28/02/2012 Midlands Today


28/02/2012

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Good evening and welcome to Tuesday's Midlands Today from the

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BBC. Signs of recovery as a multi- million-pound plan his announced

:00:13.:00:18.

for Staffordshire. With the right quality brights there is a real

:00:18.:00:28.
:00:28.:00:31.

opportunity. Jail for a con man. said, what sort of blind to you

:00:32.:00:36.

want? He hadn't even told the court. -- porch.

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Syrian exile's here wait anxiously for news of friends and family.

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And primary school parents, furious as they had teacher takes a week

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

off in term time for a holiday. -- Good evening. Tonight: a group of

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investors from Staffordshire announce multi-million pound plans

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for a factory which would see a revival of truck building in the

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Midlands. They've embarked upon a partnership with a firm owned by

:01:10.:01:13.

the powerful Indian manufacturers the Hinduja Group. It's envisaged

:01:13.:01:16.

trucks will be built at a new factory in Longton in Stoke on

:01:16.:01:20.

Trent, potentially creating hundreds of jobs. There are over

:01:20.:01:23.

90,000 people employed at vehicle manufacturers and within the supply

:01:23.:01:26.

chain in the West Midlands The industry accounts for 5% of the

:01:26.:01:31.

regions jobs. And it's estimated that 40% of all foreign direct

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investment is in the automotive sector. Our Staffordshire reporter

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Liz Copper has this exclusive report.

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This is the first long dinner truck. It is a market -- market makers

:01:50.:01:54.

hope will be recognised worldwide. It is being built in Prague in the

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Czech Republic but will be sought - - sold by a consortium of

:01:58.:02:02.

businessmen from Staffordshire. British manufacturing is not dead.

:02:02.:02:05.

We are making more vehicles are in the UK than we have done for many

:02:05.:02:11.

years, and this is part of the revival to stop so there is hope.

:02:11.:02:16.

The long contract has been developed in construction with

:02:16.:02:24.

Leyland apart of the Indian owned Hinduja. They are teaming up with

:02:24.:02:27.

British entrepreneurs and designers. The name Lord Pym was selected to

:02:27.:02:32.

reflect not just the origins of its investors, but also to appeal

:02:32.:02:38.

specifically to the UK market. found that the brand recognition

:02:38.:02:43.

for long pin in the UK had a British connotation to it. And in

:02:43.:02:48.

general, a believe that the Stoke- on-Trent has an long history of

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engineering pedigree in the UK. Prague is a city renowned for its

:02:54.:02:59.

cultural and historic importance. It also has a rich manufacturing

:02:59.:03:03.

and industrial heritage. It will be the manufacturing centre for this

:03:03.:03:07.

new venture for the next months. Initially all the tracks would be

:03:07.:03:10.

made in the Czech Republic, but there are well advanced plans for a

:03:10.:03:17.

new factory in Stoke-on-Trent. So although Prague will continue to be

:03:17.:03:21.

the production centre initially, eventually, it is hoped long can it

:03:21.:03:26.

will be the location for a new UK factory. This is a town that has

:03:26.:03:30.

seen the demise of some traditional industries and has a higher than I

:03:30.:03:34.

care -- average unemployment rate. Already they have a sales and

:03:34.:03:39.

distribution base, they are now looking for a site for an assembly

:03:39.:03:44.

plant. It is our ambition to start assembly as soon as we can make it

:03:44.:03:49.

viable in the UK, and to take on apprentices and use the skills

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there and have them passed on. There is a danger some of the

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skills might die out. Those long term ambitions could be supported

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by the most recent sales figures for trucks. Industry insiders say

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the market is growing. Entering any new market is to challenge but

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there are great opportunities. It is a recovering market. I think

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with the right investment and quality product so there is a real

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opportunity here. As it emerges into the market it faces

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competition from well established truck makers. But it is hoped this

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newcomer will herald more success for the Midlands automotive

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industry. Let's talk now to Jane Gratton,

:04:33.:04:36.

from North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce - this sounds very good

:04:36.:04:44.

news, potentially hundreds of jobs? Yes, this is really good news the

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North Staffordshire and Stoke-on- Trent. It has the potential to

