18/02/2014 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: Who cares


about us? The residents of a Worcestershire


village cut off by the floods for nine days. Sometimes you can be


funny about it and get through with it that way, but sometimes you cry


on your wife's shoulders. We'll be live in Severn Stoke with


the head of the village's flood action group. Also tonight: Trying


to keep their business afloat ` the boating firm trapped in sediment


caused by flooding. We would like to see a lot more dredging. In our


opinion, they have neglected it over the last ten or 15 20 years. Plans


for 2,000 jobs to go at Wolverhampton City Council ` a third


of its staff. These are not going to be easy decisions and it's going to


have an impact on every area of services.


Honoured at last, a first look at a memorial to commemorate the work of


the Land Girls. This could have been the picture


anywhere today, so if you're hoping for something as inspiring for the


rest of the week, it might be worth watching the forecast later when I


will outline both the good and the bad.


Good evening. Residents in a tiny Worcestershire village are asking


"Who cares about us?" As the River Severn floods have left them cut


off. This photograph taken from a police helicopter graphically


illustrates the current problems in Severn Stoke, seven miles south of


Worcester. Midlands Today visited the village nine days ago as the


water levels started to rise dramatically. Today, our reporter


Joanne Writtle returned to find a village still surrounded by water,


with emergency services on hand to protect anxious residents. What's


the general mood there, Joanne? Well, people are absolutely sick of


this water now. The levels are going down, but it's going to take a long


time. The water has been here for well over a week now. We are


standing on the edge of the village, because behind me is a


swathe of water, and behind the swathe of water are a collection of


houses, and a flooded village pub. Floodwater has cut off part of the


community of seven Stoke. This roadside is on a track leading to


the River Severn. Recycling bins are almost submerged on the village hall


car park. Now a specialist team of paramedics are making their way into


the village. Hello, my love. I you all right? Their job is to check on


the welfare of people in flood stricken areas like this. We've made


the decision not to head any further into the flooded village. As you can


see, the paramedics are wearing dry suits and using wading poles to


check for unstable ground and open drains as they edged forward. We are


making sure that people are well and managing in their own homes, and


that people have long`term chronic in this `` illnesses have access to


medication and when pronouncing. And also the people aren't hiding


illnesses because they don't want to leave home. Next stop, the Rose and


Crown. It's been under water for ten days now, and the landlord did try


to protect it with his own version of flood barriers, but the water got


in. It is still two feet deep down stairs. It sure live, itch your


pension fund. You have moments. Sometimes you can be funny and get


through it that way, and sometimes you have a cry on your wife's


shoulders. You really want to hope that the environment agency and the


county council can eke out this money the government have promised


to protect us. Caroline and Tim's 400`year`old home is not cut off but


it did flood ten days ago and now they are waiting for loss adjusters.


They judge the value of the house and it is set to go, eventually. Not


that we wanted, but it's a flooded house. A campaign to get flooded ``


flood defences here is gathering momentum, the people like Carolina


can't come soon enough. I am joined now by Colonel Tim Weekes, who's in


charge of the Flood action group. We've just seen you in your flooded


home with your wife. What do you want to happen now in terms the


defences? There are several schemes out there which have always been


denied to us because of sheer cost against proportion of population.


But I think now is the time, surely, for David Cameron to put his money


where his mouth is, as it were, and start looking afresh at communities


like ours that suffered so badly in the situations. Do you feel you have


been forgotten about up until now? Frankly, yes, the community is too


small, but actually, the number of people that are affected by this


flood in this village are far greater than those physically with


water in their homes. The whole community suffers. The village hall,


the community centre, the church all, the pub, they are lost for the


future. How much briefly would it cost for flood defences here? It


depends on the scheme. Between 800000 and ?1 million would give is


complete protection from any of this that you see for evermore. Thank you


very much be joining us. People here are absolutely desperate for flood


defences. That really is gaining momentum. They are campaigning hard


with their local MP, and as we have heard, the defences could cost up to


?1 million. The owner of a narrow boat holiday


firm is calling for widespread dredging of the River Severn. Lee


Porter says rising river levels have already cost him ?5,000 in lost


trade, because his boats are trapped in sediment deposited downstream.


Ben Godfrey reports. Lee Porter's family business is


losing hundreds of pounds a day. His narrow boats are marooned on an


island of silt, deposited by the River Severn near Worcester.


Ironically, the only way to reach them is by boat. We would have had


them all out in February and we have had to put off the clients, people


wanting to take them out cannot. Holiday`makers would normally access


the river for pleasure trips under a bridge. As you can see, it's not


here, it's now five metres below the water line. We would like to see a


lot more dredging. In our opinion, they've neglected it over the last


15 or 20 years. Dredging is proving controversial. It involves using


heavy machinery to deepen the channel, to reduce deposits of silt.


But independent experts have said it could offer businesses like Lee's


false hope, and make some areas more susceptible to flooding. The


responsibility for dredging the river for navigation falls to the


River trust, but they say they cannot act until the water levels


for. `` four. Dredging to reduce flood risk is the Environment


Agency's remit. While they've recently bought ten excavators for


this purpose, they say dredging on the River Severn would have little


impact because of the sheer quantity of water. In my opinion, the


millions they are spending on the flood defences is not curing the


problem. It will just shove the water further downstream to the next


town. Lee's not sure who to turn to for help. He's surrounded by water,


waiting until someone, somewhere arrives to dig his business out.


And tonight the government is being urged to fund a second road bridge


in the centre of Worcester. The only road bridge in the city was closed


twice by the recent flooding, causing traffic disruption. The


leader of Worcester City Council, Councillor Adrian Gregson, is asking


the Prime Minister for the money to pay for the bridge, to help business


and traders who're affected by the regular flooding. And there'll be


more on this on our late news from 10:00pm. You're watching Midlands


Today. Still ahead tonight: Do`it`yourself on a grand scale. The


housing association estate built by its own staff, saving thousands of


pounds. And the Staffordshire farm hoping


more of us will develop a taste for goat.


Wolverhampton City Council has announced plans to cut up to 2,000


jobs. The Labour`run council is raising council tax by 2%, but said


it had no choice but to shed a third of its staff. Last month, the


council revealed it needed to make savings of ?123 million over the


next five years. The staff in Wolverhampton have worked extremely


hard for the Council. Many of them for decades or more and the impact


and the impact of the service conditions will have an impact on


people who have worked loyally for the authority. It's not where we


want to be. Councillors are blaming a big increase in the numbers of


children being taken into care for the huge financial pressures facing


Wolverhampton. The number has doubled in five years, and at the


end of last year, there were 734 children under the care of the


city's Children's Services. It's thought each child costs the council


around ?40,000 a year. Recent high profile murders, like four`year`old


Daniel Pelka in Coventry, are also thought to have led to a spike in


numbers of children removed from their parents. Our special


correspondent Peter Wilson reports. More children are going into care


across the Midlands nearly 9,000 are being looked after by local


authorities. It's expensive. And in Wolverhampton


they say a doubling of their numbers has played an important part in the


big budget cuts they're making today. If you think that one child


can cost in the region of ?40,000, and ten children cost 400,000, it is


a lot of money and a big pull on resources so what we are having to


do is cut other services so we make sure the children are safeguarded.


So what do the figures actually show? Well, across Wolverhampton in


July last year there was a total of 686 children in care. In September


alone, 40 children were taken into care, double the previous month's


total. By the end of 2013, the number of looked after children


stood at total of 743. What about other councils? Coventry


saw a similar spike in numbers. In October, 43 children coming into


care, just a month after the Serious Case review into the death of


Coventry schoolboy Daniel Pelka killed by his parents but ignored by


the authorities. So is it these high profile cases that are making social


workers play safe? It is not only social workers being extra cautious.


