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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: He inspired
and humbled ` thousands of tributes paid to cancer patient Steve Evans,
who's died at the age of 52. A gentleman who has bizarrely
touched the lives of hundreds and thousands of people.
We'll be asking the Mayor of Wolverhampton how Steve's home city
plans to honour him. Also tonight: Think the unthinkable ` the advice
to authorities dealing with suspected child abuse following the
murder of Daniel Pelka. We are quite a reserved country in
terms of talking about people behaviours and family life but that
reservation does not work when trying to protect children.
Amusing or irritating? The advert that some claim reinforces
stereotypes about the Midlands. A bit of a laugh. Some of the way the
Black Country people speak. We should be proud of it.
West Bromwich Albion's new Spanish coach, Pepe Mel outlines his plans
for the rest of the season at his first media conference.
And after all the rain we've had recently, I wish could tell you
that's your lot, unfortunately it's now. The details coming up later.
Good evening. "Amazing, funny and magical in all senses." One of the
thousands of tributes paid to Steve Evans. There's been an overwhelming
reaction to the death of the council worker, part`time magician and
cancer patient. Steve was 52. For two years, his positive attitude
while fighting terminal stomach cancer has inspired and humbled.
Steve's 26,000 Twitter followers were among the first to hear the
news of his death this morning. Ben Godfrey reports from Wolverhampton
where Steve reached, in his words, the end of his journey.
Steve Evans referred to himself as that bloke from the council, living
an ordinary life but to his thousands of followers, he was an
extraordinary man. I had to relax and understand that the journey was
starting to come to an end. Steve's journey ended this morning and there
has been an incredible response from many of his Twitter followers. David
Baddiel described Steve as amazing, funny and magical.
A former building surveyor turned magician who championed
Wolverhampton. At the Civic Hall he managed the acts making such an
impression, his name has joined the wall of fame. When he was first
diagnosed, it was a hellish time however he was more worried about
telling other people and the effect it would have on them. Steve called
his battle with stomach cancer a journey shared by family and
friends. You think to yourself, I must have this for a reason, that is
the positive. Or you think to yourself, why be? That is a
negative. For many, Steve did more to raise awareness for stomach
cancer than any health professional. He has done immense work for us. I
feel guilty that maybe specialists like me should do more public
education. A gentle man and a gentleman who has bizarrely touched
the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. Last year he told me he
was happiest at home in his summer house, close to his wife and
daughters. A nurse said have you decided what your vision of heaven
is like? My version would be a Victorian theatre. I can envisage a
front row that contains Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and me
asking them to pick a card. Steve often appeared on BBC Radio five
Live. His final interview was broadcast on Tuesday. Love is all
around and I am so blessed that I have had so much a bit around me.
Well, Ben is in Wolverhampton for us tonight. Ben, you met Steve Evans
and got to know him. What would he have made of all the reaction to his
death? He struck me as a very humble man so I guess there would be a big
element of surprise to the response today. Steve's appeal has been the
way he has been so honest to talk about something people find to be a
turbulent subject. Take a look at tonight's paper. `` taboo subject.
You have known him for over 20 years. Steve was a great character,
personality. He was Wolverhampton 's favourite son. He did a lot for the
city, in particular but the mayors parlour as well. Working for the
various mayors charities. This is a man celebrated life as well as his
home city. How can the city remember him? The city will remember Steve in
particular but it is important to give regard to the family and see
how they want to take the issue forward and the Mayor's pile`up will
support whatever the family wish to do. The Civic Hall can play a role
in that in the future. We have spoken to one of Steve's daughters
who said she was overwhelmed by the messages of goodwill and wanted to
thank the public for their support. You're watching BBC Midlands Today.
Still to come tonight: Extra funding for manufacturing in our region `
the Chancellor on how small businesses can think big.
Think the unthinkable ` the advice today to authorities dealing with
suspected child abuse following the murder of Daniel Pelka. The Coventry
schoolboy was murdered almost two years ago, beaten and starved by his
mother and stepfather. At the time, agencies were heavily criticised. A
progress report is ensuring that changes to working practices are
taking now place. Here's Joan Cummins.
