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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight. Boost for
Coventry as Nissan announce a ?6 million deal to assemble taxis in
the city. We have some of the highest skilled
people in the industry right on our doorstep. We employ some already and
we can get more. We'll be finding out exactly what
this means for Coventry and the whole automotive business in the
West Midlands. Also tonight. Four men are arrested
across Birmingham by police investigating mobile phone theft and
fraud. There is no such thing as a
victimless crime. Secret filming shows migrant workers
in the region being paid less than the minimum wage.
Find out why this gun is making the journey from Herefordshire to
France. And brace yourself, things are about
to get colder. The first wintry spells of the year. But will they
last? Your full forecast is on the way.
Good evening. The Japanese car giant Nissan has announced a ?6 million
investment in Coventry as it looks to break into the London taxi cab
market. Nissan will build their new taxis in Barcelona, then ship them
to a firm in Coventry for assembly. It's another major boost for the
West Midlands' automotive industry, which is already buoyed by the
performance of Jaguar Land Rover. In a moment, we'll be hearing from a
senior Nissan executive, but first here's Joan Cummins.
This is one of the Nissan prototype taxis that will represent the
Japanese car giants attempts to conquer the London Taxi market.
Launched in January and based on a van design, the vehicles will be
shipped from Barcelona to ADV Coventry for a black cab
transformation. We will be converting the vehicle
which arrives from Spain, which is a commercial vehicle made by Nissan in
Barcelona, and we will be converting it to a full London taxi
specification. We have some of the highest skilled people in industry
on our doorstep. ADV have only been in business for
three years, but already they're established as a major supplier to
many of the prestige car manufacturers in the country and
currently employ 150 staff. By Christmas, this is going to be
the new assembly hall for the Nissan taxi. It is unclear exactly how many
jobs will be created, but I'm told it will be significant. Today's
announcement of investment and the prospect of new jobs was seen as
re`establishing the region as the heartland of car production.
It's excellent news for the city and Warwickshire. It just goes to show
that if you want to build a car, the ideal place to build it is in this
region. We have got those skills, the workforce and the location and
it is very good news all round. But Coventry is already famous for black
cabs with the London Taxi company, so is there room for rival
neighbours? I think we will see that they will both rise to the
competitive challenge and overall the local supply chain and
automotive economy will be all the stronger for it. With the order
books recovering the biggest challenge for employers now is
ensuring that the region's skills remain the brightest in the country.
Earlier, I spoke to Andy Palmer, the Chief Planning Officer and Executive
Vice President of the Nissan Corporation. I asked him why Nissan
chose ADV in Coventry. We went through a selection process and
looked at all of the possible places that could manufacture the Nissan
London taxi. And this was the most competitive. The most compelling
choice. Great news for the company in Coventry.
And this will be a hefty commitment for ADV and create jobs? Absolutely.
There is an investment of around ?6 million to make this happen. The
investment coming from Nissan, ADV and help from the government.
Coventry is becoming a bit of a taxi capital? You'll have competition.
Competition is always healthy. It is part of what makes the motor
industry go round. Obviously, we find in Coventry we have the skills
base here to do what we want. And it is our dream as Nissan that we
change the way that people think about mobility. In particular taxis.
Particularly by the use of electric taxis which is part of the mandate
that ADV has to create the electric London taxi. I think it will
ultimately change society and Coventry and ADV will be at the
centre of it. Now we are talking petrol driven
cars and all electric and Boris Johnson has made it clear that
bringing down emisssions is high on the agenda. Yes, indeed. London is
basically stating that by 2018, the electric vehicle zone will be in
place. In fact, Nissan will bring the London taxi, the EV version of
the London taxi, to market in 2015, made in Coventry. Our commitment is
to have that electric taxi on sale in a city in the UK in 2015.
Live now to Coventry now and our reporter Joan Cummins. Joan, a real
boost for the city, isn't it? Yes, it is. We do not know the exact
figures on jobs, but the fact that a company like Nissan is going to
assemble it here is a boost, not just to the company here, but to the
industry as a whole and people across the region. Coventry is open
for business and they can do car manufacturing here. Also in the city
you have the London Taxi Company, which used to be known as LTI. This
will be competition for them, won't it?
Yes, it will be. But this is what is going to happen anyway. It does not
matter if the production is taking place near or across the world. The
fact is, today, Nissan has decided to invest here in Coventry and that
means jobs for the people of Coventry.
