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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today with Nick Owen and Suzanne Virdee.
The headlines tonight. A generation without hope blamed
for the riots which terrorised Birmingham and the Black Country
last summer. We have got a crisis with young people. A crisis in
terms of hope, a crisis in terms of their engagement with society.
Hundreds protest in Birmingham over plans to execute a Sikh separatist
in India. We will settle for nothing less than Balwant Singh
Rajwana being released. Worries over plans for yellow
tourist buggies in Stratford. It's claimed it will make the place like
a theme park. And with a factory about to be
built there, helping thousands of Good evening, welcome to
Wednesday's Midlands Today from the BBC.
Tonight, August's riots reveal a crisis among our young people. The
Riots, Communities and Victims Panel report into the causes of the
disturbances, which saw three days of violent scenes and looting in
Birmingham and the Black Country, was officially published today.
Steve Botham, who met the panel when it visited the region, says
the riots show a crisis of hope and a crisis of engagement with society
among young people which needs to be urgently addressed. Joanne
Writtle reports now on the reaction here to the panel's report.
Rioting and looting in Birmingham. A raid on a jewellers in
Wolverhampton. Some of the scenes prompting this comment from a man
heading a community development group in Birmingham. Steve Botham
met the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel. Within Birmingham,
we have a crisis with our young people. It is a crisis in terms of
hope and their engagement with society. There are some big
questions for society to answer that the report highlights.
This was the chaos in Wolverhampton. Hairdresser Louise Johnson won
bravery awards after becoming a human shield to protect her
business. I was just standing here, swearing.
Today, Louise is turning her attention to helping youth. She's
just given a full time job to her apprentice hairdresser. Employers
should give young people opportunities. The young people say
that no one wants to give them a job. When this girl turned up and
she was so polite and willing to work, I told her I would take her
Annaliena Clements says not all young people are troublemakers.
is kids being stupid. They should not have been out there causing
trouble and making a mess of their town. They are meant to take care
of it, not destroy it. Here in Birmingham, 300 children
come to this youth centre. It is open five nights a week. It has
suffered a cut in public funding last year.
The teenagers here were as shocked as most by the riots.
Young people are now losing the way to find out what they won because
there is not much out there. that is not much of an excuse.
it is not. Parents and need support for their young people. They need
help in finding places for young people to go to. There has to be
more things are for young people to do. There needs to be more youth
clubs. They should be here, not rioting.
Visiting a supermarket in Redditch today, the Labour leader condemmed
violence, but said young people needed a stake in society. Nobody
nobody excuses criminality. But we do have to understand how our young
people can be given a stake in our society. That is what this panel is
talking about, showing people that there is a better way forward.
Criminality and irresponsibility is an acceptable. There is a way
forward for them where they can make more of their lives.
Young people like Annaliena Clements are already making the
most of their lives. Under the watchful eye of a woman brave
enough to protect her business. Joining us now is James Morris the
Conservative MP for Halesowen & Rowley Regis.
What is your reaction to the report? I welcome some of the
suggestions in the report, the importance of parents and families
in bringing up young people so that they have a stake in society.
are we let him down young people in our society right now however?
There are problems in certain areas. That is why the Government has set
up this troubled family's unit to support families who are having
problems. But we also need to invest in skills, that is why we
are increasing the number of apprenticeships for young people so
that they have a stake in the future of society. The youth
schemes, we saw that project in a report which as having their
funding cut. How will that Kate young people off the street? Before
I was elected, I was a volunteer youth worker myself. I know some of
the issues here. There are many good voluntary youth support it
projects out there. You the support from the voluntary sector is
excellent and we need to support that. It is not necessarily their
statutory sector which provides the best support. Surely the more
things out there for young people, the better? We need to be giving
young people mentoring, and opportunities to take jobs and the
prospects that are there in the future.
One in five 18-24 year olds are out of work in this region - 70,000
people in all. How big a part of the problem is this? We are putting
�1 billion into the Youth project, we are doubling apprenticeships in
my constituency. We are trying to improve the situation for young
people. Thanks very much indeed. We'd like to hear your views on
this. What do you think caused last summer's riots in the Midlands? Was
it poor parenting or different problems in society? Email us or
our go on our Facebook page and we'll have some of your comments
later. Still to come in the programme
tonight. History in the skies over
Warwickshire, as one of the world's oldest jets takes off once more,
some 70 years after its first flight.
