13/12/2013 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: A warning to


Christmas party`goers after dozens of women are sexually assaulted by


unlicensed taxi drivers trawling the streets.


Our message is for people to just be mindful and book their journeys home


and make sure friends and family know where they are. We'll be


hearing a victim's dramatic story of how she was assaulted by a driver


taking her home. Also tonight: It's used by 60,000 passengers across the


region, but now the popular ring and ride scheme is under threat.


A lot of people depend on it, a lot of elderly people would not be able


to get out at all. Joy for 200 workers, most of them


with a disability, as Remploy finds a buyer for three factories.


What goes up sometimes comes down ` passengers at New Street Station


urged to mind their step on busy escalators.


And the weekend weather's not looking great ` it's wet and windy


for the next few days. I'll have your full forecast later.


Good evening. The Christmas party season gets into full swing this


weekend, but do you know who's taking you home at the end of the


night? West Midlands Police are warning that bogus and illegal taxi


drivers are targeting vulnerable women looking for cabs home after a


night out on the town. The warning comes after 75 women were sexually


assaulted by cabbies who picked them up either legally or illegally over


the last two years. BBC Inside Out West Midlands reporter Anthony


Bartram spoke to one of those victims.


I'd got a lot drunker than I'd planned and I had to work the next


day, so I decided I needed to go back to the hotel. The beginning of


Sarah's story is far from unusual ` a boozy night out with friends in


Birmingham. But it ended with a terrifying encounter with a bogus


taxi driver who attacked her. He leaned over from the driver's side


onto the passenger seat where I was sat and he started kissing my face


and on my lips. I thought really at that point, it would have been best


to just sit there and let him carry on because I thought I'd end up in a


worse situation if I fought and tried to push him off. Shakeel Ahmed


is now serving five years for a serious sexual assault. He wasn't


even a minicab driver, but in the state Sarah was in, she didn't


notice until it was too late. Our message is for people to just be


mindful and to book their journeys home and make sure friends and


family know where they are and where they are going. 75 similar assaults


have been investigated in the past two years. The majority of the 4500


private hire cars and 1500 black cabs to play by the rules, and while


sex attacks are rare, there are other risks. If you just get into a


private hire car that you have not, your journey is not insured, so you


are putting yourself at risk. Always a private hire vehicle in advance.


The council catches many illegally plying their trade every year. We


joined an undercover police team to find those prepared to risk their


livelihoods. We are about to look for some of these rogue drivers. How


easy do you think it is going to be? I would say fairly easy,


especially around areas like this with lots of students on nights out.


We did find a number of cabbies playing by the rules, insisting we


book ahead, but it didn't take long to find a ride who wasn't so fussy.


He didn't get far. Unfortunately, there is a small proportion of


drivers where greed will take over and they will take the opportunity


for a quick, easy amount of cash to be made. But this driver now faces a


charge of driving without insurance and could now lose his private hire


license if convicted. Police warn that their passengers are risking a


lot more by using them. I'm joined now by Chris Neville, the


Head of Licensing at Birmingham City Council. Are you satisfied that


enough is being done to put an end to it? We have never done more than


we are at the moment in terms of taxi enforcement is. Last weekend,


we had many officers out on the street, checking drivers and


vehicles and making sure drivers were not picking up passengers who


had not made bookings. The figures are alarming. 900 vehicles were


tested and 20% were not roadworthy and 40% did not comply with taxi


regulation. Some of them had minor fault and were not completely


unroadworthy. But it is true that vehicles are not being kept in the


condition they should be kept in. It seems that there has been an


explosion in the number of taxis in Birmingham recently. A lot of


vehicles are coming to Birmingham from other areas . It is a magnet


because of the night time economy we have here. That in itself is not


illegal, as long as people book the vehicles in advance. That is what


drivers are not always doing. They are taking passengers at the side of


the road, and then those journeys are not insured. That is the risk


passengers are putting themselves at, apart from those very few people


who will sit outside nightclubs, but tend to be eight taxi driver and


then take passengers. What is your advice? Yellow mac when you plan


your journey before you go out at night, think about how you will get


home. Work out where the nearest black cab rank is so that you know


what you are doing and you are not wandering aimlessly in the street,


wondering how to get home. And you can see more on that when


Inside Out West Midlands returns on BBC One in the New Year.


Coming up later in the programme: They're meant to make life easier,


but sometimes it doesn't work out like that ` the perils and pitfalls


of the New Street Station escalators!


