17/05/2012 Midlands Today


17/05/2012

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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines: We're not

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privatising the force - some services are put out of contract.

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They are trying to reassure the public that it is not about taking

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police out of public ownership. Two people are arrested over the

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brutal attack on a 90 three-year- old in Birmingham.

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Houses demolished in Cheltenham after a gas explosion - the owners

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face a 12 month wait to return home. It is just a complete upheaval. It

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is almost as though life will never be the same.

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And getting on track - the BMA's World Championship come to

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:00:56.:00:58.

Good evening and welcome to Thursday's Midlands Today from the

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BBC. Tonight: West Midlands Police is not for

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sale. That was the blunt message from the force's Chief Constable

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Chris Sims today. He was speaking after accusations from unions that

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core police services face privatisation. In March, both the

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West Midlands and Surrey forces invited bids from the private

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sector for �1.5 billion of policing services. But in another

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development today, Surrey's Chief Constable announced their plans

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were being put on hold until after the Olympic Games. Here's our

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Out on the streets the police are hard at work. They say they're

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cutting crime to its lowest level in years - down ten per cent.

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Policing has changed enormously over the years and it is due to

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change even more. But today's event was about public relations, and the

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chiefs wanted to put the message across that West Midlands Police is

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not for sale. The force has to save �126 million.

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They, along with Surrey Police, are looking at a business partnership.

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So a private company could take over some existing police roles.

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But doesn't that mean privatization? No, says the force.

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We are really trying to reassure the public that this is not about

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taking police out of public ownership.

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Unions and the Police Federation called today's event a smokescreen

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and claimed core police jobs would be privatised.

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I'm talking about the people who answer 999 calls, the people who

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deal with crime scenes, the people who handle cases - all of these

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people are part of the police. Scaremongering, say the police

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chiefs. We are not asking people to take

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over as police. Policing is an accountable public service. We are

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in the Business of correcting some really serious myths that are

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scaring the public. But the new Chief Constable of

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Surrey, Lynne Owens, called for a delay in the process and for more

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public consultation. It's claimed there that private firms have been

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told that they could bid for jobs like guarding crime scenes,

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patrolling neighbourhoods and collecting CCTV. One advert by a

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private security company is offering jobs for child abuse

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investigators. The Chief Constable denied that his force would

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privatise such a sensitive role. That is absolutely not what was

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done as police -- West Midlands Police is trying to do.

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Investigations are a core part of policing and will continue to be

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done by police officers. Tonight, West Midlands Police said

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the decision made by Surrey would not have any impact on the progress

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of its ongoing tendering process. But questions and controversy

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surrounding this issue will not go Earlier I spoke to the deputy

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secretary for the West Midlands Police Federation, Steve Grange,

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from our studios in Southampton. The Federation represents the

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interests of rank and file police officers. He gave his thoughts on

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the comments from Chris Sims. Our concerns with a privatisation

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issue within the miss Wigan's -- West Midlands - it is a joint thing

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with Surrey. The Chief Constable there has suspended their part of

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the programme. It is a jointly funded danger. They are putting in

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�1 million, we are putting in �2 million, the government �3 million.

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That is going to have an effect with the bits going forward. There

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was a bid as conference in London where a procurement nineties has

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gone out to companies to bid for services. That notice is very far-

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reaching. Do you think the West Midlands

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should put this on hold, as they have done in Surrey?

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I do, yeah. There needs to be a period of consultation. The police

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authority are going to be asked next week at a meeting in

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Birmingham as to whether they believe it is right to give the

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rest of the money to go forward with this venture. I think it is

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time to actually have some proper consultation and to think about

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whether this is the best way to go. But Chris since is saying this is

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back of his work. If you look at the notice, it has

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gone out to these companies and its is very far-reaching. It covers

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everything that does not require the power of arrest. I know he said

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the rank of constable in the West Midlands is sacrosanct. I welcome

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that. But clearly there are some important functions that these

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private companies have been asked to take on which it comes down by

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police staff. -- which are carried done.

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Detectives investigating a brutal attack on a 93-year-old woman in

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Birmingham have arrested two people. Emma Winnall suffered severe

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injuries at her home more than two weeks ago. A man and a woman were

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arrested this morning and are being questioned on suspicion of assault.

