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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today with Nick Owen and Mary Rhodes.
The headlines tonight: Big investment and a thousand new jobs
for Jaguar Land Rover in Birmingham if unions accept new terms.
thought that Tata will invest in the Castle Bromwich site is
excellent news for the region. relief in sight at last for
residents in despair over a rubbish tip that towers over their homes?
The court has made it be clear that there might well penalties if they
don't comply with this. Counting the cost: concern for farmers as
crops and livestock are threatened by rising flood waters.
And how the resplendent yellow fields of Worcestershire have
become a magnet for tourists from Good evening, welcome to Thursday's
Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight: new jobs, new investment
and a big extension to Jaguar's main factory - but only if unions
agree to new working practices. Jaguar Land Rover is to invest �200
million in its Castle Bromwich It's hoped the new money will
create up to 1,000 jobs. It follows the decision to build the new
Jaguar F-type sports car there. As part of the deal to release the new
money, workers are being asked to agree to an "efficiency drive"
which includes Saturday working plus drug and alcohol tests. Here's
our Transport Correspondent Peter Already busy making the highly
successful XF and XJ models, now Castle Bromwich looks likely to get
another big investment and jobs boost. JLR's Indian owners Tata are
putting over a billion pounds into the company, and for Castle
Bromwich that's expected to mean a new body shop. There'll also be new
models, including this car unveiled at the Frankfurt motorshow last
year. It's already been announced that what's being called the Jaguar
F-type will be built at the Birmingham plant and a further
model, dubbed by some the 'baby Jag' could also come here. It's yet
more good news for a factory that less than two years was threatened
with closure, and JLR looked at ways of cutting cost. Now as a
result of strong sales abroad, the company needs all the capacity it
can get. I think it is great news for the region. You cast your mind
back to October pit 1010, we were all concerned that the Castle
Bromwich site may not be open for much longer. So the thought that
Tata will invest up to �200 million in the site is excellent reason for
the region. -- excellent news. to secure the investment, it's
understood that the workforce will have to agree to new working
practices including Saturday working, drugs and alcohol testing
and widespread cost savings. Local people have welcomed the news.
it is short term heartache for the long-term investment, then so be it.
The area needs the investment. see that it is for them and not a
loaded gun, then take it. I think it is good news, and it is showing
a very grown-up relationship between management and unions. It
is significantly better than it was 20 years ago, when there was a
confrontational style between the two. The company currently employs
around 20,000 people across the UK - 5,000 at its factory at Lode Lane
in Solihull - And, 2,600 at the Castle Bromwich plant - A new
engine plant on the i54 site near Wolverhampton will create a further
750 jobs. JLR itself has refused to comment on the investment plans,
saying only that what's being said is pure speculation.
Our Transport Correspondent Peter Plisner is here now. We've just
entered a double dip recesssion, unemployment in the region is close
to quarter of a million. How are Jaguar Land Rover managing to
thrive in these difficult economic conditions? The basic answer is
emerging markets, China, India, Brazil, they are growing economies.
People have more disposable income and they want a quality product,
and JLR products are seen as quality brats. The companies cannot
make enough of the cars. But this does actually rely very much on new
conditions for workers, them accepting new conditions, increased
productivity, drinks and drug testing and working on Saturdays.
What is the Union's position? have been in talk -- talks of for a
long time, and they have recommended Dees. Drugs and alcohol
testing is not unusual in some plants, especially when there is
heavy machinery involved. We are expecting a result from that ballot
tomorrow, and I think most workers If this all goes ahead as planned,
what will it mean for the future of the Castle Bromwich plant? I think
the future -- this will help secure jobs and create new jobs. Not very
far away is one of the worst places for unemployment in the UK. Thank
you. A recycling business has been told
to cut down the size of a rubbish mountain which is towering over
homes in part of the Black Country. The Environment Agency took legal
action against Dudley-based RDF Limited after they repeatedly
ignored demands to reduce the 12 metre high eyesore, despite
protests from residents. Nadine Towell reports.
The view here is as bad today as it was when we filmed in January. For
residents it is a view they are forced to live with. You will hear
mechanical noise constantly, the smell is far worse in the summer,
and the dust is all over the property, over the cars, the doors,
the bricks. The estate are worried about how it will impact on the
value. A few doors down, one of his neighbours' shares is can
frustration. We have had rats in the garage, we have got rid of them,
but they were in the walls as well, they have gone now, but I presume
they came from there. The company responsible, RDF Limited, failed to
meet and about deadlines to reduce the pile, so the Environment Agency
has taken them to court. They wanted a judge to impose an
injunction printing more waste being taken onto the site. But
before the agreement was reached,... They have to get it down to 80
metres high by 15th June, that is six weeks away, we think it is
about golf metres high now. managing director of RDF Limited
refused to appear on camera, but People living he told me they will
believe it when they see it. Buses at the -- bosses must now spend the
next six weeks keeping their promises, or they will face legal
action, a fine or even being sent to prison.
