09/01/2014 Midlands Today


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George. Thank you. That's all so it's goodbye from me and on BBC


Hello, welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: Give us the


chance to spend big on your railways and airport. An offer to Birmingham


from cash`rich China. We've not seen anything from China so far, or other


Asian economies. This could be a big step forward. We'll be asking if the


Chinese really mean business. Also tonight: With rivers still rising


and 16 warnings, how people are coping with the floods. Submerged


under the English Channel for 70 years, now the painstaking work to


restore the only remaining German bomber of its kind. When it first


came up, it was cover in slime, seaweed. The once`failing school


that's turned things around by taking its students outside. We have


seen how the rain has caused further flooding problems, so what is


looming on the horizon after today's calm? We will have details


later. Good evening. China could be about


to invest billions of pounds in some of the region's biggest


infrastructure projects, including high`speed rail and Birmingham


Airport. In a letter to the city leaders in Birmingham, the


state`owned China Railway Group says it wants to make long`term


investments. One project is the reopening of a long disused rail


line. The ?280 million link would give much easier access to HS2, if


it eventually goes ahead. 2026 is the projected date when passengers


will be able to board the first high speed trains from Birmingham to


London. Here's our transport correspondent Peter Plisner. An


economic powerhouse ` China is cash`rich, with many billions of


pounds to invest. Something that wasn't lost on the Prime Minister,


who was there on a high`profile trade mission late last year. Even


then, Chinese officials made it clear they were keen to invest in


the UK and specifically plans for high` speed rail. Now in a letter


sent Birmingham City Council Leader, Sir Albert Bore, the China Railway


Group says: the UK and specifically plans for


high` talking about expansion at Birmingham airport and better


transport links, the group says they would like to explore opportunities


to participate in the delivery of those plans. And that could mean the


reopening of the former Stonebridge Railway. Its disused trackbed passes


close to the airport and NEC. Rebranded the Whitacre link, it


could also provide access to HS2 for rail travellers in other parts of


the region. Rail experts maintain that Chinese money will make a big


difference. There is European interest in putting money into the


UK rail industry and has been for a number of years. We have not seen


anything from China, or indeed other Asian economies, said this could be


a big step forward. It's not the first time the Chinese have invested


in the West Midlands. Money from China has helped restart production


lines at the collapsed London Taxi Company and before that at


Longbridge where British expertise is being used to designed MG cars


for production in China. So why infrastructure? Why not? Some argue


with less government money available, the prospect of


investment from China could not have come at a better time. Peter joins


us from Curzon Street in Birmingham, which would be the site


of the main station for HS two. Are there any dangers in accessing


Chinese money? I do not think it is any more dangerous than any other


investment coming in, currently Chinese money is refurbishing an


office block in Birmingham. They would expect a return. The return on


investment in things like the London taxi company and energy is the


automotive technology and ultimately they will want a profit when cars


are being sold. They will want a return for investment, there is no


doubt. What about high`speed rail, some say it is a waste of


taxpayers' money. Could this change the argument? Those who are opposed


to say it could cost taxpayers, the Chinese might want a guarantee of a


certain level of passengers and they point to the live through Kent which


has failed to achieve the number of passengers originally forecast and


the government is paying a subsidy. Coming up later: The latest on West


Bromwich Albion's search for a head coach to replace Steve Clarke,


sacked a month ago. Drivers are being urged to take


extra care tonight after a man became trapped in flood water and


had to be rescued from the roof of his car. The Environment Agency says


a huge volume of water is running off already saturated farmland


leaving many rural roads impassable. There are sixteen flood warnings in


place. Our reporter Ben Godfrey is beside the River Severn in Bewdley.


That is due to peak tomorrow. How are things looking?


Tonight, the River Severn here is rising. The flood barriers,


temporary, they went in yesterday, it has not got wet yet. It is a


changing picture, particularly in was stuck. It was clear on our


travels across the region that it is a changing picture and the threat to


people and property has not yet been lifted.


