27/02/2014 Midlands Today


27/02/2014

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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today, coming live from Telford, in

:00:00.:00:09.

Shropshire. Tonight, we'll be looking at just

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how much we still make here in the Midlands.

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Manufacturing is on the up once again, but by how much? I think the

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West Midlands economy, given the surge in manufacturing and exports,

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would be in the region of 5`6%. In this hall, we have brought together

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101 things, all made in the Midlands, from tanks to teddy bears

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and plenty in between. The West Midlands is the export Centre for

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the UK. Half of the British exports. We look back at some of the things

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we used to make which we can be rightly proud of.

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And we look forward to where jobs in the future might come from.

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So all types of things for all types of conditions, and that is perhaps

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appropriate with the weather that is heading our way.

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Good evening from the International Centre in Telford. We've got a very

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different programme for you, as we examine the health of manufacturing

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in the Midlands ` once known as the workshop of the world.

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We suffered more than anywhere else when manufacturing became

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unfashionable. Tens of thousands of jobs disappeared in this region. But

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now it's seen as essential once again that we design, make and sell

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more. And there's evidence that's

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happening. Nationally, growth this year is expected to hit 2% or so and

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that's a welcome change. But latest predictions for the West Midlands

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suggest that growth here could be double that, perhaps even 5%. And it

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will be manufacturing led. In a moment, I'll be talking to

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entrepeneur and former Trade Minister Lord Digby Jones, who's

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spent a lifetime in industry in the region.

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But first, our business correspondent Peter Plisner on how

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it all began just a few miles from here at the birthplace of the

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industrial revolution. The famous Ironbridge, known the

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world over. Now a popular tourist attraction in an area dubbed "the

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birthplace of the Industrial Revolution". That is because it was

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here that Abraham Darby perfected a cheaper way of making I am. It was

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an innovation that quickly spread. Initially to places like the nearby

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Black Country, which became one of the most heavily industrialised

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areas of the UK. It was the engine room of the entire economy. It drove

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British expansion and it drove, really, the British Empire. But like

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many areas that saw rapid growth, the Black Country also suffered

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economic decline. The closure of the Round Oak Steel Works was a major

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blow. It's now the site of the Merry Hill Shopping Centre. The decline

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continued, with metal`bashing moving abroad where Labour was cheaper. But

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nothing was safe. There was uproar when production of the famous HP

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sauce was moved from Birmingham to Holland and the factory was

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demolished. Manufacturing companies, when they have looked to offshore

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within Europe, they have gone to central and Asian Europe, in the

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Slovakia and eastern Europe, they are a fraction of what they are

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here. Globally, they have looked further afield and in many cases,

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gone to China to Salisbury cheap components where Labour costs are

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much lower. But there's evidence that some manufacturing is returning

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to the Midlands. Management at this Birmingham engineering firm has

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moved an entire factory back from Hungary. We didn't expect to do it.

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Arguably, it was quite frustrating, having gone out there with the best

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of intentions, but you have to keep reinventing your strategy and moving

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on. But reshoring, as it's called, isn't the only reason there's

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growth. Success at companies like Jaguar Land Rover and JCB has also

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helped to boost the fortunes of the region's components suppliers. And

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this is one of them. At this car `based `` car seat maker in Tipton,

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recession hit hard but now they are seeing orders up to an increase of

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30%. When I first started, it was quite small and now it is absolutely

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stretched. The progress has been quite something, it is all good. I

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have worked here for six years and they keep on employing and employing

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unemployed. It all means that the West Midlands now accounts for

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around 7% of UK output and the region also has the countries

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fastest growth in exports. `` country's. Nationally, we are

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expecting growth of two `3% and I think the West Midlands economy,

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given the surge in growth and exports, will be in the region of

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5`6%. The Business Secretary Vince Cable

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says the strong performance here is helping the recovery. Half of

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British exports, certainly of goods, originate in the West Midlands and

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it is now growing rapidly and it is based on the emerging markets. And

