07/09/2011 Midlands Today


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to more than �1 million. The Quantum Leap in Shrewsbury was


unveiled two years ago to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth


there of Charles Darwin. Today Shropshire Council revealed it's


lost a legal battle with the contractors which has more than


doubled the cost, making it more expensive than the Angel of the


North and landing council tax payers with a huge bill. Here's our


It's been likened to human vertebrae and a dinosaur's skeleton.


But the cost of the so-called Quantum Leap in Shrewsbury has


quite simply jumped higher than anyone expected. Least of all


Shropshire Council, which inherited the delays and spiralling costs


from the former Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council when


Shropshire became a unitary authority. Unfortunately it make


impact on some of the capital projects around the county and that


will impact on our residents. The good thing however is it will not


affect frontline services. If we had �1 million at the start, we


could have had a very famous British sculptor and nothing the


people would then accept it. The famous sculptor Anthony Gormley


was responsible for the Angel of the North statue. That cost


�800,000, much of it Lottery-funded. And �200,000 less than Quantum Leap.


I would rather it be given to charity. I think it is nice. Waste


of resources. Better spent on the NHS, I think.


The original budget was �483,000, the council paying �200,000, the


rest coming from grants. But the council bill has risen by another


�410,000, plus legal costs of �115,000, bringing the grand total


to more than �1 million. All at a time when Shropshire Council is


The sculpture was to mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin. He


was born here. A man at the helm of a charity dedicated to the


naturalist and geologist likes the sculpture. I am pleased the town


did it. But the amount it cost, are you still pleased? I don't think I


can comment, it has cost what his has cost. You can name a figure and


he would still have the same debate. Each of these concrete ribs weighs


3 tonnes and one of the problems during construction was that they


had to be realigned to complete the arch. The contractors Alun


Griffiths from Abergavenny declined our request for an interview. A


statue of Darwin already exists here. Who knows what he would have


made of the row surrounding Quantum Leap. Love it or hate it, the


debate about how much it cost will be discussed by councillors next


week. So Quantum Leap has divided opinion.


But what about public works of art elsewhere around the region?


Whether they're donated, paid for by business or from the public


purse, Joan Cummins has been Every town and city in our region


has got public works of art but are they worth the money? Waste of


money. He should go to the NHS. A focal point for tourists, the


River Goddess otherwise known as the "Floozy In The Jacuzzi"


presides over a range of opinions in Birmingham city centre. We need


to express ourselves and have fun with it. I don't know what it means


and why it is there but it looks good. By Frederick one is at the


Bullring, the barn. That is like a statue -- my favourite one.


Art can be devisisve though. In 2003, Birmingham Forward was


destroyed by arsonists and a scuplture of Lady Diana in Walsall


caused so much controversy that its black veneer was removed and it was


totally revamped. In Stoke on Trent they've taken a different approach


to the art and built a ramp to get up close and personal with a city


father, Josiah Wedgwood. Lady Godiva knows her place in a


revamped city centre is guaranteed and has a place in everyones hearts.


I love Lady Godiva, but I think there is an awful lot of public


money going down the drains. Some of it is a bit of a pointless thing.


Sometimes there really is just one way to say exactly how much you


We're joined now by artist Tim Tolkien who's famous for creating


the Sentinel Spitfire sculpture in Castle Bromwich and also a statue


in honour of Cardinal Newman. He joins us from his studio in the


Black Country. Good evening. When everyone's cutting back so much, is


it understandable that there's anger that �1 million of taxpayers'


money has been spent on the Quantum Leap? The funding matter is a


difficult subject. A lot of problems appear to be to do with


contractors which is out of the hands of the artist or even could


not have been conceived at the start. We hear time and again, arc


plaudits come over budget. You are obviously very passionate about art


but tell us about why it is not such a luxury, why do we need it?


think good quality public at which has been devised properly, it gives


people a sense of pride and place and certainly the way I try to work


is to work with the community so it will be with the people who want it.


