27/04/2012 Midlands Today


27/04/2012

The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.


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Hello, welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines: success on a plate -

:00:09.:00:13.

record sales figures for a pottery firm in the week we sank back into

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recession. They know that it is going to be reliable, be the best

:00:19.:00:25.

value and they trust the company. Paralysed after a hit and run crash

:00:25.:00:29.

last year, now amazingly he walks out of hospital.

:00:29.:00:34.

A truly inspiring - 50 years on, a retired pilot recalls putting the

:00:34.:00:38.

finishing touches to Coventry Cathedral.

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And manager Alex McLeish says he will shoulder the burden as Aston

:00:43.:00:53.
:00:53.:01:05.

Good evening. Welcome to Friday's Midlands Today. Tonight in the week

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we officially entered a double-dip recession, a pottery firm announces

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record sales figures and plans to build a new factory. Steelite

:01:14.:01:18.

International based in Stoke-on- Trent has seen its sales jump by

:01:18.:01:26.

9.4 % over the last year, to �66.3 million. Profits reached �7.9

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million as the company announced it is to create 230 jobs by building a

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new factory. But the overall economic picture remains next.

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This factory is home to the UK's biggest tableware manufacturer.

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Steelite International's record sales figures come as the company

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is about to expand. It will create more than 200 jobs. It is about

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making sure we have the right skills going forward so that we can

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fulfil the orders. 18-year-old Dan Stone is one of eight apprentices

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at the company is taking on. I have many friends who struggled to get

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jobs who actually have studies, College, University and then myself,

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and other friends who have experience finding it easier to get

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jobs. As a result of healthy order books, production has increased. Up

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to half a million pieces of chinaware are made here every week.

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The fact that this is made in Britain has driven demand in

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markets including the United States and Asia. Oh round-the-world there

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is a lot of trust, a lot of faith in made in England and made in

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Stoke-on-Trent. People know they are going to get a good quality

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products, that it will be reliable, they know it will give them the

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best value and they trust the company and they trust the area to

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produce great products. But in a week where the economy officially

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double dip into recession, conditions remain challenging.

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would anticipate that later in the year growth will resume, but it

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will be what the Americans call by and large jobless growth. Back on

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the factory floor, those continuing concerns mean the outlook is still

:03:19.:03:25.

tough. Energy prices have a big impact. Nevertheless, this firm is

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leading the way in a resurgence in the pottery industry.

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Joining us is the director for the Confederation of British Industry

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in the West Midlands, Richard Butler. We have a bad picture

:03:40.:03:43.

nationally but somebody like Steelite International doing really

:03:43.:03:48.

well. How typical is that company? Et is fairly typical. We should not

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beat ourselves up about figures of the recession. We have had some bad

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news today. The Pritchard Group going into administration. They are

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in property development. Is that typical a picture of the

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construction industry? It does appear that construction has taken

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the bulk of the economic difficulties but we need to look at

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some of the opportunities and if you are servicing the UK at

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difficult markets, and it is quite promising. Where will be the

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crewmen come from? Unemployment figures dropped last month but we

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are still above the national average. We are and our region has

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been historically above the average. The success will come from my new

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factory -- manufacturing industries. We are optimistic and have plans

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for taking on the people. What are they looking to to increase

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business? The main trend is being fairly aggressive in their approach

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to international markets. In the UK, UK population is 1% of the global

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population. 99 % of global markets are overseas. Companies need to

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look more actively at international markets and opportunity is.

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A motorcyclist who endured months of gruelling treatment after a hit

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and run driver left him for dead fulfilled his dream of walking out

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of hospital today. John Parsons was initially left paralysed as a

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result of the crash and feared he would never walk again. Three have

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been following his remarkable story. 24-year-old John Parsons is

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realising a dream. His movement is slow and laboured, but his desire

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to one-day walkout of a specialist orthopaedic hospital is what has

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kept him going. He was initially paralysed after being knocked from

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his motorbike by a hit and run driver on the A500 in January.