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if this recovery that we are experiencing is going to be kept

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going, and it must be that the sake of the country, it has got to be

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export `based. It is going to be increasingly manufacturing base and

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the West Midlands, more than any other part of the country, is going

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to deliver that. Innovation is often key to survival

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and some firms have simply been left behind. At the Cash's factory in

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Coventry, there's a long history of labels for clothes. But recently the

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company went bust. Its administrator says after a recession, some firms

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still struggle. What tends to happen is that as you are coming out of a

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recession, businesses start to grow, which is obviously a good

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thing. But growth as a result of more orders, again a good thing, but

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that growth requires funding and funding can be very difficult to get

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after a recession because lenders are still nervous.

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But other firms have survived the recession by making niche products.

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Back near Ironbridge, this cycle maker is one of them. The skills

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that we have a very specialist, it is something you cannot outsource to

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the Far East. When we started framed building in the 1980s, there were

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probably 200 frame builders in the UK. Now there are about 20.

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In the past, the West Midlands was a powerhouse of the UK economy. Now,

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with strong growth in exports once again, it's the region's

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manufacturers that are leading the way ` this time out of recession.

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With this now is the former director`general of the CBI, Lord

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Digby Jones, former government minister and the chairman of the

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company that makes this Triumph bikes. What about Vince Cable saying

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that West Midlands Manufacturing is so important for the whole country?

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Speaking yes and well done, you guys, for celebrating tonight,

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because we need the media and the schools to push that message all the

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time. It is coming from a Cabinet Minister, what could be better? You

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have roadster, Longbridge, Castle Bromwich, commentary, Solihull ``

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commentary. Wherever you are watching, we are leaders in the

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recovery and are balancing the economy back into manufacturing. And

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in the report it said that growth could be double the national

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average. It is realistic and it is done on the back of exporting to

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emerging markets. It is about export. About making things. And the

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demise of manufacturing was because we made things that weren't good

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enough for people who didn't want to buy them who were selling on price,

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where someone in China is going to beat you. Now these things are all

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sold on value added. Price is important but it is not what gets

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you there, it is brand, it is "want to have" , quality and innovation.

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That is why it is sustainable. Emerging middle class is

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sustainable. Emerging middle classes in commentary, Brazil, `` in Brazil

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or China, they wanted to show these things are. We have this tank here,

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it is a massive innovation of skills, we couldn't show everything,

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but why did things go bad for manufacturing? I think there was

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complacency after the war, we felt we didn't have to trike anymore but

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the rest of the world was catching up. Awful, dreadful trade union

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attitudes, which is so different to today. If you look around, it is

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fully unionised, just down the road in Wolverhampton, 1400 jobs at the

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engine plant, all unionised but it would never have happened 30 years

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ago. Awful industrial relations and poor quality. Birmingham City

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Council announced grand ambitious plans around where HS2 is about to

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commit. A sign of confidence question mark tremendous side. I

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have always said do not listen to politicians, always look at what

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they are going to do. If they sign the checked Birmingham, it is great

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news for watching the programme. Get yourself a skill and believe in the

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region. Lord Digby Jones, thank you. One industry that has really

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struggled over recent years as the pottery business, around

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Stoke`on`Trent, but one company in amongst all that has done really

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well, the Portmeirion Group. They have survived and Sarah Plimbley is

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here to talk about it. What has been the key? I think for Portmeirion, it

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is a quality product that at price people can afford. I don't think it

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is a coincidence that those companies who are doing well now are

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the ones who have maintained a UK manufacturing base. How important is

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customer loyalty? Essential. If you think you have someone buying

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tableware, that is an investment for life. We want them to stay with us

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for the whole time, enjoying their time around tables. Sarah, thank you

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very much. You're watching a special edition of

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Midlands Today, trying to gauge how manufacturing businesses are doing

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across the region. I am joined by the bosses of three very different

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companies. We are all sitting on COBRA chairs made right here in

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Telford and you might have seen them in the dugouts at football grounds

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around the country. Jason, if I can turn to you first, the chair of

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Institute of Directors and eastern foods. Are you finding the right

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people and the right skills? It is difficult to find the right people.

