16/10/2013 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: Unemployment


falls in the region for the first time this year, down by 14,000 to


254,000. But more jobs and services at risk as councils look to save


tens of millions extra from their budgets. People are slogging on day


by day not knowing if they will have a job in 12 or 18 months and it has


been like that for a couple of years now.


Also tonight as we'll be hearing from Police and Crime Commissioner


for the West Midlands, Bob Jones as three chief constables are called


before a parliamentary committee to answer questions in the Andrew


Mitchell Plebgate row. A new ?40 million fleet of trams


linking Birmingham and the Black Country.


And Shefali has the weather. It's been a day of stark contrasts `


soaking up the rain then soaking up the sun. If anything, it's prepared


you for what's to come. More details later in forecast.


Good evening. Unemployment has fallen here in the West Midlands for


the first time this year. Figures released this morning show the


number of people out of work fell by 14,000 in the last quarter. That


means the total jobless in the West Midlands is now 254,000, though at


9.4%, our unemployment rate is still above the national average. But more


job losses seem inevitable tonight as three local authorities revealed


tens of millions in savings. Walsall needs to cut ?19 million, while at


neighbouring Wolverhampton, it's ?65 million. And in Worcestershire the


figure is ?100 million. Dark clouds were hanging over


Worcestershire's County Hall today as leaders confirmed plans to slash


spending by ?100 million over the next four years. It comes on top of


?50 million savings already made. By the time the books are balanced, 50%


of the council's workforce will have gone. Services for vulnerable adults


are taking the biggest hit, ?32 million. There'll be more


outsourcing and fewer home visits, technology will be used to monitor


the elderly instead. This is a challenge that I am determined we


will face up to and we will do it by reforming, localising and basic


efficiency. By the time the books are balanced, 50% of the workforce


will have gone. Suzi Jones lost her job in the last round of cuts and


knows what her former colleagues may be thinking. How do we pay the bills


and the mortgage? Where do we go next? Should I look somewhere else?


Do I look elsewhere even though I enjoy my job? So it is a very


worrying time. Meanwhile, Children's Services will


save ?9 million with a range of measures including taking fewer


vunerable children into care. It comes at a time when the spotlight


is on child safety. We have organised the workforce in a way we


think maximises the support to children and families. We have some


innovative ideas on, when we bring children into care, those that will


be in permanent care and good foster placements and things but we can


never guarantee that will not be a case somewhere, you never can. More


money will be saved are spending less on public lighting with this


area of Droitwich receiving a current experimenting by turning off


two out of every three street lamps and there could be more of that to


come. You cannot put this level of cuts in without having real


consequences and with 50% of staff leaving, that will have very real


consequences. The council also said today a


three`year freeze on council tax is likely to end next year. The


sunshine after the rain seems a long way off.


So more job losses likely and many could affect older workers. Among


the over 50s, 44,000 are now looking for work in this region. With some


finding that setting up their own business is the only answer.


Earlier this year at the age of 50, Jacqui Gray was facing redundancy.


The jewellery shop in Shrewsbury she'd worked in for years wasn't


doing well. So she decided to become her own boss. 60 used to be old but


now it is young, isn't it? Said people who have got get up and go,


which they should have at 50, to go out there and do it, I think they


should. Mature entrepreneurs and older


workers are a growing phenomenon. It's estimated there are now a


million people in UK over 60 who've started up a business or taken on a


new job. And earning a wage isn't always their top priority. I want to


write stories which people love to read. Setting up a health and


well`being centre. An online business selling own branded petrol


remedies and supplements. These over`50s are on the same free


training course Jacqui went on. It's the Prince of Wales' initiative for


mature enterprise. Here in the West Midlands, uptake is 25% higher than


anywhere else in the country, and more than half of the new businesses


are doing well. We have only been going for about 18 months across the


Midlands but we are looking about a 62% sustainability rate at the


moment. But not all over`50s are


entrepreneurs. Some experts warn we could see many more older people


stuck between being too young to claim for a pension yet not able to


a job. So how is Britain treating older workers compared to the rest


of Europe? In Holland, the Dutch government has introduced age


discrimination laws to protect older workers. In Germany, the Government


there intends to introduce greater flexibility to working time and open


up more sabbaticals for its older workforce. And in Sweden ` a country


where life expectancy is at one of the highest in the world ` employers


who recruit older workers on long`term contracts are entitled to


a subsidy of up to 75% of their salary.


