29/11/2011 Midlands Today


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Welcome to Midlands Today, with Suzanne Virdee and Nick Owen. The


headlines tonight: What will the Chancellor's Autumn


Statement mean for us? Tonight business leaders give their verdict.


One thing we were looking for was some sort of help or some sort of


move to controlling inflation a bit better.


"We'll do it anyway", say defiant strikers told to stump up thousands


or be banned from marching through a city centre. We've got teachers,


social workers, dinner ladies, nurses who want to take part in a


lawful, democratic protest and the council are putting obstacles in


their way. A delicate operation to help


thousands of salmon stranded because of the dry conditions.


And what does it feel like to be a Paralympian? The children who got


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


Tonight, what does the Chancellor's Autumn Statement mean for jobs and


business in this region? One of the main headlines from George


Osborne's speech was the boost for road-building projects. In this


region, the busy Tollbar traffic island in Coventry will be rebuilt.


There'll be a new bridge over the West Coast Main Line, to help


improve roads around Birmingham Airport and the NEC. And a bridge


at Evesham, in Worcestershire, will be rebuilt. Elsewhere, there was


grimmer news, with a forecast that unemployment will continue to rise


over the next 12 months in a region which already has a higher-than-


average number of people out of work. Business leaders here


welcomed the statement, saying they don't think there will be a return


to recession in 2012. Our business correspondent, Peter Plisner, joins


us now from the Heathcote Industrial Estate in Warwick, where


we've been tracking the fortunes of companies there for Midlands Today.


Are firms there confident about avoiding another recession, Peter?


I think so. Certainly many have welcomed today's announcement.


Tonight, we are at a haulage depot, where, as you can imagine, they


will be pleased at the fact that they have scrapped the idea of


increasing fuel duty next month. Today, I have spent the day gauging


opinion on the Chancellor's statement.


Surviving one of the toughest recessions in living memory. This


firm and makes metal cases for balconies. It has thrown an


incredible load on us, trying to basically stand still. Elsewhere,


another firm which has weathered the economic storm. Dennis Eagle


Ltd makes dustcarts and exports them all over the world. Although


orders are up, long-serving workers like Tony Cowley are still


concerned about the fragile state of the economy. Prices seem to be


going up and up but our pay is not. Enter the Chancellor and his Autumn


Statement. Something not to be missed for Dennis Eagle Ltd. Here,


they have recently been recruiting but did the Chancellor to enough to


persuade them to take on any more staff? We will be keen to help and


participate in any way possible along those lines. We take on a


regional number of apprentices now and we realise the importance of


young people coming in, being trained up for the workforce of the


future. With the state the economy is in at the moment, it is hardly


surprising there are empty buildings here. We have been


monitoring the system but it -- this estate for 12 months but here,


it is not all doom and gloom. At this printing firm, they are busier


than ever, with many orders coming from new businesses. There are a


lot of people setting up new businesses, even in this


environment, so with some other things I have heard today, they


help to those who are setting up, it has got to be good for my


business. But not everything announced today went down well.


Plans to encourage the young unemployed back to work by


threatening to remove benefits got a definite thumbs down. Would you


want to employ somebody who has been forced to take a job? No, I do


not think it is a good idea. It is like being a prisoner of war.


most firms on the estate having business come to them, this did


provide good news. But with economic growth will slow, the


struggle for many firms is far from over. Joining me here at the depot


are two people with views on the news heard today. You must be


pleased that the fuel duty increase in January has been scrapped?


We were very worried we were going to pass a psychological barrier


because threepence would have meant the highest ever diesel price,


which would have been dreadful for our industry. Did you think there


was anything that could help you as a business? Not so much help but


there was nothing that would hinder us. It means we will go ahead with


plans in terms of some more recruitment, so another six jobs we


will be putting out in January. Many thanks. Richard Butler, you


are from the CBI. The Chamber of Commerce have said they feel what


has been announced will stave off recession. Is that you're feeling?


We hope so. It is a package for business that will help. There is


some money for infrastructure project. The roads near the airport


and the NEC. But they are hardly earth-shattering and they will


hardly get the Midlands moving? many ways, they are not. The


Government does not have much wriggle room. But there are some


schemes, banking schemes for small businesses, which Rob very


worthwhile. And also youth credit and encouragement to take on young


people. What about unemployment blackspots? Is there anything in


the announcements today to deal with those? I think there is. The


enterprise zone mainly in Wolverhampton, there are some


excellent tax credits that have been announced. Do you think we


learned much today? Apart from how bad the economy is! As you say,


there is much that has been leaked in the past couple of days. But


there are some worthwhile things coming out. Thank you. Anything


that helps deliver growth has to be a good thing, I suppose.


There was some welcome news for motorists from the Chancellor today.


