02/02/2012 Midlands Today


The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 02/02/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Hello and welcome to Midlands Today, with Nick Owen and Suzanne Virdee.


The headlines tonight: A third of the households in the


region live in fuel poverty, more than anywhere else in England.


People are having to choose to either eat or stay warm, and people


are dying. Powering ahead - Jaguar Land Rover


say they'll be recruiting a record number of apprentices this year.


A startling jump in the number of serious injuries from horse-riding.


Doctors urge people to be more careful. 15 years ago it was rugby


injuries. For the past five years or so it is the horse-riding.


And Tarka would have loved it! A special underpass is built to stop


otters dodging traffic on a busy Good evening and welcome to


Thursday's Midlands Today, from the BBC. Tonight, the number of


families trapped in fuel poverty continues to escalate. In 2003,


nearly 7% of homes in this region were affected. But that soared to


more than 26% in 2009, an increase of more than 400%. People are


considered to be in fuel poverty if they're spending more than 10% of


their income on gas and electricity. Next week, advice will be on offer


for people struggling to meet their energy bills, as Kevin Reide


reports. Margaret Gale, from Bell Green in


Coventry, has found it difficult to cope since losing a full-time job


two years ago, followed by the death of her husband in 2010. She


now works part-time advising people on how to manage household bills,


so it was a surprise to her when she received a huge energy bill


herself. Almost sudden, I got this �600 bill... It was devastating. I


just went into a panic. I thought I could manage. I tell other people


how to manage and all of a sudden, I couldn't. Over the last decade,


households in this region have been squeezed by energy price increases.


Back in 2003, fuel bills for the average household were about �500.


It's now well over �1,000. And back then, one in ten homes were in fuel


poverty. That figure is now one in four. Across Coventry in the


Foleshill area, and Arthur Watkins lives alone after his mother died


from cancer. When she passed away, he was so worried about paying the


bills he went without heating for a full two years. I would come in and


made myself a cup of tea and go upstairs and get into bed and keep


warm. Arthur was helped by the Coventry Law Centre, who've seen a


huge increase in fuel poverty cases in recent years, so much so they've


set up a special project team to tackle the issue. The type of cases


we are seeing are people that are really in a bad way with their fuel


a Riaz, not being able to heat their homes. They are struggling to


feed themselves or keep warm. is the worst case you have seen?


Somebody springs to mind, a gentleman I saw last week who broke


down in the interview at his home, because he just couldn't afford to


live. He was living on toast. And he was unable to turn his heating


on and had no hot water. He was boiling the kettle to wash himself.


The Law Centre has also helped Margaret, but as someone who works


voluntarily in the community, she fears her case is just the tip of


the iceberg. We had a talk yesterday with the senior citizens


I work with. Some of them are really thinking about giving up


their home and going into council homes, which are 10, �11 cheaper,


so they can pay their fuel bills. They come up and sit in the centre


so they don't have to put the electric on. It is just everybody


is terrified. With very cold weather with us now, many will be


facing that difficult decision whether to turn up the heat or stay


in the cold. A short time ago, I spoke to


Jonathan Stearn from Consumer Focus, the watchdog which fights to secure


a fair deal for energy customers, and started by asking him why he


though this region had the worst fuel poverty in England.


Fuel poverty things. -- fuel poverty is caused by three things.


How fuel efficient homes are, income and it is mostly to do with


income and inefficient houses. you also mention prices. Companies


have been making huge profits and prices until recently have been


going up enormously. Surely something has to be done? They are


going up and they have gone up 150% since 2003. Consumer Focus is


constantly arguing and questioning of the levels of prices that energy


companies are charging. We need to make sure as much pressure is put


on companies to keep those prices as low as possible. One thing


people can do themselves is if they can actually get online and get a


direct debit, they can get cheaper deals because you can save around


�200 a year if you can do online direct debit. There will be those


watching tonight you cannot pay fuel bills and they are getting


into debt. What is your advice to them? There is something called A


warmfront, which allows you to have heating installed in your home if


you have not got any or if you have a very inefficient home. And in the


West Midlands, the number of claims have gone down by a third, so use


that and it can help you keep your home warmer.


There's plenty of fuel poverty advice on our Facebook page, and


later in the programme we'll be looking at another fuel issue. This


time, the rising cost of petrol and diesel, which rural pub landlords


claim is having serious Some positive news now for young


job hunters, with Jaguar Land Rover announcing they're taking on 133


new apprentices. Although welcome, that's not going to solve the fact


that one in five young people in the region can't find a job. So


what help is on offer? Well, tonight in the Black Country,


there's a roadshow to promote apprenticeships, and Cath Mackie is


there for us now. Cath, it's clear there's an increasing focus on


apprentices? It does seem to be a bit of a buzzword at the moment.


