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Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka. That is all from the BBC News at
Hello, and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: With
Children's Services increasingly under threat of a takeover, and 100
jobs unfilled, the challenge of being a social worker in Birmingham.
If you do act, people can think that sometimes you've acted quite
oppressively, and sometimes too soon.
We'll be asking a local government expert if Birmingham City Council is
simply too big to run efficiently? Just five years after it opened at a
cost of ?72 million, the West Bromwich arts centre The Public is
to close tomorrow. Once we close this and lose it, we
lose a little bit of magic. That is what architecture is partly about.
Why a headteacher's discouraging the local dialect at a Black Country
school. Because of the Black Country`isms we
all use, which is fine, it makes it difficult to spell the words out as
they should be. I'll be live at the Library of
Birmingham, as we get ready for Children In Need.
And, if you're out for Children In Need tonight, you'll need to wrap up
warm. But you shouldn't get wet! Staying dry this weekend too, but
it's all change next week. Your full forecast coming up.
Good evening. Birmingham's social workers are
bracing themselves for a government review which could see Children's
Services being taken over by the Department for Education. Inspectors
have rated the city's child protection services as "inadequate"
for the past four years. Part of the problem is said to be the lack of
qualified staff. One in three social work jobs in Birmingham are vacant.
And, in a speech earlier this week, the Education Secretary Michael Gove
said he's determined to do more to drive up standards, and that
includes a review of how social workers are trained.
I believe we have not been systematic, radical or determined
enough in our effort to reform a system of children's social care.
That is changing. It is my aim to ensure that change is equal to the
challenge we all face. There should be nearly 500
front`line social workers in Birmingham, but the team's far from
full strength. There are currently more than 100 vacancies. So, what
can be done to ensure the city can recruit enough qualified social
workers? Cath Mackie's been to Birmingham City University for this
exclusive report. Year two students studying for a
degree in social work, at Birmingham City University. They've another
year to go before they graduate and, in light of the recent damning
headlines about the city's Children's Services, there's an
obvious question to ask. As the next generation of social
workers, how many can see all souls applying to Birmingham social
services? More than half put up their hands.
We have had headlines about Birmingham children's services. Did
it put you off? It has encouraged me to graduate and bring about that
change. 800 people applied for just 90 places on the course this year.
It's a tough selection process. Social workers have to be agile
thinkers, see what is happening, see how you are feeling and take stock.
And have appropriate knowledge. But, as students, they are still a
world away from the reality of serious case reviews and large
caseloads. What are your students doing when they graduate? Staying in
Birmingham? Many are queueing up to get
placements in Birmingham. But not jobs? Placements lead to jobs. Many
are interested. They realise Birmingham is a very challenging
place to work. Elizabeth Bullock is in her final year, and believes
social work is a vocation, a passion to improve lives. She'll soon be
applying for jobs. It's a daunting prospect.
You are very aware that the role you have is very intensely scrutinised.
And that there isn't really an error or a margin for mistakes.
These students will graduate in 2015. With other Midlands
authorities also struggling to retain and recruit social workers,
there should be plenty of jobs to choose from.
Joining us now is local government expert Catherine Staite, from the
Institute of Local Government Studies at the University of
Birmingham. Good evening. It seems ever more
likely that children's services in Birmingham could be taken over. Do
you see that happening? Those are two different questions, I
do not know whether it will happen. The same conversations have been had
about Doncaster. In the end, central government backed off. I think, I
don't think it would be a good idea at all. Children's services
nationally particularly in Birmingham have suffered from an
excess of churn and uncertainty. The new director, Peter Hay, has only
been imposed since July. He has an excellent reputation and I do not
know how somebody being parachuted in from central government would be
expected to do a better job than he does, with his understanding of the
problems. The bigger picture, is Birmingham
City Council too big? No, I think Birmingham is a global
city. It is competing with Chicago, Melbourne, the idea of dividing
Birmingham up into smaller authority areas would make absolutely no
sense. It seems to have worked in
Manchester and Glasgow. Manchester City is a small part of
the Greater Manchester area. All the ten local authorities have joined
together into a combined authority, going upscale, not down. They have
recognised in order to compete in a global economy, to have the
economies of scale and critical mass for regeneration, infrastructure,
you need to operate at a bigger scale. I think that is true of
Birmingham and its role in the West Midlands.
Let us go back to children's services and social services, is the
problem a communication problem between departments?
