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Tonight with Ranvir Singh and Roger Johnson.
Our top story: revisiting the scene of the tragedy - the mother who
lost four children in a fire returns home. The fire service say
smoke alarms at the family's bungalow didn't work.
Also in the programme: faster trains to London move a step closer
- a boost for business or an environmental eyesore? We need good
access to London. Businesses have been crying out for this sort of
transport investment. Alan Shearer's body has been in this
shirt. Big bucks from cast-off kits - the
local firm selling the shirts off the stars' backs.
And is this the world's most expensive chicken? We meet Amelia,
The mother of four children who Supporters say it's the answer to
overcrowding on our railways and will benefit both commuters and
businesses with hugely reduced journey times. Today the prospect
of high speed trains connecting the North West with London in just over
an hour moved a step closer after the Government gave the green light
to the first phase of the project. But critics fear the scheme will
carve up the Cheshire countryside. Abbie Jones reports.
It's no secret our trains are chronically overcrowded. By 2020
the West Coast Main Line will be full. The hope is these new high
speed trains will take the strain. They'd have over 1,000 seats. And
reach 225 miles an hour. Businesses like Manchester Airport say they'll
bring more passengers within their reach. We need to join up air, road,
rail, bus, and this is the sort of move that will make the UK
competitive again. We need good access to London. Businesses have
been crying out for such an investment. It now takes Manchester
passengers two hours and eight mins to get to London. That would drop
by an hour. And there wouldn't just be faster journey times for places
on the high speed network. Preston, Wigan and Lancaster would also see
travel times cut. And although there are concerns trains wouldn't
run right into Liverpool, the journey to London, now two hours
ten minutes, would take an hour and 46. If it reduces journey times, it
is more likely that people will come on short breaks to the likes
of Liverpool. We want to see jobs created, some of which I want to
see go to people who are qualified and perhaps even unemployed in the
Liverpool area. But there's no guarantee yet the
trains will run through the north west. Today the first phase from
London to Birmingham was approved. Supporters hope that means the
second phase up here will be too, but that route won't be chosen
until 2014. A worry for campaigners who fear it may carve up the
Cheshire countryside, without actually stopping at places like
Goostrey, Holmes Chapel and Styal. I don't think it is the major area
or where we need investment in the transport infrastructure. Where we
needed is on the commuter lines. And for that matter, commuter buses.
The trains themselves may be faster than ever, but it will be 2032
before North West passengers can get on them.
A little earlier I spoke to the Rail Analyst Christian Wolmar. I
asked him if he thought HS2 would be a good thing for the North West.
First, I would not be so short that HS2 is going to happen. There is a
parliamentary process. We only have to look in Parliament at the debate
and to see a lot of Tories are unhappy about it. There will be yet
more consultation, and of course then they will have to sort out the
precise route to Manchester and Leeds. It is likely to happen, the
government intends it to happen, but there is still a long way to go
and tell it opens to Birmingham in 2036. Not an Manchester until 2033.
Should it happen? It worries mean that it will take away all rail
investment from other parts of the country and concentrated just on
this one Coral. The other problem is that it has no great
environmental advantage. When the project was put forward, the idea
was that it would be a green project. But it is clear that at
best, it is carbon neutral and it will lose -- used as much C02 in
the present situation. At worst, it might use more carbon.
Environmental concerns are paramount for people who will be
affected by the route. Many people in Cheshire. Have they done enough
in what they have announced today it in terms of the route to
Birmingham to mitigate against the concerns of people? They have made
a lot of effort and that suggests that as the route is designed
further north, they will also ensure that as many mitigating
measures are introduced in order to allay opposition. The ordinary
railways cost a fortune to travel on any rivals to this will be for
rich businessmen, isn't it? Ordinary people will not be able to
afford it. Looking at other countries with high-speed rail, you
tend to have to pay more to go on those services ban on conventional
services. That is logical. On high- speed one, which runs between St
Pancras and the Channel Tunnel, there are pretty good fares for the
Kent commuters who also use that line. I think it will be quite
expensive, certainly I don't think the idea of commuting between
London and Manchester will be feasible, apart from very well-off
people. Thank you very much. Pleasure.