It should have a sense of belonging. We know that people were saying


that these are tough economic times. How his business for you bearing


up? At the moment, the product I am working on which is keeping me busy,


the money committed to that was committed over the past couple of


years so now people are not committing money so the next couple


of years it will be a bit tight but we will have to see. Were the


products are publicly funded or privately, I hope that which will


still be able for people to enjoy it in the future. We mentioned a


few minutes ago that you created the Cardinal John Newman statue,


there was a funding problem with that. How is that going? To fit in


with what you're talking about, but has been picked up by the


Birmingham City Council Heritage Department to a technically belongs


to the Museum and Art Gallery. The initial hopes to make it publicly


subscribed as a piece of work, it did not raise enough money, the


sculpture was already made by that point. Gratitude labelled for


joining us. The -- thank you for joining us.


So what do you think about public art, such as Quantum Leap? Is it


worth the money or is it too expensive at a time when public


finances are being cut? We'd love to hear your thoughts. You can e-


mail us or give us a call. Later in the programme, are things


looking up for dairy farmers after years when things looked decidedly


sour? A former Labour health minister


apologised today for what happened at Stafford Hospital. Giving


evidence to the Francis Inquiry into the failings there, Ben


Bradshaw said he had no idea how bad the problems had become. He


also said ministers felt powerless to act because they'd given a lot


of their power away to independent watchdogs. Our health correspondent,


Michele Paduano, joins us now from Stafford. To what extent did


ministers feel they weren't able to control what was going on?


Bradshaw was Minister of Health between 2007 and 2009 when the


catastrophe at Stafford Hospital was taking place and he was in


control of key areas but he said he was kept in the dark about those


areas. What was more interesting was what happened afterwards. After


the problems occurred, they tried to do things but the independent


watchdogs had the powers. For example, they wanted to take the


hospital back into full NHS ownership but they were not able to.


I asked about this but he refused twice but only made this statement.


I am desperately sorry for what happened here in the local hospital


for the families that suffered in there, relatives. I still feel


strongly from the time I spent in the department from the evidence I


have heard at this inquiry that this was fundamentally a case of


chronic local management failure. That does not mean that lessons are


not to be learned by the rest of the system. So why were ministers


prevented from sacking the chief executive? The former chief


executive Martin Yates clearly lied about what was going on what was


going on,... Ben Bradshaw said that the Minister of State -- Secretary


of State Alan Johnson was furious and said I rarely saw Alan Johnson


There was more discussion about the number of people who died, what can


you tell us about that? Even the health care commission originally


thought original there was 100 per when they got the figure of between


400-1,200, Ben Bradshaw wanted that figure published but they have had


a round table discussions and decided the figure was not robust


enough and took the decision that we would never know how many people


died at Stafford Hospital. Thank you.


A cul-de-sac in a desirable area might sound like a nice place to


live. But residents in one such street say their lives are being


made a misery by 200 lorries a day heading past their homes to a


quarry. They want a new access road to be built to take away what they


say is traffic nightmare, as Bob Hockenhull reports.


7:25am and the lorries start coming down Branton Hill Lane in Aldridge


near Walsall. And they keep on coming... And coming and coming. We


counted nearly 40 in an hour. Residents here say there's often


200 a day. The noise and the dust are the worse things, and it is not


safe. We have not got a pavement on one side of the road.


The cul-de-sac is the only access to this quarry. The quarry was


established in 1944 to extract sand to rebuild houses destroyed in the


Blitz. But since 2000 the number of lorries has risen seven-fold as the


site, which has been the subject of two public inquiries, is now also


involved in recycling rubble. Even the inspectors said that it is no


exaggeration to say the residents have suffered, it has been reduced


to a state of despair. The situation is still the same.


The inspector granted outline planning permission for a new


access road across greenbelt land and away from the houses. The


site's owner says he's ready to build it, but has spent the last


three years negotiating with planners. We have got everything we


need, we are ready to roll. would you feel if you lived on the


road? It certainly wouldn't be something I would be very happy


with. I can fully understand their frustration and I sympathise with


them. Councillors are due to discuss the


alternative route next month. will go to the planning committee


for a decision, and we are hopeful that will go through and we will do


everything we can do to make sure it happens.


If the plans are approved, residents say they'll throw a


street party, but in the meantime they'll have to carry on sharing


their road with lorry after lorry. Parents, teachers and pupils at a


school in Shropshire have lost their battle to keep it open.


Shropshire Council today voted to close the Wakeman School in


Shrewsbury, saying it was no longer viable because of falling pupil


numbers. Pupils created a mock crime scene at the Shire Hall,


where the plan was rubber stamped, claiming the decision was


"criminal". We said to the Wakeman School it was in your hands. Come


forward with a viable situation, we do not want to be closing schools


but unfortunately school or the community or the governors did not


come forward with a sustainable alternative to the proposals.


