15/08/2013 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today, with Nick Owen and Mary Rhodes.


Joy for thousands of A—level students across the region, but what


hope for teenagers where youth unemployment's a major problem?


We'll be finding out what's being done in a town with one of the


highest numbers of young jobless people in the country.


Also tonight, a startling admission from the new boss of Birmingham's


Children's Services — "children are unsafe in our care".


Testing how we'd react in the face of a terrorist attack — for research


purposes only. On the eve of the new Premier League


season, new boss Mark Hughes on his hopes for Stoke City. People will


possibly be nervous about what is ahead of us but I think we should


enjoy and embrace it. And however wet it's been so far


this week, it's tame in comparison with what's to come. Join me later


for all the details. Good evening. Councillors in one of


the UK's worst youth unemployment blackspots have promised a brighter


future for the hundreds of A—level students who received their results


today. More than one in four young people in Telford and Wrekin are


unemployed. That's around 3,500 still waiting to launch their


careers. Now the Borough Council is working towards guaranteed


education, training or employment for all 16 to 24—year—olds. From


Telford, here's Joanne Writtle. Joining us now from Telford is


Councillor Shaun Davies, who's responsible for employment and


skills. Emotional scenes as students at colleges in Wellington get their


A—level results. In line with national trends, those getting top


grades dipped by 5% compared to last year but there was still plenty of


success. I got an A* grade, A, A. Much better than I'd expected. I got


three a star grades and an A. I am going to Oxford. Someone making


decisions depending on finance. I wanted to raise the money getting a


job to go to university next year. The tuition fees are putting me off.


In myself, I'm not ready to go out into the big world at the minute so


I am just going to stay at home. It is a bit cheaper as well. We're not


seeing fewer students going to university but what we are seeing is


that they are staying more locally in terms of transport links. Just a


short drive, £250 million is being spent here developing part of


Telford town centre. It will create hundreds of new jobs, but


nevertheless, youth unemployment stands stubbornly at 27%. That is


higher than the West Midlands figure of 23% and higher than the national


level of 21%. Amy Spruce is one of 140 apprentices recruited by Telford


Council. Last year, she decided against higher education. University


is a big pick—up —— big commitment. I didn't want to get into debt as


well. I've decided I've wanted a more work —based experience. Amy has


a one—year apprenticeship. After that, she is hoping her work


experience and her NVQ will help her gain permanent employment. Joining


us now is the minister responsible for employment and skills. Great


news for the students who studied hard to get great results, but if


they're not off to University, what are the chances of them getting a


job locally? Well, we really need to work with that forgotten 50% who


aren't going to university. We need to work with colleges for further


education colleges —— courses. But we need to give our young people a


chance of employment. Youth unemployment is a problem in


Telford, as one in four is out of work. What are you doing to tackle


it? It is a massive problem and it is regrettable the Government didn't


put anything into their Comprehensive Spending Review to


tackle the issue across the country. We are working now with colleges and


with the private sector here to offer a jobs guarantee and jobs


charter and unemployment and training guarantee of to every 16 to


24—year—old. It is the biggest aspiration the council has put


forward in a generation, I would argue. It is not going to take a


quick fix and the council cannot do it by itself. We have to give our


young people a chance working with the community. We've heard in the


last couple of days that exports are rising. Firms in the region are


recruiting but they can't find people with the right skills. How


can you change that? We need to prepare our young people to have the


qualifications and skills and confidence to apply for jobs and get


through assessment, so we have this to track approach. There is much


more we can do and this will be the number one priority for this


Administration in Telford over the next two years. Thank you.


Still to come: join me later to find out how innovative designs like this


could help boost manufacturing in the West Midlands.


Police have been called to an incident in Alvechurch. A cordon has


been set up around a white van. It's believed to be part of a wider


operation involving West Mercia Police and surrounding forces, and


we'll have more in our news from 10pm.


