10/01/2014 Midlands Today


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from the Atlantic. Thank you very much. That's it from us.


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


woman's charged with slavery offences after four men are found in


squalid conditions at her home. Plans announced to create one of the


biggest army bases in the country. We'll be reporting live from the


barracks in Stafford. We hope people put down roots year as a result.


Also tonight: As the new coach flies in from Andalusia to Albion, we find


out more about the man charged with revitalising the Hawthorns.


Festive leftovers. How the big cats of Dudley are making a meal of


discarded Christmas trees. And we should get something more


pleasant this weekend but will the floodwaters finally go down? I will


have the full weather forecast later.


Good evening. And we start with breaking news that a woman from


Birmingham has been charged with slavery offences after four men were


found living in squalid conditions at her house. The men were


discovered after a search by West Midlands Police and the National


Crime Agency. This latest development follows a number of high


profile cases of alleged slavery in recent months across the UK. Our


special correspondent Peter Wilson reports.


Christmas cards and decorations in the window of a bungalow at the


centre of a police investigation into allegations of slavery. Four


men were found in what the police described as a squalid conditions.


One local businessman says the men were remaining ends and had been


involved in the scrap metal business. I have heard that they


have been problems after dark. When we came home on Monday we found the


police searching the back. A 54`year`old woman, Vasilica


Panaghita, today appeared in court after police visited the property


and found four men living in a lean to building next to the bungalow. It


is thought those men had been at the property for 12 months. They are now


being cared for by the Salvation Army. West Midlands police say they


will not be revealing any more information about the enquiry


although it does include the work of the National crime agency. This


morning a 54`year`old woman was formally charged with four counts of


knowingly holding a person in servitude or slavery.


Coming up later in the programme: The flags are out for JCB as they


announce plans for a ?30 million championship golf course next to its


world headquarters. A multi`million pound boost for the


Beacon Barracks in Stafford. The Ministry of Defence has announced


it's investing more than ?50 million in building nearly 350 new homes on


the base. It's to provide accommodation for soldiers from the


16 Signal Regiment and one Armoured Division Signal Regiment who are


being relocated back to the Midlands from Germany. Bob Hockenhull


reports. Out training in the winter sunshine.


The soldiers at Stafford are said to see their ranks more than double.


Two regiments will be joining them at the base next year. They will be


transferred from Germany as part of the governments plans to bring back


15,000 personnel to seven key military sites across the UK. It is


a great step forward for us. It is the culmination of a lot of hard


work. It means we will have three signal Regiment in one location. It


will enable us to work together more closely and provide a good hard for


the Army in the West Midlands. The land with 346 family homes will be


built is already being prepared. Besides the new homes, major


redevelopment of MOD Stafford is underway and will include new


technical workshops to maintain sophisticated communications


equipment. The plans mean there will be 1000 extra soldiers based here


from the summer of 2015. The total number of staff will be 1800. The


same that was here when the site was at its busiest in the 1960s. It is


hoped the extra numbers will give the town of Stafford and economic


left. More people coming in will liven up the town. At the moment it


is dead. We have got a Goodman literary heritage in Stafford and we


support our soldiers so I think it will be good. No problem with that


being ex`forces myself. The new homes will be built by 6000 staff.


We are very keen to get onto the job. Preparations are already in


hand and we are excited to get on`site and deliver the scheme. It


offers jobs for the business. It is good news all round. The Ministry of


Defence said that as well as providing economic benefits year,


moving troops from Germany will save ?350 million year.


And Bob is outside the barracks this evening. So great news for a


barracks that at one time was at risk of closure? That's right. These


plans will make Stafford one of the country's key military towns but the


question is can it cope? With me now is the leader of Staffordshire


county council. You're going to have a lot more people here. Can you


actually cope as far as infrastructure is concerned? We have


known that the Army are coming back to Stafford for a while and there is


a new roundabout being built. We own a site for a new school which will


be completed by September 2015. That will hold 426 children. We have also


got retail development going on in the town so this is really good news


for Stafford. I suppose your game is Germany's loss. Do you think these


soldiers will become fully integrated in Stafford?


Staffordshire has got a long and proud connection with the Armed


Forces. We have signed the arms forces covenant. `` Armed Forces. I


am sure local people will make them welcome just as the Army I welcome


into ourselves. Thank you very much. 346 homes have to be built by the


sum of 2015. There is a lot of development work to do but the


builders say they are confident they will complete on time and they are


looking forward to welcoming this military personnel to the heart of


England. Businesses, the emergency services


and people living in a rural part of Herefordshire are celebrating today


as they're finally able to get a quality mobile phone signal. The


village of Ewyas Harold has been mobile black spot for years, causing


problems for people trying to live in the 21st century. But as Cath


Mackie reports, that's all about to change.


