22/07/2014 Midlands Today


22/07/2014

The latest news, sport and weather for the Midlands.


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The headlines tonight: and on BBC One we

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An independent education commissioner to be appointed

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by the Government to work with Birmingham City Council.

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We've got the children of Birmingham to think about here and if we can do

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this in a way where they get a proper education is maintained, that

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is to the good. There will also be a review

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into how Birmingham City Council is run, as a report finds an aggressive

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Islamist agenda in some schools. A new way of testing heart drugs `

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the Coventry University scientists behind a potentially life`saving

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treatment. From Birmingham to Beijing `

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the first flight to China takes off from the City, but when will

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other long`haul destinations come? Chinese visitors enjoy the Vista,

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they enjoyed Birmingham, and they spend a lot of money.

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We take you into the tranquillity of some of the loveliest gardens

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in the Midlands ` their location might just surprise you.

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And another sun`drenched day in sweltering heat and humidity `

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but just how hot was it today and how high are those temperatures

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An independent education commissioner is to be appointed

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by the Government to work with Birmingham City Council.

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It follows the publication of the Clarke Review into

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In his report, Peter Clarke says there was "an aggressive Islamist

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agenda" to impose hard`line Muslim views in some Birmingham schools.

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But he says that the city council was aware

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of the issues for more than a year ` and "didn't do enough to stop it".

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Today the Education Secretary confirmed that

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as well the new education commissioner, there will be a review

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Co`ordinated, deliberate and sustained ` those were the

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words Peter Clarke chose to describe the behaviour of some govs and staff

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The agressive Islamic ethos they pushed meant Friday prayers

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and Arabic lessons ` but no music, no drama, no Christmas.

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According to this former education troubleshooter, there were obvious

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signs at the former Washwood Heath School as far back as 2001.

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He recalls one particular governors' meeting.

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This was at another level, really. You basically had white governors

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sat on one side of the table, Muslim governors sat on the other, and some

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of the Muslim governors were standing up and pointing their

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fingers and making allegations of racism.

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Birmingham City Council has admitted it was aware of trouble

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Nothing was done for fear of being seen as Islamophobic.

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The new Education Secretary's seeing to it that the council can

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I have spoken to servile but raw and we have agreed that we will appoint

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a new education Commissioner. `` Sir Albert Bore. I'm quite happy. I

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think there are mistakes that have been made by Birmingham City Council

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and the Department for Education. Nicky Morgan has said she won't

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hesitate to use the full extent of her powers to intervene further if

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there isn't sufficient progress. You could say that means that she

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doesn't have much confidence in how you are running Birmingham's

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schools. Come on, of course she would have to say that. Some of the

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failings are not just the failings of the City Council but the

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Department for Education as well. Next

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Sir Bob Kerslake, the former head of the the civil

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service, has been appointed to carry out a review of governance

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His report is due at the end of the year.

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The Education Secretary's also withdrawn funding at Oldknow

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Academy, one of the schools caught up in the Trojan Horse allegations.

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The principal ` who claimed she was forced out by hardliners in January

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I feel that finally, somebody is believing in me and I was probably

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the only voice and I didn't think anybody would believe in me and I

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would just be another number, like all the previous head teachers. One

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minute they're there and the next, they're gone.

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The systems and accountability of all schools will now be

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strengthened, the Fovernment says, because of what happened

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The Trojan Horse letter may not have been real, but the furore it caused

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means schools will now better withstand the threats of extremism.

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Well, we asked repeatedly to speak to the

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Education Secretary or a minister from the Department for Education

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today ` but they were unable to make anyone available to be interviewed.

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Sarah, what do we know about this new role of education Commissioner?

