25/01/2012 Midlands Today


25/01/2012

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Welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines: two elected mayors for

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Birmingham and Coventry if the voters say yes in a referendum.

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You see what has happened in London and Scotland. There is not an

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equivalent in Birmingham. Police are given more time to

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question a man over the escape of a dangerous prisoner. The longer that

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person is free, the more likely is they will leave a fingerprint as to

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where they are. As a route double-dip recession

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looms -- recession looms, warnings that the building industry will

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continue to decline. One of the country's leading

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dramatists has chosen this region Good evening. Tonight, Birmingham

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and Coventry could have brand-new directly elected mayors before the

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end of this year. The Cities Minister Greg Clark

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announced that the government is fast-tracking plans for London

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style mayors in 11 UK cities. It would mean referendums being held

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on 3rd May, the same day as this year's local elections. If there is

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a yes vote, the plan would be to hold votes for the new mayoral

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posts on what is being called Super Thursday on 15th November. The

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minister said he wanted to push ahead quickly to boost growth and

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create jobs. It is Britain's second city and

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today the scene of a showpiece government announcement. A horrid

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to -- our intention is to hold the first mayoral election on 15th

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November, the same day as the elections for the police

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commissioners. A day that I hope will be a landmark day in the shape

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of powers and influence from Whitehall to communities. Joining

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him on the panel hosted by Birmingham's Chamber of Commerce,

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two predicted -- political big beasts who think the mayors would

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do a better job than council leaders. The way the structure

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works does not give a platform of power to the locality. That is what

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I think this issue is all about. is also about profile according to

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this former Labour Transport Secretary. In London, virtually all

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Londoners know who Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone are. In

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Birmingham and Coventry, the leaders of councils are not nearly

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so well known. They are barely known at all outside of the cities.

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Do we know our council leader? I do not know. Mike Whitby? Ghosh,

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is it might Whitby? It is. thank goodness I got that right. I

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work for the council! On the streets of Coventry, another city

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to vote on whether to switch to an elected mayor in May, we find a

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similar response. I have not got a clue. I believe it is John Hutton.

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The council leader in Coventry and his Labour led authority rejected

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the idea of an elected mayor earlier this month. Hearing

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Bermingham, Labour candidates have been lining up to throw their hats

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into the ring. If there are some who think that putting too much

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power into the hands of one person could be bad for democracy. I think

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people will probably vote against it because they will not want the

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corruption and concentration of power. Spicing up the image of

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Birmingham is what this restaurant things they should do. A we want an

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ambassador how they are promoting the City. We want it promoted as a

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leisure and business destination and it would be fantastic.

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business world does not get to decide. That is the people's job.

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Let us talk to our correspondent from The Cube in Birmingham. Plenty

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of support for politicians. Is there any sign the public want a

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directly elected mayors? That is the key challenge, to get people

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here in Birmingham and Coventry actually voting in a referendum as

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to whether Ron not they want a directly elected mayor. -- whether

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or not. Getting people interested in it is a bit of a challenge.

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Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said to date it will be backing the yes

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campaign hearing Birmingham. The no plant -- the no campaign will be

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pushing for a no vote of course. remind us of the leading candidates.

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We have already had a lot of people putting their names forward. Three

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Labour candidates. Sean Simon, who stood down as an MP to take on this

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role. Another current MP and the leader of the Labour group on

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Birmingham City Council. Then we have some independents, the TV

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presenter and some other candidates. In Coventry, Bob Ainsworth is the

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only big name. No doubt, as we get closer to direct rent -- closer to

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that referendum, a lot of people will put themselves forward.

