17/05/2012 Midlands Today


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


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


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


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


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


Houses demolished in Cheltenham after a gas explosion - the owners


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


is almost as though life will never be the same.


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


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


BBC. Tonight: West Midlands Police is not for


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


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


core police services face privatisation. In March, both the


West Midlands and Surrey forces invited bids from the private


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


development today, Surrey's Chief Constable announced their plans


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


taking police out of public ownership.


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


and claimed core police jobs would be privatised.


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


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


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


chiefs. We are not asking people to take


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


in the Business of correcting some really serious myths that are


scaring the public. But the new Chief Constable of


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


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


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


patrolling neighbourhoods and collecting CCTV. One advert by a


private security company is offering jobs for child abuse


investigators. The Chief Constable denied that his force would


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


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


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


done by police officers. Tonight, West Midlands Police said


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


of its ongoing tendering process. But questions and controversy


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


secretary for the West Midlands Police Federation, Steve Grange,


from our studios in Southampton. The Federation represents the


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


the comments from Chris Sims. Our concerns with a privatisation


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


reaching. Do you think the West Midlands


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


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


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


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


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


time to actually have some proper consultation and to think about


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


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


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


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


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


that. But clearly there are some important functions that these


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


police staff. -- which are carried done.


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


Birmingham have arrested two people. Emma Winnall suffered severe


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


What more have the police been saying this evening?


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


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


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


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


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


Still to come in tonight's programme:


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


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


gas explosion in Cheltenham stayed away as their homes were pulled


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


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


rented accommodation. And now others who live nearby are coming


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


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


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


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


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


through the legislation so that we could demolish it.


Inside these homes, family possessions. Many will be lost


forever, but here the demolition teams have been salvaging


belongings. It may not be much, but for the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


meaning. Enjoying throwing wet sponges at pictures of her teachers


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


her house that's being pulled down today.


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


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


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


rebuilding their lives and their homes.


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


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


bridge over the M5 in Worcestershire. It happened at


Junction 4 of the motorway near Bromsgrove this morning. Ambulance


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


southbound carriageway was closed for three hours.


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


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


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


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


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


nationwide chain of 2,000 pubs. The body of a Shropshire serviceman


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


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


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


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


security for British troops Corporal Brent McCarthy had been


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


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


security in Helmand Province, Corporal McCarthy was shot dead by


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


given vague details about what happened.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


here. We show the Afghans that we trust them.


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


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


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


be better protected in time for the security handover.


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


not convinced that the Afghan troops will be sufficient to


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


investigation into Corporal McCarthy's death is underway but


Children could soon be taught pottery skills again. Experts in


the ceramics industry want pottery put back onto the school curriculum


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


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


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


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


reports. Wade Ceramics is one of the biggest


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


long programme alongside Staffordshire University. Staff


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


bringing those kinds of materials back into the classroom because


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


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


different materials. And this group enrolled on Staffordshire


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


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


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


the university's ceramic design undergraduate degree course is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Chelsea. Good luck to him! There will be


more from Sarah on Monday's programme.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


continue. Remember this? Ten years ago Steve


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


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


bus to celebrate returning Cheltenham to the third tier of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


endings. And there's full match commentary


of the game on BBC Radio Gloucestershire this evening.


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


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


widespread speculation that Randy Lerner has flown to Norway for


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


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


has released a statement today saying he was honoured to have


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


able to achieve more for the supporters and their high


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


track is being built at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham


as the city prepares to host the World Championships. Competition


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


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


and built using dirt from a Birmingham quarry, as Nick


Clitheroe reports. This must be every BMX biker's


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Hopefully, they will be really surprised. The World Championships


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


dryer. Cloud with bricks developing and underneath that, and


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


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


We will see some bricks and sunshine developing tomorrow


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


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


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


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