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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: 22 years
after she went missing in Coventry, three people are arrested over the
disappearance of Nicola Payne. We'll be hearing what the family
have to say about this latest development after more than two
decades of torment. Also tonight: Plans for a second
runway at Birmingham Airport are put on hold for nearly 40 years as
expansion's recommended at Heathrow or Gatwick.
We would like Birmingham to grow but we don't think it is likely to be
the solution to the problem of command in London and the
south`east. As the construction industry gets
moving again, bosses warn of a "skills time bomb" ` not enough
young people are being trained. Celebrating with concerts just a few
hundred yards apart, the bands that brought us two of our best loved
Christmas songs exactly 40 years ago. It has become and injuring
thing for the public. We are part of people's Christmas. `` in during the
thing. And a photograph today of calm and
serenity at Millennium Park in King's Norton. But there's a storm
brewing and it's heading our way soon.
Good evening. Police investigating the disappearance of a young mother
22 years ago have arrested two men on suspicion of her abduction and
murder. Nicola Payne was 18 when she went missing after she set off to
walk to her parents' home in Coventry in December, 1991. Joan
Cummins is in Coventry now, close to where Nicola was last seen alive.
What more do you know about the arrests? What we know is that these
two men are both 49, were arrested early this morning at addresses in
the city. We understand that detectives are also questioning at
51`year`old woman on of perverting the course of justice. Nicola
disappeared in the area behind me 22 years ago this weekend.
Nicola Payne was a young mother with a baby and her whole life ahead of
her when to disappeared in December, 1991. Despite a massive
search, police reconstructions and numerous searches around the city
over the last 22 years, Nicola's whereabouts have remained a
mystery. Speaking just days after she first went missing, her mother
said she feared the worst. I feel she is lying dead somewhere, I
really do. Everybody says it's wrong, but I believe it. Nicola
disappeared on this path on a foggy day in 1991. Today, her father spoke
to the BBC and he said they're not their hopes up. They've been here
before. But they still remain optimistic that finally they will
find out the truth about their daughter. Today's arrests at a
number of addresses in the city has been keenly followed by people in
the community who now Nicola's family and once the mystery is
solved forever. At Christmas it is different because it is a part of
the year that everybody is getting ready and they think, how does my
mum feel? We are a community and we feel for our own. Most people are
shocked by her disappearance. People in the area she lived were shocked
to say the least. We are trying to build up the confidence of people in
that area. The police reveal that a number of items are being analysed
using cutting edge technology. We can't begin to imagine how difficult
this continues to be fun Nicola's parents. Have they said anything
about today's development? Today the family have said they don't want to
do any television interviews. Speaking to the BBC on the phone,
her father said this was obviously a difficult time for the entire
family. He said the police had been keeping them informed of every
development. But there was a word of caution. He said there have been
arrests before and nothing happened. Now they simply want to know what
happened to Nicola Payne. Coming up later in the programme:
The Premier League footballers delivering Christmas cheer on a
hospital ward as their club continues the search for a new head
coach. Plans for a second runway at
Birmingham to expand UK airport capacity are tonight on hold. New
runways at Heathrow and Gatwick are among the options that have been
short listed instead by the Airports Commission. In a moment we'll be
talking to Birmingham Airport's chief executive and a West Midlands
business leader. But first here's Ben Godfrey.
Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport today caught a glimpse of
its runway extension, close to completion. But you won't see them
turning the soil for a second runway until at least 2050, if at all. The
Government`appointed Davies Commission wants to restrict further
growth here for now in favour of expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick
airports. We would like Birmingham to grow but we don't think it is
likely to be the solution to the problem of demand in London and the
South East. If there's any bitterness,
Birmingham Airport isn't showing it. Today they described their role as
an integral piece of the long`term aviation puzzle. What's puzzling to
some is that a second runway's needed at all. The need for a second
runway is only so it is a kind of like a motorway where you can use
the hard shoulder in a rush hour. It is there to help the airport to get
traffic for these mythical business flights. It is not going to happen.
Each year, nine million passengers pass through Birmingham Airport.
When the new runway extension's completed in April, it will create
capacity for 36 million passengers a year. The airport says a second
runway would bring 70 million passengers and support 250,000 jobs.
