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Good evening. Welcome to Wednesday's Midlands Today from the
BBC. Tonight: unemployment rises again in the region - there are now
almost a quarter of a million people looking for work here.
of companies say that I don't have enough experience. That is the
greatest problem I find right now. He went on Facebook and called for
a riot - now he is starting a jail sentence. Sudden bad weather is
blamed for a motorway crash. It was described by those at the scene has
almost like an ice rink. Who and winter is on the way with heavy
snowfall for Friday, as much as 10 Good evening. Welcome to
Wednesday's Midlands Today. Unemployment rises again in the
region, there are now almost a quarter of a million people looking
for work here. New figures released today show that there are now a
total of 243,000 out of work in this region - up by four thousand
on last month's total. There's also been a big increase in youth
unemployment in the last 12 months. Close to 52,000 18 to 24-year-olds
are now claiming Jobseekers Allowance, slightly down on last
month but a rise of 14.6% on this time last year. Our special
correspondent Peter Wilson reports now on the struggle for young
people in today's difficult job market.
Getting ready for work. The uniform is unusual. These three are Santa's
helpers at the West Midlands Safari Park. The jobs are temporary. The
zoo in Worcestershire takes on 90 I do want a full-time job, but
there are that many people unemployed or getting made
redundant, but fair every job that is permanent, about a hundred other
Bebo have applied. Laura is a qualified teacher waiting to get
her first job. Anything between 80 and 280 people apply for one
teaching position, so even to get to the interview stage, I am doing
well. What about those without jobs? This workshop in Handsworth
was set up to provide advice. One in four young people are out of
work in Birmingham. Esther wants to be a lawyer and has even been
looking for work in America. graduated last year in law, under
have recently come back from America. I took a New York bar exam
over there, because I have had to venture out. I'm finding it
difficult to get a job in the UK. Royal Mail have always been a big
employer. Once they'd take on a thousand staff a year in the
Midlands. Now there's a recruitment freeze. But this empty warehouse in
Nuneaton has been converted for the Christmas rush, and all these staff
have been taken on, too. The job market is difficult for young
people, but Royal Mail is committed to bringing in talent. We start our
graduate scheme in January, and we are looking to take content of
graduates. Last month Jaguar Land Rover announced they are creating a
thousand new jobs, while Staffordshire-based JCB are looking
for 350 new workers. Meanwhile this Gloucestershire publishing company
say they can't fill their vacancies. We have tried all the newspapers,
agencies, our own magazine. Our magazine goes out to 25,000 people
in Ross on Wye at Hereford, and that hasn't brought anybody in.
Back at the safari park, the very young are full of hope for what
Santa might bring. And a ray of light for Laura - she's finally got
a job as a teacher, starting in the new year. Peter Wilson, BBC
Midlands Today at West Midlands Safari Park.
Joining us now is the Conservative MP for Wyre Forest, Mark Garnier.
Good evening. Thanks for joining us. We heard from some of your young
constituents there. They are finding it hard to find work, in
some cases hundreds of them chasing each vacancy. There is no doubt it
is difficult to find jobs, and whilst it is always welcome that
organisations like the West Midlands Safari Park provide
temporary Christmas jobs, they are of course only temporary. We have
to address the problem of youth unemployment which across the
country is just over 1 million individuals. The Government is
coming in with the youth programme, which is investing a billion pounds
in ideas to try to get work experience, more apprenticeships.
How soon will this take effect? has already started. If you look at
apprenticeships across the West Midlands, there are up 65%, and in
my constituency, 109%. So they are coming through, but it takes time
for these things to bed down. government is predicting that the
figure will go up, so you must be concern about a lost generation he
will forever struggle to find work, it seems. We need to help that lost
generation not become completely lost. The idea behind the youth
programme has to make sure that they have the opportunity to have
experience, so that there are opportunities were there can go and
get work experience. If they have been unemployed for more than nine
months, there will be more support for them. The important point is to
make sure that they did lose those skills that they need to develop
early on in their career. private sector just isn't creating
the jobs to the public sector is losing. Do think it is fair to say
the Government's plan isn't working? In terms of total numbers
of people employed, that is up. But you are right, we are seeing a
gentle increase in the unemployment figures. But it seems to be
steadying off. Clearly we have colossal head wind coming at us
from Europe, which is making life very difficult, and certainly
businesses are nervous to invest in the future until they see what
comes out of the euro crisis and what happens with the banks. Mark
A The unemployment figures weren't the only economic data about the
region released today. Statistics showing how much the region is
worth to the UK's economy have also been published. The Gross Value
Added figure, as it's know, shows how much the West Midlands is worth
to UK plc. What they show is that the West Midlands share of the
total economy amounts to 7.3%. That compares to the 21.5% share for
London, which is the highest, and the 3.2% in the North East, which
is the lowest. The West Midlands is ranked 6th out of the nine regions
of England in terms of economic output. Joining us now to help make
sense of all this is our political editor Patrick Burns. What do these
figures mean for us in our region? There are a real comedown. When you
bear in mind that as little as 20 years ago, are part of the country
was accounting for almost a quarter of all UK manufactured exports,
what a change. And it is also, in a way, a bit of a reality check for
those ministers who think that West Midlands manufacturing can almost
as an assumption be one of the escape routes for our economic woes.
