13/01/2014 Midlands Today


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showers in the west and south. That's all from


Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: there would


be a single Chief Constable and one Police and Crime Commissioner plus


all of the associated support staff. We will ask an MP if a merger


between those forces could be the best option? A fraud investigation


into a possible overseas betting syndicate after police approach a


Chinese spectator yesterday. With they said was under threat, what is


the future for young disabled people in Staffordshire? He needs


estimation because if he gets bored, then he becomes less happy.


Burgeoning numbers of feral cats are a problem in London ` could moving


them to the Midlands be the answer? And we were talking about flood


warnings last week, this week it is colder. But does that mean a chance


to dry eyed? The full forecast coming up. `` dry out. Good evening.


The organisation representing rank`and`file police officers is


tonight calling for a full merger of West Mercia and Warwickshire Police


to protect front line policing. The West Mercia Police Federation call


comes as both forces face up to extra budget cuts over the next five


years. West Mercia, which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire and


Worcestershire, must save an extra ?22 million over the next five


years. While Warwickshire must save ?9 million over the same period. Ben


Godfrey reports. The thin blue line could be about to get thinner. Faced


with reduced Government funding, West Mercia Police must save a


further ?22million over the next five years. The Office of the Police


and Crime Commissioner is trying to manage the cuts while plundering


reserves to urgently fill police officer vacancies. We have made


considerable savings and had a reserve of nearly ?49 million and we


will use that in relation to lessening the impact on policy over


the next five years whilst we make further savings. Warwickshire Police


must find ?9 million of savings. In recent years these two forces have


axed a combined 400 posts and dozens of police bases. The Chief Constable


signed up to a strategic Alliance. But the West Mercia federation says


a full merger is needed. After May 20 16th and the next elections, that


will have to become a serious consideration because it is an


obvious way of saving money. It would mean a single command team,


one Chief Constable and one Deputy Chief Constable and one crime


Commissioner plus associated staff. They have made it quite clear that


there shall be no merger. As far as Bill and myself are concerned, we


have an open mind and will consider all options. Police Commissioners


were elected in November 2012. They faced public pressure to put more


bobbies on the beat. It's clear the taxpayer could bear some of the


costs directly. There's a proposal here to increase the police element


of the council tax to raise an extra ?1.7 million a year, which could


divide public opinion. I don't think we should have to pay more, the


money should be there for the police. If it gets more officers on


the street, yes, but we see them few and far between. I don't want to pay


more council tax, I want funding to be kept as effectively low as it can


be. Away from public office, the West Mercia Police Commissioner is


facing his own personal battle. The 76`year`old has revealed he's being


treated for lung cancer and will take time away from his post to


recover from surgery. Joining us now from his constituency office in


Cannock is the Conservative MP Aidan Burley, who was part of David


Cameron's Police Reform Taskforce. Good evening, Mr Burley. So the


Police Federation says forces should merge. Is that the answer? Size is


not everything and we have been here before in 2006, the previous


government tried to great regional police forces for a handling that


when they realised it would make them less accountable to the


communities they served and would cost a lot of money to merge those


forces. The proposed merger of Warwickshire and West Mercia would


cover an area of nearly 4000 square miles and would inevitably become


more remote from the public at a time when we want police to become


more accountable to the communities. What is needed is far greater


sharing of back office resources, sharing human resource functions and


IT and procurement and so on but we want smaller forces that are more


accountable to the public. So you are against any merger? I am because


I think the larger police forces become more remote from the public


because they cover a large area and what we find happens is they start


setting strategic targets at the top rather than having that


community`based policing the public say they want. They want police to


be more accountable to local people, more accountable to the public but


actually there are huge savings to be had in the back offices, where 43


police forces can share functions. Looking at specifics, West Mercia


have further savings to be made but the commissioner talks about more


policemen on the beat. How is that possible? We need to get away from


this numbers game and the effectiveness of lease forces


measured on headcount. The problem in this country is the average


police man spends more time doing paperwork and on patrol and the Home


Office figures show they spend around 14% of their time on patrol


compared to 19 present on paperwork and if you consider this, if you


could increase the amount of time on the beat from one fifth of their


working day to double that, you would double the police presence on


the streets in England and Wales without recruiting one single extra


officer. Thank you. Coming up later in the programme: The developing row


over proposals to build a Muslim cemetery with 4,000 burial plots on


green belt land near Solihull. Some developing news in the last hour `


two men from Birmingham have been arrested at Heathrow Airport on


suspicion of terrorism offences relating to activities in Syria. Our


special correspondent, Peter Wilson, is here. What more can you tell us?


These men are both 21 and come from the Handsworth area of Birmingham.


