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pretty soggy. Thank you. That is all from the BBC. We
Hello, and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: We
must all save, even on the lowest incomes, to fight off the spiralling
problem of debt, according to a new report.
I wasn't sleeping or eating, I was worried the bailiffs would come to
the door. I wasn't making payments. A University of Birmingham finance
expert who helped write the report explains what can be done to make it
happen. Also tonight: As supporters protest
over troubled Coventry City, the MP Bob Ainsworth has accused the club
owners of an attempted land grab of the Ricoh Arena.
Does the club need to own its stadium? It needs to pay for it.
Business leaders travel to Westminster for Birmingham Day, to
show politicians what the second city has to offer.
Big break for the local band chosen by jazz artist Jamie Cullum to
support him at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.
And, with almost back`to`back rain or showers this week, it's a wonder
we've got any dry weather at all, but we have. Get all the details in
the forecast later. Good evening.
"The debt problem in this country is spiralling out of control," that's
the view of the Bishop of Birmingham. He's part of a
University of Birmingham policy commission who're launching a report
tonight looking at savings and debt. They're recommending: Anyone
starting a new job is automatically enrolled into a savings account.
Increased funding for credit unions. Tougher regulation of payday
lending. Ben Godfrey has been finding out why
the commission feel radical changes are needed.
Michaela Hamer lost control of her debts, after signing up to four
payday loan firms, some charging over 1,000% interest. The single
mother from Birmingham, who has a full`time job with the NHS, faced
eviction. I was worried the bailiffs were
coming to the door. I wasn't making payments. I woke up thinking my home
was at risk. Payday lenders "prey on the most
vulnerable", so says the Bishop of Birmingham. He's chaired a
commission to address wealth inequality. They want ministers to
create a new organisation helping low`income families to save,
reducing a reliance on credit. It is a change of mind set. People
enjoy shopping, the wonderful things in our society. But not at the cost
of going into unmanageable debt. It's not the first time senior
clergy have entered this debate. The Archbishop of Canterbury told the
online lender Wonga that the Church of England would try to force them
out of business, by helping credit unions compete with it, only to be
left "embarrassed", after it emerged the Church was indirectly investing
in the firm. The church wants to get involved in
solving the dysfunction of the global economy because it affects
the lives of ordinary people. Credit unions are uniting in
Birmingham. A not`for`profit loan shop has appeared in the city
centre. Paid for by cash recovered from illegal money lenders.
The cabin has been placed here because within a 100 metres radius
there are no less than 14 high cost lenders. What interest do you
charge? A maximum interest rate is 26% set by regulation.
We have 100 people a week coming in, gaining a loan or taking some
good advice. Michaela Hamer's now back in the
black, after joining a credit union. I managed to save so much money out
of my wages. It is a fee I can afford and I will not miss.
Clearly, not all can save for that rainy day. And a new savings body
could face considerable opposition, as charitable trusts, UK trade
investment, and even savers, may be asked to fund it.
Joining us now from Westminster is one of the report's authors, Dr Paul
Cox, Senior Lecturer of Finance at University of Birmingham.
Good evening, Dr Cox. These ideas sound excellent in principle. What
chance any of them will be adopted? I sincerely hope so. There was no
certainty about these things but with energy and enthusiasm, we can
make good progress. I have had fantastic responses from trade
groups, such as the TUC, which is right behind the idea.
We have lost the ability to save these days, it will take a culture
change. It will. The automatic enrolment of
pensions has already got as saving. We are in a savings mindset. One
problem is we have been left alone so the industry can charge what it
likes. Our case study is of a single mum
who as a decent salary but things are so tight she can't even think of
saving, she had to borrow. That is one of the great problems.
We're not suggesting you should save every month of your life. There are
points in your lifestyle where savings come into its own. When it
is right, it is the right thing to do.
Talking about companies matching the savings. Well that appeal to
companies when they are already beleaguered?
