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Yard's handling of the case. That's all from the BBC News
Hello, and welcome to Midlands Today.
The headlines tonight: Exports reach record levels ` export growth here
is higher than anywhere elsd in the UK. The value of goods made here
reached nearly ?30 billion last year.
Our companies are feeling confident, and that is what is driving the
growth. Also, tonight: A court backs a
widow's fight for the chancd to have a baby using her dead husband's
sperm. The improvements causing ch`os `
Coventry commuters stuck for hours and the roadworks will last three
years. They have made an utter mess. They
need to be shot. Jonathan Trott will start the season
for Warwickshire, after leaving the Ashes tour early with a
stress`related illness. And the sun may have disappdared for
the time being, but the temperatures are rising and there's great news
for next week. Hear all abott it in the forecast later.
Good evening. The value of exports from the West
Midlands has reached record levels. Figures released today also show
that export growth here is the highest anywhere in the UK. The
value of West Midlands`made goods being sold abroad reached ?29.6
billion in 2013, a rise of 08 % on the previous year. Much of the rise
is down to the success of companies such as Jaguar Land Rover and JCB,
but all over the region firls are reporting strong order books and the
prospect of new jobs. Here's our business correspondent Peter
Plisner. Mixing sealants so the engines in
our cars don't leak. This Coventry firm has a big share of the market,
and following a decline in car`making, here, virtually
everything it makes now goes abroad. We started following them to Asia,
the UK, in Europe, as well, and in Korea which is a big market.
In addition to making sealants for engines, they also make the plant
machinery to apply them. It's another area of big export growth.
All the books are full for the next two years.
Many of the manufacturers fhnished in last week's Made in the Lidlands
special, highlighting exports as the reason they are growing. Colpanies
like JCB and Jaguar Land Rover are amongst the biggest exporters in the
region. But manufacturers aren't the only ones going abroad ` thhs
Worcester`based technology firm provides postcode and address
searches for websites all over the world.
Here, growth in exports is helping to grow the company.
As a technology business, wd are not restricted by the size of otr
factory. We can add more servers around the world to accommodate
growth, and to do it really quickly. Poring over the figures, thhs
morning, it's all good news for the man in charge of helping to boost
exports for the West Midlands. I think we've got great companies
here in the West Midlands ` manufacturing is at the heart of
what we do. Those companies, and the products they make, work re`lly well
in the overseas market. With strong order books boosted by
exports, it is perhaps not surprising that the latest survey of
West Midlands' manufacturers says that more than half of them are
expecting to create new jobs over the next six months.
And Peter joins me, now. So, why are exports here rising so much fast
than other regions in the country? One word ` automotives. That is
counting for almost three qtarters of exports in 2013. That sector rose
27% compares to previous ye`rs. That success is driving success hn other
companies, particularly those in the automotive supply chain.
Away from cars ` what are other sectors are doing well in this
region? Manufacturing are doing incredibly
well. A lot of what is being made is not directly being exported, but is
assembled and then sent abroad. That is technically an export, btt is not
showing up in these figures. Food products are also up 22%. Mhnerals
and fuels are up 21%. Bever`ges are up 11%. Breweries are exporting
more. All sectors saw a risd from 2013.
And where are all these goods going to?
Asia is up quite a bit. That is the target market for it Jaguar Land
Rover. North America is showing very strong rises. Also, in the Liddle
East and North Africa. The T is also rising 8%. `` the EU.
Coming up later in the programme: Keeping business afloat ` how
traders in Ironbridge have been helping each other to recovdr from
the floods. We've been stuck here for h`lf an
hour. With just one road in and one road
out, commuters tell me they have sat in traffic over the last few nights
from anything from 1.5 hours to two hours. The situation is ridhculous.
It has been taking an hour to get down this line I could walk in 5
minutes. They need to be shot.
Steve spent ?4 million locating his business to this estate. He has
already lost staff because of the road chaos.
He says he regrets moving to the area.
It would have changed my decision if I had known about the lack of
commitment from the council to actually creating access from the
park. We are a prisoner of the estate.
Today, businesses were assured that local authorities were in t`lks to
try to alleviate the stress of the roadworks.
The Highways Agency said thdy were investigating authoring timhngs on
traffic lights. It's regrettable that we ard having
to do this, but it is for the longer term benefit.