That is his opinion. And we'd like to know what you think about a high
speed rail link from this region to London. Get in touch via email,
The mother of four children who were killed in a house fire three
days ago attended a church service in their memory today. Michelle
Smith joined schoolchildren, parents and friends at St John the
Divine Church in Lytham. Four-year- old twins Holly and Ella, two-year-
old Jordan and their elder brother, Reese, who was 19, died in the
blaze in Freckleton on Saturday night. Meanwhile investigators say
it's highly probable that smoke alarms in the family home weren't
working at the time. Our reporter Peter Marshall is at the scene of
the fire in Freckleton now. Peter, I understand that Michelle
Smith returned to the scene today for what must have been a difficult
return? Yes, Michelle Smith and her family have been through so it
street -- some extremely dark days. Today, she came back to spend some
time looking at the many floral tributes that have been left it and
the message is that where the tragedy happened on Saturday night.
She took time to read the messages and just see how people have been
touched by this. The messages have been from friends, relatives and
total strangers from the community who have been affected by the scale
of this tragedy. Their name of Don to St John the Divine Church for a
special vigil. They lit candles for all the children who died,
including 19-year-old Rhy. I spoke with the vicar of the Church early
and this is what he said. When you lose four children, you cannot put
it into words, you cannot imagine how they are feeling. We will find
out more about that in the days to come.
Peter, we saw Michelle Smith today. We heard from the children's
grandfather yesterday. How are the family coping?
One can only imagine the sort of Tom more oil but they are going
through, to Louis four children from one family. -- the turmoil.
The baby was just two years old. The family has said that the
support they have been shown by so many people in the community has
been such a great help to them. I am sure that the service this
afternoon was a great help as well. Peter, we heard about the probable
inefficient firearms in the property. What is the latest on the
investigation there? A well, the fire service is saying that its
initial investigation shows that it is highly probable that the fire
alarms were not working before the fire. Their tests on the alarms
after the fire show that they were not working, but they had not been
damaged by flames so it is most probable they were not working
before. That probably explains why the fire was able to develop so
fatally and before anybody could react to get in there and stop it
from developing so badly with the outcome that week saw. I spoke to
have Simon Bowen from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and he said
to me how important it was that if you have fire alarms installed,
that you check them regularly. the alarms are fitted, clearly you
need to ensure that people maintain them. You need to keep checking and
to ensure that their work. They are an early warning in case of fire.
They are crucial. The smoke alarm provides the early warning.
The investigation into the cause of this awful tragedy continues. We
have still no word on the exact cause of the fire. Peter, thank you
very much indeed. Apologies for the background noise at the start of
A student who went missing after a night out in Manchester has been
found dead in a river near to the city centre. Gurdeep Hayer has been
missing since leaving a nightclub on the 2nd of January. Greater
Manchester Police say they are no suspicious circumstances
surrounding his death. Geologists in the UK say it's
extremely unlikely that "fracking" a controversial process of drilling
for shale gas will lead to water pollution in Lancashire. The
practice which originates in the US and involves pumping high pressure
liquid underground has been deemed as low risk by the British
Geological survey. Fracking by energy company Cuadrilla was halted
in Blackpool last year following concern that it had caused
Back at the start of the recession, we decided to follow a group of
people through the perilous waters of the downturn. They were our Nine
in 09. Among them, the artisan chocolatier who risked it all for a
dream. The estate agent who was living the dream, before it came
crashing down. Well, today we were warned we could be heading towards
the dreaded double dip recession. So, what became of our Nine in 09?
Here's our Economics Correspondent Nine lives, 12 months, one
recession. But what about now? 'Hello again!' Today I went back to
Liverpool to meet Bala. Her chocolate shop had been inspired by
a romantic novel. A gamble, especially in a recession. 'It's
secured on the house, basically it's got to work. Three years on,
this is it. The shop closed after Christmas. It is heartbreaking, it
is sad that it did not work out. When I last came here, the economy
had just crept into economy. Today we are told to expect it to
contract, at least in one quarter. We need two it for it to reach that
dreaded double dip back into recession. So how was the recovery
for Mark, our man in manufacturing? Business boomed in 2010. But in
2011, his biggest customer collapsed. A costly hit. Unemployed
Stephanie Pound is now employed. Agency work, but still work. The
Penney's retirement pot is still pinched by those historic low
interest rates. Rates which show no sign of rising. And how about our
people in property? The crash affected Estate Agent Jonathan
directly. In 09 the posh pad and the hot tub went on the market, as
business dried up. We used to have great parties there. The money was
pouring in at one time. Back today. Well, the money definitely isn't
pouring in, but we're still here.' I honestly don't think that the
market will pick up for another five years. His house never sold.
Neither did that of his client Miranda who we'd also followed.
