14/11/2013 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: The crisis in


Birmingham children's services ` branded a national disgrace, now it


could be taken over by the Government before Christmas.


On children's services are being given a last chance.


I'll be talking to the man with the job of trying to sort out the mess.


Also tonight: Think about the consequences ` a plea from the


mother of the rapper stabbed to death outside a Birmingham


nightclub. If you go out tonight and you are


carrying a knife, you could be breaking your family's hearts.


Cynical and systematic ` a former financial advisor who conned


pensioners out of thousands in a property scam.


We are glad that the outcome is as it is, and these people will be


prevented from carrying on. Special delivery ` Dudley Zoo's new


star, a rare Sumatran tiger. There are just 140 left in the wild. And,


just in time for the German Christmas market, our weather is


getting colder. And work forecast later.


Good evening. The job of keeping children safe in Birmingham, which


has been labelled a national disgrace, could be taken over by the


government before Christmas. The BBC has learned the decision hinges on a


review within weeks. So what's gone so wrong? As long ago as 2003,


serious questions were asked following the killing of Toni`Ann


Byfield, gunned down by drug dealers. In 2008, Khyra Ishaq


starved to death ` a preventable tragedy, according to an official


review. And then, in 2011, Keanu Williams, murdered by his mother and


"invisible" to the authorities. In a moment, I'll be talking to the man


in charge, but first, here's Cath Mackie.


These are some of the children in Birmingham who've died at the hands


of those who should have loved them, let down by those who should have


protected them. But would the government do a better job than


Birmingham City council of keeping children like Keanu Williams safe?


He was beaten to death by his mother. Ofsted's about to carry out


a review of the city's children's services and, unless there are


improvements, the Department for Education will take over.


I think that the children services are in the last chance saloon. We


look carefully at the report, and if it shows that there is no


alternative than to impose different organisation, we will have no


situation but to do so. Birmingham children's services seems


to be stuck in a vicious circle. They get bad publicity, then can't


attract enough social workers. That leads to more failures like Keanu


Williams, and that in turn leads to more bad publicity and so it goes


on. The question is whether they are doing enough now to break out of


that circle and prevent the need for government intervention.


The union Unison believes that the government should stay away.


We have Ofsted coming in, but who has confidence in them? There is a


new director in place and the social workers are working hard.


One former social worker believes that a takeover will happen.


We need to be prepared for that to happen. We need to work with central


government to make sure that the children that we try and protect our


put first. It is irrelevant to the children who is running the


situation, they just want to be protected.


We will talk to Peter Hay now. This is a blow to your department. You


have been told to fix things. Why hasn't it happened?


We need a clear grip on the safety of children through some basic


steps. Staffing, and their adequacy, and creating a coherent is about


what we are here to do. That is what will be judged. It is not news to us


that those options continue the option of a City Council. What


matters is the focus that we bring to the safety of children, and, in


particular, an option that carries the ability for staff to do their


job as best as possible. You say that you have not had time to put


this right, but ten years ago, you had a zero star rating. It is


difficult to see what has changed since then.


We were dealing with the social services section, it ceased to be


the social services sector in 2006 with one star. I have recently been


running adult services. The service has not prospered under the split


between adult and children's services. So, I have come back to it


with a track record of improving it. But nothing seems to have changed in


ten years. The Department for Education may have to take it over.


Absolutely, I do not like coming back to the situation because of


that. The gravity of the situation facing children is something I have


been clearer about. The steps to improvement are about that honesty


and transparency. That has been reflected by a City Council that is


prepared to admit that this will take additional investments as well


as improvement and continued focus. The first step to improvement is to


to look at some of the fundamental building blocks, can we retain


staff? But you have not got time to put


anything in place. You will soon be having another review. Is it


inevitable that the Department for Education will take over?


The City Council is humble enough and focused enough to take the


comments on board. I don't know what will happen. It is up to the


Secretary of State to make this difficult decision. The judgement


should be about what help staff to work with children. What effective


services need are enough staff. They need to be able to work with


partners. This is a massive problem. Would


there be an element of relief if the government took over? It would be


someone else's problem. It is not an easy decision. People


should not think that there is an easy option. There is no alternative


in existence at the moment. It is not about relief, it is about what


is best for the children of Birmingham. What would be better?