It's been another soggy day, following a week of heavy rain,
which has caused flooding in parts of the region. There are six flood
warnings in the Midlands - all of them on the lower reaches of the
Severn in Worcestershire and There are also 13 flood alerts in
Among those hardest hit are our farmers. They're counting the cost
after rivers burst their banks, leaving crops waterlogged and
forcing livestock to be moved. Cath Mackie joins us from a farm in
Worcestershire. Things looking any drier tonight? Whoever said this
was a glamourous job?! IM in an asparagus field, you can see some
lovely looking dry asparagus underneath, but I am afraid the
rest of the field is struggling. It is not just crops, but animals as
well, as I discovered earlier today. Dairy farmer David Goddard watches
his herd munch their way through what should be their winter feed.
The incessant rain has forced him to bring the cows indoors at his
farm in Tewkesbury. There is a cost implication and a work implication.
We are struggling to do all the work. It is generally a nice time
of the year, and here we are, back in as a bit his winter again!
is more, some of the cows are in calf. These two little ones arrived
just this morning - and at the farm they are fast running out of
bedding straw. You tend to buy all your us draw stocks in the autumn,
and that has been used up. Believe it or not this is grazing
land and this is where the cows currently in that barn ought to be,
but as you can see, it's under water." The National Farmers' Union
say that for many, the rain it is a welcome relief. We were in a
difficult situation a few weeks ago, the talk was about drought and
extended periods of drought and what the impact might be, but
having had some rain, it certainly has helped. Back in Tewkesbury, the
cows not eating grass, are producing less milk - at a time
when dairy farmers are facing cuts in milk prices. And the
unseasonable rain is causing other problems. It is crucial this time
of the year for silage making, and mainstream, please Lord, get a new
appeal for your computer and get your whether distribution sordid!
There'll be plenty of farmers saying Amen to that. Ion with one
of those farmers now. I can see the damage the rain is doing. How much
is this costing? It is costing us in yield. It is a very slow start
to the season. We are not getting any growth, we could be looking 20%
of our yield, because we are missing out on the short season we
have come to that. Demand for British asparagus is huge. What are
you saying to the people who supply? Just be patient, when the
weather warms up, we will have the crop. There is plenty waiting to
come, we need to win if -- wait for the weather to warm up, we have had
enough, it is coming at the wrong time of year. It is ironic, too
much rain, too little, which is worse? I would rather avoid the
rain at this time of year. It is getting in the wake of what we
really want to be Devon, which is harvesting asparagus. We need a
warm soiled -- warm soil conditions. We always want things perfect, we
never get it, they should have come in the winter, we're getting that
rainfall now. It is soul-destroying, looking at this? It doesn't make
for a happy life, does it? Customers are desperately wanting
to find that when we are going to be ready, and every day we are
looking at updated weather forecasts, it is not doing what we
want. This is stopping us from doing our job. Thanks for talking
to us in the pouring rain. company which owned to be my baby
has announced it may be forced to close. They have failed to find a
buyer for the airline. Flight between Birmingham and Belfast, not
and Amsterdam, will be stopped on June 11th. No flight anywhere on
their network are being offered beyond September tent.
Inquest into the death of Kate Prout has been told her husband
just snapped when he strangled her. At his trial, Adrian Pratt denied
killing her, but years later, admitted burying a body on their
farm. Their family said that the apology has come too late. Kate
Pratt simply disappeared on bonfire night, 2007. They had a tempestuous
relationship. Despite being convicted of her murder, her
husband protested his innocence, but last November, he finally
confessed. He showed police where he had buried his wife. At all of
that brings us to debate. The inquest into her death. It -- its
aim, to discover how she died, something which hasn't been
revealed until now. The coroner was told that in his confession, Adrian
told the police he was arguing with his wife when he just snapped and
thrust his hand into her neck. She didn't struggle, and fell to the
ground. Realising he had killed a, he wrapped her body in a curtained
and put it in burqa. He even went to the pub to appears everything
was normal. When he took us to the site, he was very tearful, very
remorseful, and you did actually apologised to the family and
friends -- he did. He says he knows now that he should have told them
right from the start. Now we can reflect on what he has done in the
18 years prison sentence he received for her murder. In their
own interview today, Kate's family said that his remorse was too
little too late. I'm glad he did confess, but it took him a four
years, and it was four years of agony. We have lost Kate forever.
