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Hello, welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines: success on a plate -
record sales figures for a pottery firm in the week we sank back into
recession. They know that it is going to be reliable, be the best
value and they trust the company. Paralysed after a hit and run crash
last year, now amazingly he walks out of hospital.
A truly inspiring - 50 years on, a retired pilot recalls putting the
finishing touches to Coventry Cathedral.
And manager Alex McLeish says he will shoulder the burden as Aston
Good evening. Welcome to Friday's Midlands Today. Tonight in the week
we officially entered a double-dip recession, a pottery firm announces
record sales figures and plans to build a new factory. Steelite
International based in Stoke-on- Trent has seen its sales jump by
9.4 % over the last year, to �66.3 million. Profits reached �7.9
million as the company announced it is to create 230 jobs by building a
new factory. But the overall economic picture remains next.
This factory is home to the UK's biggest tableware manufacturer.
Steelite International's record sales figures come as the company
is about to expand. It will create more than 200 jobs. It is about
making sure we have the right skills going forward so that we can
fulfil the orders. 18-year-old Dan Stone is one of eight apprentices
at the company is taking on. I have many friends who struggled to get
jobs who actually have studies, College, University and then myself,
and other friends who have experience finding it easier to get
jobs. As a result of healthy order books, production has increased. Up
to half a million pieces of chinaware are made here every week.
The fact that this is made in Britain has driven demand in
markets including the United States and Asia. Oh round-the-world there
is a lot of trust, a lot of faith in made in England and made in
Stoke-on-Trent. People know they are going to get a good quality
products, that it will be reliable, they know it will give them the
best value and they trust the company and they trust the area to
produce great products. But in a week where the economy officially
double dip into recession, conditions remain challenging.
would anticipate that later in the year growth will resume, but it
will be what the Americans call by and large jobless growth. Back on
the factory floor, those continuing concerns mean the outlook is still
tough. Energy prices have a big impact. Nevertheless, this firm is
leading the way in a resurgence in the pottery industry.
Joining us is the director for the Confederation of British Industry
in the West Midlands, Richard Butler. We have a bad picture
nationally but somebody like Steelite International doing really
well. How typical is that company? Et is fairly typical. We should not
beat ourselves up about figures of the recession. We have had some bad
news today. The Pritchard Group going into administration. They are
in property development. Is that typical a picture of the
construction industry? It does appear that construction has taken
the bulk of the economic difficulties but we need to look at
some of the opportunities and if you are servicing the UK at
difficult markets, and it is quite promising. Where will be the
crewmen come from? Unemployment figures dropped last month but we
are still above the national average. We are and our region has
been historically above the average. The success will come from my new
factory -- manufacturing industries. We are optimistic and have plans
for taking on the people. What are they looking to to increase
business? The main trend is being fairly aggressive in their approach
to international markets. In the UK, UK population is 1% of the global
population. 99 % of global markets are overseas. Companies need to
look more actively at international markets and opportunity is.
A motorcyclist who endured months of gruelling treatment after a hit
and run driver left him for dead fulfilled his dream of walking out
of hospital today. John Parsons was initially left paralysed as a
result of the crash and feared he would never walk again. Three have
been following his remarkable story. 24-year-old John Parsons is
realising a dream. His movement is slow and laboured, but his desire
to one-day walkout of a specialist orthopaedic hospital is what has
kept him going. He was initially paralysed after being knocked from
his motorbike by a hit and run driver on the A500 in January.
lost for words. I just want to go home now. It has taken so long to
get this far. It is amazing. John, from Stafford, spent seven weeks
lying on his back paralysed from the waist down after his spine was
fractured in several places. Then longer still in physiotherapy.