The idea of matched savings can go a long way. It helps with pensions.
One of the inspirations of the report is we should automatically
enrolled individuals into bank accounts and have government or
companies making a small contribution as we saved to help us
build small pots. Dr Cox from the University of
Birmingham, thank you. We asked for your comments on this.
Julie wrote on our Facebook page: "I have just got out of debt after six
years. I have started to save a bit. But,
with the price of electricity and gas going up, and food, I don't
think my little bit of savings will last very long."
Paul suggests: "Teach money management and basic skills on
borrowing and its true cost in school."
Paulette: "Be wise and pay off debts that are growing due to interest
charges, before saving money that will not grow."
Steve says: " A good start would be to ban payday loan companies from
high streets, and to limit the amount of interest charged."
Eve posted a comment. She says: "Can't think of any initiative that
will help poor people save, without also helping the super`rich to hoard
even more unnecessary wealth. More and more money being tied up in
savings won't be great for the economy."
Coming up later in the programme: Still no decision on extending the
badger cull in Gloucestershire, as opponents threaten legal action.
The future of Coventry City Football Club was back on the agenda at the
city council, and also in Parliament today. The Labour MP Bob Ainsworth
is urging the government to bring in an independent liquidator, to
investigate the financial crisis at the club. He told the Commons that
what was happening was "outrageous and unforgivable." Ian Winter
reports. Two months ago, the pitch was
perfect but the sky blues had flown the nest. The Ricoh Arena is no
longer the home of Coventry City Football Club and the fans are
furious. Today, yet another protest group of angry supporters gathered
outside the Council house to voice their desire to get the club back.
The purpose of today is to let Coventry City Council note the
people of Coventry want their club back in the city and this stadium.
There is a lot of taxpayers money tied up in the Ricoh Arena. A ?14
million bailout. Someone has to pay it back. If nobody is in the
stadium, who will pay? Beneath this watchful gaze of historical
leaders, councillors found no mention of the football club on
today's agenda. Speculation was rife that the council leader had
something important to stay on a subject close to the hearts of many
taxpayers. But the burning question remains. Would the city council
sanctioned the sale of the Ricoh Arena while Sisu remain owners of
the football club? When the time came, and Lucas was crystal clear.
`` Ann Lucas. A future being discussed at
Westminster this afternoon in a debate led by Bob Ainsworth, the
Labour MP for Coventry North East. Figures like ?7 million floated by
Sisu's fans, for a stadium that cost over ?100 million. But to float
derisory figures like that is an indication there is an attempt at a
killing at the taxpayers's expense. Since I'm here if you'd like to see
an end to this crisis. But fans, do not hold your breath.
Ian's outside the Ricoh Arena for us now. Ian, is the future of Coventry
City any clearer tonight? I'm afraid not really. I have heard
a lot of words spoken, angry and frustrated, from supporters. Hopeful
words from councillors, cautious words from that Coventry MP. None of
these words have been directed in any meaningful dialogue with the
owners of the football club. That is at the heart of the matter. Until
all the interested parties get together to discuss and thrash out a
deal, there is no hope of Coventry City returning to play their home
games at the Ricoh Arena in the foreseeable future. Tonight, the
football club are playing at home at Northampton against Leyton Orient.
But whether the sky blues will ever return to play here remains a
question we are nowhere near answering again tonight.
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire will be discussing the future of the
Ricoh Arena on the Shane O'Connor at Breakfast show, tomorrow morning
from seven o'clock. On the eve of a Home Affairs Select
Committee called to investigate the so called Plebgate affair, the
Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire has accused Andrew
Mitchell's friends of 'baying for blood'. Ron Ball says the Sutton
Coldfield MP and his friends should accept an apology by three fficers
caught up in the row. Ron Ball is with me now. You say Andrew
Mitchell's "baying for blood". Hardly surprising after the year
he's had? It is a really difficult situation
we need to get out of. My trade union background has shown me
situations but this before. They get resolved when people make some sort
of move, there is an element of goodwill. What the officers did was
to actually offer an apology to the people, but not apologised to Andrew
Mitchell. It seemed a grudging apology, talking about poor
judgement. This situation is a really major pressure situation.
