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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight:
Police admit there is rising gang tension in Wolverhampton after
three shootings in 24 hours. We are tackling the gang members and we
expect to make arrests in the coming weeks.
Friends try to raise �50,000 to pay the medical bill of a holidaymaker
badly injured in the Canadian snow. Our town needs help, an MP's plea
after major job losses hit Kidderminster.
And Jamaican star Asafa Powell is in town to prove he is still a
force in world sprinting Good evening. It is always a
pleasure for me to go somewhere and do something really special,
especially when I am in the UK. Good evening. Welcome to Friday's
programme. Three shootings in 24 hours in the
same city. One man is in hospital after being shot in the legs as
gang tensions rise. The separate incidents happened across three
neighbouring areas of Wolverhampton and police say, as a precaution,
extra officers are on duty. We have been talking to those working with
youngsters to keep them out of trouble. The shooting in Whitmore
Reans was followed soon afterwards by another in Monsal Avenue in Park
Village. This is the third shooting in a single city and a single day.
I would say, in terms of reassurance, we believe these are
gang members shooting at a gang members. This is not likely to
involve a normal members of the public. We are tackling those gang
members. We have armed police responding to them on the streets
and we expect to make arrests in the coming days. A shot was fired
at a house. No-one was hurt. And then yesterday lunchtime, a third
incident in Showell Road in Low Hill. Again, shots fired at an
address, no-one injured. But a side from these other incidents, there
were two other shootings, one in this neighbourhood, last Friday, as
a wake took place, which some say was connected to a local gang. This
is a dispute about territory and respect. This charity is one of the
several groups trying to get peace back on the streets and they say it
is tense. We are trying to calm things down and resolve the
situation with the various groups. Very stressful, clearly. We were
about their safety and the public's as well. The local MP says that
cool heads must prevail over the weekend. There will be an increased
police presence in the city. I have spoken to the local authority about
this and I think it is the case that we need to all pull together
now to make sure that this violence does not escalate any further.
is tit-for-tat and it is targeted. But for many it is far too close to
home. Police arrested two 18-year-old men.
They remain in custody tonight. And officers are urging any witnesses
to contact Force CID at Bloxwich police station.
Still ahead tonight: Reaction from Stoke City after a Spanish wonder
goal leaves their Europa League hopes hanging in the balance.
She almost died from horrific injuries. Sara Baker broke her back
while snowboarding in Canada. But the 30-year-old from Birmingham is
now facing huge costs if she is to return home for rehabilitation. She
discovered that her travel insurance had expired, so a
campaign has been started here to raise up to �100,000 to bring her
home in a specially-adapted air ambulance.
This was the moment Sara Baker knew she would survive. In difficult
conditions, rescuers landed on a glacier to treat the 30-year-old
after she lost control of her snow board. The edge at the bottom of
the cliff was a big pit. It was pretty much a 20 ft drop. Sara
needed surgery to repair crushed vertebrae and she almost severed
her spine. Whistler is a popular resort and Sara was there helping
to set-up a restaurant with a friend. But her travel insurance
had expired. She will have to pay around �50,000 in medical costs, as
well as an emergency flight home. Back in Birmingham, her friends are
trying to raise money. She thought she had an annual policy, a silly
mistake. We have all done it before. We all need to make sure that the
debt travel insurance and that it is valid, because no one would
expect a �50,000 bill. Sara's family are with her at her bedside.
I am just devastated. I feared the worst. All I wanted to do was jump
on a plane and get here to be with her. I cannot think people enough
for all of the support that they have given me. I never experienced
pain at like this ever before. While there is a good chance Sara
will walk again after months of rehab, she has been told there's a
possibility she will not be able to have children.
And you will find more information on the campaign to raise cash for
Sara on the Midlands Today Facebook page.
A concrete block was dropped from a bridge over a busy road, hitting a
passing car in Telford. The incident happened just before 10
last night on the A442 at the Wombridge Interchange. The driver,
a 23-year-old man from Worcester, suffered bruised ribs after the
block hit his car. A 25-year-old man filmed driving
the wrong way along a busy dual carriageway as his friends cheered
from the roadside has been banned from the road for three years and
given a suspended jail term. Steven McInulty, from Coventry, admitted
dangerous driving and driving whilst disqualified. He was filmed
in Coleshill, Warwickshire by a group of young people gathered on a
grass verge. We heard earlier this week that
nearly a quarter of a million people are out of work in the West
Midlands. And the impact is being keenly felt in Kidderminster. Today,
the local MP said the Worcestershire town needs to
attract bigger businesses to stabilise its economy. His call
follows the announcement of 250 job losses at just two firms in the
Kidderminster, like many places, is feeling the effects of the
recession. Empty shops litter the town as the number of its residents
who are unemployed continues to rise. Sadly, the outlook for
Kidderminster does not look that bright. In October, a luxury
boatbuilder cut 37 jobs. Now they have announced 72 or more are to go.
