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power cuts to thousands of homes. Now we can join the
Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: Turning waste
into power ` a new ?16 million research centre converting rubbish
to energy opens in Birmingham. It is a great opportunity to `` for the
West Midlands. We'll be asking an energy expert
whether this form of power could help to bring our bills down.
Also tonight, tracking the cycle snatchers ` how organised gangs and
opportunist thieves are fuelling a huge rise in bike thefts.
From the Big Apple to the Bullring ` why Birmingham is ranked a top
destination for American visitors. On the up ` after starting the
season on minus ten, Coventry City have taken 13 points from five
games. The challenges lie ahead. As long as I keep getting that level of
commitment from the players, I have no complaints at all.
And thankfully for us, the storms missed most of our region on this
occasion. Is that it for this week or is there more to come? I'll have
a full forecast for you later. Good evening. Radical new ways to
turn rubbish into power are at the heart of a new research centre which
opened today. Scientists at the ?16 million centre at Aston University
say they can turn almost any waste into fuel to generate electricity.
Every year we create 177 million tonnes of waste in England and
around 60% of that goes into landfill. So, could this pioneering
work eventually lead to savings on our energy bills? Our science
correspondent David Gregory`Kumar has the story.
We already burn some of our rubbish to produce energy. This is the
Tysley incinerator in Birmingham. But at this new lab at Aston
University, they're pushing things a stage further, burning waste and
rubbish at very high temperatures and turning them into an oil. And
the researchers say turning waste into this oil has big power
generating potential. Birmingham has more than 1 million inhabitants and
they are producing all of the material we require as residue from
anaerobic digestive and foot waste from for example markets. And this
new ?16 million lab is powered by the oil produced by this process.
The big advantage is that if you have got a waste product you think
you might be useful to generate energy, you can test it in the lab
and then if it works out you can bring it here and tested on a
full`size scale. But it works on a small scale too. In India, farmers
burn straw to get rid of it. A team from the new lab have spent the past
two months showing straw can be turned into fuel. Enough to power a
village. And back home, all this provides opportunities for Midlands
manufacturers. You look at the technology we have developed, there
are lots of components within it and more everyday components, expansion
bellows, compression joints. There is a great opportunity for
manufacturers to come along and see if they can supply equipment for the
bioenergy sector. Creating fuel from all sorts of waste is about to break
out of the lab and start generating jobs and power.
And David's here now. So, the big question ` would this actually
result in lower energy bills? I think for you and me household
energy bills, not just yet. The people watching me with interest
might be for example a cider maker in Herefordshire. This would be
another way for them to extract more energy from what is to them a waste
product. Any big company with a lot of waste generated would be very
interested in this idea. In your report, you mentioned that
it could create jobs. How? It has helped to safeguard jobs. The
defence contractor looking to diversify in this area were working
with the team at the lab at the University. They have helped them
come up with ways to build the new plants and it has safeguarded the
future of the firm. If you have the ?16 million nucleus in the
Midlands, the hope is that companies will grow around it.
In the past, there have been plans to build waste incinerators in the
Midlands which have been strongly opposed by people living near them.
How would this bio`energy plant get around that kind of opposition? That
is a fair point. The big incinerator at Birmingham, it is on the edge of
town. This would be at the centre of Birmingham next to a very nice pub.
They are confident the process does not generate the kind of problems
you get with large`scale incinerators. Putting it right in
the centre of campus is a vote of confidence in that idea. Interesting
stuff. Thank you. Plenty more to come tonight,
including claims a failure to go ahead with HS2 could lead to 14
years of weekend line closures. Organised crime gangs and
opportunist thieves are fuelling a huge rise in bike theft. In the
Midlands, almost 18,000 bikes were reported stolen in the last year
with an estimated value of ?8 million. BBC Inside Out has been
investigating and put the thieves to the test tracking a stolen bike, as
Peter Wilson reports. The politicians and health experts
have been telling us to do it for years, to get on our bikes. But as
more of us do, so more and more cyclists are losing out. I am fairly
convinced somebody probably followed me home and saw where I kept my bike
in the garage and then a few hours later broke into the garage and
stole my bike. The BBC Inside Out team lock up their bike in
Birmingham's City Centre. But this one has a GPS tracking device. Just
eight hours later and a thief has struck and the bike is on the move.
