08/03/2012 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines: New debt crisis -


more and more of us are struggling to pay off debt with many admitting


they can't even afford to feed their families.


I know people that have had loans, get into debt, can't afford to keep


up payments. Coping with the after effects of


war - how one military nurse escaped a living nightmare. Unless


you have lived it, you can't imagine what it does to you.


Use it or lose it - a rallying call after a rural bus service is


restored following a seven-year battle.


And he is half the man he used to be, and now Asad is getting ready


to run a half-marathon. Don't just sit at home. It is not the right


Good evening. Tonight, warnings of a new debt


crisis as more and more say they can't afford basic living costs,


let alone pay off existing debt. The Consumer Credit Counselling


Service says people seeking their help across the region are on


average �17,000 in debt to credit cards and personal loans.


In the Black Country, the area's food bank has had to give food


parcels to 6,500 people, 50% on a year ago.


Our reporter has been in Sandwell, one of the most deprived areas,


talking to people battling with debt and the rising cost of living.


Across the country, more than one million people last year took out


pay-day loans, often at extortionate rates of interest,


simply to pay their rent. Here in Sandwell, one charity says that the


rate of debt had increased from �20 million a few years ago to �45


million in the borough alone. If people's income has not gone up


over the last few years and you have had rent increases, you have


had increasing fuel bills, there's going to come a point in time where


you are not going to be able to manage and start to struggle.


Denise Vale is typical of people who have turned to money lenders


for help. She borrowed �100 for school uniforms but ended up paying


back more than double. Kids can do without, but sometimes


you want them to have more than you had. My kids, I like them to have


lots of things. If I can get the money, I will get the money.


Smiles for another finance company opening its doors in West Bromwich.


But this non-profit-making firm say they are providing a reasonable


service to people in need. People that come through our doors


have been spat out by a capitalist system that does not always favour


the least wealthy. This is part of a mission to serve people that are


not served by the Mike -- mainstream finance industry, and


about displacing predatory lenders. A single mother, Maya Palmer,


admits she has turned to affordable lenders on occasions. She says


nobody wants to endure the stigma of debt. I would not judge somebody


for borrowing money. Sometimes things you would not have done in


the past, you go out there and consider borrowing money. As time


gets on and maybe you fall on hard times, people do, you have to


consider these things. Legally, money lenders can charge


whatever interest rates they like. But debt professionals say that if


you are worried about paying your bills, seek advice before taking


out more loans to clear existing debts.


And if you are worried about debt, you can find help and advice on the


Midlands Today Facebook page, and you can take the BBC's debt test,


too. Thank you for your company. Still


ahead: Next stop, Le Mans - meet Sarah, the top racing driver in


Britain. Five men jailed for the execution


style murder of a drug dealer have had their convictions quashed.


Kevin Nunes's body was found in South Staffordshire in September


2002. He had been shot five times. Today, three Appeal Court judges


ruled that convictions had to be quashed after hearing there was a


failure to disclose material to the defendant's appeal to be legal


teams. 20-year-old Kevin Nunes was seized


at gunpoint and shot dead in a country lane in Pattingham,


Staffordshire, in September 2002. These men, Levi Walker, Adam Joof,


Antonio Christie and Owen Crooks, all from Birmingham, were jailed


for life in 2008. But today at the Court of Appeal, their convictions


were overturned because of doubts about the key prosecution witness.


Outside the court, their families expressed relief. It is absolutely


fantastic news. He has said all along that he is innocent, and it


has been proven today that justice has been done for a start today's


verdict comes as an independent investigation is continuing into


the conduct of a number of senior officers at Staffordshire police in


connection with the case. One of the five men, Levi Walker,


will remain in jail as he is serving a prison term for another


murder. The other four are expected to be released soon.


130 jobs are to go at the Co- operative Banking Group, formerly


the Britannia Building Society headquarters. The bank says the


changes will help it become more competitive in the future. It says


it is talking to unions and staff affected will be offered


redeployment. The former leader of Worcestershire


County Council has admitted assaulting a teenager when he was a


Methodist preacher in the 1970s. Dr George Lord had already been


convicted of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old why he was leader in


2010. He will be sentenced next month.


Harrowing scenes on the front line leave many ex-servicemen and women


with images they would rather forget but are unable to. Many go


on to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Figures reveal that more


than 100 military veterans are being treated in this region alone.


