup away from the vice like grip of the


USA. It's the biggest thing you can do as an amateur. At the start of


the season, it was definitely on my to-do list. I am really proud of


myself. Just to beat the Americans is satisfaction, but personally, I


am my own person. I just hope that we all acquitted ourselves very


well up there and perform to the highest level we can. It's the


pinnacle of every amateur's career, and it's such a great achievement


for someone to do that, and for years to come he could be an


inspiration for others. His proud dad has followed his career every


step of the way. From the age of ten, he recognised his son's


special talent. Now he's ranked fifth in the world's amateur


rankings. He has no nerves. He has the right frame of mind to do it.


He has the ability to speak for himself. He has a good head on his


shoulders. In recent years the United States have had a virtual


monopoly on the Walker Cup, but if Andy Sullivan can help Great


Britain to a victory this weekend, it will be the perfect ending to


his amateur golf career. That would be lovely. Good luck,


Andy. Now, what about the weather? It was


violent last night, wasn't it? I'm sorry - that's the simple


answer. You may have heard me say earlier that it has been the driest


summer in the Midlands since 1976, so we really need this week's rain.


There were no warnings at the present time, so it's not going to


be particularly heavy, so as the fronts go through through the week,


they tend to weaken, so splashes here and there. This tightly coiled


area of low pressure that starts to move in through the weekend. We'll


get more substantial rain perhaps. The winds pick up through the


weekend. It was blowy tonight. The winds will come in from the south-


west. It's warm air, and the temperatures will pick up from


Thursday onwards. Back to tonight, and I think compared with last


night, it's going to be much drier. We've got a few showers just to the


north, but they're going to tend to die away, peter out later on. It's


looking largely dry later with clearer spells. Because of those,


it's going to be a little bit cooler than last night with lows of


around 11-12C. We have some sunshine to start the day tomorrow,


again, the distribution of showers, more particularly towards the north.


There is a feed of them coming in through the Cheshire gap through to


parts of Shropshire and Staffordshire. Elsewhere, mostly


dry. Good deal of sunshine the further south you go. Temperatures


are still up today - values of 17- 18C. Coupled with that wind from


the west, which is easing down compared to today. It's going to be


around 20mph from that direction. It is going to feel a little bit


cool tomorrow. As for tomorrow night, that's when we start to see


rain working in the from the west. Outbreaks on Thursday. The winds


There is going to be a load of county cricket on this week. It's


not going to be good for that. headlines:


Known criminals were at the heart of the English riots. Ministers


blame a broken penal system. Conditions at Staffordshire


Hospital were shocking says the Health Secretary, but says he


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