Plans to increase fuel duty by 3p next month have been scrapped. The


rise in rail fares will also be less than originally expected and


pensions will also be going up. Our political reporter, Susana Mendonca,


joins us now from the German Market in Birmingham. What have people


there made of it? A lot of the people I have been speaking to


around the bars here are very happy at the prospect of the fuel duty


increase being delayed until the summer. But there is a lot of


apprehension about what this will mean for growth and jobs here in


Birmingham and across the West Midlands. We heard the Chancellor


talking about how things could be far worse if the eurozone crisis is


not solved, so we have come to our own little bit of Europe, here in


Birmingham, to find out what people think. You cannot be overly


optimistic at the moment. But you have always got to believe things


are going to get better. Rather nervous. I don't know what is going


to happen. Whatever they say, I am not sure what is going to happen so


we have to wait and see. The price of bills and food are continually


going up. I think it will be a struggle for a lot of people in the


future if they don't do something about that.


There we have a flavour of what people in the German market think


of the Chancellor's announcement. I am joined by a couple of people


with their own views. I have Allen, who runs the cider store, and also


Michael Ward, who runs the Chamber of Commerce. There were a lot of


announcements for small businesses. For you, what difference do you


think today's announcement will make? A lot of things announced


were good for us. The apprentice scheme, we will probably take


advantage of that in the new year. The only cloud on by horizon for us


is, if the Chancellor has reduced the tax take up on petrol, he is


going to look for somewhere else to make it up, and I suspect we will


be hit with some alcohol of duty, which happens every year. That is


my only concern. I know the Chamber of Commerce says we will not have a


recession. The OECD figures we had yesterday were not looking good. Do


you think the West Midlands has what it takes to come out of this?


All the figures are showing that we expect there to be growth in the


economy, albeit less than 1%, so it will feel relatively flat but it is


not a recession, it is growth. And in terms of the proposals from the


Chancellor, he is addressing the issues around increasing finance.


Thank you. We must leave it there. That is a flavour of how people in


Birmingham city centre of feeling about the statement. Thank you. We


will be joining Patrick Burns later to get the political take from


Westminster. Good to have you with us this


evening. Later in the programme, we'll be meeting a former Olympic


marathon man who could become this year's Unsung Hero.


A man's been killed after a car and lorry collided early this morning.


It happened on the A49 near Preston Brockhurst, in Shropshire. The


lorry jack-knifed and caught fire, blocking the road for several hours.


The lorry driver wasn't injured. A march by thousands of striking


public sector workers through the streets of Birmingham will go ahead


tomorrow. Unions have accused the City Council of trying to erode


democracy after they demanded thousands of pounds to pay for road


closures. A senior councillor today accused the unions of acting


irresponsibly, as Sarah Falkland reports.


It's a fight to save pensions from government cuts. But unions in


Birmingham have had another battle - with the City Council over a


proposed march. The last time unions marched through the city,


they paid just a few hundred pounds. They marched on a weekend. But the


City Council said loss of revenue from on-street parking, combined


with road closures, would mean tomorrow's march would cost them


�8,000. Only a few weeks ago, we have the racist thugs of the EDL


protesting in the city centre and they did not have to pay a penny.


We have teachers, social workers, dinner ladies and nurses who want


to take part in a lawful, democratic protest, and the council


is putting obstacles in their wake. The council points out that none of


the EDL actually marched and that the fees are standard practice. On


the eve of the march, they are going ahead anyway, without paying


the council is single penny. Tomorrow, this car park will be


full with the cars of union members, going to the arena. They are acting


irresponsibly, encouraging this to take place, having not followed the


criteria. Unions say even without the council's co-operation, the


march will be well-managed and safe. We will have hundreds of stewards


said the demonstration will be absolutely safe. Whether there of


road closures or not, it will be saved. A magnificent demonstration


took place on 30th June and nobody was hurt whatsoever. Up to 5,000


people could join in. One union leader has said


tomorrow's strikes could be the biggest walk-out since the General


Strike of 1926. Our reporter Giles Latcham joins us.


What's the impact likely to be in this region, Giles? It's going to


be big for employers, of course, and for those trying to run council


services. It's going to be a testing day for many parents. By


our reckoning, just over 1,270 schools, academies and colleges


across the Midlands will close. That figure incorporates


Gloucestershire and it's for complete closures. Others will be


partially closed. In Birmingham alone, 160 are shutting, a third of


the city's schools. We went to one in King's Heath this afternoon at


picking-up time, to ask parents what they think of the strike.


think they should have turned around and got everybody to vote


first before they actually turned around and decided to go on strike.


