09/12/2013 Midlands Today


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the north and west. That's all from the BBC news at six.


Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight. More savings


needed. Another 1,000 jobs to go at Birmingham City Council. It is very


sad and I am sorry for this but there is no alternative because the


money is not there to keep those people in employment. We'll be


asking how these cuts will affect those who use the services. Ten


years down the road, claims the M6 Toll is a benefit to no one and


shunned by most drivers. Pulling in bumper crowds but has Birmingham's


German Christmas market become too popular? It feels like a connection


of sheds. I have nicknamed it Shedville. Storm clouds over manager


Steve Clarke as West Bromwich Albion suffer another home defeat. And you


would be surprised at the weather this week, it is not quite as cold


as you would expect others. `` expect for December. All the details


coming up. Good evening. Hundreds more jobs are being lost at the


region's biggest local authority. The leader of Birmingham City


Council is warning tonight of the most severe cuts in its history.


He's blamed a reduction in Government funding amounting to ?149


for every person in Birmingham. Today's announcement means 1080 jobs


are to go in the next two years. And the amount the council needs to save


by 2017 has increased from ?615 million to ?840 million. Three years


ago, the council employed 21,000. That's now down to 14,000 ` a


reduction of a third. Bob Hockenhull reports. One year ago, Birmingham's


council leader said that the city was staring individual is a doom.


Today, he said those jaws had widened. More than 1000 posts will


go by April 2000 and Dean. It is not just those who have been made


redundant who will be losing out. Advice activities, and that things


are residents are very much in need, so there is a range of cuts for


different categories of people, residents and indeed businesses.


Post from Park keepers to pest controllers, from librarians to


leisure centre managers are under threat from this latest round of


cuts. Only those working in children's services will be


protected. The council says that a 40% reduction in government funding


is to blame for the cuts, but the Government insists it has delivered


a fair deal which protects front line services. Opposition party


leaders on the council believed Labour has got it spending


priorities wrong and Birmingham. Why are they not willing to reduce


services and back office, things like the human resources Department


on legal department, or consult this? They spend a huge amount on


consultants. The council should be managing its budgets better, cutting


out vanity projects. We cannot afford them at the moment, and using


its lenses. The unions have described today's announcement as


horrendous but inevitable. It does not come as a shock but it will come


as a shock to the people of Birmingham that their services are


being wrecked by central government. The council was that services that


are currently protected Mike also face cuts in future years. `` might


also. The council said that volunteers could step in to take up


the slack. But will that work, and what do community stand to lose if


it doesn't? Standing up for Birmingham, they called it, an event


organised by the council intended to inspire volunteers to step up as


they step back. People like Roger, who wants to buy local playing


fields to provide sporting facilities. It opens up the door for


community and voluntary sector groups to step up to the plate and


say, we can get involved and we can do stuff on behalf of the local


community. How much can we expect from volunteers like Emma, who


devotes hundreds of unpaid hours to running their neighbourhood park? If


it is maintained it has no insurance impact. Cuts today would mean more


park rangers and keepers losing their jobs, but she says they cannot


do it all on their own. You cannot mothball a park, you cannot not look


after it. It will go back to being the field that it once was. I am not


quite sure what the answer is. The answer is getting volunteers to


help, but volunteers cannot do it with no infrastructure behind them.


Up the road, a swimming pool and gymnasium that could be mothballed.


It is one of nine slated for closure. The council says it will


build six new leisure centres. It is fair to blame the local authority


that was voted in recently on the basis of defending public services.


What they have done is the luck `` the exact opposite, not standing up


to central government, whatsoever. These cuts are affecting ordinary


people, the working class, not the middle`class. Around the corner, one


of 39 libraries in the city that could face closure or transferred to


local community groups. It might be about handing overhaul services to


communities and using that as an opportunity to get people control


over something that matters to them in their lives. There are some


positives to come out of this. It is not all negative. Sunset, or new


dawn? One way or another, the landscape of local government is


changing. John Hemming is the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham


Yardley and a former city councillor. A little earlier I asked


him if, as a member of the coalition, he agreed with these


cuts. If the country wanted to not be in a mess in 2010, it would have


required different policies from 2005`8. Giving those policies


between 2005`8, which Tony Blair himself said were wrong, inevitably,


we face cuts across the country and I think now the Labour Party


nationally accepts that they will go at least with the first year after


the general election if they were to end up in government. You cannot


keep naming the previous government. The workforce has been cut by


21,000, to 14,000, in the last three years. Your government is keen to


stress that the recovery is under way, but that is not the case if you


work in the public sector or relying on council services as many of your


constituents do. We have to bring the deficit under control. The


government spending more money than it in, in tax, every year, and we


are gradually reducing the difference but we will not be in


balance until the year, 2018. How will you explain these cuts to your


constituents? There is an inevitability to all of this.