Richard Baker has driven to the butchers in Ewyas Harold. He is a


first responder for the ambulance service and this is one of the few


spots he can get a phone signal. I've had two messages which have


just come through. These were timed earlier this morning so the coverage


has been patchy again. It might be a matter of life and death. Yes. Poor


mobile phone coverage is a big problem affecting many rural areas


and many people. I have a lot of friends abroad so it can be quite


frustrating. I have given up using a mobile phone because we have no


signal at home. I have been walking around a lot today like this. The


service is intermittent. It is nonexistent in some surrounding


villages. But there are hopes that something up they will lead to a


better service. There is a mobile phone transmitter on this pub and


its range is between 500 metres and a kilometre. There are two others in


the village. This technology is different to conventional mobile


phone masts because it uses small pieces of equipment that can be


fitted on the side of existing buildings. Mobile phone companies


have come in for criticism for the lack of rural coverage. They often


cite difficult geography. As technology increases it becomes less


of a luxury and more of an incessantly. `` a necessity. Any


improvement is brilliant. But we need a lot more. The trial will be


monitored closely and if it is deemed a success it may be the way


ahead for other religious. `` other rural areas.


The new West Bromwich Albion head coach, Pepe Mel, says he's always


dreamed of being involved in the Premier League. The Spaniard has


signed an 18 month contract and he'll watch the team for the first


time at Southampton tomorrow. His appointment ends the club's four


week search for a successor to Steve Clarke. Dan Pallett reports.


So they've finally got their man. After four weeks of searching, West


Bromwich Albion have chosen Pepe Mel to be their new head coach. And he's


told Spanish radio he's delighted. It is something you always dream of


once you become a coach because of the Premier League attracts everyone


in football. I am looking forward to sampling it. So what do we know


about him? Well, he's been a manager for 14 years in Spain. He helped


Real Betis qualify for Europe last season. And he has other talents


including writing a novel called 'The Liar'. But it's his work with


Betis that's caught the eye. They were very exciting to watch and had


a great season last year and he was the architect of that on a small


budget. He did a great job and circumstances went against them at


the end `` start of this season and he lost his job. He is a good


character as well. I found out the news last night. He took real Bettis


at. He is renowned for attacking foot also it sounds like a good


appointment. I don't know much about him. I know he is a foreign manager.


I would personally have gone for an English manager. It is a big gamble.


They have come into other clubs and have been big mistakes. It has been


a big few weeks at West Brom. But Pepe Mel's task is simple success is


keeping them in the Premier League. But for the time being, caretaker


head coach Keith Downing will be in charge for one last game at


Southampton before handing over to Mel. The Spanish press are positive


about him. He is a name I was not aware of until a few weeks ago. He


fits the criteria and wants to play positive football. It is a new way


forward for the football club so it's exciting. Downing and his


backroom staff have stopped the rot at the Hawthorns and kept them out


of the Premier League's bottom three. Now it's up to Pepe Mel to


make sure they stay there. Dan's here now. So Albion have


finally got their man and he seems an interesting character. Well there


aren't too many novelists in football management. It sounds like


his style of football might suit the English game quite well. And I'm


sure Albion fans will have a wry smile when they hear he's been used


to operating on a tight budget. Of course he's yet another overseas


manager in the Premier League, that's half the division now. And we


understand that Mel's English isn't the best and he'll be working with a


translator, certainly to start with. We thought he'd get the job two


weeks ago. The story then was about him wanting to bring in his own


coaches. Has that all been resolved? Maybe not. Albion have always


maintained that they want continuity and keep the same coaching set`up.


But in that radio interview we heard earlier, he also said he was


bringing in some of his coaches in the summer so there's some


confusion. We should learn more when he holds his first press conference


towards the end of next week. The Staffordshire digger maker JCB's


unveiled plans for a ?30 million championship golf course next to its


world headquarters. The company says the course will help boost sales and


build global awareness of its brand. This follows the announcement the


company's planning to expand its factories and create 2,500 new jobs.


Here's our Staffordshire reporter, Liz Copper.


In 240 acres of rolling Staffordshire countryside, plans for


a championship golf course. The company's describing it as "the


biggest marketing tool in its history". We are establishing


ourselves strongly in India and China and Brazil and those are


markets where golf is growing very quickly. It is all about the JCB


brand. This is a scale model of the course. The design team behind it


are responsible for other high profile courses which have hosted


the Ryder Cup. It is a great bonus that we have got the Uttoxeter canal


and we can make somatic use of that. We have used the Woodlands and the


hedgerows. We try to fit the golf course into the landscape we have.


