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Business leaders to present 'overwhelming' case for HS2

Business leaders from Birmingham are to present what they call an 'overwhelming' business case for bringing high speed rail to the city.

A computer generated image of a possible HS2 train Credit: HS2

The CEO of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Jerry Blackett, is to give evidence in Manchester to the Lords' