25/11/2011 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today, with Suzanne Virdee and Michael


Collie. The headlines tonight: 10,000 people sign a petition


demanding hospital bosses keep Stafford Hospital A&E open 24


hours-a-day. The people of Stafford want to keep their A&E department.


Police literally sniff out big cannabis factory right in the heart


of a busy city centre. I was at the back of this premises where we're


stood and I smelt a very strong smell of cannabis.


Market traders' anger as they're dragged into the strike that will


see thousands of workers walk out next Wednesday.


And it was named the most beautiful car of all time. Now the E-type Jag


Good evening, welcome to Friday's Midlands Today, from the BBC. More


than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling for Accident &


Emergency services to be protected at Stafford Hospital. It comes as a


campaign group holds its first meeting this evening, following


news earlier this month that services are being closed down at


night. The plan involves shutting the A&E unit at Stafford from 10pm


until 8am overnight. The new system will come into place next Thursday


and is due to last three months. Hospital managers say it's a safety


precaution and they are hoping to have the unit fully open again as


soon as possible, but campaigners worry it could be the beginning of


a series of cuts. Our Staffordshire reporter, Liz Copper, joins us now


from that public meeting in Stafford. Liz, have many people


turned up to get their views across? Yes. This meeting has been


underway for about half-an-hour. It is very well attended, and I think


that reflects the feeling not just in Stafford, but in surrounding


areas. The campaign group says they have organised the meeting because


they are so concerned about the future of A&E.


22-month-old Leo was born in Stafford Hospital and his brother


and sister have also received treatment there. His mother began a


campaign to support services, particularly A&E. To bring those


good consultants to A&E, we have to show them Stafford is a good place


to be and that is not being shown at the moment. That is our aim, to


start showing the positives from a hospital. Neighbours have joined


forces to plan the campaign and tonight's public meeting. I have


needed that service strongly and I would not like it in any way to be


harmed for the future of this community. I would like it


reinstated for 24 hours because that is what is needed for this


community. The temporary closure was agreed at a board meeting


earlier this month. The hospital reject claims that the moves are


motivated by financial considerations. What we felt as a


Trust was that because of our staffing numbers, we could not


continue to sustain a safe A&E service. Although people are


worried about having to travel, what we feel is that we need a safe


service here, and that is a judgment call around our risk and


the risk of patients are having to travel. The temporary closure is


due to begin from this Thursday and the board insists it is temporary


and will last for just three a month. But the MP of Stafford has


been hearing from many constituents who are concerned it will be


permanent. This is a temporary closure. The hospital is making


every effort to recruit the right of a number of consultants and


doctors to fill the posts so the hospital can reopen 24 hours a day


and offer what is a very good and safe service. Thousands of families


have already expressed their views on the A&E services. They will not


review current plans but they are hoping to influence future


decisions. This campaign is clearly gathering


momentum. What's been said at the meeting so far? Lots of questions


from the public here this evening, and very strongly-help support for


the hospital being expressed. We have had some quite passionate


speeches so far from members of the panel on this stage and we are


expecting to hear from members of the public who will ask questions


later on. The number of people who are so passionate about the


hospital, we are thinking tonight we will be engaging their opinion


and the wider opinion in Stafford, and some of those who arrive here


this evening, we managed to speak to some of them about their


concerns. My concerns are mainly the travelling for anybody in the


district who use staff a hospital. We are a commuter town and we are


growing, and I am concerned there will be no A&E to take our children


do. We need positive moves and the people tonight are doing the right


things. What are the campaign group hoping to achieve ultimately?


is a newly formed group and they are keen to stress they are not


political. They were only formed and the last few days after the


announcement was made. They want to look towards the long-term future


of the hospital but they know they cannot do anything about these


partial closures that will take effect from next week. By Hospital


welcomes meeting like this because it shows just how passionately


people feel about the health service. Thank you very much.


Later in tonight's programme, the schoolgirls from Wolverhampton


who've been putting the London Olympics boxing venue through its


paces. A big cannabis factory has been


discovered in an old shop in one of the busiest parts of Birmingham


city centre. It was found by a police officer in the area on


another investigation, who literally sniffed it out. Once


cultivated, the plants could have produced drugs worth �300,000. And


as Giles Latcham reports, it's an industry which appears to be


flourishing. Up the stairs into the warmth and


moisture of a cannabis farm. Row upon row of plants, lamps,


ventilation shafts and a sophisticated hydroponics system. A


highly professional set-up uncovered by chance by a detective


making inquiries nearby. I was at the back of this property where we


stood and nice not a very strong smell of cannabis, so we forced


entry to the premises using police powers. This is the largest in a


commercial premises I have seen. There are six tents like this one,


each with 30 to 50 plants in them. The aroma is overpowering. It is a


big operation and the location is interesting, too. An old shop, slap


bang in Birmingham city centre, over the road from New Street


railway station. A risky enterprise, then, and brass-necked, too, but by


no means a one-off. In the past four years, more than 1,400


cannabis farms have been discovered in the West Midlands. That's an


increase of 275%. The value of the plants seized and destroyed is an


estimated �150m. Amid economic gloom, quite literally a growth


industry. People who may not be involved in organised crime per


assayed have seen profits that are possible and have taken steps to


see if they can get on to that bandwagon. Whether this particular


incident is about organised crime or not is difficult to say until we


see those behind it. But it is certainly being replicated by many


people. Earlier this month, a group of men, some from Staffordshire,


were convicted of running a giant cannabis farm in Lincolnshire. But


with production costs relatively low, for profits so substantial


there are plenty willing to take the risk.


The Aston Villa footballer Barry Bannan has been banned from driving


for 18 months after admitting drink-driving and three other


offences, following a motorway crash last month. 21-year-old


midfielder, from Sutton Coldfield, was also fined �4,500 at Nottingham


Magistrates' Court. The court heard he was almost twice the legal


drink-drive limit when he crashed his Range Rover Sport on the M1 in


Nottinghamshire. Three Warwickshire fire officers


have appeared in court charged with the manslaughter of four of their


colleagues in a blaze at a vegetable-packing warehouse.


Station manager Timothy Woodward, and watch managers Paul Simmons and


Adrian Ashley, who attended court in uniform, were charged with


manslaughter by gross negligence, following the fire in Atherstone-


on-Stour. Warwickshire County Council also faces a charge under


health and safety legislation. None of the defendants was required to


enter a plea. Ashley Stephens, Darren Yates Bradley, John Averis


and Ian Reid died four years ago. Police have confirmed this


afternoon that human remains recovered in Gloucestershire


yesterday are those of Kate Prout, who was murdered by her husband


four years ago. They were discovered close to where Adrian


Prout told police he had buried her body after he unexpectedly


confessed to her murder. Today, Mrs Prout's family spoke of their


relief and said they hope they can now finally lay her to rest. Steve


Knibbs reports. Kate's Prout's family describe the


last week as surreal, traumatic. It, of course, started with the news


that Adrian Prout had finally confessed. We were very shocked at


first. And we weren't quite certain whether it was the truth. We were


devastated and just full of emotion again. The whole thing boils up


again. We have never forgotten Kate but we never thought we would get


to the end and that she would be found. So when the news came, we


were totally devastated. As the search started to recover Kate's


remains, difficult memories came flooding back. Knowing that perhaps


she would be found, in a way, it has been just as bad as going


through the trial, though we have not had to go to court every day.


The emotion and feeling as you go through and the anxiety of waiting,


it just tyres you out and it has been just as traumatic, hasn't it?


