21/03/2014 Midlands Today


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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight. Inaddquate `


a scathing verdict on Coventry's children's services after the death


of four`year`old Daniel Pelka. I was expecting we would find ourselves in


difficulty. It was a great disappointment that we get the final


judgement. But the shadow children's minister says that the council


should be given time to turn things around. Also tonight, they lay be


vital to farmers, but plans in the air to stop wind turbines cropping


up on our most stunning scenery It is spoiling the Vista for pdople. It


is spoiling the moorlands as Despair over plans to close the reghon's


only Olympic`size swimming pool A whole. We are jumping with joy for


Sport Relief 2014. Join me live in Halesowen. Spring may have sprung


but it will feel more like winter this weekend, with ice warnhngs and


the possibility of snow over higher ground. The full forecast coming up


later. Good evening. Inadequate ` that s


how government inspectors h`ve described children's servicds at


Coventry City Council. The department was inspected following


the murder of four`year`old Daniel Pelka in 2012 and a Serious Case


Review that claimed that thdre'd been a number of "missed


opportunities" leading up to his death. In December last year, nearly


4,500 children were being hdlped by the service, but that had increased


by more than 1,000 from the previous March. However, Ofsted found there


were are serious failures whthin the service that could leave chhldren at


risk of harm. Joan Cummins reports. Daniel Pelka was just four xears old


when he was murdered, following months of systematic abuse `t the


hands of his mother and stepfather. The Serious Case Review into his


death highlighted a number of missed opportunities by all agencids and


made recommendations to improve communication. Six months after this


and two years after Daniel's death, and Ofsted save the children's


services in Coventry are in`dequate. It is very disappointing, it is what


I expected when I took over as executive director in December. I


was clear about the challenges because of Daniel and the w`y we had


increased referrals into chhldren's social care, so I was expecting we


would find ourselves in difficulty. It is with great disappointlent that


we get the final judgement. Brian Walsh is the man whose job ht is to


protect the 4300 children identified as being in need of specialhst


services in the city. But Ofsted say there are still children left at


risk of harm. I can never, dver guarantee that every single child in


Coventry will be safe. I can never do that. All I can say is what we


have learned from Serious C`se Reviews, from Daniel and Ofsted we


are doing our very best with our partners to provide a safe service


for children in Coventry. The Daniel effect has resulted in an almost 50%


increase in referrals to social services, increasing the caseload on


social workers. The council say they investigate extra ?5.6 millhon in


children's services and on recruiting, but Ofsted say there are


still weaknesses. Clearly wd are accepting those judgements, but we


are doing something about it. We are doing something about it in terms of


resources and we are doing something about it in terms of the wax that


the work is actually carried out. Leadership, management and


governance are inadequate. Lanagers have not yet sufficiently t`ckled


weaknesses. How does that m`ke you feel? This does not happen


overnight. There clearly is in the Ofsted judgement and inerti` or


slowness in the way the council responded, not only to the serious


Review but the review last Larch that perhaps did not have as much


pace as it should have been, not to get to the position we find


ourselves in today. The Dep`rtment of education said they accepted that


improvement takes time but said this report demonstrates that thd rate of


change has not been good enough They are now considering thdir


actions to ensure that all vulnerable children are protected in


the city. Ofsted also ruled that the Local


Safeguarding Board was inaddquate and insufficient progress h`d been


made in improving multi`agency working. The Chair of the Board said


they remained determined to deliver rapid improvement over the coming


months. Earlier I spoke to Steve McCabe, the MP for Birmingh`m Selly


Oak, who's the shadow children's minister. I asked what was his


reaction to the Ofsted findhngs Well, they are pretty grim. I don't


think anyone could be at all satisfied to hear some of the things


they describe. I don't think it s at all unexpected. People have known


for some time this inspection took place in January, and early


February, so they have been aware of it for some time, but clearly it is


not good enough and that is what we see. There are three childrdn's


services, Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell, inadequate. What hs going


wrong? Well, I don't think there is a single thing going wrong. That is


the first thing to note. Thdre are things that the local authorities


have to do, Coventry have actually, the Ofsted report acknowledges that


Coventry have made some progress, they have to strengthen thehr


leadership, they have two ilproves liaison with other agencies, like


the police for example, havd to play a much clearer role. That is what


the authorities have to do. There is an issue about the calibre of people


going into social work and H think we do have to raise that a bit. The


social workers themselves are toiling with the most enormous


caseloads that `` and that comes through in the Ofsted report. No one


can do social work with casdloads of that size. The Department of


education have said that thdy are going to take action of somd sort.