Hundreds of Sikhs took part in a march and demonstration in
Birmingham today. They were protesting against plans to execute
a Sikh separatist who helped assassinate a politician and 17
other people in a bomb attack in India.
Balwant Singh Rajwana was due to be hanged on Saturday for his role in
the conspiracy to kill the Chief Minister for Punjab in 1995.
Rajoana has been in prison for 17 years after being convicted of
acting as a back-up suicide bomber in the plot. Tonight, the Indian
government put the execution on hold. Our reporter Bob Hockenhull
has been following today's events. The Sikh community on the march
through the streets of Handsworth in Birmingham, mobilised by anger
over the fate of a prisoner 4,000 Eventually, 1,000 people joined the
demonstration outside the Consulate General of India in the Jewellery
Quarter. They are furious over plans to execute Balwant Singh
Rajwana on Saturday. He has already served 17 years after admitting he
conspired to murder the Chief Minister for the Punjab in 1995.
want to put pressure on the local government and the natural
Government of the UK to use his influence on the Indian government
to stop this execution from taking place. As at this protests and
faults, along with demonstrations around the world, talks are taking
place at the very highest level in India aimed at stopping their
execution. Protesters are hoping to put pressure on the Indian
government. Tonight, it seems to have worked. India has put their
execution on hold. If it had gone ahead, it would have been the first
since 2004. People power is the most important power. Once that the
people start working and going forward, there is no stopping.
should now be released. We want nothing less than release for
Balwant Singh Rajoana. This is a very controversial case because of
the political nation of the Sikh separatist movement at the time,
that is one reason we have seen the kind of reactions that we have a.
That demonstrations in Birmingham ended police fully without arrests.
We are trying to minimise disruption, but people have the
right to peaceful protest. Hopefully, we have achieved a
mixture of both. But six say they will be back on the street if the
threat of execution is not removed. -- Sikhs.
A woman's died following a house fire in Coventry this morning. West
Midlands Ambulance Service was called to an address in Willenhall
just before 6 o'clock. Crews discovered the body of a woman who
was confirmed dead at the scene. Plans for a �120 million casino at
Birmingham's NEC have been approved. It will form part of a larger
development including a hotel and cinema. Solihull Council have
approved the project. The complex is expected to create 1,000 jobs.
A man has died following a crash in Shropshire in the early hours of
this morning. It happened on the A41 near Stanford Bridge at around
1am. The victim's car left the road and hit a tree leaving him with
multiple injuries. He was confirmed dead at the scene.
They're small, they're yellow and they're causing a stir in our
cultural heartland. The introduction of a fleet of
motorised tourist tricycles has caused a row in Shakespeare's
hometown. A former mayor claims they are
vulgar and unsuitable for Stratford Upon Avon. Here's Joan Cummins.
They cost more than �3,000 to buy, but now it is hoped these 50cc
motorised tricycles will bring an added extra to the tourist
experience in Stratford Upon Avon. We need to move into the 21st
century a little bit. It is an historical time, but people can
still have fun. Stratford has seen its top
posistion as a tourist destination slipping in recent years, but it is
hoped this year's World Shakespeare Festival will help re-establish the
Warwickshire market town on the world map. But the prospect of the
self-hire vehicles becoming part of the general tourist traffic has
caused some to describe them as vulgar and simply not fitting for
such a world class destination. It is a bit naff, a bit vulgar. But
people have their own taste. But the town does not have the harder
to take this on board. We are very fortunate in this town, I do think
we need to protect it. Shakespeare will be turning in his grave of.
Drivers have to be at least 21 with a full driving licence, but not
everyone sees them as a cultural invasion.
Stratford's main job is to provide what its visitors want. Our job is
not to educate people or raise their social status, it is to
provide them with entertainment and enjoyment while they are here.
With plans to introduce electric versions of the three wheelers next
year, I asked today's visitors if they were persuaded by the �35 an
hour buggies. I think it looks fabulous. As long
as there is not too many of them. Yes, very good. But a bit noisy.
You do not want to see them on the street. It is yet to be seen
whether this will improve the situation for tourists in the
Stratford. But at least parking is free.
