02/02/2012 Midlands Today


02/02/2012

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

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The headlines tonight: A third of the households in the

:00:08.:00:12.

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

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

:00:15.:00:20.

are dying. Powering ahead - Jaguar Land Rover

:00:20.:00:25.

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

:00:25.:00:29.

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

:00:29.:00:37.

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

:00:37.:00:41.

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

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

:00:45.:00:54.
:00:55.:01:00.

otters dodging traffic on a busy Good evening and welcome to

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

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

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

:01:13.:01:19.

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

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

:01:22.:01:27.

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

:01:27.:01:30.

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

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reports. Margaret Gale, from Bell Green in

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

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

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

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

:01:45.:01:55.
:01:55.:01:57.

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

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

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

:02:09.:02:19.
:02:19.:02:22.

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

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

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

:02:31.:02:34.

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

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

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

:02:41.:02:44.

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

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

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

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

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

:02:59.:03:04.

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

:03:04.:03:08.

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

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

:03:14.:03:19.

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

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

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

:03:29.:03:35.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:04:25.:04:35.
:04:35.:04:37.

though this region had the worst fuel poverty in England.

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

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

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income and inefficient houses. you also mention prices. Companies

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have been making huge profits and prices until recently have been

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

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

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constantly arguing and questioning of the levels of prices that energy

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

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

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

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

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

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watching tonight you cannot pay fuel bills and they are getting

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

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

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

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

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that and it can help you keep your home warmer.

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

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

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

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claim is having serious Some positive news now for young

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

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

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

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

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

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

:06:59.:07:09.
:07:09.:07:10.

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

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500 new apprenticeships were announced an Walsall just this week.

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

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businesses and colleges about apprenticeships. One company, one

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

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taking on a record number of apprentices.

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

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:07:43.:07:46.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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people have already registered an interest in the apprentice scheme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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act as apprenticeship ambassadors to schools and colleges. The

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

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

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

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

:09:16.:09:21.

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

:09:21.:09:25.

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

:09:25.:09:34.

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

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

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

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

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that will be keen to make apprenticeships that successful. It

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is worth emphasising that apprenticeships offered good

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recruitment opportunities for companies to take on board young

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

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

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

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

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

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colleges are experienced in selecting young people and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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care there. The Accident & Emergency department is currently

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closed overnight, and campaigners have called on him to make

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

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

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Paduano. It might not sound like it, but

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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distinction between hospital and doctors in the community. That is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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forward, ensure a much greater level of accountability of staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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pub-goers. The splendour of the Shropshire

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

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

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this area of outstanding national beautiful stop their remoteness is

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

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

:13:57.:14:07.
:14:07.:14:12.

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

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

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fuel. Research just published suggests the rate of pub closures

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

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

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Outstanding Natural Beauty offices here are fighting back. A hundred

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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England but its pubs play an important part in keeping the

:15:36.:15:39.

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

:15:39.:15:49.
:15:49.:15:50.

that tradition. Thank you for your company - still

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

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high priority. The forecasts model pushes it

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

:16:06.:16:16.
:16:16.:16:19.

get? -- so no. -- snow.

:16:19.:16:22.

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

:16:22.:16:25.

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

:16:25.:16:27.

call today from one of our specialist hospitals. Medics there

:16:27.:16:29.

recently treated Olympic showjumper Tim Stockdale after he suffered

:16:29.:16:32.

multiple fractures to his neck. That has strengthened ties between

:16:32.:16:35.

the hospital and British showjumping.

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

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

:16:44.:16:47.

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

:16:48.:16:57.
:16:58.:17:00.

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

:17:00.:17:08.

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

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

:17:14.:17:17.

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

:17:17.:17:19.

leading Spinal injuries Centre in Oswestry, prompting a leading

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

:17:26.:17:32.

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

:17:32.:17:38.

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

:17:38.:17:42.

reduced because there has been a campaign which has been successful

:17:42.:17:45.

I think. Olympic showjumper Tim Stockdale was treated at hospital

:17:45.:17:49.

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

:17:49.:17:53.

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

:17:54.:18:01.

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

:18:01.:18:07.

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

:18:07.:18:13.

when riding indoors and went out eventing. Karen supports their

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address of consultants to check saddle fitting and take extra care

:18:17.:18:23.