Jacqui Smith's home in Worcestershire is surrounded by


water and she has not really left her home since Christmas Eve,


despite spending ?25,000 on flood defences. She is standing on a ledge


in front of a five feet drop. The waiters speak to her safely was by


phone. First, the river swelled and after 19 days of rain, the


tributaries and Brooks are experiencing a fall is of nature. It


is not just the depth, but the speed of water that makes it dangerous. Do


not be fooled by the dry and bright conditions, we are told the River


Severn South Worcester will reach its peak tomorrow. This morning,


firefighters used a boat to rescue a man from the roof of his car, when


he got stuck on a main road near Bridgnorth. Even away from the


rivers, roads are suffering. Do not enter floodwater. If you cannot see


the far end of the flood, do not go green and if you do go in the flood


water, check your brakes when you come out. The flood waters are not


confined to rural areas, this was a residential street in Birmingham


today. The root of the problem is down to the positioning of the jet


stream which influences the weather. When it is further south, as it has


been, you can practically guarantee you will have wet and windy


conditions. It ushers in low pressure, which in turn results in


high tides and couple that with storm force winds, it is a recipe


for disaster with torrential downpours and tidal surges. While


the flooding has caused frustration for many, for some, it is a source


of pleasure with this person, wake boarding in Worcester. An extreme


sport in extreme conditions. I am joined by a member of the


Environment Agency, what is the situation? Levels in Boston are high


and we had to issue another alert in Worcester. They will peak tomorrow


morning. Upton on seven has had a flood alleviation scheme, our


properties protected? It is looking good at Upton. Do you know how many


properties have been flooded in our area? Across the River Severn and


River Wye catchments, properties have been flooded but the defences


have protected in excess of 1000. You had a day of rest yesterday to


prepare for today. What is staffing like? It is a 24`hour operation and


the incident room is opened 24 hours and we have guys out looking at


assets. Thanks. Just to add, defied the latest picture where you live,


you can go to your local BBC radio station.


Police and medics are teaming up for the first scheme of its kind aimed


at dealing better with people with mental illness. They'll travel


together to the scene of incidents and emergencies so suspects can be


assessed on the spot. It's been welcomed by the family of a factory


worker who died after being restrained by police. Giles Latcham


reports. He's a man of words. But poet Benjamin Zephaniah is never


more heartfelt than when he talks about his cousin Mikey Powell. Mikey


suffered from mental`health problems and 11 years ago, in the midst of a


psychotic episode, was restrained by police officers outside his home in


Lozells in Birmingham. He later died of asphyxiation in a police station.


The problem was that the police came and treated him like a criminal.


Within two hours, he was dead. It is that case among others that has led


to this rapid response car. We will be able to deal with the patient


quickly and their journey into hospital if needed, or signposted to


another avenue, it will happen quicker. 20% of the work is mentally


health driven and this will have an impact. Putting a vehicle, a nurse


and paramedic and police officer, we can solve problems at the first


point of contact. Can you make sure that's...


Things have come a long way, in cells in Stoke`on`Trent, psychiatric


nurses support offices in assessing suspects when they are arrested. ``


police officers. But this scheme should mean that they do not go to a


police station, but a mental health facility. If this scheme had been in


place, I am pretty sure he would be alive now because anybody in the


area of mental health will see that what he needed was somebody to talk


to and to calm him down, not somebody to arrest him. Mikey


Powell's family campaigned for this scheme and hope it will run into the


future, averting tragedies like theirs. Our top story tonight: Give


us the chance to spend big on your railways and airport: an offer to


Birmingham from cash`rich China. Shefali's on stand`by with a


detailed weather forecast in a few minutes. Also tonight, the fight for


every penny. Why the arts are amongst the hardest hit by spending


cuts. And we are at an outdoor classroom where plants grow and also


the imaginations of children at a one staining school. A special


report now on the painstaking restoration of a World War II German


bomber. The Dornier was recovered from the English Channel last year


after 70 years under water, but that was just the start of years of work.


From the RAF Museum in Shropshire, Sian Lloyd reports.


It looks like a crumpled wreck, but, gradually, every part of the


last remaining Dornier 17 bomber is being brought back to life. The


barnacles and seaweed washed away by citric acid, simple lemon juice.


