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Hello and welcome to Midlands Today. so it's goodbye from me -
The headlines tonight: Countdown to June eighth
With four weeks to go until the general election, we are in Dudley,
gauging the public mood. Also tonight: Celebrating the best
of the great outdoors: Join me later at the foot of the
Malvern Hills at what is firmly the best spring gardening in Britain.
Join me and the boxing girls to find out why they're film stars today.
And temperatures in the twenties and lovely sunshine today,
but the gardens need a drink, and it's on the way,
find out more with me a little later.
With exactly four weeks to go until polling day,
nominations have now closed for candidates standing
So today was always going to be a big moment for those seats
where there are slim majorities in the run-up to June the 8th.
And that was even before the leak of Labour's draft manifesto.
Our political editor Patrick Burns is here to survey
Our part of the country has generally been much more
of a two-party affair than most other areas of Britain,
with our clusters of marginal seats, flip-flopping back and forth
between Labour and the Conservatives.
And there are so many of them, that they really do have a genuine
There's no clearer demonstration of this than Dudley.
A town with two marginal seats, one Conservative, the other Labour.
And it's from there that Ben Godfrey reports.
It's a beautiful day in Dudley North, a seat held by
Labour since its creation in 1987 but high on the
We've come to, yes, Corbyn Road to see what people are thinking.
First we met Mandy Yerster, an undecided voter who wants
the next Government to champion social care.
Giving single parents a little bit more leeway, childcare,
because my son is autistic, a little bit help with regards
I haven't really heard anything yet as regards to social care.
With decent support for Labour, the Conservatives and Ukip in this
area, it's no surprise the big hitters have been pounding
Far from getting ready for the next politician to visit -
Lyndon Corbett - just to clear it up, he's the Corbyn Road beekeeper
would welcome a ban on zero hours contract hours.
Lyndon also runs a business providing home care to locals.
It would be beneficial because we don't get paid
Basically, when you're doing a 15-minute call
for an old-age pensioner, you don't have enough time
to communicate with them and that's what they need most of all.
Retired shop worker Betty had a bee in her bonnet when I caught up
What would you like the next Government to do for you?
Well, I'd like them to put this country straight.
There is a lot of men in London, they aren't in the real world.
The are in cuckoo land and my bus is here and I'm off.
At the barbershop nearby, we met one young businessman
Definitely with the NHS, I think they should plough
Policing, any of the public services.
Some polling experts suggest Dudley North may turn blue
in fours weeks' time, but on on Corbyn Road we found many
We went back to Mandy's house, she makes a living as a psychic.
Who's going to win the general election?
That's for me to know and you not to!
Even the psychics sitting on the fence!
Patrick, you've just said our local marginal seats
And yet you're telling us that this will be an election like no other.
Instead of just taking the poll ratings and applying them
to the swings required in the familiar Nuneatons,
Tamworths and Cannocks of this World, you have to view it
through the prism of Brexit, in a region where most voters
But now Ukip aren't standing in three North Birmingham seats
currently held by Labour, a boost for the Conservatives there.
Three of Labour's other Birmingham seats could also be vulnerable
to Conservative challenges, including Edgbaston, where
On the other hand Labour will have Telford in their sites.
They need a swing against the Conservatives of
The "front line" does appear to be shifting in other cities too.
Stoke, Wolverhampton and Coventry are solid blocks of red
But Labour face serious Conservative challenges in Stoke South,
All places where Vote Leave won big last June, so expect Brexit to loom
The Lib Dems' prime target here is Cheltenham.
They need a 12% swing to win it back from the Conservatives.
They have a strong anti-Brexit message in a town which voted
But with a month to go, there's ample time for some
unexpected twists turns before polling day.
Drayton Manor Park in Staffordshire will be closed again
tomorrow following the death of a schoolgirl from Leicester.
11-year-old Eva Janneth was on the Splash Canyon Rapids
on Tuesday when she fell into the water.
The park closed yesterday as a mark of respect and remained closed today
so health and safety officials can complete their investigations.
Sarah Bishop is at the park for us this evening.
Sarah, a number of other theme parks have closed their water
rides since Eva's death, including Alton Towers
and Thorpe Park, do we know any more about how safe these rides are?
