21/02/2014 Midlands Today


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A reminder of our main story. Thousands of protest to remain in


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


Counting the cost ` as the flood clear`up begins, damage to crops,


homes and businesses is expected to run into millions. This work needs


to be done now. We will find the money to make sure it happens. We'll


be talking to an expert who says the government's offer of ?10 million


help for businesses is just a drop in the ocean. Also tonight: The West


Midlands Chief Constable meets MP Andrew Mitchell to apologise for his


force's part in the Plebgate Affair. We both agreed that the time has now


come to move on from all of this, and I hope we can do that.


Fresh details emerge over the poor care for a diabetic woman who died


at Stafford Hospital seven years ago.


Disappointment for Solihull speed skater Jon Eley in the Winter


Olympics at Sochi. And it has certainly been a better week for the


weather, but with more strong winds and heavy rain to come on Sunday, is


it just a blip or rather storms back? The full we can forecast is


coming up later. `` weekend forecast.


Good evening. The floodwater's beginning to recede across the


Midlands, but it's leaving behind seriously damaged homes,


contaminated land and thousands of potholes. The government has


promised extra money to help with the clean`up. As well as the ?10


million for businesses affected by the floods, there's a separate ?10


million fund for farmers to help restore their water`logged fields.


And ?30 million will be made available for local authorities to


maintain roads. But one Worcestershire farmer says the army


need to stay and help with the clean`up, as manpower's as important


as money. Bob Hockenhull reports. River levels fell significantly in


Worcester overnight, paving the way for an army of workmen to move in.


The task of washing the city clean is a mammoth one, but one the


council is anxious to get on with, whatever the cost. This work needs


to be done quickly, and the council will find the money. We are moving


silt from the pathways. We have got a couple of snowploughs to move the


deep silt. We are also removing fallen trees along the riverside


halfway. A team of 70 people will be involved in the clean`up, which will


carry on through the weekend and well into the next couple of weeks.


Some of those involved have been borrowed from neighbouring councils


to speed up the work. With the full extent of the repair bill becoming


clearer, the council will be applying for Government funds to


help restore the riverside. But one of the region's MEPs says Britain is


missing out by not applying for EU help. Phil Bennion is urging people


to support his petition to press the prime minister into action. This is


money that is available to us. It is our right to claim it. We are aware


of what has been going on in the UK and Ireland in terms of the flooding


damage, and they are expecting a claim. Rural areas need help too. At


Severn Stoke, as the floods start to recede, they're leaving piles of


debris. Farmer Stephen Watkins describes it as "fly`tipping on a


massive scale." He estimates ?60,000 worth of damage, but says it's


manpower he really needs. The Army is here at the moment. They will


disappear back to barracks. Some of these pieces are too big to pick up.


We can pick up a certain amount mechanically. But the glasses tend


to fall through the machinery, so it is difficult. And can we be sure the


worst is over? The problem is, we have more unsettled weather moving


in next week, so we have to keep a close eye on things. I think levels


will start going up again. But we are not expecting levels to be as


high as they were last week. One positive sign ` the Environment


Agency feels it's safe to leave its emergency centre unmanned tonight,


for the first time in 61 days. Herefordshire council has found


nearly 2,000 road problems caused by flooding in the county. Meanwhile,


Worcestershire County Council is increasing the number of its pothole


repair teams working on the roads. Bob Hockenhull is at one of their


depots near Bromsgrove tonight, so how much worse are the roads now


than before the floods, Bob? Quite bad, I think. The man to answer that


question is John Fraser from the highways department of


Worcestershire county council. I think you have got of teams out


repairing a big problem with potholes. We have hardly had a


chance to catch our breath. After the floods, it was literally all


hands to the pump . Now our attention has turned to potholes,


because water damage on the road as good baboons with what holes. Give


us an idea of the extent of how many potholes you are dealing with. Over


the last couple of weeks, we have repaired 1000, considerably more


than we would have to at this time of year. But we have doubled our


inspectors. They are out on the road looking for potholes, and we have


doubled the number of guys repairing them. What can members of the public


do if the damage their cars or if they spot potholes on the roads? We


always encourage people to let us know about problems on the roads.


