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you. That is all
Hello, and welcome to Midlands Today.
The headlines tonight: Time doesn't heal.
The parents of murdered teenager Georgia Williams talk of their
anguish. We get further and further away from our daughter. It does not
heal at all. Also tonight, a suspected victim of
domestic violence receives a profuse apology from West Midlands police as
two police officers under investigation after abusive remarks
were left on this teenager's phone. I felt imperative that I express my
shock to the complainant and my unreserved apologies.
Assessing the damage, the clear up gets underway as the flood waters
begin to fall. Too little too late. Nothing is being done.
Have spade will dig. He's volunteering to unblock ditches in
flood hit Herefordshire and wants more of us to do the same. We have
got to the stage now where if we do not do something we will have
nowhere else at all. So, is the weather going to help or
hinder efforts? So far, so good, but with more rain forecast after today,
how bad could it be? I'll have all the details for you later.
Good evening. The parents of murdered Shropshire teenager Georgia
Williams say only the charity set up in her name is keeping them going.
In their first full television interview, Steve and Lynette
Williams thanked the people of Wellington for their support. But
they said the pain of Georgia's loss would haunt them forever.
It gets worse. We get further and further away from our daughter. It
does not heal at all. It's eight months since Steve and Lynette
Williams saw the community of Wellington come together for the
funeral of their 17`year`old daughter, Georgia, who was an air
cadet. Life for them gets no easier. But the charity set up in her name
to help young people enjoy the outdoor pursuits she did has
provided comfort. It has helped us over this past nine months, because
people have been doing semidivine things, and it has made us go out of
the house, where as we were inside these four walls and that was it. In
December, Jamie Reynolds was jailed for life for strangling Georgia with
a noose. Experts said he could have gone on to be a serial killer. The
psychologists that interviewed him have said that he will always be a
danger to women, so he should never be let out, never. Reynolds
handcuffed Georgia and killed her at his family home in Wellington, a
short distance from where she lived. I picture what Georgia's last
moments were like every day and think to myself, no`one should go
through that. She must have been terrified, and I would imagine got
the chance to plead for her life, but Reynolds showed no compassion.
The community of Wellington is still sharing Georgia's loss. And people
like Mike Sheridan are helping to raise money for the Georgia Williams
Trust. He's about to walk from Lands End to the AFC Telford United
football ground, where he and Georgia were match day volunteers.
After her story broke last year, like most people, I wanted to do
something to help, and I was given the opportunity to raise money for
the charity and I jumped at it. Chief Inspector Steve Williams heads
up the Georgia Williams Trust. For many years he has been a colleague
of Georgia's father, who's a detective constable. It has been
phenomenal, the interest and the wicked people have got behind the
trust. We have raised over ?40,000 and we have started to release some
of the money to people. And for Georgia's parents, the
charity has helped them try to look forward. Our home had become a
prison, and people were encouraging us to go out and support the charity
and show our appreciation. We would just like to thank everybody who was
involved in it. You're watching BBC Midlands Today.
Good to have you with us tonight. Coming up later in the programme:
How the on air farmers in the Archers are getting to know the real
life drama in the flooded fields of Worcestershire.
Trust in the police is once again in the spotlight tonight. The West
Midlands force has offered a profuse apology to a suspected victim of
domestic violence after an abusive rant was left on her mobile phone,
apparently by police officers. A senior officer told us she is
shocked and devastated by the allegations.
Teenager Alex Faragher had called the police claiming she was a victim
of domestic violence. Later, two police officers telephoned her. The
call went to answer phone, and it's claimed their highly abusive
comments were then recorded. Because of the poor sound quality we've
transcribed the conversation. For years, the police have given out
the message that women can come forward in confidence and trust to
talk about domestic violence. Today, a senior woman police officer wanted
to talk from the heart. Commander Rachel Jones has personally
apologised to the victim. I was shocked, but also devastated for the
complainant themselves, for other victims of domestic abuse, him and
fearing this will undermine reporting domestic abuse to the
police. You cannot have confidence in the individual. Can you have
confidence in the service? Yes. This is not a reflection of the work and
care and compassion of the police staff across the West Midlands. The
police officers have not been suspended, but while the
investigation takes place, they are not dealing with the public.
Domestic islands is a huge problem. One woman's group spoke out tonight.