We like to think we are always very cautious, but it's the reporting


through cases to social workers or the duty teams to make sure that


people identify something they're worried about in the community, and


report back, and social workers will intervene. It heightens the public


awareness as well as how social workers look at cases. Across the


West Midlands 1,000 foster parents are needed in 2014. In Wolverhampton


James Montero's family have fostered 15 children in the last six years.


Kids have had to come to us in an emergency. Unfortunately it's


difficult and awkward for the children, carers and everyone


involved. But all we can do as a team, United team, is make sure that


these children are looked after, cared for, as they should be, and


treated with lots of love and guidance. The budgets for caring for


children are huge but local authorities everywhere know that


children have to be protected whatever the cost.


I'm joined now by BBC WM's political reporter Kathryn Stanczyszyn. We


knew the level of the cuts last month, but has this 2,000 jobs


announcement come as a shock? We always knew that the bulk of the ?65


million savings for this financial year were going to come from job


losses. That was something the council has always been frank about,


but it's the scale of the redundancies that has shocked some


people ` a third of the workforce gone by 2019. Members of staff that


I've been speaking to have been upset and angry, and say they're now


just waiting to find out who'll leave first. The leader of the


Labour`run council, Roger Lawrence, says they have no choice in this.


They've lost a huge amount ` pretty much half ` of their government


funding. What has the union reaction been? There has been union support


for staff being briefed throughout the day at Wolverhampton Civic


Centre. I've been speaking to Unison reps who say this is devastating.


They're concerned that plans to outsource certain services and they


say despite the council claiming it's hoping for a decent amount of


take up of voluntary redundancies, most people will be forced out. And


even the staff who keep their jobs face changes to their conditions and


a pay cut. Unison is holding a meetings with members tonight to


discuss further action. And what's been the reaction from Conservative


councillors in Wolverhampton? Well, a fairly strong one. Tory Councillor


Wendy Thompson has said her party 'is sick to death of hearing the


council blame the government. She accused her counterparts of


overspending, and you ask if you stand in the middle of the city


centre, you would have to ask yourself, where has the money gone?


More than 10,000 people have registered their interest to work


for West Midlands police. The jobs were only advertised a week ago and


the force has been overwhelmed by the response. West Midlands police


is recruiting 450 new officers after a five year recruitment freeze.


A Midlands housing association has unveiled a revolutionary estate


that's been designed and built by its own staff, rather than outside


contractors. The Accord Group reckons doing everything 'in`house'


has saved almost ?500,000. It's latest project also features some of


the group's most environmentally friendly timber framed homes. Here's


our Business Correspondent, Peter Plisner.


Looking round her new home, Lisa Cook is one of the first tenants to


move into a new estate on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. Even


she's noticed how revolutionary they are. They are all made out of wood.


I'm used to see houses being built of brick and taking a long time, but


these have been done quite quick. And this is part of the reason. Five


miles away, a factory in Walsall producing timber frames. The raw


materials coming here, they are cut, ready for the FrameMaker, and then


once they boarded, they move through the process ready for installation.


`` then they are insulated, and they have got the site ready. This


factory, set up and run by the Accord Housing Association makes


enough panels for one house every day. We used to import them from


Norway, but we decided we would manufacture them ourselves. We have


our own design practice, and we build them here. Houses built of


timber frames like this are normally the preserve of how `` countries


like Norway but they are becoming more popular here, and part of the


reason is they are eco`friendly. A house made of eight timber frame is


said to be 50% cheaper to heat. `` a timber frame. Back on the estate and


more homes are nearing completion. Most contractors here are ` yes, you


guessed it ` also part of the Accord Group. Doing everything in`house has


saved around ?400,000 making here, so each home is roughly ?18,000


cheaper to build. But for Accord cost savings aren't the only benefit


coming out of the new project. Because we are closer to the supply


chain, we can work with local contractors and suppliers and we


make sure the investment we spend goes into the local community and


create local jobs. And that means these new houses aren't only helping


the environment, but also the local community.


