27/03/2012 Midlands Today


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


The headlines tonight: A judge gives gypsies illegally


camped on greenbelt land a year to move off, leaving residents fuming.


They should've only been given a certain amount of time, like six to


eight weeks. You've been given a year, what do


you think? Elated, brilliant. That's what we think, brilliant.


Petrol stations here are worried over impending tanker driver


strikes and whether the army can step in. We'll have to be certain


that they're trained, otherwise we can't let them on our site.


He's tipped for Olympic glory, but he's still found time to go back


and inspire youngsters at his old school.


And they're taking over our homes and gardens - the invasion of the


Good evening and welcome to Tuesday's Midlands Today. Tonight,


a just and pragmatic solution - that's how a judge has summed up a


ruling which will force gypsies off greenbelt land in Meriden. But his


decision to give them a year to leave the site has left campaigners,


desperate to move them, furious. They wanted a quicker end to what's


already been a two-year legal battle. The unauthorised gypsy camp


was first set up in Meriden on 30th April 2010. The next day, residents


started a 24-hour vigil outside the camp. On 7th July 2010, Solihull


Council rejected an application by travellers to develop the greenbelt


site in Meriden. More than a year later, the gypsies lost their


appeal for retrospective planning permission in a ruling by Secretary


of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles. At the


start of February this year, the residents were told they'd have to


remove their camp which has kept that daily 24-hour vigil since 2010.


Sarah Falkland reports on today's SINGING. The euphoria did not last.


There may have been cheers as a High Court judge threw out the


gypsies' latest appeal backing the Secretary of State's ruling that


the development in Meriden was harmful to the green belt but a few


hours later, the same judge granted an injunction put forward by


Solihull Council which meant the gypsies could now stay for another


year. Elated, brilliant. That is what we think. Brilliant. Now we


can work with the council even closer about finding a suitable


site and hopefully they will come up with something. The gypsies


health needs and their children's schooling were key factor in the


injunction. The residents said they should have been moved on more


quickly. I am upset about it because I think it is too long.


feel bitterly disappointed. It is not in total with the views of the


residents but what we have achieved today is a definitive end to the


dispute. Solihull Council say they are pleased to put an end to a


period of uncertainty. Today's agreement gives a firm date for the


families living on the land to make an ordered vacation of the site and


also assures a speedy restoration of the land to its previous


condition. There may now be a finite end to this but the dispute


has taken its toll on both sides. One of the gypsies has cerebral


palsy. It has affected everything., our leads socially. This is not the


best situation in the world -- our lives socially. At least we are not


facing eviction in 28 days and giving us hope and time. The judge


described this as pragmatic which he hoped would give peace of mind


to both sides. The gypsies have until 4pm on 31st March to leave


You can read more about the argument over the development of


the site on the BBC Birmingham website.


Thanks for joining us. Later in the programme, smuggling on the rise as


hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes are seized in one county


alone in the last year and a half. The Independent Police Complaints


Commission have confirmed that they're aware of the disappearance


of a substantial amount of cash seized as evidence by Warwickshire


Police. The BBC has learned that the cash had been stored in former


wine cellars at the force's mansion headquarters in Leek Wootton. Joan


Cummins joins us now from our Coventry studio. Warwickshire


Police have announced they are conducting a criminal investigation


into the disappearance of �113,000. The cash was, according to the


police, held in a secured storage area. I understand this was in a


box in the cellars of the building. The cash had been seized under the


proceeds of crime Act in 2009. In 2010, three individuals were


subsequently convicted for a variety of offences. But the


disappearing cash did not come to light until 20th September 11. The


Chief Constable at the time of Keith Bristow and is now the head


of the National crime agency. The matter was referred to the


Independent Police Complaints Commission who decided that the


matter can be conferred -- investigated locally and that is


being investigated by the anti- corruption unit of the force. The


police authority have refused to comment on the matter and others


regard the incident as extremely serious and want the reassurances


that it will be investigated fully pulls up what has been the reaction


of the pause? You can imagine that this has caused a lot of


embarrassment -- what has been the They said basically this was part


of the investigation and that they want to spread the news across the


force and also arcing people to contact Crimestoppers if they have


information -- also asking people. A report into last summer's rioting


in the West Midlands and across the UK says that a lack of support and


opportunity for young people was one of the reasons for them


starting. The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel also cited poor


parenting, too much emphasis on materialism and a lack of


confidence in the police. In the Midlands there were 770 arrests,


but fewer than 300 people were actually charged in connection with


the riots. The whole incident cost West Midlands Police �12 million.