It needs a really serious decision. I do not envy the Secretary of


State. Beyond the speculation, people need to realise that nothing


like this has happened before and what matters is what is going to


work. The City Council believes it can be part of that. It knows it has


lost the right to make the decision, but that is what the review is


about. Have we got enough grip and have we got a say in the future?


Coming up later in the programme: The public don't know who they are


and aren't convinced Police and Crime Commissioners are a good idea.


Find out how they think they're doing.


The mother of a stabbing victim has spoken publicly for the first time


since her son's death about the need to educate children on the dangers


of knives. Rapper Joshua Ribera, known as Depzman, was attacked at a


fundraising event for a friend, who'd been stabbed and killed the


year before. Our special correspondent Peter Wilson has this


exclusive report. # I just want to go to the front of


the queue. #. Joshua Ribera's star was rising. In


September, he had an album at number one in the download charts. The MC


rapper was tipped for the big time, but a knife to his heart cut his


life short at 18. This is the first time that his mother has spoken


publicly about the case and her wish to do something about knife crime.


It needs to be a long`term investment in young people and in


people who have not got enough self`respect and haven't had the


love and care that they have deserved. That is the problem. I


could sit here and say don't carry a knife. Who am I to tell anyone? If


they have not been shown respect and Shannon Love, they Joshua Ribera had


been at this nightclub, attending a fundraiser for his friend Kyle


Sheehan. Will not listen to me. Ironically,


he had been fatally stabbed a year before. Today, detectives have


released nine images caught on CCTV of witnesses that they wish to talk


to. If it was you who had been killed


and your mother in my position, you would want your friends to make this


situation as easy for your mother as you possibly could. If anybody knows


anyone in these images, you need to come forward, as I hope people would


do for you. Joshua was known as Depzman on the


music scene .His first royalty cheque was paid the day before he


died. He bought his mother a watch. His fans have been distraught and


scores of young people visit Alison's home every day.


They listen to the lyrics of his songs to guide them through life,


and his lyrics, you can look over the last five years and see the


growth and the change in his lyrics to positive, strong messages to


young people. Fans, as you call them, some of them don't have the


guidance and they turned to him for the guidance.


Detectives have charged an 18`year`old man with the murder, but


they are keen to stress that this is an ongoing investigation and they


are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.


The Stratford`upon`Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi is to pay back almost ?5,000


after claiming too much on energy bills. Mr Zahawi is returning all


the money, because his supplier couldn't separate electricity used


at his house from that used in stables, which he shouldn't have


claimed for. The Conservative MP has apologised unreservedly for his


mistake. A former financial adviser and


financier has been jailed for two years for conning his clients, many


of them pensioners. Gary Hexley earned thousands in commissions,


even though he'd been declared bankrupt and wasn't authorised to


offer financial advice. Giles Latcham reports.


A final taste of freedom for Gary Hexley, jailed today by a judge who


called his deceit cynical and systematic. But he has a history of


double dealing. He said I am setting up a new


company. A retired teacher from Sutton


Coldfield considered Hexley a friend and invested tens of thousands with


him. But when they needed money urgently, there was none.


We had a daughter`in`law who was dying of cancer, and we thought,


maybe, if we got some money out, we could send her to Switzerland. But


we could not. She died. Gary said it would take two or three months to


get the money together. Hexley ran a property investment


company, Greenfield, but that went into administration with losses of


more than ?2 million. Another of his firms, Intellectual Property


Limited, collapsed with losses of more than ?1.3 million.


Hexley was declared bankrupt, but in spite of this continued trading as a


financial advisor, earning ?74,000 in commissions.


Jailing him for two years, the judge said that his was a deliberate


enterprise to exploit the trust placed in him by his clients, many


of whom were elderly and vulnerable. I think he heard lots of pensioners


who were not able to appreciate investments. He took advantage of


our ignorance. Some of his clients battled


successfully for compensation. Others are left only with regrets.