I think, whenever there is an issue about child protection, the focus is
immediately on children's and social services. But if you look at serious
case reviews, verdicts of inquests, you can almost always see a pattern
of the complexity of situations, where many agencies, the police,
GPs, mental health services, may all be involved with a family. It is
critically important for the council to be allowed to take on its role,
holding the ring around all those different professionals. Not holding
the blame on behalf of them all, when things go wrong.
You've been giving us your views on this. We were particularly
interested in whether you thought Birmingham City Council was just too
big to do the job, and should perhaps be broken up into smaller
authorities. Muji on Twitter says: "Birmingham
City Council definitely needs splitting up."
But Stuart Francis Twigg disagrees, saying: "Size is not the problem if
resources are adequate." Meanwhile, John Wheatley Price on e`mail says:
"What sort of community is it that seems to lack Good Samaritans, and
runs away from its own responsibilities? It is easy to
blame others, especially when we have evaded our own
responsibilities." Thanks for those views.
And, if you have a story you think we should be covering on Midlands
Today, we'd like to hear from you. You can call us or send an email. We
are also on Facebook, or you can tweet us.
Coming up later in the programme: A famous name making his way.
Dan Skelton, son of Olympic champion Nick, goes it alone as a racehorse
trainer. Since it was first mentioned, West
Bromwich's ?72 million arts centre has been a topic of heated debate.
Now, just five years after opening, it's to close tomorrow. The
building's going to be converted into a sixth form college, after the
council decided it could no longer afford to subsidise the running
costs. Lindsay Doyle reports on its penultimate day.
Its architect described it as his box of delights. Its critics dubbed
it the Pink Elephant. Love it or loathe it, it's to be consigned to
history. The Public closes tomorrow. Gutted for all the community groups
and the people who have made this building into a lively, vibrant
place. And gutted the people in Sandwell who are losing a stunning
facility. The original idea was drawn on the
back on an envelope. It was meant to be the centrepiece of the major
refurbishment of West Bromwich. It has become almost a symbol for
Sandwell, the essence of the regeneration of the town, West
Bromwich in particular. It suffered terrible bombing in the war and
never really recovered. Things began to go wrong. Its windows, shaped
like jelly beans, cost a fortune. It was meant to cost ?40 million but
spiralled up to ?72 million. Sandwell Borough Council has been
subsidising The Public at a cost of ?30,000 a week. But no more.
I have been charged by the public of Sandwell to protect front line
services and that is what I am trying to do. It is a difficult
position. I am sorry we are having to make this decision and I
appreciate why some people are upset.
Aside from its theatre, and technical wizardry, The Public
prided itself on celebrating local arts.
The new Square has opened but they are shutting The Public. It doesn't
make sense. Finally, they have got a good thing
around here but are closing it up, ridiculous.
I am devastated, I can hit all the time.
`` I come here. The pink landmark will become part of Sandwell
College, a sixth form. Half`term saw thousands of children taking part in
drama sessions and storytelling. But the story of the Public is over.
Police in Birmingham are investigating a series of needle
attacks on women in the city. They've released a picture of a man
they want to talk to in connection with an assault close to Broad
Street on the 3rd of November. It's one of five hypodermic needle
attacks in the last 18 months. The government has agreed to pay a
fuel allowance to miners who lost their jobs, following the closure of
Daw Mill Colliery in Warwickshire. The yearly allowance of ?1,300 worth
of coal, or ?600 in cash, was previously restricted to former
British Coal workers. The scheme's now being extended to miners who
lost their jobs when the owners of Daw Mill, UK Coal, went bust.
On the first anniversary of elections for five new Police and
Crime Commissioners in our region, the Shadow Police Minister has told
the BBC most people here would rather the money was spent instead
on front`line policing. He said the issue would figure in the
recommendations of Labour's review of policing, to be published in ten
days' time. Police commissioners were an
experiment, ?100 million on it, 90% of people do not know who their
commissioner is. We have a good one in the Midlands, Bob Jones, but
across the country there has been tension. Democratic accountability,
without doubt, but I suspect people would prefer that ?100 million to be
spent on more police officers on beat.