Today it was time to say goodbye to a fellow patients and to those who
have treated him. I feel like I have had everything I always wanted
and it has all suddenly come, like a dream come true. The future is
very bright for John. He will eventually, in my experience, walk
a lot better than he is walking at the moment. John is making a claim
for a scheme set up to compensate victims of hit and run drivers. A
spokesman for the Motor Insurers' Bureau said, sadly, John's is not
an isolated case. Every year we received 30,000 claims from the
victims of uninsured or on untraced drivers. They have a 1.2 million
uninsured motorists on UK roads. 11 of the top 20 worst postcodes are
here in the West Midlands. John headed home with his family with
his hopes now set on eventually returning to work as an assistant
shop manager. Staffordshire police meanwhile say they have exhausted
all lines of inquiry but would review the case if new evidence
comes in. Gloucestershire Police's Chief
Constable has announced he is resigning in protest at the
introduction of elected police commissioners. Tony Malvern is
leaving after to Mickey is in the job saying he has grave concerns
about the current police reform agenda.
Campaigners against an illegal gypsy site say they will defy an
order to take down their protest camp. Residents in Meriden have
maintained a round-the-clock vigil for nearly two years close to a
group of gypsies who set up camp without permission. Protesters have
until Sunday to move. The gypsies say it is the residents who are now
breaking the law and have accused them of hypocrisy. We will not take
moral lessons from people who have a long-standing of unlawful
activity. We are here to campaign and we will not cease until the
green belt is restored. It is less than a week to go until voters go
to the polls. So far much of the focus has been on referendums in
Birmingham and Coventry over directly elected mayors but there
are also a series of important town or contest taking place. 18
councils are holding elections next Thursday when a total of 351 seats
will be up for grabs. Among them is Tottenham which is currently the
only council run by the Lib Dems. - - Cheltenham. Can they hold on to
Cheltenham's council offices give this town a genteel appearance but
it's politics is a rather different. Since the borough was created 40
years ago, only the Lib Dems and Tories have run it and Labour at
present do not have a single seat. Their bigger rivals regularly do
electoral battle. The last time power shifted was in 2008 with the
Lib Dems overhauling the Tories to take control. But that was before
the parties got together at Westminster. The Lib Dems hope
people can consider local issues when they vote. They are
philosophical about the party's loss of support elsewhere. I have
not seen any signs of that. I always remind people that I want to
seek Tottenham on the opinion polls. Anything is possible. -- Cheltenham.
And the doors of voters in Cheltenham get more political
visitors than most places. Elections for half the council
seats are held every two might years. That is something the Tories
want to change. The first thing we would do is talk to the Boundary
Commission and say look at this, or reduce the number will have
councillors. The big thing we would do is move the elections to once
every four years. Why are we spending taxpayers' money on having
elections every second year? Leaving the Tories and Lib Dems are
to attack each other suits the leader of the other group, the
people against democracy. We have no interest in the well-being of
either the Conservative Party or the Lib Dems. What we are
interested in is doing what we believe is best for Cheltenham.
Campaigning is intense. We will know the results in a week's time.
Our political editor Patrick Burns joins us from outside Birmingham
city council house. The Lib Dems battling to keep control in
Cheltenham. They have quite a fight on their hands elsewhere.
Absolutely. They are fighting for their very lives not just in
Cheltenham but here in Birmingham and Newcastle under Lyme where they
are the junior partners with the Conservatives. But there is a lot
more riding their in Cheltenham. No surprise Nick Clegg has been there.
Traditionally, although the party is languishing on 11 % in the polls,
they have had a record of campaigning strongly. But I'm sure
of Mr Clegg has been doing his best to bolster their local credentials.
Well for Labour it is the opposite. They are fighting to gain new
ground. Yes, the key thing about the seats is that the last time
they were contested was four years ago when the Tories were on a roll.