So, how many bikes are stolen? Across the Midlands, nearly 18,000
last year. Bike crime is on the increase because more people are out
on their bikes so there are more opportunities for thieves to take
the bikes. The BBC bike is tracked to a Halfords store. The person
riding it has been shopping. CCTV provides video of a teenager
wheeling the bike. A security team track the bike to a block of flats
and question the young man. That is you on the bike yesterday. That is
where you have been on that bike. We have been watching you for the last
four days. The National Bicycle Association is based in Coventry.
So, what's their advice? Bikes come mainly from the Far East. They do
not arrive here with any particular identification on them. What you
need to do when you get a bite is to make quite certain that the shop you
get it from Marx it for you `` a bicycle. The BBC bike is back in
safe hands. Confronting thieves is best left to the police, yet just
one in 20 bikes stolen are ever recovered.
And you can see more on this on tonight's Inside Out, here on BBC
One at 7.30pm. Hope you can join me for that and other stories from
across the Midlands. A woman has been arrested on
suspicion of murder after a man was found stabbed in Wolverhampton.
Paramedics were called to a flat in the city's Market Square to treat a
53`year`old man who'd been stabbed yesterday afternoon. But they were
unable to save him and police arrested a 49`year`old woman in
connection with the stabbing. A cyclist's been killed in a
hit`and`run collision in Worcestershire early this morning.
It happened outside the Duke of York pub in the village of Berrow. The
cyclist was leaving the pub when he collided with a green Audi. A man in
his 30s been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous
driving. The Manufacturing Advisory Service
has received more than ?2 million in European funding to help companies
in the West Midlands. The money will be used to provide support to small
companies wanting to enter new markets, develop products or to make
changes which will create new jobs. It was the worst storm to hit the
South of England for years, tragically killing four people.
Early forecasts had suggested the driving winds and rain would hit the
Midlands badly too. But in the end, thankfully, we escaped the worst of
it. But there are a number of flood alerts across the region tonight.
Our reporter Cath Mackie joins us now from the banks of the River
Severn in Worcester. Cath, how's it looking?
The river's looking pretty quiet tonight. There are however more than
20 flood alerts on rivers across the West Midlands and there's a flood
warning, which is one step up, on the River Stour in Warwickshire.
That peaked earlier this afternoon. Hopefully, if we don't get another
downpour just yet, that should settle. To be honest, it's a picture
you'd expect this time of year. But what's really been noticeable for
me, as someone who has covered countless severe weather stories for
years, is the high level of preparedness now among the
authorities to reduce the impact of whatever nature might throw at us.
In the past, they'd often be playing catch`up. The thinking now is it's
easier to scale down than up, so what we saw over the weekend, for
example, were teams out clearing culverts to make sure that if the
big storm did arrive, the water had somewhere to go. We are working more
closely with the emergency services and local authorities. We are making
people aware of the risk of flooding to their property. We are talking to
communities and making sure that they are aware of what to do should
a flood occur. There were problems for commuters
this morning. What about this evening? Luckily, it's half`term for
a lot of people, so there were far fewer cars on the road during rush
hour this morning when surface water was making it difficult in places.
The problem this evening as for much of the day is with train commuters.