What does it say about the economy here? How can this worrying trend
be reversed? I was at a meeting of senior business leaders earlier
today, and why on after another, they said there were no quick fixes.
It would take years, it is about stepping outside the comfort zone
and developing new export markets in the developing Far flung
economies. The chilling statistic from a senior Palmer in an
accountancy firm who said that our biggest export earner to China at
the moment, not Jaguar or Land Rovers, but scrap metal. What does
that say about the challenges that lie ahead? There is limited growth
in the UK, not much growth in the eurozone. So we are looking at
markets like Brazil, Russia, China, parts of the Middle East and Africa,
where there is growing demand for the product. What does this mean in
terms of jobs and unemployment? Also in the unemployment figures
today, creditably, the private sector has actually created 26,000
jobs over the year to September, but worryingly, more than 37,000
public sector jobs were lost. The challenge for the Government is to
rebalance that equation, or they will be vulnerable to the chart
Nicol was putting to Mark Garnier, that it simply isn't working.
Thank you very much. And we'll have more on the region's economy in
tomorrow's programme, when we'll be looking at the state of the High
Street. There'll also be more on that throughout the day on your BBC
local radio station. Good to have you with us this
evening. Later, the walking tours around Shrewsbury, once transformed
Dickensian-style to film A A 22-year-old man who set up a
website called Letz Start A Riot during the summer riots is
beginning a jail term tonight. Danny Cook said he did it as a joke,
but the judge said it was a very serious offence and he would be
failing in his duty if he did not impose a substantial sentence. Andy
Newman reports. Jailed over a website for would-be
rioters. During the height of this summer's disturbances, 22-year-old
Danny Cook set up a Facebook page called Letz Start A Riot. Comments
he added included "loads to be smashed" And "I want in". In the
event, the troubles which sprewd across Birmingham and the Black
Country did not reach his home town of Kidderminster, but today he paid
The defendant even posted a poem on his website: There's a riot going
on from Brum to London, tell you what, I don't want to sit back
because I want to join them. He later told police he set up the
website as a joke, and created the page out of boredom. He closed it
down within an hour. The court regarded it as a serious offence,
as reflected in the sentence. Inciting others is a serious
offence and his own right. 16-year- old Johhny Melfah from Droitwich,
here dodging the cameras at a previous hearing, was one of 44
people who joined the Facebook group. Sentencing him back in
September, magistrates lifted that anonymity that would normally be
given to a teenager to name and shame him. So, did these internet
offenders think they could get away with it? It could be any of us, at
home, maybe had a bit too much to drink and think it is funny, or
maybe bravado in front of friends. Any one of us could do it.
Justice Butterfield sentenced Cook to two-and-a-half years, half of
that to be served in custody and the other half on licence. He said
it was a very serious offence, committed in the context of writing
across the country, and he would be failing in his public duty if he
did not impose a substantial custodial sentence.
In other news: A man's appeared in court charged with murdering a
security guard who vanished seven years ago. Martin Stafford, of no
fixed address, is accused of killing 38-year-old Michelle
Gunshon. She was staying at the Dubliner pub in Digbeth in
Birmingham while working at the NEC, but hasn't been seen since December
2004. Mr Stafford, who's been extradited from the Republic of
Ireland, was remanded in custody by Birmingham magistrates.
UK Coal has been ordered to pay �1.2 million after four miners died
following safety breaches at two of its collieries. Anthony Garrigan,
Paul Hunt and Trevor Steeples died in accidents at the Daw Mill
colliery near Coventry in 2006 and 2007. Paul Milner died after an
accident at the now-closed Welbeck Colliery in Nottinghamshire in 2007.
The firm admitted offences under health and safety laws during an
earlier hearing at Sheffield Crown Court.
The body of a teenage woman has been discovered at a flat in Stoke-
on-Trent. Police are describing the death as unexplained while they
await the results of a post mortem examination. Our Staffordshire
reporter Liz Copper joins us now. Liz, what more do we know about
this? Well, although this young woman is yet to be formally
identified, this evening the police said the understand she is Victoria
Heiton, 18. Her body was discovered by a visitor to her flat he came
here around 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon and then alerted the
emergency services. A post-mortem examination is being conducted,
although the results were not expected to be made public until at
least tomorrow morning. Police have been here all day, and earlier this
evening, I spoke to inspector Chris Hines. We have stepped up police
patrols in the area handing out leaflets to locals to tell people
what is happening in terms of the investigation. We will continue
that affright the week to reassure local communities, and if anyone
has any information or concerns, they should contact their local
police station. What's been the reaction in the local area?
