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Hello, and welcome to Midlands Today, with Joanne Malin and Nick
Owen. The headlines tonight: Police
officers are to be retrained, as figures reveal black people are
nearly three times more likely to be stopped and searched.
I believe there are police judging people and stereotyping by the way
you look. We'll have an exclusive interview
with the Labour leader Ed Miliband. He says, if Labour get back into
power, they'll scrap the so—called bedroom tax.
The bedroom tax is unfair, most of the people who are affected are
disabled. It leads to people being evicted from their homes
potentially. There is great infrastructure, great
architecture and fantastic locations.
I'm in Warwickshire, to see the planting of the millionth tree in
Britain's newest forest. And if you're hoping to do a little
gardening of your own this weekend, there's good news, you might even
catch a glimpse of the sun. I'll have the full forecast later.
Good evening. All front line West Midlands police
officers are going to be retrained in controversial stop and search
techniques. The promise was made at a summit today, called by the Police
and Crime Commissioner. Statistics show that black people are three
times more likely to be stopped by the police. Some ethnic minorities
view the powers as being used to oppress rather than protect
communities. The police say stop and search laws are an important weapon
in the fight against gun and drug crime. Here's our special
correspondent, Peter Wilson. Every time you take me to court...
Anger at the summit, the debate on stop and search often boiled over.
Decades of feelings that black people have been unfairly targeted.
What does it mean on the streets? Dean Davies was buying his
girlfriend a valentines present in Birmingham when he was suddenly
detained and searched. He has no police record and was later
released. There were two other people in the shop, they just so
happen to be white. It was only me in the back of the van. I believe
there are police judging people and stereotyping by the way you look.
More than 30,000 stop and searches took place last year in the West
Midlands. That's a decrease of 11%. But people feel it has been carried
out in an overly aggressive way. Stop and search should be a tool of
prevention. It is not working in its current format, we need to look at
it and revamp it to something that will provide prevention for our
community and not to be used or deem to be seemed as a tool of
oppression. The conference revealed the police intend to retrain all
their front—line officers in the use of stop and search.
We can still try to get better information to make sure we are
using stop and search smartly, and provide information to assure the
community that that is the case. If it isn't, we will do something about
it. When —— what are front—line officers saying? They agree it needs
to be fair and reasonable and less bureaucratic. But, they say, it is
an important tool in the fight against crime. Seven months on, Dean
Davies, an innocent man, is still waiting for an apology from the
police. Their investigation into his complaint has been completed and
submitted to senior officers. Peter's here now. It seems
incredible in this day and age that there is such a disparity in the
numbers of black and white people being stopped and searched.
There's no problem with the police stopping white people, black people
or Asian people, as long as there is a good reason and they do it in the
right way. What we heard today at this summit is people will say that
they are being stopped just because they are wearing a foodie and
tracksuit, walking back from the gym.
What about this retraining, what will it involve?
Really, it is about teaching people how to approach people, how to
explain to them why they are being stopped. And to back it up with the
right kind of information. In some ways, police officers they say have
lost that technique, knowing how to interact with people on the streets.
Coming up later in the programme: the coming of age of the homes that
were bombed by Spitfires. One of the most controversial parts
of the government's benefits changes would be scrapped by a future Labour
government. In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the party
leader Ed Miliband said he would scrap what he calls the "bedroom
tax", and pay for it by cutting tax breaks for the boardroom. Labour say
this affects 60,000 claimants in the West Midlands, almost 38,000 of them
with disabilities. The cut in housing benefit works out, on
average, at £676 per household per year.
Mr Miliband was speaking to our political editor Patrick Burns who
joins us now. This is the most hotly—contested of all the
government's benefits changes, so why is Ed Miliband intervening in
the argument now? The timing is all about the Labour
Party conference which gets underway in Brighton this weekend. Mr Miller
band's Keynote theme is the cost of living crisis which is affecting
millions of people. He says the more the government goes on about how the
economy is turning the corner, more and more the government shows how
out of touch it is with the weakest and the most vulnerable people who
he says are suffering in the real economy.
It is the right thing to do, the bedroom tax isn't working. It is
unfair, most of the people hit are disabled and leads to people being
evicted from their homes. It shows a Labour Party determined to tackle
these issues, in particular the cost of living crisis. This is the first
of a number of announcements on how we can make a difference to people
's lives and make people better off. What do the government have to say
about this? This is an exclusive interview, we
are in the realms of breaking news. There is no formal response from the
government. Coalition MPs are pointing out that the total housing
benefit bill stands at £23 billion at the moment so there really is a
need to reform it for the sake of the taxpayer. And to draw out
much—needed accommodation for those who desperately need it. Above all,
they accuse Labour of playing politics in party conference season.