Just over a year from now you could be in government, you could be


responsible for taking some sort of action. What would you do? Ht is


important to acknowledge th`t the Ofsted report actually says that


Coventry themselves are takhng some quite decisive steps and thdy


praised the new director, they acknowledge the effort to ilprove.


My own instinct is we should work with them and see if we can turn


this around, but ultimately obviously Michael Gove has the power


to send in his own team. But I say you only do that if you are


absolutely convinced that there is no other option because that is the


final opportunity. Steve McCabe thank you. And there's more on this


and reaction on the Sunday Politics Show with Patrick Burns at 01:0 am


here on BBC One. Coming up later in the programme ` changing lanes, as


work begins this weekend to dismantle some of Coventry's


notorious ring road. New measures could be brought in to


stop wind turbines being buhlt in some of the highest and most


picturesque parts of the Midlands. But there are worries it'll cut off


much needed income for farmdrs. Here's BBC Radio Stoke's political


reporter Phil McCann. Robert Gosling's family has been


dairy farming for 50 years, but his energy costs have doubled over the


last five years. So he is h`ving a turbine installed. If we can cut the


?20,000 electric cost, we c`n use that money to invest in the


business. We employ people locally, so it should have a big effdct not


only on our own business but the local economy as well. Robert is


lucky that his turbine is jtst over one mile outside Staffordshhre in


Derbyshire, because in the Staffordshire Moorlands District


Council wants to use new powers to all but banned them if they are over


15 metres tall and in open countryside. But the Staffordshire


countryside that is installhng this turbine says it is all an


overreaction. There is a lot of worry around wind turbines but most


people are broadly supportive as long as they are sensibly shted and


done in a way which does not impose themselves to drastically. But the


council insists farmers don't have a right to ruin the landscape. Here in


the Staffordshire Moorlands we have some of the most beautiful


countryside in the UK, but unfortunately we have been hnundated


with applications for wind turbines and this is having a detrimdntal


effect on the openness of the countryside. And that stancd has


some support from those who live in the highest parts of the Midlands.


The council has a right to dnquire into these things because it is for


the benefit of the Staffordshire Moorlands. If they stick thdm where


they have done, there are three or four around now, I don't thhnk there


is any consideration given to the siting of them. They are all right


from a distance. Wind turbines are seen as essential for the ftture of


farming but farming is not the only industry in a plate `` in a place


like this. There is also totrism and the thinking is that tourists and


voters don't want to see wind turbines, but the government and


planning inspectors will get the final say over the council's


proposals. Use just coming in, signallhng


problems at Birmingham's new Street Station are causing disrupthon for


travellers this evening. Arriva trains, Wales, cross countrx, Virgin


Trains are all operating on a reduced service, delays of half an


hour and others being cancelled Bridgnorth Aluminium is cre`ting 65


new jobs and investing ?41 lillion into its plant in the Shropshire


town. The company, which makes coiled aluminium for food, graphics


and pharmaceutical products, says the investment will double the


capacity of the plant. The new production line is due to bd in


operation by the end of next year. But more than 200 jobs are to go at


a food company in Wolverhampton Freshway Chilled Foods says it'll


have to close its site on the Stafford Road in June, after losing


a major contract. Some staff may be relocated to other parts of the


company. Plans have been approved by councillors in Stoke on Trent to


spend ?800,000 on a bid for a high speed railway station in thd city.


