23/10/2012 Midlands Today


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


picked. Also in tonight's programme: Anger


from business after another day of misery and cancelled services from


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


reaction from the council leader Sir Albert Bore and the trade


unions, but first our political reporter Elizabeth Glinka has been


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


could change the face of local government, Birmingham City Council


leaders Sir Albert Bore. The biggest local authority in Europe


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


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


who was running the council until May says the current administration


is scaremongering. I think this displays political cowardice and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


announcement. But the Department for Local Government points out


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that we have more freedoms and flexibilities. The final settlement


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


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


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


Birmingham City Council and began by asking how much responsibility


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Budget out of the services that Birmingham currently provide.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


do that with such budget constraints? Because it can work


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


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


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


consequence in bringing about regeneration in part of the city.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


represents thousands of Birmingham City Council staff. What of your


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


everybody from the business community, from the City Council


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of misery for passengers using London Midland trains in and around


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


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


and Coventry. Today, businesses there described the situation as


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


intervene. Commuters heading to the rail


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Nuneaton and Coventry have been cancelled, with more than 60


cancellations across the network across the day. London Midland has


again apologised, but said the situation will not be fully


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


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


making sure that London Midland are fulfilling their obligations in


relation to providing services they undertook to provide within the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


an agreement with unions for more flexible working, which should


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


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


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


raised this already with the Transport Secretary Patrick


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


would have thought that London Midland would have been planning


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Rail Minister Norman Baker issued a statement about the


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


managing director Richard Brooks today to raise his concerns. Mr


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


priority." Workers at car maker Jaguar Land


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


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


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


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


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


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


at Warwick Hospital after an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug


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


prevent the infection spreading. The trust says visitors will be


allowed onto unaffected wards this evening.


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


number of children contacting a helpline in Staffordshire. The


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


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


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


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


Copper has been given exclusive access.


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


most vulnerable children in Staffordshire. Morris Robinson was


abused throughout his childhood and believes centres like this show


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


More now on the government's announcement that the


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


postponed until next summer. Our environment correspondent David


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


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


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


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


registered as a accompany in Warwickshire bus stop they have


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


his members thought. The farmers watching your programme will be


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


worrying for those opposed to the cuts.


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


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


permanent display in the Midlands. The collection is currently being


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


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


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


Worcestershire countryside. Thousands of Roman coins now being


studied by the British Museum. interesting thing is that in


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


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


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


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


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


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


display shortly after was banned last year by two friends using


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


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


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


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


Worcestershire. This is a unique collection of national significance.


Keeping it in Worcestershire is absolutely the right thing. It


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


very radically about how they deliver their services. The final


point on this is that the government also point out that


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


and they want local authorities to take their share of the


responsibility for the deficit reduction. Politically, what is


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


government's settlement for the finances of local government for


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


working with the City Council on and employment opportunities they


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


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


optimism at! Earlier we asked for your comments


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


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


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


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


think the coalition need their heads banging together. People are


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


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


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


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


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


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


Channel in northern France temperatures rose to 22 Celsius.


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


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


arctic plunge which percolates through the region, introducing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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