Yes. Their driving force now is the future and Kate's funeral, but it's


tangible just how harrowing the past four years have been. We have


been like prisoners. It has been like a prison sentence for us,


hanging over our heads all the time. We will never forget Kate and this


has been such a traumatic event in our lives, that we are hoping that


now we can get her back and say goodbye properly, it will close the


book. Here there is a sense of relief that the cases coming to its


conclusion. The murder of Kate Prout has been a dark cloud hanging


over the village for four years. A cloud that is, at last, starting to


lift. As the police operation came to a close in Redmarley today,


there was only one thought on everyone's minds. The woman who


disappeared but has now been found. Public sector unions say they're


expecting next Wednesday's strikes to be the biggest display of


industrial action since the 1970s. In this region alone, hundreds of


thousands of workers are expected to walk out. But there's growing


anger about the possible disruption and inconvenience. Market traders


in Willenhall, in the Black Country, have been told they risk


prosecution if they trade during the strike, for safety reasons, as


council workers will be absent. Cath Mackie reports.


Amanda Mason has run a pet stall at Willenhall Market in the Black


Country for 20 years. But next Wednesday, she could be forced to


take a rare day off. The strike is closing the market on Wednesday.


All the traders have had a letter from Walsall Council saying that


because of the public sector strike, the market will be closed.


thought it was disgusting, to be fair. It is nothing to do with us.


They can do that and it is they Union, but I do not see why we


should have the day off. It is our livelihood. We have 60 traders sell


it will have a big impact on Wednesday. For the traders it's a


catch-22 situation. If they turn up next Wednesday, they could lose


their licence to trade. If they don't, they could lose a day's pay.


And all for a strike they say is nothing to do with them. I am sure


it is important for them, but what we are saying is, don't drag us


into your dispute. The council says it stands to lose �3,000 income


from its markets but it has no choice. This is a council service


like any other, so the council staff that run it cannot be here to


make sure the market is run safely and properly next Wednesday. This


might be just a local argument, but across the West Midlands,


widespread disruption next Wednesday is guaranteed. In the


West Midlands alone, we are looking at hundreds of thousands of workers,


teachers, binmen, been women, taking action to defend their


pensions. As for Willenhall Market, Walsall Council says it's unlikely


they will revoke licences, but if traders do turn up on strike day,


they will be trading illegally. And protest rallies are planned


right across the region on Wednesday. The biggest will be in


Birmingham and there'll be others in Stoke-on-Trent, Telford,


Wolverhampton, Coventry and Worcester. Our political editor,


Patrick Burns, is with me now. Everyone seems to think these


strikes will definitely go ahead, don't they? Yes. Realistically,


that is the case now. We have seen school sending out notification to


parents about closures and local authorities dusting off contingency


plans. The Government accused the unions of jumping the gun while


negotiation was in process. But the unions say it is nothing of the


sort. They say they are left with no option but to go ahead with the


strike. Nobody wants to take industrial action. It is not


something they do lightly. They stop providing the services they


are committed to. So we want to bring the Government back to the


negotiating temple with a better offer to bring our members. -- the


negotiating table. How much of an impact will it have? It will be a


wide impact but what people do not know is that it will also include


Community Support Officers and the backroom staff. Health workers as


well. Emergencies will be dealt with as usual, but a elective


appointments, people should not be surprised if they find they are


postponed. And then we have the developing story at the airports


with immigration officers, the Borders Agency, which is an


evolving story and we have a major UK border at Birmingham Airport and


the airlines are warning passengers they may have to adjust their


timetable. We'd like to know what effect the


strikes will have on you next Wednesday. Are you having to change


your plans or lose work, maybe? You can get in touch via the Midlands


Today Facebook page or email us. Still to come in tonight's


programme, Sarah Cruickshank is here with all the details about the


weekend's weather. We might be avoiding the worst of the weather


but it is looking like a very windy weekend ahead. Some places are at


risk of seeing gusts up to 65mph. Tower Bridge, the Channel Tunnel,


the Vulcan Bomber and the Bletchley Park code-breaking machine. All


previous winners of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Heritage


Award. But the prestigious award, which recognises British


engineering excellence, has never been given to a car. Until now.