Patrick will be back with more about that, in this weekend's Sunday
Politics. Plus, the developing storm over the government's drive to speed
up developments of new housing. That's at the usual time of 11
o'clock, here on BBC One. There's controversy at a school in
the Black Country where pupils have been told not to speak colloquially
in the classroom. A letter to parents warns that the local
dialect, together with slang words and phrases, is contributing to a
"decline in standards". But some say it's an assault on their heritage,
as Giles Latcham reports. This primary School in Craigie Heath
is at the heart of the Black Country, a place apart priding
itself on its dialect. Some parents don't take cuddly to their kids
being told to mind their language in class. It is disgusting teaching
them how to talk to when they have been brought up this way. We should
be proud of our Black Country language. They should be allowed to
do whatever they want to do. I can talk properly if I want to. This is
what it is about, school guidance listing the top ten damaging phrase
is heard in class. Fraser is the school says it is
taking a zero tolerance approach in class. The head says children need
to know how to speak properly. All the staff are from the Black Country
but there are times when we need to use formal language, when we are
presenting, writing a letter. So we get the best results for our
children. Some parents support his stance. In the classroom, it doesn't
help with reading or writing. Because of the dialect we use, which
is fine, it makes it difficult for them to spell the words as they
should. At this show at the NEC, a window
into the world of work for youngsters. A reminder presentation
matters. The advice about trying to think about speaking properly, but
retaining something of who you are is important. Historians will tell
you Black Country dialect harks back to Chaucer. At this school, the
debate is about its place today. This is our top story tonight: With
children's services increasingly under threat of a takeover, and 100
jobs unfilled, the challenge of being a social worker in Birmingham.
Your detailed weather forecast to come shortly from Rebecca.
Also in tonight's programme: We're out and about, finding out what
you've been doing to raise funds for Children In Need, including a rather
strange world record! And, watch out!
Argh! The game that's keeping kids fit and
healthy, in the name of fun. Sport now, with Dan, and the
National Hunt racing season really takes off this weekend in
Cheltenham. A big weekend in Cheltenham.
Around 70,000 racegoers will descend on Cheltenham this weekend for the
three`day open meeting which began today. And, for young trainer Dan
Skelton, it's another small step forward. In the summer, he left his
job as assistant to Paul Nicholls, to set up his own yard in
Warwickshire. But he couldn't have done it without his family.
He is doing well. Dan Skelton has just become a
trainer, and he loves his job. It's a dream come true. I planned to
train myself, one day, I'd obviously love to do it with the support of my
family around me. To do it like this is fantastic.
And that family support allowed Dan to build excellent facilities near
Alcester in Warwickshire, with a loan from his dad, the show`jumper
Nick Skelton. And his brother Harry is the stable's main jockey.
Yes, he's a good boss, my brother. There is always going to be a bit of
argument because we are family. At the end of the day, he has the final
say. I have to respect that. Dan Skelton spent nine years as an
assistant to a seven`times champion trainer. He led in Gold Cup winners
such as Kauto Star, but he's now starting from scratch, and craves
the big time. Nobody starts out in this job
without dreaming big, owners, stable lads, you name it. Everybody is a
big dreamer. Everyone wants to do their best. To be competing and
winning is fabulous. This weekend at Cheltenham, in fact,
this entire season, is a starting point for Dan Skelton. But his dream
won't be complete until he's competing regularly with the very
best. Who'd have thought that throwing a
ball at someone as hard as you can would become an international sport?
Dodge ball is becoming huge here, and the man behind a club in Walsall
is a contender for Newcomer Of The Year at the West Midlands Community
Sports Awards. Ben Godfrey's been to meet him.
Glyn Marston noticed that children in Willenhall had few opportunities
to let off steam after school. So, a year ago, he set up Walsall
Warriors dodge ball Club, and waited to see what happened. We started as
a fun and fitness club. Before long, a view of our members became
competitive. We came third in our very first tournament in Leicester.
A big boost for us. These children, some with special
needs, join weekly training sessions to get fit, and make new friends.
It is really fun, you get to join in. You can get lots of kids
involved. A lot of people come to my school.
This is an elimination game, two teams. If you get hit, you are out.
And it's not just the kids. Glyn volunteers his time and money to
coach, compete in regular competitions, and test out a new
line in eyewear. I have a mark here. I wear goggles, cycle glasses. The
kids aim for me, just for the fun of it!
The Walsall Warriors are on the lookout for new members. If you
dare. Some good news for Birmingham today,
with the world's best athletes heading back to the city.
Birmingham has been named as the host city for the World Indoor
Athletics Championships in 2018. The city successfully hosted the World
Championships in 2003. They'd bid to host the 2016 Games, but had to
compete with Portland in the United States. Portland gets 2016,
Birmingham 2018. We'll just have to be patient.
Now, as I'm sure you know, it's Children In Need day today, and
people around the region have been taking part in all sorts of events
to raise money to help children. Last year, Children In Need
nationally made nearly ?27 million, more than ?2 million of that coming
from the West Midlands. The focus in the region tonight is on the new
library in the centre of Birmingham. And, waiting for us there right now
is Andy Akinwolere. How's it going, Andy?