The Labour language, quite apart from the fact they were slapping
down their spokesman saying they would reverse the bedroom tax, it is
a hasty repositioning. It is really about Labour trying to
move attention away from the fact the economy is recovering, there are
clear signs of recovery taking place.
Looking at the wider political situation, did Mr Miliband have
anything to say about his party's prospects here in a region which, as
we know, is home to some so many of those all—important marginal seats?
If you look at those all—important Tory marginals you mentioned, places
like Gloucester, Worcester, Warwick and Leamington, North Warwickshire,
where the Tories have overall majorities of less than 5000 and
Labour are the main challenges, a poll last weekend suggested the UKIP
vote is the best hope the Labour. Mr Milbank says they will campaign hard
and deliver real votes for a real Labour Party with the forthcoming
election now a year and a half away. You can see that interview in full
on this week's Sunday Politics, back in its usual slot of 11am, here on
BBC One in the West Midlands. Patrick also interviews UKIP leader
Nigel Farage. Read his blog online. Six men have been jailed for their
part in a night of violence in the Black Country, which ended in the
death of a 16—year—old boy. Ben Morutare was stabbed in the leg, and
repeatedly punched and kicked. He'd been chased from a party in
Smethwick by up to 80 youths. The judge called his death pointless,
senseless, and the cause of great suffering. Andy Ly from Edgbaston in
Birmingham was jailed for seven years, and five others for up to
three—and—half years each. The founder and owner of Drayton
Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire has died at the age of 92. George
Bryan, who was awarded an OBE in 2004, opened the park in 1949, after
buying 80 acres of land near Tamworth. He was an engineer who
began by making penny arcade machines with his father. The park
is still run by the Bryan family today.
It was once one of the most notorious estates in the Midlands.
Castle Vale, during the late '70s and '80s, was synonymous with crime,
tower blocks and unemployment. But, thanks to the people who live there,
the estate has been transformed in the past two decades, and now, local
residents are holding a festival to tell the world about it. Our
reporter Cath Mackie is there now. This is the opening ceremony of the
festival. I am told local children will be re—enacting those tower
blocks coming down. A lot of people remember seeing those tower blocks
as they drove past. This is a year—long festival, telling the
story of the 10,000 people who live on Castle Vale.
Castle Vale was meant to be an urban utopia. Birmingham's biggest
post—war estate of 34 tower blocks was a place families could escape
the slums. The estate had risen from the airfield where spitfires had
been tested during the war. But, as resident Sue Spicer remembers, by
the end of the 1970s, Castle Vale had became a high—rise hell.
Litter was thrown from the balconies. People used to your
innate in the left, C would go down in the morning. It was really
rundown. A feeling of neglect. Sue was among the residents who
called for change, which resulted in the estate being designated a
Housing Action Trust. And, in the 1990s, government money poured in.
And the tower blocks came down. Great, it is an eyesore world got
rid of. 21 years of regeneration later, and
they're ready to celebrate the journey Castle Vale has made, quite
literally, with a heritage bus tour around the estate.
Everywhere has its good and bad. I have had 40 years on Castle Vale and
I wouldn't go anywhere else. People can see how much has been done here
now. How nice everything is now.
The local MP first came to the estate in 1982 as a union official.
People were queueing up to get out of Castle Vale, now they are
queueing up to get into Castle Vale. It is a community rebuild and
transformed. What's happened in Castle Vale, the
changes that have been made, are a monument to people power. But what
they want to do now is inspire the younger generation to continue the
work. My aunty used to live here before so
we would come down. But it seems to have got better. It is a better
place for us to grow up in. It is getting everyone involved to
show how good Castle Vale is and promote it outside so people know it
is a lovely place to live. With me now is Claire Marshall, the
project director. I hope you can hear me. Why are you doing this? It
is 21 years of generation coming up next year and the residents said
they wanted to do something to honour the people who were involved,
and do something really special that says, here we are.
One resident said it is a lovely place but there is a stigma still
about Castle Vale. Is this festival going to get rid of
that? We hope so. We hope Castle Vale is Birmingham 's
best kept secret. So much has changed on the estate. If you don't
happen to come into the area, you wouldn't know about these beautiful
open areas, the facilities, what the people are like. We are a small
village within Birmingham. People are so proud to work together to
make a difference. What have you got planned for this year?
Performance working with Welsh National Opera.
A water festival. Next year, the community awards celebrating
individuals who were voted the giving back to the community. This
is going to be going on all evening. If you are interested in any events,
go to their website. This is our top story tonight:
Police officers are to be retrained, as figures reveal black people are
nearly three times more likely to be stopped and searched.
Your detailed weather forecast to come shortly from Rebecca.