You're watching Midlands Today from the BBC. Great to have you with us
this evening. Later, following that good news for Coventry. We'll be
assessing the impact in our region as the UK economy grows at its
fastest rate since 2007. And as the Christmas and New Year
flooding bill tops ?400 million, could this defence scheme in
Worcestershire provide a blueprint for the future?
A former chief nurse at Stafford Hospital has consented to being
struck off for exposing patients to danger during her time in charge.
Janice Harry agreed to the move after the Professional Standards
Authority for Health and Social Care launched a challenge to a tribunal's
decision only to issue her with a caution. With me now is our Health
Correspondent Michele Paduano. This is quite a turnaround, what's been
the reaction? It has not been jubilation. I spoke
to someone who said that many more adverse `` nurses should have been
investigated. Janice Harry Tried to allow her membership to lapse. This
agreement to be struck off has avoided another High Court hearing.
I think the message that it sends is that if you are in a senior
position, then you need to comply with the code of conduct. That
applies to all nurses, not just senior nurses. This decision is very
important and we are happy with the outcome.
What exactly has Janice Harry done, or not done?
She was said to have pleased patients at risk. In one example, 17
patients were being looked after by wonders overnight. Also, in accident
and emergency, the nurse on reception often had to go and help
out, leaving a receptionist to look after patients which was
unacceptable. Still not the end of all the recriminations over Stafford
Hospital? There are still health and safety
cases ongoing, and a fresh inquest into at least one death. 173 cases
are still being looked at by police. Janice Harry Is the only senior
member of staff who will be dealt with in this way.
A series of raids has taken place across Birmingham by police
targeting mobile phone theft and fraud. At one address alone,
there've been more than 200 claims for damaged smartphones over the
past two years. Our Special correspondent, Peter Wilson reports.
Not a phone call or a knock at the door. This was the first of a series
of dawn raids across Birmingham. Operation Network, more than 60
police officers. This is one of nine addresses targeted by West Midlands
Police, which also includes a mobile phone shop and a market stall. All
of those arrested today are suspected of handling stolen goods
are being involved in mobile phone fraud. Every month, 500 smartphones
are stolen in the West Midlands. 300,000 each year in the United
Kingdom. One address has handled in excess of 200 handsets in less than
18 months. The average cost of a smartphone could be ?700. That is a
huge amount of money. At the Operation Control Centre, the police
were checking on the details of each phone they'd seized. Effectively,
what is happening is that the fraudsters are sending stolen phones
back to the smartphone companies to replace them free of charge, and the
fraudsters then sell them. There is no such thing as a victimless crime.
This is the first operation of its kind by the police in the Midlands.
Detectives say it is part of an ongoing series of investigations
aimed at making life difficult for the smartphone fraudsters and
thieves. The private security company which
runs Oakwood Jail near Wolverhampton has promised to improve its
management after disturbances there earlier this month. A prison officer
had described the incident as a full scale riot with inmates shouting
threats from behind a barricade. At Westminster today, G4S defended the
prison in response to one MP who said Oakwood was known as jokewood.
I am absolutely confident that we will rectify the issues at the
prison to get it as good as any other prison be done. This is an
example of selectively picking examples to put us in a negative
light. A BBC investigation has found
migrant workers are being brought to Birmingham from London to work for
below the minimum wage. Secret recording in London and in
Birmingham has uncovered workers being paid as little as ?40 pounds a
day. Gareth Furby has this special report.
Every day on some streets in London, there are people, many eastern
European, waiting to be offered work as builders or casual labourers. But
I be paid at least the minimum wage? To find out, we asked to Macromedia
workers to go undercover. Both carried a hidden camera. `` two
Romanian. They heard others talk about low wages. I worked all day
for ?10. One of them was offered work moving mattresses. His pay at
the end of the day, ?40 for a seven hour day with only a five`minute
break. That works out at an hour, under the National minimum wage of
?6.31 an hour. You were just told to do things. Our second Romanian is
offered a week's work in Birmingham. But the man who is
hiring does not want to pay him much.
He is give an more than 100 miles, put to work at the back of a shop
and paid ?40. Which for nine hours of work comes to about ?4 70 an
hour. What does the government think of such low wages? It is a serious
breach of the law. I do not know all the details and circumstances, but
it must be investigated. The campaigning group migration watch
says such practices are driving down wages for all builders. It drives
down wages for ordinary working class people around the country.