They could have easily hunkered down and said nothing. What they have
done is quite courageous. It is a helpful step. You must understand
the distress his family have been through, he has lost a key job in
government, it has ruined his career at this moment. His career is in the
hands of the Prime Minister. It has been a year and a half. I am not...
There are two incidences, the one in London which is nothing to do with
me. It appears it was made up to discredit him. I cannot comment on
that, there are cases possibly before the court coming up. As far
as this instance is concerned which is why I am involved, and I
shouldn't be involved at all, in that the IPCC were called in to
investigate. I should be able as a commissioner to trust them to do a
professional investigation. And I should have a clean outcome at this
point. Will this go any further with a resolution? I do not know, I
sincerely hope so. I am involved in the secondary bit, Sutton Coldfield
bit. My hope is that we do make some progress tomorrow, and we can start
moving on from here. The officers, in my view, took a useful first step
on that and I am rather disappointed that it was rubbished. It was brave
of them and it should be acknowledged.
Police in Rugby investigating the unexplained death of a woman in the
town last week are trying to find her handbag and mobile phone.
39`year`old Patricia Dornan was found near the junction of James
Street and Albert Street on Thursday morning. Detectives want to speak to
anyone who may have seen her on Wednesday.
The Home Secretary Teresa May has praised communities in the West
Midlands for their courage, following the conviction of a man
for murder and terrorism offences at mosques. Teresa May, who visited the
affected mosque in Tipton last month, described the case as highly
distressing, and paid tribute to the work of West Midlands Police. Pavlo
Lapshyn's due to be sentenced on Friday, after he admitted killing
Mohammed Saleem, and planting home`made bombs outside mosques in
Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton. The owners of Birmingham City
Football Club have denied speculation that a takeover of the
club is close to being finalised. In a statement, the directors of
Birmingham International Holdings Limited say no written agreement has
been made or signed. Recent reports in the media have suggested the
Birmingham`based businessman Giani Paladini is closing in on a deal to
take over at Blues. Business leaders, students and
artists have travelled to Westminster for Birmingham Day, to
show politicians what the second city has to offer. It's been
organised by Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart who says she wants to show
Parliament a side of Birmingham they may not know. BBC WM's political
reporter Susana Mendonca has spent the day there.
Susana, what's been happening? It was about raising Birmingham's
profile at Westminster, showing politicians that Birmingham is the
second city and why it deserves that title.
It's not the kind of music you might expect to hear in parliament, but
look around, a little bit of Birmingham has taken over. The
jewellery Quarter. The home of chocolate. A fuel of the things
Brummies pride themselves on. All in one room at Westminster. Giving
politicians a taste of Birmingham is what this event is about. The real
question is whether this will make a difference. A number of people have
said, I had no idea about the jewellery, about the amazing Asian
dress. People will be more aware of what Birmingham has too far.
Politically, tomorrow, I have a ten minute rule Bill to talk about the
funding of our cities. They are the engine of economic recovery of the
nation. Birmingham has challenges, the local authority faces huge
spending cuts and has come under intense criticism the failures on
child protection. With 40% of the population under the age of 25, this
MP was keen to put young people at the centre. These children took the
day off to tell MPs by learning how to make curry is preparing them for
life. We have been telling them about preparing students with
academic skills, skills for the workplace. Outside, some listeners
heard a broadcast from College Green and felt the day should have been
about the Black Country. Over the next 12 months, I will be
negotiating with all of the authorities in the West Midlands to
make this happen so more resources and power is available locally. It
is the right kind of mood music, but how will it play out?