A Black Country MP is demanding urgent action to reverse the


mounting number of empty shops. New figures show that nearly a third of


shops in Dudley are vacant, compared with a national average of


one in seven. Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley North, is calling for


the town centre to be smartened up to help attract new stores and


fresh ideas. It's one of the biggest


regeneration projects in the UK. Rising from the ashes of the


collapsed car maker MG Rover is a new Longbridge town centre. The


latest milestone is the completion of the new Bournville College,


which has cost almost �70 million to build. Students are now


enrolling for courses, while there's plenty of activity


elsewhere on the site, as our business correspondent Peter


Plisner has been finding out. It may look a bit weird, but this


modern building promises to shape the future of higher education in


South Birmingham. Inside it's spacious, bright and students


enrolling today seem to love it. is brilliant compared to the old


college. I am very impressed. College is rubbish compared to this.


For the man in charge of the new college, it's the end of six long


years of planning. We think this will demonstrate what it is about


in Birmingham. But Bournville collage is only part


of the Longbridge regeneration story. Developer St Modwen, despite


the recession, is gearing up for even more construction. You have


got to get the heart back into Longbridge. The reason for people


to come here and to invest here. And encouraging that means more


regeneration. Soon they'll start work on a new �70 million retail


development which will also house a new hotel. Elsewhere there's more


space for living with the construction of scores of new homes.


This is another part of the site yet to be developed, the engines


used for at MG Rovers used to be made here, now 700 houses are


planned to be made here. It's all great news according to


the local vicar who also used to be the chaplin at the MG Rover factory.


We always knew it would be done cautiously but to see things


physically changing shape and people need to use these things and


it is inspiring. Despite the recession, millions of


pound is still being spent here, ultimately that should help to


create thousands of new jobs. The very striking indeed.


Still to come this evening, Shefali looks a few days ahead, could we


see a repeat of Monday night's wild weather over the weekend? Keep


watching to find out. After a tough few years, are things


looking up for the dairy industry? Farmers attending the Dairy Event


at the NEC today say milk prices have edged up towards a sustainable


level. But the news comes as it emerges an earlier attempt to pay


farmers a fair price led to a court case and multi-million pound fines


for supermarkets and dairies. Here's our environment


correspondent, David Gregory. Thousands of farmers, and plenty of


cattle of course, are expected to visit the NEC in Birmingham for the


135th Dairy Event. And it seems things may be looking up. The


crushingly low milk prices of recent years appear to be gone.


general P people are on a bit of a high. They are starting to see the


costs now and it works with farmers' lobbying people and


getting in touch with people who are sat behind those desks, drawing


up contracts and deciding what they will pay us.


But trying to increase the amount of the milk price farmers get has


landed some household names in court. An attempt to pay farmers


more at ended with an Office of Fair Trading investigation and


multi-million-pound fines for companies.


Dairy Crest was fined �7 million and Wiseman's, �3 million. Tesco is


contesting their �10 million fine at the moment. Everything is seen


as interests of the consumer but the difficulty is if you lose the


primary producer, that is not in the interest of the consumer so it


is a balance that is important. But now the picture appears rosier


with prices rising naturally. Farmers at a big event like this


tend to be commercially savvy and sensitive, but it is a sign that


there are better signs ahead for the industry.


The everyday story of country folk, that phrase has a ring to it. But


we're not talking about the Archers. No, two Herefordshire communities


have now become the inspiration for a couple of dramas on the radio.


For the past 12 months, the Rural Media Company has been working with


people in Ewyas Harold and Kington. Our arts reporter, Satnam Rana, has


been meeting some of the characters involved.


The market town of Kington is home to 2,500 people. 70 of whom have


helped bring local stories to life on BBC Radio 4's Afternoon Play


slot which is accompanied by a film. Later that evening, everybody


danced under those stars. "Man In Wheelbarrow" has been


inspired by Dick, the local street cleaner and school caretaker who


gathered stories and appears in the play himself. We always enjoyed


stories in the small town and there are so many of them and they are so


joyful mainly, and they go on for years.


