23/10/2012 Midlands Today


23/10/2012

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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. Tonight, we're live from the

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Birmingham City Council House on the day it was announced that over

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�50 million will be shaved off next year's budget, and 1,000 jobs are

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on the line. It's the end of local government as

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we've known it - that's the warning from the leader of the UK's biggest

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local authority. We've got to a point where we can't find anything

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easy to take out of the Budget. The Low Hanging fruit has all been

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picked. Also in tonight's programme: Anger

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from business after another day of misery and cancelled services from

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London Midland Trains. It's quite surprising that in today's society

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such a problem can arise. A new million-pound centre to treat

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the victims of child abuse opens its doors in North Staffordshire.

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And the campaign to return a rare hoard of roman coins from the

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British Museum to where they were Good evening, welcome to the

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Council House - for 133 years it's been the headquarters of Birmingham

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City Council and a symbol of civic pride. Today, the council's leader

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said cuts to the city's budget next year amount to "The end of local

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government as we've known it". That was the stark warning following the

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announcement of a multi-million- pound reduction in its grant from

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the Government. The UK's largest local authority grant is to be

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slashed by �52 million next year. Birmingham already had to make

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savings of around �400 million, but now fears the figure could be

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closer to 500 million. The number of full time council jobs is

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expected to fall by around 1,000. In a moment we'll be getting

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reaction from the council leader Sir Albert Bore and the trade

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unions, but first our political reporter Elizabeth Glinka has been

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following today's developments. Briefing the media on cuts he says

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could change the face of local government, Birmingham City Council

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leaders Sir Albert Bore. The biggest local authority in Europe

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says, despite savings targets of �400 million in this Parliament, it

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is likely a further �100 million will now have to be saved. The man

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who was running the council until May says the current administration

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is scaremongering. I think this displays political cowardice and

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weak leadership. We, over the eight years, delivered budgets, kept to

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them, balanced our budgets, and in fact only the most current one,

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which had to have �220 million worth of savings, came in under

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budget. The leader of the council says these spending reductions are

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so big that it's no longer possible to salami slice from different

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budgets, and that some services are going to have to go. He also says

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this could be the beginning of the end of local government as we know

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it. So, how does Birmingham compare to other local authorities? The

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city has seen one of the biggest reductions in Government funding in

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the country at 8%, and cut around 4000 full-time posts before today's

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announcement. But the Department for Local Government points out

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that spending per household here is still over �2,500 per year, nearly

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�400 more than the average spent by councils in England. The Liberal

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Democrats, who ran the council in coalition with the Tories for eight

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years, say the local authority must look at new ways of providing

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services. It is pulling a huge amount in Government grants out of

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the local authority. As far as you're concerned, is that a good

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thing? No, it's not, but local government has become over-

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dependent upon Whitehall funding, and that is a bad thing. We've got

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to get away from it and broaden the base of local-government income so

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that we have more freedoms and flexibilities. The final settlement

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from the Government is likely to be known by December. In the next few

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weeks, council leaders will begin a consultation with the public on

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where the axe may fall. A short while ago, I spoke to the leader of

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Birmingham City Council and began by asking how much responsibility

:04:16.:04:26.
:04:26.:04:29.

he takes for this situation. Well, the problem is that the government

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do indeed have a great influence over the money available to local

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authorities. In this case, we are responding to significant cuts they

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are making in the money that will come to us next year. But you have

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to deal with that situation, so where are the cuts going to come?

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Right across the board, no doubt about it. We are looking to take

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120 million out of the Budget. Over the next six years, we think

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Birmingham council will have taken 48%, almost 50% of the control of

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the Budget out of the services that Birmingham currently provide.

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is across the board, nothing is sacred? The right across the board.