This man said he agreed to pay are Labour ?40 for a single job and that
he did not work for nine hours. Our recording suggests that he does.
The insurance bill for the storms and flooding that damaged thousands
of homes in Britain over the Christmas and New Year period is set
to reach ?426 million. The Association of British Insurers said
today its members dealt with 174,000 claims for damage to homes,
businesses and cars. Environment Agency flood defences have clearly
helped here in the West Midlands, but could another scheme in
Worcestershire offer hope across the country? Joanne Writtle reports.
In heavy downpours, water from fields has caused flash flooding
down in the village of Harvington in Worcestershire. But, say villagers,
not any more. Two ponds have been dug and an orchard's been planted,
allowing water to soak into the ground. What we decided to do was to
create a buffer with these two small ponds. We also wanted to create
something that would absorb the water as well, and the orchards are
the natural thing to do. This was really restoring land to what it
used to be. When we had the orchards, we did not have the
flooding. This is how bad the problem was in 2004. This house on
low land is one of a handful which has flooded. Pat and George Pyatt
have spent ?20,000 on their own flood defences in the last 20 years.
They've been flooded six times. It used to be known as a house that
always floods, but now I want us to be known as a house that never
floods. We are covered, not only has all the work being done, but in
addition, we have also got flood defence barriers funded by DEFRA.
Obviously, we are very pleased with what has been done. I don't get
paranoid with the rain now, like I used to. Sewers have been upgraded,
and a culvert put in, with the orchard being the final piece of a
jigsaw to protect these homes, all funded by agencies including
councils and Severn Trent. The government has pledged ?150 million
to help schemes like this, but some environmental experts say it is
simply not enough. If you do more of these schemes, and what we call
upland flood management, you can prevent the flood water going into
the urban areas and getting into the rivers and causing worse flooding.
It is a bit of a win win. The orchard's now managed by a village
trust. In good weather, it'll provide parkland, and in bad, it
provides protection. This is our top story tonight. A
boost for Coventry, as Nissan announce a ?6 million deal to
assemble taxis in the city. Rebecca's waiting with your detailed
weather forecast. Also in tonight's programme.
Restored in Herefordshire, heading for France: the massive field gun
which will be used to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the
Great War. The economy now and figures out
today show that the UK had the strongest growth in Europe last
year. Our economy grew by 1.9% in 2013. That's the biggest rise since
2007 when the recession hit. But here in the Midlands, growth amongst
the manufacturing sector seems to be even higher. Our business
correspondent Peter Plisner has been to one Black Country firm which has
had to set up a new factory to meet soaring demand.
Capitalising on growth. Just a few weeks ago. This was an empty factory
unit. Now it's a busy molding plant with more machines still being
installed. This firm makes parts for a variety of car manufacturers
including Jaguar Land Rover. When sales hit record highs, companies
like this need to expand. We listened to our customers, the
economy is healthy, what better time to do it?
Expansion like this is not unusual here in the West Midlands
Manufacturing growth seems to be higher than the national average.
Companies like this need to meet additional demand by having extra
capacity and that also means creating new jobs. Technician Andrew
Dixon is one of the latest recruits. It's a great opportunity that was
not there before. I was doing a lot of travelling to and from work. This
is closer. There are also more jobs at the company's existing factory.
Here it is not just automotive that is fuelling demand.
Aerospace is proving very lucrative, particularly seating. We are doing
several projects for that. Also agricultural and construction
vehicles. So with full order books at many
manufacturers, just how fast are they growing here? It varies company
by company, product by`product and customer by customer. But I think
growth of up to 10% would be a good norm. More growth was being
celebrated in Coventry today where the company that made the Olympic
torch was handing one of them over to the council. It came at a time
when the workforce was around 110 people. We are now at 186 people and
counting. Fortunately, as a marketing tool, it demonstrates what
we can do. With many firms now expanding fast, that is bound to
mean further welcome falls in unemployment in future months.
One of the country's biggest music festivals is coming to Birmingham.