That is about one-quarter of their entire workforce. And that news
comes as one of Kidderminster's other main employers has plans to
cut its workforce by 150 people. But companies say that the Job
losses are necessary to maintain the long-term future of their
businesses. Kidderminster has the highest unemployment anywhere in
Worcestershire. So what can be done? According to Mark Garnier,
the town's MP the answer is simple, bigger businesses. We need to
create a vision for the town and the district that says that if you
wanted to make carpets 20 years ago you could only come to
Kidderminster. We need to say that if you need to you this or that you
need to come to Kidderminster. People pay -- the owners of this
business have been set up since 1995 and they employed many people.
Last year they had a turnover of a quarter of a million pounds.
can never have too many small businesses. They are the heart of
Kidderminster. Small manufacturers will hopefully grow into medium-
sized and larger businesses. Business has got to start somewhere.
With more than one in 20 people unemployed in the town, new
businesses are desperately needed. Now the challenge is to persuade
them to come. Leading businessman Digby Lord
Jones has ruled himself out of the race to become Birmingham's first
elected mayor because he thinks it will be a job without any real
power. Lord Jones has told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme
that to make any major political impact, the mayor needs to be in
charge of the whole West Midlands region. This fabulous opportunity,
this moment when we could change Birmingham and the West Midlands
forever, if we do not lift our ambitions up to the horizons of the
West Midlands as opposed to just Birmingham, we will really miss a
trick because we have got to get around the world selling the West
Midlands. It is bigger than Scotland. We have so many
challengers and people who live in the West Midlands and they do not
differentiate about where they live and work. They are in a group
together and I think it should be a mayor of the West Midlands were
frankly it will fail. A referendum on whether or not to
have elected mayors will be held in both Birmingham and Coventry in May.
But while Lord Jones claims the role doesn't go far enough, critics
say it would actually concentrate too much power in too few hands.
Here is our Political Editor. They said yes to an elected mayor
in Stoke-on-Trent, Ali to vote No six years later. -- only to vote No
six years later. And despite step's epic drama, the man who burst do
the job here says it is time for Birmingham and Coventry to update
their local government. The if you are running Stoke City football
club, I do not think they would say it would be better if it was run by
a committee. We have leaders and that is why organisations succeed.
Voters will be asked to choose whether to retain the council
leader system or replace it with a 10 or Boris figure.
There are questions. What should be the powers of the mayor? Economic
regeneration is the Government's big idea, along with things like
housing and transport. But what would the councillors do?
Scrutinise the Meyer, of course, but also probably speak up for
their own local areas, which in turn leads to the question of
localism. How could the Meyer keep close to local communities well at
the same time acting as a champion for the City and the wider world?
Coventry's council has overwhelmingly voted against the
idea. There is no indication from citizens that that is what they
want. We could have a further election in November which would
cost us �130,000. Elected mayors Macey -- may seem a more American
or presidential. Here, November 15th will bring elections for
elected mayors potentially amongst other things, and that could be our
super Thursday. And Patrick joins us now. Does Lord
Jones have a point? It will be a position without real power?
The answer to that is that, to some extent, the job would be what the
candidate he was successful made of it. They will have an opportunity
during this campaign to sell to the electorate some extra powers beyond
the defined powers that the Government have set up. There is
the opportunity for the job to be moulded to a specific requirement.
Lord Jones is used to the business world. Politicians will say it is
about a politician -- persuading and bargaining. Peps we know about
-- we know about the referendums. What do you think the public mood
We could not find out in the streets to find many people talking
about the lord mayor on a Friday night, but political watchers think
that this city will deliver more voters than Coventry.
Thank you very much. And there will be more on elected
mayors on the Sunday Politics, from noon on BBC1 High streets may be
suffering in these times of austerity, but research suggests
our traditional markets are doing better.