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Nobody has been appointed yet. I asked Sir Albert bore if he knew and

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he said it was yet to be decided but whoever is appointed will answer

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directly to the Secretary of State for Education and the Chief

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Executive Bob Birmingham City Council. Their job, briefly, will be

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to look at the criticisms of these reports and the recommendations. I'm

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looking at the Kershaw report and they are things like setting up a

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task force to deal with complaints about school governors. It is about

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establishing a position on how cultural issues should be worked

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into the school curriculum is. There is a lot for them to look at. Nobody

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has been appointed yet but I imagine it will not be too long before they

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are. Ignoring the warnings `

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swimmers still using Gullet Quarry near Malvern to cool off,

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despite deaths there last summer. Scientists at Coventry University

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have developed a new way of testing heart and cancer drugs

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which it's hoped will save tens They've been able to replicate how

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the human heart will react to treatments,

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but under laboratory conditions. This means they'll be able to spot

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potential problems with drugs, before they're ever tested

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on patients. This is human heart tissue being

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tested in a way it has never been tested before. It's the brainchild

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of this doctor who has spent the last ten years of her life trying to

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make the breakthrough. Scientists would usually be testing out

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potential cancer and heart related drugs on animal tissue but this new

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technique for the first time recreate the conditions of the heart

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` anything from the impact of blood flow to mimicking the movement of

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the heart. We're making drugs safer and for patients that have cancer

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and are on chemotherapy, we have the potential to make the drug is a lot

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safer and help them live longer, potentially, in the future. Helen's

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work is already attracting attention. She is in talks with more

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than 15 pharmaceutical companies across the world and her team are

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relieved that all their hard work is finally paying off. I've been

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working on the system for two or three years and it's very exciting

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that they say it can but essentially saved many lives, because it can be

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picked up before the drugs go into clinical trials. In order for the

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team to carry out their research, they have to rely on patients who

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have donated their hearts, which are transported from the local hospital,

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but when they arrive the team have just minutes to start their tests.

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Only yesterday we received a heart donation from a lady who had been

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very poorly and had sadly passed away but very kindly donated her

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organs for research. We wouldn't be able to do this research without

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these donations and it's absolutely critical. We do need more to be able

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to do the research we're doing. Getting more people to donate their

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hearts could be the key to developing this research and Helen

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is hoping she could help transform the way all cancer and heart drugs

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are tested from now on through her work.

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The first direct flight between China and Birmingham landed at the

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Our Transport Correspondent Peter Plisner joins us now

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So, a significant day ` but these flights are just during the summer.

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Well, they are, but hopefully more will follow. This is the day that

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passengers and airport bosses have been waiting for. The airport has

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invested millions in extending its runway so that flights can go

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further afield and today saw the first in a new breed of long haul

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flights. Arriving from the southward originating from the East, touchdown

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of the first direct passenger flight from China. After a bit of taxiing

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off the runway, the airport's now traditional water cannon welcome.

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There was another traditional welcome for passengers, in the shape

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of a Chinese dragon as they came off the plane. Most of those arriving

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today where tourists and even they realised how historic the flight

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was. I wasn't really expecting a welcome ceremony like that! It's

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very good. Very fresh. The arrival of this flight from China marks a

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milestone for the airport because it is the first in the UK outside

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London to have direct flights to China. When this flight takes off,

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another milestone will be cast ` it will be the first to use the full

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length of a new extended runway, completed a couple of months ago at

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a cost of ?40 million. Hasn't just checking in for the flight to

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Beijing. Tiananmen Square, the great Wall of China, Shanghai, so many

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things. I can't wait to see them! I'm the same, really. It's a

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completely different culture. So, how important our tourist links with

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China? Enter the tourism minister Helen Grant, also at the airport.

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Chinese tourism is very important. Chinese visitors come over here.

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They enjoyed a Vista, they enjoyed Birmingham and they spend a lot of

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money. And tourists here will spend money in China, too. The flight back

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to Beijing took off from Birmingham this evening. There will be another

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five flights like this during the summer and, hopefully, many more in

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future. Joining me is a representative of

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Birmingham airport. Six flights in the summer to China ` you haven't

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really cracked it, have you, as far as long haul flights are concerned?

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We always said this was a market test. We're seeing if the market

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will stand and the Chinese response has been phenomenal. The flights

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have oversold so it is a good market test. Let's see what happens. What

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are the other must have destinations? There are plethora of

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destinations we'd like. The market will tell us which ones. There is a

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lot of competition with Burlington, Barcelona. It is a very packed

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market. `` with Burlington. `` Berlin. Who knows what the market

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might bring? And extended runway has menu flight path that been

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complaints from residents. Instead of extending the runway, you have to

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move the flight paths a little so that the departure routes start of

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the different position. We're doing a trial to find the optimum route

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and when we have empirical evidence we will make recommendations to the

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CAA and keep the community informed. What is your message to residents?