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We have 30 apprentices we have employed and over the last two

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years, we have only retain seven, so there is complexity in getting hold

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of the right skilled people and getting the right words are fake.

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The West Midlands is vital in the export market. What about in East

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End Foods? Have you got a healthy export? We are very proud to be

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producing everything in the UK. What we find is we are exporting to 30

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countries, including India. The value of brand Britain around the

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world is absolutely amazing and we are able to sell very easily all

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around the world. You are nodding at that, you supply components for the

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car industry amongst other things. You benefited hugely from the

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expansion of like your agenda `` Jaguar Land Rover. Had you make sure

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you don't have all of your eggs one basket? We help to supply parts for

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every single model and there are further plans ahead to increase

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their models, so we don't think we have. What is your growth forecast?

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Since the start of the recession, millennium has doubled in size and

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we will grow another third this year, and it will be ongoing. What

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is it down to? The opportunity the growth in the industry has given us

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but we are also seeing growth in construction and we won a new

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contract in the construction sector. So there is a renaissance in

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construction? I think it will grow this year more than it has done

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previously. Thank you very much indeed. So it does sound as though

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there are indeed reasons to be cheerful about the growth in the

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West Midlands, which seems to be really pushing the economic revival

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right across the country. We can be proud of the things the

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Midlands has made. This double`decker Metro Cammel bus, made

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in Birmingham, is a popular exhibit at The Transport Museum at Wythall.

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If not a bus. What about this? The Reliant Robin. Del boy and Rodney,

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made of fibreglass in Tamworth. And look at this absolute beauty.

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Everyone aspire to one of these, boy racers such as myself. The E`Type

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Jag, made in Coventry, and often voted the most beautiful car ever

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made. This one is owned by Nigel Harper. Hello. Why is it so

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special? Enzo Ferrari said that the E type Jaguar was the most beautiful

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car in the world and 50 years later, it was the only car that

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appeared in the design Museum in London. I think that just proves how

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the design has stood the test of time. Speak like how old is this?

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1966. How much is it worth? ?150,000. Nigel, thank you very

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much. From the E type jack to this little

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fellow. `` Jaguar. The Mini changed everything when it rolled off the

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production line in Birmingham in 1959. Transverse engine, front`wheel

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drive, trendy and you could get the family in at a squeeze. Five million

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were made, making the Mini the best`selling British car of all

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time. And as Sarah Falkland has been finding out, they turned up in all

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sorts of places. The marvellous Mini. Made in

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Longbridge, thrashed in the Italian Job. But it was a single

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Birmingham`made Morris commercial van that gave us the film's immortal

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line. You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off. Coventry`made

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black cabs, good enough for us and for royalty. But did you know that

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Stephen Fry and Kate Moss have one of their own? And the flamboyant

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King of Tonga used to tour his island state in one? Midlands motors

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cope well in hot climates, though. Lara Croft knew that. Solihull`based

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Land Rover even brought out a Tomb Raider limited`edition Defender.

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It was craftmanship in Cradley Heath, though, that made the chains

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and anchors for the ill`fated Titanic.

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WHISTLE. It's comforting to think that

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Midlands`made whistles helped in the rescue operation. Out came this

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whistle. Kate Winslet, heroine, Rose, blew it. And on it, clearly,

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blown up before me big on the screen, it said "Acme Thunderer,

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made in England". Which was the first I knew about it. Forward 30

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years and Birmingham`made Spitfires helped save thousands of lives.