At the age of 71, David Shrubbs is still teaching at Bishop Vesey


Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield. To realise the importance of older


workers, he says you just have to do the maths. When the retirement age


was set at 65, the expected life span was about 68. Now, it is nearer


90`odd. I don't think the country can afford to be paying people 30


years of pension. Maybe the days of a long retirement


are numbered. Coming up later in the programme,


the worst place to grow up in the western world, says Ofsted's chief


inspector? Birmingham bites back. To tar an entire city of the size of


Birmingham with the kind of remarks he has made, it seems to me utterly


unprofessional. And unjustified as well.


The so`called Plebgate row involving Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell


took another turn today. The chief constables of Warwickshire, West


Mercia and the West Midlands have all been called to appear before


Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee next Wednesday. It follows


a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday into


a meeting between Mr Mitchell and Police Federation representatives


from the three forces. Afterwards the officers insisted Mr Mitchell


refused to clarify what he'd said to police in Downing Street,


specifically whether or not he'd insultingly called one a "pleb".


But a recording of that meeting suggests he did in fact give a full


account. Bob Jones is Police and Crime Commissioner for the West


Midlands. I spoke to him earlier and asked if officers didn't tell the


truth, then surely they should be disciplined by their chief


constables. I think the issue is a very full and thorough investigation


supervised at the IPCC has taken place and the results were put in


front of senior officers of the three particular forces and then


concluded on the basis of the evidence and clear legal advice that


there was no case to take forward to disciplinary procedures. This has


been long`running, as public confidence in your offices


undermined by this `` has a big confidence in your offices in


undermined? `` public confidence. Having supervised this


investigation, they now have the opportunity to take over this and it


has been delegated to West Mercia Police and senior officers here with


deciding at the last point to make a statement which is not justified by


either the evidence of the legal advice. David Cameron says that


Andrew Mitchell is due an apology saying that Mr Mitchell had been


able to prove that the three Police Federation representatives had not


told the truth. Do you not think that Vista Mitchell deserves an


apology? He would deserve an apology if there was any evidence had a


process not then gone through thoroughly. The process has gone


through and all sides and issues are looked at and their conclusion was


reached in a fair and appropriate way through due process. So you


would dispute what David Cameron said today? He also said the conduct


of these officers was not acceptable. Do you dispute that?


David Cameron could save me a lot of money by getting rid of lots of the


processes like the CPS and simply have the Prime Minister deciding who


is guilty but since the introduction of the Magna Carta we have a process


of June fairness and that is appropriate to everybody. Should you


not be impartial? I should stand up for the whole of the community


including police officers when they are being treated unfairly and I


forget anything, the police officers are being treated unfairly and the


IPCC having investigated and said it is a full investigation have


gratuitously slurred their particular character and found them


guilty by media and those officers have no redress in respect of that.