500 new apprenticeships were announced an Walsall just this week.


There has been a steady flow of people here to talk to companies,


businesses and colleges about apprenticeships. One company, one


you have mentioned, Jaguar Land Rover, they announced they are


taking on a record number of apprentices.


They're the faces of the future for the Midlands car giant Jaguar Land


Rover. And Stephen Mason, and 22 and I'm an apprentice. I'm Kirsty


and I'm a second-year apprentice. And they hope to persuade more


school-leavers to join them. I have a friend doing this course but I


have not come out of college so I have not had to pay for it. Kirsty


and Stephen are just two of the 237 apprentices currently working at


Jaguar Land Rover and they're about to be joined by 133 more, a record


intake for the company. We're not going to be complacent. We have


great plans for growth and it is our people who drive these brats


and make them happen. We need the best and we need more of them. --


drive these products. With more young people out of work, 4,000


people have already registered an interest in the apprentice scheme


at JLR. It's perhaps not surprising. The company is at the glamour end


of the car industry. Many of their suppliers across the Black Country


have found recruitment more of struggle. When I told my friends I


wanted to be an engineer, they weren't that impressed. They didn't


think it was a girl's job to do but that is why they have been


promoting it a bit more in girls' schools. Both Kirsty and Stephen


act as apprenticeship ambassadors to schools and colleges. The


application deadline for the JLR scheme is in April. With me now is


a one man I cornered earlier. Sam, why have you come to this? I have


come to look at my options and see what I can do for the future.


you considering university or do you want to go straight to work?


am considering university but the work option is still there. Have


Jaguar Land Rover convinced you to apply? If they have convinced me. I


might consider what later on. move on to Chris Luty. There are


colleges here and big business. Our small businesses out there thinking,


what is in it for me? It is fabulous that Jaguar Land Rover is


taking on so many people but it is the small and medium businesses


that will be keen to make apprenticeships that successful. It


is worth emphasising that apprenticeships offered good


recruitment opportunities for companies to take on board young


people who are motivated and have the skills and the enthusiasm to


help businesses grow. If employers don't do well and their competitors


are involved in the apprenticeships, who is going to win? Small


businesses have told me they want to take on apprentices but they


cannot get the colour but. How do you address that? The local


colleges are experienced in selecting young people and


screening them, making sure we get the right fit for employers and the


right skills that companies actually need. Thank you for that.


If you cannot make this event tonight, it is on until 8pm and


there of three similar events in the West Midlands next week.


A new chairman's taken over at the NHS Trust which runs Stafford


Hospital. Professor John Caldwell's in-tray is already full to the brim


with the fall-out from the public inquiry over appalling standards of


care there. The Accident & Emergency department is currently


closed overnight, and campaigners have called on him to make


restoring that service a priority, as well as making sure patient


safety is guaranteed. Here's our health correspondent, Michele


Paduano. It might not sound like it, but


Cheryl Porter is part of the silent majority in Stafford. She and her


son Leo had excellent care, and she's campaigning for a 24-hour A&E


and is sceptical about proposed change. We want our A&E back 24


hours. We want our hospital working, working correctly and safely. And


we need our hospital for the whole of the community. But change is on


the cards. On his first day at the office, the new chairman, John


Caldwell, hinted at radical change at Stafford Hospital to bring down


the hospital's spiralling debts. the moment, we have a real


distinction between hospital and doctors in the community. That is


something that may well change in the coming years and it may well be


that by virtue of what is perhaps forced upon us here, we end up


sitting a path that other parts of the country might follow. Since


Stafford's troubles were first exposed, there have been three


chief executives, and John Caldwell is the third chairman to take on


one of the hardest jobs in the NHS. All the chairman has to do is


manage public expectation, keep an eye on safety and manage the agenda,


all with keeping an eye on the media. And there's no tea and


sympathy for the new chairman at the cafe where the pressure group


Cure The NHS began. He needs to clean up the hospital's act quickly.