A great deal of shock. A while ago, friends arrived at a lay tributes.
They all said that they hoped that people would not jump to
conclusions about exactly what had happened here, but would wait for
the outcome and the details of that One person has died after a fire at
a flat in Worcester. West Mercia Police are treating it as arson.
The victim, who has not been identified, was found in a first-
floor flat in Chedworth Close on the Warndon estate in the early
hours of this morning. The fire was so severe, forensic teams couldn't
get into the flat until late this afternoon.
Two people have been charged with the murder of a two-year-old boy
from Birmingham. Keanu Williams died in January this year at a
house in Ward End. A post-mortem examination found he had died of
''non-accidental'' injuries. A 23- year-old woman and a 30-year-old
man will appear before Birmingham Magistrates tomorrow charged with
causing or allowing the death of a child and child cruelty.
Police in Gloucestershire say they believe extreme weather conditions
were a major factor in a crash on the M5 last night in which a driver
died. Three lorries and two cars were involved in a collision just
north of Cheltenham. Tonight more bad weather is expected and the
Highways Agency are warning drivers to take extra care.
Conditions last night were difficult, to say the least.
Because of the weather, police had warned drivers to be careful. There
was a sudden flash down part higher at 9:30pm. Drivers said it froze
instantly and they could not see lane markings. A car stuck to help
another driver and was hit. The driver of his lorry was killed.
There will be a lengthy investigation but police say a
major role in the crash was plays by the weather conditions.
The witnesses and offices at the scene describes the road as an ice
rink. We believe it was a major factor with regard to the
commission itself. They must passing the crash last
night said the driving conditions were among the worst they had
experienced. We hit rain, hail and it was clear
there was a bad smash up. The lorry was and 90 degrees to the motorway
hands of a lot of firemen were working on it. You felt like
someone had stab you in the heart because it was clear it was a very
bad incident. The M5 northbound was closed for
several hours. Police have been busy this week due to the weather
on the roads. They are warning drivers to be more cautious than
normal. Hale and bad weather can come on
very quickly. Double the two-second rule in that bad weather. With
worse weather forecast for later in the week, the gritting teams are
starting their annual battle against the ice and snow.
Stockpiles and Rhodes sold at their highest level for two years.
Let us speak to Steve now. Do we have more details about the man who
died? No, he was a 55-year-old man. He
died so last night. The police are not prepared to say anything
officially until they have more details from the investigating team.
I can see all the grit has lined up behind you and more bad weather is
predicted. What plans are in place to prevent another tragedy like
this? The grazing dreams will be out
tonight. The north Cotswolds will be sorted out in the next half-an-
hour also. -- the gritting seems. There has been some unexpected snow
earlier this evening. It is unpredictable and that does creates
at ice and snow problems for drivers. To be careful hands the
gritting teams are doing their best in difficult conditions.
The weather has been pretty grim in the last 24 hours and it doesn't
look as if it is going to get any better, Shefali? No, it doesn't. We
may have escaped the threat of a storm but the prospects are grim.
This is what you could be getting in its place - up to 10cm of snow
and treacherous conditions. Join me Not looking good at all. Really
grim. A dad whose ten-year-old son nearly
died after being knocked off his bike says he is concerned a period
of specialist therapy he is undergoing could end earlier than
first recommended. Josh Dudley was in a coma for more
than two months after the accident near his home in Willenhall near
Wolverhampton. Kevin Reide reports. Josh Dudley was just nine years old
when he lost control of his bike and went into the path of a car.
His dad was confronted with every parent's worst nightmare.
I ran up to the scene. I thought he was dead on the road. I had to
revive him, bring him back ground. At the time, auto pilot kicks in
and you do what you have to do. It was not until after he had been
taken to hospital but it dawns on me what had gone on. I was so lucky
to have him still there. After two months in a coma, Josh
came around but was unable to walk or talk and so was transferred to
this specialist Children's Centre at Tadworth in Surrey where he has
made remarkable progress. One of the main forms of treatment
carried out here is hydrotherapy. In this pool, he can learn to use
his limbs again without the pain of weight-bearing.
When Josh first came here we had seek change in in the changing
rooms because he could not sit up unaided. He has progressed to a
chair and is now he is walking in and out of the water. It is
phenomenal progress. What was the best bit about that,
Josh? Jumping in and getting dad where it.
-- getting dad whacked. Is this going to be on CV?