:04:47.:04:52.

bring a couple of hundred much needed jobs, new skills, taking on

:04:52.:04:56.

apprentices, and wealth creation in this area. For me, it is it a

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really good sign of increasing confident in North Staffordshire as

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a centre for manufacturing. What difference to think this could make

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to the area? I think it will help to boost an already thriving

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manufacturing centre. -- sector. We had already announced a �32 million

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of investment in manufacturing plants from local companies, and

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the businesses I'm talking to around and about the area are

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saying that they have increasing confident now to bring forward the

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investment plans they may have postponed during the recession. We

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are seen a run -- rebalancing of the economy towards making things

:05:40.:05:46.

again, and this is a positive sign. He does sound encouraging. What

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more can you do as a chamber to try and get businesses to relocate to

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Stoke and North Staffordshire? put together with our partners some

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measures. We call it our red carpet treatment. But also, with

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universities, we have a very strong support package to look at research

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and development, innovation, design, production and exporting. There

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really is a strong support network, including a thriving manufacturing

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group, where businesses are helping each other to be successful at

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manufacturing. Thank you. And on Midlands Today tomorrow, we'll have

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a special report on an important landmark for Solihull based Land

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Rover. Still to come this evening: Getting

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empty houses back on the property ladder, but will it work?

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I am alive at Port Vale with the latest on their financial problems

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as they battle to stay out of administration. He tricked elderly

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people out of thousands of pounds for building work which was never

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completed or even started. Tonight, rogue builder Antony Mander is

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starting a prison sentence after pleading guilty to obtaining money

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by deception. Mander conned 17 elderly residents

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in Staffordshire out of more than �100,000, convincing them that

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building work needed to be carried out on their homes and getting the

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:07:16.:07:19.

money upfront. Ben Godfrey reports. Hiding his shame, this is 15-year-

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old builder Antony Mander, described in court as a Perpetual

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conman. -- 15-year-old. He spent three years conning pensioners

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living alone. Sid Bloor's aunt is in her eighties. She paid Mander

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for a new porch. As her husband had just died - he promised to complete

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it by the time she returned from the funeral. He didn't bother. He

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tricked her out of around �25,000. She hardly goes out now because of

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parasite like him. He had �1,000 per been in the loft, don't know

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what he did, but he didn't do anything. He would chances like,

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touting for even the smallest bit of business. He would always ask

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for cash up front, and then come back asking for more expensive work

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to be taken on. The problem is that we didn't return to do the job.

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Such was his desperation, he then drove some of his victims to a

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cashpoint. Today, he was sentenced to three years and nine months

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after admitting 29 counts of fraud. He's a repeat offender, with

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previous convictions for deception. He has convictions dating back to

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the 1980s. The law doesn't give us the power to ban people from

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trading. If somebody continues to a friend, then we investigate the new

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allegations. Trading Standards officials believe Mander tricked

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his victims out of more than �100,000. Absolutely despicable. He

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ripped me off for five grand. He is supposed to have done a garage

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conversion than he did half the work, even sent me an invoice the

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�6,000. Mander told his victims he was a straight and honest builder.

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They left court in the knowledge that he's gambled their savings

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away on betting websites. The mental health support given to

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an "exceptional" student found hanged from a tree was "woeful", a

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coroner said today. Melissa Martin Hughes, who was 18, was found

:09:20.:09:23.

hanged by a passer-by next to a children's playground in a park in

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Cheltenham. The death of Melissa, who was

:09:28.:09:31.

predicted to get top grades in her A-level exams, was described by her

:09:31.:09:34.

family as a "tragedy" which will "not easily fade". Andrew Plant

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reports. Melissa Martin-Hughes was found

:09:40.:09:49.

hanged in a park in Cheltenham in 2010. Added inquest into her death,

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her parents said they had made it repeated requests to get

:09:52.:09:57.

professional help for their teenage daughter. But her case simply

:09:57.:10:03.

slipped through the system. She was a complex, beautiful daughter who

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brought great joy to us all, and we miss her complex -- constantly.

