The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.
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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