I've been some other public sector staff, if they were really aware of


how the private sector staff got paid than their pension


contributions, I think it is more similar than people realise. It is


horrendous, what is going on in the public sector, and I think it is


right they should stand up and strike. It just means I get to


spend an extra day with him! How well supported do they think


the strike will be? It's difficult to predict, but according to the


public sector unions taking part, they have about 10,000 members in


the Birmingham area. In Staffordshire, the council is


expecting just under 3,500 to strike. That's out of a workforce


of 28,000. Interestingly, there are professions taking part who haven't


gone on strike before. Headteachers, for example, and some health


specialists. So appointments will be cancelled and hospitals like


Warwick and Stratford expect to run limited services. In Shropshire,


they're likening it to what you'd expect on a bank holiday.


And you can keep in touch with all the details about what the strikes


mean where you live on your BBC A race is on to try to save


hundreds of salmon trapped in the River Teme because of low water.


It's been the driest year in the region since records began. The


Environment Agency have been working to help the fish reach


their spawning grounds. Joanne Writtle has been watching rescue


operation. These fish are facing a crisis


brought on by nature. The Atlantic salmon need to work their way 50


kilometres north of here in Ludlow to spawn. But they now barely have


the energy to leap upstream. The River Teme is too low for them to


make their journey. If they don't get upstream of here, they will not


be able to lay their eggs, and if they can't do that, that is the


future progeny of this would have gone. They will lose their eggs and


dive. There is not enough spawning in the River here for them. -- and


die. We used an underwater camera under the supervision of


Environment Agency experts, to avoid disturbing the fish. Some


weigh up to 30lbs and may have travelled from Greenland. Some of


the females are carrying up to 10,000 eggs. The Environment Agency


has made temporary modifications to two weirs to try and help the fish


through. The salmon crisis has attracted many onlookers. We have


been watching them nearly get up but then falling back. They have


wanted to get up into the upper reaches of the river. I have never


seen the river as low as it is now. This was the River Teme on the


Herefordshire-Shropshire border in May, looking more like a farm track.


It dried out earlier this year than in the hot summer of 1976. This


weir in Ludlow was restored by a charity. The Teme Weirs Trust is


backing the temporary work being carried out to two other weirs by


the Environment Agency. It is a huge crisis for the future of


salmon in this river. And it really needed to be seen to straight away


and we have done everything we can to help the Environment Agency


progress with the alteration of the weirs. Along with work to help them


continue their journeys, the salmon are under 24-hour surveillance, to


avoid illegal fishing, though they are unsuitable for eating at this


stage in their life-cycle. But there is a twist in detail. It


might be raining now but the temporary modern -- modifications


can only work if there is significant rainfall to allow the


fish to get through. That is an incredible rescue


operation. A miserable day, but for the salmon


there was some of that much-needed rain. Shefali, what's in store for


tomorrow? Unlike today, it's a much drier picture, but that's not to


say there isn't more rain on the way. A lot more in fact. I'll tell


you when later. 200 school children in Birmingham


enjoyed a games lesson with a difference today. They all got the


chance to have a go at a Paralympic sport. It's hoped that one of the


lasting legacies of 2012 will be to encourage more youngsters to play


sport. Ian Winter has been to the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham


to find out more. Warming up for a new sporting


experience. 200 children from 16 special schools across the region,


all set for a big surprise. They'd come together to have a go some


Paralympic sports. And everywhere you looked, the youngsters were


having fun, encouraged by some exceptional role models. Gymnasts


like Sarah Whitehouse, from Wolverhampton, who won gold and


silver medals at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in


Athens just a couple of months ago. This really means a lot. My mum


nominated me to go there. I get to carry the Olympic Flame. When do


you find out? Next month. Spend a couple of minutes in Sarah's


company and her passion for sport comes shining through. And the same


applies to Paul Jacobs. Two years ago, Rifleman Paul was left blinded


by a bomb whilst on patrol in Afghanistan. He won a George Medal


for bravery. And now, he's become a big fan of goalball, a popular


Paralympic sport for the visually impaired. Sport for me has been on


top of my agenda. As a soldier, you have routine, and once you have


been thrown out of that, it is difficult. For me, going into sport,


swimming, whatever it may be, it has been a top, top thing. You just


look at them and see the joy on their faces as they experience


something new. As they carry on, that could do a lot of good and


take them to new places. You will feel proud you are part of that.


Mickey Bushell is one of Britain's best medal hopes at London 2012.


The wheelchair racer from Telford is off to Australia in the New Year.


There's a lot of hard work ahead if he's to go one better than the


silver medal he won at the 100 metres in the Beijing Paralympics


three years ago. The ultimate goal is gold. I guess it is for


everybody. I have to make sure I am the one that is there. Only the


chosen few will win medals at London 2012. But today everyone


enjoyed their first taste of the Paralympics in Birmingham.


That was inspirational! 1.5 million tickets are still


available for London 2012 Olympic football matches. They include the


12 games being staged at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, which is being


re-named for the Olympics as the City of Coventry Stadium. Coventry


is understood to be the second most popular venue outside London.