If nothing else, today got them talking about Birmingham again and
about the wider West Midlands. This is our top story tonight: We
must all save, even on the lowest incomes, to fight off the spiralling
problem of debt, according to a new report from the University of
Birmingham. Your detailed weather forecast to
come shortly from Shefali. Also in tonight's programme: Tourism
may be worth more than half a billion pounds in south
Warwickshire, but they still want more visitors, as Shakespeare's
birth place drops out of the tourism top 20.
And, a night to remember for the local band who supported
international jazz star Jamie Cullum at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
There's still no agreement tonight on whether or not to carry on the
badger cull in Gloucestershire. The six`week cull fell well short of
killing the target number of badgers it was set. Now, those who oppose
the cull are threatening legal action if the cull's extended. But
would extending the cull help? Or should culling be abandoned for this
year? Our rural affairs correspondent David Gregory`Kumar is
here. David, will new research help?
New research goes some way to explaining why the effects of
culling badgers can be so unpredictable. This is family life
for 50 Gloucestershire badgers. Radio`tagged and tracked as part of
a new study. Red splodges are TB`infected badgers, the blues
uninfected. This research shows the infected badgers occupy a unique
position. They are isolated from the other family groups. So they don't
spread TB inside these groups, but they can spread the disease between
them. Culling shatters these links, and means infected badgers wander
off and spread disease. This might explain the big problem facing the
Gloucestershire cull zone. We know they've culled around 30% of
badgers. But that's not enough, and it could make the problem of TB in
cattle worse. Especially on the edges of the cull zone. Because
you've shattered that network of badgers, and infected animals are
wandering about spreading TB. So the company running the cull wants more
time to try and get that total up to 70%, the point where you start to
have a positive impact on the disease.
But we also know that increasing the length of a cull can also increase
the risk of spreading TB. It's a catch`22. And this may well explain
why it's taking so long to reach a decision on what to do. And if there
is an extension, opponents say that is a decision ripe for a new legal
challenge. It is against the advice that Defra
gave to itself, that it should be a maximum of six weeks. If they go
against that, clearly they are not following their own prescription and
terms of reference. That is something that is very actionable.
We should be going either for a judicial review, or for an
injunction. In the meantime, Gloucestershire
Police have confirmed to us today that, since the cull licence has
finished, and an extension has not been granted, killing badgers in the
cull zone is currently just as illegal as killing them outside it.
Gloucestershire remains in limbo. Stonehenge, Chester Zoo and the
Tower of London, all places in the top 20 UK visitor attractions. But
conspicuous by its absence in the top flight is anything from here in
the Heart of England, and it's been like that for a few years. But the
leaders of a new tourism promotion group launched today in Stratford
hope to turn that around. Sarah Falkland reports.
You may recognise this as a popular tourist destination. But do you know
where this is? Less than half a mile away from Warwick Castle, they're
Hill Close Gardens, one of only four surviving examples of Victorian
hedgerow gardens, places where tradespeople like porkpie maker
Benjamin Chadband would escape the hustle and bustle of the town.
Each gate of each plot tells you about the history of the family that
had this site originally. They came down here, they might picnic, they
might garden, they might play with their children. That's what we want
to replicate. The gardens may have been something
of a secret. Not for much longer. They've just joined Shakespeare's
England. It's a new tourism body hoping to sell the region with
themed breaks for families, country lovers, history lovers and, well,
just lovers. What the website does wonderfully is
to help a couple in London who want to come away for a weekend, find a
B in Warwick, go to Leamington spa, or come to these gardens.
It's a private`public sector partnership, and the first tourism
body for this area in over three years.
Tourism brings some ?550 million to this area every year. But, if that's
to increase, they've got to think of ways of making people stay for
longer. No mean feat when hear how tight their schedules are.