Economic woes haven't been shared by all. In 09 our Ann's dreams of
an empire beyond fish suppers were in doubt. She'd struggled to get
finance from the banks. But today. Ta darrr! Her chip shop training
academy is open. Over at the coffee shop, she's helped more than 500
people on line. All good news for Woodley where business is finally
picking up. We were closing down at a rate of one every month or so,
but it's really thriving now. And it isn't all over for Bala. The
shop might have closed - the business hasn't. She's still
trading via the internet and farm shops. How confident are you now?
100% actually, because I've learnt so much. A new beginning, hopefully
not in a new recession. Nice to see them all again. Great
news about the chip shop. Three schoolchildren from
Warrington have been injured after a double-decker bus they were
travelling on went through a low bridge. The roof of the bus was
ripped off and the driver is being treated for shock after the
incident this morning in Grappenhall. It is understood the
bus had taken a wrong turn. A senior Labour councillor from
Rochdale has resigned after a video emerged of him allegedly smoking
cannabis. Farooq Ahmed, the councillor for Wardleworth, was
suspended by the Labour party when the matter came to light. Mr Ahmed
denies he was smoking cannabis. Oldham Athletic has praised the way
Liverpool Football club dealt with racism directed towards one of
their players. Defender Tom Adeyemi broke down in tears after
apparently being subjected to racist abuse from a supporter in
the stands at Anfield during an FA Cup clash with Liverpool. Oldham
thanked both Liverpool and Merseyside Police for the way the
Going with a swing - Steve Parry hears from our top gymnasts on
their preparations for London 2012. I think we are almost like sisters.
There will be times when I will be in a mood and she will know how to
stay away! Meet the Cheshire chicken with one
The RSPCA is nursing dozens of seal pups back to health after they were
battered by the recent storms. One of the juveniles was washed up near
a scrapyard at Liverpool docks as it battled against high winds along
the North West coastline. Two of pups are being cared for at a
specialist wildlife hospital in Cheshire from where our Environment
Correspondent Colin Sykes reports. A fish for Steptoe. A fitting name
for this male grey seal pup washed up near a scrapyard at Liverpool.
He's only a couple of months old and swimming in the high seas
proved too much. He was one of those young seals that wasn't just
coping. We had the is storms and the seas have been very choppy and
for the inexperience to seals, it has been very tricky. He was washed
ashore. Steptoe's making good progress.
He's starting to put on weight but it'll be months before he's strong
enough to be released. Seals can normally cope with whatever nature
throws at them, but the last few weeks have been difficult. The
RSPCA is looking after a total of 60 seals. High winds over the last
few weeks have made sea conditions difficult for the grey seal pups
which have only just been weaned and are not strong swimmers Next
door Rudolph is on antibiotics. She's a Common Seal, slightly older
than Steptoe. She was washed up with injuries on the Cumbrian coast.
She had a few wins so the thought is that she was washed up on be
beat and got injured of the rocks. The wounds have picked up
infections as well so I am treating out. Both seals should make a full
recovery They'll be released back They are so cute! Isle of the names
they give to them, Rudolph, There is no doubt that the next two
gymnasts have a unique relationship. Best is Britain's most successful
gymnast ever. Hannah from stop what is the young prodigy who is now
British champion and in the world top 10. In the latest of Our
Special Reports, Steve has been to meet the Dewar at their training
base. Top step has had a reputation for
many things over the years. One thing people don't know is that it
has the most successful gymnastics A lot of that is down to death and
Hanna. They share a coach, a training centre and dreams of
Olympic success. It was not always that way. I used to be a fan when I
was younger. I remember having a picture with her. I was like
everyone else. When I came here, I was like, oh my God, it is best.
But I'm used to what now. No longer star-struck, Hannah And Deaths
stand together as Britain's best gymnasts. -- Hannan and F.
almost like sisters now. We are very friendly and we just catch up.
She knows when to stay away when I am moody. He is more moody? She is!
That is the highest and hardest routine the world has ever seen.
