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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