We thought the hospital would be a lot safer by now. His priority has


got to be patient safety. He has got to renew the trust in this


community. He seems to accept that. And I would want to, as we move


forward, ensure a much greater level of accountability of staff


for the care that they operate. future actions will determine what


sort of hospital Leo has in future. Remote country pubs with a roaring


fire and welcome could soon be a thing of the past. Many are


struggling to get enough customers to survive. Licensees say the cost


of fuel puts people off the drive to far flung pubs. In the


Shropshire hills, they have come up with a new project to attract more


pub-goers. The splendour of the Shropshire


hills. Many pubs have existed here for centuries. But if a pub is to


survive, they need customers. And sometimes they are to come by in


this area of outstanding national beautiful stop their remoteness is


part of their charm but it is also leading to a decline in customers.


Some people simply don't want to spend the money travelling to


At the Callow Inn in Bromlow near Minsterley, the landlady says trade


has halved in two years. She largely blames the high cost of


fuel. Research just published suggests the rate of pub closures


is slowing down. 52 a week were shutting in 2009. Now it's 16 a


week. And six of those are in rural areas. But staff at the Area of


Outstanding Natural Beauty offices here are fighting back. A hundred


thousand pounds has been spent on creating 12 walks to and from pubs


so as to encourage visitors. Modern technology means the routes can


even be downloaded from beer mats. Tourism has a huge advantage for


the local economy here. Without it some local communities would not


exist anymore. Just around the corner from the Callow Hill - the


creators of some of the walks hope this glorious countryside will help


bring more tourists to the area and spend money in the pubs. It is so


important that the pubs stay alive. They are the focal point for the


community, whether it is a small one or the one down the hill here,


it is the focal point of the community. We want to get people


off the beaten track. There are walks down to valleys and strange


you would not know about and why she were following this route.


Shropshire Hills may be one of the most sparsely populated areas of


England but its pubs play an important part in keeping the


area's character - and its hoped this initiative will help preserve


that tradition. Thank you for your company - still


ahead. We're off to Hereford shirt were road-safety for otters is a


high priority. The forecasts model pushes it


further in our direction - will it be a white-out? How much no will we


get? -- so no. -- snow.


Doctors say they are seeing more spinal injuries as a result of


horse-riding accidents and rugby - and it has prompted a fresh safety


call today from one of our specialist hospitals. Medics there


recently treated Olympic showjumper Tim Stockdale after he suffered


multiple fractures to his neck. That has strengthened ties between


the hospital and British showjumping.


Ian Bolshaw is learning to walk again after being thrown from a new


horse who's trying out. His spinal cord was crushed and for five weeks


he was completely paralysed. He walked for the first time a few


days ago. At the time I had a riding hat on. As I landed on my


face, a helmet force my head back as my body followed onto my make. I


heard the crack straightaway. I knew I had done something serious.


He's one of a growing number of horse riders to be treated at the


leading Spinal injuries Centre in Oswestry, prompting a leading


consultant to speak out. If you look at the statistics 15 years ago,


it was rugby injuries. For the last five years or so it is horse riding


related to spinal injuries. I think the number of rugby injuries have


reduced because there has been a campaign which has been successful


I think. Olympic showjumper Tim Stockdale was treated at hospital


few months ago after he broke his neck in a riding accident. Like Ian


who we saw earlier, he too was on a new horse. He is now recovering and


managed to go to Olympia in December. Here at their equestrian


centre, the owner says safety is paramount. She takes it seriously


when riding indoors and went out eventing. Karen supports their


address of consultants to check saddle fitting and take extra care


when riding a new horse. Finding the right service to ride on - an


arena like this would be perfect and the horses less likely to take


off if he gets a fright. Back at the Spinal injuries Centre Ian is


learning to do everything again. British showjumping is supporting


the hospital, naming it as a chosen charity for 2012.


Aston Villa fans are still waiting for the first home win. Remember


5th November! In last night's Premier League football Aston Villa


rescued a point against Queen's Park Rangers while West Brom


manager Roy Hodgson made an emotional return to Fulham.


Villa Park has hardly been home sweet home for Aston Villa this


season. They'd lost four and drawn one of their previous five games


here and for 45 minutes this looked like another miserable night. QPR


only signed Djibril Cisse on Tuesday but it took him just six


minutes to get his first goal. Stephen Warnock has come close to


scoring own goals twice recently, biphenyl manager here to the


despair of himself and his manager. Just as the fans were gearing


themselves up to jeer, a slick passing move set-up Darren Bent's


hundred: The Premier League. Alex McLeish's half-time talk must have


been good. His players were transformed. Shots rained in on


Paddy Kenny's goal and several times Villa's players felt handball


had denied them. There was no denying Charles N'Zogbia. He has


taken a while to settle since his summer move but a stunning volley


brought him a first Villa goal and a vital point.