Joanne Writtle has been gathering reaction from some of the people


caught up in last August's problems. Rioting raged for three nights last


August in Birmingham, West Bromwich, Cape Hill and Wolverhampton. These


the scenes at a coffee shop in Birmingham. Ransacked and left with


�15,000 in damage. The owner later received royal visitors. Today he


was outspoken about the report from the Riots, Communities and Victims


Panel, in its comments about poor parenting and issues facing young


people. There's not even one line mentioned about the families of the


people affected in the riots. Those people whose shops were looted.


What is the plan and what is the Government planning to do for those


people? Brothers Shahzad Ali and Abdul


Musavir and Haroon Jahan were hit by a car in Winson Green. A floral


shrine quickly built up. Eight people have denied murder and go on


trial next month. Seven months on, it is business as usual here. The


flowers may have long gone but memories remain.


This man is a mechanic close by. And this is his view on the report.


I still say it is for the parents, they have the most responsibility


for the children. Before the Government stepped in.


The independent report's due out tomorrow. Recommendations are wide-


ranging, including more help to get young people into work. A point


pertinent to the West Midlands, where one in five youngsters is


And there'll be more reaction to the Riot Panel report here on BBC


Midlands Today tomorrow, when we hear from local MPs.


Two men who died in a crash on the M5 on Saturday have been named.


Liaquat Ali who was 35 and from Smethwick was a passenger on the


bus and died at the scene. 65-year- old lorry driver William Mapstone


from Somerset died in hospital. It happened when his lorry hit a


single-decker bus on the southbound carriageway close to junction three


at Frankley. The driver of the bus, a 49-year-old Birmingham man,


remains on bail in connection with the incident.


The Government will publish its plans for the second phase of the


HS2 high-speed rail project in the autumn. The second phase envisages


a Y-shaped line continuing north of Birmingham through Staffordshire to


Manchester and Leeds with connections further north and into


Scotland. It would be completed around 2032/33.


Petrol retailers say they're concerned about the army being


brought in to deliver fuel if there's strike by tanker drivers.


Their trade association, RMI Petrol, says although no date has been


announced for the action, the army has yet to be properly trained.


Drivers have voted unanimously in favour of strike in a dispute over


pay and conditions. Our transport New pump technology on display at a


trade show in the Midlands. But refurbishing forecourts was the


last thing on people's minds today with the threat of a tanker


It is just escalating and it is benefiting nobody. I am not


bothered. I have to use my automobile to make a living and it


makes life difficult. If it is something they have to do, I think


they need support. And the trade association which


represents petrol retailers is concerned that delivering problems


could force even more forecourts out of business. This is ramping up


the wholesale price. A big tanker is �55,000, but is a lot of money


for a retainer to find in a daze. - - in eight days. Historically


stocking West, blocking cash flows. It's all reminiscent of the fuel


blockades of the year 2000. Within days, many filling stations ran out


of fuel and rationing was introduced.


And if there is a strike, things could be worse than in 2000.


Because there are fewer petrol stations around and therefore fewer


places to store fuel. In 1998 there were 14,500 petrol retailers.


That's dropped to 8,500 today. Putting a potential squeeze on what


remains. The big question is how well Pascal stations like this be


affected if and when a strike is called? -- the big question is how


well petrol stations like this. They could run out of fuel fairly


quickly. And there are also concerns about


what happens if the Government calls in the army to deliver fuel.


Week as retailers will be responsible and must make sure they


are trained otherwise we cannot allow them on our side.


But not every fuel depot will be affected. At this facility in


Birmingham, drivers won't be taking part in any strike. It is a family


business, why would we want to go on strike when we have got bills to


pay? At the oil depot at Kingsbury in


Warwickshire it was business as usual today because so far no dates


have been announced. If the situation can't be resolved, then


it's most likely that drivers will walk out sometime around Easter.


And Peter's at a filling station in Birmingham tonight. What are the


companies that employ the driver saying about the threat of strikes?


Apart the largest inland depot for the storage of fuel, Kingsbury, the


biggest company is Wincanton and they say that it is disappointing


to see that some of our drivers have voted in favour of industrial


action which we believe is wholly unnecessary, that is their


statement. They say the exact reason for the dispute remains


unclear and they say they are committed to a dialogue with


workers. They say their drivers are among the best rewarded in the


industry and they say they are defiant that there should be no


reason for the strike. Could talks stop these strikes going ahead?


Which will represent does have been meeting in London to discuss


basically the results of the overwhelming strike ballot and they


say that no talks are planned with employers at the moment and that


indicates a wide gap between the two which normal circumstances


would mean that strike action is inevitable. We could see some


strike dates announced as early as tomorrow if the meeting goes ahead.


