20/02/2014 Midlands Today


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forces and protestors. That is all from BBC News. It is goodbye from


Hello, and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight:


Turning the tide after the floods ` firms look to social media to drive


home their message ` "open for business".


We are an independent retailer here in Worcester, and we had two days


last week where we didn't have a single customer.


We've spent the day in Worcester talking to shop owners who've had a


week they would clearly love to forget.


Also tonight: Seven years ago, this village was under water ` what


lessons can we learn today from the great floods of 2007?


If you can show a united front, I think that's the one thing I want to


get out there ` then you will get an awful lot more help.


Bishops accuse the Government of driving people into food and fuel


poverty. To find that families and


individuals are not getting enough to eat in one of the richest


countries in the world is a scandal. And stranded in the Atlantic, but


determined to carry on ` the rowers who refuse to admit defeat.


And the latest rainfall figures have just been released, and I'm afraid


they make for grim reading. So how much rain have we had and how much


more are we due to get? All those details coming up in the forecast


later. Good evening. One week after the


highest water levels in living memory, the fightback is on ` that's


the message from Worcester shops and businesses tonight, who hope


receding water will mean increased takings. The number of people


spending money in the city dropped by 10% at the height of the River


Severn floods, but a major social media campaign's under way to entice


people back. Ben Sidwell reports. What a difference a week makes. This


was the scene in Worcester last Thursday. Seven days later, with


people starting to return to the high street, shops and businesses


have joined forces to try and get a united message across that Worcester


is still very much open. The high street has been dead to be honest.


It is quiet. We have had the odd people in and out. Luckily we have a


lot of customers that have come in. It has been a quiet few weeks.


Unlike during the last big floods of 2007, the city now has the power of


social media, and they've turned to Twitter in an attempt to boost


trade. Businesses can help themselves and help others to show


we are open for business. We have taken to social media to get that


message across. The response has been phenomenal. And businesses have


gotten in touch with us as well to tell us about their experiences.


Like this one. This boutique only opened in October, and here, without


a doubt, the last ten days have been the toughest they've faced so far.


It has been difficult for us as a business. We are an independent


retailer in Worcester, and we had two days last week when we didn't


have a single customer. Much closer to the river, and at the Diglis


House Hotel, they're still pumping out the water. Like many businesses


in the city, they've lost trade over the last ten days because customers


presumed they were flooded and shut. I think people have been worried


about coming in, and at some point last week, rightly so, but now the


roads and motorways are open. There is no reason why people should not


come to Worcester. While we were at the hotel, a tweet likely to bring


joy to many in the city. With the river levels dropping fast, the


clean`up has begun. Welcome news for businesses like this cafe. Is


getting back to normal. We have a few of the regulars realising they


can get to West, so they are starting to get back in. Today on


Twitter, it was the free parking that everyone was tweeting about.


Another attempt to help attract shoppers back to the high street,


and reinforce the message that the city is well and truly open for


business. If you want to talk to us on


Twitter, as many businesses have been doing, you can contact us.


Plenty more ahead tonight, including: The soldiers helping the


British Army bring tonnes of equipment home from Afghanistan.


And the special home in Birmingham continuing to help families of men


and women wounded in action. 20 nurses from Stoke`on`Trent are


being sent to Stafford Hospital to ease a staffing crisis. The hospital


was taken over by administrators in April last year after an inquiry


into its higher`than`expected death rate between 2005 and 2008. Staffing


is tonight being described as a "very fragile situation" by the


hospital chief executive. Our Staffordshire reporter, Liz Copper,


is outside the hospital now. Liz, what more did you learn at the


meeting? This comes down to one main issue,


the shortage of nursing staff and the difficulties the trust has


placed in recruiting and retaining nurses. We learned today that 20


experienced nurses from the NHS in Stoke`on`Trent will come to


Staffordshire for three months. There will arrive in Monday and be


on the wards on Tuesday. We also learned that 15 beds will be made


available in Wolverhampton, and I will help alleviate the pressure. To


discuss this, we are joined by a campaign. Give us your initial


response. Witham we are happier than we thought we would be when this


meeting was called. We thought our ANC hours would be reduced. This is


good news is we're getting some or staff. We have this problem of not


being able to recruit staff, and this has been due to the prolonged


process. The chief executive described the situation as fragile.


It is concerning. We need the decision next week that there has to


be stability and future of the staff. People have mortgages to


pay. They need to know the certainty of their future career. Thank you


for joining us this evening. Next week will be a very important week


here at the hospital. We are expecting to have the decision from


the Secretary of State. His decision on the administrator's plans for the


future of services here at Stafford. It is hoped by the board


that the decision at the least will provide some measure of certainty.