The official proceedings supervised by the IPCC say they do not have


to... There is a strong public view that this is a total waste of money


because it all boils down to who said what to whom in a heated


exchange over one year ago and has costs estimated at hundreds of


thousands. It has and in this particular aspect which refers to


the meeting between the Police Federation representatives and


Andrew Mitchell is obviously only a small part of that but the whole


thing has dragged on. Clearly whatever the profile of people


concerned, we need to ensure appropriate and fair treatment to


all parties concerned. Thank you. Hundreds of people turned up in


heavy rain to the funeral of rapper Joshua Ribera who was stabbed to


death in Birmingham last month. The 18`year`old, who's also known as


Depzman, was attacked in Selly Oak after attending a tribute night for


another stabbing victim. After the attack, a defence today of


Birmingham. Politicians, youth workers and teachers lined up to


criticise the Chief Inspector of Ofsted for his scathing remarks


about the city. Sir Michael Wilshaw described Birmingham's Children's


Services as a "national disgrace". But he went further, calling


Birmingham one of the worst places in the western world to raise a


child ` remarks dismissed today as unprofessional and wrong.


Uncomfortable reading for Birmingham ` a city named and shamed. Its


record on child protection, a "national disgrace" said the Chief


Inspector of Ofsted. White is it... `` why is it.


But Sir Michael Wilshaw went further, branding Birmingham one of


the worst places in the developed world for a child to grow up. One of


the city's MPs agrees child protection is failing but Sir


Michael she says has gone too far. To tar an insider city with the kind


of remarks he has made seems to me utterly unprofessional `` an entire


city. Liam Nolan's made his reputation as


a super`head improving the prospects of Birmingham schoolchildren. It is


a city with problems, he says, but a great city. Birmingham is a vital,


vibrant city, the number one city in my eyes. But we have to get the


problems that we currently face looking after all our young people


correct. He spoke about high levels of deprivation but others would say


that Liverpool and Manchester were worse and even in the midst of


poverty, people are trying to make a difference.


This charity worker organises activities for children from


deprived areas and supports families on low incomes. I do not think it is


fair to wrap everything up and say that Birmingham is a place not to


raise your children. I think the context of raising children in


Birmingham are that two thirds of the families are doing a great job.


At the town hall they were tuning up for Tchaikovsky, with 20 of


youngsters listening on. What did they make up the remarks? Birmingham


has lots of lovely areas and children have educational


opportunities, all they want. I think it is taken out of context. I


think there are loads of things to do and activities for children,


children can immerse themselves in them. Plenty to be proud of. A


casual look tells you that but while children services continues to fail,


expect more intense scrutiny and more criticism.


Our top story tonight: Unemployment falls in the region for the first


time this year, but more jobs and services are at risk as councils cut


tens of millions from their budgets. Shefali will be along shortly with


your weather forecast. Also tonight, plans to commemorate the centenary


of the start of the First World War. One of the country's most important


archives throws open its doors. And how an Irishman playing for


Warwickshire hopes to help England retain the Ashes this winter in


Australia. If you have a story you think we


should be covering, we'd like to hear from you. You can call us or


send an email. We're also on Facebook or you can tweet us `


@bbcmtd. The first of 20 trams that will run


from Wolverhampton to the heart of Birmingham was unveiled today. The


?40 million fleet will increase capacity on the Midland Metro line


from 5.5. Million to as much as eight million passengers. Bob


Hockenhull reports now from Wednesbury.


Three, two, 1... A fanfare for a tram which is hoped will play a


major role in rebuilding the Metro line. This is the first of 20 trams


to be delivered from Spain. At the current length of 20 25 feet longer


than the previous, they will have more services. Gives better


world`class transfer for the area. They will be delivered from the


factory in Spain at the rate of one a month and when they are all in


place, it will increase capacity on the network by 40%. If all goes to


plan, people will get their first taste of what it is like to travel


on the trams when the first of the 20 `strong fleet operates on the


network next spring. They can carry up to 200 passengers. Compared with


156 on the current trams. The new ones will not only run on the


existing line from Wolverhampton to Birmingham's Snow Hill station but


also to New Street station by 2015. And there are plans to expand


further past the city's town hole and onto centenary square which is a


trend following the rest of the world. I am happy with the way they


have developed these and it has been successful in every city which has a


good tram system is expanding and that is a sign of success. Although


passengers will be able to travel and more comfort and greater


numbers, transport managers say there are no plans to increase fares


to pay for the investment. Next year is the centenary of the


outbreak of World War One and today the BBC announced plans to mark that


anniversary with a series of programmes. The University of


Birmingham, with the largest War Studies department in the country,


has been closely involved. And it has a war story of its own to tell.