Our top story: The crisis in Birmingham children's services,


branded a national disgrace, it could be taken over by Christmas.


Also in tonight's programme, how a team effort to get more women


involved in sport is paying off in Shropshire.


And from Germany to the Black Country ` one of the rarest tigers


on Earth with an important job to do at Dudley Zoo It's a year since 41


Police and Crime Commissioners were elected across England and Wales.


The controversial, high`profile positions were created to replace


police authorities and ensure forces are run effectively. But a new poll


commissioned by the BBC found many people are still to be convinced


about whether they're needed. Here's Ben Godfrey.


The Police and Crime Commissioner is supposed to put ordinary people at


the heart of policing. But with less than 15% turnout at the election


last November, it was clear that would be difficult.


Nowhere did the message gets across. I don't think people


understood what the change was about.


One year on, and there's confusion. A survey for the BBC found that 36%


of people in the Midlands were not aware their region has a PCC. 44%


thought they'd had a positive impact on policing generally. While more


than half said they had no impact on levels of crime.


It has not been a success everywhere, but it has been a


success in most places. A year ago I came here to Wem in


Shropshire to ask people what they expected from a Commissioner. They


said visible policing and less crime, particularly anti`social


behaviour. So how are they doing? I don't know what they do. I don't


understand what their purpose is. They are in charge of the police


forces, and there is not enough. I do think there should be more


police and there are a few more, actually.


One four year term is enough for Bill Longmore. The West Mercia


Commissioner has survived two "votes of No confidence" but says he's an


effective player. People will see how much work we


have done. Really, the result of the first 12 months will begin to show.


Would you stand for another term? I think I deserve some rest in my


life. Bob Jones is, reluctantly, the West


Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner. That's because he


wants to scrap his job. He's trying to recruit 450 police officers.


You say that you don't believe in the role, so why don't you step


down? I don't think it is the best way,


but it is the only way, and I think it is important that someone who can


avoid the risks is in the job. I think I can do a better job than the


people who think the job is unsinkable.


Ron Ball didn't expect controversy but he found it. Warwickshire's


Commissioner told me he's been trying to build an alliance with the


West Mercia force. But the former airline pilot has suffered political


turbulence. He's on a collision course with the


Home Secretary, who appeared to suggest he'd been too quick to


defend local forces police caught up in the row over what was or wasn't


said to police in Downing Street by Sutton Coldfield MP, Andrew


Mitchell. I don't think that is acceptable. I have written to the


Home Secretary saying, under the circumstances, I think I am owed an


apology. Format you Alice, partnerships are


helping to rehabilitate people. The police have stopped this man


from a life of burglary. The commission wants to put more cash


into changing the lifestyle of offenders, while working with


voluntary groups. You said that you would like to


invest more than ?1 million, but your budget is only ?1 million.


Where does the money come from? We find the money.


We have already made savings whilst we have been involved in policing. I


believe that you have to be bold. You have to spend money in the right


place. You have to stop spending money where it does not make


difference. One year on, the PCCs still have a


message to sell. And yes, they're even heading to the supermarket to


win support, after a year in which politics and policing have collided


spectacularly. Tomorrow, it's Children in Need and


all week we're featuring projects which have benefited from your


generosity. A charity in Warwickshire helps child victims of


sexual abuse. Tina is a trained counsellor. The words of two of the


children she's worked with are spoken by actors. You may find some


of this report upsetting. I am supported by Children in Need


to help children who have experienced sexual abuse. Two of the


children will shed their story today.


It started when I was ten. I was playing outside, and he started


massaging my feet. Then it went a step too far. That is how it


started. It did not go on that long. Two


separate occasions, but one lasted four hours. I thought he was someone


I could trust, but he kept me away from everyone else.


At the time, I didn't feel anything, but when I got home, I told my


mother and then I felt guilty. I saw my mum so sad, but it was only when


I was older that I realised what had happened.


I got angry that I stopped doing things, but nothing seemed to happen


to him. After the sessions, I realised I did not do anything


wrong. I told my mother, and you have to


trust someone. I told someone I trusted.


The organisation gave me a different kind of support. As much as my


mother wanted to help me, she could not do it. It has been helpful and


it has change my behaviour at school.