It's all the brainchild of the Rural Media Company in Hereford


which has been working on the project for the last year along


with the BBC Radio Drama and Arts Council England. We like to work


alongside rural communities to give people chances to explore their


history is and open it to a wider world.


27 miles south in the village of Ewyas Harold, Graeme Sprackling, a


mobile librariran for 30 years, is the main inspiration for tomorrow's


play, "The Fearless Librarian Saves The Day". He retied 20 years ago. -


- retired. I am along comes Rural Media Company and almost at and I


am having to relive everything back on a mobile library. It is all the


talk of the village. It has put us on the map a little bit and it is


lovely to hear stories from the local community. Lots of lovely


places to see. The legacy of this product means the younger people in


these communities are now engaged in film-making and for the older


generation who have taken part in this project, they have been


introduced to modern media techniques. It just goes to show


that art is thriving in rural communities.


And you can tune into the second radio play on BBC Radio Hereford


and Worcester tomorrow at 2:15pm and you can find out more about The


Marches project on our Facebook The cricket season is boiling up to


an exciting finish. I always feel sad in September. With only two


games left, Warwickshire are fighting hard to win the County


Championship. Ian Westwood hit a century as they piled up the runs


against Notts. And at the opposite end of the table, Worcestershire


are battling to avoid relegation. Worcestershire have two games left


to preserve their status. Everything had gone pear-shaped in


June, they lost the first six games, rock bottom of the table and looked


doomed to treat relegation. Water transformation and one man has done


more to give them a fighting chance of staying up. Alan Richardson.


Alan Richardson is Worcestershire's most experienced player. He played


for Derbyshire and Warwickshire before arriving here from Middlesex.


He is enjoying his cricket more than ever at 36. He is the loudest


out in the pack and in the dressing room and he has got an enthusiasm


which is something for playing cricket. He had taken 62 wickets


but he did not long to make that 63 wickets and that is why he is so


popular with the Worcestershire men's. He has come to a nice County


and I think he enjoys his cricket. He cheers the players up a.


shows that there is always a place for experience and he has done very


well. Seems to be a good team player as well. A good morning for


Worcestershire, Sussex were left on 25 for two. But the cricket


commentators came out for their lunch when the players went in.


This man has followed the every ball. It is a tough time for county


cricket and Worcestershire have done well with the squad they have


done well. Steve Rose told us that if he keeps Worcestershire up this


season, it will be his single biggest achievement in his career.


Worcestershire are fighting for their lives, and Worcestershire


will... The file falling to Alan We are delighted to see him doing


so well. Warwickshire closed on 235 for 3. In Westwood court 134 not


It will be working its way up in the temperatures but feeling


autumnal. We are still seeing this rather intense area of low pressure


moving in from the West and at the rain is as bad as the winds, it


could be quite a nasty weekend. Outbreaks of rain rather than


persistent foe. Tonight is like that as well. We have got rain


moving in from the West and it is run the western parts of the region


that we will see rain moving towards the east as well. We have


got a lot of cloud so once again, quite a warm night and it seems as


if the night are better than the days in terms of temperatures.


During the morning tomorrow, this band of showers and rain retreats


to the west and then it springs back again during the afternoon and


that will form a more organised band of rain through tomorrow


evening and also tomorrow night. We will see that in a moment but


temperatures rising to 19 Celsius and breaks in the cloud where we


could see highs of 20 cells is but a warmer day than today because


through tonight and tomorrow, the winds will be easing. The rain


starts to form a more organised band and news from the south west


to the north-east say could be a wet night tonight before Friday


itself, the rain is out of the way and mainly dry, grey but also warm


and the winds are picking up as we A look at tight's headlines.


Economists say the 50p tax rate is doing long lasting damage to the


economy of. And the price tag for a


controversial sculpture soars past �1 million. Lot of e-mails as well.


Paul Williams emailed in to say he's very much into the arts yet he


doesn't think that such a large amount of money should be spent on


maintaining a sculpture in a time when arts funding is being cut.


Meanwhile, Fiona Smith from Telford asks, in this day and age when


community groups, local charities and other worthwhile projects are


struggling to keep going how on earth can such a project be


justified? Karen got in touch and says councils should come and raise


Martin got in touch from Newport in Shropshire and called to say that


the expense of these public projects is absolutely ridiculous,


particularly when we are in a time of austerity. And Jackie from


Dudley says I think if it is probably that art needs to be paid


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