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lost for words. I just want to go home now. It has taken so long to

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get this far. It is amazing. John, from Stafford, spent seven weeks

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lying on his back paralysed from the waist down after his spine was

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fractured in several places. Then longer still in physiotherapy.

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Today it was time to say goodbye to a fellow patients and to those who

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have treated him. I feel like I have had everything I always wanted

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and it has all suddenly come, like a dream come true. The future is

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very bright for John. He will eventually, in my experience, walk

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a lot better than he is walking at the moment. John is making a claim

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for a scheme set up to compensate victims of hit and run drivers. A

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spokesman for the Motor Insurers' Bureau said, sadly, John's is not

:06:54.:07:00.

an isolated case. Every year we received 30,000 claims from the

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victims of uninsured or on untraced drivers. They have a 1.2 million

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uninsured motorists on UK roads. 11 of the top 20 worst postcodes are

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here in the West Midlands. John headed home with his family with

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his hopes now set on eventually returning to work as an assistant

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shop manager. Staffordshire police meanwhile say they have exhausted

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all lines of inquiry but would review the case if new evidence

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comes in. Gloucestershire Police's Chief

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Constable has announced he is resigning in protest at the

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introduction of elected police commissioners. Tony Malvern is

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leaving after to Mickey is in the job saying he has grave concerns

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about the current police reform agenda.

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Campaigners against an illegal gypsy site say they will defy an

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order to take down their protest camp. Residents in Meriden have

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maintained a round-the-clock vigil for nearly two years close to a

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group of gypsies who set up camp without permission. Protesters have

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until Sunday to move. The gypsies say it is the residents who are now

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breaking the law and have accused them of hypocrisy. We will not take

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moral lessons from people who have a long-standing of unlawful

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activity. We are here to campaign and we will not cease until the

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green belt is restored. It is less than a week to go until voters go

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to the polls. So far much of the focus has been on referendums in

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Birmingham and Coventry over directly elected mayors but there

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are also a series of important town or contest taking place. 18

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councils are holding elections next Thursday when a total of 351 seats

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will be up for grabs. Among them is Tottenham which is currently the

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only council run by the Lib Dems. - - Cheltenham. Can they hold on to

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Cheltenham's council offices give this town a genteel appearance but

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it's politics is a rather different. Since the borough was created 40

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years ago, only the Lib Dems and Tories have run it and Labour at

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present do not have a single seat. Their bigger rivals regularly do

:09:16.:09:20.

electoral battle. The last time power shifted was in 2008 with the

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Lib Dems overhauling the Tories to take control. But that was before

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the parties got together at Westminster. The Lib Dems hope

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people can consider local issues when they vote. They are

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philosophical about the party's loss of support elsewhere. I have

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not seen any signs of that. I always remind people that I want to

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seek Tottenham on the opinion polls. Anything is possible. -- Cheltenham.

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And the doors of voters in Cheltenham get more political

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visitors than most places. Elections for half the council

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seats are held every two might years. That is something the Tories

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want to change. The first thing we would do is talk to the Boundary

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Commission and say look at this, or reduce the number will have

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councillors. The big thing we would do is move the elections to once

:10:17.:10:22.

every four years. Why are we spending taxpayers' money on having

:10:22.:10:25.

elections every second year? Leaving the Tories and Lib Dems are

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to attack each other suits the leader of the other group, the

:10:31.:10:40.

people against democracy. We have no interest in the well-being of

:10:40.:10:44.

either the Conservative Party or the Lib Dems. What we are

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interested in is doing what we believe is best for Cheltenham.

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Campaigning is intense. We will know the results in a week's time.

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Our political editor Patrick Burns joins us from outside Birmingham

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city council house. The Lib Dems battling to keep control in

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Cheltenham. They have quite a fight on their hands elsewhere.