I tell you what, we are literally going to be raising the roof at the
Library of Birmingham. We are surrounded by 225 children from ten
different schools in Coventry and Birmingham, practising to sing their
hearts out the children in need. How are you?
Yes! I don't need to tell you how excited
they are. We all like a bit of bunting to
celebrate. And BBC Hereford and Worcester have taken it to the next
level, with their world record attempt of the longest line of
bunting. At 4.7 miles, it smashed the
previous record by two miles. I literally asked the listeners if
they would come on board, accepts and was crazy and go crazy with me.
In Chelmsley Wood, Libby Bright from Chelmsley Wood has followed in the
footsteps of her favourite pop star Jessie J, and had her long hair cut
off. A viewer saw her on Midlands Today
earlier, and offered a further ?300 to her fundraising efforts.
It wasn't that bad. When she cut the ponytail off, that was the worst
bit. At NFU Mutual Headquarters in
Stratford, there's been a Gladiator Challenge all day, staff versus
management. Much to the delight of staff, it was
management who took the tumble in this jewel.
Fabulous. For a good cause. Small children, emotional blackmail, but
it didn't work! In Stoke on Trent, this pair have
been travelling on a server in a rickshaw.
We will be going from Hanley to Trentham, 7.5 miles, then Trentham
to leak, in total, 21.5 miles. This school in Kenilworth is making
maths fun, and has released its own pop`style counting song for Children
In Need. I like doing it most days of the
week because it helps me remember my times table.
Whilst teachers and pupils here have been getting into the Dr Who spirit
with dalek racing. And staff will be working on the
lines until early morning. We are going from 645 until 2am in
the morning. We wanted to see it through until the bitter end.
All in all, a day of generosity in the Midlands, all for children in
need. Don't forget, all the money you are
rated that will help change so many children's lives. The man left in
charge of this madness today is a man called David, talk to me, how
has it been going? We met this afternoon and started rehearsing.
Someone said they had sung it eight times in rehearsal, with all their
heart. You have been choirmaster the TV programmes. There is a bit more
screaming on a day like today. Essentially, it is about keeping
spirits up, keeping them energised. I have a feeling they might pull it
off. A little secret, no one is watching, how are the kids of
Coventry and Birmingham? They are fabulous, the incredible
spirit which characterises this area.
How have you been feeling? Really excited. What school are you
representing? Inari. `` Deanery.
What is going through your mind? Don't forget your words.
Are you nervous? Definitely. Why? I can't really say. You can't even
speak. Finally, you are representing your school, are you nervous? Yes,
very nervous. It will be all right on the night. Join us at 7pm
tonight, I know it is going to be a great show.
Let's find out how the weather's going to be for Children In Need
night. Here's Rebecca. Not too bad. If you are heading out,
it will be rather cold. But it will be cloudy and dry, the theme for the
next few days. We have seen plenty of cloud, sitting across us. It
won't shift anywhere overnight. It has restricted temperatures today,
only getting up to seven Celsius. During the day, it will have helped
tonight, particularly across the North, staying at five Celsius.
Further south, we will see some fog. That will be quite stubborn.
For all of us, it rather dull start, a few breaks in the cloud. Not much
to write home about. Once again, temperatures will struggle. Where we
do get the sunshine, 11 Celsius. Light winds as well. Then, another
cloudy night tomorrow. Once again, that blanket of cloud. Temperatures
falling away too far, around seven Celsius overnight tomorrow. Not much
lower than daytime temperatures. Some rain starting across the North.
Sunday, we see a weather front moving through, bringing with it
some rain. Temperatures again, nine Celsius. Sunday night, that rain
will pep up and the winds will build. That weather front will move
through and it will change. We will see cold air moving across us.
Striding bear down from the Arctic. Some really cold winds to come. Ice
and frost in the forecast, we could see some snow, possibly even
dropping to lower levels. Temperatures will be much colder by
Tuesday. Not uncommon for this time of year.
Tonight's headlines from the BBC: David Cameron's convoy is surrounded
by protesters in Sri Lanka. They claim their relatives were
murdered during the country's bitter civil conflict.
With Children's Services increasingly under threat of a
takeover, and 100 jobs unfilled, the challenge of being a social worker
in Birmingham. That was the Midlands Today. I'll be back at ten o'clock,
with a look back at a fantastic day's fundraising for Children In
Need across the region. Stay with us here on BBC One, for entertainment
from across the country. And, in the Midlands, our choir at the Library
of Birmingham. Have a great evening. Goodbye.