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We would love to know your thoughts on elected mayors. You can get in

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touch through our Facebook page or by email. We will hopefully read

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some of your pro -- comments later Later, Aston Villa, the next

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generation, can the club's talented youngsters move closer to European

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glory this evening? As the hunt continues bomb murder

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suspect John Anslow police have been given more time to question a

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44-year-old man about his escape. Anslow van Tipton in the Black

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Country is still on the run after he was sprung from a prison van by

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a gang with sledgehammers. He was heading to Stafford Crown Court

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from Hewell Prison on doesn't -- on Monday. What is the latest? Police

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have confirmed they have been given an extra 12 hours to continue

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questioning a man from Tipton who was arrested on Monday evening. He

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has been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. They also

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say they have executed search warrants at two homes in Tipton and

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seized property. They hope all of us will help in the hunt for John

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Anslow who was due to appear at court on Monday where he faced a

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murder charge. A short distance from the prison where he was held,

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the van that was transporting him was ambushed by a gang armed with

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sledgehammers. The police have put up a �10,000 reward for any

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information that could help them in their hunt. How important has

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social media been in this investigation so far? Staffordshire

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Police say that the appeal they have posted on Facebook has now

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been seen by 2 million people across the country. To get a sense

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of this investigation and what the police are looking at, I have been

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speaking to a former police officer who now teaches policing and

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forensics at Staffordshire University of. The longer that

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person is free, the more likely that they will leave a fingerprint

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or a trace of where they are, financially or by other means.

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People may well bring the police or contact them and give them

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information. That is why the police have circulated photographs of this

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person because they need the assistance of the public. That

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gives us a sense of how the police are approaching the case. They have

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said that John Anslow is dangerous and that people should not approach

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him but call the police immediately. Thank you. The building industry

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will face a tough times for the next five years. The construction

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skills Network survey predicts at work -- approach frump construction

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will for by one by one the sense it -- 1.1% year by 2016. That

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contrasts with the national figure which will see growth of 1.4%. The

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fault is being blamed on the wait for large-scale projects such as

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Birmingham's Eastside and the High Speed 2 rail link.

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Dino Elbakkali has become a specialist in house extensions. He

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has had to because all of his commercial work has dried up. He

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says his building business cannot get a loan from the banks of stock

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we have been struggling for the past three or four years and we got

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used red and thanks to the domestic market that has kept us going.

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it was not for projects like this, we would not be here today.

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Today's report from Construction Industry Training Board makes for

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grim reading. It says that construction output in the West

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Midlands was rent by around one. -- 1% a year for at least five years.

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There will be a skills shortage ahead of the three major building

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projects according to the survey. Those projects include Sity Central

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Shopping Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. Daniel Harvey is an apprentice with

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the construction firm Carillion. He is learning his trade on site.

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have learnt quite a lot. I like to think that in a couple of years'

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time, I could be in a job like this myself. I would like to move abroad

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and advance my skills. Apprenticeships are seen as crucial

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for a skilled workforce. Although there will be around 5000 fewer

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construction jobs by 2016 in the West Midlands, jobs in Architecture

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and blazing are expected to increase. There will be a call of

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traditional skills needed such as carpentry but there will also be a

:10:02.:10:12.
:10:12.:10:14.

huge breath of newer skills involved. This school is being

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built as a prestige construction project. The big uncertainty arises

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when these sort of contracts and, what will come next? The survival

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of a small builder like Dino Elbakkali's has been tested further

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by a young apprentices being lured away by big commercial players.

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That could soon change if predictions of growth in the

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private housing sector of realised. Earlier I spoke to Judy Lowe, the

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deputy chairman of the Construction Industry Training Board. I asked

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her what could be done to promote growth in the region's building

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industry. I think the first thing to make clear is that although the

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figures from our construction skills network report might look

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quite grim for the best Midlands over the next five years, you

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should really sit in the context of this being one of the 12 regions of

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the UK that has been the most successful up until now in bidding

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for hospital private projects and Building Schools for the Future

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projects. There has been a 72% growth in public sector and on

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housing, as it is called, investment in the West Midlands.

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That is since 2007. You obviously going to come down from a highlight

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back. You should see it as relative. It is not a that the area is in

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terminal decline. It is that you are no longer going to be growing

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at the rate you wear. Public projects are facing a dramatic

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decline over the next few years? Public projects, nationally, public

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sector housing is going to drop 25%. Schools, prisons and hospitals will

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also drop. In the West Midlands, those figures are myriad. 20% drop

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in public housing, 17% drop in public sector and on housing.

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Inevitably, that is going to affect the overall figures.