Last year the airport was given special permission to display the
Olympic rings on its new control tower. It symbolised a desire to
switch from regional hub to international gateway. This is a
city in growth mode. We are seeing record numbers of visitors. The key
is that had we been high up the priorities it might have accelerated
the process. Local businesses are also
frustrated. This automotive parts supplier says
further airport expansion would boost their business in long
distance destinations like Malaysia. You always feel that Birmingham is
left behind. We are the second city, and you would think there would be
more support for us in the UK economy.
In the Commons this afternoon, local MPs queued up to question the
Transport Secretary. People in the West Midlands will be staggered they
have got to wait until 2050 before any consideration will be given to
its expansion. There is more availability at Birmingham airport.
I want to see the airport able to prosper along the lines of other
airports. Last month, a new aircraft hangar
opened here, creating 150 new jobs. And tonight the leader of Birmingham
City Council is claiming the commission has failed to acknowledge
this region's potential for aviation growth.
Joining us from our studio in London this evening is Paul Kehoe, chief
executive of Birmingham Airport. Good evening. Can you put time into
lobbying for expansion and not be disappointed? I welcome the report
because many of the things in it, we suggested. This was a 100 year
option. He certainly put us in the middle of that at 2050. We
originally said that 2037 was the earliest we wanted to consider
building another runway. So we are not far within the time frame is
micro`timeframe. `` within the time frame. Businesses and MPs are
disappointed. I just putting a brave face on it? Now, because we know
that Birmingham has got the right ingredients. I have never worked at
an airport where we have got such support. I'm convinced we have got
all the ingredients to make this work. The new hangar, the new
control tower, and from next year the new extension. Halfway down the
years, we are going to get HS2 as well. We are already the best
connected airport in the country. I am still hopeful, and why? It is a
big world. It does all seem to be about London and the south`east
again. A lot of people in London can't see beyond the M25. But it is
a two horse race now. There are eggs in a couple of baskets, he threw all
Gatwick. The problems at Heathrow are so great that it is likely to be
Gatwick. That supports an opportunity in Birmingham. But 2050
is so far off. In 2003, we were talking of 2035. These are long`term
investments. We are talking of infrastructure for over 150 years.
I'm not surprised they are looking so far ahead. You don't consider
cracking on yourself with an extra runway? Now, we wanted to preserve
that option for the future. We have got four times the availability. We
can create thousands of jobs in the next few years from our own growth.
What we were hoping for was a bit of acceleration, perhaps bringing the
future forward. We haven't got that. It is business as usual at
Birmingham airport. We have got some great assets to deploy.
Well, what about the impact on the West Midlands economy? I'm joined in
the studio by Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Greater Birmingham
Chamber of Commerce. What do you think of this report? I would echo
what Paul has said. It is a 230 page report. Read the detail, the fact
they are not committed to a single hub, these are things we have been
lobbying for. But it is very south`east and London centric. It is
muddled thinking. On the one hand, government is talking ambitiously
about rebalancing. It is putting down high`speed rail plans. It has a
30 year view of what kind of country this could be, what kind of economy
we could have. On the other hand, the airport vision is lacking. It
doesn't tie into a clear view of what the cities outside of London
could be going. We know we have got great economies, great cities.
Aviation is key to it. We do have some more work today. But this is
only an interim report. We have still got more time to convince the
elite in London that indeed investing outside of London is
critical if we are serious about rebalancing the UK away from this
huge dependency on London and the south`east. We want London and the
south`east to prosper. But we're not making the most of our great cities.
Coming back to HS2, if it were to happen, the distance between London
and Birmingham airport would be about 38 minutes. That is less than
two Gatwick. Indeed. We're winning the rational argument, I think. It
just seems again that Birmingham and the Midlands is being overlooked.
Not for the first time. It is a long game. Are very long game! Let's
remember that we have won some things that we have won something
silly and sounds of the government's determination to move
away from a single hub error `` we have won something today in terms of
the government's determination to move away from a single hub airport.
We will convince London and the south`east to follow our story.
Thank you. The Heart of England NHS Trust has
breached its licence by forcing patients to wait too long in
accident and emergency. The trust is now legally obliged to find ways of
improving its performance by bringing in expert help from
elsewhere. The region's construction industry
is warning of a skills time bomb, with two thirds of contractors in
Birmingham struggling to recruit young workers. The construction
industry training board says a new generation need to be made more
aware of the opportunities in building. Sarah Falkland reports.
Parkgate, the latest addition to Shirley High Street. Shops,
restaurants and homes. It's all cost ?85 million. The construction
industry is on the up again. Thereon more jobs to be had. Nearly 20% of
the British workforce is set to retire in the next decade. 68% of
contractors here in Birmingham say they are struggling to recruit.