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We're not doing it in a systematic way that we want to, but we've

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already started the work for two or three years' time to see which

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services are delivering outcomes that we want. We will then take

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decisions to decommission some services. Can you give me any ideas

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of what those services might be? Can you say at any point that we

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definitely will not be cutting social services, for example, in

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light of the Ofsted report last week? All we can say is we going to

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try to introduce a Budget which is fair. What does that mean in

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reality? When I look at the cuts and take those issues to the public,

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they will start to tell us which of those cuts are acceptable. By 2017,

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after six years of cutting, or we will have lost 50% of the

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controllable budget of the City Council. That is a huge level of

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reduction of services. What is your vision for Birmingham? I still

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believe Birmingham is a great city and will continue to be a great

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city that offers opportunities for people that live here. How can it

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do that with such budget constraints? Because it can work

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with the private sector and with other agencies, and the people of

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Birmingham. I remember a scheme it years ago when we put in small sums

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of European capital and we got a revolving capital fund as a

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consequence in bringing about regeneration in part of the city.

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That is still actually happening. That was brought in with a very

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small amount of council money. It is about being innovative. In a

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word, how serious is the situation? This is as serious as I have ever

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known it in local government. The The leader of Birmingham City

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Council Sir Albert Bore talking to me earlier. He says these cuts

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amount to the end of local government as we know it. But what

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will it mean for the hundreds of thousands of people in the city who

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use those service? Earlier we headed out onto the streets to ask

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Brummies who they blame for the cuts. It affect us more than they

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realise, I think. I would like to know what they are spending it on.

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It certainly not on the elderly. You need to use wisdom where the

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cuts are. Not just cut everything. I'd think it is mismanagement of

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funds, I think it is public sector inadequacies. Do they have to do it

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to make ends meet? I don't know. that's the view on the street. But

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what about those who work for the council? Ravi Subramanian is

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regional secretary of the public sector workers' union Unison, which

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represents thousands of Birmingham City Council staff. What of your

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members been saying? They are very worried, about their jobs, about

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the future of Birmingham, the services to the community. We're

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worried about the massive impact this will have on the local economy.

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You cannot cut that much money out of the Budget without it hitting

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the local economy. We have already seen the economy devastated by the

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government's failed austerity measures. But these cuts are going

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to happen, so you have to face up to the reality of finding a

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different way of working, don't you? One thing we want to do is to

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stand up for Birmingham. It is clear the government have targeted

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these cuts at Birmingham, we have suffered a bigger amount than any

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are that region. That Tory-run regions in the shires do not seem

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to have suffered in this in reality, what difference can you make? Well,

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if we don't stand up and fight, nothing will happen. We need

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everybody from the business community, from the City Council

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from the workers - everybody to come together. We will be running a

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campaign to stand up for Birmingham. How watchful eye you that these

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:09:23.:09:23.

cuts might be mitigated? -- how hope or are you? Well, when people

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can see what an impact it will have - not just the people using the

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information and the services, but the economy itself, I think that

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might make a difference. Ravi Subramanian, thank you. We also

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want to hear your opinion on the cuts announced here today or the

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situation where you live. What's your view - can councils take any

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more cuts? Get in touch by email, or though Twitter or our Facebook

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page, and I'll have some of your comments later in the programme.

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For now though it's back to Dan Pallett in the studio for a look at

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the rest of the day's news. Thanks, Mary. It's been another day

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of misery for passengers using London Midland trains in and around

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Birmingham. Dozens of services have been cancelled again because of a

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shortage of drivers. One of the worst hit lines is between Nuneaton

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and Coventry. Today, businesses there described the situation as

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unacceptable. And the town's MP has called on the rail regulator to

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intervene. Commuters heading to the rail

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station to catch a coach. At 8am this morning, there was a

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noticeable lack of London Midland trains at Nuneaton. The company is

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struggling to find enough qualified drivers, and that meant Bukola Jack

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was, yet again, set to arrive at work late. Can't always say sorry

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all the time because train services are going bad. I see where they're

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coming from, but at the same time, I don't think my work accept that

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all the time for being late. This morning, seven services between

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Nuneaton and Coventry have been cancelled, with more than 60