:10:10.:10:14.

would like to say that it goes without saying we feel let down by

:10:14.:10:24.
:10:24.:10:29.

the system. Melissa had made a cry for help in August 2009. It was

:10:29.:10:32.

then that she was seen by a crisis team - run by the 2gether NHS

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Foundation Trust in Gloucestershire - there to help with suicidal

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feelings. But because of an administrative error, Melissa was

:10:37.:10:40.

never seen by professionals again. By the time Melissa died, she had

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had no contact with a mental health services are more than seven months,

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and during that time had become more and more withdrawn. It was,

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said the coroner, in retrospect, an opportunity to help her that was

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missed. She did not receive a package of care and support that

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was intended, and didn't have the opportunity to engage with our

:10:59.:11:03.

service. Following her death, we undertook a full investigation and

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identified a number of shortcomings in the service were provided to her.

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Melissa had recently passed her exams with the highest possible

:11:10.:11:14.

grades, and secured a place at a top university to study chemistry.

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Her headmaster said she was a brilliant and exceptional people

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who would never be forgotten. -- people.

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Police in Coventry have sealed off an area of woodland after human

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remains were found there. A member of the public made the discovery at

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Wainbody Wood on Sunday. Forensic experts are now examining the

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remains while officers carry out further searches of the surrounding

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area. Three teenagers have been charged

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with arson following a fire at a school in Sutton Coldfield.

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Firefighters were called to the blaze at John Willmott school late

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on Sunday night. Police have now charged a 19 year-old woman, a 14

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year-old boy and a 14 year-old girl with arson, criminal damage, and

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burglary. As our television screens are

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dominated daily by scenes of appalling violence in Syria, it's

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particularly distressing for Syrian exiles living here in the Midlands.

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They're desperately trying to get word of their friends and relatives

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and spread the news of just how serious things have become in their

:12:13.:12:23.
:12:23.:12:27.

Four thousand miles from home, Abdul Omar sits down to watch the

:12:27.:12:30.

battle for Syria. There are times he and his extended family in

:12:30.:12:34.

Wolverhampton want to despair, but how would that help. They have been

:12:34.:12:41.

times when I have sat outside the embassy and screamed my head off.

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But unfortunately, you come back to the real world, thinking, that does

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not really help. Abdul works with opposition groups - this morning a

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colleague in Homs is telling him about violence overnight. I would

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not call it decent size, but you realise it is not the time to mourn

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any more. The morning you do on your own time. The United Nations

:13:11.:13:13.

has called for an immediate ceasefire but there's no sign of

:13:13.:13:16.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime relenting.. Nadia was raised in

:13:16.:13:23.

Stafford but she's half Syrian and lived in Damascus for two years.

:13:23.:13:28.

have seen videos of people I have known who have been murdered, and

:13:28.:13:33.

places that have been destroyed. It is unimaginable. You cannot escape

:13:33.:13:37.

it. In Coventry, another exile's made it his job to gather reports

:13:37.:13:41.

of killings and shellings and pass them to the media. But there's a

:13:41.:13:44.

price to pay - his elderly mother disagrees with what he's doing, and

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:13:54.:14:01.

no longer speaks to him. Even my brother here is scared to

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come in my house. In Syria, no one talks with me now. Next month marks

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the anniversary of a conflict seemingly far from over, and the

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:14:22.:14:25.

pain's felt far and wide. Primary school parents are angry their

:14:25.:14:28.

headteacher's been allowed to take a holiday during term time, when

:14:28.:14:31.

they aren't allowed to do the same. Parents have been told they could

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be fined �100 if they take their children out of school without

:14:34.:14:38.

permission from the head. Cath Mackie reports. It was a normal

:14:38.:14:41.

school day at Woodlands primary school in Telford. But among the

:14:41.:14:44.

children and members of staff, there was a notable absence. The

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headteacher - who's gone on holiday. Angry parents told us that John

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Demmerling has taken his children with him - something the school

:14:53.:14:58.

refused to confirm. He is the role model for the school. He is the

:14:58.:15:04.

bond supposed to be put in the and scented to the children. We are not

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allowed to. We found it rather shocking can quite disturbing.