Whoever is in government nationally will have to have an austerity


policy. The only way we could have avoided it is by having different


policies between 2005`8. Those having been set, we are stuck. We


are doing better than places like Greece Spain that have had much more


serious cuts. Are you comparing us to Greece? Are you saying, tough,


this is the situation, we're going to have to get on with it. Your


constituents will be affected by this. The point is, the deficit, the


amount of money that the Government spent that it did not get, in


income, as a proportion of gross domestic product, was the same order


of magnitude as that in Greece, it was that big a problem. How can you


maintain services when the budget needs to be cut by the amount it


means to be cut by, which you have acknowledged? At the end of the day


you have to be more efficient in the way that you do things. We haven't


used staffing levels and libraries whilst keeping them open. That is


not an unreasonable thing to do. We're talking about losing a further


1000 jobs. Lots of jobs have been lost over time. There was nothing


particularly new in all of this. Plenty more to come tonight,


including: why the only thing traders in one riverside town want


for Christmas is an end to over`running bridge repairs. We


cannot carry on. We are losing money every month, and one just cant carry


on like this. `` can't carry on. Ten years ago to the day, the


controversial M6 toll road was opened. Many expected it to help


relieve congestion on the existing M6, but a decade later traffic


levels and congestion is virtually the same. That's partly because the


M6 Toll has never managed to attract the number of vehicles it was


forecast to carry. It's also lost millions of pounds for its owners,


Midland Expressway Limited. A recent report by the Campaign for Better


Transport claims that the pay`as`you`go motorway is of


"benefit to no one". However, the roads bosses say, after a long


recession, more drivers ARE now beginning to use it. Here's our


Transport correspondent Peter Plisner. The M6 Toll this morning `


still one of the UK's quietest motorways. Dissy Tonks was on it


today. She likes it, but... It is expensive. It was better when it


first started. It was slightly cheaper. And even drivers who do not


pay the tolls themselves have similar views. Why do you use it as


opposed to a free road? Because somebody else pays the expenses. It


is expensive but the company are paying the way. And its high cost is


part of the reason many drivers have voted with their wheels and stayed


away. 75,000 vehicles were supposed to use it every day. But in reality


traffic levels are much lower. It is not just traffic that is missing.


Profits are missing for the company that runs the M6 Toll. Accounts


submitted over the last ten years show that this road has lost nearly


?300 million. Despite that, the man who runs the road is adamant that


the business is sustainable. I certainly think it is. We have the


continued support of the banks. The rah another 40 years ago. This will


prove to be a good long`term investment. Eco`warriors and


environmentalists did their best to stop the road being built. Not


surprisingly, ten years on, those involved haven't changed their view.


Expectations were always far too high for the M6 Toll. There was no


silver bullet for congestion in the West Midlands. We need to get on


with investing in public on sport. But what's it like living close to


the M6 Toll? This couple's home is just yards away. It is quite loud,


and it is more prevalent when it is wet. You get a continuous hissing


noise from the wet road. When it opened, the M6 Toll was a


trailblazer for a future network of toll roads. But ten years on, to the


delight of many drivers, the prospect of further pay`as`you`go


motorways seems as far away as ever. Peter Plisner is at the M6 Toll for


us now. So what's gone wrong with the toll road ideal? Many drivers


just don't like toll roads. We had the petition a few years ago where


millions of people signed a Downing Street petition opposing the idea.


Drivers say that they pay a tax already. As far as the M6 Toll is


concerned, it has been hit by the recession although traffic numbers


are coming back, but it is seen as a luxury by some and luxuries are the


first thing to go into recession, and some simply cannot afford it. It


must be galling for people struggling on the congested M6 to


see another motorway running almost empty at times, nearby. It must be.


And even at the busiest times this road is free`flowing, and it will


always be like that because the M6 Toll has the ability to increase the


tolls the joke of traffic if they want. The tolls are not regulated by


the Government, so the management can set whatever tolls they want.


There are measures being taken on the existing M6 to make things


easier. Smart motorways are being introduced on many sections so they


are using the hard shoulder and controlling the speed of traffic.