They can report online, via a smartphone, or give us a call. And


have you got the money to do the repairs? Yes, we have got an extra


three quarters of a million which we have into potholes repairs just for


this period. If the winter and cold weather gets worse more we are


prepared for it. There you have had it from the man himself. Even if


councils are cash`strapped because of budget cuts, they will be


spending the money needed to keep the roads safe.


Joining us now is Dr Steve McCabe from Birmingham City University's


Business School, who believes the government's ?10 million offer to


help businesses recover from the floods is a "drop in the ocean".


Good evening to you. ?10 million certainly sounds a lot of money, why


isn't it enough? Well, the insurance claims will come to over ?1 billion


in the short term, and the problem will only get worse. It is going to


be a perennial problem. But funds have to be fined under `` finite.


They have already given millions to farmers, roads and rail. It can't go


on for ever. But if we don't do something about flood defences, the


problems will only get worse. So how far do you think the government has


to take the blame for the damage and heartache 's well, when the


government came to power, they claimed we have a public finance


problem, so they cut the defences for flooding. It is of the order of


about 20% in real terms. So this was a problem they would have known


about. Something like half a million homes are in danger of flooding, and


the problem will get worse. What do they have to do about it? They have


to spend more money on construction. That means putting in flood


defences, up and down the country. There is a problem with global


warming. We are not going to stop burning fossil fuels, and therefore


flooding is going to be a problem for the foreseeable future. And it


is not just the current damage the money is needed for, it is


protection? If you have been flooded, this used to be a once in a


hundred year event. It is going to be a recurring problem. Why do you


say that? Because it is not going to stop raining! But surely this event


was fairly freakish? If you look at the couple of years ago, coming up


to the Olympics, we had some flooding during the summer. Thank


you very much. And there's more about flooding


later in the programme. We'll be visiting a company in Worcestershire


which has landed deals worth millions to make flood defences.


A court's been hearing more details about the poor care that a diabetic


patient received at Stafford Hospital before her death. Gillian


Astbury died in April 2007 after two nurses failed to give her insulin.


Today the Mids Staffordshire NHS Trust was in court to be sentenced


after pleading guilty to failing to ensure Gillian Astbury's safety. Our


reporter Liz Copper was at Stafford Crown Court. What did the


prosecution say today, Liz? This was a case that had transferred from the


magistrates court to the Crown Court because the magistrates felt that


their sentencing powers were not sufficient. So we heard the


prosecution outlined the case, and it is a case that was brought by the


Health and Safety Executive. The prosecution focused on two main


areas of the treatment that Gillian asked bring received while she was


in Staffordshire Hospital. They focused on the record`keeping and


the notes taken of the treatment, and also the handovers between staff


who were on different ship while she was in the hospital. According to


the prosecution, there was no effective management, oversight or


control. They described Gillian Astbury's death as wholly avoidable.


The trust has pleaded guilty to these breaches. It accepts


responsibility, and that is why the trust is being prosecuted in this


case and not any individual. So what have the Mid Staffordshire trust


said in their defence? Their defence submissions centred mostly around


the level of the fine that the judge will set. They described this case


as unique. The judge summed up their submissions as coming under three


main headings. Firstly, that this is a trust that has been punished


enough. This trust has learned its lessons. And also, that to impose a


hefty fine could potentially have an impact on innocent patients and


staff. Yes, the case is being heard at the Crown Court because of the


potential level of the fine, but this could have serious implications


for a trust which is already in financial trouble? Well, the judge


described the balancing act he will have to deal with as an essential


conundrum of this sort of case. He said it was a very important case


which will have implications beyond Stafford. That is why he will take


his time and consider the submissions before he hands down his


judgement. West Mercia Police are investigating


the deaths of a number of patients who were under the care of a


consultant surgeon working for the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS


Trust in 2012. Sudip Sarker was suspended by the Trust last October,


and his work is also under investigation by the General Medical


Council,. The trust said a review of patients who'd come into contact


with Mr Sarker was taking place. A woman from Halesowen has admitted


driving the wrong way along the M5 for four miles whilst under the


influence of alcohol. 26`year`old care assistant Katy Homer was


stopped by officers in December. CCTV footage showed the car being


driven into the path of vehicles, including heavy goods lorries.