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he has been working solidly, then why not? The school moved to this

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new site in January. It was agreed that staff who worked extra days

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could take time off in lieu - as to pay them the extra would have been

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too costly. In the run-up to the move, he worked the entire week

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before Christmas to ensure the new school should open as planned. He

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also worked through February half- term week to... This revelation has

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coincided with reports that the Education Secretary Michael Gove is

:15:49.:15:51.

planning to clamp down on parents taking their children out of school

:15:52.:15:54.

in term time. The Department of Education is refusing to comment.

:15:54.:15:57.

The policy here is to allow parents term time holidays only in

:15:57.:16:00.

exceptional circumstances or they could face a fine of 100 pounds.

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The Governors say Mr Demmerling's case is exceptional. The

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headteacher himself was unavailable for comment. Thanks for joining us

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this Tuesday evening - still to come: Agony for Darren Bent, as

:16:11.:16:15.

he's out for the rest of the season. But will he miss Euro 2012 too? And

:16:15.:16:18.

a reversal of fortune this week with Scotland the warmest place in

:16:18.:16:22.

the country at 16 Celsius. But we can hardly complain with highs of

:16:22.:16:32.
:16:32.:16:36.

13 today. Is March going to be any better? Find out later. New figures

:16:36.:16:39.

show that thousands of people are still on the waiting list for

:16:39.:16:42.

houses and, with building work at an all time low, things aren't

:16:42.:16:45.

getting any better. Now one council is planning to tackle the problem

:16:45.:16:48.

by selling off empty houses at auction if they've been vacant for

:16:48.:16:52.

more than six months, with debts to the authority of more than three

:16:52.:16:55.

hundred pounds. Joanne Writtle reports. Boarded up homes scar

:16:55.:17:00.

streets like these in Tunstall in Stoke on Trent. Now the city

:17:00.:17:05.

council plans to get tough. If a property's been empty for more than

:17:05.:17:08.

six months, and more than �300 is owed - in council tax or other

:17:08.:17:15.

debts, the city council could exercise powers to sell it. We want

:17:15.:17:21.

to bring peace homes back into use, not only to improve the look of

:17:21.:17:27.

this city, but also to make sure that people who have not got

:17:27.:17:32.

adequate properties and places to live, a family home, could use

:17:32.:17:35.

these As we spoke to the councillor near empty houses in Fenton, a

:17:35.:17:41.

landlord with several occupied properties gave his view. A I think

:17:41.:17:48.

a better idea would be to give council to give money to the

:17:48.:17:53.

private landlords and tell us to give a help with that. If they put

:17:54.:18:03.
:18:04.:18:05.

in a percentage, we will put in a percentage. There are 5,000 empty

:18:05.:18:09.

properties in Stoke-on-Trent. Even though there are 19,000 council

:18:09.:18:14.

homes, 3,000 families on the waiting-list. The homes would be

:18:14.:18:17.

sold at auction, with a planned caveat to the buyer that the

:18:17.:18:20.

property needs to be occupied within 12 months. Those living near

:18:20.:18:24.

empty homes said they were keen to see things sorted out. Just get

:18:24.:18:29.

them all done up and sorted out so people can live in them. A lot of

:18:29.:18:33.

people are out in the street because of the environment around

:18:33.:18:38.

this street. Boarding -- boarded-up houses. The government's announced

:18:38.:18:40.

a cash injection to to help neighbourhoods suffering the blight

:18:40.:18:43.

of empty homes: Councillors will discuss the plans later this week.

:18:43.:18:47.

If approved the authority hopes to bring 200 homes a year back into

:18:47.:18:53.

use. Twice he's been left out of the World Cup finals by England.

:18:53.:18:55.

Now, Darren Bent is facing a heartbreaking hat-trick of missing

:18:55.:18:58.

his third major tournament. Tonight, Alex McLeish said if Bent needs an

:18:58.:19:01.

operation on his ankle, he'll definitely be ruled out of the

:19:01.:19:04.