That helps ease congestion in places and improves journey time


reliability, so that you know, moron less, when you are going to reach


your destination. `` more or less. A headteacher has spoken of his


school's "immense loss" after a member of staff and two pupils were


killed in a car accident on Friday. Maggie Stewart, who was a technician


at Kingsbury School, near Tamworth, died with her sixteen year`old son


Damian and 15`year`old nephew Dion Walker`Smith. In a statement,


headteacher Simon Cotton said all three had been respected and loved


by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing them. Two Birmingham women


have been jailed for a total of 24 years for starting a house fire in


which a woman died as she slept. 39`year`old Nussrat Khatoon was


sentenced to 14 years for manslaughter and arson after she set


fire to her ex`husband's home. Her co`defendant, 30`year`old Tina


Andrews, was sentenced to ten years. A woman's body found in woodland two


months ago has been identified as a 27`year`old from Redditch. Police


found her body in Bolton and release pictures of jewellery and confirm


her identity. They have issued a fresh appeal for information. Our


top story tonight: More cuts needed, another one thousand jobs to go at


Birmingham City Council. Your detailed weather forecast to come


shortly. Also in tonight's programme: A first league win over


Chelsea in almost 40 years. Has Mark Hughes's Stoke side begun to turn


the corner? And non`league Kidderminster Harriers boost the


coffers with a place in the third round of the FA Cup, but not the big


draw they'd hoped for. An estimated four million shoppers will visit


Birmingham's German market this year. But is it becoming a victim of


its own success? On the busiest weekends, parts of the city centre


have become virtually impassable, with a one`way system to try to keep


pedestrians moving. Our reporter Kevin Reide has been investigating.


Birmingham's Frankfurt market is an ever popular attraction every


Christmas. But local journalist Graham Long is questioning its


existence. He believes it has become same old same old, . It feels like a


collection of sheds. I have nicked named it Shedville. Even of the


sheds were designed in a more theatrical way, it would just create


a more Christmassy experience. If they just changed it a little bit


every year, change the layout, or have the Victorian market one year,


you would remember it, but 13 years the same, it just blends into one.


This is the city of 1000 trades, the city of invention, but when you walk


around the market you cannot really see that. And it just dominates the


city. You don't get a flavour of what the real city is. They are


concerned about the Christmas nativity no longer being


centrestage. It feels as if we are ashamed of what Christmas is about


at the beginning. It gives people a trail to explore the city from new


Street, up to the square, and that night time it looks so beautiful. We


have had a lot of media coverage from the likes of New York travel


magazines, from overseas publications, and from broadcasters


saying how great the market is and highlighting it is a thing to do


when you come to this country. We have seen record numbers of people


booking trips to Birmingham and citing this market as a reason for


doing that. According to social media it is certainly attracting the


crowds. These pictures were captured at new Street station with a one in,


one out, barrier system in operation. What do those who run


nearby businesses think? People do spill into the arcade looking for


relief from it and find the best shopping in Birmingham, so it can be


to our advantage. Do you like it? Yes, I like the pancake stall. We


have lots of people from different cities coming to Birmingham to


experience the market. We are very busy. And perhaps Dan Graham should


have the final say. We had a comedian in Germany saying thank


goodness of the German markets are over here, because they are glad to


get Germany back to how it ought to be, which is not full of German


markets, they are tired of them too, so that is why they are


exporting them here. You have been getting in touch with your


experiences. We have had some divided opinions.


Steve Prescott took his children there on Saturday. He said.


And Larry Ashworth wrote on Facebook. He paid ?16 50 for three


hotdogs. I was there yesterday with my goddaughter and their family and


it was very 28 miles south of Birmingham, the


town of Evesham on the banks of the River Avon would love some of those


visitors this Christmas. Repairs to a bridge have over`run, shoppers


have been going elsewhere and some businesses fear for their future.


Sarah Falkland reports. Construction of the new bridge has been described


by one Evesham resident as being such a saga, it makes the Lord of


the rings seem concise. With the main road closed, passing trade has


vanished. This garage has laid off two staff, and next door they are


shutting up shop. We have not been able to make the mortgage payments


at home, and I have just resigned myself to the fact that we cannot


carry on. We are losing money every month. Contractors say they have


encountered all kinds of unexpected challenges building this bridge,


everything from high winds to high river levels, and have apologised


for missing the latest deadline. They point out they have offered


free Christmas advertising to some businesses affected. The one thing


they don't mention is that when this is going to be finished. We


understand the difficulties. It is a very complicated structure they are


trying to replace. We understand all of that, but we are getting quite


stroppy with them, that is the right ascription. When do you think the


road will be open? We think it will be open in early February. Early


February, then, things will be back to normal. But maybe not, says the


town mayor. They say it is not going to open until the middle of next


year, but you never know how much of that is real inside information or


people just shooting them out after having a few beers. He says that


Evesham is coping and that the Christmas market is bringing people


in. Maybe everyone is that adopt the attitude of this cafe owner, look


what is in her window. Sports news, and it is time that football


managers start to get vulnerable. At the end of November seven football


managers were sacked in the space of just eight days. It was a harsh


reminder of how much pressure there is to achieve instant success. But


as the bosses of Aston Villa, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion can


all tell you that success doesn't come easily in the Premier League.