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Designed by RJ Mitchell from Kidsgrove, in Staffordshire, the

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Spitfire achieved fame in the Battle of Britain. Over 12,000 rolled out

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of the factory at Castle Bromwich. Here is where your salvage, your

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saucepans and shillings and pence have, under the magic wand of

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industry, become part and parcel of the finest fighting aircraft in the

:15:42.:15:46.

world. She could fly higher and faster than anything else and was

:15:47.:15:51.

the envy of the Germans. If only the Meriden`made Triumph motorbike could

:15:52.:15:54.

have got Steve McQueen away from the Nazis, his escape would have been

:15:55.:16:02.

truly great. No denying the greatness of this man. Did you know

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that Winston Churchill was buried in a coffin with fittings made at the

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Newman Brothers factory in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter? So

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too was Princess Diana. In her youth, she'd famously whizzed around

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Kensington in a Longbridge`built Mini Metro. But royalty's links with

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Midlands manufacturing went back way before then. The Queen nearly always

:16:22.:16:26.

has a custom`made Launer handbag on her arm. These are the girls in

:16:27.:16:32.

Walsall who make them. For decades, Her Majesty played safe with beige

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and black. But then a couple of years ago, she started experimenting

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with colour and sales here at Launer went through the roof.

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Even in black and white, Birmingham chocolate`maker Cadbury quadrupled

:16:46.:16:47.

sales for their Flake with a winning ad formula. Light, crumbly,

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heavenly. Pretty girl, scenic backdrop and more than a hint of

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suggestion. And Hurst comes in. Finally, another

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starring performance from Acme Whistles. 1966 was the year.

:17:07.:17:12.

England's disputed World Cup goal made official in a single blast. A

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timepiece of Midlands manufacturing that helped make footballing

:17:19.:17:20.

history. All made in the Midlands. Now, look

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at this, this is called a violectra, an electric violin and

:17:27.:17:30.

that is worth ?4000. It was handmade in Moseley in Birmingham. This is

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what it sounds like in the hands of an Aston Villa fan and fiddler

:17:36.:17:37.

supreme Nigel Kennedy. Manufacturing thrives on good ideas.

:17:38.:17:55.

Like this clever design to put in your garden, made in Warwickshire.

:17:56.:18:01.

Very stylish, guaranteed to get the neighbours talking and, as you can

:18:02.:18:04.

see, you can turn it to catch the sun. A brilliant idea, but where are

:18:05.:18:13.

the next great ideas coming from that will create the jobs of the

:18:14.:18:16.

future? Our science correspondent David Gregory Kumar has been

:18:17.:18:18.

investigating. Frozen Blood. New ways make silicon

:18:19.:18:26.

chips and hydrogen cars. All products of Tomorrow's World. And

:18:27.:18:29.

all part of a ?50 million project, the Science City Research Alliance,

:18:30.:18:31.

involving the University of Birmingham, the University of

:18:32.:18:34.

Warwick and Industry. Science City cash helped buy this equipment and

:18:35.:18:38.

pay for this lab. Giant magnets providing industry with insights

:18:39.:18:41.

into everything from ice cream to catalytic converters for cars. It's

:18:42.:18:46.

a great facility. It offers a lot. The big picture is to try and reduce

:18:47.:18:50.

the cost of these catalysts whilst trying to maximise efficiency.

:18:51.:18:57.

Better catalytic converters is good news for our car`makers. But Science

:18:58.:19:01.

City doesn't just work with established companies, it encourages

:19:02.:19:04.

scientists to set up companies of their own. And that could also be

:19:05.:19:08.

very good news for the region. We do have a company. We spun out

:19:09.:19:17.

Irresistible Materials in 2011. There is a company that is based

:19:18.:19:21.

actually in the middle that we are actively talking to at the moment

:19:22.:19:24.

about how we develop this technology them. So in five years, Science City

:19:25.:19:28.

means almost 500 jobs created and safeguarded. 12 new businesses

:19:29.:19:32.

formed. 1,000 academic papers published. But also two of our

:19:33.:19:34.

strongest research universities working together for the first time.

:19:35.:19:41.