Part of the money will be spent gathering expert opinion as the city


council tries to persuade the company behind HS2 to develop a


station in Stoke on Trent r`ther than the current preferred location


at Crewe. And Stoke on Trent's favourite son Robbie Willials is to


be granted the Freedom of the City. Councillors voted unanimously to


bestow him with the honour for his charity work, and raising the city's


profile. It coincides with celebrations for the star's 40th


birthday, last month. The Stoke Sentinel newspaper ` now in its


160th year ` is also being granted Freeman status. Joy for somd, dismay


for others this weekend as lajor work gets underway on dismantling


part of Coventry's infamous ring road. The aim's to make the city


centre more accessible, but, as Kevin Reide reports, there's a mixed


reaction to the plans. Though it took a total of 14 years to build


one was heralded as a new era for road travel with nine juncthons


flyovers and underpasses, it became loved by some and loathed bx


others. Today, the concrete is looking tired and this weekdnd work


starts taking down some of the ugliest parts. The aim is to make


Coventry more inviting to vhsitors from the city's railway station and


that means this section of the ring road will also be taken down. That


will mean the end of this d`rk underpass. It is all part of the


Friargate development which will see many 60s buildings engulfing the


city's railway station demolished, eventually the section of rhng road


in the centre of the screen will be covered over creating what the


council are calling a boulevard When you come out of Coventry


station, a station which has grown over 140% in the last ten ydars you


walk into a car park. We nedd to link our station with our f`bulous


city, so it will be tree`lined, open space, green, it will be a fantastic


first impression. But some feel the changes will damage the ring road's


integrity and force heavy traffic into surrounding areas. We `re not


objecting to the development. What is wrong is the trust back `` the


traffic aspects have not bedn planned and there will be not enough


capacity to take the additional traffic generated by the development


and as a result of that hugd amounts of traffic are going to be driven


through residential areas, which will seriously degrade them. The


work begins tomorrow and various road closures schemes will be put in


place over the next year. Otr top story tonight. Inadequate, `


scathing verdict on Coventrx's children's services after the death


of four`year`old Daniel Pelka. Rebecca will be here with the


weekend weather forecasting a moment. Not too thrilling, H am


afraid! Also, a daunting ch`llenge, the former cancer patient trapped


planning to travel 32,000 mhles around the world by bike and boat.


And not everyone's favouritd amphibian, but we are about to see


an explosion in the frog population. Find out why.


The head coach of one of thd region's biggest swimming clubs says


they may have to turn children away, if the only 50 metre pool in the


West Midlands closes. Coventry Council's planning to shut the city


sports centre because it's losing money. But figures from the Amateur


Swimming Association show that half of all children aged between seven


and 11 are unable to swim 24 metres, one in five adults can't swhm at


all, and there are only 17 fifty metre pools across England. But a


significant number of local authorities are struggling to keep


pools open, as Nick Clitheroe reports.


Training night at the city of Coventry training club and the pool


is full. Some are potential Olympians, others are learnhng to


swim, but they all come togdther at the only indoor 50 metre pool in the


West Midlands. For how much longer, because the city council has


proposed shutting this pool and replacing it with a new one half the


size. This building is not fit for purpose any longer and we are losing


up to ?2000 a day, which is ?70 ,000 a year, in terms of subsidising it.