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

:18:23.:18:28.

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

:18:28.:18:33.

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

:18:33.:18:38.

learning to do everything again. British showjumping is supporting

:18:38.:18:48.
:18:48.:18:53.

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

:18:53.:18:58.

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

:18:58.:19:03.

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

:19:03.:19:05.

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

:19:05.:19:10.

manager Roy Hodgson made an emotional return to Fulham.

:19:10.:19:13.

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

:19:13.:19:17.

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

:19:17.:19:20.

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

:19:20.:19:23.

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

:19:23.:19:28.

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

:19:28.:19:30.

scoring own goals twice recently, biphenyl manager here to the

:19:30.:19:40.
:19:40.:19:41.

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

:19:41.:19:43.

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

:19:43.:19:46.

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

:19:46.:19:48.

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

:19:48.:19:51.

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

:19:51.:19:54.

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

:19:54.:19:57.

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

:19:57.:20:05.

brought him a first Villa goal and a vital point.

:20:05.:20:08.

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

:20:08.:20:14.

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

:20:14.:20:17.

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

:20:17.:20:24.

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

:20:24.:20:28.

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

:20:28.:20:31.

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

:20:31.:20:34.

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

:20:34.:20:37.

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

:20:37.:20:40.

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

:20:40.:20:42.

Hodgson sent on Somen Tchoyi and the Cameroonian equalised eight

:20:42.:20:50.

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

:20:50.:20:56.

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

:20:56.:21:02.

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

:21:02.:21:05.

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

:21:05.:21:09.

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

:21:09.:21:19.
:21:19.:21:22.

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

:21:22.:21:30.

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

:21:30.:21:34.

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

:21:34.:21:37.

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

:21:37.:21:40.

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

:21:40.:21:47.

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

:21:47.:21:51.

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

:21:51.:21:59.

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

:21:59.:22:04.

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

:22:04.:22:08.

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

:22:08.:22:10.

2004 when she made three consecutive centuries for

:22:10.:22:13.

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

:22:13.:22:17.

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

:22:17.:22:27.
:22:27.:22:28.

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

:22:28.:22:32.

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

:22:33.:22:38.

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

:22:38.:22:41.

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

:22:41.:22:45.

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

:22:45.:22:52.

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

:22:52.:22:58.

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

:22:58.:23:07.

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

:23:07.:23:10.

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

:23:11.:23:13.

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

:23:14.:23:16.

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

:23:16.:23:19.

Dangers still exist - particularly when otters attempt to cross the

:23:19.:23:23.

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

:23:23.:23:25.

Sugwas in Herefordshire, Charles Pickles is on the lookout for

:23:25.:23:32.

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

:23:32.:23:42.
:23:42.:23:52.

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

:23:52.:24:01.

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

:24:02.:24:07.

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

:24:07.:24:13.

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

:24:13.:24:16.

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

:24:16.:24:23.

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

:24:23.:24:27.

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

:24:27.:24:34.

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

:24:34.:24:39.

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

:24:39.:24:44.

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

:24:44.:24:49.

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

:24:49.:24:53.

are nearby. Charles and other nature lovers will patrol the

:24:53.:24:58.

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

:24:58.:25:04.

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

:25:04.:25:09.

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

:25:09.:25:15.

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

:25:15.:25:22.

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

:25:22.:25:27.

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

:25:27.:25:37.
:25:37.:25:39.

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

:25:39.:25:44.

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

:25:44.:25:46.

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

:25:46.:25:52.

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

:25:53.:25:57.

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

:25:57.:26:00.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, producing up to five

:26:00.:26:06.

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

:26:06.:26:12.

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

:26:12.:26:17.

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

:26:17.:26:22.

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

:26:22.:26:27.

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

:26:27.:26:32.

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

:26:32.:26:36.

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

:26:36.:26:46.
:26:46.:26:48.

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

:26:48.:26:54.

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

:26:55.:27:00.

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

:27:00.:27:07.

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

:27:07.:27:10.

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

:27:10.:27:17.

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

:27:17.:27:26.

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

:27:26.:27:29.

- and into a diplomatic row between Argentina and Britain.

:27:29.:27:32.

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

:27:32.:27:33.

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