He is locked up for 18 years. It took a long time for him to come
forward and say. It has caused the family a lot of stress. With the
investigation into her murder now complete, her family said they were
now concentrate on plans for a memorial service to celebrate her
life. Putting behind them the focus Still to come: We'll be meeting the
Midlands gymnast who is battling it out for a place in Britain's
Olympic squad. And we've had slate grey skies and
almost constant rain till now, could we do any better for the bank
Or last year, the government pledged to a try of a military
Covenant into law. Today, civic leaders in
Staffordshire a sign of their own version in a ceremony at the
National Memorial arboretum. It pledges help to up soldiers but it
into a county after serving overseas.
Dignitaries from across Staffordshire gathered today to
witness these special signing of the Covenant. In all there are 22
signatories all pledging to help ex service men and women with things
such as finding a new home or job, and also for any other issues they
may face. The covenants were introduced by the Ministry of
defence to redress disadvantages faced by former Armed Forces staff.
Nikki Peterson knows what it's like. As well as serving herself, she's
also been an army wife to her husband, Steve, who's just de-
mobbed after 22 years. Today you are sold here, tomorrow you are a
civilian. Today you've got health care, to worry you've got to
register with a doctor. Those kind of changes in your status, which
will happen now have to once, can present huge problems. The ceremony
was completed with a wreath-laying. We will bring back people... Many
of those people will want to leave the Services in due course and
finish up in that the community. Transferable skills... Whilst
symbolic money is being made available for some of the
organisations involved, to help them help those who've served their
country. Voting's been underway since seven
o'clock this morning in this year's local elections. There are also two
referendums taking place over directly elected mayors. The
polling stations will be open for just over a further three hours.
BBC WM's Political Reporter Elizabeth Glinka joins us now.
Remind us first of all, Elizabeth, what's at stake today?
We have elections taking place at 18 local authorities across our
region. That means 351 council seats are up for grabs today. As
well as those elections, we've also got to referendums taking place,
one or Coventry and one in Birmingham, to decide whether these
cities want to be run by elected mayors.
When will we get the results? The polls close at around 10
o'clock tonight. For the majority of our councils, they will start
counting out that point. We hope to get the results towards the early
hours of tomorrow morning. Five of our councils, Newcastle-under-Lyme,
Wolverhampton, Redditch, rugby and Solihull, have decided they will
count tomorrow. We will not be getting those results until Friday
afternoon. And because of the referendums, in Coventry, they will
be counting tonight. -- in the case of the referendums. In Birmingham,
they are not going to start counting until about 2 o'clock
tomorrow afternoon, which means we are hoping to get a result of that
referendum, perhaps by late afternoon, early evening tomorrow.
And you can keep right up to date with all those results as they come
in on your BBC local radio station and the BBC website.
There'll also be a special election programme on BBC One this evening,
starting at 11.35pm, including round-ups from of what's happening
Now with a look at the sports news. Warwickshire's Ian Bell returned to
form today completing his first century of the season despite a
frustrating rain affected day at Edgbaston. And it's not the only
sport he's been playing this week. The Bears have been to Villa Park
to show their support for the Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov and his
battle with leukaemia. A warning, my report contains some flash
photography. Don't you just hate them? They're
former and current Warwickshire players who've all played
international cricket. And guess what - they're all good at football
too. How annoying! But this wasn't just a kickabout at the Villa Park
Academy. The Warwickshire players and coaches were signing a wall to
support Stiliyan Petrov and his fight with Leukaemia. Warwickshire
already support this charities so it is no surprise they stepped in
to support the Aston Villa captain. It to be here today is special
because no one of his good mates. Am happy to be helping him. How is
he getting on? To have spoken to him. He is a strong character. You
wouldn't know he had this illness, he is just normal. The other fight
Villa have at the moment is to stay in the Premier League. And on
Sunday they host Tottenham. It'll be tough but a win would make them
safe. And Villa fans Ian Bell and Chris Woakes wil be glad if the
relegation fears are eased. I am more optimistic now. The side is
picking up points which is nice to see. I'm optimistic we will stay up.
There is a big game this weekend and hopefully we will pick up a
couple of points there. You are always going to be a little bit
concerned but hopefully we will have enough to get through. We like
to think we will get the result we want. Villa fans are being urged to
sign Stan Petrov's wall at Sunday's game. They hope it can help inspire
the club in more ways than one. And BBC WM is backing a family fun
run in Birmingham as part of its Red Alert Appeal for Cure Leukaemia.
