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That's all from the BBC News at Six so it's goodbye
Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: Unemployment
down in our region for a second quarter in a row, but there's still
work to be done to plug the skills gap.
We are building skills and wider experience and ways of working which
will be valued by employers. We visit a Warwickshire college
which is trying to tackle persistently high youth
unemployment. Also tonight: Struggling to pay the
bills ` how the West Midlands has one of the highest levels of fuel
poverty in the country. For the first time we are actually
facing the reality of thinking about the bills.
Making their home debut ` Birmingham City Ladies play at St Andrew's for
the first time, for a place in the Champions League quarterfinals.
Why would anyone want to swim 900 miles and spend 135 days in the
water? We'll ask the first man to swim the length of Britain.
After the chill of last night, things staying a little milder
tonight, but don't get used to it ` the cold's back tomorrow. Your full
forecast later. Good evening. The number of people
out of work here in the West Midlands has fallen for a second
quarter in a row. Between July and September, unemployment fell by
15,000 to 257,000. But at 9.5%, the region's unemployment rate is still
higher than the national average. Today, the Deputy Prime Minister,
Nick Clegg, said that tackling youth unemployment is a Government
priority. We've been to a Warwickshire college which is
developing entrepreneurial skills among its students to help them find
work. Liz Copper reports. Andy Plester and Graham Bird started
their tree`felling business while they were still studying. They
combined their college course with commercial experience. Eight months
on and they're starting to see the skills they learned turn into
profits. We have worries but we thought we would take them in our
stride and see how things turned adult. So far, things have gone
well. We decided it is the best way to set your business up by far.
Personally, I think it is better than working for somebody, being
able to work for yourself. Building a business though is tough,
especially for students fresh out of college. Starting a business
requires skills. But can enter a new real spirit be taught? ``
entrepreneurial spirit. When students are following the
curriculum, we are building in the skills and experiences and ways of
working which will be valued by employers and valuable to them when
they leave college and take the next step. These students are preparing
for an exhibition next week. Their work will be on show, but also for
sale. It's one of the projects designed to help them build
entrepreneurial skills. There is a standard and brief we have to meet
and it is training as up to be ready for the kind of demands we will get
from our clients if we were to work in that role. Trying to look for
work experience to get more skills so I know what I need to do when I'm
out there. It is very hard as well. You have to have an eye out for
customers and consumers and what they are buying and that will
escalate you up to think what you can sell and do.
Cutting youth unemployment is a continuing challenge. Building
businesses which flourish even in economically difficult conditions
will help bring unemployment down. Our business correspondent Peter
Plisner is at the Skills Show at the NEC tonight. It's good news that
unemployment has fallen again in our region but, as Liz's report showed,
getting the right skills is key to bringing down youth unemployment.
What else is being done to tackle that? I think that is exactly where
the the Skills Show comes in. It is on at the NEC for the next few days.
Unemployment is down but still work to do. How does the Skills Show
help? Unemployment is the reason the Skills Show exists. That is together
the UK people and youngsters and ability to learn skills. Not just
normal education but skills they were able to turn their hands to for
the rest of their lives. Is getting skills or academic education more
important? Some employers seem to prefer vocational skills. Most of
the time people go to university and get a degree and then find they want
to do something different. The wonderful thing about the Skills
Show is that you can try different things. You could join and
apprenticeship or do further education and get the right
qualification to allow you to do that skill. When you look for staff,
what do you look for? I don't put as much emphasis on university degrees
as many people. I am looking for passion, desire and the ability to
make it happen. There are so many young people who join us. The Skills
Show is on for the next few days. Saturday is family day.
Coming up later in the programme: Learning to trust again ` the
project in Walsall helping the young victims of sexual predators to
rebuild their lives. Utility bills are set to increase
above inflation for the next 17 years. That's the stark warning
today from the National Audit Office. Many are already struggling
to pay their energy bills. New figures show a third of
constituencies in the West Midlands are among the worst for fuel
poverty. Here's our political reporter Susana Mendonca.
John is a teacher. He is out of work at the moment so for the first time
in his life he has to choose a dream paying heating or eating. I have
decided to cut everything done. It is cold in here. Not as cold as my
room but, yes. You are not going to put any seating on. Now. He is one
of Birmingham's fuel poor. It is one of `` around one third of the worst
places in the UK for fuel poverty are in the West Midlands with seven
in Birmingham. My own feeling is we are scratching the surface of the
problem and more needs to be done. From our experience, we see a lot
more people falling into fuel poverty. Labour says the region has
particular problems which makes them back of higher fuel prices worse.
There are more disabled people in the West Midlands. There are
thousands of homes in fuel poverty. They are afraid of being able to
keep to their homes in the winter. `` heat. The government says it is
doing what it can to help vulnerable people. It says the idea of freezing
fuel prices wouldn't solve things. It is not a freeze, it is a , con.
Those struggling to top up the meter are hoping for a mild winter.
