25/01/2012 Midlands Today


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


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


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


equivalent in Birmingham. Police are given more time to


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


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


where they are. As a route double-dip recession


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


continue to decline. One of the country's leading


dramatists has chosen this region Good evening. Tonight, Birmingham


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


end of this year. The Cities Minister Greg Clark


announced that the government is fast-tracking plans for London


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


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


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


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


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


create jobs. It is Britain's second city and


today the scene of a showpiece government announcement. A horrid


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


November, the same day as the elections for the police


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


of powers and influence from Whitehall to communities. Joining


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


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


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


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


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


this former Labour Transport Secretary. In London, virtually all


Londoners know who Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone are. In


Birmingham and Coventry, the leaders of councils are not nearly


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


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


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


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


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


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


The council leader in Coventry and his Labour led authority rejected


the idea of an elected mayor earlier this month. Hearing


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


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


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


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


corruption and concentration of power. Spicing up the image of


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


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


leisure and business destination and it would be fantastic.


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


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


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


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


here in Birmingham and Coventry actually voting in a referendum as


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


glory this evening? As the hunt continues bomb murder


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


social media been in this investigation so far? Staffordshire


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


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


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


speaking to a former police officer who now teaches policing and


forensics at Staffordshire University of. The longer that


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


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


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


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


person because they need the assistance of the public. That


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


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


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


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


skills Network survey predicts at work -- approach frump construction


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


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


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


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


Dino Elbakkali has become a specialist in house extensions. He


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


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


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


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


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


Today's report from Construction Industry Training Board makes for


grim reading. It says that construction output in the West


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


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


projects according to the survey. Those projects include Sity Central


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


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


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


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


and advance my skills. Apprenticeships are seen as crucial


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


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


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


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


huge breath of newer skills involved. This school is being


built as a prestige construction project. The big uncertainty arises


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


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


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


That could soon change if predictions of growth in the


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


deputy chairman of the Construction Industry Training Board. I asked


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


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


figures from our construction skills network report might look


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


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


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


for hospital private projects and Building Schools for the Future


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Inevitably, that is going to affect the overall figures.


In other news, workers are continuing to picket the Kingsbury


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


industrial action in a dispute with the delivery company Wincanton.


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


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


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


Warwickshire. Police and firefighters were called away field


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


identification has not been possible.


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


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


severely overweight. Today youngsters from five inner-


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


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


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


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


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


one in Birmingham are tackling the problem head-on.


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


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


combination of diet and also exercise.


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


health mentor's into schools to help children eat healthier


lifestyles. -- lead healthier lifestyles.


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


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


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


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


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


seems to be embedded in children we spoke to.


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


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


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


obesity is headed by a senior public health lecturer at


Birmingham University. The emphasis is on academic


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


they have. Things to do with physical activity is often


sacrificed. Organisers of this event say they


are on a mission to promote health by stealth.


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


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


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


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


people in Birmingham than anywhere else. Islamic Relief says the


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


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


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


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


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


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


vital lifeline. The garments are delivered to this warehouse


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


starving. I first visit was harrowing.


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


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


an exodus. I saw some organisation in the camps.


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


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


They are desperate not to see the relief effort diminish.


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


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


somewhat bizarre. Nonetheless, Islamic Relief is


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


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


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


Bob joins us now from a charity shop in Birmingham.


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


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


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


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


concerned? Donations have naturally dropped as


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


public to do? We ask the public to continue to


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


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


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


medical assistance. Thank you very much. Obviously the


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


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


Western world, there will be a crisis there again.


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


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


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


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


unusual locations. Seen by many as a genius, Stephen


Poliakoff, on location in Birmingham. He is responsible for


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


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


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


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


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


Anthony Head. The Imperial Hotel in London. It is


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


band which initially shocked polite society. But gradually it achieves


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


murder. The location, Birmingham city


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


attention to detail. It looks very convincing. It is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


prospects of the film industry on the BBC Birmingham website.


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


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


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


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


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


Tension is mounting here. The children are expecting two VIP


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


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


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


new scheme to give free tickets to schools.


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


than playing in front of 40,000 people.


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


believe nothing is to be feared for their love.


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


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


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


times! Those goals helped Aston Villa make


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


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


the new generation of Aston Villa players are hoping to beat


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


last year. And there could be elected mayors


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


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


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


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


are celebrities, it would be a good thing.


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


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


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


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


end of democracy. Geoff Woodward, a Coventry


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