It is hard now for Labour not to gain ground by comparison because
he in Birmingham, they need only four more seats to displace the
Conservative, Lib Dem coalition. Similar targets Walsall and in
Cannock Chase. What is in this for the Conservatives? Just damage-
limitation? They are bracing themselves privately for a
difficult week, but they do, at the moment they do have majorities in
nine councils. Rugby is another big one. There they need 22 seats to
retain control. Plenty for you to talk about in this week's Sunday
Politics. Yes we are on at fog will clog on BBC One. There is more
about the referendum on electoral mayor's also.
Still to come: it will not stop raining, are things looking better
for the weekend? A weekend of two halves. Drier weather for Saturday
but it will stay cloudy but for Sunday, it is turning very wet and
very windy with the potential to see localised flooding. 84 forecast
Police have released photos of drivers stealing petrol from
service stations. A crime known as bilking and according to petrol
retailers it has become endemic. In Wolverhampton there have been more
than more -- 80 cases since the beginning of March. Some of the
industry want people forced to pay up. Sergeant Colin Mattinson shows
me where the latest spate of petrol best have taken place. The drivers
who are stealing it were caught on camera after filling their cars
with petrol, they drove off without paying, the number plates are
stolen. Across the city there have been 83 similar crimes in the last
two months. There has been investments particularly in this
station up with CCTV, which helps us track down those offenders.
Bilking has forced Shailesh Parekh to turn detective. He regularly
checks numberplates that pullup. this service station, I last �3,000.
RMI petrol has say bilking is endemic across the UK. From talking
to their members they reckon accidents have doubled and they are
blaming the recession for the high cost of fuel. Police launched an
operation to tackle bilking and incidents in the first four months
of this year fell by 37 %. But retailers say a growing problem is
the number of people filling up and then claiming they cannot afford to
pay. I would like all stations to follow what they do in America
where you have to go into the kiosk and pay first. Police say they hope
these images will encourage anyone 50 years ago today, the finishing
touches were being put to Coventry's new cathedral. The RAF
came in to hoist the bronze spire onto the roof in a delicate and
precarious operation, and one of the pilots involved all those years
ago has been back to inspect his handiwork.
50 years ago today this RAF Helicopter made a short but
historic flight when it was used to lift the 80-foot bronze spire onto
The pilots were John Dowling on the left and Ron Salt on the right.
John has since passed away but Ron is in good health and has decided
to see his endeavours from all So with the help of West Midlands
Fire Service he was taken onto the Just get that over...! That is it.
Wonderful. We came from that direction all along the roof. It is
good. Well worth seeing like theirs. We did not have a roof like this at
the height like this to practise with. We just had a flat airfield.
It was well worth doing what we did because we came here full of
confidence, probably cheekily so, but it worked.
This was nearly called off because of the menacing weather, but we
have just managed to find a gap in the clouds, and Ron is delighted.
I'm so thrilled to see Commentary now as I have never seen it before.
-- to see Coventry. It is a thrill to look over the city and see it
has developed so much. With his visit at an end, it was
time for Ron to return to his family home in Wiltshire. But he'll
be bring back stories of another memorable visit to Coventry.
A brave man! Now with a look ahead to a crucial
weekend in the football calendar, here's Dan Pallett.
Aston Villa have three games left to hang on to their Premier League
status. And just to add a little extra spice tomorrow, they make the
short trip to West Bromwich Albion. Today both managers said they
believed Villa would avoid relegation. So now it's up to Alex
McLeish to deliver the goods. Ian Winter has been to meet him.
He walked in knowing he faced some tough questions. And typical of the
man, his answers were straightforward. But it was the
team's slump in performance that has made them angry.
Have you ever seen such abuse as the other night?
I don't hear individual shouts. I hear the Boeing, but I was
disappointed. But he knows Aston Villa's
condition is critical. They have Do you feel you are in a no-win
situation? I don't see it that way. If we stay
in the division, I will be much happier about the future.
You would be. But would that play KP Aston Villa fans?
I can only try to win them over. But are the fans willing to be won
over? The Albion boss watched Tuesday's defeat by Bolton, and
today he said he would be surprised if Aston Villa went down. But he
added, nothing is unthinkable. The club statement in midweek was
meant to clarify the situation. But it has muddied the waters.