Thank you. 27 bishops, including four from our region, have written a


letter condemning the Government's "punitive" welfare reforms, which


they say have forced people into food and fuel poverty. The Bishops


of Birmingham, Gloucester, Lichfield and Tewkesbury believe too many


people are having to choose between "heat or eat". Bob Hockenhull


reports. The Government says the sun is


starting to shine on the economy again, but church leaders are


painting a bleaker picture ` one of a society with too many people going


hungry. I'm absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to speak up for


those who can't speak for themselves. Inequalities in Britain


have grown over the last two years, in spite of everyone's best efforts,


and to find that families and individuals are not getting enough


to eat in one of the richest countries in the world is a scandal.


The Bishop of Birmingham's signature is on an open letter to the Prime


Minister criticising failures in the benefit system. It states, "This is


a national crisis and one we must rise to". In reply, the Government


said it aimed to make people less dependent. But for Becky Beasley,


collecting her food parcel at Sparkhill food bank today, those


words cut no ice. She is suffering from depression, struggling to find


work, and her benefit payments have been delayed. The Government should


have ?50 a week to live on like we do. If we didn't have food banks, we


would be begging on the street. The Government isn't seeing it because


they haven't lived like that. The food bank here says that the


Bishop's letter is particularly timely, because earlier this week it


set a new record, giving out 41 food parcels in the space of just three


hours. The Bishop's letter also points out wages have stagnated


while food prices have risen, so some in work are struggling as well


` an assertion backed up by supervisors here. Some people are


perhaps on a zero hours contract, and so they are not able to claim


job`seeker's Allowance, and suddenly they find themselves in a desperate


situation when they are not able to get any money. In addition to the


letter, the church in Birmingham is to produce a hunger journal,


allowing those who were skipping meals to tell their stories.


With the December deadline looming, the mammoth task of withdrawing


British troops from Afghanistan is stepping up a gear, and soldiers


from the Midlands are in the thick of it. It's costing the UK ?300


million to leave Afghanistan. 5,500 containers of equipment will have to


be brought back, along with 400 tonnes of ammunition cases. The


supply convoys are being driven by soldiers from our region. They run


the risk of roadside bombs on a daily basis. From Helmand Province,


Jeremy Ball reports. Imagine getting stuck behind this


lot when you are trying to get to work. More than 50 heavily armoured


trucks travelling in convoy. It's called a combat logistics patrol.


There are drivers here from Tamworth and Telford. Mark Hanslo comes from


Sutton Coldfield. It's pretty fun, to be honest. IED threats are


probably one of the main problems we have out here. It's mostly pressure


plate or operated IEDs, that if a vehicle rolls over it, it explodes.


It must be frightening when that happens. I wouldn't like to be


underneath it when it goes off. The convoys are collecting millions of


pounds worth of sensitive equipment from British bases that are being


closed, including weapons, vehicles, and power plants. It makes them a


prime target for the Taliban. That's why these huge force protection


vehicles are pushing rollers in front of them. They are designed to


take the force of the blast if they hit an improvised bomb. In fact, the


protection is so good that hundreds of British soldiers have survived


IED strikes. The latest occupational hazard is known as a pillow charge


IED ` a sack full of explosives that is thrown underneath their vehicle.


I wasn't expecting the bang when it went off, so I was a bit jumpy. A


lot of the kids, you get 50% who wave at you, the other half will


throw stones at you or gesture to you. What surprised you most? Having


six people on one motorbike. It's quite crazy. Just the way they live,


the way they drive ` it is quite mad, you know? This driving is


pretty unusual too. It is an army heading home after more than 12


years at war. The UK's military role in


Afghanistan since 2001 has brought with it a heavy human toll. The


number of deaths stands at 447 ` with nearly 2,200 people flown back


to UK hospitals after being wounded in action. Many of those servicemen


and women are brought to Birmingham, with families from around the


country heading to Selly Oak to support their loved ones. And, at


times of enormous emotional strain, help is provided at a special home


in the city. Since 2003, more than 2000 British personnel have been


seriously injured in Afghanistan. Seeders like Stephen. We were going


through the desert and I hit an IED. From the damaged that it did in


my legs, they decided to amputate one of my legs.


Like thousands of his colleagues, Steven was flown to the UK to be


treated at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Fiancee Amy was


there throughout. It was heartbreaking. He flew back, and it


is like your world falls apart when you hear the news. With Steven in a


coma, being close was vital ` and that was made possible by the


military charity SSAFA and their base in the city. It may look like a


normal house on a Birmingham street, but to the people that stay here,


it's much, much more. Since 2009, the families of 1,800 injured


servicemen and women have stayed here at Norton House, and today it's


celebrating its fifth birthday. To help with the birthday celebrations,


volunteers from the 167 Catering Regiment were on hand. There are a


few of us who come down and volunteered to cook for the


families. It is a worthwhile task, and we enjoy doing it. Norton house


can accommodate several families. This is a fully functional disabled


room. You have touched a lot of people 's lives. Some people stay


for one night, some people say for seven nights. And after five years,


many former residents and volunteers were back to celebrate ` including


Caroline Boyd, who was one of the first to use the house when her son


Sami was injured in 2009. All you had to concentrate on with your son


getting better, and you didn't have to think about driving home or


making food or doing anything. It was the most incredible place, and


looking back on it, it was fantastic. It is a fantastic


facility. As the campaign in Afghanistan draws to a close, the


number of people being injured has dropped ` but as Birmingham remains


the main centre for military casualties, the need for Norton


House and the support it offers to their families continues.