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In other news, workers are continuing to picket the Kingsbury

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Oil Terminal. Around 30 oil tanker drivers are taking five days of

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industrial action in a dispute with the delivery company Wincanton.

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Members of the United union walked out yesterday and claims the firm

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wants to cut their pay by 20%. The company says no changes will be

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made without union agreement. A body has been found in a car in

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Warwickshire. Police and firefighters were called away field

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in Aston Cantlow near Alcester at around 7:30am. So far,

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identification has not been possible.

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Obesity levels in the West Midlands are among the worst in the country.

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In some parts of the region as many as one in 10 young children are

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severely overweight. Today youngsters from five inner-

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city schools took part in a sports based project to fight back against

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:13:14.:13:15.

This is a type of football with the South American origins. Children

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from inner-city schools in Birmingham were embracing it today.

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But 10% off four two five-year-olds in Birmingham are obese, according

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to the West Midlands Public Health Observatory. And events like this

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one in Birmingham are tackling the problem head-on.

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I have been working in schools for 17 years. You see it every year,

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the number of children who are overweight increasing. It is a

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combination of diet and also exercise.

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John runs a social enterprise which organised the event. It sends

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health mentor's into schools to help children eat healthier

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lifestyles. -- lead healthier lifestyles.

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This teacher works at one of the worst schools in the country for us

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-- social deprivation. We have found it has got worse with

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under seven-year-olds. These are children who are playing games,

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computer games, and don't get out on a Saturday or Sunday, going out

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to the park and things like that. Never the less the health message

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seems to be embedded in children we spoke to.

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If you eat too much chocolate, you will get fat. What do you have to

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do to make sure you don't get fat? Eat vegetables. Do sport. This

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project is not the only one. Another scheme in schools tackling

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obesity is headed by a senior public health lecturer at

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Birmingham University. The emphasis is on academic

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achievements. Schools are measured by that. Often, that is the focus

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they have. Things to do with physical activity is often

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sacrificed. Organisers of this event say they

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are on a mission to promote health by stealth.

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They seem to be loving it! Still ahead: Or the latest on the weather.

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It is about to turn colder with a period of heavy rain before it does.

:15:20.:15:30.
:15:30.:15:31.

But be encouraged that it is not Six months after a famine was

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declared in Somalia, one charity says it has had more donations from

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people in Birmingham than anywhere else. Islamic Relief says the

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crisis in East Africa is far from over and donations are still needed.

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4,000 miles away from the Midlands, the fight to save lives in the

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Somali capital Mogadishu goes on. It might seem far removed from here,

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but it is work than in the West Midlands match has helped to people

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caught up in the first famine of the 21st century. Tens of thousands

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of items of clothing, unwanted in the Western world, are proving a

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vital lifeline. The garments are delivered to this warehouse

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belonging to the charity Islamic Relief. Some are sent to East

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Africa, others sold to raise money. This may look like a jumble sale on

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a massive scale, but this operation by Islamic Relief in the east

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Birmingham area has contributed to providing life-saving food, water

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and medical suppliers to 900,000 Somalis since the famine began.

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The charity's director has just returned from Somalia, where he has

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found out how the money and clothes donated up being used to help the

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starving. I first visit was harrowing.

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Traumatising. I saw thousands of people making their way across...

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Those were the scenes I remember being my childhood. I had not seen

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an exodus. I saw some organisation in the camps.

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Officials say a quarter of a million people are still in danger.

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It is estimated around 50,000 Somalis live in the West Midlands.

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They are desperate not to see the relief effort diminish.

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It is surprising, seeing de digital revolutions in the Middle East and

:17:27.:17:31.

anywhere, that we can have people dying of a lack of food. It is

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somewhat bizarre. Nonetheless, Islamic Relief is

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delighted at how the public has rallied round. Nearly 500,000

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tonnes of clothing has been donated to the charity by people living in

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Birmingham alone. That is more than in any other city.

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Bob joins us now from a charity shop in Birmingham.

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Six months after the appeal, still a dire situation in Somalia. By

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donations in fact shopping? They are to some extent. That

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depends a clearer picture, I should ask the fund-raising manager for

:18:11.:18:15.