She'll be sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 28 March.


A Worcestershire man's forgiven the company behind the explosion that


caused him to suffer a double amputation. The blast, at Filtration


Service Engineering in Kidderminster in December 2011, cost 51`year`old


Clive Dainty both his legs. The firm's been ordered to pay more than


?45,000 in fines and costs for breaching the Health and Safety Act.


Mr.Dainty says he's now focused on rebuilding his life. It is no use


sitting back, feeling sorry for yourself. There is no point. Just


get on with it. That is my advice to anybody who is unfortunate to have


injuries like this, or any limbs missing. Just get on with your life.


The West Midlands Chief Constable Chris Sims has met Andrew Mitchell


to apologise for his force's part in the Plebgate Affair. After a private


meeting in the Conservative MP's constituency office in Sutton


Coldfield, he said he was grateful for what was now the fifth apology


he'd received from a chief police officer. Andrew Mitchell was


speaking exclusively to our Political Editor Patrick Burns,


who's here now. How exactly did this meeting come about? I think it had


been coming, when you consider that Chris Sims is already one of three


local chief constables who had sent a written apology to Mr Mitchell.


David Shaw from West mercy had been to London to see him in person. So


today's encounter did have a certain air of inevitability about it.


The pressure on Andrew Mitchell seems to ease with every passing


day. Not on the police, though. Today's meeting was in the same


offices where in October 2012, Mr Mitchell had had his fateful meeting


with three Police Federation representatives, including one from


the West Midands. Chief Constable, what are you going to apologise for?


I have got a private meeting. At the time, the Federation accused him of


failing to give an adequate account of his part in the Downing Street


confrontation. But it later emerged that Mr Mitchell had secretly


recorded the meeting, and had answered questions at length, and


repeatedly denied calling the Downing Street police officers


"plebs". The Chief Constable had little to add to the conversation. I


have just had a private meeting. You feel that draws a line under it?


That is the Mr Mitchell to say, rather than me. I will have to throw


that question at you now. It seems we are a long way from drawing a


line under this sorry saga? We certainly are, when you consider


that the law still has to take its course and goodness knows how long


that will take. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is


looking into the details, as is the home affairs select committee, but


when you talk to Andrew Mitchell himself, you get a sense that he at


last feels the tide is starting to flow his way. I am grateful to the


chief constable for coming to apologise to me and my family. We


both agreed that the time has now come to move on from this, and I


hope we can do that. What exactly did he apologise for? Well, he is


the fifth senior police officer who has apologised. I and my family are


grateful to all of them for what they have said. It was a private


meeting. All of which raises the question when and if he may be


recalled to high office. Whatever happens with the formalities, it is


now a matter of political judgement as we enter a critical phase in


politics. This is our top story tonight:


Counting the cost: as the flood clear`up begins, damage to crops,


homes and businesses is expected to run into millions.


We have the weekend weather forecast coming up in a moment from Rebecca `


a bit mixed, I think. Also in tonight's programme: A wolf


in disguise ` we look ahead to tomorrow's big match which could see


the men from Molineux take over at the top.


And a new clearance scheme to help plants and wildlife thrive in our


overgrown woodlands. Governments around the world are


looking to technology developed in the Midlands to provide protection


from floods. The UK's first self`closing flood barrier was


created in Worcestershire. Now the company behind it has signed deals


worth millions of pounds to sell the technology to countries that


experience some of the most extreme weather.


