The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.
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on the BBC News Channel, and I'll be back with
Good evening. The Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council says he's
confident that problems with vote`rigging are history. Stephen
Hughes was speaking after the Electoral Commission identified
Birmingham, Coventry and Walsall as problem areas. The Commission wants
to make voters bring photo ID with them to polling stations to
eliminate fraud. BBC WM's political reporter, Kathryn Stanczyszyn, has
the details. At the 2004 local elections in
Birmingham, a vote`rigging scandal rocked the political world and made
headline news. Boxes of evidence, a demonstration and an historic
occasion ` the first electoral court to be held in Britain in 30 years.
Labour councillors representing two separate Birmingham wards were
involved in a postal vote fraud a judge said would disgrace a banana
republic. It led to political mudslinging and public protests. Raj
Rattu is a community activist in Aston, one of the wards where the
election had to be re`run. Here in Birmingham, we want free and fair
elections. We want people to vote according to who they want, not
because they are being forced or coerced into voting in a particular
manner. The Electoral Commission says it wants every individual to
register to vote themselves, rather than one person in the household
doing it. It is something that is already being brought in from June.
It also wants every voter to have ID at the polling station ` something
like a passport or driving licence. And it is bringing in a stricter
code of conduct for candidates, saying they must not handle ballot
papers. Birmingham City Council says it has already brought in tighter
controls. The Electoral Commission comes and looks at what we're doing
in order to learn how to improve things. We have certainly turned it
around. Speaking on Sunday Politics in the Midlands, the Electoral
Commission says voter ID is crucial in places like Birmingham. The time
has come to change the system, which was originally invented in the 19th
century when fewer than half of the adult population were even allowed
to vote. In those days, you relied on people to recognise imposters.
Nowadays, that's much harder. People are surprised you don't have to
provide ID. Electoral fraud has not gone away. Police say they
investigated 21 cases in 2012. One of The Birmingham Six is
launching an online petition this week calling for a new public
inquiry into the 1974 pub bombings. Paddy Hill spent sixteen years in
prison after being wrongfully convicted of involvement in the
attacks, which killed 21 people. He's also supporting a campaign led
by the family of Maxine Hambleton, who died in the bombings, to get
West Midlands Police to reopen the case.
The Environment Agency has warned that another storm is due to hit the
Midlands on Tuesday, with up to an inch of rain. Today, two amphibious
vehicles were sent to Somerset by a Staffordshire company to help people
trapped by the floods. The re`conditioned military equipment
can carry people and supplies. They've previously been used in
disasters all over the world. They can climb fallen trees,
stricken trees, up to my chest height. They will be able to just
climb over an obstacle. You can't do that with a tractor and trailer.
They also have a very light footprint over sodden ground, so
farmers don't need to be worried. Thousands of people gathered in
Birmingham today to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Visitors were
greeted with performances from traditional lion dancers and
musicians. The event was organised to welcome in the Year of the Horse.
Lindsay Doyle reports. The lion, the symbol of protection,
and traditional stalwart of festivals of celebration. Chinese
New Year in Birmingham, heralding in the Year of the Horse. The crowd is
tremendous today, and I welcome everybody to come in and celebrate
Chinese New Year with the Chinese community, and may I take the
opportunity to wish everyone gongxi facai. Birmingham boasts the
second`largest Chinese population in Britain, and a campaign has begun to
raise ?1 million to build an arch. Other major cities such as Liverpool
and London have an arch. The proposed Birmingham arch would act
as the focal point for the entrance to Chinatown. They used to say that
Manchester had the best Chinese quarter, but Birmingham does. I
think when we get the arch, and I think there will be an arch here,
that will help complement what is a very successful Chinese quarter in
Birmingham. It is thought more than 20,000 people have joined in today's
festivities. We're loving it already. Yes. The smell of the food
` amazing. Everybody's coming together, eating Chinese food. I'm
amazed how busy it is. The stalls and everything add a bit extra to it
as well. In Chinese mythology, the Year of the Horse is the year where
people stick to their principles, a year when businesses can turn their
fortunes around for the better. The next major event in the Chinese
calendar will be in June, as part of the campaign to raise money for the
arch. Very nice. One football result to bring you,
and in the Premier League, a 1`1 one draw for West Bromwich Albion
entertaining Liverpool. More bad weather to come this week.
Sara Blizzard has the Midlands forecast.
Good evening. We do have a few light showers with us for the early part
of this evening. It will be a mainly cloudy night. The wind is starting
to ease as well, so we should not see a frost developing at all. The
minimum temperature out towards Coventry and Warwickshire will be
four Celsius. There is also rain quite close by. That comes through
tomorrow. The occasional shower ahead of that band of rain. It
starts coming in from the west as we head into the afternoon. The wind is
also going to strengthen as well, so very wet and windy conditions for
Monday. Tuesday too, this deep area of low pressure starting to develop.
That will affect the weather through Tuesday into Wednesday. Gale`force
winds are likely, and obviously the opportunity for further flooding.
Just time to tell you ` Countryfile, at 7:00pm, comes from
Worcestershire. The national forecast is next. Bye`bye.
Good evening. Most of us have had a fine Sunday with some sunshine, but
there is more wet and windy weather on the