Lambing is well underway for many of our farmers. But in Staffordshire,


one farm has started its first "kidding". That's producing young


goats for the meat trade. It's one of just a handful of commercial


goat`meat farms in the country. These farmers hope more of us can be


convinced to try it. Our Rural Affairs Correspondent David


Gregory`Kumar reports. Driving through Stone towards


Uttoxeter you might have noticed this space aged building. Currently


home to a herd of goats and this farm's first large scale "kidding".


This is our first year, yes. A big production. How has it gone? Very


good. A slow start with the kidding, and we should have started a week


ago, but there was nothing till Tuesday of last week and now they


are popping out as we speak. Lambs are born at any time of day or


night. Goats tend to arrive at dawn or dust. But otherwise kidding and


lambing are quite similar. Farmers are aiming for twins, although it


doesn't always work out like that. Seven, and also triplets. Just like


a sheep farm, it's all about producing meat for consumers. There


is not a lot of commercial goat meat in the UK and they reckoned if


everybody who did grow it got together they could only really


supply a supermarket about a week. Much of the goat meat on sale in the


UK comes from older goats that have also been used for milking. It can


be tough and is often used for curries. The meat from these younger


animals will be very different. You can roast it, you can casserole it,


you can dice it. There's lots of interesting recipes which can be


done with it. And it's a very filling meat. It is high in protein,


high in IM and low in fat. `` IM. As well as traditional Asian and


Afro`Caribbean markets meat from this farm has already appeared on a


local Michelin`starred restaurant menu. They are not kidding around.


So if you're wondering what a goat sausage tastes like, wonder no more.


You'll find the answer on David's blog at bbc.co.uk/davidgregorykumar.


Our top story tonight: Who cares about us? The residents of a


Worcestershire village cut off by the floods for nine days. Your


detailed weather forecast to come shortly.


Also in tonight's programme: The first look at a new addition to the


National Memorial Arboretum, a tribute to the Land Girls.


Untold stories, local traditions and memories are being rediscovered as


part of a soundscape being put together in Stratford`Upon`Avon. The


Listening Project will form an oral history for future generations.


It'll also be used to inspire art work produced by people living in


the town as our Arts Reporter Satnam Rana has been finding out. Working


on the boats, what we now call the six weeks holiday, I love that. My


father designed the gardens here. When various kings and queens were


crowned, this was the streets used as the party Street. A small sample


of the memories being recorded and rekindled by people living and


working in Stratford`Upon`Avon. Amongst them Sam Gee, who's worked


on the River Avon since 1937. For 22 years he was known to locals and


tourists as the ferry man. I think people who come as a tourist to


Stratford, they hardly ever meet a local. They might meet a shop


assistant or a chambermaid, but to actually chapter somebody who has


been to where they have come from, and to get a conversation going, I


would take them on a quick 20 minute to around Stratford. `` tour around.


Stories like Sam's are being collected for The Stratford


Listening Project, a joint venture between the Town Trust and the


Stratford`Upon`Avon Arts Festival. I wish I had recorded my grandad's


stories, and unfortunately they've gone, but this gives us a real


opportunity to capture the stories of the people of Stratford and


archive them. The project is bringing in a lot of production


companies in the town as well. So, for instance, once we collected the


recordings, they will be passed on to a community arts group who will


do visual representations with local school groups throughout Stratford.