If they want to hold strikes over Easter, then they must have


announced by Thursday because legally unions have to give seven


If you're a smoker, a packet of 20 cigarettes can now set you back


over �8. With alcohol prices set to rise as well, it maybe no surprise


that the smuggling trade appears to be booming. Hundreds of thousands


of illegal cigarettes have been seized in the Midlands. One MP


believes that's just the tip of the iceberg.


A small fraction of the illegal cigarettes seized by Trading


Standards in Herefordshire in recent months. We have received


around a third of a million cigarettes or hand-rolling tobacco


products. Most of it is coming from Eastern Europe. But certainly some


stuff is produced in China. it's legitimate retailers like


Stephen Beddards who are paying the price. I know there are quite a few


shops within Hereford where under the counter at cigarettes are


readily available at more or less half the price that I am selling


mine for. So around four pounds. What impact does it have on your


business? What impact do you think? They are spending money elsewhere.


With illegal alcohol also a problem, in the Commons the local MP called


for harsher punishments for the smugglers. It is not enough just to


seize goods and impose these relatively modest fines, they must


be able to close down promises for significant periods of time where


there have been repeated violations of the law. But the Treasury


Minister insisted the Government is tackling the problem. Substantial


enforcement activity is already carried out and those involved in


the fraud are already penalised. all know that smoking is bad for


you but when you smell cigarettes you at least expect to smell


tobacco. Smell in here and it's absolutely disgusting. Other fake


cigarettes have been found to contain rat poison, rat faeces and


even arsenic. But as we discovered, people are still willing to take


the risk. Why did you buy illegal cigarettes? Because they were


cheaper. It does it worry you what is in them? Not really, they are


all bad for you anywhere. This nationwide problem is costing


the country millions of pounds in lost revenue. The National


Federation of Retailers says it now wants to see more funding given to


Trading Standards to tackle the Quite horrifying, the contents of


those fake cigarettes. Still to come this evening: the


downside of the warm weather, as our own much-loved ladybirds are


under threat from their oversized continental cousins. But of course


the upside of the weather is the chance to enjoy this wonderful


sunshine. And if you thought today was warm... Well, just wait until


tomorrow. The full forecast is Campaigners are calling for a


public inquiry over plans to redesign the road layout in their


town. The �5 million plans for the centre of Leek in Staffordshire


would see the introduction of a so- called "shared space" at a busy A-


road junction. Kevin Reide reports. Campaigners vent their frustrations


outside Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in Leek last week


over plans to redesign the town centre's roads. They're


particularly unhappy at the removal of an iconic traffic island and the


creation of a so-called "shared space" where pedestrians and


traffic use the same area. The so- called shared space would be


created here behind me opposite the town's Nickleson Memorial. It would


involve the removal of this roundabout and there are real


concerns amongst the protesters today particularly about their


safety. Rick Martin Bacon has 60% normal vision and is particularly


worried. I am being discriminated against. The simple reason - I have


partial sight. They do not have the right to do this. But they seem


hell-bent on doing it. I want these people to stop. People love this


roundabout. It is the iconic kicked way to Leek. It is iconic and we


love it. -- it is the iconic gateway to Leek.


The council says the town is in danger of gridlock and the changes


have been needed for decades. They've been prompted now because


millions of pounds is being offered by Sainsburys as part of a deal for


this new supermarket. The authority also says safety will be a priority.


People are working very hard to make sure that every safety aspect


is looked at and considered. Work is set to start soon but the


protesters are hoping to bring it to a halt and have written to the


Government demanding a public inquiry.


Cricket now and Ian Bell's performance with the bat was a rare


high point for England in the first test against Sri Lanka today.


Bell's been under pressure after struggling in the series defeat


against Pakistan. But today in Galle he was England's top scorer


in the first innings with 52. But England slumped to 193 all out. Sri


Lanka lead by 209 runs with five second innings wickets left.


Port Vale supporters are being warned not to travel without a


ticket for tonight's important League Two game at Shrewsbury Town.


A big police operation's in place for the match which is vital to


Shrewsbury's chances of automatic promotion. A win could lift them


six points clear of the play-off places, with just seven games to go.


And there's full commentary on that game on both BBC Radio Shropshire


and BBC Radio Stoke this evening It is four months exactly to the


opening ceremony of London 2012 and a doctor is getting ready to treat


the athletes. For I will check to see if there are fluids in your


knee. This is Dr Leon Creaney's day job.


Helen Smith landed badly during a Premier League netball match and


has damaged her knee. It's his skill as a sports specialist which


has landed him the greatest job in the world.


Dr Creaney will be one of just four doctors to go trackside and treat


the world's premier athletes during the nine days of the Olympic Games.


Me and my colleagues have worked towards this. We have a speciality


in the United Kingdom. Last week, he picked up bronze


himself in the 200 metres at the British Masters, but he is looking


forward to seeing the greats of sprinting. A big draw are some of


the Jamaican sprinter is, people like Usain Bolt.


