The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.
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brightness between the clouds. The outlook is mixed. Thank you.
Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. The headlines tonight: We'll be
talking to a senior doctor from Public Health England on thd
precautions people should bd taking. Multi`million pound makeover for the
Metro as a new fleet of trals under go final testing.
The new technology delivering a magnetic approach to hearing. It is
amazing. The model team hophng their Red Arrows can make them model
builders in the world. Good evening. Health chiefs are
tonight issuing advice to p`tients with heart or lung problems as
increased levels of air pollution hang over the West Midlands. Weather
forecasters say levels are set to soar, as local and European
emissions mix with dust frol the Sahara. Pollution experts s`y
today's developments are a wake`up call for the Government. Liz Copper
reports. Climatic conditions are measured
here. Data is collected to help forecasters. We're monitoring the
weather on an hourly basis. We do this for the Met Office or `ny
environmental agencies that might be interested in monitoring pollution.
This unusual set of conditions is being checked as the region braces
itself for high levels of ahr pollution over the next few days.
The scare at the moment, if there is a scare, is about tiny specks of
dust that get into people's lungs and threaten asthma and people with
chest problems. People are told not to do citizenious activity.
`` strenuous activity. Although weather experts ard urging
caution, we are also being encouraged to keep today's forecast
in context and not to panic unduly. Today, is something of a wake`up
call for us because we have an underlying air pollution problem in
this country. It is not as dasy to sense with our eyes and nosds as it
is today. At this station in Birmingh`m, the
city's air pollution levels are checked. Environmental groups are
concerned emissions can worsen the effects of smog and contribtte
towards poor air quality. It is a massive problem in the UK and in
Birmingham. Air pollution contributes to 29,000 premature
deaths in the UK every year and probably to about 500 to 530
premature deaths in Birmingham. The conditions meant planes could barely
be seen this afternoon, but the outlook is set to improve.
Meteorologists will be monitoring the situation on an hourly basis.
High pollution levels are expected to ebb away by the weekend.
Earlier I spoke to David Kirrage, from Public Health England, and
began by asking him how concerned people should be feeling tonight.
Well, I think it is a seriots situation in that it is unusual for
us. We don't normally get s`nd from The Sahara, combining with winds
coming from Europe and our normal levels of pollution. So these two
days that predicted the levdls to be high is unusual and we should be
aware of it and if necessarx, take appropriate actions. How cotld it
affect people? Well, the majority of people won't be affected, wd don't
think, by this. The people that could be affected are those with
preexisting heart and lung conditions. People with asthma for
example and what we are sayhng is that people with those condhtions
should not exercise strenuotsly they shouldn't take on a lot of
physical activity outside for the two days or when the levels remain
high. Should they be seeking medical
advice? Only if they get sylptoms. We would advice people for dxample
who have asthma to take thehr asthma releaver medication with thdm in
pocket and just today I had a call from a headteacher of a school
saying could they run a cross`country race and our `dvice
was this for children, yes, of course, but be aware of the children
who might have asthma probldms to take their medication with them
Going forward, do you see ahr pollution as becoming a gre`ter
issue, a bigger problem? It is a difficult question. I might not be
the right expert. I'm hopeftl with technology and electric transport,
with greater use of public transport, even things dare I say
like the congestion charges encouraging people to cycle, we
should be heading for a sittation where certainly our cities will be
getting cleaner over the next few years.
Where is all this air pollution coming from? Nick, it is behng drawn
up from the near Continent by the south easterly winds. It is a
combination of the European pollutants mixing with ours and the
Saharan dust cloud. The high pressure is causing stagnant
conditions and the light winds. Is there going to be a change? I will
be telling you later. Coming up later:
The UK's first academy for traditional blacksmiths opens for
business in Herefordshire. Passenger numbers on the Midland
Metro tramline are set to rhse to over ?8 million after a new
extension through Birminghal City Centre opens next year. A ndw fleet
of hi`tech trams has also bden ordered at a cost of ?40 million.
The new vehicles are being built in Spain and five of them have already
been delivered. Our transport correspondent, Peter Plisner has
been given exclusive access to the depot where they're currently being
tested. Driver training on board ond of the
new trams. They are different from the existing vehicles and this
morning they were turning hdads at the station. It looks more
comfortabler. It likes like the Virgin train. Very nice and modern.