That is a big plus. Free parking. And great in this weather.
Perfect in this weather. A big rescue operation is underway
to move thousands of breeding toads from the site of a new car engine
factory near Wolverhampton. They are being moved before building
work can continue on the Jaguar Land Rover plant on the i54 site.
As the name suggests, common toads are widespread and found throughout
Britain. They follow the same route back to
ancestral breeding ponds each spring. In Britain, the common toad
is protected by law from sale and trade. Ben Godfrey's has been down
at the pond side. It can be a difficult life being a
toad. You want to build a colony in a picturesque pond, but somebody
moves you on before you have a chance to spawn. So these
volunteers are mounting Operation Rescue. 4,000 mating common toads
are breeding on the site of Jaguar Land Rover's soon-to-be built
engine plant, at i54 near Wolverhampton. We have got one here.
It is covered in month, it was at the bottom of the pond. -- covered
in mud. The toads have migrated back to the pond to breed. They
hibernate, but they have will come with a warm weather.
So far, 1,000 toads have been scooped from the murky depths and,
for these amorous amphibians, time's pressing. On Monday,
construction workers move on to prepare the ground on this 120
hectare site. We are putting him a new M42 junction. -- motorway. This
is meeting season. But at the Newlove lest it is a quarter of a
mile away. -- New laugh at messed It's a journey alongside the busy
M54 to a new toad enclosure surrounded by steel. They get a
larger pond, some quiet neighbours and just about the tightest
security they could get at short notice. Ben Godfrey, BBC Midlands
Today, Staffordshire. Looks a better place. You can read
a full report on that on our website.
Well, we've still got this sensational weather, haven't we? I
hope Ben isn't going to spoil it! Well, Nick, all good things come to
an end. After one more very warm day tomorrow, our temperatures are
going to slide back to where they should be by the weekend. The
We are being terribly spot by the weather.
It's nearly three weeks since Port Vale football club went into
administration owing around �3 million. Tonight, the fans are
gathering at the ground to hear the latest news on when new owners
might take over. Nick Clitheroe is there too. What are the fans likely
to discover this evening, Nick? They are going to get the latest
briefing from the administrators. It came to ahead at the beginning
of March when be found out that the players were not being paid. There
was a meeting at the supporters' club when one of the members of the
previous club had to leave the meeting. After that, we had the
process of the council put in the club into administration. I have
one of their administrators here now. What can you tell the
supporters tonight? We are going to keep them fully informed of what we
are doing. This is really a question and answer session. We
have got three parties who have already submitted offers. We have
not got a from a favourite at this time. We have not closed of the
bidding. But I am hoping there will be some good news next week. So you
hope to close the door for beds next week? We may impose a deadline
for bids. Possibly Friday night, or Monday my day. We will consider
those beds and become -- consider those bitters and make a
recommendation. That is excellent news. Hopefully, we can start
moving forward. It is good news that three beds are in. There will
be more from the administrators at this meeting. -- bids.
Light at the end of the tunnel for Port Vale, hopefully.
Shrewsbury Town have praised club staff and the fans for their
reaction to a fire which caused the abandonment of last night's home
game with Port Vale. The fire broke out in the electric control panel
for the floodlights at the Greenhouse Meadow just over an hour
into the game. The East Stand had to be evacuated, but no-one was
injured. Shrewsbury were winning 1- 0 at the time after James Collins
scored. A new date for the game is yet to be arranged.
It was a better night for fans of Walsall and Burton Albion who both
enjoyed home victories. Walsall moved out of the League One
relegation zone with their first win in five games. Emmanuel Ledesma
equalised Colchester's early goal and Walsall went in front when Mat
Sadler scored just before half-time. A late third from George Bowerman
leaves them two points above the relegation places. Burton Albion
fans had been waiting 17 games for a win. And it needed an own goal
from Matt Fish to finally break their drought against Gillingham.
The Olympic countdown has begun for a beach volleyball player. She is
packing up and heading for the Sam &. But it will be no holiday.