Today it was awarded to the E-type Jaguar. Designed and built in


Coventry, it caused a sensation when it was launched in 1961 and


remains an icon of motoring to this day. Sarah Falkland reports.


It was special all right. So special it became a motoring icon.


Sleek curves and a top speed of 150 miles per hour, all for under


�2,000. Enzo Ferrari famously said it was the most beautiful car ever


made. This is a well-known quote from him. He said, there's one


thing wrong with it. I said, what is that? He said it does not have


the Ferrari back. Norman Dewis, from Shropshire, was the chief


development test engineer for the E-type. Now 91, he was at Jaguar's


Heritage Centre in Coventry today to see it honoured by the


Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It combined beautiful lines with


exceptional performance, but underneath it there was some


extremely interesting engineering advances, particularly in the way


the chassis was built, with framed to look after the engine.


Recognition for engineering in this country is always a great thing and


the E-type is such a special, iconic car for this country. We


should have it for many years. Another reason for Jaguar Land


Rover and its current work, now under Tata ownership, to celebrate.


Such is the popularity of the E- type, Jaguar enthusiasts have been


clamouring for a new two-seater in its image. The C-X16, unveiled at


this year's Frank Motor Show, is a clue to what could be coming soon.


The E-type is a typical car of the 60s. A very sporty car for sports


stars and rock stars and celebrities. Hopefully the new one


will have the same sense of style and adventure. E-types can fetch


anything from 50,000 to 500,000 today. Norman Dewis says now he


wishes he had put two or three aside for his later years. They are


dreamy! I want one! �500,000. You never know. You can clean the


spokes on the wheels. That must be a nightmare! Beautiful!


Earlier this year, Wolverhampton was chosen as the location for the


Olympic training camp for boxers from one of the world's smallest


nations. Four boxers from the Caribbean island of Dominica will


train in the city next year. I didn't say that right! Sorry! And


to prepare, two Wolverhampton schoolgirls have been given an


exclusive opportunity to watch a special Olympic test event in


London. Ben Godfrey joined them. Chloe and Lauren have never claimed


to be boxing fans, but they've been won over. How long have you been


boxing? As part of the BBC News School report, the 13 year-olds


from Deansfield Community School got press passes for Excel in


London, for a rehearsal of the Olympics boxing event. Before I did


all this, I was not interested in it at all. I just thought it was a


sport for the Olympics and not very good. But now I have learned more


about it, I like it. They're here because they've been inspired by


Wolverhampton's big boxing moment. Next summer, at the city's amateur


boxing club, these children will get the chance to watch four boxers


from Dominica, who'll swap their small Caribbean island, with a


population of 75,000, for three months of bruising bouts in the


Black Country, before heading to London. Chloe and Lauren got to


interview the club secretary. club has just signed a 25-year


lease, so we are not going in where. Basically, we hope to provide some


more Olympians in that time. With the kids saying they want to be


boxers when they grow up, it is interesting. We can see that


Wolverhampton is not a city where nothing happens. At the test event


in London, Chloe and Lauren were busy scoring the bouts, and I was


ringside. This is not simply a test event for the organisers. It is


also a test for the Olympic hopefuls, fighting in the ring and


learning how to answer questions from people like me. The organisers


of London 2012 want the Games to reach out to all, to inspire people


to get involved in a new sport in their communities. In Chloe and


Lauren, they may have their role models. Don't argue with them!


used to go boxing, didn't you? Absolutely exhausting but I was


pretty rubbish at it! And to see more on how the girls


got on, you can go bbc.co.uk/schoolreport.


The lost history of Birmingham's gay community is being brought to


the stage for the first time in a new theatre production. It's being


performed at a National Trust property in the city centre and


features untold stories stories that stretch as far back as the


19th century. Here's our arts reporter, Satnam Rana.