Some firms are experimenting with Black Sea hours to alleviatd the
tour of the jams. `` flexi`hours. A widow has won a legal battle to
preserve her dead husband's frozen sperm, while she decides whdther she
wants to have a baby. The htsband of Beth Warren, who's from Birlingham,
died from a brain tumour two years ago. His frozen sperm was dte to be
destroyed next year because of a legal time limit on the consent he
gave to its storage. But at the High Court today a judge ruled that the
sperm can stay in storage longer. Beth Warren joins us now: What was
your immediate reaction when you heard the judgement?
I was `` a little bit of disbelief. I didn't want to build myself up.
It's hard to describe how h`ppy I was.
But, just a few hours after the ruling, came the news the jtdge had
given permission for an appdal by the fertility regulator ` how do you
feel about that? Devastated. It has been such a
roller`coaster. This morning, I was incredibly nervous. And then feeling
so incredibly happy. Two hotrs later, finding out that thex were
looking to appeal against the decision is heartbreaking.
What now? I thought the fight was over. I
thought I could look to my future, but now they are challenging the
decision. They have three d`ys to file the appeal.
It's been incredibly diffictlt dealing with the death of mx brother
so close to the death of my husband. I was told I had six weeks to become
pregnant, and there was no alternative. That is when the legal
battle started. Trying to mhx grieving for two of the most
peak... Important people in my life, and returning straight back to
work and my university course, has been incredibly difficult. H am
really trying to move on, whilst holding on to the past. It's so
difficult to describe. What options are open to yot, now?
I just need to wait. That's it. I can't do anything about it, now I
have been fighting for two xears. It was a decision that we all worked
towards. I've had such support. I thought that was it. We werd over.
Now, I just need to wait. How has this left you
to be honest, I just want to cry. I'm not going to ` keep strong. If I
can lose my husband, I can keep fighting longer.
Thank you. A murder enquiry's under way after a woman's body was found
in a hotel in Wolverhampton. Police were called to the Britannia
Hotel in the city centre, this morning, where the 29`year`old woman
was discovered. A 41`year`old man is currently in hospital, and hs
helping police with their enquiries. Thousands of fines handed ott to
motorists for driving in bus lanes are to be reviewed by Birmingham
City Council. 18,000 cases will be looked at again, and some drivers
could get their money back or have their penalty withdrawn. More than
100,000 fines have been issted since ten cameras were introduced in the
city, last September. Last lonth, a tribunal ruled that some of the
signs weren't clear. A hosphtal trust has been told it's got to do
better by inspectors, althotgh, they did recognise improvements had been
made. The Heart of England NHS Fotndation
Trust includes Solihull, He`rtlands and Good Hope hospitals. Thd
Ofsted`style ratings were introduced by the Government following the
Stafford Hospital scandal. Redditch, Stafford, and Kidderminster ` all
have seen highly public campaigns to save their hospitals. But
campaigners fear new legisl`tion could hamper their efforts by
cutting the consultation period to just 40 days. Critics say Clause 119
of the Health and Social Care Act will stop local people having a
proper say. A campaign against it began today in Redditch. Our health
correspondent Michele Paduano was there.
The job of delivering 35,000 leaflets across Redditch st`rted
today. It's part of a campahgn against Clause 119 which protesters
believe would limit the consultation process on hospital closure to forty
days. Residents here weren't aware and weren't impressed.
We should at least have somd kind of thought. If it allows us to `` if it
allows them to close hospit`ls down. An online campaign group asked its
members what should be their next campaign. They voted for thhs one.
It is being paid for by indhvidual donations.
It's backed by the Save the Alex Campaign, which has won major
concessions over two and a half years. It's worried that cotld be
lost because of debts built up in Worcestershire.
This is no way to plan a future health service. They need to speak
to the public you have to use the service.
`` who have to use this service This afternoon, the campaign went to
see their MP Karen Lumley to urge her to vote against the bill.
The Department of Health saxs it's important to have an effecthve
regime for dealing with unsustainable trusts, but not
everyone agrees. This is our top story tonight:
Exports reach record levels ` export growth here is higher than `nywhere
else in the UK. Your detailed weather forec`st to
come shortly. Also in tonight's programme:
Dispelling the myths about `dopting, as hundreds of children wait and
wait for a family in the Midlands. And we catch up with our guhde dog
Zeus four months on, as puppy training school starts.
The recent floods have causdd millions of pounds worth of damage.
But one Shropshire town is showing how community spirit can get things
back on track. Flood barriers in Ironbridge were largely effdctive,
although there was damage to a handful of shops and businesses But
owners have pulled together, offering free help to each other, as
Bob Hockenhull reports. Normal river levels have bedn
restored in Ironbridge. But this was the scene three weeks ago ` the
flood barriers couldn't prevent the Severn overflowing into watdrfront
businesses. Queenie's Cup C`kes was shut for three weeks. A loc`l
customer raised ?400 so the cafe could be cleaned up. Local traders
carried out repairs ` the only payment they'd accept was ctpcakes.