To pick the phone up is a real big breakthrough for a woman, and then
to be let down by the system, there is going to be a lot of training for
these officers so they can value what women go through. The woman at
the centre of this controversy has so far spoken only to the police and
the newspapers. To the latest on the floods now, and
with the waters falling, families in Worcester have begun the job of
cleaning up flooded homes. Ben Sidwell reports from a Worcester
street some say they've been abandoned.
This is a familiar sight in Diglis Avenue in Worcester. Every one of
the 24 houses were flooded, not just with river water, but also with
sewage. We are going to be like this for possibly another two or three
months. Hopefully shorter than that. We just do not know at the
moment. A few doors down at number 22, Matt
Beesley's garden is still deep in water. More than a week after the
river came in, he and the other residents are still waiting for
authorities to help. It is frustrating. We have had calls
telling us what people are going to be doing and that is where it stops.
The clean`up has begun here, but most of the is the residents
themselves. You can see, it is a huge task. Many of these people
might still be out of their house in two or three months, and it is
really frustrating, the lack of help.
And it's not just the inconvenience. Manhole covers were lifted by the
floods, meaning the water is also a major health hazard. Is dirty and
contains extra bacteria, and although those materials will
dilate, Windy floodwater lease, we have to make sure things are
properly cleaned up. So just how dangerous is the flood
water in the city? To find out, we've brought in a specialist to
test it. This equipment will tell us how easily harmful bacteria can grow
in each water sample. Firstly, bottled water. Unsurprisingly, the
results are very low. Next, the river itself. With safe levels
between zero and 32, the river water only gives a reading of two. This
shows that the aquatic environment would not really support bacterial
life, which is good. Back in Diglis Avenue, it's time to test the water
in Matt's garden, and here the results are simply shocking. 1007
internet and 74. I never expected it to be approaching 2000. `` 1774.
While we were there, at last what looked like help for Matt.
Representatives from the City Council and a charity. But
incredibly, Matt was told the street had been divided in two and someone
would be along in a couple of days to see him. Too little too late
trying to keep people happy. Nothing is being done. I am seething, I
really am. The water may be dropping on this street, but frustration and
anger among the residents at the response they've had, is definitely
on the rise. And I've got murky looking water
samples, this is some of the River Severn water and this is some of the
water we collected from near the homes we saw in Ben's report. That
is pretty disgusting. Ben Sidwell is in Worcester tonight. Any idea how
long it will take to clear up the residue?
I do not think anyone really knows exactly, but the estimated gas is
that some of the houses, probably two or three weeks to clear up, but
it could be months before the whole city is cleaned up properly. Let's
speak to the man who is in charge of the clean`up here. David, we have
heard from the residence a huge amount of frustration, growing
anger, and they are saying that today is the first day they have had
any contact in ten days. I would like to sympathise with anyone who
has been flooded. We have been in touch with a number of people in all
of the flooded properties over the last week or so I'm including the
fire service in the early stages. `` or so, including the fire service.
From today, we have allocated and environmental professional to each
of the households to give some personal advice. Do you think you
have done enough? It is a big event. There is an enormous amount of
resources being deployed across the agency team. There are difficulties
getting into clean up when there is still wants her on the ground.
Tomorrow morning, we will be up at that particular avenue with a large
resource beginning a full`scale clean`up. The clean`up is the
important thing. Absolutely. The water has gone down from the
houses, and our first priority is to help the householders. You can see
how much the river is still quite high. We would like to get it
cleaned as possibly `` as quickly as the public can. We have to leave it
there. The good thing is, at the river is dropping quite fast now.
The floods have disrupted lives, damaged homes and devastated
thousands of acres of farmers' fields. Against the force of nature,
it can seem there's little we can do. In Herefordshire, though, one
man believes he can make a difference. And as Bob Hockenhull's
been finding out, he wants others to follow his lead.
This is an entirely voluntary road maintenance team. Michael and his
family are out clearing ditches near a remote village. A little bit of a
struggle here. After months of torrential rain, many of the roads
have been flooded, and are in a poor state. With no sign of counsel
repair teams arriving, Michael has decided to take action himself. I
have got to the stage now where I think that if we don't make an
effort, we will have no roads to dry on in these little backwaters here.