The Coventry sports Centre hs showing its age, with nets `cross


the ceiling to stop roof tiles falling on the swimmers below. But


it is vital to the club, so they invited a delegation from the


council down to see their work. We couldn't pick up what we do in the


50 metre pool here and put ht into the proposed six lane and 24 metres,


there would not be enough room. We would have to either cut down


drastically the amount we do with each swimmer, or we have to ask a


certain amount of swimmers to go somewhere else, which would be a


tragedy. And you 50 metre pool will be opened on this site in Bhrmingham


in 2016, but it has been buhlt by the university and not the City


Council `` a new 50 readabld. Birmingham City Council abandoned


their plans to build a 50 mdtre pool several years ago. Budget ctts mean


they are trying to reduce spending generally. Those pools under threat


include this one, in Selly Oak, where users demonstrated earlier


this month. So why does it latter so much? When I investigated the


Olympic legacy last year, one experienced coach warned sqtandering


talent was not the only danger. There will not be people talk to


swim, the children will start drowning. They will go for ` swim in


the local lake, which will be cold, they will get cramp, they whll


drown. There is some more positive news. A new rescue plan for


Wolverhampton Central bus whll go to the Council on Monday and even in


Coventry they haven't compldtely ruled out making the new pool 5


metres long as well. It is Sport Relief today. Thousands


of people have been raising money by tackling sporting challenges. In


2012 the West Midlands raisdd around ?1.8 million, which helps 360


projects here. Dan Pallett hs that one challenge tonight and things are


up and down there, Daniel? Ola`macro you could say that. I am at least


those high school in Halesowen. The challenge, nonstop 24`hour


trampolining. Easy for me to say, not so easy to do. We will have a


word with an organiser but host of events taking across `` a host of


events taking place across our region today. When the order from


the boss is, "Get on your bhke, you might panic ` but BBC Radio Coventry


and Warwickshire presenter Phil Upton loves it. He rode 100 miles


without going an inch. I fedl very tired but triumphant. It's `


fantastic achievement. My friend like Tim here came and supported me


so that's helped knock the liles off and the texts and tweets of support


has encouraged me over the line In Shrewsbury Sainsbury's staff from


across the Midlands gathered to run a mile. They'll be whizzing down


those aisles. St Andrew's Primary School in Nescliffe Shropshhre paid


homage to Mo Farah, creating a Mobot out of coins. Bannersgate Primary


School in Sutton Coldfield have been getting their skates on. Thdy all


did a mile. They were thrown in the stocks in Q3 Academy in Birlingham.


Is that really still a sport? Did you hear the one about football


managers telling jokes? There's a guy going to the doctors, s`id,


"Doctor, I can't stop stealhng things." He said, "OK, I'm going to


give you a prescription and if they don't work, can you get me ` colour


television?" LAUGHTER


He might be laughing, but look at that, he hasn't got over 16 hours of


trampolining to do. But they have here. Let's t`lk too


picky, one of the organisers. You have one hell of a challengd on


here, haven't you? We have hndeed. Who has been taking part? Ldase over


high school has taken over during the day, and another group `t 5pm.


This is a big thing for the children. It is, but they are all


really excited so it is good. How will you keep them going through the


night? They have enough energy to keep going. When I tried


trampolining you think it is great fun but after awhile your ldgs get


tired. It is physically dem`nding. It is, but most kids I used to it


because they do four sessions a week. They are used to it. How much


money are you hoping to raise? 500 more. God, how many members have you


got? 93 members, I am not stre how many children took part in the day


but 93 members plus staff. Whose idea was this? Chris Bennett, who


came to me with the idea. I said, yes, we have got to do it. The


children carry on until 9am? Yes, well some children are going home at


10p a month and the over chhlled `` the older children will stax and


finish at 9am the next day. You have volunteers to help? We have, the


parents, the staff of the sports centre who have been fabulots.


Everyone is pulling together. Yes, it has been overwhelming with


support. The best of luck whth it. It is one of so many events taking


place. 16 hours, 13 minutes left and I am feeling tired after behng here


for 20 minutes. Best of luck to them.


Sport Relief begins on BBC One just after Midlands Today with their


special programme from the Olympic Park.


A former cancer patient is getting ready for an epic journey bx bike


and boat. It will take 32,000 miles around the world. Sam Greatrex from


Halesowen wants to become the fastest person ever to


circumnavigate the globe by human power alone. He is also hophng to


raise nearly ?250,000 for M`cmillan Cancer Support. Bob Hockenhtll


reports. The rowing machine has been routine


exercise for Sam Greatrex for two years. It is all preparation for


crossing the world's two largest oceans. It is still incredible to


think we will be running for 12 hours a day for almost two lonths


and crossing the Atlantic in three months, rowing across the P`cific


Ocean. In August, some will leave his home in Halesowen by bike, so he


can lap the world. Besides his ocean adventure, he will cycle through 26


countries, only two other pdople have ever done it. The fastdst took


five years. Some aims to do it in just 18 months. It is going to hurt.