Which is why Vasile, who's from Romania, is among the 300 strong
workforce here. He has his own ideas as to why young British people might
not want to work in construction. They don't like it because it is
outside. Most of the time may you outside. Maybe it is difficult for
them. So JCB has joined forces with the
construction training board and embarked on a skills drive. This
industry expert says there's a lot up for grabs. Birmingham, as a
centre itself, has plans of ?17 billion of construction projects for
the next 5`10 years. The library is just the tip of the iceberg. Within
those, we can create up to 1000 apprenticeships over the next few
years. 12`year`old Tiger`Leigh's convinced.
He's on a pilot project at Greenwood Academy in Castle Vale, which offers
construction classes to pupils who've had difficulties at school.
Back at Parkgate, the project manager's confident that the 'skills
time bomb' feared by some won't go off. The workforce is out there. It
is about getting out onto the site and learning the trade. It is not in
a textbook. No staff shortages here ` the
project's on schedule for its spring opening.
Our top story tonight: 22 years after she went missing in Coventry,
three people are arrested over the disappearance of Nicola Payne.
Shefali will be along shortly with the detailed weather forecast for
the Midlands. Also ahead: The only British boxer
to have landed an amateur world title ` can he land the pro title
too? West Bromwich Albion's hunt for a
new head coach after the departure of Steve Clarke continues this
evening, with Gianfranco Zola, who resigned as manager as Watford
yesterday, the new bookies' favourite. But life goes on at the
Hawthorns, and today the club delivered some festive cheer to
hospital patients in the Black Country. Here's Dan Pallett.
What a moment for six`year`old Subhan Ali. He'd left the ward for
an X`ray and returned to find four of his Albion heroes waiting for
him. He has now got a better reason to skip his daily wash. Yes, the
patients on the children's ward at Dudley's Russells Hall Hospital were
full of Christmas cheer today. People like Sam Taylor and his Dad
Andrew were thrilled. Amazing! It has made your day, your year. Yeah.
It is going to be the best Christmas.
But there was one thing missing. The club photo still shows Steve Clarke
at the helm, but he was sacked on Saturday and that's affected the
squad. It has been a massive influence to me. Coming to the later
stage of my career, I am looking to doing my coaching badges. I am
looking to go forward. The last 18 months, he has been a massive
influence. Gianfranco Zola has emerged as a bookies' favourite to
replace Clarke. But whoever takes over now has a battle on just to
keep the Baggies in the top flight. At the moment we have got to get out
of the position we are in. It is all well and good talking about top half
finishes, but at this moment we are in a fight with half the Premier
League to get into that top half. We need to get out of the position we
are in. I don't think we can look ahead any further.
It's going to be in interesting festive period at the Hawthorns. But
today they showed they haven't forgotten what Christmas is really
about. So what's the mood of West Brom fans
tonight? Dan is downstairs here at the Mailbox in the BBC WM radio
studio for the football phone`in with Paul Franks and Hawthorns
favourite Richard Sneekes. What are they saying? The debate is raging.
West Bromwich Albion and the sacking of Steve Clarke is dominating. Port
is on air. Let's have a quick talk with Paul. What the fans been
saying? It is very mixed. Some are saying it was wrong to get rid of
Clark. Others are saying it is fine, the calendar results have not
been good. But now, with four key games coming up, they are saying,
well, who are we going to get? Whoever comes in as head coach has
got to work with the same group of players. Quite a few fans are saying
there is an imbalance within the squad. So, no managers spend on who
is going to come to the hawthorns, Richard? Gem Franco Zola, to be
frank. `` GN Franco. They would like to see somebody like that. They will
need somebody experienced as an assistant, somebody who has been at
the mission manager. `` a premiership manager. And he is the
favourite, and the head coach. He is. He has just resigned at
Watford. The football he would like to play is the kind of football West
Brom fans would like to say. They want to act fast because there is a
lot of games coming up. And the football phone`in continues
on BBC WM until seven o'clock. Birmingham's Frankie Gavin has a
unique place among British boxers. He's the only Briton ever to win an
amateur world title, but in 2014 Frankie plans to become a
professional world champion as well. And the next step on that path comes
in Leeds this weekend, when he defends his Commonwealth title. Just
a warning, Nick Clitheroe's report contains flashing images.