Islamic Relief. What is the situation as far as donations are

:18:15.:18:18.

concerned? Donations have naturally dropped as

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a result of the fact that the media spotlight is no longer on the

:18:23.:18:30.

crisis. Of course, �72 million has been donated by the British public

:18:30.:18:34.

so far. So it is a case, though, that that is not enough?

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The public have been fantastic. But this has been the worst crisis in

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64 years. It is not the kind of thing that can be solved in six

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months. We have got 4 million people reliant on aid and 250,000

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people who are at AA real risk of starvation. What are you asking the

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public to do? We ask the public to continue to

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support us. They have been fantastic so far but we need their

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support to continue with the food aid, providing water for drinking

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purposes and sanitation, and to allow us with -- help us with

:19:11.:19:15.

medical assistance. Thank you very much. Obviously the

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East African situation is still a very fragile one, and the charity

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has concerned that if we don't donate more money, that is, the

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Western world, there will be a crisis there again.

:19:29.:19:34.

One of the country's top dramatists has chosen this region to film his

:19:34.:19:38.

latest big TV production. Set in the 1930s, Dancing On The Edge

:19:38.:19:44.

tells this story of a black jazz band. It is from the pen of writer

:19:44.:19:48.

and director Stephen Poliakoff. It is being are found in some rather

:19:48.:19:56.

unusual locations. Seen by many as a genius, Stephen

:19:56.:20:00.

Poliakoff, on location in Birmingham. He is responsible for

:20:00.:20:05.

many television dramas, and his new production, Dancing On The Edge, is

:20:05.:20:09.

his first five-part drama. He we are at the early 1930s, just

:20:09.:20:15.

before the rise of fascism. It is a fascinating time in the world, with

:20:15.:20:19.

the great financial crash and mass unemployment. It was a time of

:20:19.:20:25.

great change, and a worship of the new. The explosive drama stars

:20:25.:20:29.

Anthony Head. The Imperial Hotel in London. It is

:20:30.:20:33.

the 1930s. Dancing On The Edge tells the story of a black jazz

:20:33.:20:37.

band which initially shocked polite society. But gradually it achieves

:20:37.:20:44.

fame with the help of progressive socialites. But I'm told there's A

:20:44.:20:48.

murder. The location, Birmingham city

:20:48.:20:54.

council house, may not seem obvious, but the set has an incredible

:20:54.:21:01.

attention to detail. It looks very convincing. It is

:21:01.:21:06.

recreating a hotel, the Cecil Hotel, the biggest in the world at the

:21:06.:21:10.

time. It fell on hard times and was nearly demolished.

:21:10.:21:14.

Dancing On The Edge is the latest drama to be brought to the Midlands

:21:14.:21:21.

by From Birmingham, who were responsible for the BBC's Hustle.

:21:21.:21:26.

responsible for the BBC's Hustle. Figures show that Birmingham has

:21:26.:21:36.
:21:36.:21:45.

It is hotels, food, locations... They also imply local crew. --

:21:45.:21:51.

employer. That is where the money is spent. The hotels and clubs of

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the time were enormous. I have tried to recreate that, not on the

:21:56.:22:04.

same budget, but to give an epic look on a small budget. Two feature

:22:05.:22:09.

films are rumoured to be happening here. With much of London being

:22:09.:22:14.

sealed off for the Olympics in the summer, Birmingham is attractive

:22:14.:22:18.

for the film industry. I'm very excited about this. A

:22:18.:22:22.

friend of ours, Dave, whose day job is a painter and decorator, is

:22:22.:22:28.

starring in this. He is dancing in a ballroom scene somewhere. Not

:22:28.:22:38.
:22:38.:22:39.

much help to you lot, but I will There's a long interview about the

:22:39.:22:46.

prospects of the film industry on the BBC Birmingham website.

:22:46.:22:50.

Any Aston Villa fan will tell you that 1982 was their finest hour. 30

:22:50.:22:54.

years after lifting the European Cup, the club's talented youngsters

:22:54.:22:58.

are closing in on their own European final. The NextGen Cup has

:22:59.:23:03.

attracted 16 top clubs, and tonight, then a's youth academy are at home

:23:03.:23:08.

to Marseille in the quarter-finals. -- Villa's youth academy.