There has to be impact of this research and quite rightly so,

:19:42.:19:44.

something the taxpayer sees as a return on their investment in

:19:45.:19:48.

science. And so a lot of the emphasis of the people involved in

:19:49.:19:51.

this programme has been to make these collaborations with industry,

:19:52.:19:54.

so that there is a product at the end of that there is a real impact

:19:55.:19:58.

of a company that is generating wealth in this region. No more ivory

:19:59.:20:03.

towers. The future is about turning our best cutting edge research into

:20:04.:20:15.

products, companies and jobs. Goal`line technology, there is an

:20:16.:20:19.

invention that was somewhat controversial when it first came

:20:20.:20:32.

back, . Four years ago, we feature Duncan Williams goal`line technology

:20:33.:20:36.

per rugby and how as it progressed? It has moved forward a lot, American

:20:37.:20:42.

football have taken it. It is moving forward and in the right way.

:20:43.:20:47.

Talkers through it. It provides an electronic invisible curtain,

:20:48.:20:54.

covered by lasers. When you break them, you score, as simple as that.

:20:55.:20:59.

We have used it in military technology, it is well proven. And

:21:00.:21:04.

it puts an end to arguments. So while you wait for the RFU to make

:21:05.:21:08.

up their mind, what are you working on? Yes, they take a while. We're

:21:09.:21:12.

working on stress`related equipment for the medical industry.

:21:13.:21:15.

Stress`related equipment is superb and it is what the World Health

:21:16.:21:21.

Organisation advocate all over the world, really successful and going

:21:22.:21:26.

places. You can find out more from RIA technology, on the Facebook page

:21:27.:21:32.

`` I ate technology. I'm going to put this to the test. Steffan

:21:33.:21:40.

Hildred, top scorer but Telford this season, is wearing the right kit.

:21:41.:21:41.

Take it away. Let's make that 214 points this

:21:42.:21:53.

season. Well done, a couple of points there

:21:54.:22:00.

and want to raise over here about the Microcab. John Jostins is the

:22:01.:22:04.

Chief Executive of the company and a professor at Coventry University.

:22:05.:22:10.

How does this work? It is powered by hydrogen fuel cells. It is an

:22:11.:22:13.

electric vehicle but it makes its own electricity on`board using

:22:14.:22:18.

hydrogen gas stored in a tank, which is then fed to the fuel cell and

:22:19.:22:25.

combined with oxygen over platinum, creating electricity. Essentially,

:22:26.:22:30.

it is powered by hydrogen. Is it going to take off? We get a lot of

:22:31.:22:35.

question about hydrogen. It is a perfectly save fuel, stored in a

:22:36.:22:41.

compressed tank. Has it been taken up yet? It is early stage. The

:22:42.:22:46.

Microcab remade, along with Coventry University, is to look into the

:22:47.:22:50.

future of low carbon mobility and transport and this is one aspect we

:22:51.:22:55.

are experimenting with. John, thank you very much.

:22:56.:23:00.

What is made in the rule all areas of the West Midlands is a vital part

:23:01.:23:03.

of the economy and I have a great example here `` rural. You are the

:23:04.:23:13.

oldest licensed brewery in the country, Three Tuns. How have you

:23:14.:23:17.

managed to weather the storm? We produce unique beers because we old

:23:18.:23:22.

recipes and old yeast that dates back to about 1880, I mean, like you

:23:23.:23:31.

say... So that is the yeast that keeps on giving? Yes, you added to

:23:32.:23:35.

each brew and then take it off that brew and added to the next. We

:23:36.:23:40.

talked about export but you can't get involved in that because it

:23:41.:23:44.

doesn't travel so well. No, we mostly supply the local area but we

:23:45.:23:48.

do get a lot of people coming from America to look at our brewery,

:23:49.:23:52.

because it is very old. Josh, you are an apprentice, are you enjoying

:23:53.:23:56.

it? I am, really enjoying it and Steve is a great teacher. So happy

:23:57.:24:01.

brewing, chaps. But it is not just be that we make, lots of alcohol

:24:02.:24:09.

there, and food, we talked about the East End foods, don't forget

:24:10.:24:13.

oatcakes from Staffordshire and Cadburys chocolate, I vaguely

:24:14.:24:16.

recognise the face, but I'm not sure about the teeth.