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cancellations across the network across the day. London Midland has

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again apologised, but said the situation will not be fully

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rectified until mid-December. The MP for Nuneaton says if that

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doesn't happen the Rail Regulator must intervene. They need to be

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making sure that London Midland are fulfilling their obligations in

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relation to providing services they undertook to provide within the

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franchise and, quite frankly, if they can't provide those there

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needs to be financial sanctions on London Midland, and that certainly

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needs to happen if they don't get their act together very, very

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quickly. Business leaders say it is local companies currently paying a

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tougher penalty. Business needs certainty. If there is no certainty

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there, they find it very difficult to run their business. The longer

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this goes on, the more difficult that is going to be. Amid the

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obvious frustration, we did find one happy commuter. We haven't

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experienced any cancellations. A couple of delays, but only minor,

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five or 10 minutes. Very good, in general. London Midland has signed

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an agreement with unions for more flexible working, which should

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bring improved services. Tomorrow, things look better for passengers -

:11:52.:12:02.
:12:02.:12:05.

they're being told there aren't Joining me now from Westminster is

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the Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield Richard Burden. You've

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raised this already with the Transport Secretary Patrick

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McLoughlin. What has his response been? Well, I don't know what he's

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done so far. I raised a last week in the Commons, and he said they

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were in touch with London Midland and that things were going to

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improve. But as we've seen from that report, things have been

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getting worse, not bettered. This is just not acceptable. It is not

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on for the paying public all the businesses, so I've asked a number

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of other questions in writing to the transport secretary today. Up

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to a how bad as it in? It is really bad. If you have a job and you need

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to be at work for a particular time, that is what time you have to be

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there. If you are in business and you were trying to clinch a deal,

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time can be of the essence. So we really do deserve battered. The

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thing that worries me about this is how did it get to this situation? I

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would have thought that London Midland would have been planning

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ahead. The idea of drivers moving from one company to another is

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nothing new, they should have been planning their staffing properly to

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avoid this. My worry is that the franchise system we have on the

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railways at the moment when you get towards the end of a franchise as

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London Midland are, you should be getting short-term thinking which

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is bad for the industry and passengers. To you saying they

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don't deserve their franchise? been the most important thing is

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that they resolve the problem, the issue of Which company gets the

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franchise is secondary to me. They need to sort this out and get the

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drivers in place and that main -- the trains running. If they can do

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that, when the franchise comes up they will be in a stronger position,

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but at the moment, they are not covering themselves with any glory

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at slow all. I do read the transport secretary learns lessons

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:14:21.:14:24.

from this. They're not being run properly at the moment. And tonight

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the Rail Minister Norman Baker issued a statement about the

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situation at London Midland. He says he has spoken to the company's

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managing director Richard Brooks today to raise his concerns. Mr

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Baker says he wants normal services resumed as a matter of "absolute

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priority." Workers at car maker Jaguar Land

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Rover have voted overwhelmingly to accept a two-year pay deal, which

:14:40.:14:43.

will see their wages rise by nearly 10%. They employ 21,000 staff at

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sites in Castle Bromwich, Solihull, Halewood, and the research sites at

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Gaydon and Whitley, in Warwickshire. Workers voted to accept the deal by

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a margin of 4-1. The deal will also see more than 2,000 agency staff

:14:58.:15:06.

take up staff jobs in November. Restricted visiting will be allowed

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at Warwick Hospital after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug

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Norovirus. Last week, all visitors to the hospital were banned to

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prevent the infection spreading. The trust says visitors will be

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allowed onto unaffected wards this evening.

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Figures released by the NSPCC show there's been a 16% increase in the

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number of children contacting a helpline in Staffordshire. The

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charity's seen a rise in the number of callers to Childline, which last

:15:32.:15:36.

year helped hundreds of young victims of neglect and abuse. Many

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of them were younger than 10 years old. The charity has just moved

:15:40.:15:43.

into a new �1 million centre and our Staffordshire reporter Liz

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Copper has been given exclusive access.