For five years, that is what a former military nurse, Hilary


Norton, has lived with. It was one of the most brutal


attacks in the Iraq war, six military policeman, from the


Midlands, murdered at this police station. Royal Air Force nurse


Hilary Norton was in charge of looking after the bodies of the


victims. The site was so horrific that I


stood alone for a while with them because I could not therefore the


nurses to see this. I remember struggling for some while, trying


to make the site a bit more, something that we could cope with.


A year later, back home and working as an occupational health nurse,


Hilary began to suffer horrifying flashbacks.


Suddenly I was back with my name, as I called them, those bodies. --


my name. The cordite, the smell, the sweat - it was very real. There


began a film that I was to watch thousands of times, thousands of


times, and could not come to terms with.


It was five years later when she was diagnosed with post-traumatic


stress disorder and referred to hospital. The condition is more


common than many realise. Combat stress has a caseload of 4,800 ex


servicemen and women. More than 700 of those served in Iraq or


Afghanistan. The combat stress survey revealed that 81% of


veterans are ashamed or embarrassed about their mental health problems.


It might not look like much, but this machine, used in therapy,


called eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing, cured Hilary.


Flashing lights and other stimulus help patients to stay with shocking


images that have lodged in the brain.


It is a technique to help people process the trauma.


A have to confess, when I first saw the light and the vibrations, I


thought this is bonkers, this is never - how is this guy to help me?


Focusing on the lights seemed to do something to my brain.


Realistically, my mind and my thoughts were back in Iraq, and it


was important to identify trigger points.


Hilary and her doctor believe a lot of stress disorder goes undiagnosed.


Both hope this treatment will become more common in the future.


We are joined by the county manager for the Royal British Legion in


Birmingham. Thank you for coming in. A powerful and fascinating story


there about Hilary. How widespread is this? We are seeing and


increased number of veterans contacting us. Maybe 25% of our


caseload are presenting with the disorder or related mental health


illnesses. It is interesting that it takes 13


years for a person to admit they have a problem. A lot of it is down


to embarrassment and shame and not wanting to admit they have a


problem. But it is also difficult for people from the Serb community


because they have had family in there and making the transition


back to civilian life and not knowing who they should be talking


to is a problem. That is why it can take a long time for them to come


forward. How does the Royal British Legion


help? We help with a lot of practical


support, but we have a new project which picks up where the clinical


services leave off, and it is a mentoring programme providing


support and comradeship, reducing the social isolation for our


veterans. It is proving to be very successful.


If there are many veterans watching now who thought they might have a


problem, what would your advice because mac certainly, approached


the Royal British Legion. -- what would your advice be? Certainly,


approach the Royal British Legion. We can identify the support for the


veterans. Thank you very much. A private company is considering


reducing staffing levels on dialysis units by a third.


The firm has try out a new service in the Black Country, but patients


claim it has led to a into double delays and the company is putting


profit before care. Maintaining blood pressure is


important for Michael, who has had his kidneys removed. Three times


per week, he has dialysis at this unit, and says that cuts in staff


are getting home later and later. The only conclusion is that they


are trying to increase their profits. As a private company, they


are entitled to make a profit, but not at the expense of patient care


and safety. The dialysis centre is run by a


multinational company making �642 million per year. It says that no


decision has been made. It is still consulting with both patients and


the University Hospital, Birmingham, which runs the contract. It says


that elsewhere in the country, units are running at lower levels.


Any unit can be subject to delays, which are outside of the unit's


It is a tiring thing. These people are ill.


Today, the University Hospital, Birmingham, celebrated wild kid the


day. It accepts that early contracts were not watertight.


We're not happy with the proposals. Our view is that we would like to


have worked with the company on any changes that were proposed to the


units for which our patients were attending for start Michael's wife


wrote to -- attending. Michael's wife has written to the


Prime Minister. He has not received a reply.


The company has decided to cut a number of staff in centres around


here. Does that concern you? I have no knowledge of that so I cannot


comment. Would it concern you were as mac I have no knowledge.


The wife's will -- letter has now A Staffordshire primary school has


closed due to an outbreak of E.coli. Three cases have been confirmed and


children are being tested. Staffordshire County Council says


it believes the infection was brought in from an outside source.