A boy whose short and tragic life has prompted authorities to ask how
they deal with suspected child abuse. Daniel Pelka was four when he
died from a hedge injury `` head injury. His mother and stepfather
were jailed for a minimum of 30 years. The judge described the
treatment of Daniel as in comprehensible totality. A serious
case review in September found that Daniel was invisible and no
professional tried sufficiently hard enough to talk to him.
Recommendations included improving the way health, education, police
and social workers share information, something that is now
slowly changing. Sometimes it takes cases like this to make people
realise the level of commitment and consensus and partnership working
that is required. A specialist safeguarding hub is planned which
will enhance social assessment centres such as this. Professionals
in all be services have been reminded of their obligations to
children and despite cuts on the horizon, the council is determined
to prioritise child protection. We all have a responsibility, we cannot
guarantee that this case would never happen again but we have to ensure
we have processes in place to prevent it. There still remains
doubt in the city that the authorities are doing their best. We
have had experiences with people we know. It is wrong. The Council house
to protect children. The legacy of Daniel could be that the referrals
of child protection have increased after his death.
The Government has said there will be a full parliamentary debate on
the abuse scandal at Stafford Hospital, where patients died
unnecessarily. It comes on the day the health regulator, Monitor,
agreed to the break`up of the Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust.
Stafford Hospital will become part of University Hospital North
Staffordshire and Cannock will transfer to the Wolverhampton Trust.
Children and midwifery services will also be downgraded in Stafford. The
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has until the end of
February to make a final decision. A report into safety at a quarry in
the Malvern Hills where two young men drowned last summer recommends
it shouldn't be filled in to prevent further deaths. Russell O'Neill and
Justas Juzenas died while swimming at Gullet Quarry, within a week of
each other last July. But the Royal Society for the Prevention of
Accidents says more measures do need to be looked at to discourage people
swimming there. Two former Shropshire businessmen
have gone on trial over ?14 million invested in children's animation
programmes. This series, The Boblins, did have some success,
Birmingham Crown Court heard, airing in the UK and abroad. But David
Griffiths, from Oreton near Cleobury Mortimer, and Simon Drew, who now
lives in East Sussex, allegedly gave investors misleading information.
They deny deception and fraud. The Chancellor, George Osborne was
in the region today to announce extra funding to boost
manufacturing. The Government is providing ?30 million to help
develop new high`tech aerospace technology at the Manufacturing
Technology Centre in Coventry. Here's our Business Correspondent
Peter Plisner. A glimpse of the future, the
Coventry `based technology centre is already at the cutting edge of
automotive technology. Now it is to play a role in aerospace. A chance
for George Osborne to visit. The government is invested ?30 million
to create the centre. It will mean more jobs. In the three years we
have been here, we have grown to 275 employees. Centres like this are
helping to take the risk out of inventing research and development
costs. They are incredibly instance of an if an invention does not work,
it can be quite costly and catastrophic. Funding for a scheme
called catapult ensures that does not happen. It aims to bring
businesses and universities closer to gather. It is an area where we
have failed to exploit great inventions in the UK. The catapult
is about helping businesses grab those technologies and skills up to
the commercial world. And that is something that is already happening
at Warwick University. Here the development of composite materials
is helping to make cars lighter and fuel`efficient. Jaguar Land Rover
have already switched from steel to aluminium bodies on many models,
saving around a third of the weight but composite promises more savings.
We do see compensates being used in auto sports but it is still very
expensive. If we can make it cheaper and quicker to process, we will
start to see that in the average saloon. It is all about a British
economy that builds its manufacturing base. That invests in
the whole country. More investment here means that when it comes to
automotive and aerospace, this region continues to lead the way.
Our top story tonight: He inspired and humbled ` thousands of tributes
paid to cancer patient Steve Evans, who's died at the age of 52.
Your detailed weather forecast to come shortly from Rebecca.
Also in tonight's programme: What you think about this advert and
whether or not it mocks local accents.? It is more of a Birmingham
accent than a Black Country accent so people do take the Mickey out of
it. I do not take offence. And the Olympic legacy ` is it
succeeding in getting more children involved in sport?