I still get down. It can't cure everything, but it has benefited me.


I would say wake up, it is happening. I know it is


uncomfortable, because I listen to it every day. But it is happening,


and we need to support these children and give them a voice.


And you can donate to Children in Need ahead of tomorrow by calling


03457 332233, and there's more information on the website.


One of the main aims of the Olympics was to increase sports


participation. One club in Shropshire has done that in style,


and it's not even an Olympic sport. The game's netball, the club's in


Shrewsbury and it's a contender for newcomer of the year at the West


Midlands Community Sports Awards. Here's Lura May McMullan.


Getting youngsters fit, focused and having fun is the aim of this


netball club in Shrewsbury. The group was set up over a year ago


to encourage more junior participation. The response has been


fantastic. We started off with four or five


girls. Now we have 80 girls. We have done really well. We have


won two games. I have played since I was really


little, but the coaches give you so much passion.


I would like to go all the way. Especially with my coaches, they


have really inspired me. Huge fundraising efforts and


donations also mean that the girls get a kit and pay small fees.


We are all one big family. They give them so much. They get their


exercise, their confidence, and they become part of a family.


New members are joining them weekly.


An endangered breed of tiger moved into Dudley Zoo today. The Sumatran


tiger has been brought over from Germany as part of a conservation


programme. Our reporter Kevin Reide is at the Zoo for us ` how rare is


this tiger? It is incredibly rare. The official


description is that it is critically endangered. It is believed that


there are very few of these tigers left. The arrival of Joe is seen as


a good step. He is not in the enclosure behind me, he is in the


Tiger house. In morning of excitement and anticipation, as they


waited the arrival of the Tiger. Finally, a glimpse as they waited


for him to be moved into his new home. He was put into the enclosure


by crane and then released into the house.


The zookeeper is trying to calm him down. We hope to enter the enclosure


sooner. Finally, he was, off to face the


camera, although he was grumpy. He is very rare.


He is thought to be one of only a few of these tigers left on the


planet. There are said to be more tiger rugs in the world than there


are of these actual tigers. He seems OK.


That he is growling. What does that mean? He has had a big change. He


used to live with his sisters in Germany, but now he is alone.


His former home was near Frankfurt. He is now going to be with another


tiger who is settled at Dudley Zoo. It is a magnificent animal. The


conservation, bringing tigers to the public, we will hopefully get the


message across. Eight tiger cubs have been born at


the zoo in the last few years, and hopefully more will be.


He looks beautiful. When will he have visitors? Over the next few


days, he will be a climate I then to his new environment.


Then he will be introduced to his new mate. While they meet each other


and get to know each other, it could be a bit snow fracking, but it is


thought that they will get to know each other, because they are young.


But it is hoped that people will be able to visit them by next week. A


reminder that Dudley Zoo is open all year round.


It is just six weeks until Christmas. We have sent our reporter


out to the German market. Will be winter weather be here?


Maybe not tonight, but it should be later this week.


It is cold tonight, but people are still at the market. This market


will last until late in December. We are expecting 4 million visitors to


visit the market. It is the biggest German market outside Germany and


Austria. Although it has been cold here, it has been even cold in


Frankfurt. It will be one degree that night. That is not too


different from here, the temperatures will be around to


Celsius tonight. The clear skies that we had to end the day will


stick with us. The wind, that made it colder today, that will drop. The


temperatures will fall away and we could cease and frost tomorrow. A


cold start to our Friday, but it should be quite cloudy during the


day. Then, there will be some brightness in the eastern areas.


Temperatures not too different than they have been today. However,


having said that, without those wins, it will be milder. In the


sunshine, it will be pleasant. We will have that cloud on Saturday.


Further south, we watched is `` see some clear spells. We will see some


mist and frog on Saturday. It will be a mild night. Into the weekend,


it will be milder. There will be a cold front, with


some rain. We will get a different air mass, which means that things


will get much colder next week. Eyes, frost and snow in the


forecast. I will be back at 10pm, when we will


be finding out what social workers think about the crisis of social


care and children's services in Birmingham. Goodbye.


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