Your detailed weather forecast to come shortly. This is our top story


tonight: Turning the tide after the floods ` firms look to social media


to drive home their message ` "we're open for business".


Also in tonight's programme, we revisit one of the worst flood`hit


villages from 2007. What lessons can be learned seven years on?


Friends of a rower stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean say she


won't give up until she finishes the 3,000`mile race. Hannah Lawton, from


Stoke`on`Trent, and her team`mate, Lauren Morton, are waiting for a


replacement rudder for their boat. This is where they are now ` almost


1,000 nautical miles from the finish in Antigua. In a moment, I'll be


talking to a rower who knows what it's like to be stranded at sea, but


first, here's Dan Pallett. He's a worried parent, and why he


wouldn't he be? John Lawton's daughter, Hannah, seen here at the


front, is trying to row across the Atlantic with her friend, Lauren


Morton. They prepared for months, but their progress is slow after


their rudder and two spares were broken in a storm. So the pair and


their boat, Inspirational Friends, are 1127 miles away from the finish.


If the storms have been bad on mainland Britain, at sea, it's even


worse. They've had a lot of problems with the boat. Serious problems with


the boat. Some competitors have abandoned the race with similar


issues, but they decided to stick with it, to endure and hopefully


complete the challenge. Hannah's blog posts highlight how tough it


has been. She has written that the dangers are very real and can be


scary at times. This is the race website. Here is the finish line in


Antigua in the Caribbean. As of midday today, Inspirational Friends


are still way out here. That is 980 nautical miles from the finish.


Hannah's a coach at Worcester Rowing Club, where this week, the clean`up


is underway after the floods. Vicky is a friend who has been in regular


contact via e`mail. She says the pair are determined to finish the


race as they are rowing in memory of a friend, Elena, who died of cancer


aged just 23. They are raising money for two charities, Jo's Cervical


Cancer Trust, and Martin House Hospice, who cared for Elena when


she was ill. I think the inspiration behind her as a friend, the way in


which she faced the illness, they're not going to stop. Inspirational


Friends have already been at sea for 78 days, and they hope to reach


Antigua by the end of next month. This is one race where taking part


really is everything. We wish them well.


So, what's it like to be stranded at sea, up the creek without a paddle `


well, rudder? In 2004, Richard Wood became the 11th person to row across


the Atlantic. It took him 101 days ` and he's here now. Good evening.


What will the women be going through right now? Tremendous psychological


battle. It is really tough. I was coming down a big wave, lying in my


cabin relaxing, and suddenly I knew there was something wrong with the


boat. I could feel it. I went out onto the deck and I put my feet into


the thing that stirred the boat, and there was pressure on, so I knew


something had gone wrong. That is the rudder? It is upside down. The


original parts was the aluminium piece the rudder was in, and the


next morning, I spent ages trying with ropes to find a different way


of steering. I realised I couldn't do anything and I was stuck. Anyway


I could get out of it was to use my initiative. I spent a few days


trying to think hard to get myself out of this. Mine was an


old`fashioned boat made of plywood. You must have tremendous physical


and psychological strength. Henry Ford once said if you think you can,


you can. That's what it is about. The real about Ocean rowing is to


never give up. Can you remember clearly? Absolutely. It was amazing.


It was good when the wind was up because she could get on top and


serve the waves. You could do 65 miles a day. I would predict they


won't get their until April now. You have had a stroke. But you would do


it again? I wanted to prove that there is life after stroke. I didn't


want to sit down and become a blogger. Life is a disabled person


is horrendous. What will you do? I want to be the first disabled person


to read the Pacific. But you have one side not working. Yes, my right


side is not working. To be able to do a world first, I have to have the


disability, so if I didn't have that, I would be able to get a world


first. Think is coming in an inspiration.


?1 million needs to be found to restore one of the finest examples


of medieval architecture in the country. 15th century Beauchamp


Chapel in St Mary's Warwick is said to rival the best of Westminster


Abbey ` yet few are aware of its existence. Joan Cummins reports.