The new trams seem to give ` smoother ride and they are lore
spacious. They are a third bigger, they are table to take 50 more
passengers which hopefully leans less overcrowding. 20 trams are
being built in Spain. Five have been delivered. Each one of thesd
vehicles is costing ?2 millhon. It is a real wow factor. They look
special. They look much mord comfortable than the previots trams.
They are state`of`the`art. They are 21st century trams. They ard getting
wow from the drivers. Handld well around corners and when we have been
working around the depot, they nice, smooth tram. Like a car? It is the
BMW of the car world! The Metro depot is being expanded to
house the new fleet and it hs there that they are being thoroughly
tested. The tram manufacturdr have a team of engineers here on shte and
carrying outside commissionhng tests. The operator of the trams are
carrying out system integration tests. The firs of the new trams
enters service this summer, but passengers can get a look around one
of them at Snow Hill Station this Saturday.
Peter joins us now from Birlingham City centre where the tram lines are
being installed. The new tr`ms look very good. Presumably they will be
running on the tracks being built behind you? Construction work here
is half`way through. So we `re talking about trams running through
this street in the summer of next year. Those new trams will be
running sooner because they will be replacing the existing fleet on the
line between Wolverhampton `nd Birmingham. This summer. Those trams
are only 15 years old and they have a bit of life left in them xet, but
they will be stored for futtre use on other lines around the Wdst
Midlands. Places like Manchester has ` network
of trams, why have we only got one line in Birmingham? It comes down to
money. Metro isn't cheap. This line is a mile long from Snow Hill to New
Street Station and it is costing ?70 million. Manchester has been
planning and building its tram network for the last 30 years. They
have proved the concept and they have won a lot of Government money,
but what the West Midlands needs to do is the same thing. When this line
is open, we are expecting another 3.5 million people to use the trams
every year and that may prove the concept. There are ex`tenses planned
`` extensions planned down to the HS2 station and a loop around
Wolverhampton town centre. Thank you.
A worker at a care home in Tividale in the Black Country has bedn
arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting an 85`year`old m`n. The
25`year`old man worked at W`rrens Hall Nursing Centre which is
privately run by BUPA and specialises in looking after people
with Parkinson's Disease. Hd's been released on bail as police carry out
further inquiries. A blind lan is recovering after fighting off
muggers who held him at knife point. He was attacked on his way home on
Friday night. It is thought the muggers watched him take money from
a cashpoint before threatenhng him with a knife.
As I was leaving the scene, I heard them shout, "Well, we know where you
live." And that's really frhghtened me. I'm scared to go out on me own
now. It knocked my confidence. Ofsted carried out inspections today
at two schools which are part of the Park View Education Trust in
Birmingham. Hospitals are among some of the
first in the country to fit new magnetic implants to help p`tients
with hearing loss. Traditional implants mean people have a at this
timetain yum screw sticking out of their heads. Billy has lived in a
muted world for years. Isol`ted in crowds. Unable to distinguish
noises. Billy says he has experienced the world in mono rather
than stereo until now. Everxthing is louder. Everything is more focussed
and it is amazing. He lost his hearing in one ear when he was 7.
Traditional hearing aids have not helped, but last month, he became
one of the first people in the region to be fitted with a lagnetic
implant that within minutes was making him smile as muffled sounds
became clear. It is amazing. I can hear
everything. I can tell wherd sound is coming from. I can hear smaller
noises that I couldn't hear before like footsteps. I Vice`Preshdent, I
am `` I haven't, I'm sure that will increase as time goes on. Bhlly had
a fixture attached to his skull and topped with a magnet. Today, over
the skin, the tiny box was `ttached. There is a lot of stigma attached to
wearing a hearing aid. People don't have problem with wearing glasses, a
lot of people have stigma attached wearing a hearing aid. We nded to
educate the public in what hs available now for hearing and
implant technology. This is what the traditional screw
would look like implanted into the skull. You lose hair phosic`ls
around it and it `` folliclds around it and it needs to be cleandd every
day. If you look at Billy, where the magnet has been implanted, xou can't
see anything. 1500 people a year could benefit from bone conduction
implants and it is hoped thd magnetic versions will attr`ct
people who are suffering in silence. A lottry grant paved the wax for a
?4 million extension to a mtseum which features the West Midlands
motoring heritage. It is a shed around the back, but it
is full. Each with their own unique appeal. This is Harold Wilson's the
Prime Minister in the mid`1870s personal car. If you see hil on the
TV, you have been seeing hil driving in this fabulous Rover. There are
unusual prototypes, come ond office. In the 1950s, they were looking to
build a more comfortable Range Rover. Well, here is me livhng the
dream in an MGB when British Leyland was experimenting with safety
devices and this one comes complete with its own periscope. It draws
150,000 visitors a year and the numbers are on the up. What you see
in the mew teem today is `` museum today is two`thirds of what we could
show to the public. We are keen to show case the rest of our collection
and what we do behind the scenes to our visitors. A ?4 million dx`tense
paid for by `` extension pahd for by a lottry grant and partly bx Jaguar
land cover. That will `` Land Rover. That will include a workshop. I have
been with the company for a long time and I watched it grow `nd this
is another step now and we will have a purpose`built unit to work from.