Wireless Festival, which for the past nine years has taken place in
London, today announced they're expanding to a second location at
Perry Park in Birmingham. Ben Sidwell's at the launch party for
the event which'll take place in July. So what does this mean for the
city, Ben? It is a big deal for the city. Until a couple of years ago,
Birmingham did not have a major music festival here. We are talking
45,000 people a day for three days. This is the launch party for the
festival in Birmingham. Some of the acts that will be playing Kanye
West, Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding. By you brought it to Birmingham? We are
delighted to be in Birmingham. All the artists that are played in
the past have done well in the Midlands. This is the obvious place
to bring the festival. It is the next biggest market outside of
London. It is a very different festival. This is very much an
urban, city festival for people go home at the end of each night. We do
not have camping, that is one of our unique points of difference. Can it
work so close to London? Absolutely, we have got some really
good exclusives. We have got a great line`up. It deserves a wider
audience than just London. Tickets go on sale on Friday. The party here
is about to start. Football and Stoke City have had a
busy day in the transfer market. The Blackpool winger Tom Ince has been
at their training ground discussing a move. And they've also signed
striker Peter Odemwingie from Cardiff, with Kenwyne Jones moving
in the other direction. Last January, Odemwingie drove himself to
QPR to try and engineer a move away from West Bromwich Albion. He
finally got his wish in the summer with a switch to Cardiff City. And
now he's on the move again, this time to the Potteries.
The final touches are being put to a World War One field gun which will
be used to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the
Great War. It's been restored in Herefordshire and it'll be taken to
France this summer to commemorate the work of the British Cavalry in
1914 as seen in the film and stage play War Horse. Here's our arts
reporter Satnam Rana. The booming, deafening sound of a
13`pounder field gun used in the Great War by the British cavalry.
Over the last year and a half, workers here in Peterchurch in
Herefordshire has been restoring it. When you are restoring the gun, you
are bringing back to life those guys that went into action, all the ways
that the guns worked, the elevation gear, the sights and the breach to
make sure that the breach is working perfectly. That is what goes to make
the fun work properly. The gun will be taken in August to France as part
of the War Horse ride. It's being done to honour the cavalrymen who
took part in the opening of the war in 1914. The trenches did not come
in until well after Christmas 1914, right into 1915 and 1916 and, of
course, the horrors of Passiondale. But the first month of the war was a
very mobile, very active action, fought all the way from Mons to Le
Mans and this gun played its part. 100 years on, six horses and 35
riders will represent the journey made by cavalrymen in 1914. The 100
mile ride over five days will follow a route from Le Cateau to Nery,
retracing the footsteps of thousands of service men. As the anniversary
of the start of World War I approaches, the finishing touches
are being made to the 13 pounder field gun. When this gun makes his
journey across France, it will halt at significant battle sites, firing
salutes. Closer to home in Warwickshire, we can see it in
action during the battle proms at Ragley Hall in August.
It's time for the weather and I have a slight sense of foreboding as I
hand over to Rebecca. I just cannot bring any good news.
Things are starting to get colder now. But we have showers tonight and
tomorrow. Then we start to see those temperatures taking a bit of a
tumble for a short period of time. We do still have those showers
centred around that more pressure `` low pressure system. The breeze
associated with it will help things are little bit. It will help to
leave it `` to lift temperatures a little bit. Not a particularly cold
start tomorrow. But it will be a wet one. But the wind direction changes
to the east and it will feel very raw tomorrow. Some of those showers
could be wintry. Temperatures of around six Celsius, but feeling
chilly in that easterly wind. The Met Office have issued an early
yellow weather warning for ice tomorrow evening. We keep those
showers for the start of tomorrow night, the lost Ark to ease `` they
will start to ease and NBC a widespread frost. Temperatures
dropping close to freezing point for Thursday morning. It will be a cold
day on Thursday as well. We are appealing in `` we are pulling in
easterly winds from the continent. Snow showers through the day on
Thursday. But that will be a light dusting. It will be cold on
Thursday, but it is a brief cold snap because by Friday, heavy rain
is back again. Temperatures are recovering and the chance of
flooding for the weekend. Tonight's headlines from the BBC.
The UK economy grows at its fastest rate since 2007. The Chancellor says
it shows the government's plan is working.
And a boost for Coventry: Nissan's announced a ?6 million deal to
assemble taxis in the city. That was the Midlands Today. I'll be
back at ten o'clock with a live report from Stafford Hospital after
the former chief nurse there Janice Harry was struck off. Have a good
evening. Bye for now.