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We can cross now to our reporter Bob Hockenhull, who's outside Mrs

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Winnall's home at Moseley in Birmingham. Bob, what more can you

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tell us about these arrests? A 56-year-old woman and a 28-year-

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old man were arrested at their home in the neighbouring suburbs just

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before 6:30am. The police have said that this was not as a result of a

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tip-off from the public but as a result of information from a

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routine inquiry. The two are being held as a police station, but they

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have not said where. This was a crime that are poor people in this

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area and those living beyond. Emma Winnall suffered a fractured skull,

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a broken arm and wrist and a partially severed finger in the

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attack. A reminder of what happened - she was discovered unconscious in

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her bed and she was covered in blood. On May sixth, she was able

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to talk to detectives. She told him the attack had left her shocked and

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confused. On May eighth, her daughter appealed for help to catch

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the attackers. On May ninth, crime stoppers offered a �5,000 reward.

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What more have the police been saying this evening?

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The police have said that Emma Winnall remains in hospital in a

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poorly condition. That is 17 days after the attack. They say that

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even though two suspects are in custody, this remains very much an

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ongoing inquiry. The reward of �5,000 are still on offer and

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anybody with information can Bob Hockenhull, thank you very much.

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Still to come in tonight's programme:

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The Chelsea Flower Show's coming up but one Staffordshire grower's

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plans have been hit by the wet Families living near the scene of a

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gas explosion in Cheltenham stayed away as their homes were pulled

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down today. Two houses had to be destroyed after the blast which

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shook Rosehill Street a week ago. Many are still living in hotels and

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rented accommodation. And now others who live nearby are coming

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together to raise money for their Once again the peace in Rosehill

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Street is shattered, but this time the demolition is deliberate. With

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cracks widening by the day, at least two houses either side of the

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one that exploded have to come down. The property was assessed as beyond

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repair. In fact it was a dangerous structure. So the council pushed

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through the legislation so that we could demolish it.

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Inside these homes, family possessions. Many will be lost

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forever, but here the demolition teams have been salvaging

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belongings. It may not be much, but for the

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families it's a small reminder of what was once their home. The

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community is pulling together here, though. A planned street party is

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still going ahead to raise money for those affected by the explosion.

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We're going to send out letters to local businesses over the next week

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to see how they can help. If they have got anything to donate to last,

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:09:56.:09:58.

that could be really helpful. -- to In contrast, at a school, the

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annual charitable fund day. But this year it's taken on added

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meaning. Enjoying throwing wet sponges at pictures of her teachers

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is Catherine Drinkwater. It's a welcome distraction because it's

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her house that's being pulled down today.

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This event will help raise hundreds of pounds to replace clothes and

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other belongings she's lost. So, some comfort amidst the pain of

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what's happening. At least now the families can start to think about

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rebuilding their lives and their homes.

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As soon as it happens to somebody that knows you, it is more urgent

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to help. Katharine is such a lovely A man's died after falling from a

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bridge over the M5 in Worcestershire. It happened at

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Junction 4 of the motorway near Bromsgrove this morning. Ambulance

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crews were called but the man was confirmed dead at the scene. The

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southbound carriageway was closed for three hours.

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The pub and brewing company Marston's has announced half-year

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pre-tax profits of �33.5 million, a rise of 15 per cent on the previous

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year. The Wolverhampton-based company, which makes Marston's and

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Banks' beers, saw an increase in sales of premium ales in the six

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months to the end of March. Food sales were also up in its

:11:03.:11:13.
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nationwide chain of 2,000 pubs. The body of a Shropshire serviceman

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killed in Afghanistan on Saturday has been flown back to the UK.

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Corporal Brent McCarthy, of the RAF Police, was shot dead by Afghan

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national police officers. He is the 34th serviceman from the Midlands

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to be killed in the conflict. A senior MP has called for improved

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security for British troops Corporal Brent McCarthy had been

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stationed at RAF Brize Norton for the past two years. Today, the 25-

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year-old's body was returned in a On Saturday, while providing

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security in Helmand Province, Corporal McCarthy was shot dead by

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members of the Afghan police force. His parents say they've only been

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given vague details about what happened.

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Nobody can tell me the facts and exactly what has happened because

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of the investigations are but a bang on. I'm proud of him

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regardless. -- that are going on. He was just a lovely young man.

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This is a joint Afghan and British patrol filmed by the BBC in Helmand.

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Corporal McCarthy is just one of 20 foreign service men and women

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killed this year by Afghans they serve alongside, in so-called

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green-on-blue attacks. We remain vigilant at all times and

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keep risk to a minimum. But it is an important element of what we do

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here. We show the Afghans that we trust them.

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More than 9,000 British troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the end

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of 2014, but hundreds of soldiers could stay to train Afghan forces.

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One Birmingham MP, who sits on the Defence Committee, says they must

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be better protected in time for the security handover.