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Absolutely. They are fighting for their very lives not just in

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Cheltenham but here in Birmingham and Newcastle under Lyme where they

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are the junior partners with the Conservatives. But there is a lot

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more riding their in Cheltenham. No surprise Nick Clegg has been there.

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Traditionally, although the party is languishing on 11 % in the polls,

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they have had a record of campaigning strongly. But I'm sure

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of Mr Clegg has been doing his best to bolster their local credentials.

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Well for Labour it is the opposite. They are fighting to gain new

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ground. Yes, the key thing about the seats is that the last time

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they were contested was four years ago when the Tories were on a roll.

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It is hard now for Labour not to gain ground by comparison because

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he in Birmingham, they need only four more seats to displace the

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Conservative, Lib Dem coalition. Similar targets Walsall and in

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Cannock Chase. What is in this for the Conservatives? Just damage-

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limitation? They are bracing themselves privately for a

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difficult week, but they do, at the moment they do have majorities in

:12:28.:12:38.
:12:38.:12:38.

nine councils. Rugby is another big one. There they need 22 seats to

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retain control. Plenty for you to talk about in this week's Sunday

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Politics. Yes we are on at fog will clog on BBC One. There is more

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about the referendum on electoral mayor's also.

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Still to come: it will not stop raining, are things looking better

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for the weekend? A weekend of two halves. Drier weather for Saturday

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but it will stay cloudy but for Sunday, it is turning very wet and

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very windy with the potential to see localised flooding. 84 forecast

:13:14.:13:24.
:13:24.:13:27.

Police have released photos of drivers stealing petrol from

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service stations. A crime known as bilking and according to petrol

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retailers it has become endemic. In Wolverhampton there have been more

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than more -- 80 cases since the beginning of March. Some of the

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industry want people forced to pay up. Sergeant Colin Mattinson shows

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me where the latest spate of petrol best have taken place. The drivers

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who are stealing it were caught on camera after filling their cars

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with petrol, they drove off without paying, the number plates are

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stolen. Across the city there have been 83 similar crimes in the last

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two months. There has been investments particularly in this

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station up with CCTV, which helps us track down those offenders.

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Bilking has forced Shailesh Parekh to turn detective. He regularly

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checks numberplates that pullup. this service station, I last �3,000.

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RMI petrol has say bilking is endemic across the UK. From talking

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to their members they reckon accidents have doubled and they are

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blaming the recession for the high cost of fuel. Police launched an

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operation to tackle bilking and incidents in the first four months

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of this year fell by 37 %. But retailers say a growing problem is

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the number of people filling up and then claiming they cannot afford to

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pay. I would like all stations to follow what they do in America

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where you have to go into the kiosk and pay first. Police say they hope

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these images will encourage anyone 50 years ago today, the finishing

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touches were being put to Coventry's new cathedral. The RAF

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came in to hoist the bronze spire onto the roof in a delicate and

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precarious operation, and one of the pilots involved all those years

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ago has been back to inspect his handiwork.

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50 years ago today this RAF Helicopter made a short but

:15:34.:15:38.

historic flight when it was used to lift the 80-foot bronze spire onto

:15:38.:15:48.
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The pilots were John Dowling on the left and Ron Salt on the right.

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John has since passed away but Ron is in good health and has decided

:15:56.:16:06.
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to see his endeavours from all So with the help of West Midlands

:16:07.:16:17.
:16:17.:16:26.

Fire Service he was taken onto the Just get that over...! That is it.

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Wonderful. We came from that direction all along the roof. It is

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:16:47.:16:47.

good. Well worth seeing like theirs. We did not have a roof like this at

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the height like this to practise with. We just had a flat airfield.

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It was well worth doing what we did because we came here full of

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confidence, probably cheekily so, but it worked.

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This was nearly called off because of the menacing weather, but we

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have just managed to find a gap in the clouds, and Ron is delighted.

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I'm so thrilled to see Commentary now as I have never seen it before.