Also ahead: As the one millionth tree is planted, we'll be taking you
on a walk around the country's latest forest.
And, a flying start for part—timers Nuneaton Town, as they lead the race
for a place in the Football League. A new BBC crime drama is set to hit
our screens this weekend and, what's more, it's been filmed here in the
Midlands. You may have spotted the cast and crew over the summer, as
scenes were captured in Birmingham and the surrounding area. Kevin
Reide reports. The new BBC crime drama By Any Means
depicts a team of detectives who'll do anything to catch a criminal.
We caught up with them filming in Waterloo Road in the centre of
Birmingham. The high—profile cast includes Gina McKee, of The Borgias
and In The Loop, Warren Brown from Luther and Good Cop, and Shelley
Conn of Mistresses and Marchlands. It is a crime drama that focuses on
this clandestinely operations team. Together, we put together plans and
stings that will frame criminals who usually slip through the net when it
comes to the law. It's written by a team who brought
us TV gems such as The Hustle, Life On Mars, and Death In Paradise. But
you probably won't see many Birmingham landmarks, as the drama
is set in London. Everything that we need from a city
or from the capital city we have been able to get in Birmingham.
Great infrastructure, architecture, fantastic locations. Easily
accessible. And the producer is also of this
parish, Baggies fan Tim Key hails from Bewdley.
I came up at the beginning of the year and had a look around. I
haven't been back to the city properly for a few years so it was
nice to see it again. I knew straightaway it would work.
It's yet another high—profile drama on a lengthening list filmed in
Birmingham. It includes Line Of Duty and Peaky Blinders.
By Any Means is being screened from this Sunday night on BBC One.
Joining us now is Sindy Campbell from Film Birmingham.
So many TV dramas and films are being made in the West Midlands now,
why's this region suddenly become so popular?
It has always been popular. There has been a lot of this in the press
recently. But also there is a new tax break for TV production which
was announced by George Osborne last year. This was the first production
to take advantage of that. We all loved to see things being
filmed and behind the scenes. What other benefits for the wider
economy? There is a budget, with money spent on location —— hotels
and locations, the crew. They use local crew? Yes.
There are tax benefits for production companies, aren't there?
The incentive is money for trainees. Tax breaks. And you help
on set? Yes, we are part of the crew. What
reaction do you get? Usually good.
The programme on this weekend. What have we got coming next, maybe a
feature film? We have a big drama filming at the moment.
It is all good for the Midlands. A multi—millionaire's dream to
create a huge forest full of native trees reached an important milestone
today. The one millionth tree in the Heart of England Forest was planted
in a field in Warwickshire. The project is the brainwave of
publisher Felix Dennis who hopes it'll eventually contain ten million
trees. Here's Bob Hockenhull. These trees represent what their
benefactor describes as an "impossible dream" 18 years ago,
multi—millionaire Felix Dennis set out to create a large native
broadland forest close to the one of Europe's biggest cities, Birmingham.
What began this whole journey was my realisation of how few trees there
are in Britain. Today, friends and benefactors
gathered at Middle Spernall in Warwickshire, to see the millionth
tree planted in the Heart of England Forest. One day, Felix hopes there
will be 10 million stretching south nearly to the Cotswolds. One man's
dream of increasing England's tree cover. We have the lowest percentage
of native trees in the whole of Europe.
Less than 5%, something has got to be done. The project is chatty plots
300 acres of saplings on bought up land, with the aim to create
continuous corridors, making it easy for wildlife to move around. It will
be several decades before this land has completed its transformation
from field to Forest. When it has, it will be an amenity
for the public, a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern
life. This is the biggest project of its kind in England.
It simply wouldn't be happening without the publishing tycoon's
foresight and money. It is glorious that an individual
can take it on himself to make a real difference on the landscape.
Money might not grow on trees but it has certainly made these trees grow.
Time for sport now with Dan. And, heady days in north Warwickshire.
The new football season is only a few weeks old. And no—one has made a
better start here in the Midlands than Nuneaton Town. The club was
formed five years ago, when Nuneaton Borough was forced into liquidation.
Since then, they've won promotion three times. And now, they're
sitting proudly on top of the Conference. Ian Winter reports.
There's lots to smile about in the office at Nuneaton Town. Jody,
Holly, Kelly and Gemma are working their socks off because, on and off
the field, team—work is the key to the club's current success. Phil and
John are mowing together in perfect harmony before tomorrow's home game
with Salisbury. And Ian Neill is the chief executive who saved the club
from extinction five years ago. And is now sitting two points clear on
top of the Conference. We have a togetherness at the club,
we tend to get everybody from the cleaner to the grounds man to the
office staff and supporters, moving in one direction with a common goal
for Nuneaton town football club. Obviously the players are the key.