St Mary's church in the heart of Warwick was established in 1123. The


reformation, great fire of Warwick, and centuries of industrialisation


have started to take their toll. Richard was described as the richest


man in England when he left money for this ?5,000 chapel in the 15th


century. Now it will cost more than ?1 million to keep it in


21st`century condition. It is in a state. It is a wonderful building,


and it does need to be restored and is renovated for future generations


so that we can pass on this treasure. Whilst a ?40,000 grant has


been awarded to repair falling masonry on the outside...it's the


hidden treasures within the Beauchamp Chapel that are now the


focus of a restoration campaign to preserve the priceless medieval


craftmanship within. This chapel was built with the greatest skill by


obviously very competent medieval craftsmen. Richard de Beauchamp


built it specifically to commemorate a person and to have masses and


services held in memory of them for ever. This is one of the best if not


the best resource for that. Originally the tomb of Richard


Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, was a place of pilgrimage. He was


recognised as a national figure who supported the monarchy and even


presided over the trial of Joan of Arc. The people, I think, would have


been in mentally impressed that they was this place that is so beautiful


and colourful. We have visitors from all over the world, and they come in


here and just marvel and say, it has been a highlight of our day.


Restoration work will begin in the spring on what's regarded as a


hidden gem of the county. ??NEWLNE Back now to the story that's


dominated the news for the last ten days ` the floods. On Tuesday, our


reporter Joanne Writtle visited Severn Stoke, a village near


Worcester, where some residents have been cut off by the River Severn.


Five miles downstream is Uckinghall, which was devastated by the floods


of 2007. Seven years on, Uckinghall is flood`free. Joanne's been there


today, seeking advice and solace for homeowners currently knee deep in


water. The village of Uckinghall looks calm


and dry today. Not a flooded home in sight. Hard to imagine then that


this was the same village in 2007. It's all thanks to ?1 million of


flood defences, including this wall and gate. Anne was used to being


flooded. Three times in total, the last being 2007, which was the


grandaddy of them all, when the water came up and through the


letterbox. What is it like now? Absolutely brilliant. This Tudor


house is dry now, but seven years ago, water poured in, causing


devastation. The flood defences have made all the difference. It wasn't


easy to get them. We had to work hard at it. We had to get together


as a group and put communal effort into it. Judy heads up the flood


action group. Part of the defences include a pumping station. She says


it's important not to be complacent. This is Charlie Two Pumps, and we


love him. It won't fail. We have three villagers who are trained to


manually override the pump if it should fail. I've also got another


wonderful villager who, every day during a flood situation, comes out


and checks it four times a day. Just by the pumping station, this is the


clay bend that was built. Over here is how far the river came up a few


days ago. In actual fact, the banks of the River Severn are half a mile


over that way. This was Judy's cottage under water in 2007. It took


two years to repair the damage, but today, it is flood`free. The water


came up to about, I would say here. I had chest waders on, which is


useful. 20 homes were flooded here seven years ago. Judy's advice to


others fighting for defences is stick together for a long fight.


Have faith, and the defences they now have is clear. Quiet confidence.


I know that doesn't sound like a celebration, and I have to say that


when my cottage flooded, I remember actually opening a bottle of


champagne the next morning because I felt I needed it. Isn't that odd?


This time, I had a cup of coffee and went to bed.


Well, we've been told today that this has been the wettest winter on


record. Not a total surprise! It all seems a bit quieter now. How's the


forecast looking, Shefali? It is a sad statistic, but no


surprise. We have one more week to go before the season ends, so all


the records have been broken, and all that is loved to say by how


much. This year's figures narrowly beat the previous record set in 1995


by about one millimetre. We have had 487 millimetres of rain. There is


still more to come this week. We have another wet day ahead of us on


Sunday. This will produce more rain then we had last night, because the


jet stream is looking further south. This is the system that will bring


it in. It is a one sector sequence, and it will be to higher


temperatures, because over the next few hours, we are looking at


temperatures dropping. They could be a fair amount of rain. You could see


the ice bars. Winds will be strong as well. We won't see a repeat of


the recent storms. We're looking at a few more showers in the region.


They are gradually going to peter out later on. The frequency will


decrease. We're looking at largely dry conditions and clearer skies. A


very different night from night, where we have clearer skies, drier


conditions, and colder ones as well. Temperatures dropping to around two


degrees. This colder air will come in contact with the showers as the


activity steps up through the day tomorrow, so we could see some hail


or possibly snow mixed in there over the highs. A good deal of sunshine


in between, and temperatures rising up to seven or eight degrees. It


will be tampered by that story breeze coming in from the south


west. Thank you. Tonight's headlines from the BBC:


The deadliest day of Ukraine's protests ` many are killed as a


fragile truce breaks down. And a week after the record`breaking


floods, Worcester business owners use social media to entice shoppers


back to the city. That was the Midlands Today. I'll be


back at ten o'clock with your latest update. Have a good evening.


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