European Championships in June. But the Villa boss believes he's a

:19:04.:19:11.

young man, who's still got a big career ahead of him. Darren Bent

:19:11.:19:16.

signed off 2011 on a high note away to Chelsea. But if the champagne

:19:16.:19:19.

corks were popping on New Year's Eve... The New Year itself has

:19:19.:19:29.
:19:29.:19:29.

suddenly turned sour for the �24 million striker. Ten minutes from

:19:29.:19:32.

time in Saturday's game at Wigan, Bent collapsed in agony. It looked

:19:32.:19:36.

serious, and so it proved. For Aston Villa, who need his goals to

:19:36.:19:39.

survive in the Premier League, and for England, who head off to the

:19:39.:19:42.

European Championships in June. these three with the injury to

:19:42.:19:47.

Darren, we hope that that will cover itself before the summer.

:19:47.:19:51.

Last night, on Twitter, Bent said "I'm gutted to be out for so long

:19:51.:19:54.

at such a crucial part of the season, hopefully my recovery will

:19:54.:19:57.

be as quick as possible." But how quick will that be? Jim Walker

:19:57.:20:02.

knows a ruptured ankle ligament when he sees one. And luckily

:20:02.:20:10.

mine's not one of them. The former Villa physio says Bent must have

:20:10.:20:13.

suffered a grade 3 injury... And he'll have to there's no way that

:20:13.:20:23.

Bent will be rushing back. It's a far bigger blow for Aston Villa

:20:23.:20:27.

then it is buying them? Yes. If everything goes well, and if he

:20:27.:20:30.

gets himself fit in the for five weeks before the European

:20:30.:20:34.

Championships, the fact they he has not played a lot of football might

:20:34.:20:39.

work in his favour. I would not rule out the European Cham budget,

:20:39.:20:44.

but being a Villa fan, that is more important that it is right for

:20:44.:20:47.

Villa! This season, Darren Bent has scored 10 goals for Villa and one

:20:48.:20:51.

goal for England. His long term absence is a real body blow for

:20:51.:21:01.
:21:01.:21:04.

both club and country. Also some bad news for the club in general?

:21:04.:21:09.

The accounts for the Cup had just been announced. Aston Villa made a

:21:09.:21:14.

loss of almost �54 million during the previous 12 months. That is a

:21:14.:21:22.

huge figure. That involves charges of �12 million for changing the

:21:22.:21:26.

football management personnel, in other words, settlements for Martin

:21:26.:21:36.

O'Neill and John what he didn't -- Gerard Houllier a. Presumably Randi

:21:36.:21:44.

learn their carries on bankrolling They invested another �25 billion

:21:44.:21:49.

for the club. There was record levels of income, of much the view

:21:49.:21:56.

million pounds. -- �92 million. It was one of the turbulent times in

:21:56.:22:06.
:22:06.:22:07.

Port Vale's financial problems have claimed another victim with former

:22:07.:22:09.

chairman Peter Miller resigning as a director as the club struggles

:22:09.:22:12.

with mounting debts. Tonight they take on Crewe, and their fans will

:22:12.:22:15.

be hoping the problems off the pitch won't affect the team. Our

:22:15.:22:18.

sports reporter Dan Pallett's there this evening, so what's the mood of

:22:18.:22:25.

fans tonight? Considering it should be one of the biggest games of the

:22:25.:22:29.

season, it is pretty sombre. Both teams on the edge of the League Two

:22:29.:22:33.

play-offs, but the thing that is dominating the pre-match talk is

:22:33.:22:38.

the financial situation of the club. We wanted to speak to the club, is

:22:38.:22:43.

that they turned it down, and we are out here because they turn down

:22:43.:22:48.

a request from us to film in there. They speak to the supporters' club.

:22:48.:22:54.

What sort of problems are the club in? It is as bad as it could get.

:22:54.:23:00.

