16/10/2013 Midlands Today


16/10/2013

The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.


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

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

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

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

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

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been like that for a couple of years now.

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

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

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before a parliamentary committee to answer questions in the Andrew

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

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linking Birmingham and the Black Country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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job losses seem inevitable tonight as three local authorities revealed

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

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

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figure is ?100 million. Dark clouds were hanging over

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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worrying time. Meanwhile, Children's Services will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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area of Droitwich receiving a current experimenting by turning off

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

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

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

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consequences. The council also said today a

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

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sunshine after the rain seems a long way off.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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should. Mature entrepreneurs and older

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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moment. But not all over`50s are

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

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

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

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

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

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there intends to introduce greater flexibility to working time and open

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

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

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

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a subsidy of up to 75% of their salary.

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

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

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

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

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

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years of pension. Maybe the days of a long retirement

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are numbered. Coming up later in the programme,

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

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

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

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unprofessional. And unjustified as well.

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

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

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

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

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a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday into

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a meeting between Mr Mitchell and Police Federation representatives

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from the three forces. Afterwards the officers insisted Mr Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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truth, then surely they should be disciplined by their chief

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

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

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front of senior officers of the three particular forces and then

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

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

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been long`running, as public confidence in your offices

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

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undermined? `` public confidence. Having supervised this

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

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

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

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

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

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able to prove that the three Police Federation representatives had not

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

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

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process not then gone through thoroughly. The process has gone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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including police officers when they are being treated unfairly and I

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

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IPCC having investigated and said it is a full investigation have

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gratuitously slurred their particular character and found them

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the meeting between the Police Federation representatives and

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

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thing has dragged on. Clearly whatever the profile of people

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concerned, we need to ensure appropriate and fair treatment to

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

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

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

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

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

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Birmingham. Politicians, youth workers and teachers lined up to

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criticise the Chief Inspector of Ofsted for his scathing remarks

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

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

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

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child ` remarks dismissed today as unprofessional and wrong.

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

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

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

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But Sir Michael Wilshaw went further, branding Birmingham one of

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

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

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

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

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city. Liam Nolan's made his reputation as

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

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

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

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problems that we currently face looking after all our young people

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

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

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poverty, people are trying to make a difference.

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This charity worker organises activities for children from

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

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

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

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

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

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

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has lots of lovely areas and children have educational

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

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

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

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

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expect more intense scrutiny and more criticism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Warwickshire hopes to help England retain the Ashes this winter in

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Australia. If you have a story you think we

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

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

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@bbcmtd. The first of 20 trams that will run

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

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

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

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Hockenhull reports now from Wednesbury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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passengers will be able to travel and more comfort and greater

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

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

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

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anniversary with a series of programmes. The University of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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students graduated became a hospital. Images of the men

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

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

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

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

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

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

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written by Private Benjamin Gordon Williams of Moseley in Birmingham.

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

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

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

:18:32.:18:35.

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

:18:36.:18:37.

that date. The extensive archive will also

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

:18:40.:18:42.

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

:18:43.:18:49.

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

:18:50.:18:53.

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

:18:54.:18:58.

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

:18:59.:19:04.

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

:19:05.:19:08.

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

:19:09.:19:09.

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

:19:10.:19:17.

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

:19:18.:19:19.

online. As we were hearing earlier,

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

:19:23.:19:26.

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

:19:27.:19:29.

science correspondent David Gregory`Kumar is in the offices of

:19:30.:19:32.

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

:19:33.:19:39.

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

:19:40.:19:46.

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

:19:47.:19:49.

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

:19:50.:19:52.

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

:19:53.:19:59.

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

:20:00.:20:02.

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

:20:03.:20:06.

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

:20:07.:20:14.

innovation these days is taking place inside and here in

:20:15.:20:17.

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

:20:18.:20:21.

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

:20:22.:20:23.

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

:20:24.:20:26.

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

:20:27.:20:34.

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

:20:35.:20:37.

be characterised and controlled. You have software, different collections

:20:38.:20:43.

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

:20:44.:20:46.

antennas. Despite the looks, this is probably

:20:47.:20:50.

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

:20:51.:20:53.

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

:20:54.:20:59.

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

:21:00.:21:07.

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

:21:08.:21:11.

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

:21:12.:21:14.

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

:21:15.:21:18.

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

:21:19.:21:26.

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

:21:27.:21:29.

like this hiding in our Universities? That is a good

:21:30.:21:34.

question. And with me is Mark Payton. Your

:21:35.:21:39.

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

:21:40.:21:45.

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

:21:46.:21:52.

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

:21:53.:21:56.

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

:21:57.:21:59.

table so it gets to see the technology going forwards while

:22:00.:22:01.

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

:22:02.:22:06.

spinning out. You are working in eight different madeleines

:22:07.:22:10.

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

:22:11.:22:15.

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

:22:16.:22:20.

because the capital predominantly resides around London and Oxford and

:22:21.:22:24.

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

:22:25.:22:30.

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

:22:31.:22:34.

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

:22:35.:22:39.

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

:22:40.:22:43.

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

:22:44.:22:49.

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

:22:50.:22:57.

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

:22:58.:23:05.

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

:23:06.:23:13.

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

:23:14.:23:23.

battery life. For Warwickshire cricketer Boyd

:23:24.:23:26.

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

:23:27.:23:29.

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

:23:30.:23:32.

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

:23:33.:23:35.

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

:23:36.:23:37.

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

:23:38.:23:41.

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

:23:42.:23:44.

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

:23:45.:23:48.

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

:23:49.:23:52.

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

:23:53.:23:58.

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

:23:59.:24:01.

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

:24:02.:24:08.

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

:24:09.:24:12.

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

:24:13.:24:17.

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

:24:18.:24:24.

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

:24:25.:24:28.

benefits of his training. This is not your average cricket

:24:29.:24:31.

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

:24:32.:24:34.

Ireland ten years ago to study agriculture at university in

:24:35.:24:37.

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

:24:38.:24:40.

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

:24:41.:24:43.

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

:24:44.:24:47.

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

:24:48.:24:54.

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

:24:55.:25:00.

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

:25:01.:25:02.

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

:25:03.:25:06.

he was coaching today are convinced that whoever plays Down Under

:25:07.:25:09.

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

:25:10.:25:15.

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

:25:16.:25:20.

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

:25:21.:25:26.

Changeable is the keyword and compare this afternoon to this

:25:27.:25:30.

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

:25:31.:25:36.

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

:25:37.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:46.

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

:25:47.:25:49.

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

:25:50.:25:53.

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

:25:54.:25:56.

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

:25:57.:26:03.

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

:26:04.:26:05.

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

:26:06.:26:11.

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

:26:12.:26:13.

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

:26:14.:26:17.

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

:26:18.:26:21.

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

:26:22.:26:26.

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

:26:27.:26:30.

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

:26:31.:26:35.

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

:26:36.:26:38.

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

:26:39.:26:42.

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

:26:43.:26:46.

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

:26:47.:26:50.

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

:26:51.:26:54.

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

:26:55.:26:59.

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

:27:00.:27:05.

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

:27:06.:27:09.

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

:27:10.:27:12.

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

:27:13.:27:15.

the weekend. Tonight's headlines from the BBC:

:27:16.:27:23.

Unemployment down again with the biggest fall in people claiming

:27:24.:27:25.

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

:27:26.:27:28.

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

:27:29.:27:31.

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

:27:32.:27:35.

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

:27:36.:27:38.

unemployment figures. Have a great evening. Goodbye.

:27:39.:28:13.

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

:28:14.:28:15.

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

:28:16.:28:17.

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

:28:18.:28:24.

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