:23:08.:23:12.

Tension is mounting here. The children are expecting two VIP

:23:12.:23:17.

guests, and so are the teachers. But they are not sure who - until

:23:17.:23:21.

all is revealed. It is Marc Albrighton and his team-

:23:21.:23:24.

mate Gary Gardner. They have just popped in to lodge Aston Villa's

:23:24.:23:28.

new scheme to give free tickets to schools.

:23:28.:23:33.

We are not trained to speak in front of 360 kids. It is harder

:23:33.:23:36.

than playing in front of 40,000 people.

:23:36.:23:41.

At 22, Marc is to all to play in it tonight's game. But Gary, who is 19,

:23:41.:23:48.

believe nothing is to be feared for their love.

:23:48.:23:58.

I have played in every game to get to the quarter-final, and now I

:23:58.:24:03.

want to go all the way. It will be really special for us.

:24:03.:24:08.

Has Gary mentions the hat-trick he scored against Ajax? A couple of

:24:08.:24:11.

times! Those goals helped Aston Villa make

:24:11.:24:15.

the last eight and caught the eye of Alex McLeish, who decided he was

:24:15.:24:19.

old enough and good enough to make his Premier League debut. Tonight

:24:19.:24:22.

the new generation of Aston Villa players are hoping to beat

:24:22.:24:27.

Marseille, cheered on by the next generation of Aston Villa fans into

:24:27.:24:35.

the semi-finals of the NextGen Cup. And there's commentary on the game

:24:35.:24:38.

And there's commentary on the game on BBC WM. Kick-off is at 7pm.

:24:38.:24:43.

Now the weather. It has been a week so far and we

:24:43.:24:49.

have had peaks and troughs, quite literally. We had warned today and

:24:49.:24:53.

after that we have got a cold front to come tomorrow. That is going to

:24:53.:24:58.

lead to a trough, which will leave us with showers on Thursday. Then

:24:58.:25:02.

we have the peak of high pressure coming from the south-west by

:25:02.:25:07.

Friday. So it is all go at the moment. It all amounts to it being

:25:07.:25:15.

colder and,, and also drier and sunnier. That is a bonus. -- holder

:25:15.:25:21.

and drier. For tonight we have got a band of rain going through. It is

:25:21.:25:27.

going to be a heavy bag of rain, producing in the region of 10-20 mm

:25:27.:25:33.

of rain. Behind it we had got clearer skies, and it is going to

:25:33.:25:40.

turn colder. Temperatures are down to a minimum of two Sell Sears. We

:25:40.:25:46.

could see some ice there. Those clearer skies in date from the West

:25:46.:25:50.

tomorrow morning, so because of those we wake up to a lot of

:25:50.:25:55.

sunshine. We have got scatter showers across the region, which

:25:55.:26:03.

could turn wintry. But a top temperature of around six or seven

:26:03.:26:08.

Celsius. Still quite breezy from the south-west. A cold night, but

:26:08.:26:11.

the south-west. A cold night, but as I say, by Friday it is going to

:26:11.:26:16.

turn drier and sunnier. A look at tonight's headlines: That

:26:16.:26:21.

shrinking feeling - the UK economy went into reverse at the end of

:26:21.:26:23.

last year. And there could be elected mayors

:26:23.:26:26.

for Birmingham and Coventry before the end of the year if voters say

:26:26.:26:30.

yes in a referendum. On that note, a lot of comments on

:26:30.:26:38.

this coming in from you all. Thank you very much for them. Paul says a

:26:38.:26:44.

male would do great things for the city. In the days when politicians

:26:44.:26:46.

are celebrities, it would be a good thing.

:26:46.:26:51.

But most seemed against. The Shaun Harrison says giving one person so

:26:51.:26:58.

much power will be a bad. Another person says where is the

:26:58.:27:03.

money going to come from two done this extra layer of government?

:27:03.:27:10.

Another says who is going to pay the staff and costs? This is the

:27:10.:27:20.
:27:20.:27:22.

end of democracy. Geoff Woodward, a Coventry

:27:22.:27:28.

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