What makes their success even more remarkable is it has been achieved
on a shoestring budget. Beating Hereford 2—1 on Tuesday put them on
top of the table. A great achievement considering the wage
bill of some Conference clubs is around £1 million a year. Nuneaton's
playing budget is a quarter of that figure. That's why all their players
are part—time. Local lad James Armson, for example, works for the
Sky Blues in the Community. Today, he was at the Canon Maggs Junior
School in Bedworth where the children are amazed to learn he's
just made his England debut Clip. It is brilliant, such an honour to
represent your country at any level is a major honour. I am really proud
of it. James is one of three Nuneaton lads
just back Latvia with the England C team, chosen from the very best
non—league players. Exciting times for the Conference leaders.
A great start for Nuneaton. But not for Albion.
The part—timers of Nuneaton are flying. But West Bromwich Albion
have had a slow start to the Premier League, and they've got a big game
tomorrow. It's bottom against bottom but one Albion who have only scored
once in four games. And they've only got tomorrow's visitors Sunderland
below them. They'll be hoping Stephane Sessegnon can help with the
goals. He's been signed from Sunderland. He scored twice against
Albion last season. He has just joined a new club, he
has a challenge, you can see every day in training he is excited about
the prospect of playing here. He is looking forward to the game at the
weekend and I don't think it would matter who he was playing against.
A mighty big game at the bottom of the championship.
Birmingham City have won only one game in seven. They're at home to
Sheffield Wednesday who haven't won in six games. The loser will be
feeling sore after that one. But it should before all smiles before
kick—off at Shrewsbury Town tomorrow when Wolves come to town.
And a big night for speedway rider Tai Woffinden on Saturday. Yes Tai
rides for Wolverhampton and on Saturday. He could become the
youngest ever world Champion, aged 23.
The best break dancers from across the globe will be competing in the
Midlands this weekend, at the World Finals at the O2 Academy in
Birmingham. It's the first time the event's been held here, and
organisers say it's a real coup for the city. Ben Sidwell's at the
launch event now, with some of those taking part.
It is midway through the actual launch event. This is a Birmingham
crew, just warming up. Let us speak to the main organiser. Tell us a bit
more about this, what is going on this weekend? Breaking is one of the
most explosive forms of street dance, one of the original street
dancing. These championships will highlight the world 's elite, from
ten countries around the world. Why Birmingham? It has been in London so
long. It is a local partnership which blossomed from a small idea to
bringing the world finals in Birmingham, we are dilated to be
here —— we are delighted to be here. Tell us, it is a hell of a coup to
be here. We all know Birmingham has some great dance, ballet companies.
But some great street dance crews in the region. It is great to
capitalise on that growth of street dancing in the city and bring the
championships here. The kudos will just help, won't it? We want to get
it established in Birmingham. It is astonishing the dancing
everyone will see this weekend at the O2 Academy.
They literally are just warming up. There are still tickets for both
events. The world finals are on Sunday.
Let's get the weekend weather forecast from Rebecca Wood.
If you cast your mind back to the start of the week, it was a damp
affair. A much more pleasant end with temperatures rising. They will
continue to rise through the weekend. There will be some cloud
about, when we get some breaks and we see the sunshine, it will feel
very pleasant. We are drawing in warm air from the south and we have
high pressure sitting over us giving settled conditions. For the next few
days, feeling very pleasant. Today, we saw the sun at times. The cloud
will start to fill in. That blanket of cloud will help overnight. If you
clear spells, cabbages will fall away a little bit. For most places,
double figures —— temperatures will fall away a little bit. Down to
eight degrees in Hereford. Tomorrow, some drizzle. As we move
through the morning into the afternoon, we will see the clouds
break. The sun will come out, the best conditions in the West.
Temperatures will make it up to 21 degrees tomorrow. Through the
afternoon, more sunshine. But then, in repeat performance of tonight,
the cloud will fill in once again and a thick blanket of cloud will
help temperatures, a much milder night, 15 Celsius overnight. Sunday
is a repeat of Saturday, another cloudy start, some drizzle. As we
move through the day, it will start to break once again, temperatures
continuing to climb, 21 for most places. A very pleasant day. More
sunshine. As we move through to the start of the new working week, we
keep that high—pressure, giving settled conditions, drawing air from
the south—east so it will feel drier as well. By midweek, temperatures up
to the mid—20s. A much more pleasant day.
Let's recap tonight's top stories: Godfrey Bloom of UKIP has had the
party whip withdrawn. And, possibly affecting thousands of
people in the region, Ed Miliband says he'll scrap the so—called
bedroom tax, if Labour's elected. Joanne will be back at ten o'clock
with all the latest news. Until then, have a great evening. Goodbye.