Ports -- Port Vale supporters have been disenfranchised. The club is

:23:00.:23:07.

on the brink of extinction. It owes money to HM Marsay, the city

:23:07.:23:16.

council, Ferris companies, and player's wages. -- H M R C. It

:23:16.:23:22.

could be worse than that. The club has been badly managed, and there

:23:22.:23:29.

are people that fear for the future of the club. As a lifelong fan, how

:23:29.:23:33.

does -- how much does it mean? hurts a lot, and I can only

:23:33.:23:38.

reiterate that it is total mismanagement by the board. It has

:23:38.:23:44.

lasted frog -- we have asked for months and months to help them, but

:23:44.:23:48.

they won't talk to us, and we could -- this could be one of our last

:23:48.:23:53.

games. This has been going on for 18 months? 18 months. We tried were

:23:53.:23:58.

with the board, and in December, they closed shop on us. They would

:23:58.:24:04.

not let us use the facilities to have a supporters' meetings. The

:24:04.:24:09.

membership of the supporters' club has shot up, and we are depressed

:24:09.:24:12.

every time they have become to the game. We think you could be the

:24:12.:24:18.

last time every time. Hopefully the team will cheer the fans up, but it

:24:18.:24:22.

seems that administration beckons. That would mean a 10 point

:24:22.:24:27.

deduction. Any hope of promotion this season would be gone. That

:24:27.:24:37.
:24:37.:24:40.

And you can follow Port Vale's match on BBC Radio Stoke tonight,

:24:40.:24:43.

who'll also have regular updates on Burton's match at Swindon. And BBC

:24:43.:24:45.

Hereford and Worcester will have full commentary on Hereford's match

:24:45.:24:50.

at Gillingham. A seven year old boy's been dubbed a "Mini-Messi"

:24:50.:24:53.

after his performance scoring goals in his local football league. Aiden

:24:53.:24:56.

Smith from Castle Vale in Birmingham has scored 46 goals in

:24:56.:24:59.

16 games. He's now using his talents to raise money for a

:24:59.:25:02.

project set up in memory of another young footballer who was killed in

:25:02.:25:05.

a road accident. He's being sponsored for every goal he scores

:25:05.:25:14.

- and has so far raised �12,000 for Callum's Wish Foundation. At any

:25:14.:25:20.

level, to knock in seven -- so many goals, he is very talented. We are

:25:20.:25:25.

very proud of Aden that he is raising this much cash, and it goes

:25:25.:25:35.
:25:35.:25:41.

towards the appeal. He looks On the eve of March it's all

:25:41.:25:43.

looking pretty benign - some slight variations in temperatures, a lot

:25:43.:25:47.

of cloud but mainly dry Just a shame we're not bathed in sunshine

:25:47.:25:50.

like that countryside. It's only by the weekend that things begin to

:25:50.:25:54.

change. At the moment, we're being dominated by that rather prominent

:25:54.:25:57.

are of High pressure but as soon as it relinquishes control, cold

:25:57.:26:00.

fronts gain entry and so does low pressure, so it'll turn cooler over

:26:00.:26:03.

the weekend with some rain right now though it's looking dry, a good

:26:03.:26:07.

deal of cloud across the region and where we do get the breaks -

:26:07.:26:12.

there'll be some mist patches. Temperatures dropping to a minimum

:26:12.:26:20.

of eight Celsius. A bit grey to start with tomorrow, then, but as

:26:20.:26:23.

with most days this week you'll find the cloud breaking a little

:26:23.:26:26.

through the day and more particularly it seems tomorrow to

:26:26.:26:35.

the East of higher ground. Temperatures are similar - around

:26:35.:26:45.
:26:45.:26:51.

13 Celsius with light winds. We may see a few more breaks tomorrow

:26:51.:26:55.

night though - therefore, it may be a bit cooler with lows of around

:26:55.:27:02.

six or seven and the outlook for Thursday and Friday, much the same.

:27:02.:27:05.

Temperatures may be a little lower only because the nights may be a

:27:05.:27:09.

touch cooler so more ground to make up for. There may be a bit of rain

:27:09.:27:17.

on Friday night into Saturday. look at tonight's main headlines:

:27:17.:27:20.

The wounded British photographer trapped in Syria for days has been

:27:20.:27:23.

smuggled out of the country. And signs of economic recovery, as a

:27:23.:27:25.

multi-million pound plan's announced to bring large-scale

:27:25.:27:31.

truck-building to Staffordshire. That's all from us this evening,

:27:31.:27:33.

but on tomorrow's Midlands Today we'll be seeing if Birmingham has

:27:33.:27:36.

found the answer to stopping the huge increase in manhole cover

:27:36.:27:39.

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