A minibus service used by more than 60,000 people across the West


Midlands is under threat because of cuts to transport budgets. Centro,


which funds the ring and ride service, is having to cut budgets by


10%, a total of ?14 million over the next two years. Our reporter joins


us from Birmingham City Centre. Tell us more about what's being proposed.


Well, Centro gets its money from seven local authorities, and they


are going to cut the money they give. There are a number of options


on the table. It is possible that child fares may rise to two thirds


of adult fares. At the moment, they are half. Some bus services could be


cut, and the ring and ride service could lose it ran substantially or


even have to disappear. I have been talking to people who are not happy


about that. For the elderly and the disabled,


the fleet of 150 ring and ride minibuses is a lifeline. Take


86`year`old Tom Richards, from Harborne. Unsteady on his feet, he


says he wouldn't be able to do his shopping without the service. It is


a shame, because I can't get about like I used to. It is a bloody good


service. Other regular users, who pay 60 pence per journey, say ring


and ride is much more than a means of getting from A to B. A lot of


people would be isolated if they did not have ring and ride. It is their


only means of seeing somebody once a week when they go shopping. 23,000


passengers use the ring and ride service on a regular basis. If the


service is discontinued, the worry is that hard`pressed care workers


will have to step in to help those unaffected. Passengers also use the


service for hospital appointments and trips to day care centres. Their


mental and physical health will deteriorate, which means local


authorities will have to intervene with more costly cap packages and


ultimately have to take people into residential care, which is in


nobody's best interests. And it's not just pensioners who fear


isolation if ring and ride is axed. I can't use conventional can't ought


because my chair will not fit in the taxi or a normal bus. So without the


services of ring and ride, I would be lost. Transport bosses say


they're sympathetic, but warn that these are the kind of tough


decisions necessary when the money simply isn't there. Joining me now


is the chairman of the passenger transport authority. Are you not


targeting the vulnerable by going for the ring and write this?


Absolutely not. As you indicated, we are faced with unprecedented cuts to


the budget, because local authorities who fund us had those


cuts to consider themselves. So they are asking us to investigate the


possibility of a ?40 million cut in our budget, which will have an


impact on all the services we provide. You are also looking at


cutting concessionary fares for 40,000 children, again an easy


target. Are there not staff you could cut first? But we have looking


at staff. There are proposals that indicate a further cut could be


made, 40% over the last three years. It is a problem for us. A lot of


money is being spent on the Metro and an extension to the line. Could


that not be scaled back 's that is funded through a different budget,


Capitol. We are looking at the revenue budget. Well, there is a


consultation process, and people who will be affected will be able to


comment until the middle of January. A former Redditch postman who was


jailed for life for attempted rape in 1997 has been freed by the Court


of Appeal. Victor Nealon has spent the past 17 years in Wakefield


Prison. But the court accepted that new DNA evidence cast doubt on his


case. The 53`year`old has always denied the attack and his conviction


has been quashed. He is angry about it, as you would imagine after 17


years. Very frustrated. I have not been able to speak to him today


because of his location, but I am sure he is happy to be released. It


is the start of a difficult journey for him.


A new report by MPs says building the High Speed Rail link between


London and the north is vital for increasing capacity on the railways.


Today's report on HS2 says it's the only way to deal with the long`term


demands of passengers and freight. The Commons Transport Committee also


says it'll play a major role in promoting economic growth outside


London. Opponents say it'll be a waste of money as well as damaging


the environment. It is important for the regeneration of Britain. We


can't have all the jobs in the south, we have to rebalance our


economy. For me, HS2 goes a little way towards doing that. 38 minutes


from London to Birmingham means we are accessible to everybody within


an hour. A thousand BMW agency staff,


including some based at its Hams Hall site in Warwickshire, are being


given permanent jobs this Christmas. The Midlands site is one of three


factories which manufacture Minis. 700 staff will be told before


Christmas and the remaining 300 in the new year.


The BBC has seen leaked plans to cut general surgery at Cheltenham


Hospital and move it to Gloucestershire Royal. The proposals


are contained in a document from the Gloucestershire Hospitals Trust,


which wants to centralise general surgery and breast surgery by 2018.


The Trust says it's an internal document in its early stages.


More than 200 jobs have been saved after a buyer was found for


Remploy's car`part factories in Coventry, Birmingham and Derby. 179


of those jobs are held by people with a disability. Today, the new


owners have been talking about their plans for the future.