The University of Birmingham on a peaceful day. A young generation


embraces life, in the place where a previous generation fought to save


it. The first convoy of casualties arrived in September 1914 ` injured


in the first days of the First World War and the Great Hall where


students graduated became a hospital. Images of the men


convalescing after being brought here... At the University's Cadbury


Research Library, they're digitising thousands of photos from the time


and planning exhibitions. We see people whose parents were involved,


bringing items in and for them, it is still very personal for them. You


think it is a long time ago but it is not that long ago, actually.


There are many personal stories here in this archive. This is a diary


written by Private Benjamin Gordon Williams of Moseley in Birmingham.


He was stationed in Egypt and the Mediterranean. 30th August, 1917 `


he says, "I woke at 1am to hear shells bursting over the hills, 300


yards away. Four prisoners came down today". His diary finished in June


1918 and what we don't know is what happened to Private Williams after


that date. The extensive archive will also


reveal the role played by Birmingham's famous families, like


Chamberlain and Cadbury. Historians say the world is still living with


the consequences of that conflict. A lot of the problems we face in the


Middle East today in places like Iraq and Syria and Palestine are


directly traced back to the First World War and the peace treaties


that came back to it. Many who were alive in 1914 never lived to see the


end of the War, but marking its centenary will ensure their memory


lives on. And you can find more about the war,


its continuing impact and the BBC's plans for the centenary by going


online. As we were hearing earlier,


unemployment may at last be heading down in the West Midlands, but could


we be doing better at creating new companies to generate more jobs? Our


science correspondent David Gregory`Kumar is in the offices of


one start`up with very big ambitions. Those offices still look


a bit bare. They've only moved into these Birmingham offices, eight


weeks ago. But this newly`formed company, spun out of cutting edge


university research, has very big plans for the future of all our


mobile phones. They've invented a brand new type of antenna. This is


one of the prototypes with a prototype Arial, a very smart phone.


The modern smartphone may generate a lot of excitement. But these days


they all look the same. A glass`fronted slab. The real


innovation these days is taking place inside and here in


Birmingham, they have come up with an idea that they say could end up


inside every single one of these in the future. This brand new


Birmingham company has a hobby. Buying broken second`hand phones and


tearing them apart to learn more about the antennas inside. Up to six


in every phone. The six have to be designed into the phone and have to


be characterised and controlled. You have software, different collections


and it is a whole cobweb of connections and control for these


antennas. Despite the looks, this is probably


the most advanced smartphone in the world. It contains just one antenna


invented here in Birmingham but that single antenna can do the work of


six ` or more. Up to around $20 is the cost of the antenna, just the


antenna. That is getting on for 20% of the total cost of manufacturing


the phone. With ours, it cost less than a dollar.


The scientist behind much of this has now left university to be part


of this company, and he's thinking big. Every mobile device, not just


every phone. Pretty big! The question is, are there more gems


like this hiding in our Universities? That is a good


question. And with me is Mark Payton. Your


company is a big investor in this start`up. What does the University


get out of this? Security because our capital means we can attract a


management team and people get paid in a start`up environment. The


university gets funded back to its research. It gets a seat at the


table so it gets to see the technology going forwards while


having an equity stake in what we hope will be able prosperous company


spinning out. You are working in eight different madeleines


universities, is it hard to get investment in Midlands ideas? It is


very challenging and not because the idea is not world leading, it is


because the capital predominantly resides around London and Oxford and


Cambridge and to get back into the Midlands is challenging and we are


one of very few fund managers taking that challenge. Does that mean that


many ideas may be falling through the gaps? We are privileged to be


able to capitalise and nurture this but I am sure that businesses that


we are unable to support because we cannot support that many are falling


through the gaps. This idea will make lots of money if it works but


what about jobs? Suzi Jones we are investing ``.