Although it'll be JCB customers who use the course, the intention is


it'll have the potential to host a major tournament. Particularly with


the ambition of holding a European tour event, I am thinking in four


years time the likes of Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy will walk these


fairways and it can only be good for golf in the area. This 18th Century


mansion is Woodseat Hall. It's at the heart of the development. It'll


be converted into the clubhouse, with five star accommodation. The


hall has been empty for more than half a century and the conversion


plans are ambitious. More than 7.5 year and pounds will be spent here


alone. And families in surrounding villages have already been consulted


on the proposals. At the end of the day it will fetch more jobs and the


area which intern will help me in the pub. It will encourage people to


come to the area and that would bring people in. If permission's


granted, building could start by the summer. The company says this is an


opportunity to drive its future plans for business growth.


This is our top story tonight: A Birmingham woman's charged with


slavery offences after four men are found in squalid conditions at her


home. Also in tonight's programme: The delight of festive leftovers.


How the animals of Dudley Zoo are making the most of discarded


Christmas trees. And on the eve of the 60th


anniversary of the first TV weather forecast, a look back at our own


esteemed meteorological prognosticators.


It's a busy time of year for sheep farmers but a new report says many


of them are earning a lot less from farming than they could. And, by


copying the way the best sheep farmers work, they could


significantly boost their income ahead of what could be a tricky


twelve months for the industry. Here's our Rural Affairs


Correspondent, David Gregory`Kumar. It's so cramped his boots stick out


the bottom, but Graham Warner's ultrasound system reveals every


sheep's secrets. Twins. You have got one lamb on the screen. Another one


comes up over the top of it. On this Albrighton farm, those mums with


triplets with an orange spot and more importantly extra nutrition


during pregnancy. Sheep farming is all about the numbers. It is also


about the survival rates of those lambs when they are born. There is


massive variations on that from farm to farm. Now experts want to try and


do something about it. Industry body EEEblex, based at Stoneleigh in


Warwickshire, says the top third of farms have animals worth


significantly more than average, ?30 more, and they also produce seven


extra lambs per 100 ewes. What we're trying to do is highlight these


figures and say, have a look at your own situation and see if you can


pull your own figures together and compare them to the national


average. See if you can identify those areas where you see you have a


weakness where they could be room for improvement. Thanks to the


weather last year, we're expecting a bumper lambing season. It is for the


important to get the body condition right in the autumn and with the


late summer weather this year, it helped a great deal. We are


expecting a fairly high lamb crop this year. The question is, will all


our sheep farmers be able to take advantage of the head start nature


has given them this year A police officer who claimed to have


witnessed the so`called Plebgate row in Downing Street between Sutton


Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell and Met Police officers has admitted lying.


Keith Wallis pleaded guilty in court to misconduct in a public office.


The incident led to Andrew Mitchell resigning from his job as chief


whip. Well, our Political Editor, Patrick Burns, is here. So does this


increase the chances of Mr Mitchell returning to the cabinet? It does


not harm his chances. What is significant about the events of


today is that David Cameron has not exactly gone out of his way to


comment directly on this. Today, he issued this statement welcoming that


guilty plea and saying that the actions of the officer in question


were completely unacceptable. That is an action he has taken on his own


behalf. Andrew Mitchell and self says he welcomes the fact that


justice is being done. There is a lot of justice yet to be done and he


is hinting at ten other cases involving police officers. So the


question is how far does this have to go in the court before Mr


Mitchell is deemed to have been sufficiently re`ability did for a


return to the top ranks? That is an interpretation which says as a


matter of political judgement that point may not be far off. You also


have news about the developing argument over planning policies and


up surprise intervention by a Conservative politician. The


Conservative MP for Stratford`upon`Avon said that the


development of housing in rural areas could be the defining issue in


the countryside at the next general election because of the demands of


property developers. Under the Labour government we had eco`towns


and Stratford`upon`Avon which the Labor Department had to abandon and


one of our senior MPs says they would build five new towns. We're


not even building half the number of homes we need to keep up with


demand. That is a real problem there and people and families. It used to


take an average three years for a family to save for a deposit and now


it can take 20 or more years. In that shot you a love scene changed


Seymour who is top of the candidates list for UKIP who are celebrating


too conservative defections in Dudley.


