02/01/2012 Midlands Today


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Good evening. �15 is being added to all our water bills because of


people who can't, or won't, pay. For the water companies, non-


payment is a growing problem because it's illegal to cut off the


supply to a home. Here's our environment correspondent David


Gregory. At Severn Trent Water in Coventry,


they're walking a tricky line between customers who can't pay and


customers who can pay, but refuse. It is difficult. All we are looking


at is an account. We do not know what the best option is for them.


We encourage people to speak to us as early as possible if they are


struggling. Tell us their situation. We will then decide the best option


for them. If we do not know, we cannot help. The government has


just published its white paper on this issue. It is a problem that is


getting worse. The cost of bad debt has been steadily rising, adding


�11 to water bills five years ago and going up every year since until


it now stands at �15 on every water bill in England. Consumer groups


were also looking for action. Governments have put in place


legislation already for water companies to develop these tariffs


for people who cannot pay. We are working with the companies to do


that. We were hoping for a bit more. There is helpful customers in the


south-west because their bills are so high, but there is an


affordability problem everywhere in the country. The solutions in the


white paper do not let adequate for the size of the problem. In the


meantime, it is ironic that the increased cost of paying for bad


debt on water bills has the greatest effect on the poorest who


are least able to pay. A man has been arrested after a


woman was found dead in a car in Nuneaton in Warwickshire in the


early hours of today. Her death is thought to be suspicious, but tests


are still being carried out. The man, who is 31, is being questioned


by police. A 48-year-old man has died while


canoeing in Shropshire. Police said he was rescued by emergency


services from a weir in the River Teme in Downton on the Rock, near


Ludlow, this morning. Members of the public raised the alarm, but


efforts to revive him failed. Ticket prices on public transport


have gone up today. Rail fares have risen by 6%, bus companies


increases are around 5%. National Express says their bus fare rise is


simply because of increasing costs, while train companies say the money


will be put into new trains, faster services and better stations. The


move has been criticised by the West Midlands passenger group


Travel Watch, which is calling for government intervention to stop


fares from spiralling. Birmingham City fans observed a


minute's silence today in memory of their former captain. Gary Ablett


died from cancer. He was 46. He made more than a hundred


appearances for the club between 1996 and 1999. Today, Birmingham


City drew 1-1 at Peterborough. That was after conceding a goal inside


the first 30 seconds. And Coventry City remain bottom of the league


after losing 1-0 at West Ham. In the Premiership, Aston Villa


lost 2-0 at home to Swansea. Two first-half goals from Stoke City's


Peter Crouch saw off Blackburn Rovers. A 2-1 win for the Potters


at Ewood Park. And Chelsea's Frank Lampard sneaked a late goal at


Molineux to beat a battling Wolves 2-1.


Onto League One now and Walsall lost 2-1 at Bury.


And in League Two, Hereford won 2-0 against Burton Albion. Cheltenham


beat Port Vale 2-1. And Shrewsbury drew 1-1 with Northampton.


Big changes on the way. If you are heading back to work after the


Christmas break, be prepared for a tricky Canute. After a fine evening,


things will change tonight. The winds will strengthen and a band of


rain comes in from the West. Heavy bursts of rain, very strong winds,


up to 50, 60 mph in places. Things improved during the date. The rain


will clear to the south. Some wintery showers in the north later.


Be prepared for a tricky commute. The World Darts Championship final


starts in just over two hours, but we can already tell you the


winner's from Staffordshire. The reigning champion Adrian Lewis is


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