They were intercepted at Heathrow Airport coming from Turkey by


unarmed officers from West Midlands Counter`terrorism Unit. The police


say that they have arrested these people under the terrorist act in


order to find out exactly what the nature of the activities where in


Syria. Not because it represented any particular threat to the public


here. Separate from this, two years ago running camp MP Khalid Mahmud


warned about young men from the West Midlands travelling to Syria and


taking part in the vicious civil war in that country. And saying that


Al`Qaeda type groups were actually using jihadis from the area as part


of the civil war out there. Is Syria a big concern for people here? I


have been working for the Sunday Politics programme and I have been


talking to young Muslim people who are very concerned about the


military in crisis happening in Syria and lots of people sending


winter clothing to refugees and they are concerned about the problems so


there is a great deal of unease here in the West Midlands about what is


happening in Syria. But the police anyone to talk to these young men


and find out exactly what they have been doing in that country. Thank


you. Police have confirmed they're investigating a possible betting


fraud at yesterday's League One match involving Coventry City. A


Chinese man was questioned and released without charge following a


joint operation between the police and the Football Association. Ian


Winter reports. All quiet at Sixfields Stadium today, permanent


home of Northampton Town and temporary residence of Coventry


City. Yesterday, the visitors were Crawley, plus members of the FA


Fraud Team who had a special interest in the suspicious


activities of one particular spectator.This afternoon, a


spokesman said The FA do not make any comment on integrity matters. A


spokesman said the FA do not comment on integrity matters. But tonight,


Midlands Today can reveal exactly what went on. Throughout the game,


as Coventry surged into a two`goal lead, police officers were keeping a


very close eye on a Chinese man who they suspected of using an


electronic device to send specific details of the match to members of a


gambling syndicate abroad. With ten minutes left to play, matchday


stewards made their move. The man was escorted away the Coventry fans


in the main stand and taken for questioning by officers from


Northamptonshire and Sussex Police. I understand they were acting on


intelligence received by the FA Fraud Team, who suspected the man


was relaying information about the game to an overseas betting


syndicate. Tonight, Northamptonshire Police confirmed that officers spoke


with a man who was of interest to representatives from the Football


Association as part of their ongoing investigation into fraud. The man


was not arrested. Neither was he able to witness Coventry's late


collapse as they conceded two sloppy goals in the final seven minutes to


give Crawley a share of the points in a 2`2 draw, leaving manager


Stephen Pressley fuming. I was bitterly disappointed the cars we


had worked so hard to try to get this result from difficult


circumstances and these things cannot happen. Meanwhile the FA's


Fraud Team will continue its ongoing investigation into suspicious


behaviour relating to betting overseas. A mother accused of


leaving her newborn baby in undergrowth at a Birmingham park has


been charged with abandoning a child. The baby, who was named Jade


after the dog who found her, was discovered in Stechford Park in


October. A 26`year`old woman will appear before magistrates at the end


of the month. Dozens of people have been protesting outside the offices


of a London television company which produces the show Benefits Street,


which is based in Birmingham. Campaigners are calling on Love


Productions to scrap the programme, saying it demonises people claiming


government help. More than 30,000 people have signed a petition to


stop the show. Nearly 1,000 people have written to Solihull Council


objecting to proposals to build a Muslim cemetery on green belt land


near Catherine`de`Barnes. The development's expected to have 4,000


burial plots and 75 parking spaces. But people living nearby feel


there's not enough need for it. Bob Hockenhull has more. These fields on


the outskirts of an upmarket village have traditionally been used to grow


crops. Their new owner is seeking planning permission for the green


belt land to be turned into a Muslim cemetery. But nearby residents say


the development of 4,000 burial plots is wholly inappropriate for


the area. We are horrified by this, the village is over one mile from


the road. And it would almost certainly, in times of huge burials,


whatever faith, if they are large burials, with those numbers of


people on this road, it could cause problems. Councillors representing


the village of Catherine`de`Barnes, which is next to the fields, insist


there is already provision for muslim burials at other cemeteries


in Solihull. But Muslims say they often have to travel, even abroad


sometimes, so they can bury their loved ones in accordance with Sharia


law. They say the Muslim population is increasing here and a specific


cemetery is needed in the borough. Residents say the green belt is


already vulnerable because it is on the edge of the West Midlands


conurbation but the Muslim community argues that the cemetery will have a


readable visual impact on the landscape. `` very little.


Traditional burials dictate that Muslims should be buried with their


heads facing toward Mecca. But there are no gravestones and this Iman


from Solihull says neighbouring residents have nothing to fear.