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This is Carole House in Newcastle under Lyme - a centre to help the

:15:51.:15:54.

most vulnerable children in Staffordshire. Morris Robinson was

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abused throughout his childhood and believes centres like this show

:15:57.:16:07.

attitudes are changing. I honestly think in the fifties things were

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different. It was very draconian. He did not approach the subject

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anyway. Now, it is getting media coverage and there is a team out

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there of charities and agencies. All you have to do is use the

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telephone and the help is there. well as providing counselling for

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victims of abuse, this centre will also offer help to families who are

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struggling. I think as time has gone by, we have unravelled more

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and more of what is going on behind closed doors. We are only

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scratching the surface, really, even now, in the 21st century.

:16:47.:16:53.

sent shares cost �1 million. The NSPCC depends upon fund-raising for

:16:53.:17:00.

most of its income bull stopped -- its income. And this is the latest

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fundraising effort - workers at JCB practice for a sponsored mud run, a

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sort of extreme obstacle course. Behind the smiles is the very

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serious business of raising money for the running costs of the centre.

:17:13.:17:17.

We are horror stories about what is happening with the neglect of

:17:17.:17:22.

vulnerable children. It is about how we can put a stop to that.

:17:22.:17:24.

is the NSPCC's latest advert, highlighting the increasing demand

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for its work. When you walk into a place like this, it is a different

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world. It is a safe haven. I can't stress how important it is, if

:17:39.:17:43.

somebody is doing something wrong to you, you can stop it inches --

:17:43.:17:47.

instantly by walking into this centre and talking to one of the

:17:47.:17:53.

team. 300 children a year will use this centre. A reflection of the

:17:53.:17:57.

rising number of young people calling on the NSPCC for help.

:17:57.:17:59.

More now on the government's announcement that the

:17:59.:18:01.

Gloucestershire badger cull won't go ahead. Instead it has been

:18:02.:18:05.

postponed until next summer. Our environment correspondent David

:18:05.:18:08.

Gregory-Kumar joins me now in the studio. David, just remind us where

:18:08.:18:15.

this cull was going to take place and what it was trying to achieve?

:18:15.:18:19.

Well, we don't know the exact area, but it was around Tewkesbury and

:18:19.:18:28.

the Forest of Dean. This particular bin was managed by a company who is

:18:28.:18:31.

registered as a accompany in Warwickshire bus stop they have

:18:31.:18:36.

been key in organising this cold. We asked the President what he and

:18:36.:18:40.

his members thought. The farmers watching your programme will be

:18:40.:18:45.

genuinely worried that this has been put off yet again. We have had

:18:45.:18:49.

strong assurances by Alan Paterson on the floor of the House this

:18:49.:18:53.

morning saying he is determined to drive this policy forward. The

:18:53.:18:57.

worst thing would be if the farming industry said, we are worried about

:18:57.:19:00.

it being dropped as a policy, and therefore we take a risk with the

:19:01.:19:04.

numbers this late in the season. The argument is it was better to do

:19:04.:19:08.

this properly and wait six months rather than push it ahead this year.

:19:08.:19:12.

Had they got it wrong, that would also damage prospects for further

:19:12.:19:16.

cull Emmanuel Adebayor down the line. A why the delay? Team a

:19:16.:19:21.

Badger's, not enough time. Last week, there was a proper estimate

:19:22.:19:27.

of double the number expected. There were just too many. Also, if

:19:27.:19:31.

you look at the terms of the licence, they cannot shoot bad as

:19:31.:19:35.

all year round. They have a deadline. So basically, they ran

:19:35.:19:40.

out of time. Do you think the Cole will take place next summer? They

:19:40.:19:46.

are keen to push ahead with it. But more badgers killed is more

:19:46.:19:50.

worrying for those opposed to the cuts.

:19:50.:19:53.