But it's not just older residents who're sharing their stories. Newer


ones are too. If I had the actual possession as the Vicar of this


church, and Shakespeare was in it, I would talk about Shakespeare. At the


Holy Trinity Church lie the remains of Bard, William Shakespeare. Here,


the newly appointed vicar reflects on his new home. There is a sense in


which I am the custodian of Shakespeare's remains, which is


quite a responsibility. It could keep me awake at night if I wanted


to let it. But it is a real joy, because it means the church is


constantly visited by people and we consider ourselves to be a parish


that the world. Shakespeare once wrote, 'There's place and means for


every man alive". And this project is celebrating both Stratford as a


place and its people. The stories shared will modest form part of the


Stratford`upon`Avon arts Festival, they will also go online, a


permanent archive of the memories shared by the people of Stratford,


old and new. This is the Armed Forces Memorial at


the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which recognises the


sacrifice of 16,000 men and women killed in the line of duty since


1948. Each year more than 300,000 people visit the Arboretum at


Alrewas to pay their respects, but Britain's centre of remembrance is


not just dedicated to the military. It's also home to more than 300


other memorials. And later this year the work of the Land Girls, young


women like this who left their homes to work on farms and feed the nation


during World War Two, will be commemorated with a memorial. Liz


Copper has been talking to the women from Staffordshire who spearheaded a


major fundraising drive. We were a band on our own. We were


special. They were hard times, but I wouldn't have not done it. We were


the forgotten army, won't we, really? `` weren't we. Members of


the Women's Land Army, reminiscing about their service 70 years on.


These are the women who volunteered to work in the farms, market gardens


and forests of England. Being in the field at 11 o'clock at night,


finishing haymaking, then coming back 7am next morning. Yes, it was


good. Thousands of young women became Land Girls. They signed up to


serve for the duration of the Second World War. And at the end of the


conflict, their skills were still needed. The Land Army was only


disbanded in 1950. It put women in the foreground. We could do a man's


job. There weren't many available, so women got on and did it. `` men


available. And to mark that contribution, this is the sculpture


being fashioned from clay. Eventually it'll be cast in bronze.


It'll take its place at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in


Staffordshire. It will be raised on a large piece of stone, so you will


be looking slightly up at it, giving it a proud aspect, really. They


should be proud of what they did, and we should be proud of what they


did. This is a scale model of the sculpture. It's being funded


following a campaign by the Women's Food and Farming Union in


Staffordshire. I think this is absolutely essential, that future


generations realise what we did, and to have that, I think it's a


wonderful idea. It's hoped that the sculpture will be complete by Autumn


this year. A tribute to the thousands of women whose endeavours


will now receive national recognition.


It seems bright skies are hard to come by, but what about dry days,


Shefali? That is the tricky one, Mary. Today


will be the closest you get to dry weather this week, but only in the


sense that it won't be completely dry. That said, similar days to


today ahead. Tomorrow is one of them. Friday is not too bad


depending on which part of the region you are in. The West is


wetter, the East is the best, and also the weekend holds plenty of


promise. This is the sticking point this week, it will be Wednesday into


Thursday as the warm sector passes through, and you will notice at the


tail end of that we have a cold front which will pull the cold air


in on Friday, only hampered by the fact we have the system rolling in


from the west which will give impetus to any showers we incur.


Other than that, from the first system, it looks like the majority


of heavy rain will steer clear and stay in the North West but a slim


chance it could slip further south. Let's not forget, no weather


warnings in force at the moment, so that's always a great sign,


especially in view of what we have had recently. Also there are flood


warnings still in force, so it will take time for the waters to


receive. This evening, this is what we have initially. Largely dry, a


lot of clout, but it's breaking to begin with, jarring which time we


will see temperatures dropping to about four or five Celsius, but


otherwise later in the night we will see the cloud beginning to thicken


from the West. That will lift the values to about seven up to nine


Celsius. The cloud will introduce some showers but only a few here and


there, but mainly across southern counties. Those will continue into


tomorrow morning, but on the whole tomorrow is again a largely dry day.


Perhaps a bit cloudier than today with glimmers of brightness popping


in, and temperatures will rise across the board to about ten or 11


Celsius. Again, fairly mild. It is tomorrow night into Thursday that we


see the rain rolling in from the West. It will fragment as it goes,


and a mild night, but followed by blustery showers on Thursday.


Tonight's headlines from the BBC: Some welcome relief for squeezed


household budgets. Inflation falls below the Bank of England target.


And: Who cares about us? The residents of a Worcestershire


village cut off by the floods for nine days.


That was the Midlands Today. I'll be back at 10:00pm, with more on calls


for Government funding for a second road bridge in Worcester. Have a


great evening. Goodbye.


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