An update now on the story we brought you yesterday of a family
from Telford fined for taking their children on holiday in term time.
Stewart Sutherland was told he had to pay nearly ?1,000 in fines and
court costs. Nearly 60,000 people have viewed the story on our
Facebook page and we've had hundreds of comments. Sharon Plimmer said,
"The act of truancy is clearly different to a family holiday.
Well, the Department for Education declined to be interviewed about
this today. But they did say children who attend school regularly
are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than
those who are regularly absent. What seems to be confusing a lot of
parents is that until last September, head teachers could grant
leave for the purpose of family holiday for up to ten school days.
Now it is only to be done in the most exceptional circumstances.
One education expert at Birmingham city University told us that even
short holidays can have a big impact. The child is always catching
up because of the students will know what they are doing, they know what
is expected of them. They will have missed all of that so it is an
issue. Meanwhile, a London businessman is
so incensed by the issue and what has happened to the Sutherlands that
he's trying to raise the money to pay their fine and costs. And, of
course, we'll keep you in touch with developments.
Something else now that's been getting people hot under the collar.
It's an advert for a hotel chain that seems to mock the accents of
Birmingham and the Black Country. Amusing or irritating? You can make
your own mind up. But does it reinforce negative stereotypes about
the Midlands? Here's Holly Lewis. And aspirational couple plan a mini
break in Paris but it is the accent that has everyone talking. When the
advert appeared on you chew it prompted plenty of comment, most of
it negative. One said, this is a shameful effort to mock the good
people of the Black Country and another, this advert makes me feel
physically sick. But in Smethwick, most people could see the funny
side. I saw it on the telly and it made me laugh. At first, I did not
know what was going on because you don't hear that sort of accent on
TV. It is more of a Birmingham accent so people do take the Mickey.
It does not bother me. It is a comedy thing. It is the latest in a
long line of similar controversies. Linguist Ursula Clarke has been
studying accents in the Midlands. Whereas in other regions in the UK,
people are very proud of the way they speak whereas the people in
this region are ashamed of the way they speak and they should be proud.
There was no shortage of pride in Smethwick today. We found the
Southern accent funny like they find our accent funny.
Well, Holly is with us now. Holly what have the company which
commissioned this advertisement had to say? We have had a statement and
they said, we wanted to create a popular due road that people would
warm to that is why we cast a Birmingham born and bred actor. We
wanted to use a friendly act to help create a distinctive character.
Quite a lot of debate about whether the accent was authentic but it does
appeared the actor is local. What is the general perception of Birmingham
and Black Country accents? Ursula Clarke has done a lot of work in
this area and she was saying the problem is that most studies tend to
link the Birmingham or Black Country accent to low intelligence. Which is
perhaps why something like this, people are sensitive about but one
of the recent studies linked Birmingham or Black Country
accents, that they came out on top for trustworthiness so it is
interesting to see how difficult it is to change perceptions but if
there are more people in the media with a certain accent, it certainly
does begin to chip away at these prejudices which are stirred up by
things like this. Football, and West Bromwich Albion
agreed to sell striker Shane Long to Hull City today. The fee's thought
to be ?7 million after various add`on clauses are included. So does
that give their new head coach Pepe Mel money to spend in the transfer
window? Well, he's held his first media conference today and a warning
there's flash photography in Dan Pallet's report.
He arrived through the gloom hoping to bring some Spanish sunshine into
Albion's season. Pepe Mel is days into the job and has a big challenge
ahead. Pepe Mel took Riel batters into Europe last season but this is
his first job in England so it is a big test. Good afternoon. I am
pleased to be here at West Brom. I am sorry for my English. I am not
worried because this summer, everybody will speak Spanish. No
problem. But he was also quick to point out he will not bring in new
background staff despite an interview last week stating he
would. There was no confusion at all. West Brom will keep their
existing team, the future will tell whether our systems come and join us
but I am happy at the moment and everyone is working well together.