Protecting some of the wildest parts of the planet is flood defence


technology developed here in the Midlands. Climate change is driving


demand for this unique flood barrier. Most of the time, it's


hidden below ground, only rising with the hydraulic power of the


water it's intended to keep at bay. We've got a footprint on every


continent. It's quite astonishing, really. We didn't even expect this


speed of growth. The UK's actually seen as the thought leaders and the


product leaders worldwide for flood defence. The Droitwich firm's just


signed a major contract worth ?6 million with the Malaysian


government. This simulation shows how the barriers will rise when it


floods in Kuala Lumpur, protecting thousands of homes and businesses.


And following Hurricane Sandy, the technology's getting good press in


the US. While some buildings were flooded out, the self`closing


barriers were keeping Washington's National Archives dry. That's


spurred new orders from New York. While the final product will be


shipped abroad, the production of it has been moved away from the Far


East closer to home, right here to this factory in Coventry. 18 months


ago, this engineering firm was bought out of administration. Now


there are 17 people working on the flood barriers, with plans to


recruit more. So we support, I would say locally, in excess of 250, 300


jobs. We've got Malaysia saying we want made in England. We've got the


United States saying we want made in the UK. The barrier is an example of


an innovative idea that's winning worldwide recognition. That


credibility, our manufacturing prowess, our ability to respond and


innovate, I think is a great selling point for UK products. It allows us


to compete very strongly on an international stage. But the severe


weather here is fuelling demand at the doorstep too, in Worcestershire.


And also in some of the worst hit parts of the UK, such as Cornwall,


Scotland and Cumbria. Climate change is big business, and with profits


expected to double next year, the financial forecast is looking bright


for the Droitwich firm. Time for sport. Let's get bang up to


date with the Winter Olympics. Here's Nick Clitheroe.


Well, I'm sorry to say, Nick, there's been no medal for Solihull


speed skater Jon Eley at his third Winter Olympics. Today was his


strongest event, the 500m. But he was crowded out at the start of his


semifinal and could only finish fourth. He did go on to contest


what's called the small final and Jon was third in that, so he adds a


seventh to his fifth and sixth places in his previous games. So is


that our last chance gone of a Midlands medal at these Olympics?


No, we've still got big hopes in the four man bobsleigh event this


weekend. Ben Simons from Broseley in Shropshire is in bob two, while


Coventry's Joel Fearon is in bob one. Now, they're highly fancied


after being quickest in the final practice session in Sochi earlier


this week. We have got so much potential in our team and we had


such good results this year. Everyone is in such good shape. I


can't write off anything. But it is the Olympic games and things do


happen that you don't expect. But I am confident and my hopes are high.


I should also mention Florence Bell from Birmingham, who's competing for


Ireland at these Games. She's just 17 and put on a commendable showing


in the slalom today. In football, there's no doubt over


the match of the day in League One this weekend. Wolves can go top of


the table if they beat the current leaders Brentford. Both teams are on


top form. Wolves currently have the meanest defence in English league


football, with only 20 goals conceded. Ian Winter looks ahead to


tomorrow's big game. I would like you to meet parsley and


his owner Jackie, two avid Wolves fans from Bridgnorth. They have come


to Molineux along with quite a few others to meet two of their heroes.


Quite is a prize for all concerned, because the players have never been


offered good luck by a dog like this before. He is nearly two and has


been brought up as a Wolves fan, hence the shirt. He wanted to come


here and see the lads today. Facebook was founded in 2004, the


same year that the old team went into liquidation. Sam Richards was


snapped up by the manager of Swansea City at that time in League Two. I


owe everything to the gaffer who took a chance on me and started my


career. When the opportunity came up in the summer, Wolves is such a big


club. As soon as he got appointed, I knew the club would do well. Just


four years after joining Swansea, Sam was playing at the Premier


League, first with Hull City and then with Bolton. Wolves fans will


never forget his goal at the top`flight. And now, ten years after


leaving Telford, Sam Ricketts was the first signing at Molineux,


followed by Kevin McDonald soon afterwards. Wolves have won the last


five games, and they have conceded only 20 league goals all season. How


big is this game against Brentford? It is the one everyone has been


looking forward to for a long time, probably their side as well as


ours. We are the two form sides in the league. We have never had a


pooch as a pundit before, so let's give it a go. Wolves or Brentford,


parsley? Wolves! And history could be in the making tomorrow afternoon,


again in league one, when Port Vale take on Crewe Alexandra. Joe Davis


plays for Port Vale and will face his brother Harry who plays for


Crewe, a team managed by their dad Steve. It's the first time the


brothers have gone head`to`head. Vale manager Micky Adams says he


hopes defender Joe just gets on with his job. It is a unique situation.