All they wanted for Christmas was to keep their jobs. And today, workers


at Remploy's automotive plant in Coventry got their wish. They've got


new owners, along with two other sites in Birmingham and Derby. It is


a big relief for many employees. The whole shop floor was cheering. A


private company, Rempower, has bought the car component business


from the Government for an undisclosed sum. There has been


uncertainty here for the last two years, which is no good for the


employees or the customers, because the motor manufacturers want to know


they have security of supply. Remploy factories were established


more than 60 years ago to provide work for people with disabilities.


But last year, the Government said many weren't financially viable and


would close. We have been moving out of our factory provision and


focusing on supporting what the majority of disabled people want,


which is to find employment in the mainstream. But Veronica Burton says


it's not that easy to find work. This is my first proper job. Why do


you think you could not find a job? Because I disabled. The takeover


will help secure her job, along with more than 200 others. The turnover


at the sites in Birmingham, Derby and here in Coventry is ?50 million


a year. The new owners have big hopes, and they are making big


promises. They are looking to double that turnover in four years. The new


signs are already going up, making it clear that they're planning to


stay. This is our top story tonight: A


warning to Christmas party`goers after vulnerable women are assaulted


by unlicensed taxi drivers trawling the streets. Your detailed weather


forecast to come shortly.Also in tonight's programme: There's no more


Fergie, so it's Lambert versus Moyes as Villa aim to rattle the Reds in


the weekend's big football game. And the band that's building up a huge


following in the United States, but how many people know about them back


home in Birmingham? Network Rail is launching a new


campaign to cut the number of accidents on its escalators. It's


released CCTV film showing the dangers they can pose. Last year, 32


people fell at New Street Station in Birmingham.


I should not last. Whatever they were watching was certainly


entertaining. It couldn't be a Network Rail safety video, could it?


Oh yes, it is. Dull and corporate, it isn't. A new campaign about the


dangers of escalators ` the man you've just seen fall was a real


life passenger in Birmingham. Last year, 400 people took a tumble on a


network where a skeleton. 32 of them were in New Street Station. There


are 20 escalators here.. It is a like kind `` light`hearted reminder


to people to take extra care on the escalators. Take a bit of extra time


I don't try and run up the escalators. If you have luggage or a


buggy, use the lift. The video should be on public display in the


next few days. Onto sport now ` Dan's here. And


another intriguing weekend ahead in the Premier League in many different


ways. Yes. When Sir Alex Ferguson won his first League title with


Manchester United in 1993, Aston Villa were their closest


challengers. But in the 40 league matches between the two clubs since,


Villa have only won twice. Now though Sir Alex is gone, so could


this be the weekend that Villa finally break that stranglehold?.


Even the most die`hard Aston Villa fan must be sick of seeing this game


now. The constant reminder that August 1995 marked their last home


league victory over Manchester United is a major irritation. But


could this be the weekend Villa finally end that unwanted record? We


have to give the fans something to shout about. If we can do that, they


will be behind us. It will be a great atmosphere. If we can play a


good game, we will see. The two managers certainly have plenty in


common. Born in Glasgow, they both played for Celtic, but while Lambert


went on to win the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund, Moyes'


playing career never reached the same heights. In 1990 he was


sweating through Shrewsbury's pre`season training session with the


army in Telford. That was murder. It is not easy to get over some of


these. As a manager Lambert's greatest achievement has been back


to back promotions to lift Norwich into the Premier League. Moyes also


won promotion with Preston before 11 years at Everton, which saw him


voted manager of the year three times. Any manager, doesn't matter


who it was or what country they came from, any manager would have trouble


after the most successful manager Britain has ever produced. So I


think the criticism is a bit over the top. But at least Villa fans do


have some more recent happy memories, because it's four years


almost to the day since Gabby Agbonlahor scored this winner at Old


Trafford. So what can we expect from Villa tomorrow?


Well, they're hard to predict. Just look at the last two matches. A


surprise win at high`flying Southampton ` and then they lost to


Fulham who had lost their previous six! And their home record's not


great is it? There is a feeling that they are better away from home. But


despite Man Utd's informed, Villa are outsiders to win. Let's talk


about Albion now. They have had a bit of a wobble. It is a wobble. The


2`0 defeat against Norwich City they are now down to 15th place, just two


points above the bottom three. Head coach Steve Clarke says there are


number of clubs at risk of relegation this season. Sometimes it


is three, sometimes it is X. This year, there are a lot more than


that. It has been an unusual season. Nobody really cast adrift.


