27/04/2012 Midlands Today


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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


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