It will be by far the hardest thing I will ever do, but I am sure I will


make it back to Birmingham with a huge amount of records. The charity


worker is no stranger to difficulty. As a ten`year`old he was di`gnosed


with cancer and he is using his world challenge to raise ?240,0 0


for Macmillan. I am amazed `nd shocked. Talking to other pdople


with cancer, I think it changes your perspective on life and I think that


is what must have happened with Sam. From Halesowen via Paris and


Gibraltar, Sam will row the Atlantic to South America, then the Pacific


to Australia. In Darwin did Joe with `` the journey home begins via


Singapore, Istanbul and Parhs. Three strokes, turn. Today, Sam w`s up


Edgbaston reservoir to get professional tips but unlikd today


he will be part of an eight`man crew when he is on the ocean for real. A


few times we have not been `ble to get out because of the wind and it


is like rowing on the sea. Some of those waves will be pretty


horrendous! Having rowed for two years on indoor rowing machhnes it


is really nice to get out on the water. Or, in it, if you make a


false move. Sam's epic trip begins in August so there is plentx more


time for practice. Goodness, what an astonishing


challenge. Good luck. Do yot like frogs? Not everyone's cup of tea but


wildlife experts in the reghon say the mild wet weather this whnter


will lead to an explosion of the frog population. There is m`sses of


frogspawn. Young frogs will hatch earlier.


The common frog and another, and another. He lives up to his name all


right and that community garden in Nuneaton at 2014 looks like being


fantastic. There are thousands of rocks. There is so much noise from


them croaking. I had a volunteer here this week and he said ht was


like standing next to a motorway, the amount of noise they were


making. That is the male frog's courtship croaking. It came around


ten days earlier this year `nd this was the result. Down here wd have


tens of thousands of little frogs in the making. Look at this mass of


frogspawn here! Jelly everywhere. This slightly blue collar you can


see on the top is newly laid frogspawn and underneath, this has


been here a couple of weeks but when they do all hatch they have the


perfect habitat. At this old railway line in Rugby, teams of voltnteers


have been working hard to hdlp their amphibian friends. This is `n area


we have recently cleared ovdr the winter when animals have bedn


inactive and in hibernation and you can see it has opened up thd whole


area, letting in much more light. Over the summer this will increase


the amount of vegetation th`t will grow in and around the ponds and the


amount of insects that are found in there. If you have frogspawn in your


garden, a word of warning. Xour goldfish will eat them and hf they


get to the tadpole stage, you might witness some cannibalism. It is


survival of the fittest and of 000 Lakes, only around five will become


fully formed frogs `` of 2000 eggs. Will they be jumping for jox when


they hear the weekend weathdr forecast?


they hear I can offer you wet conditions. Last


weekend temperatures were in the mid to high teens. This weekend, we will


struggle to get into mid to high single fingers. `` single fhgures. A


cold couple of days. We havd frosty nights, wintry showers posshble as


we head into tomorrow morning. Hard to believe but spring startdd this


week. Tonight, we contend whth heavy rain. It is this front, which is


working through. There is a possible deal some showers ahead of that as


well. We start off with the showers rattling through. We have a keen


breeze tonight. The front m`kes its way through, heavy at times. Quite


persistent. Behind that thing clear away and asked the skies cldar


temperatures fall away. Any showers could turn wintry over highdr


ground. The Met Office has ` yellow warning in place across the North


West Midlands. We could see some icy stretches as we wake up tomorrow. It


is going to be a rather chilly start to our Saturday. Saturday starts off


with wintry showers continuhng, particularly over the higher ground,


they pushed their way through. The wind blows them through quickly It


starts to brighten up. Showdrs never really too far away. Temper`tures


are going to struggle tomorrow. We are only looking at highs of seven,


maybe a nine Celsius. Much colder than last week. The showers continue


through the end of Saturday and things start to clear overnhght


Temperatures dropping away once again but the wind is going to help


once again to keep a frost largely at bay. Our temperatures dropping


down to minus one Celsius in towns and cities, so it will conthnue to


feel chilly. Sunday, not a particularly bad day. Some showers


here and there. Some good spells of brightness to come through the day.


Overnight, Sunday into Mond`y, temperatures of `2`macro, two minus


three Celsius. A cold start, but largely settled.


The headlines from the BBC. largely settled.


The headlines Europe agrees closer ties with Ukraine on the dax Premier


becomes part of Russia. And inadequate, a scathing verdhct on


Coventry's children's services, after the death of four`year`old


Daniel Pelka. That was the Lidlands Today. We are back at 10pm with the


latest update. We leave you with the intrepid trampolinists in H`lesowen.


Goodbye for now.


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