They've sold more than 80,000 of their 250,000 allocation.


All this week, we'll be revealing who our five finalists are for this


year's BBC Midlands Sports Unsung Hero Award. It recognises those


unpaid individuals who devote countless hours and energy to


helping others take part in sport. And first up is former Olympic


marathon runner Bill Adcocks. Since injury forced him to retire from


competition, he's spent more than 50 years as a coach and


administrator with Coventry's Godiva Harriers. Kevin Reide's been


to meet him. It's hard to quantify Bill Adcocks'


contribution to grass-roots sport. But when you consider he's been


helping to run Coventry's Godiva Harriers since the age of 18, you


start to get the picture. Even so, his response to be nominated is


humbled. You have these schemes and you look at what people have put in,


you think, well, obviously somebody thinks that of me, and it is very


gratifying. It is amazing to think that Bill has been active here for


more than 50 years, and in that time, he has literally helped


thousands of athletes. He likes things to be done right and he


knows people are putting a lot of effort in, and so does he, so he is


a great person to have in your corner. A marathon runner himself,


for 35 years he held the record time racing from Marathon to Athens,


and came second in the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica.


Harriers friend and colleague is David Moorcroft. He is one of the


most outstanding marathon runners Britain has ever produced. He left


no stone unturned, and as a young athlete, it was wonderful to have


somebody like him to look up to. Back at the track, the night may be


over for those training, but for Bill, work is just beginning. First


there are meetings to attend. Then at home, more dedication, as he


spends hours keeping the website up-to-date with literally thousands


of race results. I have to sort of call him if I want him! Or and


looks through the hatch when it is time for coffee. He is always on


there. -- or I look through the hatch. I want to be involved in


trying to create an environment where people do things to help, and


if they do that, that is payment enough.


Now back to our main news tonight, and major road construction


projects across our region are set to benefit from the national


infrastructure plan unveiled today by George Osborne. There's also a


significant tax break for new businesses setting up in the Black


Country enterprise zone. Our political editor, Patrick Burns,


has been watching developments at Westminster. How well have we done


here in the Midlands out of this mini Budget? To judge by the number


of times the Chancellor mentioned the West Midlands, you would think


we had done rather well. He pointed out that, incidentally, employment,


and that should have been going down during the boom years with


this strategy and the road building projects. But the problem is, where


is the money coming from? The �5 billion the Government is putting


into it is coming from elsewhere in their current spending plans. I am


joined by Shabana Mahmood, the Labour MP, and Sajid Javid, the


Conservative MP. You are just storing up yet more paint in years


to come for the sake of these road- building schemes and other


projects? That is not right atoll. We are bringing forward capital


spending projects that were already there and finding savings elsewhere


and using it for these projects, both in the West Midlands and


elsewhere. At a time like this when we are facing an economic challenge


and the rest of the world is facing an even bigger one, it is important


we do what we can to boost growth. Infrastructure projects is


something we can do. We also have local enterprise partnerships and


local enterprise zones. You have got a welcome all this. The schemes


just mentioned, it gives 100% capital allowances for firms to


locate into the zone. That is good news? And of course bringing


forward long-term investment projects, that is part of our plan,


so I am glad to hear this. But it does not go to any way to say this


is a reckless economic policy and is having a devastating impact on


hard-working families up and down the country. Briefly, talking to


some bankers, they say business does have a lot of money in their


accounts. It just lacks the confidence to release it into new


opportunities and job creation. What can you do about that? We need


to boost confidence. We have a lot more in Britain than in any other


country in Europe. The Government needs to focus on growth. OK, more


about that roll-out of high-speed broadband in rural areas tomorrow.


Thank you, Patrick. It's been a really dank, dark day.


Shefali, what's in store for After today's rain, we will see


further rain later this week. The wind is quite prominent and the


temperature will start to drop as we head into December. More


particularly, Thursday night into fried it will be quite a busy


picture. -- in to Friday. You can see the cloud is already breaking


up and we are seeing a cluster of showers to the north of the region.


Later, they will move south. Not an entirely dry picture and there will


be bricks in the cloud, so temperatures will fall down to four


or five degrees Celsius. Tomorrow, a chilly start to the day, or a


chillier start than today. A lot drier than today and sunny as well,


with a few showers just dotted around, but they will fade away,


leaving it much drier in the afternoon. A colder day than today.


Slightly less of a breeze as well. It is through tomorrow night that


we see this heavy band of rain spilling out from the South and it


will become patchier as it moves north. But a few hours of heavy


rain, with things feeling quite breezy. On Thursday night, we get a


A look at tonight's main headlines: More years of pain. Britain's debt


is bigger, its growth lower. A grim warning to families across the UK


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