A thorough clean is now underway. A bus service has returned to two


Herefordshire villages following a seven-year break after a campaign


led by parish councillors. The 458 service, which will go from


Fownhope and Mordiford to Ross-on- Wye once a month, was halted in


2005. So, at a time when hundreds of rural bus services are being cut


across England, how is this one going to survive? Cath Mackie's


been finding out. They've waited seven years for a


bus to turn up, and this morning, the 458 finally arrived. As the


service from Mordiford to Ross-on- Wye in Herefordshire set off, there


was a genuine delight that after seven years, the bus route was back


in use. A lovely! I don't drive so it is useful to get on the bus and


be able to go to a different town. It is encouraging me to leave my


car at home, which must be a good thing. The service was withdrawn by


Herefordshire Council in 2005 as it wasn't seen as sustainable. So two


parish councils have stumped up the cash in the first scheme of its


kind in the country. We think there has been a sea-change. More people


want to travel by bus and don't want to have the hassle of parking


and are aware of the consequences of using their cars, so there is a


new genu of -- generation of people who will use this. They'll need


about 12 passengers to make it worthwhile, but by the time we left


Fownhope, there was double that number on board. 35 minutes after


it set off, the bus reached Ross- on-Wye, where traders are hoping to


benefit. Hopefully they will like what they see when they come and


people always tell their friends and neighbours if they have had an


ice experience somewhere, so word often get out and if we can make it


enjoyable for them to come shopping here, we will try very hard.


There's two and a half hours' shopping time before the return


trip. And just one word of warning, if you do miss the bus, you have


got a bit of wait. The next one will be along in a month's time.


The 458 will run on the second Thursday of the month. Its future


will be reviewed in August. We're joined now by Kevin Chapman,


from the Campaign for Better Transport. What's your reaction to


this initiative? I think it is a wonderful initiative from the


parish council and it will benefit the community greatly in terms of


improving connectivity. And these rural bus services can be a


lifeline for the community because one in five households in rural


areas don't have access to a car, so for many, this could be very


important to get to the shops, get to work and so on. How concerned is


your organisation about bus routes in rural communities? We heard this


new one only goes once a month? is a very difficult pitch at the


moment. The bus services are facing increased costs with if you're


going up. And councils have had to manage reductions in their budgets.


What the councils need to do is look and be very innovative and


look at different solutions. In Shropshire, for example, may have


taxi buses. In other areas, they have looked at news service is or


different networks, so there is a lot councils can do to make routes


is sustainable. But you can understand that bus companies


cannot afford to run them? Yes. Buses cost money and the fuel is


going up. Drivers' wages have to be paid. Are you have to look at the


sustainability of the network. But there are solutions out there and


it is important services are protected and where possible so


these vital links in the community are protected. Thank you for


talking to us and coping with that, long!


You're with Midlands Today this Thursday evening. Still to come,


this Oliver Cromwell poster offered a reward to capture the King. It


was at auction for �1,000 but find out later what it actually sold for.


And we could do with the warmth as well as some rain. The first we


should get, but if the dry weather's taking its toll, it's set


Now losing weight is not always easy, especially if you've been out


of condition for sometime. But one man has lost an astonishing 16


stone in little over a year and is now planning to become a semi-


professional martial arts fighter. Kevin Reide's been to meet him.


It's hard to believe that a little over a year ago, Ash Begg, from


Birmingham, was nearly 28 stone. But this is him now, weighing in at


a tidy 12. His miracle weight-loss began when he had a gastric bypass


operation. But Ash's treatment is not just about having surgery. He


went for a complete lifestyle change, cut smoking and drinking,


and now trains six days a week at this Birmingham gym. I was


suffering from hypertension, asthma, early signs of type 2 diabetes. I


was obviously 28 stone and not in a good way at all, to be honest.


daily diet of chips, burgers and pizza has been replaced with brown


rice, pasta, fresh fish and vegtables. And medics say surgery


is only one part of escaping obesity. 50% is what we would


expect surgery to help you with but the other, you can lose with self


motivation and persistent commitment to diet and exercise.


There is no reasons why you cannot go back to normal weight, which Ash


has proven. What he has achieved is amazing. Not only motivating


himself but others as well. It is like we have got a Plasmon there


and he is showing people, because a lot of people said, no. His friends


cannot believe it is him. I would say, don't just sit at home and


take the surgery. The Government are definitely spending money on


you to get you to have a gastric bypass and you should use that to


your advantage, producer of forwards, just like I have. Spring


yourself forwards to achieve a goal. Ash is considering becoming a semi-


professional martial arts competitor, and this weekend he'll


be doing a half-marathon. And by that, we don't mean a chocolate


bar! I felt about 60 and now I feel ! Wow! Two completely different


people! Inspirational. Well done. Football, and Wolves captain Roger


Johnson has been fined by the club for allegedly turning up for


training under the influence of alcohol on Monday. Johnson, who'd


been dropped by new manager Terry Connor for his first two games in


charge, has issued a public apology. He reported for work and he was not


fit to train or frame properly. And we have dealt with that matter on


the Tuesday and finished it on Tuesday and moved on from there.