Lots of businesses are starting off like this and now employ many many


people. Replacing six antennas at once reduces the drain on the


battery life. For Warwickshire cricketer Boyd


Rankin, home is a farm in a tiny village in Northern Ireland. But


this winter, he'll be hoping to bowl England to an Ashes victory Down


Under. The 29`year`old was a surprise selection for the tour of


Australia and he's determined to take his big chance.


At six`foot`eight, Boyd Rankin towers over most people, let alone


the pupils of Bentley Heath primary school in Solihull. Today's coaching


session was a lot of fun for the kids but it's as far as you can get


from Boyd's next cricket assignment. On Friday he leaves with the England


squad aiming to come back from Australia with the Ashes in their


luggage once more. It has not sunk in yet but I am trying to enjoy


every moment of it. Three matches coming up before the first test so


it is really important to go out and do as well as I can during those


games and hopefully I am in for a shot for that first cap at road


test. He was outstanding in the one`day international against


Australia and those pitch patterns will suit him. He is seeing the


benefits of his training. This is not your average cricket


story. Boyd left this farm in the tiny village of Bready in Northern


Ireland ten years ago to study agriculture at university in


Shropshire. But he was also playing cricket in the summer and joining


Warwickshire saw his career blossom. The 29`year`old has already played


for Ireland in the World Cup but decided to switch to England to


fulfil his dream of playing Test cricket. My main aim was to play


test match cricket for playing at the highest level so I think that


was pretty easy for me in terms of making that decision.


Breaking into a winning England team will be difficult but the children


he was coaching today are convinced that whoever plays Down Under


there's only one team going to win the Ashes. England! Not that they


are biased at all. We got some torrential rain today but then we


got some lovely sunshine, what will it be like over the next few days?


Changeable is the keyword and compare this afternoon to this


morning, you would be forgiven for thinking we had experienced two


different days. A belt of rain before the weekend means the weekend


will be open to comparatively decent weather. Showers at times, yes, and


breezy but it will stay mild and those milder conditions will filter


through by tomorrow. The rain and showers are created by this trio of


fronts, the first of which will be more active than the rest but


basically it is this area of low pressure that is giving the energy


to the whole lot. It is drawing in the wind from the south`westerly


direction which will give us mild conditions. Back to this evening and


overnight, we saw the dazzling sunshine this afternoon so you would


be forgiven for thinking everything is calm right now but I think we


could see some activity resurfacing later on tonight in the form of some


punchy showers which will affect the extremities of the region so north


and also South but elsewhere looking dry with patchy cloud. At least


there is a sign of things warming up even by tonight, temperatures down


into double digits. Through the day to morrow, we have got the


distribution of showers in the same parts of the region so in the north


and the south of the region and they could be torrential and they could


contain some thunder but there is a huge swathe across central parts of


the region that remained dry with plenty of sunshine. The temperatures


as well, highs of 17 Celsius, it will feel pleasantly warm compared


with the feel earlier on in the week. Tomorrow night, the same as to


light, without the showers. Some cloud around and temperatures into


double figures. Reasonably warm and then, because of the rain that is


arriving on Friday, it will be cooler but we look quite decent at


the weekend. Tonight's headlines from the BBC:


Unemployment down again with the biggest fall in people claiming


jobseekers' allowance for 16 years. Unemployment also falls in the


Midlands, for the first time this year, down by 14,000 in the last


quarter to 254,000. That was the Midlands Today. I'll be


back at 10pm with our political editor for further analysis of those


unemployment figures. Have a great evening. Goodbye.


You ask us to get behind you and why should we?


You're punching above your weight, aren't you?


He wouldn't do that to me because he wasn't that sort of a man.


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