Actors revealing hidden histories from Birmingham's gay past in the


setting of the city centre's Back To Backs. Madness has historically


been seen as a fall from grace. Homosexuality was a form of madness.


The tale of Charles, born in 1820. He ended up in a lunatic asylum


because of his "unnatural desires". He is a lunatic! And then there's


the rags-to-riches story of the Saltley's Fred Barnes.


# Give me the moonlight, give me the girl... A butcher's son turned-


entertainer. The production Gay Birmingham Back To Back is an


extension of an oral history project, Gay Birmingham Remembered.


It's to contextualise our past. Where we have come from. That is


really important. A group of children in their teens came and


they were profoundly affected because they did not know that is


where it had come from in their community. There are stories of


women meeting women in wartime Birmingham. And the struggle


between race and homosexuality in the 1970s. I will be standing


outside the club trying to pluck up the courage to go into the women's


only disco, to find others like me. This production has been put


together by Women & Theatre as part of The Shout Festival, celebrating


what organisers call queer culture. For the National Trust, it's a way


of engaging with diverse audiences. It has enabled us to communicate


with the gay community and introduce them to the National


Trust and the Back To Backs. Beyond the production there is a lasting


legacy. The stories here will be visualised and it will be a


permanent record of what has been, up till now, the city's hidden gay


past. And you can watch the production at


Birmingham's Back To Backs tomorrow. For more information, follow the


link on our Facebook page. It started off beautifully but what


It is looking very windy indeed. The wind will start to pick up


overnight tonight. But on the plus side, it will be dry as well. The


cloud we have had this afternoon will start to break up, so we will


be under clearer skies overnight. Temperatures will take an early dip


so it will feel quite chilly but it will stay dry. Temperatures dipping


to around four or five degrees in the morning. But the wind will pick


up tonight, so the Met Office have issued a yellow warning four-strong


wind tomorrow morning. It is all down to this area sitting to the


north of us, creating tightly- packed isobars. We will see very


strong winds through the day, but it will be mainly dry and bright,


with the best of the sunshine through the first half of the


morning. Temperatures will be peaking at around 11 or 12 degrees.


But a windy day, so it will feel chilly. Gusts up to 65mph during


the region tomorrow. Its days dry through the day, turning cloudy


overnight and we could see spots of rain overnight from Saturday to


Sunday. But the pressure is starting to build across the region


for Sunday, so looking like a mainly dry day and bright as well.


Plenty of sunshine on offer. Temperatures peaking again at 12,


13 degrees. The wind will be moderate on Sunday. Monday, his


star as dry and bright, but Det cloudy through the day. On Tuesday,


we will see the rain heading away. But over the weekend, dry and


bright and the wind will increase through the day tomorrow. Monday,


looking chilly and then wet and A look at tonight's main headlines:


Heathrow tells passengers to expect delays of up to 12 hours on strike


day next week. And here, 10,000 sign a petition


demanding hospital bosses keep Stafford Hospital A&E open 24 hours


a-day. Earlier in the programme, we asked


you how next Wednesday's public sector strikes will affect you.


Matt Lakin wrote on our Facebook page: "In many areas, working to


rule and overtime bans would be far less disruptive and far more


effective". Gill Evans says: "I work in the


private sector. Who cares about my pension or lack of it?!"


Andi Conway wrote: "If it's a stand against this government, then of


course services will strike, and they have that right. We still live


in a democracy". Vincent Hayes says: "I support the strike. The


Tory Party are trying to dismantle the public sector and the NHS". But


Lucy Garman says: "I have had to take the day off work and will lose


a day's pay so I can stay at home to look after my son. It would of


cost �37 for a school day in child care. What makes me angry is the


fact that three weeks ago, we were sent a letter warning that parents


who take holidays or days off in term-time will be recorded as


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