The new head of Children's Services at Birmingham City Council has


described the current service as unsafe for children and needing


immediate action. Peter Hay's comments come just weeks before the


results of a Serious Case Review into the death of two—year—old Keanu


Williams are due to be released. Our political reporter, Liz Roberts,


joins us now. What else did he have to say? The comments from Peter Hay


were made to councillors on the scrutiny committee, who's job it is


to hold officers in Children's Services to account. He's reported


as saying the council is standing near the exit of the last—chance


saloon. I've spoken to the chair of that committee, Labour Councillor


Anita Ward, who said this is the most honest anybody has been with


members of scrutiny in the last year. She says they've had serious


concerns about the service since the Ofsted report last October described


it as "inadequate". And despite in their monthly meetings being told


that things are improving, it's only now that the person in charge is


saying things as they are. And he's only a temporary boss? Yes, it's


less than a month he's been in charge. He's become the interim boss


since Peter Duxbury stepped down in the aftermath of the Keanu Williams


case. He's the little boy from Ward End in Birmingham who died aged two


in January 2011 after being found with 37 injuries. His mother,


Rebecca Shuttleworth, was convicted of his murder in June. What reaction


has there been to the comments? A short time ago, we spoke to the


British Association of Social Workers, who welcomed Mr Hay's


straight talking. I think it will be very hard for people to hear that


because we all want children to be safe. It is very, very uncomfortable


for us to hear that they aren't. At if you don't start with the reality


of what is going on, then you can't change things. —— but. Hopefully,


having made these comments, now people around the city, not just in


local authorities or social work, will be able to say, what can we all


do to try to change the situation for the children? Another Ofsed


inspection is due any day now and I'm told there are serious concerns


those inspectors won't be satisfied. Thank you.


How do you think you would respond in the event of a serious incident


such as a terrorist attack? That question was put to the test today


in a simulated exercise. A chemical was released inside the


International Convention Centre, where 150 volunteers were taking


part in a European research project, as Kevin Reide reports.


Birmingham's International Convention Centre and an evacuation


after a terrorist discharges poisonous gas in one of the halls.


But it wasn't for real. All these people are volunteers being used as


part of a mock exercise. Several people collapsed so it did seem as


if it was a natural thing. We did realise the exercise had started. We


thought people were genuinely ill. It's designed to be as realistic as


possible. There are observers from universities in the UK and from


security agencies from the EU. They'll collate the information and


make sure if this ever happens for real, the response will be the right


one. There were elso European film crews here, capturing every minute.


Isn't there a danger you could alarm people? We have done expense ——


extensive work around communication to let people know what is


happening. These events are extremely rare but because they are


it is important we exercise regularly to make sure we are


prepared for them, that we have officers who are skilled with the


right kit and the right training to deal with these things in our


communities. It also provided the opportunity to try out as yet unused


equipment, with the volunteers having to wear specialist chemical


attack suits. What these resources are designed for is for a mass


decontamination of people, so say a gas has been released or an acid,


what we can do is decontaminate and clean people up and clean a lot of


people up very quickly. There's people lying on the floor but I


don't know... ! The exercise was funded by the European Union and the


results will be analysed over the next few months. Then there are two


further terror exercises in Poland and Sweden.


I'm joined now by Dr Brooke Rogers, senior lecturer in risk and terror


at King's College, London, who has been gathering information from


today's event. It sounds absolutely fascinating. What have you learned?


We have a lot of data to analyse and we'll so have what we have seen and


some numbers we have been collecting, and we have very much


seen behaviour from members of the public that was very calm and


cooperative and I think they enjoyed the event overall, which is what we


would expect to see with our theories, and that contradicts what


emergency planning assumptions quite often assume they will see when


members of the public respond. These events were obviously staged and


those taking part had some idea what was about to happen, so how reliable


will the data be? We are incredibly confident because this brings these


things to life with the practitioners, who are engaged with


the public response. We are putting real members of the public through


so they can engage with them and we'll so go out and collect data


during real events. —— we also. Some of my colleagues were involved with


the Alexander Lipton Inc oh incident in London as well. Once your


research is complete, what happens to it? We basically say, you can


engage with members of the public, you can help them to help themselves


and their families and this is what you can do in order to give them


some tools they can use as well. This is fascinating. Thank you.


This is our top story tonight — as thousands of students receive their


A—level results, a pledge to offer more support in one of the region's


youth unemployment blackspots. Your detailed weather forecast to


come shortly from Shefali. Also tonight, the Premier League is


back, and it's all—change at Stoke City, as Mark Hughes launches a new


era. And remembering World War II's


forgotten army, with a special bronze statue to honour the


Chindits. The Midlands has been famous for


developing prestigious cars over the years, such as the Aston Martin, the


Morgan, the E—Type Jag and many other hugely successful vehicles.


Now a rather different type of vehicle is being developed here. It


goes a bit slower! It only has a top speed of 25 miles—an—hour. But


designers hope the Raptor electric bike will be a major success. Orders


are already coming in from Australia and America, with the promise of new


jobs as a result, as Bob Hockenhull reports.


Brothers Paul and David Loomes have spent three years developing the


Raptor. The electric bike can be used on the roads. And the


production line in Dudley expects to be making at least 2,000 a year by


2015. It's primarily aimed at security, professional users,


shopping malls, the police. We are looking to sell in excess of 300


vehicles this year, which is a little over £1.5 million turnover.


