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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