The BBC has learnt that the direct rail link between Shrewsbury to
London is due to restart in May next year. The service was lost in 2011
when the Wrexham and Shropshire link was ended. But the Office of Rail
Regulation has now accepted a joint proposal from Virgin Trains and
Network Rail for a weekday and Sunday service. Initially, trains
will only run at off`peak times. Andrea Waldeck from Cheltenham today
admitted to smuggling 1.5kg of illegal drugs into Indonesia. But
the former police community support officer said she'd been forced to
carry the crystal meth because of threats to herself, friends and
family. She's on trial in Surabaya after being arrested earlier this
year. If she's found guilty of the charges against her she faces the
death penalty. The chief executive of New Cross
Hospital in Wolverhampton has welcomed a new report outlining how
accident and emergency services should be changed. David Loughton
has already warned that his hospital's A department will
struggle to cope with demand this winter and it's already taking 40%
more patients than it was designed for.
We have 30 more A nurses than last winter, six more A consultants and
two more physicians. We are doing the best he can but the department
is not big enough to deal with it at the moment. For patients coming year
under their own steam, there are lots of alternatives which could be
found. There are calls tonight for improved
safety measures at a pool in the Malvern Hills where two young men
drowned. A coroner recorded verdicts of accidental death on 17`year`old
Russell O'Neill and Justas Juzenas, 22. They died within a week of each
other while swimming in hot weather over the summer. Our reporter Giles
Latcham was at the hearing in Hereford. What was said about
safety? The inquest heard evidence about the
signs that were in place warning about the dangers of swimming at
Gullet Quarry at the time of these separate tragedies in July. The men
who died were a Lithuanian national, Justas Juzenas, and Russell O'Neill,
a promising young footballer. His family said they believed the signs
weren't as prominent and clear as they should have been. They claimed
some of them were obscured by vegetation. They were too upset to
appear on camera but I spoke to Justas' sister and a representative
of the Lithuanian government. Nothing can change this situation.
There could be a lot of signs that no one will bring my brother back. I
will always love him and this place just will remind me about that.
Signs should be put up immediately on the edge of the quarry or
anywhere where people go straight from there into the water, saying
there is clearly no swimming, dangerous water.
So who's responsible for the quarry pool?
The area comes under the responsibility of the Conservators,
the custodians of the Malvern Hills. Their director attended the inquest
and gave evidence. Our thoughts are with the family and
friends. This is a difficult time for them. We have commissioned the
Royal Society for the prevention of accidents to report on the quarry.
The coroner said that cold water contributed to both deaths and was
conceivable that more deaths could coroner. `` car there.
Thousands of children every year are falling prey to sexual predators,
either through social media sites or even introductions from friends.
Projects such as street teams in Walsall help youngsters rebuild
their lives after they've been targeted. Joan Cummins has been
speaking to two young people who, through funding from Children In
Need, are learning to trust again. He pretended to be my friend by
talking to me in a genuine way that made me feel comfortable. If you
hear in the news that a girl is getting groomed by an older man,
it's news but you don't hear about a young lad being groomed by an older
woman. Many children at risk of sexual exploitation. In Walsall, one
charity is trying to help. He tried kissing me and I backed off. It
happened when I was 15. She was friendly at the start and then she
beat me up every single time without fail. She broke my nose, it
disinfected into my eyes, slashed me with a knife. She went, I hate you,
I love you. She was promised she wouldn't do it again and it was a
mistake. Sexual predators groom boys and girls, pretending to be their
friends are for luring them into a cycle of abuse. I felt I couldn't
talk to any of my family or anybody. No one really listens to
me. I never believe in violence towards a female so I would just
take it. Young victims often blame you can donate to children in need
by calling the summer. Our top story tonight: Unemployment
down in our region for a second quarter in a row, but it's still
above the national average. Your detailed weather forecast to
come shortly from Rebecca. Also in tonight's programme: The
seasickness sufferer who decided to swim the length of Britain. We ask
him why. And how Scott's work with Mencap has
earned him a nomination for a Midlands Sports award.
It's a big night of European football at St Andrew's with
Birmingham City Ladies in action. They're aiming for a place in the
quarterfinals of the Champions League, taking on the Russian side
Zorkiy Krasnogorsk. Our sports editor Nick Clitheroe is there now.
Nick, it seems incredible they're playing on their home turf for the
first time? Incredible. They were formed in 1969
but it is the first time they will play here. Tonight they are hoping
for double the usual crowd of four or 5000. It's been a great couple of
seasons for the club. They were FA Cup winners in 2012 and have twice
been runners`up in the Super League but this is their chance to make a
mark in European football. Training night for the Blues Ladies.
There's an extra spring in their step and a smile on their faces.
Because this evening, they get the opportunity to play at St Andrew's
for the first time. For England international Karen Carney, who
joined the club at 11, it's the fulfilment of a lifetime ambition.
The last time I was here I was a mascot and I was only allowed on
certain parts of the pitch. To have this and all my family they are
watching, it would be a dream come true for them and me.
But that's not the only incentive tonight. Birmingham are on the
threshold of a place in the quarterfinals of the Champions
League. Their Russian opponents Zorkiy Krasnogorsk imported players
from America to try and boost their hopes but it was Blues who won
Saturday's first leg 2`0. If you can't win the first ball...