Campaigners are hoping a unique hoard of thousands of Roman coins,

:19:53.:19:56.

found in a Worcestershire field, will soon be able to go on

:19:56.:19:59.

permanent display in the Midlands. The collection is currently being

:19:59.:20:01.

examined by the British Museum while fundraisers seek the �40,000

:20:01.:20:05.

needed to keep it in our region. Cath Mackie has been to the British

:20:05.:20:14.

Museum to see how the work's coming They were found beneath the

:20:14.:20:17.

Worcestershire countryside. Thousands of Roman coins now being

:20:17.:20:22.

studied by the British Museum. interesting thing is that in

:20:22.:20:25.

Worcestershire this is classed as a rare find. Around the time the

:20:25.:20:31.

hoard was buried was a terribly turbulent period of Roman history.

:20:31.:20:34.

Curators at the Museum spent several weeks cataloguing the 4,000

:20:34.:20:41.

coins which span the lives of 16 hampers. We sought a court by the

:20:41.:20:49.

emperors on the coins. It gives us an idea of the chronological span.

:20:49.:20:54.

The latest emperors show when the hoard was buried. It went on

:20:54.:20:57.

display shortly after was banned last year by two friends using

:20:57.:21:02.

metal detectors. It had been buried one century after the last coin was

:21:02.:21:07.

minted. It is the only known British example. They might look a

:21:07.:21:11.

bit green and worse for wear, they will after all buried for 1800

:21:11.:21:16.

years. There is excitement about them prospect of them returning to

:21:16.:21:22.

Worcestershire. This is a unique collection of national significance.

:21:22.:21:25.

Keeping it in Worcestershire is absolutely the right thing. It

:21:25.:21:29.

would be a travesty for it to be sent off somewhere else. But it

:21:29.:21:34.

will cost �40,000 to buy the ward, clean it up and put it on display.

:21:34.:21:38.

So far, the Museum of was to show has raised 9,000. They are hoping

:21:38.:21:44.

the problem -- the public will dig deep. It wouldn't be top of my

:21:44.:21:49.

priorities at the moment. You need to keep their local. He if it's

:21:49.:21:53.

bound in Worcester, it is part of our history. If they can't raise

:21:53.:22:01.

the cash, the board will return to the people who found it.

:22:01.:22:04.

Back to our top story this evening. Today, Birmingham Council Leader

:22:04.:22:07.

Sir Albert Bore said cuts to the city's budget next year will amount

:22:07.:22:11.

to "The end of local government as we've known it". That was the stark

:22:11.:22:14.

warning following the announcement of a �52-million reduction in its

:22:14.:22:20.

grant from the Government. Mary Rhodes is at the council house now.

:22:20.:22:27.

What does this mean for the future of the city as a whole?

:22:27.:22:32.

Well, I think many people will be wondering what a bit means when he

:22:32.:22:40.

talks about a whole new way of working for the city. Patrick, is

:22:40.:22:44.

this the end of local government as we know it? A in some ways, a key

:22:44.:22:49.

is right. We are moving from slicing to chopping certain parts

:22:49.:22:53.

of non-statutory services. There are some people out there who think

:22:53.:22:57.

that it should be. I've been talking to the tax payers alliance,

:22:57.:23:00.

and they say that at a time like this with heavy demands on the

:23:00.:23:05.

taxpayer, it would be lazy politics if Sir Albert Bore did not think

:23:05.:23:09.

very radically about how they deliver their services. The final

:23:09.:23:12.

point on this is that the government also point out that

:23:12.:23:15.

local government alone accounts for a quarter of all public spending,

:23:15.:23:19.

and they want local authorities to take their share of the

:23:19.:23:23.

responsibility for the deficit reduction. Politically, what is

:23:23.:23:28.

going on here? Well, before the end of this year we will have the

:23:28.:23:31.

government's settlement for the finances of local government for

:23:31.:23:36.

the next year. You always get a bit of a political tough -- rough-and-

:23:36.:23:44.

tumble between local and central government. Thank you. John Rider

:23:44.:23:52.

is chair of West Midlands Institute of Directors. Thank you for your

:23:52.:23:55.

time. This is this serious situation. What does that mean to

:23:55.:23:59.

you and businesses in the City? are very committed to supporting

:23:59.:24:03.