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Those who will remain who will be responsible for the security, I am

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not convinced that the Afghan troops will be sufficient to

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provide that production. In a statement, the MOD says an

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investigation into Corporal McCarthy's death is underway but

:13:25.:13:35.
:13:35.:13:39.

Children could soon be taught pottery skills again. Experts in

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the ceramics industry want pottery put back onto the school curriculum

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to help plug a growing skills gap. The number of people working in the

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industry has fallen from a peak of around 24,000 to around 8,000 now.

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A pilot project is now running in Stoke-on-Trent to try to fire up

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young people to consider ceramics as a career, as Laura May McMullan

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reports. Wade Ceramics is one of the biggest

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manufacturers in Stoke-on-Trent. Bosses here say traditional skills

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are in short supply. They've never been busier, yet they're still

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struggling to fill vacancies. think in the past what has been

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happening is children have followed in the footsteps of their parents.

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Unfortunately, parents have now decided not to work in the industry

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so they are not following them. that is one of the main focuses of

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this project. To get the skills back. Brownhills Academy in Stoke-

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on-Trent is one of five local schools taking part in the year-

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long programme alongside Staffordshire University. Staff

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here say re-introducing traditional skills is vital. It is about

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bringing those kinds of materials back into the classroom because

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they are very used to using the computers, which are very clean and

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tidy. It is about bringing their confidence back about using these

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different materials. And this group enrolled on Staffordshire

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University's M.A course are the future generation of ceramic

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designers. Students here have set up their own award-winning company

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Flux, with well over �100,000 in orders. But despite the success,

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the university's ceramic design undergraduate degree course is

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running at a loss. It does reflect a reality that we need to redress.

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And if we want to make changes, they have to start at an early age.

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Companies like Wade are staging a strong fightback with year-on-year

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profits. And just as the back stamp says "made in Stoke-on-Trent",

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experts want the next generation to be trained in Stoke-on-Trent.

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A gold medal sweet pea grower says this spring's terrible weather

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could scupper his chances of success at Chelsea. The world-

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famous flower show opens in London next week. Derek Heathcote, who's

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been in the sweetpea business for over 20 years, says he's struggling

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to get enough flowers to fill his stand. Sarah Falkland's been to his

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home in the village of Stowe-by- Chartley in Staffordshire. Hello!

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Welcome to Derek's greenhouse. The ambient culture today is 19 degrees.

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But not enough for Chelsea. Just look at the flowers. No peas on

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them whatsoever. They should be heaving with flowers now and there

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is nothing at all. It is heartbreaking. Basically, the cold

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might have been down to two, three degrees. And it is that cold spell

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and a lack of sunshine to bring them out. Derek's a famous name in

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the world of sweet peas. He's won gold at Chelsea five times. His son

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Andy works alongside him. They cross-pollinate plants to create

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new varieties. This is Charlie's Angels. Put your nose on that and

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smell the perfume! Each new variety takes seven years to create, this

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one for the Queen. It's called Diamond Jubilee and will showcase

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at Chelsea. This weekend, they will start snipping the stems for

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Chelsea. They need 2000. At the moment they reckon they have only

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500. So he's having to call up friends who grow his own Eagle

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sweet pea varieties to lend him some. Is it worth it? Of course,

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yeah. It is enjoyable to do, despite the setbacks we get. But we

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get it every year anyway, so we are learning to live with it! What is

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it about Chelsea? It is so prestigious as a show. You can put

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your new varieties out there for the world to see and the world

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comes to Chelsea to see the flowers. They can't sweet-talk them into

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flowering. For many of Derek's plants it'll be Hampton Court, not

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Chelsea. Good luck to him! There will be

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more from Sarah on Monday's programme.

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Still to come, Ben Sidwell with a bizarre tale of knitting and outer

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space. Find out what rugby and rubber chickens have to do with

:18:32.:18:36.

NASA and space exploration! I think you have dropped a stitch!

:18:36.:18:39.

Well, there's nothing out of this world about the weather, unless

:18:39.:18:42.

cloud, rain and the cold is freaking you out this spring! But

:18:42.:18:52.
:18:52.:18:53.

that could all change next week. Here's Dan with the sport, and the

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nerves are jangling in Cheltenham. Cheltenham Town are just 90 minutes

:18:57.:19:01.

away from Wembley and a place in the League 2 play-off final. They

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take a two-goal lead into tonight's semi-final second leg against

:19:04.:19:07.

Torquay. And the fans are hoping their excellent play-off record can

:19:07.:19:15.

continue. Remember this? Ten years ago Steve

:19:15.:19:17.