More than half the market traders questioned in this region say
they're doing well and have suffered no loss of sales despite
the economic downturn. Bilston market in the Black Country,
still a focal point of the community. I'd just like the
atmosphere. It is still as good as the -- as it has always been.
very competitive. There are a lot of bargains around. Like most
markets it has a reputation for cheap goods, and many of the 150 or
so stall holders here say that is why business is still brisk.
think it your GP that he will take money. You have got to be cheap. --
if you are cheap that you will get money. You have got to be cheap.
A report has found that traders believe that 43 % - a row that 43 %
of traders believe that sales -- believe that traders... There are
less people coming out to the market. It might be the way they
are brought up or because of online shopping. Looking around, it is
true. Most of the shoppers are middle-aged or older. A if you
start easing -- losing the younger people then there will be eight
times that the older generation will pass on you. -- there will be
a time. It still appears that of many markets are holding their own.
Still to come on the programme: We're live in Telford as the spirit
of the Olympics lights up a lantern parade.
And temperatures reached a balmy12 Celsius in parts of the Midlands
today. The cold looks like staging a comeback during this weekend...
But for how long? Join me for all It's time for sport with Dan, with
football and athletics dominating the agenda tonight.
Stoke City have it all to do if they are to progress further in the
Europa League after losing the home leg last night. They lost 1-nil to
Valencia due to a stunning first half goal. And with the away leg to
come next week Stoke will now need to spring a real surprise to reach
the last 16. Just 50 hardy souls made the trip.
Mind you, when you come from southern Spain, a grey night in the
Potteries doesn't feel like a holiday. But Valencia's fans knew
they were following a classy side. Stoke fans were just hoping they
could raise a few eyebrows and cause a shock. But it soon became
clear Stoke were up against it. Goalkeeper Asmir Begavic had to
produce a fine save to keep Stoke level. But there was nothing he
could do when midfielder Mehmet Topal let fly. This was a truly
stunning effort. Stoke were left to feed on scraps of possession but
Peter Crouch nearly equalised in stunning fashion. But they had to
ride their luck after the break the post and Begavic's hell keeping
Valencia at bay. Stoke were kept at arms length for most of the game.
Ryan Shotton's deflected shot was their best effort on target. So now
Stoke City know they are really up against a class side. The good news
is they are only one goal down. do not think we played our best
tonight. We'd done OK. Hopefully we will get a win on the back of
Crawley. Now we have been up against them we will do better next
time. Never giving up hope, never. I am looking forward to Crawley on
Sunday. Second leg, maybe get a goal, extra time. I had been
watching this team for over 50 years so I know what it is like.
You do not give up hope on anything. Stoke will have 2,300 fans cheering
them on in Valencia next week. On the evidence of last night they
will need them to be in good voice. I think that for the first 50
minutes Stoborough great and everybody appreciated what a great
goal that first one was. -- Stoke were agreed. There was a bit of
pressure. I think the atmosphere never really kicked on because
Valencia was so good. It was a fight to the death.
Stoke are playing Crawley this weekend. Valencia will be playing
Barcelona. The Birmingham City manager Chris
Hughton is promising to put everything into pulling off an FA
Cup shock at Chelsea tomorrow. They are up against it as main strikers
Nikola Zigic and Marlon King will both miss the game because of
injury. But the manager is keen to make it a day to remember for
players and fans alike. It Wiz -- I think it is one that has filled us
with excitement. We are going to be going down to the quality of what
Chelsea have. We have 3,000 supporters going and they have been
wonderful on the road for us this season. It is one I am looking
forward to. Former Blues boss Steve Bruce today
made his pitch for the vacant manager's job at Wolves Bruce, who
was sacked by Sunderland in November, is on the interview
shortlist to replace Mick McCarthy at Molineux, with the club
insisting they are on course to have a new manager before their
next game at Newcastle. The bookies favourite for the post remains Alan
Curbishley. One of the world's fastest men
breezed into Birmingham today and promised athletics fans something
special at the National Indoor Arena this weekend. The Jamaican
sprinter Asafa Powell has been talking to Ian Winter. Slowly he
amble along, but do not be fooled, he is quite quick. The last time he
was in Birmingham he said a record at the Alexander Stadium. -- set a
record. I always try to do something special when I am in the
UK. They love me and I love the crowd as well. And you are going to
be back here in the summer for the training camp to London 2012.
is a start. It is a kind of a teaser for the upcoming Olympics.