The rear—wheel—drive vehicle is already creating jobs on a small


scale. 18 people are working on designing and assembling the


machine. The brothers have teamed up with an established design company


to help realise their dreams of mass production. This area is obviously


renowned over the years with locomotive companies but there has


been nothing lately, really, and I think this is one of the new


innovations that has come from this area. Nobody could be sure how


popular the bike will become but at least it is 100% designed and


manufactured here in the Midlands. The question is, are innovative


products like this getting the backing they need? We don't think


there is enough government backing for this sort of thing. We are


exporting 100% of our product. You would think they would come in to


help us. One organisation has helped, though. The Manufacturing


Advisory Service has given money to around 50 innovators in the region,


including Ecospin. We look at the innovation itself, we understand


what the product is trying to achieve and we look to see where the


marketplace will be, because to commercialise is the own game and


without that, all the investment is for nothing. It may be a long road


to success. But if inventions like the Raptor can capture the attention


of the world's markets, it'll mean more jobs for this region.


The West Midlands is one of the most diverse parts of the country in


terms of population, but for the first time, we have a real picture


of just who makes up our region. The details have been revealed by Oxford


University. More than 5.6 million people live


here in the West Midlands, and 630,000, or 11%, were born outside


the UK. Birmingham has had the biggest


increase in migrants over a ten—year period — up by 77,000 to 238,000.


While Stoke—on—Trent had the largest percentage increase in its


foreign—born population — up 131% to nearly 21,000.


The biggest migrant group in the West Midlands is Indian, at nearly


100,000, followed by people born in Pakistan, Poland, Ireland and


Jamaica. We're joined now by Rob McNeil, from


the Migration Observatory at Oxford University. Good evening.


Significant increases in the region's migrant population. What's


the attraction? There are an awful lot of people who go to the West


Midlands to study and many who go to work, and as you said earlier, it is


an area with an established migrant population, so people will go to


areas where there are family connections or other networks where


they can feel comfortable and find work, find ways of doing things that


they might otherwise struggle with if they were somewhere with a


smaller migrant population. You talk about work. We have big problems


with unemployment here in the West Midlands so it seems surprising the


region still seems a popular destination. As we were saying,


there are other areas apart from work that attract people, but the


other thing is, migrants to the West Midlands, while they are obviously


still proportionately a large part of the population, they are now


smaller as a group than in other parts of the country. For example,


London, the south—east and east of England have a larger migrant


population. How much of a challenge are these growing numbers to local


authorities? Clearly, it is extremely important local


authorities have local data to allow them to plan and make sure there are


adequate places at schools and hospitals for the growing


population. So it is important there is local information popular. ——


available. We have been seeing the increased numbers potentially coming


from remaining and Bulgaria. What do you say about that? The numbers from


those countries have been increasing for several years now regardless of


the labour market restrictions preventing them from doing several


things. There will be a larger number —— whether there will be a


larger number of people coming or not is hard to know. We have to plan


for uncertainty because even if we had a precise number of people, we


would not know whether they were going to go to London, the West


Midlands or elsewhere. Thank you. And if you want to find out more,


we've put the full report on West Midlands migration on our Facebook


page. The richest football league in the


world kicks off on Saturday, with the return of the Premier League,


and the first game involves Stoke City. The Potters travel up the M6


to Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime with new manager Mark Hughes,


looking to rebuild his own reputation and that of his new club.


Today he's been talking to Laura May McMullan.


It's a new era at Stoke City Football club and a challenge new


manager Mark Hughes is determined to make a success of. You have to work


exceptionally hard to make sure you remain a Premier League manager. I


know to my own cost it is not easy but I think there is a quality of


people they have found here and brought here that means I think we


can be successful. Hughes knows the pressure is on to climb the ranks of


the Premier League. He's confident the squad can adapt to his style of


play. I would say my stylist setting up a team that is dynamic, that


wants to be on the front foot and dictate. —— I would say my style is.


It'll be welcome news to Stoke City supporters, who've made no secret


during the last couple of seasons of their desire to have more


entertaining football. And they want a top—ten finish. After the Potters'


first season in the Premier League under former manager Tony Pulis, the


club finished 12th. The next three seasons, they


established themselves in the top flight but finished in the lower


half of the table. And the theme continued last season again, with a


13th—placed finished. Hughes has brought in an experienced


backroom staff. His assistant manager, Mark Bowen, and first team


coach, Eddie Niedzwicki, have also worked with him at Blackburn,


Manchester City, Fulham and QPR. Would you say a top ten finishes


realistic? We know long—term that is certainly where we want to be.