It's been a good week in the sporting life of Sarah Reader.


She's now officially Britain's top female racing driver. Sarah, who


lives near Stratford-upon-Avon, has just collected several awards to


mark her achievements. And now she's set her sights on competing


at Le Mans, as Ian Winter reports. Going to work is never a chore for


Sarah Reader. She's always loved fast cars. And when she's not out


racing on the track, you'll find her tinkering with the engine at


the TFL workshop near Leamington Spa. Ever since I was little and I


could first reach the pedals and see over the weir, I just loved


driving and going faster and faster! You have to be very precise


in these cars and I enjoy that - been as accurate as you can and


getting the last 10th out of it. Sarah, who's from Loxley in


Warwickshire, is officially the top female racing driver in the country.


She's been obsessed with cars since she was a youngster. And now, aged


29, she's the only woman on the grid in the Euro Series


Championship. Behind the wheel of her Juno sports prototype.


Formula One car will do well over 200 miles an hour. You can give is


one to 160 but you can take a corner at 150, 155, and you just


have to hang on to it. It is very physical and heavy. When you load


up through the corners, the force you are pulling and the weight on


the steering wheel, you have we got to try and hang on to it, and over


a long-distance race, that is very draining. And when she's not


squeezing every ounce of performance from her car in


competitive racing, Sarah works as a test driver and a coach to other


drivers with ambitions of making the big time. So keep an eye out


for Sarah Reader, as she continues to set the pace as Britain's top


female racing driver. Well done, Sarah! 150 miles an hour around


corners. Now back to that poster offering a


reward for the capture of King Charles II that was up for auction


today for a reserve price of �1,000. It was issued by Oliver Cromwell's


Parliament after the Battle of Worcester, when the heir to the


throne had famously hid in an oak tree to escape the battlefield. As


Claire Marshall reports, it sold for much much more than expected.


In fact, you could say a king's ransom.


These documents have lasted for more than 350 years, isn't it up --


surviving the Great Fire of London. They are rare and very valuable.


Defeated in battle, King Charles the second was on the run. He


escaped to France despite Cromwell's offer of a reward. How


does it feel as an expert to look at a collection like this when it


comes up for auction? It gives me an amazing amount of goose bumps,


to be honest. To be able to hold in your hand the very documents from


this period of time. If it is very unusual for items like this to come


up for sale. There is an extraordinary array of documents


here today, including an original copy of the Act of Union between


England and Scotland. A little bit controversial today it! The Most


Wanted poster in history issued by Oliver Cromwell. No doubt and,


though, which lot was the star of the show. For a wanted poster.


32,000... 33... At �33,000. We go round again for the first time.


Mohammed is down. �33,000. Thank you. -- my hammock is down.


would have 30 times more than the guide price. Is that what you


expected to pray? No. I was told 1,000 or 4,000. Why did you pay so


much? Our house is called Cromwell manner. It will look good on the


wall, even though it is a very expensive wall and out! It will now


stay in the area so significant to the civil war.


That looked good. Maybe better off in a safe at that price! Very


expensive! Let's find out what the We have seen the worst of the


sunshine and those temperatures will continue to fluctuate until we


get into spring properly. This graphic shows you how things have


changed in the last week. Last week, we had six Celsius, but this


weekend, we are looking at 14. A huge improvement. But the key to


sorting out all of our problems at the moment is some rain, and I


don't see any of that in the next few days or week. It is high


pressure that is to blame. We have a lot of cloud and not much to show


for it, and we get the ball rolling tonight. The cloud comes in from


the West and it could produce the odd bit of drizzle on the fringes


and the borders, but we are in a mild air mass, Sir temperatures


will only be falling to six or seven degrees tonight. We start


with that sort of temperature tomorrow and it will be fairly mild.


They will rise eventually tore round 11 but a lot of that cloud


will move in, producing the odd spot of drizzle. But mainly dry and


duller than today. A few breaks in the cloud in the afternoon,


possibly. Light when Bobs but those remain light of -- light winds and


they remain night over the next few days. Temperatures even milder


tomorrow than tonight. During the coming days, temperatures are


rising and we are looking at 14 I think the cricket season is about


four weeks today. A look at tonight's main headlines:


The six soldiers killed in Afghanistan are named, victims of


the deadliest attack on British troops since 2001. Five of them


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