Cotterill led Cheltenham to play- off triumph at Cardiff's Millennium

:19:17.:19:21.

Stadium. How about this? In 2006, John Ward's team rode an open-top

:19:21.:19:23.

bus to celebrate returning Cheltenham to the third tier of

:19:23.:19:32.

English football, and the weather couldn't spoil the party. In short,

:19:32.:19:35.

when the Robins are in the play- offs, they win them. Fans are

:19:36.:19:42.

hoping for a repeat. Absolutely! They will do it now. They deserve

:19:42.:19:47.

to go up. We support them all the way. Really good display. But

:19:47.:19:52.

confident? Of course, absolutely! And it's not surprising they're

:19:52.:19:56.

confident, after winning sunday's first leg 2-0 against Torquay. But

:19:56.:20:01.

don't expect them to sit back and defend tonight. We have to be

:20:01.:20:06.

organised and disciplined. But we can go on playing the same manner.

:20:06.:20:10.

We scored a couple of goals and could have had a few more. We have

:20:10.:20:13.

played some good stuff and I want that to continue. It's already been

:20:13.:20:17.

a memorable season at Whaddon Road. Now they want a trip to Wembley and

:20:17.:20:23.

promotion, to round it off in style. It would be massive. It has been a

:20:23.:20:26.

very good year for the championship because we have had such a good run

:20:26.:20:30.

in the FA Cup. And if we get to Wembley, that would make them

:20:30.:20:33.

really happy. And then for the supporters, it would round off a

:20:33.:20:36.

really good season. And if history's any judge, stories

:20:36.:20:39.

involving Cheltenham Town in the play-offs tend to have a happy

:20:39.:20:41.

endings. And there's full match commentary

:20:41.:20:43.

of the game on BBC Radio Gloucestershire this evening.

:20:43.:20:47.

Coverage starts at 7.05pm. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is the new

:20:47.:20:50.

bookies favourite to be the next manager of Aston Villa. It follows

:20:51.:20:53.

widespread speculation that Randy Lerner has flown to Norway for

:20:53.:20:57.

talks. The former Manchester United striker led Molde to the League

:20:57.:21:01.

Championship in Norway in 2011. The man he could replace, Alex McLeish,

:21:01.:21:04.

has released a statement today saying he was honoured to have

:21:04.:21:08.

managed Aston Villa. McLeish says his one regret is that he wasn't

:21:08.:21:10.

able to achieve more for the supporters and their high

:21:10.:21:14.

expectations. A state-of-the-art BMX cycling

:21:14.:21:17.

track is being built at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham

:21:17.:21:21.

as the city prepares to host the World Championships. Competition

:21:21.:21:24.

will be particularly tough as it's the final qualifying event for the

:21:24.:21:28.

Olympics. The track itself has been designed by a firm in Shropshire

:21:28.:21:31.

and built using dirt from a Birmingham quarry, as Nick

:21:31.:21:37.

Clitheroe reports. This must be every BMX biker's

:21:37.:21:42.

dream having a World Championship track all to yourself. A track

:21:42.:21:47.

that's risen from the dust 3,000 tonnes of it. And when the World

:21:47.:21:50.

Championships begin at the NIA next week, places at the London Games

:21:50.:21:54.

will be up for grabs. That's why these men are working long days

:21:54.:21:57.

turning 8,000 palletts, 3,000 of limestone and 18 tonnes of steel

:21:57.:22:07.
:22:07.:22:07.

into a stunning race track. It has been quite a long time in the

:22:07.:22:11.

making and quite a challenging process but it is really shaping up.

:22:11.:22:15.

Hopefully, they will be really surprised. The World Championships

:22:15.:22:21.

hasn't been in an arena for a long time and apparently it is riding

:22:21.:22:25.

well, riding fast. It has taken a week to put this up but after the

:22:25.:22:30.

championships, they only have 48 hours to take it all down. But it's

:22:30.:22:32.

not just the elite who'll be dreaming of riding this track.

:22:32.:22:35.

2,000 amateurs, including 20 from the Birmingham BMX Club, will

:22:35.:22:40.

compete at the Worlds. To have that many riders in such an event is

:22:40.:22:43.

great for the club. I have been training really hard so looking

:22:43.:22:52.

forward to riding it. Riders from New Zealand and Australia have

:22:52.:22:54.

already been training here for the Championships. But for one world

:22:54.:22:57.

rider, this is home. Because Ben Martinez is a member of the

:22:57.:23:00.