They are always chasing me and making me improve, my team-mates. I
cannot sit back on what I have already achieved. What they both
want to achieve his success in London. She wants that medal so
much and we want her to get it. I would love to finish my career with
a medal. That is the one medal but I am missing and that is why I have
carry on training. How do you think Hannah can do it? She has done
really well recently, nine that the world championships. She can
definitely move into the top spots. It would be a massive result.
are not just draining together for 30 hours a week, they live together
as well along with fellow hopefuls. He spent a lot of time with each
other. I guess it would be horrendous if he did not like one
another. Luckily we get on so it is not an issue. With that type of
team spirit, the only issue for these two is to help each other to
the Olympic glory. They will do it for us's. They
will! We will step -- support them every
They have turned over �1 million trading used football shirts. Our
reporter has been finding out the Big names, big clubs and big wages,
so getting one of these shirts of their backs would said to back a
pretty penny. In 2006, football fans sold their first sherd from
their student home. Role for five years and they are running a big
business, turning over �1 million last year from selling classic
football shirts on line. The first one week salt was a man Utd Brian
Kidd shirt which we sold for 1,200 pounds. That is a players' shirts
from 1989, 1990. I quite like this one, I like the colours. That is a
shirt from 1986 worth about �400. 400 quid! OK, I need a football
expert to explain to the white people are so happy to pay hundreds
of pounds for a bit of polyester. It is unique. There are only so
many match one shirts. Anybody can buy a replica, stick that up with a
replica -- an autograph. If you know and it has been won by a
player and in a specific match, you are getting a piece of the match.
I'm in a stockroom and some of the shirts are not nice, but if I had
to pick one already worn by a player, it would have to be this
one: Alan Shearer's body has actually been in this shirt. Better
still, how about that one? The lads are doing really well, with �2
million of business forecast for next year. They have just bought 15
years of AC Milan's kits. All of the material they used in games,
shirts, socks, even down to underparts. Not so great.
Next, not why but how did the chicken cross the road? Answer?
With a bionic leg! A Cheshire Chicken has undergone major surgery
after breaking its femur in a mystery accident.
Amelia is a rescued battery chicken, and so had a tough start in life.
So when her owner found her struggling, she refused to give up
on her, whatever the cost. Nina Warhurst reports.
Dancing away on her Plumley Farm, you'd never guess Amelia stared
death in the face when she snapped her thigh bone. Her owner had two
options: have her put down or pay for the leg to be saved. Like I
said to the vet, I would have done it to Mike dogs and cats so that
she was my pet, why not do it for her as well?
On the right you can clearly see the snapped bone, then this x-ray
shows where metal pins were placed to secure it with a mini scaffold
on the outside to keep it in place. How much did all that cost? �600!
You realise that people will think you are a bit Crackers spending
that money. Yes, they do. They don't mind
telling me. I have got used to it now. Perhaps it was wise for Sue to
wait until the bill was paid before telling her husband whose
relationship with Amelia has had its challenges.
What relationship you have with the ticking? It is fraught to. The
first time I met her, she paid to me in the eye and since then I have
kept my distance. As you can see, she is back socialising with the
other chickens, but there is some concern that her new-found
celebrity status might prove a bit devices. I think they might be a
bit jealous! But I hope they don't break her leg to get in the papers
and on the telly! I cannot do with the stress, it is too expensive.
Sue's pets haven't put her and John off eating chicken, but from now on
they'll only eat breast. Chicken leg is strictly off the menu.
Oh my word! That is an expensive chicken leg. They will have to get
her insured. Let's get the weather A very mixed day today. Some places
sort it sunshine while others saw cloud. -- sort sunshine. But the
trend is for colder weather. By the time we get to Saturday, daytime
temperatures will have fallen from 12 to around four degrees. That is
only half the story because tonight, temperatures will be low. On Friday
they will be in minus figures. We are definitely going to feel the
contrast. This is what we will see tomorrow: It continues to be cloudy
and drizzly from time to time. It will also be mild so make the most
of it. Where weather crossing the region tonight. For the most part,
it is light and patchy. If anywhere avoids it, it will be parts of
Merseyside and Cheshire. We could all see rain as the night goes on.
The temperatures will be really good tonight. Almost up to 10
degrees. Tomorrow, you wake up with cloud cover and some rain will
linger. This is the weather front that will move away as the morning
continues. Into the afternoon, most places become a drier. I cannot
promise you anything to bright, maybe the Isle of Man will see good
spells of sunshine. Maybe Cheshire and Merseyside as well. They get
the best of the shelter. But for most of us, it is cloudy and mild,
make the most of it because it will be a long time before we see those
temperatures hit 11 again. Before we go, let's get some of
your comments on Facebook. Amanda Jopson says, "Waste of money, sort
the country out first. It's going to take 14 years to build. Very
poor. . Peter Barlow is more positive:
"Why moan, guys? They are doing it to make our lives easier! Es Walker
is a bit worried. He says: "Unless phase two is granted at the same
time, there is no point even starting phase one. The chances are
costs and environmental concerns will spiral to such an extent that
a future government will be pressured to cancel additional