Sir Albert Bore in what he is trying to achieve. It is serious,

:24:03.:24:09.

but there is not that much to worry about. We really want to help.

:24:09.:24:15.

seems amazingly optimistic. What do you mean? Well, an example.

:24:15.:24:19.

Yesterday, we had a sports summit. Disporting fraternity across the

:24:19.:24:23.

city wants to continue with what they had been doing for a long time.

:24:23.:24:27.

We are the great global reputation as a sporting capital. We are going

:24:27.:24:33.

to continue that, but we know we can't do it with council money. So

:24:33.:24:37.

its partnership stop. We're pretty comfortable about what we're going

:24:37.:24:41.

to do. That will be music to the ears of Sir Albert Bore, because he

:24:41.:24:45.

said this new way of working is all about collaboration. He will be

:24:45.:24:49.

looking to business as more and more. Don't forget, some things

:24:49.:24:55.

have already been outsourced. That has worked beautifully. We are

:24:55.:25:00.

quite comfortable about it. We are up for collaboration. I'm also

:25:00.:25:04.

working with the City Council on and employment opportunities they

:25:04.:25:10.

anybody that is displaced. We're all in this together. We love

:25:10.:25:13.

Birmingham and we will carry on. Thank you for those words of

:25:13.:25:17.

optimism at! Earlier we asked for your comments

:25:17.:25:20.

on whether councils can take any more cuts. Here are a few of them.

:25:20.:25:23.

Heather McIntyre said: "The council needs to learn to be a bit more

:25:23.:25:27.

savvy with our money, people can't afford to pay extra on top of fuel,

:25:27.:25:29.

food, water and heating bills." Safran Khan said: "I seriously

:25:29.:25:36.

think the coalition need their heads banging together. People are

:25:36.:25:38.

struggling so by cutting services and raising taxes, who are they

:25:38.:25:41.

trying to make better off?" And finally Austin Bacchioci contacted

:25:41.:25:45.

us to say: "I live in Birmingham and think that it is disgraceful

:25:45.:25:55.
:25:55.:25:59.

that this council need to make Now, a look at the weather of. We

:25:59.:26:04.

are still stuck with drab and dreary conditions. But as I say

:26:04.:26:08.

yesterday, there is some milder weather on the way. Across the

:26:08.:26:13.

Channel in northern France temperatures rose to 22 Celsius.

:26:13.:26:17.

Our hopes of getting that by the end of the week are completely

:26:17.:26:22.

dashed by this colder air flooding in from the north. There is an

:26:22.:26:24.

arctic plunge which percolates through the region, introducing

:26:24.:26:34.
:26:34.:26:35.

clearer, cold -- colder air. This is that the weak will pan out. It

:26:35.:26:40.

is mild and murky, damp and cloudy at the moment, but it ends up cold

:26:40.:26:45.

and clear. Right now, we don't have any warnings that Bob tonight, more

:26:45.:26:49.

of a breeze. There is still fog around, just not as extensive as it

:26:49.:26:56.

was last night. Particularly dense around the east of the region.

:26:56.:27:01.

Otherwise, a misty, murky picture. Again, a mild night with

:27:01.:27:06.

temperatures between 10 and 12 Celsius. We hope the we keep hold

:27:06.:27:12.

of that moderate breeze tomorrow so that cloud lifts. Just to give us a

:27:12.:27:17.

bit of brightness. Temperatures should rise to 14 or 15 Celsius,

:27:17.:27:22.

but, as I said, by the end of the week a cold front a rides on the

:27:22.:27:32.
:27:32.:27:33.

north, introducing clearer and cold Thank you. That's it from us today.

:27:33.:27:37.

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