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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