Maybe Sunderland will be thinking they have to pick up a couple of


wins soon. And of course, you won't miss a kick of the weekend's action


on BBC local radio. We also have BBC sports personality of the year. Good


luck to our lad, Barry. Now, you might say Bluegrass music


is more Birmingham, Alabama than Birmingham, West Midlands, but a


band from Kings Heath in Birmingham are proving us wrong. The Toyhearts


have recently returned from a five`month tour of Texas. As their


reputation grows, a crime novelist has even incorporated them into her


latest novel. Bluegrass and the Toyhearts, from


Birmingham. That is not Birmingham, Alabama, as you would be forgiven


for thinking. This family affair have roots firmly in Kings Heath. We


grew up with our father playing us a lot of different types of music when


we were young, and a lot of the grass and Western swing. Until we


went to school, we thought that was normal for a family in Kings Heath


to be exposed to this type of music. But we have always loved it,


and it has come from there. The first time we saw an American band


come over here and play, it really blew us away. We decided then, dad,


you play the banjo, we want to start one of these bands. It may seem like


taking coals to Newcastle, but the Toyhearts have just spent five


months in Austin, Texas, one of the hotbeds of country music. They are


very welcoming of the fact that you come from somewhere else, and you


know so much about their music full of so we have always gone down well


in that respect. One admirer of the band, Birmingham based crime writer


Maureen Carter. So impressed, they feature in her latest novel Child's


Play. Great band, aren't they? If you ask me, it is in the genes.


Sarah frowned. Lovely young women in addresses and vertiginous heels.


They are sisters. That is their dad. There is huge chemistry between


that band, the family bond. That is not the case throughout the book. So


it gives me an opportunity to let my detective have some reflection. This


is another twist we did not expect it. It is a tick of our bucket list


to be in a crime novel. We need more women in rock 'n' roll and


literature, definitely. I Bluegrass meets blue murder. Am on the same


page. Well, it's been a miserable Friday,


grey and damp.I am hoping it'll be better for the weekend. Here's


Rebecca. Not actually. It is going to be a


grey affair. More of the same of what we have seen today this


weekend. We are using more of your weather pictures in our bulletins,


but how do you know you are getting the best shot? Here is my guide on


how to take the perfect weather photo. In the West Midlands, we are


blessed with some beautiful scenery, so there are plenty of opportunities


to get a great that. Staffordshire photographer Chris Hap


and knows how to make the best of the landscape . Rule number one, try


and get out early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is


at its lowest in the sky. Number two, try and imagine splitting your


photo into three sections and try and place key parts of the photo in


them. You don't always have to photograph wide`open landscapes, you


can focus on little details. But even if you haven't got the latest


high`tech camera, you can still get good results. Very nice. You have


got your horizon on the bottom third. There are some nice autumn


colour in the foreground and nice detail in the trees. Now it is your


turn. We need your pictures, but they need to be in landscape. Send


them in. Include your name and where you took it.


This is my attempt. I am sure you can do much better, so have a go,


but include your name. It is not going to be the perfect conditions


for taking those pictures this weekend. It is a grey affair. We


have 20 of rain to come, and those winds are picking up. The


high`pressure which has been keeping us settled over the last few weeks


has now moved away. The rain has now largely cleared away. Behind that,


things are turning but a clearer. We still have some residual showers to


come this evening, but under the clear skies, temperatures will fall


away. The winds are picking up, so although they will drop into single


figures, it will help keep the frost at bay. To start off tomorrow, it


will be dry, with brightness, but not for long. The cloud will come in


from the West. Most of us will keep the dry conditions for Match Of The


Day before we see the rain moving in. It will be slow`moving, but


there will be quite a bit of it. It is mild, but the winds are


strengthening, making it feel fresher. That rain starts to push


across us through Saturday night and sticks with us. Behind that, we will


get clear skies. Temperatures will again fall away but with those


winds, we will keep the frost at bay, so it will be a mild start to


Sunday, but very similar to tomorrow. Those winds will be


strengthening for a blustery day. We have two weather fronts, one from


the north, one from the south. We could fall in the middle and avoid


them completely, or we could see both of them. This marks the start


of an unsettled period as we move into the start of next week.


Tonight's headlines: Concern is growing for thousands of Syrian


refugees facing an exceptionally harsh winter storm and freezing


temperatures, with only tents for shelter.


A warrant Christmas partygoers after dozens of women are sexually


assaulted by unlicensed taxi drivers trawling the street is. That was the


Midlands to. I will be back at ten o'clock with


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