Denise John's is embarking on her Olympic dream. That means precious
little time at home with her husband. We do travel a lot because
there is no indoor beach volleyball court. But we travelled to lovely
places. This is where where she hopes she will be going. Last year,
she and her partner finished 4th. The test event for the Olympics was
incredible. There was great support from the fans and the British
public. Her accent is not what you would expect for someone living
near Gloucester. Her nationality has been a controversial Olympics
subject. But she says she is definitely British. My dad is
British. I grew up with British Customs. I do feel British. I have
lived here for five years. I just love being around British people,
they have been so welcoming. I love it here and I will definitely stay
here. If the test is having a cup of tea, she certainly qualifies.
A piece of aviation history took to the skies over the Midlands today
as a special thank you to a group of dedicated volunteers who have
helped to keep it flying. The Gloucester built Meteor T7 is the
oldest twin engined jet fighter still airworthy.
Kevin Reide was there. Coventry Airport, and takeoff for
one of the world's rarest flying jet fighters. There are just five
Gloucester Meteors still flying and this model T7 is the oldest aged 63.
This flight was specially laid on for a team of more than 40
volunteers who make sure this aircraft keeps flying. We want to
keep that in Britain. It is one of their earliest jets. The media,
because they did not feel that their initial in just did not have
enough power, they put on two. It has an iconic cellaret. -- iconic
silhouette. This 89-year-old former RAF pilot
flew Spitfires in the Second World War and saw them being phased out
for the state-of-the-art Meteor. was moved up. Lone voice in the
cockpit. -- smooth. This is our anniversary. What a way to spend it.
It says me buying a present. Meteor is based at Coventry airport
and will be flying at air shows of the summer.
Happy anniversary. Now it's been another unseasonably
warm and beautiful day today, but can it last? Here's Ben Rich with
the details. Yes, it has been incredibly warm
for March, and I'll have the forecast in a moment. But talking
of all things unseasonable, a group of pupils at a school in Birmingham
made an attempt on the record for the biggest number of simultaneous
conker games today. Nearly 800 pupils and staff from King Edwards
School took part. The current world record stands at just over 500.
It's a game usually played in the autumn of course, but there has
been nothing autumnal or even been nothing autumnal or even
springlike about the weather recently. In fact, it's been more
like summer. Today, we have had some very impressive temperatures.
They got up to 21 Celsius in Birmingham. Plenty of other places
not far behind that. One of the reasons for that is the sheer
amount of sunshine we have had. This is a satellite picture, hardly
any cloud. That bank of cloud across Scotland is heading our way
across the next few days and that will turn things cloudier and
cooler. Turning pretty cool tonight as well. Temperatures are going to
drop a way, quite close to freezing in places. There could be a touch
of grass frost and some patchy fog tomorrow morning. But that will
dissipate very quickly tomorrow. Up similar day with plenty of sunshine
tomorrow. Some high cloud by the end of the day. A slightly
increased a breeze as well. Another beautiful evening tomorrow and a
fine, dry night as well. But we will see more cloud spreading in
from the north. Quite a lot of cloud on Friday. Things should have
brighten up slowly, but it will be cooler, temperatures around 15
Celsius. This rage of high pressure that has been in charge of our
weather is going to move to the west over the weekend. The wind was
which to northerly, bringing Bin cool air and increasing amount of
cloud. But no sign of any much- needed rain on the horizon.
Thank you very much. And earlier in the programme we
asked you to get in touch with your views on what caused last year's
riots. Lots of comments on our Facebook page.
Jane Bremer says, A lack of proper education and the fact that schools
and parents aren't able to discipline the kids is the problem.
Nick Savage, I think that it is because they are angry about the
high unemployment situation. It strikes me that they don't realise
that rioting won't help. Dom Nash. The riots were not youth
failure only, it was whole of society's failure.
Gary Jordan says, Pure greed and criminality - we don't need the
report to tell us that. Plenty of decent people are unemployed but
didn't go looting. Jake Williams, It would not have
happened if they were all in jobs! Young people have got to have a
sense of belonging and feel a part of a community.
David Ford, When they see the super rich running the country and taking
so much from so many while making even more of a fortune, well, it
doesn't take rocket science to work out what's going on.
Lots of emails too. Lillian Webb says, I find it
utterly preposterous that everyone is making excuses for the rioters.
These selfish people showed no consideration at all for anyone
because they know they live in a society which has grown soft.
A look at tonight's main headlines. David Cameron says motorists should
top up their tanks in case the fuel strike goes ahead.