Nick Clitheroe reports. This was the highlight of Mark Hughes's Stoke


City career so far. Oussama Assaidi's thunderous winner against


Chelsea brought the house down at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.


But it was relief as much as anything. Since Hughes took over in


the summer with the additional task of improving the team's style of


play his was just their fourth win in 15 games. We have not won as many


games as possibly we deserve, but everybody understands that we are


barely into what we are trying to do, and we are trying to change the


way we play, and a lot of people have said that the meat. Overall


that means he's taken 17 points from a possible 45. 37.7% of the rewards


on offer at this early stage. So how does that contrast with Paul Lambert


at Aston Villa. Lambert has been in charge for an extra season. His


brief was restoring the club's fortunes while slashing the budget


for players' wages. That's led to the inconsistency which saw them


beaten 2`nil by struggling Fulham yesterday. Overall though Lambert


has secured 60 points from a possible 159. Exactly the same


return as Mark Hughes at 37.7%. And that leaves Steve Clarke at West


Bromwich Albion. They were booed off following the 2`nil home defeat by


Norwich and Clarke has been criticised by some fans recently.


Overall though his record bears comparison. Like Lambert he's been


in charge for 53 games but Clarke has a slightly higher points tally


of 64 to give an overall success rate of just over 40 per cent. Those


statistics are quite revealing. It seems like Steve Clarke at West


Bromwich Albion has got the biggest task. December is a tough month.


West Bromwich Albion have lost three games in a week. They are away at


Cardiff city, then I wait to hold. Then I wait to Spurs on Boxing Day,


and 48 hours later, away to West Ham. Difficult times. Kidderminster


Harriers fancied up home draw against Premier League giant in


round three, but instead, they drew Peterborough, and they are pleased


as punch. Steve Bird woke up today, with working on his mind, because


tomorrow, that is where Kidderminster are hoping to close


the gap on conference leaders, Cambridge. On Saturday, the Harriers


held a minute applause for Nelson Mandela and it seemed to inspire


striker, Michael Gash. Like I said, I am very happy with it. It was a


good goal. The Harriers were outstanding in the first half, and


when Callum Givens scored, Newport County knew they were well beaten.


Then Michael Gash made it 4`0 and Kidderminster were able to celebrate


a cup victory against a team who pipped them for promotion last year.


Kidderminster were fired up for a possible home tie Iron Man three


against someone like Arsenal, Liverpool or United. Peterborough


United. Obviously not the draw we wanted, but it is a chance to


progress, that is the thing. There was no joy for the other non`league


teams, with Stourbridge crashing away to Stevenage, and at Tamworth,


Andy Todd's last`minute consolation goal could not present `` prevent


Bristol city going through, 2`1. Those ties among the first week of


January, on the fourth and fifth. I saw snowplough on the motorway


today. Is there something we should know? Shefali Has got the weather


forecast. This week is going to be milder. We have a wonderful wodge of


warm air in Central Europe at keeping temperatures up instead of


down this week, and on top of that, giving way slightly to low pressure


by Thursday and Friday. That high pressure will still exert some


influence. Taking a look at tonight. We start this evening and the first


part of the night with clear skies. So this is when temperatures are


going to drop to their lowest point, so they could see a slight frost


developing and remote spots. That's the side of midnight. After that,


cloud increases from the West, which will keep temperatures from falling


below four Celsius. We could get a bit of missed developing towards the


end of the night. Lots of this cloud is going to linger through the day


tomorrow. The best chance of any sunshine is in the East. In spite of


the cloud, it is going to be mild, temperatures between 9`10dC. And it


is going to be dry as well. Tomorrow night, cloud again into making us.


Not exactly warm, but not desperately cold, and later in the


night we could see some cloud breaks developing across the southeastern


corner of the region, with some missed developing. And then looking


ahead, it looks like Wednesday is going to be a fine, dry day with


plenty of wintry, sparkling sunshine. I temperatures of nine


Celsius, but on Thursday, we have a frontal system slipping down from


the North West, making it cloudy but milder, the possibility of some


patchy rain. The headlines. Amazon convert admits


killing a British soldier, Lee Rigby, in London and tells the Old


Bailey, this is a war. And more cuts needed. Another 1000 jobs to go at


Birmingham City Council. And you might remember seeing Sean Conway


from Cheltenham last week. He has become the first person to swim the


length of Britain. He most from the sea, looking like Neptune. He grew a


beard while swimming to protect him from jellyfish stings. Today, he


gave it a chop, and donated the money raised to the BBC Children In


Need fun. `` fund. I'll be back later with more on those job cuts at


Birmingham City Council. Join me for that


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