Train companies reporting delays and possible cancellations into tomorrow
morning. The advice as always if travelling by train, check with the
train operator first. Thank you. A new report says increasing the
capacity of the main rail routes between London and the north as an
alternative to HS2 would lead to 14 years of weekend closures. The study
for Network Rail is due to be published tomorrow. But in a
separate development, the Prime Minister has hinted he would cancel
the scheme if the Labour Party withdraws its support. Our transport
correspondent Peter Plisner reports. Remember this? Major disruption
after engineering work on the West Coast Main Line over`ran back in
January, 2007. This work was part of the last upgrading of the line which
itself took more than a decade to plan and complete. The report made
public today talks of a huge amount of disruption, including 14 years of
weekend route closures and much longer journeys for passengers.
Those opposed to the scheme, many of whom live near the proposed route,
maintain that the report is seriously flawed and that upgrading
the existing lines would bring bigger benefits to more passengers.
And they could be about to get their way. Senior Labour Party figures
like the former Business Secretary Lord Mandleson are now turning their
back on the project. Frankly, there was too much of the argument that if
everyone else has got a high`speed train, we should have won too.
Regardless of need, regardless of cost. And that and other comments
led to this statement from David Cameron yesterday. These
multi`year, multi`parliament infrastructure projects, they cannot
go ahead without all`party support. You will not get the investment.
Could high`speed rail be about to hit the buffers? Probably not at
this stage, but it's possible the plans may have to be moved to the
sidings. And Peter joins us now from the
proposed site of the Birmingham HS2 station. Peter, why is the support
of the Labour Party so crucial to the survival of HS2? As David
Cameron said, it is a cross`party issue. The support of all parties.
It spans several years and several governments. We now the Labour Party
is lukewarm on it. Ed Balls said a few weeks ago there could be no
blank cheques for HS2. If the Labour Party withdraws support, David
Cameron can scrap the scheme and then blame the Labour Party.
A new business case for HS2 is being published tomorrow. Why is that
necessary? The business case is vital to show the viability of the
scheme. A previous business case has not done that. It has been shot to
pieces by those opposed to the scheme. The numbers did not stuck
up. Tomorrow we are told the business case will be much more
robust. The government is now going on the offensive and wants to prove
the case for HS2. It's also being discussed in
parliament later this week. What's that all about? It is the third
reading of the bill which effectively does what it says on the
tin, paving the way for HS2. There will be more authority for more
expenditure on HS2 and more planning. The publication of the
business case tomorrow will help win more support. There will be a vote
on the bill and HS2 is becoming an electoral liability. We will bring
you more details on that later in the week.
This is our top story tonight: Turning waste into power ` a new ?16
million research centre converting rubbish to energy opens in
Birmingham. Shefali will be along with your
detailed weather forecast in a moment.
Also ahead, making the numbers add up ` how taxpayers in Warwickshire
are having their say on where the council should make cuts.
And forget the Premier League, it's League One where are clubs are
having a great run of form. A New York magazine has named
Birmingham as one of its top winter destinations for 2013, praising it
for its culture and choice of restaurants. Last year, nearly 52
million tourists visited New York City, whereas 33.8 million made the
trip to Birmingham. There are currently 67 Michelin`starred
restaurants in New York. In Birmingham, there are four. The
latest star was awarded last month. Top attractions in the Big Apple
include the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. In
Birmingham, the canals and Thinktank Science Museum often draw in the
crowds. Joining me now to discuss the profile of the city is Emma Gray
from Visit Birmingham and Anne Tonks, a New Yorker who now runs
Opus restaurant in Birmingham. Good evening to both of you. Emma, it's
your job to sell the city overseas, give us your 20`second sales pitch.