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We will work with the communities, as we've always done, to get the

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right result for Birmingham airport and our communities. Hopefully more

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destinations will follow in the future.

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New figures show police officers in Staffordshire used Tasers more often

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The research from the Independent Police Complaints Commission shows

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Staffordshire Police had the highest number of Taser

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incidents per officer in the UK last year ` 33 uses per 100 officers.

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The Conservatives have chosen their candidate for next month's

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West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner election.

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Former Dudley Council leader Les Jones will challenge

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for the post, which was left vacant by the sudden death of Labour's

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West Mercia Police are appealing for help in finding

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a 52`year`old woman who's been missing from home for five days.

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Eve Cullen was last seen in Hollywood in Worcestershire

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She was wearing a mustard coloured T`shirt, green three`quarter length

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People swimming in a disused quarry near Malvern

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could now be prosecuted for ignoring warnings to stay out of the water.

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It follows the deaths of two men who drowned within

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Our reporter Ben Sidwell is at Gullet Quarry.

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Ben, it has been a very warm day ` have there been many people swimming

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there today? There has been a steady stream, to be honest, of people

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coming here. Many have been met by the police who are warning of the

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dangers and asking them not to go into the water. Many have heeded

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that warning and not gone in water but some have. It isn't only the

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risk of they're putting themselves in ` as you say, two deaths last

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year, five in 19 years ` these people can also face criminal

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charges. Police have said they are willing to take prosecutions on our

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behalf. It is a breach of our bylaws to go in the water and the police

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can therefore take prosecutions. They've said to us that if people

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are in the water, we ask them to leave and they refuse, to give them

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a call and they will come and speak to them. Why exactly is the water in

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that quarry so dangerous? The temperature, really. It isn't

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actually that deep ` about four metres ` but it is incredibly cold

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and your body seizes up, stops working, and that's where the danger

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of drowning is. The other problem is that it is so remote so it takes a

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long time for the emergency services to get here. I've spoken to the air

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ambulance and they say it is a problem. A lot of people drowned.

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They estimate about 400 nationally every year. A lot of these would be

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described by their friends as strong swimmers and in a lot of cases, the

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drownings occur within a few metres of the bank. There are plenty of the

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territory ` barbed wire and a lot of signs ` but, as you can see, there

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are still people in the water, risking their lives and possibly

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becoming one of the next death figures here at Gullet Quarry.

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An independent education commissioner to be appointed

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by the Government to work with Birmingham City Council.

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Your detailed weather forecast to come shortly.

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A home away from home ` our athletes settle into Glasgow

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just a day before the start of the Commonwealth Games.

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And the neat box hedges, immaculate herbaceous borders

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and beautiful orchards ` it could only be Castle Bromwich.

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Bob Jones, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner died earlier

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He'd been a councillor since he was 21 and lived

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His life was dedicated to public service ` and tomorrow

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a celebration of his life will take place at the Civic Centre.

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Ahead of the funeral, our special correspondent Peter

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Wilson was invited to the family home to talk to Bob's widow Sarah.

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Bob Jones was the first ever Police and Crime Commissioner for the West

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Midlands, one of the most powerful elected roles in the country. But he

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was also a big critic of that job and in the beginning of July, he

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died in his sleep, aged just 59. His widow Sarah agreed to talk about the

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man who shared her life and had worked so hard to bring policing

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closer to the people of the West Midlands. He worked too hard. He

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used to leave the house about 7am and take a bus and train and then he

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would be back for 9pm at night if I was lucky, otherwise we used to meet

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down the road at about 10pm. He had to meet me down there for 10pm. He

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was a real politician and he also liked real ale. He did lots for the

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campaign for real ales. He was on the board of executives for them for

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18 years. He ran a bar and I ran a bar. It was good fun. There will be

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a lot of people from that association on Wednesday. What do

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you want the service to be all about on Wednesday? Of's achievements, and

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to thank Bob for all the hard work you did and all the good things he's

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done. I want people to acknowledge that. Not many people like

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politicians but they seemed to like Bob. At least half the letters I've

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had said, "Bob did such and such for me". I'm very grateful for that. But

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is a terrific legacy to have. You managed to help people. I loved him

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and I think a lot of other people did and we're very grateful for him.