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-- to see Coventry. It is a thrill to look over the city and see it

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has developed so much. With his visit at an end, it was

:17:35.:17:38.

time for Ron to return to his family home in Wiltshire. But he'll

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be bring back stories of another memorable visit to Coventry.

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A brave man! Now with a look ahead to a crucial

:17:50.:17:52.

weekend in the football calendar, here's Dan Pallett.

:17:52.:17:55.

Aston Villa have three games left to hang on to their Premier League

:17:55.:17:58.

status. And just to add a little extra spice tomorrow, they make the

:17:58.:18:01.

short trip to West Bromwich Albion. Today both managers said they

:18:01.:18:05.

believed Villa would avoid relegation. So now it's up to Alex

:18:05.:18:10.

McLeish to deliver the goods. Ian Winter has been to meet him.

:18:10.:18:16.

He walked in knowing he faced some tough questions. And typical of the

:18:16.:18:21.

man, his answers were straightforward. But it was the

:18:21.:18:25.

team's slump in performance that has made them angry.

:18:25.:18:28.

Have you ever seen such abuse as the other night?

:18:28.:18:33.

I don't hear individual shouts. I hear the Boeing, but I was

:18:33.:18:37.

disappointed. But he knows Aston Villa's

:18:37.:18:47.
:18:47.:18:50.

condition is critical. They have Do you feel you are in a no-win

:18:50.:18:54.

situation? I don't see it that way. If we stay

:18:54.:19:00.

in the division, I will be much happier about the future.

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You would be. But would that play KP Aston Villa fans?

:19:04.:19:11.

I can only try to win them over. But are the fans willing to be won

:19:11.:19:16.

over? The Albion boss watched Tuesday's defeat by Bolton, and

:19:16.:19:21.

today he said he would be surprised if Aston Villa went down. But he

:19:21.:19:26.

added, nothing is unthinkable. The club statement in midweek was

:19:26.:19:30.

meant to clarify the situation. But it has muddied the waters.

:19:30.:19:35.

It was a statement for the last three games. That is as far as we

:19:35.:19:39.

should be looking. Does that sound like a man who is

:19:39.:19:43.

making plans for next season? Probably not. But if the next three

:19:43.:19:47.

games are his last, he can't afford to see Aston Villa take the lead

:19:47.:19:54.

and then lose at West Brom, as they did earlier.

:19:54.:19:57.

Relegation and promotion issues could be settled in Leagues One and

:19:57.:19:59.

Two this weekend. It means fans of Walsall, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and

:19:59.:20:02.

Hereford are either dreaming of glory or fearing the worst. It's

:20:02.:20:11.

It's their last away trip of the season, and it could be their last

:20:11.:20:15.

in the football league for a while. Hereford United are bottom but one

:20:15.:20:21.

in League Two. They're two points from safety, and the fixture hasn't

:20:21.:20:27.

been kind. The problem for Hereford is their

:20:27.:20:32.

last two Danes are tough. -- two games.

:20:32.:20:37.

We are trying to stay positive. We know we have got two massive games.

:20:37.:20:47.

We have got to stay positive and take the positivity into the game.

:20:47.:20:49.

Walsall have also got that sinking feeling, especially after losing

:20:49.:20:53.

their last three matches. Fan Paul Leadbeater has been to almost 2,000

:20:53.:20:58.

games. He's part of a passionate hardcore hoping for survival.

:20:58.:21:05.

We have got a hard core of 3,500. To be honest, they are very loyal

:21:05.:21:10.

supporters. I just hope for them as much as the football club and the

:21:10.:21:16.

town that we can do it. But Shrewsbury are very close to

:21:16.:21:19.

heading in the other direction. They need just one more win for

:21:19.:21:22.

automoatic promotion from League Two. They'll hope to do it at home

:21:22.:21:29.

against Dagenham and Redbridge. Cheltenham Town must use the play-

:21:29.:21:32.

off route now. But the manager's keen to keep the pressure off the

:21:32.:21:41.

players. There's no point over-emphasising

:21:41.:21:47.

things. They know what is at stake, what they want to achieve.