Pepe Mel took charge of his first training session on Tuesday. He is
able to communicate his messages from a football point of view quite
easily, so he will be having lessons, he is keen to learn. He
does want to learn the language and he will have lessons over the next
few months. Pepe Mel knows there was work to be done. His task begins on
Monday with a visit to Everton and that will be no Spanish holiday. Dan
is at the hawthorns now. What did you make of the new head coach? He
came across really well today, very friendly, personable. He does speak
a bit of English. He has clearly done his homework on the Albion
fans. He knows it will be tough over the next four months but he said,
come the summer he might sign some Spanish players. The level of them
will depend on whether he can keep them in the Premier League. What
about that perceived language barrier because I'm not sure that
many Albion players speak Spanish? You would be surprised. It is so
international, Premier League football. Four of the team are fluid
in Spanish and an important member of the backroom staff. He
understands and speak it a little bit better than he let on today. He
is having intensive lessons so within a matter of weeks or months
he will be more fluid. Football is an international language and he
should not have problems getting his message across on the training
ground. It's almost 18 months since the
London Olympics, but the drive to build its legacy continues. A
competition to get more school children involved in sport was
launched today in Birmingham. Nick Clitheroe has been to meet one of
the city's rising sport stars taking part in the School Games.
This is 14`year`old basketball fanatic Rebecca. Two years ago she
was looking for a new sport to try so the teachers at Heartlands
Academy picked for the basketball team at the Birmingham School games.
I want to play in America for college basketball and then
represent Great Britain in the Olympics. I want to do my own battle
club in Africa. In Edgbaston they were launching the latest drive.
Setup to build on the legacy of the London Olympics, there is plenty at
stake in getting it right. Nationwide, more than ?100 million
has been spent on the School games in the run`up to 2015 so has it all
been worth it? In the citywide competition we have 95 schools
involved, 1600 competitors and over 80 volunteers. There is still more
to be done and we want to make sure that we give as wide an opportunity
to the Birmingham schools as possible. It is not all about
targets as sport is supposed to be fun. We have been doing the javelin
and long jump. Good because everyone can join in. If Rebecca is part of
that British Olympics basketball team in Tokyo 2020, remember where
it all began. It's fair to say it's been a wet
start to 2014, with many places being flooded, including Worcester
county cricket club. Today though, the clean`up operation got underway
at the New Road ground. Flood waters have now started to go down, and it
was all hands on deck to tidy up the mess left behind. So, is there more
rain to come? Rebecca is here with the forecast.
I am beginning to worried that I sound like a stuck record because
all I talk about is rain. There is plenty more in the forecast. We have
showers around tonight. They will stick with us into tomorrow and by
Saturday, more persistent rain to come. By Sunday, we will see things
getting colder but that is by the time we get to Sunday. Though
showers already rattling through the region to Mike. Some of them will be
quite heavy at times. Brief periods of respite but most places will
continue to see showers right the way until tomorrow morning. With
plenty of cloud, rain, temperatures will not fall too low. Loans of five
or six Celsius but further west it could drop lower. Tomorrow morning,
we have though showers around, some will be heavy. The possibility of
help and thunder through the morning but by lunchtime, we will start to
see things using as a ridge of high pressure builds. Good spells of
sunshine. Not a bad way to and Friday. Temperature is around seven
or eight Celsius. Winds will be lighter and it will feel pleasant.
For Friday night, we continue to keep these calm conditions. Clear
spells to begin with so temperatures will drop away. The cloud then
builds once again ahead of the next weather system working its way
through on Saturday. Some mist and fog patches developing but
temperatures will be around four or five Celsius. Through Saturday we
have this next band of rain moving through. Between five and ten
millimetres of rain. With all that saturated ground, it will add to
that. By Sunday we will see the isobars widening and the wind will
drop out so things will stagnate. Temperatures will fall away, some
frost as well. It is staying cold as we make our way into next week but a
soggy weekend to get through before that.
Tonight's headlines from the BBC: the Chancellor George Osborne backs
an above inflation rise in the minimum wage.
Finally tonight, the death of Steve Evans this morning, in
Wolverhampton. He called himself ordinary. But the way he dealt with
terminal stomach cancer, often with humour, was simply extraordinary.
I know there are many people who are on limited journeys and far too many
with cancer, but what makes our journey I is the amount of people
that are on it with it with and the amount of love we are surrounded