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He used to make me laugh. That's a real epitaph, isn't it? Make me

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laugh, make me happy. That is a real plus.

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Bob's widow Sarah Edmondson speaking to Peter Wilson, and the memorial

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service is tomorrow at 1 o'clock at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall.

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There are just over 24 hours to go until the opening ceremony

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of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow ` and competitors

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from all over the world have been arriving in the Athletes' Village.

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They include more than 50 sportsmen and women from the Midlands,

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many of them preparing to take part in their first major championships.

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Tanya Arnold reports from the village.

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Day by day, the village is filling up, each nation making it a home

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from home. The athletes seem to be settling in well and each has their

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own creature comforts. We haven't seen too much. We've just had time

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to go around the village, in the food hall and settle into where

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we're staying. It's absolutely amazing. It is on such a big scale.

:19:29.:19:33.

All of the athletes are mingling. It's been a great experience. The

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hub of the village is the dining hall. With around 4500 athletes plus

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all the support staff, they estimate 20,000 meals per day will be served,

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catering for all tastes. Free food and it isn't all just healthy so

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that is the Catch`22. Some of the other players come in and think, "a

:19:54.:19:59.

muffin ` it must be low`fat, " but they're not. These may be called the

:20:00.:20:02.

friendly games but there is a healthy amount of rivalry between

:20:03.:20:05.

each neighbour. Each nation has its own area so you leave Wales and then

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to the lions den, which is the English camp. People think the

:20:12.:20:16.

athletes all get on but if you want to head back through Wales if you

:20:17.:20:19.

are from team England, they've set up a little tollbooth. The athletes

:20:20.:20:29.

are here, the venues are ready. Millions will be watching as Glasgow

:20:30.:20:31.

hosts the Commonwealth Games. As more and more small towns and

:20:32.:20:36.

villages lose services, being able A project

:20:37.:20:38.

in Shropshire is hoping to expand ` as it teaches older people how to

:20:39.:20:42.

get to grips with the internet. Country living can be a delicate but

:20:43.:20:52.

for some, isolation MBA daily reality. A scheme has been set up to

:20:53.:20:59.

provide people from this area with basic intranet skills. The project

:21:00.:21:05.

has been so successful that 40 people have been trained since last

:21:06.:21:08.

year. This hotel provides free Wi`Fi. We feel the computer setup

:21:09.:21:20.

will help overcome the loneliness. The Government has quite often said

:21:21.:21:23.

loneliness is a big problem these days. Students have their own

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tutors. If they have a specific interest, they can explore it. They

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appreciate this flexible style of learning. I gained confidence by

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coming here because I was frightened to press the buttons. I thought I

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had to try and get with it. When I want to know anything or look in on

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Facebook or play games, I come here. Some of the students have gone on to

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become tutors. I would say to anybody who is terrified of

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computers, just come and have a look and see how you get on and you will

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probably amaze yourself how well you will get on. The organisers need

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more volunteers so the product can grow. The next step, they say, is

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training people in their own homes so they, too, can stay connected to

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the outside world. And there are more details about the

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project on our Facebook page. You've been with some very keen

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gardeners! I have. It was a dazzling day. It is

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an RHS partner garden in the suburbs of Birmingham, but it seems many

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people don't know about it. It is been ongoing since the 1980s and if

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you visit, I'm sure you will be thrilled with the result.

:22:48.:22:51.

You don't often come across scenes like these in the middle of

:22:52.:22:56.

Birmingham but when you do, you don't forget. This is part of a

:22:57.:23:00.