Tomorrow, over 60 metres, he will be one of the biggest attractions
at the Grand Prix. The next will be Mo Ferre, who won the 5,000 metres
in Birmingham next -- bustier, and went on to be world champion.
His run last year brought the indoor arena to its feet. Not on
the debt he said a new European record, but he also knocked 10
seconds of a British record that stood for 29 years. It was really
dead. That record had been there for a while and then I broke it. --
that was really good. How conscious of you -- of the crowd are you?
is going to be good. The Olympics is just 161 days away, so now it is
getting serious. It promises to be another great
meeting. And there will be full coverage of
the athletics on BBC 1 and BBC West Midlands tomorrow afternoon and on
the BBC sport website. No excuse for missing it.
The Olympic Torch arrives in our region on Wednesday May 23, with an
overnight stop in Cheltenham. And, as excitement starts to build, a
special lantern procession is being held tonight in Telford with an
Olympic Torch bearer leading the way. Joanne Writtle is there for us
now, Joanne. As you can see, hundreds of people
have turned out here tonight. They are here for the parade in Telford.
The event kicks off a month of celebrations to mark the Olympics
and Paralympics, and one, the guests of honour is a particularly
special teenager. Sarah Thomas will be an official Olympic torch bearer.
Her nomination came about because she is a carer and she acts as a
mouthpiece for others who are carers. She has been described as a
true inspiration. Sarah Thomas has spent most of her
18 years caring for her mother who has multiple sclerosis. Learning
she was going to be an Olympic torch bearer left her speech was
also a up I cannot even remember my reaction. I was -- speechless. I
cannot even remember my reaction. From an early age, Sarah Laird
domestic tasks, and also does charity work. It is like our roles
have been reversed. She is the mum and she tells me what to do and
advises me. But being different has had its drawbacks. When I was in
primary school I got quite badly bullied because people would see my
mother in a scooter and think of weakness. I asked a friend, Wyken
your mother walk? -- why is your mother able to walk? I could see
that my mother could not walk and struggled more and other people
went to work and did not struggle. She met the Prime Minister as part
of her campaign work, lobbying for the needs of young carers. Every
week, she also volunteers at this market selling products for
disabled people. I do not dislike anything I do. I enjoy volunteering
and looking after mum and going to college and hopping my dad to an
extent. I do not find any of a hardship. I think most for young
carers would say the same thing. She is also working with her dad
who is also suffering from a ditch and a tray of -- degenerative
disease. And Sarah joins us now.
Congratulations on being named a torch bearer. You must be very
proud? A thank you very much. Yes, I am proud. What does it mean to
you? It was a complete surprise when I was told and it is such a
massive once-in-a-lifetime thing that I cannot even fathom the
meaning of it. It is amazing. had a number of nominations. You
even got one from a complete stranger who might you on a train.
You obviously create quite an impression. I must have done
somehow. We are friends now. It was such a surreal experience just to
be nominated who only knew my name and my college. They must have
known a little bit more! What does it mean to your parents? I know
that they are both very proud. I know that mum and dad have always
helped me with my charity work and I know they are really happy about
it. They did not lick -- like keeping it a secret from me. I
think they are proud parents. sure that they are a. Have a
marvellous time. Had a good night and think you for talking with us.
-- have such a good night and thank Now for a look at the weather. I
think you will barely have time to reach for the thermostat before the
mild air comes back again. A mild start to the weekend and then a
spell of squally rain tomorrow. Then it will turn briefly cold. A
mild start to the weekend and staying very mild this evening.
There will be some cloud that will produce the odd spit and spot of
drizzle. Temperatures will drop no lower than six or seven Celsius.
The mild air his burly -- firmly in place for tomorrow morning. There
is a dividing line between mild air and some much colder air coming in
from the North West. There are going to -- is going to be some
very heavy rain in some areas tomorrow, a company by some very
strong winds. Some places will brighten up but the cold air will
flood in from the North. It will feel quite chilly and quite fresh.
With the cold air continuing to dig its heels in, tomorrow night will
see a widespread frost. That could give as a bed of a problem with ice
as we go into Sunday morning. - regarded as a bit of a problem. --
give us a bit of a problem with ice as we go into Sunday morning. The
cold air will not last. The mild air will return with the south-
westerly winds. It will turn more unsettled but the cold will return
just briefly. A look at tonight's main headlines:
A look at tonight's main headlines: Rupert Murdoch confirms plans for a
new newspaper, saying the Sun on Sunday will launch very soon. And