And Patrick will be back with Sunday Politics this Sunday at 11:00am here


on BBC One. The production company behind the


hit BBC Two drama 'Peaky Blinders' is holding open auditions in


Birmingham tomorrow. The programme is based on true events in Digbeth


in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It follows a gang who


wore flat caps with razor blades hidden in the peaks. The show's


producers are looking for boys between the ages of 13 and 19 and


they say you don't need to have any acting experience. The central roles


we are looking for former real part in the family story. `` form a real


part. Christmas may be over for us, but


the big cats at a Dudley Zoo are still enjoying the festive spirit.


That's because zookeepers have been putting old Christmas trees into


their enclosures for them to play with. And, as Ben Godfrey found out,


it's the smell of the trees that really keeps them interested.


At Dudley Zoo, there's no such thing as an unwanted Christmas tree. We're


delivering some belated festive gifts to two tigers called Joao and


Daseep. That is a tiger down there. They may look a little shrivelled to


us but to these predators, the trees are the latest in must`have toys. I


have brought my own Christmas tree from home. The local folks have got


in touch. And that's because they want to keep a lid on the


excitement. Take Daisy the Carpathian Lynx. She's intoxicated


by the smell of the pine needles. Scientific studies tell us they give


her a sense of euphoria. Think how the scent of a forest wafts through


your living room. Her compound is awash with a comforting smell of the


wild. And she may even find a mate. It is like perfume or aftershave.


They follow trails which replicate the wild. Many of the 50 donated


Christmas trees will be recycled into wood`chip, to act as nesting


for other animals. But just like the New Year sales, the clamour to get


your hands on a bargain is fierce. Rebecca Wood is here with the


weather and there's a significant anniversary tomorrow for the TV


weather presenter, isn't there? Yes, Nick. 60 years ago today,


weather forecasting began on the BBC. But it wasn't until 1993 that


Midlands Today got our first dedicated weather presenter and


she's still a familiar face on our screens today. I've been looking


back through the archives. Shefali Oza has delivered the


weather forecast to BBC Midlands Today viewers for over 20 years from


all over the region and in all conditions ` sunshine, rain, wind,


or the forecaster's favourite, snow! I am not in the warmth of the


studio. I am in the freezing outdoors. Of course, she's had a


little bit of help along the way with a dedicated team of weather


enthusiasts. All providing the latest information on the weather


and how it can affect us from a variety of locations. You could


splash yourself regularly with cold water. Today, the weather team in


Birmingham is made up of Shefali and me. With help from the Met Office


and the latest technology, we try to keep you up to date, whatever the


weather. Well, the outfits and technology may


have changed but unfortunately it seems like we're not getting much of


a break from the usual rain. That said, tomorrow is looking much


better. Some sunny spells, but also feeling cold. We can expect some


chilly nights over the next few days, and after a brief break the


rain is back by Sunday. Tonight we'll see a band of rain moving


through the region. Now it is breaking up as it crosses us, and it


is deteriorating through the nest few hours. Not lots of rainfall


expected from it, but it's just adding to the saturated ground. Once


that band clears away, behind that skies will clear and temperatures


will plummet. The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for icy


stretches for tomorrow morning. So a cold start to Saturday, but it's


going to be a pleasant day. Some good spells of sunshine, cold and


crisp. Lighter winds, and the sunny spells will mean that it doesn't


feel too bad, temperatures will be around where we'd expect them to be


at this time of year. Once the sun goes down tomorrow temperatures will


plummet, and with a little more moisture in the air some fog patches


will develop, and there will be a widespread frost. But through the


early hours ahead of the next weather system moving in, the winds


will pick up and temperatures will start to rise. And this is that next


system. Again not a huge amount of rainfall from it, 10mm`15mm, but


once again it's adding to what we already have on the ground, and


prolonging the drying out period. So ahead of that we'll see cloud


building. A few showers are possible, and then the rain moves


in. With the cloud and the fog about and limited brightness temperatures


are going to struggle, and as winds pick up it'll feel a little raw out


there. But the pattern as we head into next week is an unsettled one.


Plenty more rain in the forecast, not great news for those places


already under water. It is feeling a little colder too.


Tonight's headlines from the BBC: A police officer admits he lied in the


Plebgate affair that led to the resignation of cabinet minister


Andrew Mitchell of Sutton Coldfield. A Birmingham woman's charged with


slavery offences after four men are found in squalid conditions at her


home. That was the Midlands Today. I'll be


back at 10:00pm with your latest update, including the Worcester


Warriors rugby result away to Sale Sharks. Have a good evening. Bye for


now. A tenth of a second


could be the difference


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