Birmingham Club but will ride for Bolivia at the Worlds. I have been

:23:01.:23:03.

chasing the World Championships since I was a kid. I think this is

:23:03.:23:08.

it now. It is very important for me and for my country as well. And for

:23:08.:23:12.

the club. And with so much at stake, no wonder the workers on this track

:23:12.:23:20.

are in pursuit of perfection. A great event. Before ago, a century

:23:20.:23:27.

for the club today meant they have posted 557 for six. They needed

:23:27.:23:34.

another 347 to avoid problems. Now the strange tale of a knitter

:23:34.:23:37.

from Warwickshire who's turned her hand to space clothing. On Sunday,

:23:37.:23:39.

when NASA launches its latest mission, the space explorer will be

:23:39.:23:43.

wearing an outfit made by Sue Drage from Rugby. And the traveller will

:23:43.:23:47.

be entertained on the journey by a podcast from a BBC local radio

:23:47.:23:51.

station. Ben Sidwell explains all. Space - the great unknown, where

:23:51.:24:01.
:24:01.:24:05.

only a few men, women and one On Sunday, NASA launches its latest

:24:05.:24:08.

mission manned, or should that be poultried, by a chicken called

:24:08.:24:14.

Camilla. For the first time her uniform has been made here in the

:24:14.:24:20.

UK. So who did they ask to design it? Stella McCartney? Vivienne

:24:20.:24:30.
:24:30.:24:32.

Westwood? No. Sue Drage from Rugby. I think it only took me about two

:24:32.:24:36.

weeks, as I say, because I had to have several attempts of knitting

:24:36.:24:40.

it and it didn't fit right. It is rather difficult knitting for a

:24:40.:24:45.

rubber chicken! And this is what she will be wearing for her latest

:24:45.:24:55.
:24:55.:24:56.

mission. The whole outfit knitted by using plastic bags. As she has

:24:56.:25:00.

been training for her latest mission, Camilla was not able to

:25:00.:25:04.

come across. Sir Charles has bravely agreed to step into the

:25:04.:25:14.
:25:14.:25:14.

breach. Good afternoon, Charles. What was it like being a

:25:14.:25:18.

bodyguard... The woman responsible for arranging everything, BBC

:25:18.:25:20.

Coventry and Warwickshire's Vic Minnett. Her afternoon show has

:25:20.:25:24.

become a firm favourite with the team at NASA. So much so that when

:25:24.:25:27.

Camilla the chicken lifts off on Sunday, she'll be kept entertained

:25:27.:25:34.

in space by a podcast of Vic's radio programme. NASA love our show

:25:34.:25:37.

and now they're taking us into space with a rubber chicken wearing

:25:37.:25:42.

a suit we knitted out of carrier bags! It doesn't seem real, does

:25:42.:25:48.

it?! So on Sunday, if you look up into the sky and think you can see

:25:48.:25:53.

a flying chicken in a space suit, you might not be wrong!

:25:54.:25:59.

Speechless! All the best to Camilla. She is very plucky! Now over to the

:25:59.:26:07.

It has been quite a struggle this spring but this bit of news might

:26:07.:26:12.

perky opera little bit. It looks like high pressure could dominate

:26:12.:26:19.

midweek next week onwards. Power -- perk up a bit. We now have low

:26:19.:26:24.

pressure affecting us. But it has been cloudy today. But we have a

:26:24.:26:28.

degree of uncertainty as to what will happen this weekend because we

:26:28.:26:34.

are in between this high and low. We have this rain but this pressure

:26:34.:26:38.

will determine how much we get. It will be cooler because of the

:26:38.:26:44.

strength of the wind. Back to tonight, we have got quite a bit of

:26:44.:26:47.

cloud across us right now but all day we have had this front feeding

:26:47.:26:52.

up from the South. By tonight, we will see the majority of the rain

:26:52.:26:57.

restricted to the north of the region. Elsewhere, looking much

:26:57.:27:01.

dryer. Cloud with bricks developing and underneath that, and

:27:01.:27:04.

increasingly north-east of the breeze, with temperatures not going

:27:04.:27:10.

much below five, six degrees. A cloudy start to the day tomorrow.

:27:10.:27:13.

We will see some bricks and sunshine developing tomorrow

:27:13.:27:20.

morning, but then it thickens up tomorrow morning. -- some breaks.

:27:20.:27:25.

Patchy rain later on. Highs of 13, A look at tonight's main headlines:

:27:25.:27:28.

David Cameron says he won't stay silent as the eurozone heads for

:27:28.:27:29.

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