22/10/2013 Midlands Today


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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


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