QPR probably couldn't believe their luck such was the generosity of the


goals we gave away. But they got the proverbial out in the second


half and it was a much better performance. I thought we could


have won it. Roy Hodgson spent three happy years at Fulham and led


them to a European final, so no wonder he got good reception on the


long walk across the Craven Cottage pitch to the dug-out. The game


which followed will not live long and in memory however, and only


really came to life in the last quarter. Clint Dempsey is in fine


goalscoring form and seemed to have given Fulham the points. But


Hodgson sent on Somen Tchoyi and the Cameroonian equalised eight


minutes from time. When escort work the end, you fear the worst, but we


got back into it. -- when they scored. We could have had a calmer


time but over 90 minutes the team paid well and we deserved the point.


The point lifts Albion eight points clear of the relegation zone.


She was a star aged 13 - and this weekend aged just 20, batsmen


Danielle Wyatt sets out on her England tour. Danielle is from


Stoke on Trent and is determined to make their today New Zealand a


winning one. -- their tour of New Zealand. It is not what you'd


expect from a cricket session, but if you're stuck indoors like


Danielle Wyatt you have got to be creative. And England's women have


to make every second count. These training days in Edgbaston are


vital. Danielle is just 20 but she is already an old hand, having made


her England debut two years ago. was planning my 21st our party


yesterday. I feel about 30 with all these tours, I have been in


Australia three times and I am only 20. She has been on the radar since


2004 when she made three consecutive centuries for


Staffordshire. But her next target is making the team for the upcoming


tour of new Zealand as the next 18 months includes the World Cup's in


20 and 50 or over cricket. We have a tough schedule coming up. This


tour is really important for us to gain momentum leading up to the


world tour in September. Every game now is important. Danielle has been


in the country a fortnight after 10 weeks playing state cricket in


Australia. She flies out to New Zealand and Sunday for a month. She


might work hard but she does not lack for winter sun. We don't get


winter sun! She is looking forward to it and says she is on Twitter if


you want to follow her on the tour. The take-off on Sunday. Good luck!


Back in the 1970s, they were on the brink of extinction, but otters can


be found in every river across England now. It is a remarkable


turnaround after major work to clean up the country's waterways.


Dangers still exist - particularly when otters attempt to cross the


road. However, help is at hand. Patrolling the A438 in Stretton


Sugwas in Herefordshire, Charles Pickles is on the lookout for


otters. Over the past few years this road between Hereford and


Brecon has become a Watership Down for otters. # Bright Eyes...


#. A number of otters have lost their lives on this road recently.


Each year in the UK more than 400 are killed on our roads, which is


where this comes in - it is an otter crossing. Built as part of


the flood defences, it gives the otters away to get safely across


the road. We had to put in a pipe to take a flood water down to the


River Wye so we had to close the main road. We use that opportunity


to put in this otter underpass. Otters are very clever. If AC a


convenient way of crossing the road, they will suss it out. It has been


proved in many places and already a lot of lives have been saved by


under passes. Signs are also being put up to warm waters that otters


are nearby. Charles and other nature lovers will patrol the


stretch of the road from time to time, making sure otters use their


own crossing. The flood scheme cost millions of pounds and the otter


scheme was just part of that, but if they can save their lives, it


will be money well spent. Otters are clever but I do not


think they can read signs just yet. Wild otters are very shy and the


when she saw there were rescued animals which were used to being


handled. -- used on there. Anyway how about the weather? A


battle of forces this weekend - it looks like the colder air will beat


looks like the colder air will beat the milder air which means there


could be a period of significant snowfall. The Met Office had issued


a yellow warning for an area of snow to cross the region on


Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, producing up to five


centimetres of snow. It will then turned to sleet and rain. That will


cause some ice on Saturday night which will be a problem. It is this


warm front which will bring the amen and then turn to snow when it


comes into contact with the cold air. We have a warm front -- we


have a warm front here. Temperatures will start to pick up


towards their end of the week. It will be even colder tonight than


last night. Temperatures will plummet to-nine Celsius in some


cases. Clear skies with light winds. A severe frost tonight, very cold


indeed. Temperatures pick up well by tomorrow. Just above freezing.


That frost will gradually disappear as temperatures pick up. A fine and


sunny day. Dry up also. The cloud starts to move towards the east.


Tomorrow night things start to change and cloud rolls in from the


West. For the weekend we start to see snow on Saturday.


A look at tonight's main headlines: Prince William is in the Falklands


- and into a diplomatic row between Argentina and Britain.


And a third of the households in the region living fuel poverty -


Download Subtitles