When it came up, it was covered in the reader deposits, slime and


seaweed, but the process of the spraying is removing it down to the


bare metal. It was lifted out the channel six months ago, virtually


intact. The wings were later removed for the journey by road to the RAF


Museum's conservation Centre. It is thought the plane was shot down in


August 1940, when the wing tip hit the water, it went spinning and


tipped onto its back before sinking on the sands of the Kent coast. The


Dornier was the mainstay of the German fleet, attacking British


cities in the Battle of Britain. They went out of service in the


mid`1940s and it was thought none had survived. The Dornier was


nicknamed the flying pencil because of its narrow fuser large. When you


crouch inside, you can see why is `` fuselage. Four crewmembers would


have been cramped in the space. Eventually it will be rebuilt inside


the museum workshop, but for the moment, only a few pieces are ready


to work on. This strip of aluminium was found near the bomb release


system, the German instructions can still be seen. The idea would be to


pick and flick the corrosion rather than in density artefact. This


oxygen cylinder is one of nine recovered from the plane and looks


as good as new. It has had eight, 12 hours work on it. There is plenty of


work ahead and funding to be found before it will be ready to go on


show at the RAF Museum in London. I think they will need to be patient.


January is a crucial time for arts groups as they try to balance their


books and apply for what funding is still available. Over the last few


years, public spending on the arts has been cut at national and local


levels. So what does this year hold for organisations trying to keep the


cultural flame alive? Here's our arts reporter. The Birmingham Royal


Ballet. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. And the Royal


Shakespeare Company. They've all taken cuts but they are big enough


and famous enough to survive For smaller organisations, like Vamos


Theatre in Worcester, ensuring the show goes on is harder. Every pound


counts. They're taking this production. Finding Joy, to the


London Intenational Mime Festival later this month, thanks to new ways


of generating funds. The fact that we're not totally dependent on the


Arts Council, that's also made us more robust so we found other


partners. Creating partnerships is one way arts organisations are


looking to lessen the blow of dwindling grants and budgets in the


public sector. The Arts Council cannot replace money that was cut by


local authorities. We can work with partners to be as strong as they


possibly can. Local authorities are the biggest investors in arts and


culture, but budgets are squeezed and in Birmingham, the council


slashed 19% from 11 regularly funded organisations. In response, 14 of


the major organisations in the city have formed the Birmingham arts


partnership. By speaking with one voice, we are not allowing ourselves


to be in competition with each other but to be making the case,


increasingly strongly and with good effect, that investment in the arts


is an important part of the health of the British and the Birmingham


economy. There's no turning away from reduced public spending in the


arts. But as we enter 2014, the keyword is parternerships. For


organisations coming together, it is hoped they will create a stronger


case for culture to ensure investment in the arts continues.


It's time for sport now and Dan's here. Into a new year now. Any news


of a head coach for West Brom? Not quite yet. It has not stopped


transfer speculation. The Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has apologised


to West Bromwich Albion and dismissed reports that they've


agreed a transfer fee for the Baggies striker Shane Long.


Meanwhile, Albion's search for a new head coach has now been going for


almost a month and there's still no appointment. The chairman of West


Bromwich Albion supporters club is growing impatient. John and


thousands of baggies fans cannot help wondering why it is taking so


long to appoint a new head coach. One would have thought they would


have a contingency plan when they did get rid of Steve Clarke.


Obviously, it appears they did not. They might have had names they would


consider, but they had not got one at the forefront. It will be four


weeks on Saturday since Cardiff scored the goal that brought the


sack for Steve Clarke. 26 days before `` since he was placed on


gardening leave and 26 days of speculation. During that time the


bookies have had no shortage of favourites, who have quickly turned


ice`cold. Roberto De Matteo, Martin Jol, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer,


yesterday, Thomas Schaf. What is the problem? They did not have a list of


people when they sacked him. Now it is finding the right person to work


with. I think it will be somebody nobody has thought of and it will be


a surprise. Which direction will Albion take? All should be revealed


before the trip to Southampton on Saturday. So we still don't know


who'll be taking over. How damaging is it to keep going on


without knowing? It is damaging for the club. People accuse them from


dithering `` of dithering. But you are wondering what is the problem,


why has nobody gone their? The person coming in could be


undermined, being seen as the fifth, sixth choice, not a great start.


Remember when Wolverhampton sacked Mick McCarthy and struggle to find a


replacement and that ended up in relegations. We heard today from


Thomas Hitzlsperger on his decision to come out as being gay.


He hopes it will fight the problem of homophobia. He had five seasons


with Aston Villa. He revealed his sexuality this week. He has retired


from football because of injury, but he hopes because he came out, it


might encourage current players to do the same. I certainly think it is


possible and it will happen. In my case, it took Ron `` it took longer


to realise I was gay and admitted to myself, but young players these


days, when they are sure about their feelings, they can talk about it.