If we went to London two days ago, we are here until tomorrow. An hour
and a half in Stratford, then we get back on the bus to London this
afternoon. Even more well`known attractions
acknowledge that there's a lot to play for. We attract about 800,000
people every year but that's only 20% of the people who come to the
city. Even with an established and successful organisation, there's
more work to be done. And if the tourism sector here in South
Warwickshire can stay buoyant, it's good news for the 13,000 people who
are employed in it. The Symphony Hall in Birmingham is
acknowledged as one of the best live venues in the world. So imagine
being a member of an unsigned band, getting an email from the
multi`million selling artist Jamie Cullum asking you to play there and
support him. That's just what happened to one wide`eyed group from
the Midlands, and Ben Sidwell was there to see how it all went.
MUSIC. There's no tour bus and no group of
roadies. Unsigned Birmingham band Midnight Bonfires have to do
everything themselves. The group are used to playing to
just a handful of people, but tonight is very different. In just a
few hours, they'll be walking onto the stage of the city's Symphony
Hall, in front of a sell`out crowd of 2,000 people.
It means everything, really. It is a big chance to impress and lots of
people. At the venue, backstage, and with
the gear unloaded, the enormity of what's ahead is beginning to sink
in. We can't compare it to anything else
we have ever done. It is difficult to know how to feel.
The opportunity to play here came thanks to BBC Introducing which
supports unsigned bands across the country, giving them a chance to be
heard on radio. We have music that we think everyone
wants to hear. We want to get out there. We will do our best.
Of course, most of the crowd are here to see headliner Jamie Cullum.
He listened to hundreds of unsigned bands on the BBC Introducing
website, before hand`picking the artists he wanted to support him on
tour. I got to log onto the site and
listen to these amazing bands. And I wanted more people to hear them,
it's as simple as that. While the band's nerves grow in
their dressing room, outside, the crowd are arriving and the hall is
filling fast. And, before they know it, the moment
has arrived. The crowd were lovely, really nice,
really lovely. 30 minutes later, and it's all over,
but it's given the band a taste of what could be. Oh, yes. What will
be. Hopefully, hopefully. Maybe. Come and see us.
When, and if, Midnight Bonfires ever get the chance to play the Symphony
Hall again remains to be seen. But one thing's for sure, they'll never
forget tonight. Another rain`sodden day. I got
drenched again this morning. More of the same, Shefali?
There is much more of the same to come. For those of you who do not
want to be caught out by the rain, I thought it would be worth pointing
out the drier periods which will be tomorrow night and most of Thursday.
Otherwise, a pretty wet and windy picture. As much rain as we have
seen over the past 48 hours which has been over one inch of rain.
At the moment, it is relatively quiet but we are looking at a batch
of showers brewing to the south. A band of heavy and disorderly showers
feeding into night and to the north. A wet and windy night, some
showers could produce 20 millimetres of rain in a short period of time,
within an hour, containing hail and under. Temperatures are still mild,
down to 12 Celsius. More showers battling through the region
tomorrow. There will be a switch in wind direction which will kill most
of those showers. By the afternoon, it is looking much drier and quite
sunny as well. In the morning, those showers could be heavy in a short
space of time. Temperatures will reach 15 Celsius. Not as mild as
today. A breeze to content with. Then, a ridge of high pressure
building tomorrow evening, which will kill all of the activity
completely and clear the skies. Some mist and fog patches. Cold enough in
rural areas for a touch of grass frost. In urban areas, a minimum of
six Celsius. This ridge of high pressure will keep things dry on
Thursday, but we have this area of low pressure and heavy rain on
Thursday evening. Tonight's headlines from the BBC:
Former Prime Minister John Major adds his voice to the row over
energy prices, branding the latest price hikes unjustifiable.
We must all save, even on the lowest incomes, to fight off the spiralling
problem of debt, according to a new report.
That was the Midlands Today. I'll be back at ten o'clock, and speaking
live to the Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart to find out whether her
Birmingham Day at Westminster really will raise the city's profile.
Have a great