People worried about the green belt, there will not be any nodding their


and I do not know about the plan itself but that is closer to the


region you are, the less you'll think you do. The council but side


within the next few months. `` council will decide. A Birmingham MP


is urging parents suspected of child abuse to flee the country rather


than face justice in the family courts because he believes they


can't rely on the evidence being fair. John Hemming is chairman of


the Justice for Families campaign group and says he's been contacted


by hundreds of parents. I spoke to him earlier and asked him why he


feels families are being badly treated. There are some decisions


taken here and I know of one case where a baby has been put up for


adoption because of the mother 's political views and this would not


be done in another country. Surely running a broad will not solve this?


It does because in another country, people do forum shopping and they


have come here for liable and if you go `` if you go abroad, in the UK


you face the removal of your child because of political views and


abroad they say that is mad. It sounds almost a responsible, from an


MP, suggesting people should run away from the authorities? It is not


really running away from the 40s because you are going to authorities


in another country and you say, this is the situation, do you think I am


a threat to my child? In cases like bloody good views by the case with a


family from Suffolk going to Spain and they provided all the paperwork


to social workers and they sent them home. Surely the first verity in


this country has to be the safety of the child? In any country it should


be. But you must look at situations where a family takes a child into


care unnecessarily and that fills up the care system so you cannot take


children into care who are at risk. This was a baby aged seven and if


you try to predict that, you would not have been able to do so so the


danger is that by taking lots of babies into care, we missed the


risks and we see children dying from child abuse. Mr Hemming will be


appearing on Panorama: I Want My Baby Back at 9.00pm tonight here on


BBC One. Our top story tonight: A police union leader calls for the


Warwickshire and West Mercia forces to merge as a further round of cuts


is announced. Rebecca will be with us in a few minutes with your


detailed weather forecast and also in tonight's programme: A change of


scene: Why feral cats from the capital are finding their way to the


peace of the Midlands countryside. We're live at Villa Park, where


Aston Villa take on high`flyers Arsenal. Can they stop them going


back to the top with only their third home win of the season?


Councillors will decide the future of day services for people with


learning disabilities this week. Under the plans from Staffordshire


County Council, day centres in Kidsgrove and Codsall are due to


close, with one in Leek being downsized. The council says the plan


is to improve the quality of care. So what happens if they close? Phil


McCann has been investigating. Paul has Down's syndrome. Every weekday


he goes to a day centre near his home in Kidsgrove. But it's closing


and he'll be reassessed to see if the council thinks he still needs


care. It is good we spied for us and it is demolition for him. ``


respite. He needs stimulation because if he gets bored then, then


he becomes less happy. And cooperative. For the last 20 years


he has waited like this when the bus to take him one mile down the road.


Nearly 500 people with learning disabilities use centres like this


one in Stafford, which isn't closing. But the County Council


wants to cut that number by 70% so it's going to reassess them all,


with the hope that around 130 people will be judged not to need any help


at all. We are modernising disability services and we intend,


for those who can, we will get them out of daycare provision and into


community provision because we believe that is the right thing to


do and people integrated into the community is definitely a better


life for people with learning disabilities. This is the council's


vision of the future. At this farm near Uttoxeter, adults with learning


disabilities are trained in how to grow crops and look after animals.


You can learn a range of skills here and it boosts your confidence a lot.


I just really enjoy it, and if I had the chance to come here, I wouldn't


mind even living here! It is about social networks and building


friendships with people that they can take outside of this opportunity


and I like nothing more than hearing them doing things like bowling and


ordinary things. So what does Rob think? Could this work for his son?


Some people might be able to cope with this and others not so much.


Nevertheless, what has been done here, in essence, is good. But I


think practically, it would not be a replacement for the day centre. The


plans are due to be finalised on Wednesday. But there have been


protests by cameras worried about looking after farm animals as not a


long`term solution. Football now. It's all getting a bight tight down


the bottom of the Premier League. Dan's here now. Can Aston Villa ease


their worries with a result against Arsenal this evening? It's a big


night for Aston Villa and their manager, Paul Lambert. The fans


turned on him after last week's FA Cup defeat by Sheffield United and


tonight they face title`chasing Arsenal at Villa Park. Nick


Clitheroe is there for us. How critical could this game be? This is


massive for both clubs and Arsenal could go top of the league but Villa


could get into the top half of even one point. Hard to believe because


they have only had two home wins in ten matches this season. Joining me


is the chairman of the supporters trust. It has been desperate. Not


something you can look forward to but you come along in the hope that


we might just turn the corner. Do you see any green shoots? Not


really. But I always think that if we can get anti`gay scoring and


playing like last season, there has to be some optimism. `` Benteke


scoring. Good Aston Villa go down? I am not overly worried but it is so


close in the bottom ten but a couple of victories can change everything.