He is playing against his dad's team, with his brother on the


opposition. Hopefully, he will stick his chest out. Family bragging


rights, for sure. I hope it does not feel too sorry for his dad and his


brother, and he remembers why he is in the team. He has done well


recently. We hope that continues. And of course, you can follow


whichever team you support with commentaries and reports on your BBC


Local Radio station this weekend. It may seem a daunting task, but the


challenge is on to clear some of our seriously overgrown woodlands. It's


important, because it'll give plants and wildlife the space they


desperately need to thrive. The Wildlife Trust's been given a grant


of ?200,000 to help with the clear`up in woodlands across


Birmingham and the Black Country. Our reporter Lindsay Doyle has been


along to Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham to see how they're


getting on. Woods, dark and deep, but hopefully


not for much longer. A major project has begun in Birmingham and the


Black Country to clear overgrown woodland in parks and green spaces.


Normally in Woodlands, you would expect to see things like primroses


and lovely, interesting stuff. That helps the birds and the bees, which


helps the larger wildlife like badgers and foxes. So by thinning


the woodland, we can let light onto the ground to encourage the plans to


grow up. The idea is to involve local people to help. Children


learning survival skills through the fun of making a den in Birmingham's


Cannon Hill Park are actually clearing laurel, which is chocking


smaller flowers and plants. We are cutting down the sticks in the


forest to clear it up so that people can go through. We need to do it


slanted, so we can stick it into the ground. Overseen by the The Wildlife


Trust, the work is being possible by a government grant of ?200,000.


These woods are 25 years old, and in terms of wildlife, they are in


decline. Usually overgrown, it is preventing the growth of important


fundi. I spring, the way things are, there will not be a flower to be


seen. It is essential that we have objects like this to help rejuvenate


and manage the biodiversity. Once the woods are thinned, they will be


managed and maintained. Existing trees will be allowed to mature.


Seeds of native woodland flowers like bluebell and wood anemone will


be planted. In just over a year's time, this slightly gloomy wood


could be an astonishing splash of colour.


So, whether you're in the woodlands or not, how's the weather looking


this weekend? With the strong winds returning, it might not be safe to


be sheltering under trees. The wind and rain are back this weekend. But


it is not all doom and gloom. All those those winds are strengthening


all the time and we will see some showers on Sunday, there will be


plenty of brightness as well. The best of that will be in the east. We


have had showers in the region today. They are continuing to night.


Where they meet colder at, they could start to fall as hail.


Eventually, the winds will drop out, so where you get clear spells,


we could get a touch of grass frost. So it will be quite a chilly start


tomorrow, but it will be a bright and breezy one. 20 of sunshine to


come through the morning. By the time we get to lunchtime, we will


start to see cloud filling in from the West and the odd spot of rain.


The winds are strengthening all the time. Through Saturday night, those


winds start to pep up. We have showers moving across the region,


and temperatures are not going to fall too far. It will be quite a


mild night as we head into Sunday morning. It is this weather front


that is coming through. We should see gusts of wind around 40 miles an


hour on Sunday. And it will be rather drizzly and wet. Quite a


murky start to Sunday. Then we start to see that rain making its presence


felt. Temperatures will not do too badly. It is quite mild. But as we


head into the new working week, it is looking a little better. Heavy


rain back on Tuesday. Tonight's headlines from the BBC: A peace deal


in Ukraine, but will it be enough to satisfy the protesters?


Counting the cost: as the flood clear`up begins, damage to crops,


homes and business expected to run into millions.


That was the Midlands Today. I'll be back at ten o'clock. Have a great


evening. Goodbye.


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