Footballer Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest ten days ago brings into


focus just how vital medical staff can be. We are fully trained in


dealing with emergencies, whether they beat heart problems,


respiratory problems or traumatic injuries. People can break their


legs. That has happened in track- and-field and indoor races. People


cannot fall right off the vault and we must be prepared for any


eventuality. One of the great legacies of the Olympic Games will


they will be able to treat patients long after the Games are over. And


hopefully more people will lead a Today one Olympic hopeful was


looking backwards instead of forwards. High jumper Tom Parsons


visited his old school in Birmingham to reminisce and do some


coaching, as Dan Pallett found out. Once he was a pupil here. Today Tom


Parsons returned to his old school teaching the high jump. A bit scary,


this is where it all began for me. I will try to coach some of these


kids. I like coming in the sports hall and having a go at the high


jump. Pupils at King Edward VI Five Ways School at Bartley Green in


Birmingham were delighted to have top class. His old teachers were


just pleased to see him. He was fun and studious but could also be


cheeky. He was also a very nice lad. He is now passing on his knowledge


to the next generation. And they were also treated to


seeing Tom in action, albeit at a much lower height than he's capable


of. Tom was eighth at the Beijing Olympics. He's now 27 and must jump


to his personal best of 2.31 metres just to qualify for London 2012. I


had an operation on my ankle in November and since Christmas it has


been going well. I have got a new coaching set-up. I am in as good a


shape if not better than ever. By a pretty confident to get in the team.


And then once I know I am in the And today he showed a talent for


coaching when his jumping days are over.


Chances are with all this magnificent weather we've been


having, you've probably spent some time outside. You may also have


noticed the odd ladybird or two. Sadly, one of England's most


recognisable insects is under threat, from a foreign invader. Ben


Sidwell has been to see the good They're one of the first signs of


spring and instantly recognisable. But the little ladybirds we've


grown up with are facing a threat from their own kind. A bigger and


more ferocious ladybird, called the Harlequin, which has invaded our


shores from Europe. The first Harlequin ladybirds were spotted in


2004 in the UK and they have mood about 100 kilometres north which


means now they are becoming a real pest. White here in the Midlands. -


- right here. At Altek Midlands Environmental


Services in Frankley they're used to dealing with pests, such as


wasps, rats or even bedbugs. Recently the Harlequin ladybird has


been added to the list and the number of cases are quickly rising.


They are literally eating our native species so they are becoming


more prominent and overpowering the normal ladybirds that we just take


for granted. While British ladybirds shelter


outside during the winter, the Harlequin prefers the warmth of a


building. Causing problems like the one at this office in Harborne in


Birmingham. These are the ones, huge clusters, rooms. They can take


over a whole house, thousands can take over. No harm but huge


nuisance factor. For entomologists like Professor


Moray Anderson, however, there's a bigger concern than just the pest


problem. The Harlequin threatens the very existence of our 46 native


ladybird species. The United States, there it has taken over in many


areas as being the most predominant lady bird species whereas the


native ladybirds have been literally destroyed by it.


For the foreign ladybird invaders in this office, it's the end of the


line. While the Harlequin may be good news for pest control firms,


the hope is it won't mean the disappearance of the British


Glorious weather again today, let's find out what is in store for


The weather is giving us some great contrast at the moment. Bidets are


Sunni and very warm but the nights are a different story. -- the days


are very sunny and warm. We got down to minus one Celsius but today


all the way up to 18 degrees, a 19 degree difference in the course of


one day and we will see similar contrast tonight because after the


sunshine of today, be clear skies will allow all that heat to escape


into the atmosphere and allowed temperatures to really plans. A


touch of frost and the odd isolated patch of four -- to really plunge.


Dawn is fine and bright and sunny and tomorrow we will see sunshine


from dawn work through until dusk, very little cloud and that sunshine


will do wonders for the temperatures. Even warmer than


today, highs of 22 Celsius which in an amazing 72 in Fahrenheit. That


stands us in good stead compared to other parts of continental Europe.


If you were thinking of going to France, Portugal or Spain,


temperatures not much better than in the Midlands. One place we


cannot compete with at the moment is Tenerife, they will be basking


in 29 degrees. Tomorrow is the peak of the warmth, and then the ridge


of high pressure dominating our weather drift to the west allowing


slightly cooler situations. Only dropping back to where they should


be there. Around 11 degrees by Saturday. A bit of a change by the


end of the week. If you want to follow our latest thoughts on the


weather, for a loss on Twitter. -- A look at tonight's main headlines:


Half a million forgotten families, a report says they hold the key to


the causes of last year's riots. It blames everything from poor


parenting to schools. And a judge gives gypsies illegally


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