I think it is a bit of a joint effort required by all. The general
public, ourselves, the farming community, everyone. If everyone did
a little bit I think we could minimise this problem. Michael is
campaigning for more residents in rural areas to help. He says the
lack of effective drainage is ruining countryside roads. As you
can see, the water is starting to flow away from the road as a result
of the work being carried out here, and it is not just ditches that the
team is attending to. They have also been clearing away debris from
gullies and strain. The number of potholes growing day by day, the
budget is tight, and it is welcoming, the can`do spirit of
Michael. I would love our people to do this sort of work was to their
properties. The council can do some work itself, but we do not have
duties and lots of places to clear roadside date `` drainage. An extra
?20 million is to be spent on highways, but now the garden or's
labour of love will have to continue. We will not have any roads
if it stays like this, so it is better to do it now. Clearly, this
family will not let the flood speak them.
This is our top story tonight. Time doesn't heal, the parents of
murdered teenager Georgia Williams speak of their anguish. Shefali will
be here with the weather forecast shortly. Also tonight: Set up in the
60s to challenge conventional art in Birmingham, the Ikon Gallery turns
50, but is it still cutting edge? There's been another sharp fall in
unemployment in our region. Today's figures show the biggest quarterly
reduction in any region outside South East England. 226,000 people
are now out of work here, that's down 31,000. But at 8.3%. Our
region's unemployment is still more than one percent above the UK
average. Our Political Editor Patrick Burns has been studying the
figures. Patrick, what's the significance of these numbers? They
confirm the virtuous circle between falling unemployment and rising
employment. On the last month, Last month's report by the accountants
KPMG, which showed job creation here was outstripping every other region,
including growth in full`time working. `` there are people who are
working part who wants to work longer hours. But it's not good news
everywhere, is it? The 2,000 job losses announced yesterday by
Wolverhampton City Council more than outweigh the 1,400 that will be
created up the road at the new JLR engine plant. I regret to say there
will be more announcements like that as other spending plans for the
coming year. That is one reason why the unemployment is 1% above the UK
average. The worry is that public sector jobs are being lost, but that
is being outweighed by the creation of jobs in the private sector. What
worries me is youth and long term unemployment concentrated in parts
of Birmingham, Black Country, and North Staffordshire, which have some
of the UK's highest unemployment rates, low skills, poor educational
attainment. And we have important elections coming up. The government
says this confirms that their plan for the economy is working, helping
people into real productive work. But other figures also out today
show that wages are still lagging behind prices. There are predictions
that wages could start catching up in a big way later this year, just
in time maybe for a feel`good factor before the general election.
Interesting. Thank you. More than 50 firefighters are
tackling a fire at a luxury housing complex in Leamington Spa. Eight
crews were called to Blackdown Hall in Sandy Lane this afternoon. An
emergency rest centre has been set up at a nearby school after the
building was evacuated. There are no reports of any injuries.
A 22`year`old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a
Gloucester hairdresser at a salon in the city. Hollie Gazzard, who was
20, was attacked inside Fringe Benefits on Southgate Street just
before six o'clock yesterday evening. She later died in hospital.
It's believed the victim and the alleged attacker knew each other.
This is an isolated incident, an incident whereby the victim and
suspect did know each other, they were in a previous relationship. I
want to ensure people that this is a safe community.
50 years ago the Birmingham made Mini was the car to dry and mini
skirts were causing a sensation on the city's streets. But the art
scene was pretty conventional, until a new gallery opened with a mission
to bring cutting edge exhibitions to Birmingham. And it's still going
strong. Our Arts Reporter Satnam Rana is at the Ikon Gallery for
birthday celebrations tonight. And it's been an eventful half century,
hasn't it? The artwork is continuing today.
Tonight, celebrations are underway for the 50th birthday. The gallery
has had five directors, and here is a taste of what has happened so far.
The bullring shopping centre is symbolic of the new Birmingham.
There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world.
1965. The Rotunda had recently become part of Birmingham's skyline.
And over near the Bullring, a so`called gallery without walls has
been founded by emerging contemporary artists in a glass
kiosk. John Salt, who went on to pioneer the photorealism movement,
painting images that look like photos. He became the first artist
to exhibit at the Ikon. His is work is back on display for its 50th
birthday. I was really pleased to be offered the show there. The first
show there was really making history. The 1970s brought a move to
the Pallasades to get closer to the local audience. It was here that the
Ikon was bombed by the IRA, the likely target being the army and
navy recruitment office next door. The early 70s was a time when we
head a great optimism on the crest of a wave of a can`do attitude, so
it had expanded enormously. Lots of visitors, lots of people who would
not normally go to an art gallery, and that was very intentional. The
1980s and UB40 are making sounds across the city, and the IKon is now
in another home. This time, a disused carpet factory in John
Bright Street. And then, in 1998, a final move to the former Oozells
Street School where it won lottery funding to covert the Grade two
listed building. And it's here where a year long series of exhibitions
and events begin today to mark 50 years of contemporary art in
Birmingham. Tonight there is a great buzz in
this gallery for the opening of the celebratory exhibition by an
artist. I am joined now by the current director of the gallery.