I've been speaking to a theme park safety expert
who told me these water rides are generally perceived as pretty
safe, come under same safety law as roller coasters and are subject
to same strict maintenance and fatigue checks.
He'd done some calculations on Drayton Manor ride,
which he reckoned been used by between 20 and 30 million people
He only found one documented incident of someone
But that doesn't account for how people act when they're on the ride.
There is speculation that Eva may have stood up to switch seats.
her death is the first serious injury accidents here at Drayton
Manor in its 67 year history. Have Eva's family said any more? We had a
heart wrenching statement from them yesterday in which they said their
world had been torn apart. They have asked to be left alone to grieve in
private. The postmortem takes place on Monday and we are thinking they
will have the funeral midweek in Leicester.
Think they're anticipating many people will want to come
and pay their respects as tragic circumstances of Eva's death
In the last laugh, we've had a statement from the park saying it
will be closed again tomorrow well investigations continue. -- in the
last hour. A man's been charged
with using drones to fly drugs and mobile phones
into Birmingham Prison - the first prosecution of its kind
secured by West Midlands Police. Drones were allegedly used to drop
contraband into an exercise yard at the jail in October
and November last year. 27-year-old Michael Tovey,
from Erdington, is set to appear before Birmingham
magistrates in June. The inquest into the death
of Tahnie Martin, struck by debris in high winds as a result
of Storm Doris in February, Further investigations need
to be made into the death of the 29-year-old who was hit
by a piece of timber outside A 57-year-old Palestinian man has
been charged with murdering Birmingham University student
Hannah Bladon in Jerusalem The 20-year-old, from Burton
upon Trent, was stabbed multiple times as she was travelling
on a tram near the Old City. Hannah was in Israel as part
of an exchange programme. If you work outside, or play sport,
then you'll be particularly Recent research says working
in the sun could lead to one death and five new cases
of melanoma every week. Mel Jones from Shropshire was first
diagnosed around 20 years ago. He was treated, but then it came
back and he's now been In his twenties, he worked
as a beach lifeguard. Laura May McMullan
has been to meet him. First being diagnosed with melanoma
22 years ago and again in 2014. This time it's stage
4 and incurable. Melanoma is such a cruel
and unpredictable disease and I wouldn't want anyone to go
through what I've gone through, the surgeries,
the shock, the anxiety. The father from Shrewsbury has been
undergoing immunotherapy In his youth, he spent years
working on the beaches Undoubtedly, the sunshine I had then
is instrumental in melanoma that I would urge people to cover up
because that's easier than putting on sun block and having
to reapply it. Doctors say it's vital
for us to apply sun cream BEFORE we go in the sun,
and that's because we all have a different burning threshold -
when our skin starts to turn pink. Sunscreen helps to combat the sun's
harmful rays in two ways - by either reflecting them
like a mirror or absorbing Without protection, solar radiation
could start to penetrate the skin Mutations occur in skin cells,
which grow out of control, It's a message being drilled home
to those who work outdoors. Construction workers
are at the highest risk of skin cancer, due to long hours
of sun exposure. We've brought a UV camera
to this Wolverhampton site You can see some sun damage
on your cheeks, nose, and forehead. I wasn't surprised to see
I have damage to my skin. Without doubt, having seen
what has been evident, I've been sunburnt and after seeing
this today, I would, The Society of Dermatologists reckon
there are over 1,000 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year
and that four out of five He's urging others to stop burning
up and instead cover up. It's got more Michelin-starred
restaurants than any other place outside London -
hardly surprising then that so many people are opting to sample
Birmingham's culinary delights. But one restaurant says it's
losing thousands of pounds because people aren't showing up
despite booking a table. But is it right for
restaurateurs to get tough? Our business correspondent
Peter Plisner's been getting Birmingham is home to 5
Michelin-starred restaurants. As a rule they tend to take your
card details when you book. They can charge a hefty cancellation
fee. The big chain restaurants
behind me don't do that But at many smaller places,
if people don't show, then they stand to lose
a lot of money. An increasingly popular
restaurant close to Birmingham's New Street Station,
it's reckoned that last week alone they lost ?1,000
because of no shows. Its head chef says
that's not sustainable. It varies week to week,
there are no hard or fast rules but to give you an idea,
we have 24 seats, so if one table of two decides not to show,
that's almost 10% of our I have five chefs with me
in the kitchen, I have five people out in front,
it's a fine balancing act and it has Now it may seem like a pretty
controversial step to take, but speaking to people earlier
today, most seem to I can understand their point of view
and I can understand their position, but they could lose trade
because we're not used to it I think that's fair enough if it's
a small restaurant and you don't If it's a big chain
that was proposing to do this, I think I'd probably
have the opposite opinion. Well, joining me here Birmingham
food blogger, Laura Creaven. I think it's a really positive move.