It might be. The Children's Centre has
recommended Josh completes six months of treatment, meaning he
would come home mid-February but Walsall have only committed funding
until mid-January. In the meantime, Josh's parents have embarked on
their own fundraising as they want to ensure their son stays where
they believe he is getting the best possible treatment.
And tonight Walsall Primary Care Trust told us they are in talks
with the Children's Centre and are aiming for Josh to come home
towards the end of January, on condition that all the necessary
supports for him here will be in place.
Onto football and Stoke City are playing their final group match in
the Europa League against Besiktas in Turkey right now. They have
already qualified for the knock-out stages but need a point to top the
group. It is going well so far. They lead 1-0 at half-time. The
scorers bravery nearly got them a second so it is all going well so
far. And you can hear second-half
commentary on that match on BBC Radio Stoke from 7 o'clock.
In cricket, the England batsman Jonathan Trott has signed a three-
year contract extension with Warwickshire. Trott was voted the
ICC's cricketer of the year for 2011 after his performances for
England. His new contract will keep him at Edgbaston until the end of
the 2015 season. Let us go back in time a bit now.
Charles Dicken's novel A Christmas Carol has long been a festive
favourite when it comes to film adaptations but did you know that
Shrewsbury was picked as a filming location for the version starring
Academy Award winner George C Scott? It was made in 1984 when the
town was taken over for six weeks. This weekend, tours are being
offered for those who want a trip down memory lane. We sent our arts
reporter Satnam Rana to discover some of the people and sites
involved. Marley was as dead as a doornail.
The opening scene for A Christmas Carol. Look closer and you can see
this is Shrewsbury's Market Square, all transformed into Victorian
London, but why did the film crew pick Shrewsbury back in 1984?
It was quite an accident, really. They decided to film on location
and went around the country. The echoes of Christmas past linger
through many buildings. Tanners Wine Merchants is one of them. 27
years ago it became Mr Fezzywigs' drapers.
The customers loved it. They loved the thought of next door they are
filming A Christmas Carol and they were told to keep still and they
froze, you know. And then there were the extras.
Jenny Ward, seen here in the grey dress, was one of them.
We came in here and looked at the scene and it was so different and
then we were told what we had to do and where to stand, so it was very
exciting. Choristers were drafted in from
across the town. Just a street, any street. This
house! Every Christmas it comes out. It's
a ritual in Shrewsbury that those who took part take out the DVD and
watch it all over again. 18 locations we used in the city
with 500 local people used as extras. It was filmed in spring and
60 tons of snow was shipped nth. But it wasn't all glitzy and
glamorous, as town crier Martin Wood recalls. He was Edward
Woodward's stand-in. It was Martin's finger that did all the
pointing. It was 2 o'clock in the morning
when we filmed the scene. Freezing cold, completely covered in snow
from ice machines and snow machines. There was a spotlight there was a
poster be the Moon to give the airy atmosphere.
It's an atmosphere that can be rekindled by so many in Shrewsbury.
And for those who want to be bah humbug, think twice. Scrooge's
gravestone still remains. Martin is very tall indeed!
Some treacherous weather on the way soon. Since yesterday we've
switched our emphasis from storms to snow which is probably going to
be of greater concern seeing as there could be a fair bit of it.
The centre of this low pressure is now heading further south and east,
taking its stormy weather with it but on its northern flank we see
this rather prominent area of white smothering the Midlands which is
snow and for which the Met Office have issued a yellow warning for
Thursday night and more particularly into the early hours
of Friday morning. There is quite a wide Roche over our region. So
we'll come to that in a moment but tonight our main problem will be
ice after the rain, some of which could turn to wet snow. It's in the
next couple of hours that temperatures are falling away to
freezing and during this period we've got an area of low pressure
crossing us and that's going to draw this raft of showers in from
off the Bristol Channel that could appear as longer and heavier spells
of rain and it's very likely that some that could turn wintry and not
just be confined to the west but also elsewhere. So wintriness,
iciness the main things to be aware of tonight and even tomorrow
morning. Even tomorrow it doesn't stop there with the next batch of
showers starting to roll in from the west, although they will begin
to show signs of easing through the afternoon. Some sunshine to end the
day. Temperatures around seven Celsius. And so we come to the part
of this week that's going to pose the greatest problem by the looks
of things. Heavy rain arrives in the west by tomorrow evening,
spreading eastwards as that comes into contact with the cold
northwesterly winds gusting to 50mph in places. It will turn to
snow and that then spreads south through the early hours of Friday
morning. So in terms of quantities, up to 10cm, so treacherous
conditions and this snow continuing on and off through much of Friday,
only beginning to ease through the evening.
A look at tonight's main headlines: Unemployment rises to its highest
level for 17 years. Nationally, 2.6 million people are now without a