Coventry City's planned stadium could be built just two miles from


their former home at the Ricoh Arena. Nuneaton and Bedworth Council


have admitted holding preliminary talks. The site is believed to be a


former golf course. And Steve Bruce, he is in charge at Hull


City, he used to be the manager at Sunderland. More than 500 children


in one of the most deprived parts of the Black Country are celebrating


tonight after seeing their school make massive improvements following


the worst possible Ofsted report. Among the improvements made is a


forest school, a way of taking lessons outdoors that the kids seem


to love. And that's where we can join our reporter Joanne Writtle.


What's happening tonight? This huge outdoor classroom is


officially launched tonight. The National storytelling lorry at is


telling stories by the fire because the Forest School is said to


stimulate the imagination and creativity of children and help with


literacy. This came about after the school really did hit rock bottom.


The Priory School in Dudley is transforming itself. Everybody is


keen to learn, which is what the school wants so that we can have a


good future. But a damning Ofsted is Beck should lead to inspectors


saying this. In their experience it was the worst inspection they had


been a part of, with the school failing in every speck, teaching and


learning, leadership, and even the behaviour of pupils. Inspectors had


said that lessons were often dull and repetitive and pupils made to


little progress. 19 lessons were a next `` were unacceptable but


recently, 17 were judged as good and one was judged as outstanding.


recently, 17 were judged as good and one was judged I have a good teacher


Mr Adams and he is really fun. It is important because if I go to high


school, I will get good grades. The new Forest School is taking learning


outside the classroom, to encourage creativity and independence. There


are other benefits. Building a shelter covers literacy, maths,


science, physical education, just by putting up rights together they are


using nonstandard measures and looking at angles and discussing the


working out of the groups. I like the theme of nature, it is a really


nice topic. Now, we get to do a lot of stuff outside and we get to live


with the trees. This school is still under close observation, is special


measures, but with an almost entirely new set of teachers, recent


is actions have recorded progress. A fire sculpture spelling out the


name of the school has just been licked as part of the celebration. I


am joined by the headteacher. `` just been lit. This school has a


special place in your heart? I came through this school as a child and


so did my children. My mother lives close by. When you were promoted as


headteacher, what did you tell children at that first assembly? It


was emotional. When I stood in front of the children I reminded them I


had sat where they are sitting on that day, and I think that was


powerful, because our motto is to believe in themselves and I think


that is what the children can be, anything they want to be. The school


is still in special measures, are you disappointed? I am not. I knew


the job would be a challenge and I am `` we are up for that challenge


and we are along the path towards coming out of special measures. Lots


of parents are here tonight, including Andrew, and you moved here


as the school went into special measures. You must have been


worried? Really, really worried. But, what Mrs Bennett has done and


Mr Smyth, they have turned the school around and it is fantastic


now. It has brought out my son and daughter. My daughter has now left.


It is the nominal. Thanks for joining us. This school is still in


special measures but there is a warm glow of optimism here.


Calls me old`fashioned, I am sure I saw some sunshine this afternoon.


Was I dreaming? You were fully awake. There was sunshine around,


but it was colder and this trend will continue. You will probably


feel the effect as soon as early as tonight. We have a Met office


warning for widespread ice tonight. That is on untreated surfaces. This


is how it is looking over the next few days with things turning colder.


We have night frost and rain later tomorrow afternoon and into the


latter part of Sunday. Having said that, the rain that is arriving on


Sunday will be heavier and it will be coupled with strong winds. High


pressure is dominating for the weekend and that will keep things


largely dry until later on Sunday when the low pressure comes in, and


the cold front associated with it will bring in the rain, which will


be happy. Overnight tonight, we have some showers affecting extremities,


but apart from that it is looking drive. It will turn colder. Down to


two degrees in the cities and in the countryside, it will be close to


freezing. This will give us ice and frost and perhaps isolated fog


patches. The folk will lift readily tomorrow. `` the fog patches will


lift readily. We will have some showers tomorrow but only affecting


the north and south and perhaps the East. The rain is coming in from the


west later in the afternoon. It will probably be more persistent along


the Welsh borders, but as it heads eastwards, it will start to decay.


It will clear and be frosty and foggy.


Tonight's headlines from the BBC. A pledge from the Metropolitan Police


in the wake of the Duggan inquest. They need to do better with black


communities. Give us the chance to spend big on your railways and


airport ` an offer to Birmingham from cash`rich China. That was the


programme today. I will be back at 10pm. I will have the latest on the




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