It's on Sunday May 27th at Sutton Park. Further details are on the
charity's website. Kristian Thomas was a teenager when
London was awarded the Olympic Games. But in less than three
months time he's hoping to compete for Britain in the mens' gymnastics.
And the pressure is on to book a place in the team.
It's one of the most graceful sports. But also one of the
toughest. But the British team are starting to reap the rewards of
their intensive training at Lilleshall because the men will
have a team at the Olympics this summer for the first time in 20
years. And Kristian Thomas from Wolverhampton is desperately keen
to make sure he's on that team. is what I have worked 18 years
towards and what my main ambition and goal is to be they competed for
Great Britain. I really am looking forward to it. He's been selected
for the European championships in France later this month, two years
after holding his nerve to win European silver for Britain in
Birmingham. I think his performances have continued to grow
over the last few years. He has gone from strength to strength. He
put in a strong performance in Croatia last week as well. I think
he will do a good job and Montpellier. A and the pressure is
on for these gymnasts. Six were in the European team. Only five will
make it to the Olympics. We are all aware of the situation. We've known
for a few years that this will be the case. We will all be fighting
for a play such training hard. It will be difficult for a person who
doesn't make it but at the end of the day, everyone will say they
have tried their hardest to make the team. Hopefully I will not be
the one out of the team. The 23- year-old learnt his trade at the
Earls club in Halesowen. They won't be the only ones hoping he makes
the cut to carry the Midlands hopes into this summer's Olympics.
I don't know how they do it! We're used to hearing about coach
loads of tourists descending on places like Stratford-upon-Avon.
But an unlikely location's becoming a big draw for the Japanese.
A farmer's oilseed rape fields in the picturesque Cotswolds are now
attracting hundreds of visitors from the Far East.
They've done London and Bourton-on- the-Water. Next stop, some
quintessential English fields of gold. This sea of oil seed rape at
East Lodge Farm at Stanton is becoming a must see for Japanese
tourists in the same way we might be fascinated by Mount Fuji.
think it is wonderful and it is quite beautiful. This is a most
beautiful place. It's fantastic. Farmer Charlie Beldam has planted
1,000 acres of the crop on the Worcestershire/Gloucestershire
border. He's set up his own processing business making cooking
oil. But was taken by surprise when a tour company contacted him,
asking if they could bring the Japanese visitors to his fields.
They don't grow rapeseed in their country. It's an eye-opener to have
49 Japanese turn up to see the flowers, a completely different
thing to what they expect and something that is so normal to us.
Charlie gets �1 per visitor. The Japanese get their pictures. It's
very beautiful. A it's a yellow, lovely sea. A But not everyone
closer to home is as enthusiastic about the crop. They gave the hay
fever, it's the wrong colour for the countryside. We live by �1 it
can be a bit overpowering. Some people think that it shouldn't be
in this country. It is a really important crop for us to grow. It
allows for soil to have a break from cereal crops, helping prevent
disease and pests. And of course it brings a welcome tourist boost to
the Cotswold. In a month's time, this car that of the other will be
gone. On other fields in the farm, crops of linseed will be blossoming,
creating carpets of blue. 14 coachloads of Japanese tourists
have already been booked in to see There is hope on the horizon but
are not overly impressed with the weather at the moment. All things
considered, we should consider ourselves lucky felt it is not
going to be a complete washout over the weekend. We are getting at the
rain out of the way before then because we can see a pair of France
heading down for the North. The rain sandwiched in between will
affect us tonight and tomorrow. The emphasis this weekend is going to
be on colder weather. Colder for Saturday and Sunday with night
frosts, widespread frosts. Then the rain returns on bank holiday Monday.
Back to the seething under overnight, we are covered in cloud
and we saw the rain in the south of the region. We will see this band
of rain having another go at us tonight. It will be heading out
from the north and then it will become patchy towards the early
hours. But a lot of Claus left behind. Misty and murky as
temperatures down to seven orate. However, this all overlaps into the
morning to Morris and it is going to be a grim, dreary start to the
day. That rain will become patchy through the afternoon, perhaps
meeting up this and showers are heading down from the north. The
afternoon will definitely be drier than the morning and it will not be
as wet as today. If there is any brightness during the afternoon,
that will be enough to boost those temperatures slightly, otherwise it
will feel like today with highs of around nine to 11 Celsius. 12
Celsius in places. As for tomorrow night, it will start to clear and
those guys will give us some Documents and letters received...