Jacobean mansion dating back to the mid`17th century, where history meet

:23:01.:23:04.

horticulture and people love it. I never knew it existed until I got

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lost. I was wandering down the road of Castle Bromwich and I came upon

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it. It was a wonderful surprise, very serendipitous. I used to play

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here as a boy in the early 1960s and it has changed an awful lot! This is

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my first time back. It is gobsmacking. This is our heritage

:23:27.:23:30.

and what we want to preserve. We need to do so that these places

:23:31.:23:34.

don't just as appear overnight. For the hedge Gardner, `` head gardener,

:23:35.:23:41.

trying to restore the gardens has been a labour of love. This has a

:23:42.:23:46.

maze based on the one at Hampton Court. It has a kitchen garden with

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rare varieties of vegetables growing, for example Jerusalem

:23:54.:23:58.

artichokes. We grow a range of unusual potatoes which you don't

:23:59.:24:02.

normally see in the shops. Restoration began in the 1980s but

:24:03.:24:08.

only recently gained momentum and Chris's supervision. With a pack of

:24:09.:24:13.

secateurs and a hedge for `` head for water culture, he has managed to

:24:14.:24:18.

piece together an example of how this once looked.

:24:19.:24:25.

Chris has attempted to revive every corner of this ten acre site. This

:24:26.:24:30.

is a restored 18th`century mirror pond. They few years ago, it was

:24:31.:24:36.

neglected. We got a grant of ?10,000 and we have a fibreglass lining,

:24:37.:24:41.

which will last many years, and it now attracts a wide variety of

:24:42.:24:45.

wildlife. The grounds are invaluable to conservationists. For example,

:24:46.:24:50.

for records dating back as far as the 12th century, Chris and his team

:24:51.:24:53.

of volunteers have recreated this orchard of Heritage trees. To fund

:24:54.:25:01.

their pursuits, they use the fruits of their labour, running seasonal

:25:02.:25:07.

events like apple pressing and guided tours. Being here is like

:25:08.:25:10.

stepping back in time but, for Chris, the past has shaped his

:25:11.:25:13.

vision for the future. It is beautiful but too hot to be

:25:14.:25:22.

gardening there today! There was a degree of uniformity across the

:25:23.:25:27.

region, with most places in highs of 26. The low values are set to nudge

:25:28.:25:33.

even higher in the days to come but not without interference. We have

:25:34.:25:36.

hot and humid air feeding up from the near continent by the end of

:25:37.:25:40.

tomorrow, through Thursday and Friday, which could set off some

:25:41.:25:46.

thundery showers. But really, the main threat comes from this other

:25:47.:25:50.

system that is moving down from the North West and it comes into contact

:25:51.:25:59.

with unstable air. For the time being, we had through this evening

:26:00.:26:04.

into tonight with the comfort of some warmth. Temperatures will take

:26:05.:26:09.

some time to fall so even when they do, they will reach a minimum of 16

:26:10.:26:16.

for most places so another stifling, sticky night. It is dry and clear to

:26:17.:26:20.

begin with but we will see the end of that as we head into the morning

:26:21.:26:25.

with cloud thickening up from the east. The winds are starting to pick

:26:26.:26:29.

up slightly through the cause of tomorrow so we are seeing the cloud

:26:30.:26:32.

pushed in from the North Sea but this is Jew in the morning so by the

:26:33.:26:37.

afternoon, sunshine slices through it and we're into blue skies and

:26:38.:26:42.

sizzling temperatures over soaring up to around 27 or possibly even

:26:43.:26:48.

28, so even hotter than today. A plume of hot, humid air could set

:26:49.:26:53.

off some thundery showers for the southeastern corner of the region

:26:54.:26:56.

but they will die away and leave us with dry, sunny, hot conditions for

:26:57.:26:59.

Friday. A train carrying the bodies of

:27:00.:27:06.

victims of the Malaysian airliner has arrived at its destination

:27:07.:27:10.

outside rebel territory. An independent education

:27:11.:27:12.

commissioner to be appointed by the Government to work with

:27:13.:27:14.

Birmingham City Council. That was the programme for today.

:27:15.:27:23.

Albee back at Tenby with more on that story. `` I'll be back at

:27:24.:27:27.

Tenby.

:27:28.:27:30.

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