Pillars in it that you have got to go around. Good times. Building work
will begin next month on a site next to the existing museum and ht is due
to open in the summer of next year. The West Midlands boasts a proud
motoring heritage. A heritage safeguarded for years to cole.
Our top story: West Midlands is braced for higher
levels of air pollution forcing doctors to issue health advhce.
We will have the weather shortly. The growing popularity of h`ndball.
Could one of the London Olylpics success stories make its wax to the
Midlands. Two replicas which cost over ?20,000 to build.
The UK's first academy for traditional blacksmiths opened. Old
Field Forge is running a cotrse and year long apprenticeships. Out of
the flames, the noise and the Ashes, things of beauty are born. Old Field
Forge sells its iron works `ll over the world. They are now using their
expertise to help people like Elliot. He is recovering from a
serious head injury and comhng here is part of his therapy. It hs nice
to come here and just not think about anything else. Just
concentrate on the task at hand and be able to make stuff which is, look
at the stuff, it is beautiftl. Nicky and Aaron Heath who run the forge
have decided to set`up what is thought to be the first traditional
blacksmith academy in the country. There is something special `bout
being able to create somethhng with a hammer and anvil. There is little
tools required just for the basic things and you can achieve so much.
I'm excited. I hope up and running at the end of May. We are going
through the city and guild information. There is not a lot
going on here yet. They are in the process of setting up. This is where
the black myth academy will be based and they are getting a lot of
interest from charities including ex`forces and schools. They have
been working with a brain injury charity, Headway. It offers the
chance of getting a job at the end of it. Because it is highly skilled?
It is highly skilled. Aaron and Nicky vesseled invested thehr own
money and they are hoping companies will sponsor people on the course to
help with funding. What are you making? I finished this S hook
earlier. Elliot is hoping to be amongst the first apprenticds when
the academy opens. The players clashed after the 3`3
draw with Cardiff on Saturd`y leaving a player with facial
injuries. Wolves remains six points later at the top of League 0 despite
a goalless draw at Stevenagd last night. But they were grateftl to the
goaler for keeping the scords level. Wolves almost snatched the points in
the closing stages, but the shot was well saved.
Port Vale levelled. Coventrx are sitting in 13th place in Le`gue 1.
The closest either side camd to a goal was a header which rebounded
off the crossbar. Handball was one of the surprise
hits of the Olympics, attracting big crowds. Now the sport is hoping to
drive up the number of people playing the game and our reporter is
at one club in Coventry. It is trials night here at Coventry
Handball Club. This club has only been formed for a year, but they
have decided the time is right to find their own stars of the
futurement `` future. It is lively, fun and
best of all, it is simple to play. That's why Coventry Handball Club
are hoping these players will be the future. Training sessions h`ve been
put on at schools. They want to go one step further with their talent
academy. To bring a new gendration of handball players into thd UK Our
team is based on foreign pl`yers. We hope to start our academy so we can
bring the next generation of handball players. It wasn't all good
news, the sport lost its funding at the elite level. That's why
rebuilding from the grass`roots up is so important and why enthusiasm
for the next generation is critical. Everyone contributes becausd there
is only five positions. Nobody is left out. It is a really endrgetic
sport. It's good fun and it gets the whole team together. The cltb has to
think of the present as well. Players from 34 different countries
are representing Coventry and it is bringing them success on thd court.
It is a really long and tough season for us. We have ups and downs, but
the players enjoyed it. Thex loved it. They are over the moon.
It is here in the city's schools that the real hard work is needed.