Whether it happens this year or not, time will tell. But the


intention is to be a successful Premier League side in the top half.


The manager's aim is to bring in a striker before the transfer window


closes in two weeks. He knows it's imperative to make a strong start


and he'll be backed by more than 3,000 fans at Anfield on Saturday.


And one of those fans is Martin Smith, editor of the Stoke City


fanzine The Oatcake, who joins us now. Martin, how are Stoke fans


feeling as the new season approaches? Good evening. I think


everyone's feeling excited and maybe a bit anxious because it is a big


step into the unknown, but, yeah, I think everybody is really looking


forward to it. It's the new chapter in the Stoke City story and we are


kind of ready to embrace what we hope is a new era for the club.


What's the feeling among fans about Mark Hughes. Is it fair to say he


wasn't universally welcomed when appointed? Has that changed? I think


so. Everybody had their idea of who they wanted to see at the club but


in the cold light of day, the board knew what kind of manager we could


get. What really is a proven track record apart from one spell at QPR,


means he will be a good fit for the club and many fans have realised


that. You've made a couple of signings over the summer and Hughes


says he wants to sign a striker before the transfer window closes.


Is there anything else on your shopping list? We are thinking along


the same lines. A striker! I think it is known that we have struggled


to score goals most seasons, especially the last two, and it has


held us back. We must resolve that and we might be able to do that


through a different style of playing or, in all likelihood, we will


problem you need a fresh face or two to invigorate the team. And, you


know, we have until the 2nd of September, but the sooner the


better. Have a good season and enjoy it.


Do you know who the Chindits were? They were the largest of the allied


Special Forces of the Second World War, operating deep behind enemy


lines in North Burma in the war against Japan. For many months, they


lived in and fought the enemy in the jungles of Japanese occupied Burma.


ARCHIVE: You've heard of these men before. Their origin goes back to


the late Colonel. Their history has captured the imagination of the


Allied world. Here they are in close up for the first time. The


Chindits. Take a good look. Not that it will help you to recognise any of


them. Their own mother couldn't. But now, more than 60 years later, the


Chindits are not forgotten. At the National Memorial Arboretum in


Staffordshire today, Burma veterans attended a special service which was


especially poignant for one Birmingham man, as Sarah Falkland


reports. The statue is of a Chinthe. You find


them guarding the entrances to the temples. And it was from this


creature the Chindits took their name. This bronze has been moulded


from a wooden statue created by computer repair man Roger Neal. He'd


never carved anything before. It took him two and half years. I see


this stone being just that thing. The sole of all Chindits. —— the


sore. Roger's father, Ted, was alongside the Chindits in Burma. The


special force was formed to put into effect a new guerilla warfare


tactic, operating long distances behind enemy lines.


ARCHIVE: Approaching the village, they prepare for action. They look


casual. It is the Japanese who are worried.


Veterans came to a consecration ceremony for Roger's Chinthe at the


National Memorial Arboretum today. The fight against the Japanese may


have been 70 years ago, but for them, Burma has never gone away. I


was a 12 stone young man of 19 and I came out at eight stone for. ——


four. Plenty of marching, walking. Bad memories? Yes.Of the 20,000


Chindits in Burma, 3,000 were killed and the same number injured. And of


those who survived, many have to spend weeks and even months in


hospital that they were —— because they were so starved and disease


ridden. Roger's own father never lived to see the Chinthe complete.


This labour of love wasn't for his dad, but for all those lost their


lives in Burma. Goodness. How very moving.


It's time for the weather forecast, with Shefali.


it was nice to see the warmth return today. What we are hoping to match


tomorrow is today's temperatures, which reached 24 degrees, but


generally speaking, temperatures were into the low 20s. However, if I


was going to highlight anything this week, the wettest of periods is


likely to be tonight and Saturday. Tonight, we have an active front


pushing in from the West and once that is cleared by the weekend, we


then have a very deep area of low pressure pushing in from the


Atlantic. This will not only dumped a whole lot of rain over us, but it


will also turn things very windy. This evening, we have this lump of


cloud over us which will produce fairly heavy rain through the night,


through this evening and overnight. It has already started over parts of


Shropshire. It will be a wet night and cloudy with mist and Merck


developing over the northern part of the region once the rain clears over


the region in the early hours. Quite warm and muggy tonight. Tomorrow, a


reasonable day once the rain has cleared this southeastern corner and


we are looking at a largely dry picture with decent spells of


sunshine, and hoping to match today's values. As I've said, on


Saturday, wet and windy and dryer on Sunday.


Two men have been arrested after a robbery at services on the motorway.


West mercy of police say one man was detained in Alf Church and another


in Birmingham. More detailed


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