:21:47.:21:50.

It's a weekend when our clubs could be on the move. They'll hope it's

:21:50.:21:53.

only in an upwards direction. So a nerve wracking weekend awaits

:21:53.:21:56.

many of our clubs. You can follow every twist and turn on your BBC

:21:57.:22:03.

local radio station. Finally, some worrying news for

:22:03.:22:08.

Birmingham. They have not published their financial news again today.

:22:08.:22:10.

They could have an embargo until July.

:22:10.:22:13.

The creator of an iconic television theme tune, the man behind the

:22:13.:22:16.

legendary 2-Tone record label and an influential soul singer have all

:22:16.:22:25.

been celebrated in their home city A Gloucestershire company has

:22:25.:22:35.
:22:35.:22:36.

managed to sell tea to China. I need a cup of tea! It exports to 45

:22:36.:22:46.
:22:46.:22:50.

Some things never change, but if it was not for the Chinese emperor in

:22:50.:22:55.

2007 BC, things might be different. Since then, it is China that has

:22:55.:22:57.

had most of the tea market in the bag.

:22:57.:23:01.

When you think about it, nothing is so British as having a cup of tea.

:23:01.:23:05.

We have been drinking it for hundreds of years. But we can't

:23:05.:23:14.

claim that he is our own. -- that tea is our own. So can we tell --

:23:14.:23:19.

sell tea to China? This company is doing that. They

:23:19.:23:23.

produce 80 million bags per year, most of which go to places around

:23:23.:23:28.

the world. The way that the Chinese see

:23:28.:23:34.

products is different to places like Germany, France and the Middle

:23:34.:23:39.

East and Australia. We have to really focus on making sure that we

:23:39.:23:44.

have the right translation, and China is now looking at the gift of

:23:44.:23:48.

health. They want to buy healthy products.

:23:48.:23:58.

With a variety is for throat relief, it is tea with an extra kick. It is

:23:58.:24:04.

in high demand. The tourists are still lapping it up.

:24:04.:24:08.

We had a lot of Spanish a few weeks ago. We had to show them how to

:24:08.:24:14.

pour the tea. They loved it. They said they don't get anything like

:24:14.:24:22.

it in their own country. These were 16, 17 year olds. What if the

:24:22.:24:28.

Emperor could see this? Would he agree? Brother Billy yes. --

:24:28.:24:38.
:24:38.:24:44.

That is something! Now the weather. We have certainly had a very wet

:24:44.:24:50.

month, would almost double the monthly rainfall. For this evening,

:24:50.:24:55.

it is staying cloudy and it will be a damp one ahead for most of us. We

:24:55.:25:00.

hold on to a few showers this evening. The rain will reinvigorate

:25:00.:25:05.

tonight. Eventually we see that died out towards the morning.

:25:05.:25:10.

Temperatures will dip to three of four Celsius. For this weekend, it

:25:10.:25:15.

is a weekend of two cars. It looks cloudy by drier on Saturday, and

:25:15.:25:20.

Sunday Liz very wet and we are going to see the Winslow -- Sunday

:25:20.:25:28.

looks very wet and we are going to see the winds picking up as well.

:25:28.:25:33.

It is staying cloudy for much of the day on Saturday. A very limited

:25:33.:25:37.

amount of brightness. Temperatures will peak at around 11 all 12

:25:37.:25:43.

Celsius. It will become when the two was the end of the day on

:25:43.:25:47.

Saturday. We have a band of rain sweeping across the region on

:25:47.:25:51.

Sunday. That is going to bring some wet and windy conditions. For

:25:51.:25:56.

Sunday, we have a yellow warning in place. That is for very wet

:25:56.:26:00.

conditions. It is all down to this area of low pressure coming in

:26:00.:26:04.

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