It's only when you get this close to a boxer that you see just how hard
they hit. I wouldn't want to get in the ring with Frankie Gavin. Plenty
of his potential opponents might not fancy it, either. So that's why he's
having to be patient as he waits for the world title shot he craves. I'm
not in boxing for the fame. I am in it to be the best in the world. The
more you know and the more money you earn, which is good because I have a
family, but rather I would win war titles.
As an amateur, Frankie was world and Commonwealth champion. But there
were disappointments, too. He missed out on the Beijing Olympics because
of problems making the weight. But since turning pro there have been 17
straight wins, 12 of them knockouts. If we are standing here in 12
months, we will be talking about him as world champion? Definitely.
Within 18 months. But it is also about money, politics and the right
man in the right place at the right time.
Former world champion Amir Khan is a potential target, but whoever steps
into the ring with Gavin faces a man with utter determination. I hate
losing. Even if I am playing with my five`year`old stun on the computer,
if he is winning, I will turn his pad off!
Future opponents have been warned. In 1973, Wizzard and Slade were two
of the biggest bands in the country, one from Birmingham, the other from
up the road in Wolverhampton, and both battling it out in December for
the highly prized Christmas number one. 40 years on, and with both
songs now Christmas classics, the battle resumed as both acts last
night played live at different venues in Birmingham, a couple of
hundred yards apart. Ben Sidwell had tickets for both. There is some
flash photography in this report. It was the night that Christmas 1973
returned to Birmingham. It is bringing the knee back to my youth.
`` bringing me. Almagro I had posters on my wall. I can't believe
40 years has gone. It is shocking. 40 years ago Slade and Wizzard, led
by singer Roy Wood, dominated the UK singles chart. Between them in 1973
they had five number ones and released two of the biggest
Christmas hits of all time. When I wrote it, I didn't even think
it might still be around. People say, do you get fed up of it? I say,
no way, it is wonderful. 40 years on and they are still packing them in.
Down the road, the man responsible for that other song is playing here
at the Symphony Hall. I can still remember the day we
recorded. It was the summer of 1973 in the `` New York. It was 100
degrees outside. They thought we were crazy English men. Neither of
us knew the other one was doing a Christmas song. Strange. Any other
year, it would have been great. In the end Slade won the chart
battle and got the Christmas number one. From humble beginnings in
Walsall, 'Merry Xmas Everybody' is now thought to have been heard by
42% of the world's population. I keep thinking, everybody must have
this record by now! How does it keep on selling? Well, more people keep
getting born. I am 26 and I the song. It has got us in the mood to
party. Our kids are six and seven and they love it. So it's bands the
generations. If I knew the secret, I would be a very rich man. This time
of year, it is for a time. `` it is time.
That choir playing their they were the sons and daughters the original
choir from Erdington and Birmingham on the original recording. Amazing.
No complaints about the weather today, albeit a bit chilly, but it
is December after all. Here's Shefali to take us through the
forecast. is December after
It is December and it is about to turn to winter. That is why we are
beginning to feel then it in the air. Today was basically the calm
before the storm. The stormy conditions will be arriving tomorrow
in the shape of heavy rain and wind from the West. We have basically got
back to back systems. The second will be more potent, only because of
the steep area of low pressure pushing it along. Right now out
there it is fairly calm. We have got some showers in the far south`east
of the region but they will clear later on. After that it is going to
be relatively dry and clear. Again, this area will attract some itch ``
patchy mist and fog. The wind later in the night will pick up and
probably clear that. The wind is picking up ahead of the system for
morning. Temperatures remain above freezing for most places around. It
is going to be a wet and windy start to tomorrow. The rain is pushing
eastwards through the morning. It is not going to be persistent but it
will be heavy in places. By the afternoon kitchen start to show
signs of easing a bit. Temperatures will be on the slow side. We have
temperatures of 9`11d. It is not going to feel that mild with a
winds picking up two `` with wins picking up to 40 mph. Tomorrow
evening we have strong winds and potentially two inches of rain
falling in a short space of time. This will all be clearing eastwards
tomorrow night. In contrast, the end of the night will be much drier.
Again, temperatures remain above freezing. On Thursday we have got
the slackening isobars can indicate in calm conditions. You can see
those speckles of white which represents now on the highest
ground. `` which represent snow. Tonight's headlines from the BBC: At
least one new runway is essential at an airport in south`east England,
according to a Government commissioned review, with any
expansion plans for Birmingham to be put on hold until 2050.
And police investigating the disappearance 22 years ago of Nicola
Payne in Coventry have arrested three people.
That was the Midlands Today. I'll be back