I think the Wilderness have been very vocal about their cancellations
and no shows and it's a problem affecting a lot of smaller
restaurants in Birmingham, smaller ones can't handle people not showing
up because it has lost revenue. It's not really different from a
cancellation charge if you feel to cancel in time. Absolutely not. It's
similar to what you would do if you are looking to go to the cinema or
the future, he would be expected to pay upfront. you think it will put
people off? I don't think it will put people off, I think people who
want to go to exciting restaurants like the Wilderness will pay up
front and considered it an investment into an exciting night.
Some say they make even charge a fee for the cheapest four course meal so
you're paying for the wholemeal upfront. That's similar to what you
would do if you are going to the theatre for the cinema, you would
pay upfront for that's why not do it for your dinner? I was Birmingham
doing for the food front? It's a positive, vibrant scene, especially
street food and a Michelin star restaurants, it's an exciting time
for dining out in Birmingham. as Lorna said, they do tend to pay
upfront for many things these days, so why not a meal at a restaurant?
-- you do tend to pay upfront. Time for sport and Dan
is here to tell us about a thriving A football league set up to make
the sport cheaper for players in deprived areas of Birmingham
is going from strength to strength. That's not their only
ambition though. The Community Sunday League also
wants to improve the public image of some of the areas
where the players live. Nick Clitheroe has been
to see them in action. Different generations united
by a love of football. Khurram and Abdulhamid both know
what it's like to grow up in deprived areas of Birmingham
but also what sport can do Kids look up to you and they will be
like, we want to play football, we want to go on the right path,
we don't want to stay hanging around on the streets,
selling drugs and going into crime The community that I live in,
football has kept me off the streets and get me away from things other
people were doing. It's something to look forward
to and lean back on. That's just one of the ambitions
of the Birmingham Community The idea is also to make the sport
cheaper and accessible. What I thought I'll do different
is provide the football pitches so we've got a local area so we sort
out the pictures and other teams It's a cheaper way for
teams to get involved? Exactly and because we are setting
it up for the community, A lot of areas in Birmingham
are in the news for the wrong reasons so hopefully by providing
these kind of activities, we're The idea has proved so popular
a new division will be This was a league game between
Sparkhill United and Alum Rock FC. On the 20th of May they meet again
in the cup final at the Hawthorns. The league has come a long way
from street corner football. The Pears against
the Bears tomorrow. It's a game with a much more meaning
for one side than the other. Worcestershire have had a good
start to the season. Warwickshire are bottom. They have
nothing to play for. Warwickshire lost, it's a disastrous start to
them at the moment. They may get respite tomorrow because the weather
is better. We'll have the forecast later. I watched Warwick today at
Derby, Derbyshire and it's a beautifully but it's tough when you
keep losing. -- they played beautifully.
If you're lucky enough to take in a varied,
vibrant and veritably verdant view out of your window,
it might include ivy, hydrangeas, fuchsia,
We have the Victorians to thank for bringing
The great explorers of the day travelled the world.
Ben Sidwell's not gone quite as far as that,
but he did make it to Malvern on the trail of plant history.
Yes, welcome to the plant finder parlour. This is at the IHS -- RHS
at Malvern. 19th century explorers would have returned with exotic
species like these ferns which they were very excited about. As I been
finding out, many of these plants are now commonplace in all our
gardens. In the shadow of the Malvern Hills,
some of the greatest flora and fauna the world has two offer and for
this, we need to thank the Victorians which is what they're
doing this year at RHS Spring Festival. At the heart of the floral
marquee is the plant finder's parlour, designed by Joe Swift. It
is important to the intrepid explorers who search the world of
exotic plants. They would search for months on end, some of them would
never come back, someone come back with broken legs and they would go
in search for clients and bring them back in Edwardian cases because they
couldn't figure out how to get the plans back. you don't have to go far
to find species Victorians brought back far shores. These carnivorous
plants are from Malaysia and Indonesia. It was brought on by the
Victorians and remains in cultivation today so that wasn't for
the plant hunters, they wouldn't be in conservation. There was one type
of plant that surprisingly got the Victorians more excited than any
other. Now grown in abundance in Warwickshire, in the 19th century
can get enough of ferns -- couldn't get enough. There was a period known
as fair and fever and they went mad for building little got was like
this where the theories could live and the imagination was amazing.