Goals have been in short supply, only seven in ten matches? That is


awful, we do not seem able to get anywhere near the six yard area at


home. What is your prediction tonight? Narrow defeat, I think.


2`1. Let us hope it is for us! Let us hope that it is a happier note


for the fans, they really have struggled to get much entertainment


out of their home games this season. And it would give everyone such a


left at this club if they could win tonight. Thank you for the match. As


for our other two Premier League teams, Stoke City and West Bromwich


Albion both lost but the games were quite different. Stoke lost 5`3 to


Liverpool in a dramatic game at the Britannia Stadium. Stoke were 2`0


down. But two fine goals from Peter Crouch and then Charlie Adam pulled


them back level at 2`2 by half`time. But Liverpool's strike force ` led


by Luis Suarez ` just proved too powerful for Stoke in the end.


Albion's new head coach, Pepe Mel, was in the crowd to watch their game


at Southampton. But it's unlikely he was impressed by what he saw. Albion


only lost 1`0 but they were distinctly second`best. Mel will


meet the players for the first time tomorrow when he takes over the


coaching duties. Mel takes over duties tomorrow. And he is in the


crowd tonight? So it's fair to say that none of our teams are safe from


relegation this season. As you mentioned earlier, it's all very


tight. The bottom 11 clubs are separated by just six points. They


have beaten Arsenal? The first day of the season. And this time, Robert


De Niro has tipped them to win. As investors to loan, this is what they


had to say! Aston Villa? Interesting choice. Really? URA bookmaker! Not


convinced! Investments can go down as well as up! Could a move to the


Midlands be all that's needed to save the lives of London's feral


cats? Animal welfare charities in the capital say they're being


overwhelmed by a huge boom in the numbers of strays and they're having


to put a lot of them to sleep. However, tonight's Inside Out


follows the work of a charity who've found a surprising solution. Johny


Pitts reports. Cecille and Stanley are on their way to a new home in


the Cotswolds and it has turned out to be a life`saving journey. They


started life as feral cats living on the streets of London, where there


are now tens of thousands of other strays just like them. Animal


welfare charities say the problem has reached crisis point. This is


the problem when people do not neuter their animals and people


abandon them and threw them out, it is a throwaway society. One cat can


multiply and you could end up with hundreds of them. Just like you, we


have 20 cats. Ferals are not what you think. They're not wild


monsters, they're actually shy of human contact. But because they can


be unpredictable they can't simply become house cats, making finding


them a home difficult. The reality is if there is not enough homes for


them, they will have to be put to sleep. But now animal charities like


SNIP have discovered there's a niche market for cats like these right


here in the Midlands countryside. We need them for vermin control and at


this time of year, all of the mice and other variables come in and we


have chickens here so they attract vermin. It is perfect to have some


cats. They are quite entertaining as well. It's a far cry from the


streets of London. Here they'll have a job, fresh milk plus their own


penthouse suite on the top floor of the stable. And after just a month


in their new home, our Cockney kitties have become top Midlands


mousers. Have a blog that mice? Not a lot but they have started.


Hopefully they will not bring any because we will not have any! Time


for the weather forecast. It will be rather cold and those


critters shall be on stand`by through the region. We expect wide


`` widespread frost and showers to come first, clearing away and


temperatures falling away. Tomorrow is a cold start, but a bad day with


decent spells of sunshine through the day and cloud or fill in through


the afternoon and ahead of the span of showers, this is effecting us, we


have some squally conditions around the showers and there is the chance


of some wintry showers over higher ground. But they will clear away


through the next few hours and behind that, we will see this guy


squaring and temperatures falling away rapidly. The Met Office has


issued a Yellow Warning for icy stretches coming tomorrow morning as


temperatures dipped to around freezing. But then it is not long


before we see the next band of rain starting to make its way through.


Pleasant tomorrow but that rain is moving from the West through the


afternoon tomorrow so we started off rather cold and chilly with frost


about and some fog and it will lift as the sun comes out, burning


through and making things feel quite pleasant but temperatures. All. We


have lighter wind but some sunshine for much of the day for most of us.


Then the cloud starts to fill in ahead of this rain, moving from the


West. Not huge amounts of rainfall but this is adding to what we


already have on the ground, prolonging that drying out period.


After tomorrow night, we shall see things continuing to get unsettled


through the week and temperatures struggling a little bit but there is


plenty more rain in the forecast. Becky. Our headlines... Local


councils which back fracking for gas are promised more money. And a


police union leader calls for forces to merge as a further round of cuts


is announced. That was Midlands Today. We are back at 10pm. Goodbye.


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