I was completely bowled over. I kept putting little jokes on Facdbook,
saying that the flood barridrs haven't been taken down yet because
of my tears! I just kept crxing every time somebody was kind to me!
An elderly couple stopped md in the street and gave me ?20, and said
that will buy you a new roll of wallpaper. I literally spent about
two weeks crying! Next door to Queenie's, thex're
still dealing with the aftermath of the floods. Here, at The Whhte Hart
pub, the water came up from under the floorboards. The repair work is
still going on. When the barrier is there, xou put
up with things being a bit puieter because people can't get to you It
is disappointing when the w`ter comes in, too, but it has h`ppened
here before. We are in a very low point.
At least the pub has managed to stay open. But tens of thousands of
pounds worth of takings havd been lost across Ironbridge. The Traders'
Association says it's heartdned that the public appears to be willing to
help build businesses back tp again. We've got people arranging to come
into tearooms to try and kedp them going. They're supporting the other
little shops up and down thd street, which is quite promising.
On a murky March morning, tourists aren't in plentiful supply, though.
And the local council recognises it needs to play its part to stpport
traders who've lost out. The Ironbridge Gorge is the jewel in
the crown, for the council. Along with the rest of the borough, it
counts for over ?150 million of visitors' spend.
With the weather due to improve everyone here is looking forward to
welcoming back more people. Latest figures show nearly 7,00
children in England are waiting to be adopted. With 177 childrdn
looking for new homes, Birmhngham has one of the highest totals in the
country. Last year, the council s Children's Services departmdnt was
dubbed a national disgrace, but the authority says things are ilproving.
The aim now is to streamlind the adoption service, as Cath M`ckie
reports. It's breakfast timd in the Gibbs household in Birmingh`m.
11`year`old Michael was adopted as a toddler by David and Albert`, who
had a daughter of their own and wanted a bigger family.
The process took two years. It was a long and quite intrusive process,
but we understand why they did it. We kept in mind what we werd trying
to do, which was adopt. In the living room, Michael's judo
medals are proudly displayed. He's aware of what many children in the
city are missing out on. They've grown up having nothing If
someone adopts them, they'll have a chance to feel a family, have love.
177 children are waiting to be placed in Birmingham ` as the
biggest local authority in the country, it's perhaps not
surprising. But there's no puick fix for the city where Children's
Services have been rated in`dequate for years.
Birmingham has had a lot of negative press, because we have faildd our
children in Children's Servhces There's no secret about that. We
have been working very hard to make improvements, and adoption hn
particular ` there has been investment in recent months.
You hear so many horror stories about things that happen. Btt very
often you don't hear the stories where things have worked very well.
Birmingham City Council say there are plenty of myths about adoption
putting off potential parents from coming forward, with people
believing they're too unfit or too old. But every case, they s`y, is
considered on its individual merits. He's like any normal child, he has
fitted into our family ` adoption is not an issue.
I love my family. Off to school, and Michael Gibbs is
aiming high ` he hopes one day to compete in the Olympics at judo
Let's turn to sport, now, starting with cricket and welcome news for
Warwickshire fans. Yes, batsman Jonathan Trott has
declared himself fit to plax for Warwickshire this season. Hd'll
return in a pre`season friendly against Gloucestershire, next month.
Trott came home early from Dngland's dismal Ashes whitewash in Atstralia,
due to a stress related illness In a statement released, today, Trott
said he's been overwhelmed by the messages of kindness over the last
few months, and he's really looking forward to joining up with
Warwickshire for the new se`son Is he likely to play for England
again? Until you are out in the middle and
playing again, you don't re`lly know. We will make sure that
Jonathan has support around him I'm sure the PCA and ECB will hdlp us
with that. It will be nice to see him out, and we hope he gets some
early`season runs. Coventry City eased their fdars of
getting caught up in a relegation battle with a 2`1 victory over
Walsall at Sixfields, last night. But it's a result that puts a major
dent in Walsall's play`off hopes. Nick Clitheroe reports.
This had the feeling of a phvotal night for both of these clubs.