Today we are just as captivated by horticulture. 400 people will come
to the showground in Malvern, making it the biggest gardening show
outside of London. I've been going to Chelsea since 1868. I'm very fond
of it. If you were to say to me you can pick one sure way you like
being, this wins for me, hands down. from award-winning show gardens to
pupils from local schools who are just beginning their gardening
journeys, the Victorians would be amazed that the plans they risk
their lives to discover are now common sites in gardens across the
country. There will be talks over the next
three days he led the show about some of those explorers, well worth
going to see, and some beautiful displays as you can see as well all
around and if you do want to see some more, our colleagues at
Gardners' World have been here and that will be on tomorrow night on
BBC Two. If you're a loyal BBC One viewer,
you might recognise little films like the one you can see behind me -
impressively energetic We call them BBC idents -
they're the pictures we use over the continuity announcements to tell
you what programme's on next. The films aim to provide a portrait
of Britain, and yes, all the people in them are real
people with a shared passion. Now it's the turn of
the boxers from Birmingham. We've known for a few weeks now
and we thought we would get together Seven women boxers -
stars for the day, chosen Renowned photographer
Martin Parr is directing, on a mission to celebrate
the nation, using ordinary people. When they first came out,
people didn't really know what was going on, so there was,
people werea bit mystified rolled out, people are
beginning to understand that it's like a portrait of Britain
through these different groups. A team of 20 spent three hours
capturing the action. The Women's Boxing Club was set up
to meet a growing interest in the sport inspired
by Olympian Nicola Adams. We want people to communicate,
we wanted the girls from different backgrounds to communicate
and it works. Nobody is above anybody
and nobody is below, This is the latest ident
to be unveiled on BBC One The women boxers are confident
their film will be just as slick. People forget how hard it is doing
shoots again and again. How easy we all just fell
into it and went with it. It was really good, we had
a good time, really good. Judge for yourselves
when the best images from today's shoot hit our television
screens next month. We'll have the weather in just a
moment, but look at this. This was yesterday afternoon in Shropshire.
The nationwide plant hire company have a large dusty yard and this is
what is known as the dust tornado or dust devil. Thank you to Stewart for
sending us those pictures. Very dry in Shropshire but I'm told it will
not stay that way tomorrow. Rebecca. Changes on the way but it has been
pleasant today. The wind has picked up so it may be windy through
tonight but it was a break but chilly start to the day today,
temperatures touching freezing in parts of Shropshire but helped by
sunshine through the day. We saw the temperatures rise by 20 Celsius in
some spots. Lovely sunshine but through the afternoon, we started to
see the cloud filtering in, making the sunshine here at times and
finally, for the Gardners, something to give them a sky of relief, we
started to see rain pushing in. Heavy downpours and lightning
flashes in there as well. As for tomorrow, we're going to continue to
see the chance of some showers but they will be some sunny spells
around those as well. For tonight, high pressure that has been driving
our weather for the past few weeks has skidded out of the way. We got
low controlling the weather and that is going to start to introduce
something more unsettled so through tonight, we're going to see some
showers working there way northwards and those showers are going to
introduce something a little bit muddier overnight so temperatures
are at ten to 13 -- more muggy. We will get some brighter breaks. More
cloud and showers following behind but the showers will be triggered by
that unstable atmosphere. The cloud might have hail and thunder in there
and temperatures will be down on where they are today but by the end
of the day they will ease as we lose the powder from the sun and we will
see them dying out overnight but it will be another muggy Knight. As for
Saturday, a drier affair with the odd shower around. It is definitely
some rain in the forecast. It's good news for the Gardners but if you
like the sunshine you will have to wait a little bit.
I'll be back at 10:30 with your late update.