What has the success been down two and the last 50 years. Essentially,
it is the fact that it is such an independent art gallery and it is
quite old. We try to be as relevant as possible. We want to engage with
the local community. You have about 130,000 visitors coming through the
door every year, but what about those people who do not come into
galleries? We like to think of ourselves as outgoing. We are doing
things all the time out and about in Birmingham and in the region. The
most exciting project we have this year is a canal boat which is being
crewed by young people, sailing from Birmingham and around the Black
country, and they are going to meet lots of people along the way and
there will be so many events and performances. This gallery is about
giving emerging artists a showcase. Yes, right from the beginning, the
gallery was there to support young artists. Of course, young artists
get older, and we are celebrating the 50th anniversary, so the young
ones who started it are in their 70s and 80s, and we celebrate them, what
younger ones are coming up all the time. Thank you very much. This is
the start of a year`long set of celebrations. In 1964, at the artist
came up with the idea, and it was in 1965 that the gallery opens to the
public. A final word tonight on floods, and
they've been adding reality to the drama in Radio Four's The Archers.
Millions tune into the programme each day, made in our studios right
here at BBC Birmingham. Episodes have been re`written to reflect the
flooding crisis. To get a real insight into the problem, some of
the cast visited a Worcestershire farmer whose land is under water.
Just a warning, this report from David Gregory Kumar contains shots
of the Archers characters! Fact meets fiction as Archers
actors, Tim Bentinc and Felicity Finch see first`hand the reality of
life on a flooded farm. It is coming up through the floors in the shed.
That isn't any good at all. Farmer Steve Page has lost whole fields to
flood water on his farm near Worcester. He's had no choice but to
bring 1,000 of his sheep inside and that costs. At the moment it will
cost us an extra ?300 a day to keep them in. We have been underwater
since Christmas, and it looks as if we could be for the next month or
six weeks. Ambridge too is preparing for a
flooding storyline. But for the actors confronting the real thing is
a sobering experience. To actually hear their problems and what they
are having to face, it is an extraordinary thing to see it in the
flesh and it pulls you up, no doubt about it. One of the things that
hadn't occurred to me you're talking about when the water recedes, I said
that would be `` what's with the grass be like, and he said it would
be contaminated. Farmers will be coping with this for months. Talking
about this story and the programme is a good way to remind people about
farming after the flood water goes down. The Archers flooding storyline
continues this evening. David and Ruth don't look like that in my
head. We have got some are sunshine and
the way this week, tomorrow, to be precise. This is how the rest of the
week is looking. We have got rainfall followed by showers and
then it turns windy and cold by Friday, followed by the next area of
rain. The track is uncertain as is the timing of that. I do not often
do this, but I am going to skip ahead to next week, because there is
something significant to talk about, the jet stream, which I am
sure you are familiar with. Things always get worse the further south
it goes, and it could slip further south for Monday and Tuesday, going
into Wednesday as well, so we could be looking at more significant
amounts of rainfall. Or the immediate future, let's look at this
rain that is heading our way overnight. We have a few showers
dusted about the region, and then this band of rain moves in from the
west. It is not particularly heavy, and the heaviest outbreaks will be
about ten mm at most, but under that cloud and the winds, the
temperatures should the main well above freezing. We have further
pulses of rain moving through central and eastern parts of the
region through the morning tomorrow, but it clears away to sunnier
conditions, and that is going to take us up to about 11 Celsius
tomorrow morning. A few blustery showers to go with that as well.
Tomorrow night, skies clear and the temperatures start to plummet. That
pesky jet stream! Tonight's headlines from the BBC: The hacking
trial is told Tony Blair advised News International's Rebekah Brooks
on handling the scandal just days before her arrest. Time doesn't
heal, the parents of murdered teenager Georgia Williams talk of
their anguish. And two police officers under investigation for
leaving abusive messages on this teenager's phone.