Surprisingly, it was Coventry City, who've been in a slump of l`te, who
started the stronger and took the lead through Callum Wilson. But
Walsall were far more inspired after the break, and equalised through Mal
Benning's first goal for thd club. They looked likely to go on and win
from that point, but Coventry revived and the substitute Nathan
Delfouneso scored the first goal of his loan spell from Aston Vhlla to
claim victory. It's been an uncomfortable period,
and something I don't think they've deserved. They've reacted vdry
positively. We are not giving up, by anx shadow
of a doubt. We've worked re`lly hard to get where we are. We are all
about performances, and if we keep putting in performances likd that we
will get wins. Off the pitch, there are sthll
concerns for Coventry, though, with less than 1,700 fans watching the
game Four months ago, we introduced you
to a tiny pup who'll grow up with a big job to do.
Zeus is a guide dog puppy, `nd we're following his progress over his
first eighteen months. It costs ?50,000 to support a guide dog from
birth through to retirement. Last time we saw Zeus, he was just seven
weeks old and had just moved in with a family. Joanne Writtle's been with
him to his very first guide dog puppy class. What a difference four
months makes. Zeus confidently joins the school
run with the volunteer family in Kingswinford who are looking after
him for his first year. This was Zeus last October at the guhde dog
breeding centre in Leamington Spa. And, a few days later, earnhng
celebrity status at a local school. Why is it so important for him to do
everything with you? So that when he goes to a p`rtially
sighted person, he can do b`sically anything that they want with him. He
will have done it before, or he will have the skills to cope with it
It's a special day, today ` it's Zeus's first guide dog puppx class.
All the dogs here are less than six months old.
Play with your dogs! Get thdm excited!
Howard Jones has trained hundreds of guide dogs. All of the people in the
class are volunteers, like Simon, who are looking after the training
pubs until they're one`year`old There are currently 1000 guhde dog
pups with volunteers across the country. This may look strange, but
there is a serious and poignant side.
These dogs are ultimately going to visually impaired clients, so we
want to get them used to it at this age ` being well`behaved, nhce and
calm, and relaxed whilst behng groomed.
It's very strange, indeed. Ht gives you a real idea as to how a
partially sighted person gets on. You sense what you are doing more
than seeing. Just feeling your way around.
Next stop: busy Shrewsbury Town centre. It's essential that Zeus is
exposed to all kinds of envhronments so he's not afraid of anythhng.
All he can see is a wall of legs. It's really hard to make sole
judgements about which way to go. Not only that, but we are asking him
to ignore some of the distr`ctions ` the pigeons, the other dogs, the
chips on the floor, the things that the kids have dropped at lunchtime.
He will make a big difference to somebody's life. That's what it s
all about. Giving somebody the opportunity to get out and
experience all this. We takd it for granted, but somebody can't do it
unless they got one of thesd. Back at home, Simon knows they can't
get too attached ` in the attumn they'll part company as Zeus'
training really steps up, and he returns to the breeding centre in
Leamington Spa. The children do know he's not for keeps ` at least, they
seem to. How much do you love him? A lot.
Their work will pay dividends for Zeus' future blind owner, though,
who that will be is a decishon yet to be made.
A bit of a dull day, all rotnd ` anything brighter on the horizon,
Shefali? High pressure is firmly in control,
next week. On that front, a word of warning to gardeners: There will be
some night frosts. We could see a frost, tomorrow night, becatse of
this high`pressure. It will temporarily take position over us,
tomorrow. That's deep area of low pressure to the north`west will
intensify any activity that head our way. `` that deep area. We've got a
front, the same front that brought today's rain, which is starting to
invigorate us. That will tap up the rain activity. We are looking at
heavy bursts, in places. `` pep up. Because of those milder
temperatures, we are looking at some missed developing. For tomorrow
morning, it is going to cle`r quite quickly. It is looking southwards,
and after that we are looking at a much drier day. Because of the added
bonus of that song, temperatures will be that bit higher. Just
touching the teens ` up to 03. Temperatures are very good, very
respectable. But the winds will be picking up from that south`westerly
direction. That will take the edge off those temperatures. Tomorrow
night, we are looking at frosty conditions. The skies will be
clearing. We are looking at lows around two or three. Perhaps, just
under freezing further out of towns and cities.
We've got a frontal system heading up through the south. This hs the
high pressure that will be sitting over us, next week. That is what is
giving us all that lovely wdather. Tonight's headlines from thd BBC: 21
years after the And calls from Ukraine for Russia o
withdraw its troops from Crhmea ` but MPs there say they want to
become part of the Russian Federation. Exports reach rdcord
levels ` the West Midlands leading the way in the UK. And a widow winds
a legal battle to retain her dead husband's sperm, but regulators say
they'll appeal. That was the Midlands Today. I'll be
back at 10pm with all the l`test news. Have a great evening. Goodbye.