It was a statement for the last three games. That is as far as we
should be looking. Does that sound like a man who is
making plans for next season? Probably not. But if the next three
games are his last, he can't afford to see Aston Villa take the lead
and then lose at West Brom, as they did earlier.
Relegation and promotion issues could be settled in Leagues One and
Two this weekend. It means fans of Walsall, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and
Hereford are either dreaming of glory or fearing the worst. It's
It's their last away trip of the season, and it could be their last
in the football league for a while. Hereford United are bottom but one
in League Two. They're two points from safety, and the fixture hasn't
been kind. The problem for Hereford is their
last two Danes are tough. -- two games.
We are trying to stay positive. We know we have got two massive games.
We have got to stay positive and take the positivity into the game.
Walsall have also got that sinking feeling, especially after losing
their last three matches. Fan Paul Leadbeater has been to almost 2,000
games. He's part of a passionate hardcore hoping for survival.
We have got a hard core of 3,500. To be honest, they are very loyal
supporters. I just hope for them as much as the football club and the
town that we can do it. But Shrewsbury are very close to
heading in the other direction. They need just one more win for
automoatic promotion from League Two. They'll hope to do it at home
against Dagenham and Redbridge. Cheltenham Town must use the play-
off route now. But the manager's keen to keep the pressure off the
players. There's no point over-emphasising
things. They know what is at stake, what they want to achieve.
It's a weekend when our clubs could be on the move. They'll hope it's
only in an upwards direction. So a nerve wracking weekend awaits
many of our clubs. You can follow every twist and turn on your BBC
local radio station. Finally, some worrying news for
Birmingham. They have not published their financial news again today.
They could have an embargo until July.
The creator of an iconic television theme tune, the man behind the
legendary 2-Tone record label and an influential soul singer have all
been celebrated in their home city A Gloucestershire company has
managed to sell tea to China. I need a cup of tea! It exports to 45
Some things never change, but if it was not for the Chinese emperor in
2007 BC, things might be different. Since then, it is China that has
had most of the tea market in the bag.
When you think about it, nothing is so British as having a cup of tea.
We have been drinking it for hundreds of years. But we can't
claim that he is our own. -- that tea is our own. So can we tell --
sell tea to China? This company is doing that. They
produce 80 million bags per year, most of which go to places around
the world. The way that the Chinese see
products is different to places like Germany, France and the Middle
East and Australia. We have to really focus on making sure that we
have the right translation, and China is now looking at the gift of
health. They want to buy healthy products.
With a variety is for throat relief, it is tea with an extra kick. It is
in high demand. The tourists are still lapping it up.
We had a lot of Spanish a few weeks ago. We had to show them how to
pour the tea. They loved it. They said they don't get anything like
it in their own country. These were 16, 17 year olds. What if the
Emperor could see this? Would he agree? Brother Billy yes. --
That is something! Now the weather. We have certainly had a very wet
month, would almost double the monthly rainfall. For this evening,
it is staying cloudy and it will be a damp one ahead for most of us. We
hold on to a few showers this evening. The rain will reinvigorate
tonight. Eventually we see that died out towards the morning.
Temperatures will dip to three of four Celsius. For this weekend, it
is a weekend of two cars. It looks cloudy by drier on Saturday, and
Sunday Liz very wet and we are going to see the Winslow -- Sunday
looks very wet and we are going to see the winds picking up as well.
It is staying cloudy for much of the day on Saturday. A very limited
amount of brightness. Temperatures will peak at around 11 all 12
Celsius. It will become when the two was the end of the day on
Saturday. We have a band of rain sweeping across the region on
Sunday. That is going to bring some wet and windy conditions. For
Sunday, we have a yellow warning in place. That is for very wet
conditions. It is all down to this area of low pressure coming in