They're not taking any chances. Coach Marcus Bignot was taking the
players through the good and bad from the first leg before training
on Monday. No`one wants to let slip this golden opportunity. We are
punching above our weight. We are competing against millions of pounds
worth of investment across the continent. To get where we have is a
minor miracle in itself. It would be monumental to get to the
quarterfinal. I remember when we were playing in a park using cars
for lights and now we are playing at St Andrew's, it is a massive
achievement to how far the women's game has come.
With fans able to pay on the gate at St Andrew's tonight, the club are
hoping to set a new record crowd as well.
And there's full match commentary on BBC WM this evening, from 7pm.
Joining me is the Chief Executive of Birmingham ladies. We need to keep
them focused on the game but this is another and has to accept. We need
to finish the job after winning 2`0. Last season you threw away a 2`goal
lead. We need to get over that tonight and get that extra goal.
Plenty of players have family and friends tonight. It's nice to see
and it's a good family atmosphere here. It is great to be here. You
have to wait until March for the next round if you go through. 22nd
and 29th of March for the next round. There is a lot of organising
to stage a quarterfinal so we will need that time to do it. We finished
our season and this is tagged on the end so we need a bit of a break, to
be honest. A big night for Birmingham City Ladies.
You may have heard about our next guest ` it's a memorable story. Sean
Conway from Cheltenham became the first person to swim the length of
the UK when he finally made land in John O'Groats on Monday. It took him
135 days to swim around 900 miles with an estimated three million
strokes. He's here with me now. Congratulations. Why would you put
yourself through this challenge? I don't know. One reason was that I
was told it couldn't be done. I'm a bit storm so I wanted to prove them
wrong. To be fair, there wasn't many an occasion where are those people
were almost right but I managed to push through and although I was two
and a half month 's law, IFN shall got there. `` I eventually got
there. My crew stayed for a lot longer than I'd hoped. Thanks to
them. It is a magnificent beard you have. It had a practical use, didn't
it? There are loads of jellyfish in the Irish Sea and I realised I
wasn't getting stung where the beard was so it helped to protect from
jellyfish. What was the worst thing? I suffer from seasickness quite
badly so myself and most of the crew weren't very well on the second day.
I got over it in the middle and I got seasick at the end again because
it was quite rough in Scotland. We might spare people the details if
they are eating their tea. So you did this for charity and it isn't
the first time you have done something like this. What is next? I
would like to run the length of Africa. I think it would take the
final box of something. I have done a long cycle and a long swim. I
would like to run the length of the UK and I might do that next summer.
And taking a few months of two recover.
Sport can be a great way of meeting new people and improving confidence.
Tonight's nominee for the Newcomer Of The Year at the West Midlands
Community Sports Awards is doing just that at Midland Mencap. Kevin
Reide joined them for football training.
37`year`old Scot from Birmingham has a learning difficulty but it hasn't
stopped him from getting into sport. He is a relative newcomer but has
become captain of Midland Mencap. They listen to me. We get better
every time we play. Taking part in things and being part of a team
means an awful lot to him. Regardless of the sport or their
setting, he enjoys people's company and sport is a brilliant outlet for
that to happen. Tuesday is training and Scott helps runs the sessions.
He is really friendly. He is a good captain. He is really good and we
have a laugh. People who know him say that football has boosted his
confidence and help to bring him out of his shell. He also plays netball,
tennis and cricket. I enjoy being with all my friends and doing the
exercises and being involved and playing football. Having good fun.
It might just be a `` it is not just a football session. It has a very
positive influence. Mencap say he is simply a great role model to many
others with learning disabilities. Rebecca warned us yesterday we'd be
in for a frosty start today. Same again on Thursday?
Not quite. Don't put your warm clothes away yet. It will be milder
tonight but just for a short period. It was a beautiful day today. This
was the scene this morning. Thank you for your pictures. It won't look
quite as beautiful tomorrow because it will be a little overcast. Cloud
is moving into night and that will help temperatures stay higher. But
winds are picking up and changing direction so it will feel colder
tomorrow. There is a band of cloud approaching us too much of the
afternoon. We may see some rain and the blanket of cloud isn't really
going anywhere tonight. Some rain across northern and western parts of
the region but most places will stay dry overnight. We have got a wind
direction change so it is going to be picking up as we move through
tonight into tomorrow morning. We start off with a rain in some places
but it will eventually dry out. It is going to feel cold, though. The
winds will take the edge off the temperatures. Through tomorrow
afternoon the showers will eventually die out and it will be
another cool night. The possibility of a touch of ground frost on
Friday. It will stay settled for the weekend. On Friday we will see the
sun at times but cloud will start to fill in. Saturday is looking
cloudier and more rain on Sunday. Tonight's headlines: Unemployment
down in our region for a second quarter in a row, but it's still
above the national average. That was Midlands Today. I'll be
back at 10pm, including the result from St Andrew's. Have a great