We have seen an 11% increase in visitors. We have had a lot of
people coming to Birmingham. They really enjoy the industrial heritage
we have. From a North American point of view, they like that. They like
the fact we are the home of Cadbury 's chocolate. The cultural diversity
we have as a city helps the food scene. It is such a great city they
find the English way of life very interesting. Do people understand
what Birmingham is about? What is the most common perception of the
city? People do not know of Birmingham. They think it is
Birmingham, Alabama. People are surprised by the proximity to
London. They like the fact you can use it as a base and tour the rest
of the country. Ann, you've been here 15 years. What has it got that
other cities do not have? I moved to Birmingham about 20 years ago and to
me the extremely exciting thing about Birmingham is that it was a
city that was changing. I have lived through so much change, cultural
change, massive change in the restaurant industry. It has been a
city where I have felt like anything could happen. We are still lagging
behind New York in terms of Michelin`starred restaurants. We
have a long way to go. We should be very proud that we have more
Michelin`starred restaurants outside of London than any other city in
Britain. But it is not just that. One of the great things we have in
Birmingham is a great explosion of independent restaurants. Many of
them boast home`grown talent. So many chefs in the city from
Birmingham which is something we should be very proud of. Things are
going well but what more does the city need to do? The physical
development has put us in a good position to get more visitors. The
next thing we need to focus on is our international connectivity. More
flights into Birmingham, extending the networks we have. Thank you very
much. All our councils are having to make
budget cuts. If you held the purse strings, where would you make the
savings? A free budget simulator's been put online to help taxpayers in
Warwickshire have their say on where the council should be making cuts.
The county has to save ?92 million over the next four years. BBC
Coventry and Warwickshire's political reporter Sian Grzeszczyk
has more. They are not experts and have not
been elected to make the big decisions. They have spent more time
campaigning against those who do. But now they have come together to
see if they can make the numbers add up. I have been fighting to save my
local library. I fought to try and preserve our village fire station. I
am a 51`year`old single parent. I am fighting proposed cuts for disabled
children. Disses Warwickshire county council's budget simulator. Every
decision they make as a consequence `` disses. Far and rescue, it is
life and death. These other cuts are cuts to services and it is not life
and death `` Fire and rescue. You can set the budget for each
department. If they get the sums wrong, they risked putting up
council tax. Your budget does not balance. You need to adjust your
choices so that the council tax does not have to increase by more than
5%. We did not have enough more information about the consequences
of the cuts. It is exceedingly difficult and you feel personally
you are cutting people's benefits by doing this. We were not able to
balance the books at all. We did not think we had enough information to
enable us to make a call on some of the cuts. What does the council
leader make of their concerns? I can understand that. It is very
difficult. We have been going through this process for weeks, even
months. If we are going to make the really am porting decisions, I need
people to respond to me and tell me what they value. So far more than
200 people have tried the budget calculator which will be available
on the website until the end of the month.
Let us turn our attention to sport now.
Ian's here with tonight's sport. And not a lot to shout about in the
Premier League. No, three defeats for West Brom,
Aston Villa and Stoke. So we'll move swiftly on to the Championship where
no`one made a more explosive impact than Lee Novak. The Birmingham City
substitute had only just come on, midway through the second half, when
he volleyed in from close range to earn the Blues a one`all draw at
Derby. Guaranteeing a very happy 41st birthday for his manager Lee
Clark. It is a terrific finish, to watch the ball coming out of the sky
like that and delivered the quality technique. The players and the staff
were delighted for him because he has a fantastic work ethic. I have
worked with him for a long time. I think he can deliver for the club.
Coventry City have been outstanding throughout October. 13 points from
five games must give Stephen Pressley a great chance of being
named Manager of the Month in League One. Wolves are also unbeaten since
mid`September. And both teams won again at the weekend.
Stephen Pressley is working a minor miracle at Coventry City. And his
latest success came away to Walsall. Frank Moussa scored the only goal of
a close`fought game. And Coventry would now be lying fourth, if only
they hadn't been deducted ten points in the summer. It has been a really
productive last eight or nine days for ourselves. Beating the league
leaders on Tuesday and coming to the difficult away venue and winning
again. The players deserve so much credit. Wolves arrived at Bradford
in reflective mood. Having lost only two games all season, they weren't
fazed when they fell behind early in the first half. A goalkeeping howler
allowed James Henry to make it 1`1. And five minutes later, Richard
Stearman popped up to score the winner, leaving Wolves three points
behind the leaders Leyton Orient with a game in hand. A big game for
them and they were cheering every throw in, every tackle. They drove
the side through. To win under those circumstances is a fantastic result.