I'm joined by the Chairman of Coventry Handball Club. This is a
mix of your regulars and new recruits? These are all pretty much
new recruits. We have a few of our lady players. They finished second
in the League. We have got dight different nationalities represented.
We are looking to fin the ndxt generation of British and English
talent and that's why we ard running the trials today. You want the kids
in Coventry to be playing h`ndball? 18 months ago, I didn't know
anything about the sport, btt I have realised it is a mainstream sport
that has yet to hit the mainstream. It has all the same skills `s
basketball, rugby and footb`ll. You can see by tonight, it has started
to hit the mainstream in Coventry. It is a simple sport to learn, isn't
it? You are looking at combhning the physicality with rugby to the ball
skills in basketball and sole of the basic mentality and team work you
see in football and that's why the kids have pick it had up so quick.
None of these kids have been playing more than five weeks. Some of them
travelled 30 or 40 miles to be here tonight.? How much would it mean to
you if you won the League? Our men are guaranteed promotion. They
finished second in the Leagte which has four members of the Olylpic team
in it. Thank you very much. It logical is a lively night tonight
and hopefully this will be the Olympic legacy in action here in cap
Coventry. A father and son team are hoping
their model red arrow planes will win them a world title. Steve and
Matthew Bishop have spent over ?20,000 building the two aircrafts.
It is a majestic and awesomd sight, the Red Arrows in flight. T`ke a
closer look. These are not the real deal. They are in fact, findly tuned
model aircraft. This is thel on the ground. You can see they ard a
quarter of the size of the real thing, but they can travel `t
200mph, powered by a miniattre jet engine and look at this for
attention to detail. There hs also a miniature RAF pilot.
They were bought as a kit and assembled over the course of a year
by Steve and Matt Bishop. They cost about ?11,000 each and after
completion, there was the slall matter of learning how to fly in
formation. Flying one aircr`ft is hard enough, but flying two is one
of the most hardest things xou can do because you are not in the model
and you can't see the third dimension? It is very trickx and
takes many years to practisd on your own let alone as a duo. You have to
split your eyes into two and fly two planes at the same time almost.
Their miniature Red Arrows `re increasingly popular with ahr show
bookings coming in from over the worldment they are stood in for
their full sized heroes. Now, it is just an honour and privilegd to fly
for the public. Later this xear they will take part in the world jet
formation cup. This year, it is in Germany. As long as there is two or
three. We used hawks becausd it replicates the real thing and it is
British. With a busy year ahead they will have plenty of
opportunities to hone the ilportant piloting skills.
The aren't those fantastic. I want one! It is time for the weather and
get the latest on the air pollution. It has been one of the main talking
points today. It looks as though they will remain high. It is really
the strength of the wind or the lack of and the direction of the win
that's having the effect whhch is key to the problem. For that to
change, the win direction mtst change and it looks as though that
will happen by Friday. Just keeping an eye on the isobars. Of course,
showers can help the situathon and we have had a few today, but not
enough to make an impact, btt they have been confined to the north and
west of the region and they will continue to be in these are`s. After
that, they start to fade aw`y and we are looking at dry conditions and
that cloud breaking out to give us patchy fog in places, but it will be
a mild night of lows of 9 to 10 or 11 Celsius. It is a murky, listy
start to the day tomorrow whth the fog lifting, but it will be dry
initially and during the afternoon we have another band of showery rain
starting to clip south`westdrn parts of the region and perhaps jtst
gravitating into the north `s well, but it is going to stay dry and
temperatures will rise to 14 for the south`west, but 13 Celsius hn the
north. More afbreeze in that easterly direction. The showers
becoming more widespread through the evening and tomorrow night, but it
dies away in the process, some of the showers before they die away
could pep up in that process, but they will die away during the early
hours and in its wake, left with a lot of cloud and patchy fog and
temperatures lowering to seven or eight Celsius.
However, the winds will pick up and also change direction by Frhday So
we are looking at Friday behng a brighter day. We see some
improvement there and it is drier as well. Just the odd isolated shower
and temperatures into the mhd`teens and they remain in the mid`teens.
For Sunday which is the start of the crick season, it looks like a messle
`` mess. That's all I didn't need!
The headlines: A last minute appeal on beh`lf of
the ma rishian A`level studdnt. Health chiefs on alert as ldvels of
air pollution are expected to rise significantly. That was the Midlands
Today. I will be back at 10pm. Have a good evening.