:24:17.:24:22.

I am very flattered, I am not certain about the team. It is time

:24:23.:24:29.

for the weather now. Shefali is sitting in a motor boat, so I

:24:30.:24:33.

suppose we will get the shipping forecast.

:24:34.:24:35.

Not quite, thankfully I won't be talking about them this week but

:24:36.:24:38.

this little boat, called Fletcher if you know their boats, perfect for

:24:39.:24:43.

skipping across the surface of receding waters. But we do have more

:24:44.:24:47.

rain on the way in the next 12`18 hours because that area of low

:24:48.:24:50.

pressure I mention at the beginning of the week, that always had the

:24:51.:24:54.

potential to cause problems, looks like it will do. It is cutting

:24:55.:24:58.

across the southern half of the country, clipping the southern part

:24:59.:25:02.

of our region and bringing up 20 millimetres of rain at most, but

:25:03.:25:06.

that is quite a bit, and it is going to bring in snow as well. The area

:25:07.:25:12.

is turning colder, so we have warning service over the rush hour

:25:13.:25:17.

tomorrow morning. Could produce about two centimetres over lower

:25:18.:25:22.

levels and certainly over areas above 300 metres, but only for the

:25:23.:25:25.

southern and western part of the region. We start tonight with clear

:25:26.:25:28.

skies and there will be pockets of Frost, and as the cloud thickens up

:25:29.:25:36.

ahead of this area of rain, it will creep into southern parts of the

:25:37.:25:39.

region, producing some snow, as I said, in those areas and during the

:25:40.:25:43.

first part of tomorrow morning. That is when it is going to be fairly

:25:44.:25:47.

treacherous but further north, in Staffordshire, you probably won't

:25:48.:25:50.

notice anything. Some sunshine to be had there. Their name a Morceli and

:25:51.:25:59.

drive starts `` anymore sunny and dry start. Frost overnight and into

:26:00.:26:03.

the start on Saturday. You don't get to take it home, I'm

:26:04.:26:07.

afraid. We all joined again by Lord Digby Jones. If there is one message

:26:08.:26:11.

you could give to the Government that will help all of the businesses

:26:12.:26:14.

across the West Midlands continue to grow, what would it be? We need more

:26:15.:26:21.

and better skilled people. The West Midlands has got the youngest

:26:22.:26:23.

population in the country and the lowest skills base in the country. I

:26:24.:26:29.

say that with shame, not private. But all of this, everything you have

:26:30.:26:33.

just been talking to all of these people about, it is value added,

:26:34.:26:37.

quality brand innovation. You can't do that if you haven't got skilled

:26:38.:26:44.

people. In the old days, it didn't matter if you couldn't read, write,

:26:45.:26:50.

you were in the steel could, under a car planned career didn't need

:26:51.:26:56.

skills. Today, you need a Ph.D. S in rocket science can be just need to

:26:57.:26:59.

be able to read, write, count and operate a computer and if we don't

:27:00.:27:04.

have an education system that turns kids out at 16 can do that, every

:27:05.:27:08.

small business person watching this will say, "I know what you mean, I

:27:09.:27:13.

can't get skilled people. " That is the biggest challenge the region

:27:14.:27:17.

has. What about the companies themselves question mark work with

:27:18.:27:21.

your local school, work with your local college. May be `` but

:27:22.:27:35.

whatever you do, export. All of this is about exporting. Have the

:27:36.:27:37.

courage, so what you got, you are good at it. We will have to leave it

:27:38.:27:42.

there, thank you. We have been so proud to show you

:27:43.:27:47.

what is made in evidence, I'm sorry we show you everything.

:27:48.:27:48.

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