Port Vale also found themselves a goal down at home to Gillingham. But
Chris Robertson scored soon after the break. And Tom Pope's
well`placed header sealed a 2`1 victory for Vale. We have got to
give plenty of credit to Coventry. Starting the season on `10 points.
It is a great effort. The one worry for the fans is that their players
are catching the eye of scouts from higher up the football pyramid and
January is not far away. We should also say well done to
Burton Albion who are in the league two play or so after winning again.
`` play`off zone. But our rugby clubs are really struggling to find
their form. Yes, we told you on Friday about Worcester's woes at the
bottom of the Premiership. I'm afraid they've now lost their last
six games after their latest heavy defeat 40`6 away to Exeter. And the
Warriors are now eight points adrift at the bottom. Gloucester are just
above them. They lacked discipline, according to their Director of Rugby
Nigel Davies, after they lost 15`13 away to Bath.
Tomorrow evening, we're live at St Andrew's before Birmingham play
Stoke in the Capital One Cup. Look forward to that.
A two`year conservation project to monitor rare bats has been disrupted
after thieves stole thousands of pounds of specialist equipment. The
tracking devices were taken from woodlands in south Warwickshire,
home to one of the most important breeding locations for Barbastelle
bats in the country. Scientists are appealing for their return so they
can continue to monitor the mammals. It is one of the only northern
populations we have got which is breeding. We really want to know
where the bats of foraging, feeding and roosting and how they are
getting to those sites. That is what we need the transmitter and receiver
for. It is a specialist piece of equipment which can only be used for
tracking animals therefore it cannot be used for any other purpose than
this. It is frustrating. It is basically valueless.
Let's turn our attention to the weather. Shefali is here. We did not
get away with escaping the weather entirely.
As far as rain went, quite a bit in one or two spots. Earlier we heard
from Worcestershire that there was a flood warning. There is a reason for
that. It was the wettest plays in the region `` wettest place. Seeing
as the stormy activity was running south and drifting in that
direction, it was all is going to be the southern flank of our region
that would be affected. But as far as this week goes, no more storms on
the horizon. It will be quite blustery, autumnal feel to things.
It will be cooler than last week. We will see a mixture of rain and
showers. Judging by the isobars at the moment, still quite breezy.
These will slacken later. A cluster of showers to the north`west feeding
through the Cheshire gap later. The next system to come through will be
this from the West. Coming later on Wednesday. A bit more detail on
that. This evening and overnight, still showers there starting to
develop. We are looking at clear skies. This will send temperatures
down. Locally it could be a little cooler than seven or eight. A lot of
the showers will concentrate themselves in the northern half of
the region later in the night. Tomorrow is a daytime version of
tonight. There will be a lot of showers across the northern half of
the region. Further south, it is dry with sunshine. A lot of sunshine in
between the showers. Some could be heavy. Temperatures on the poolside.
Average for the time of year. `` on the cool side. A fairly brisk rest
of the `` brisk westerly breeze. Tomorrow night, the showers will
eventually die away. Clear skies across the board. In rural areas,
temperatures could fall low enough for a touch of ground frost.
Wednesday, dry with some sunshine and then showers on Thursday.
Tonight's headlines: Four dead after hurricane`force winds batter
southern Britain Turning waste into power ` a new ?16 million research
centre converting rubbish to energy opens in Birmingham.
That was Midlands Today. I will be back at 10pm.
This is Malcolm, who owns Iceland. He's the one
that's going to present us with the ten grand. When we win it.
You've just got to make it as bearable
Here we are in the PR nerve centre of Iceland
at the end of 96 hours of total hell.
But we haven't tested for dog or cat either.
Is this the warmest supermarket around?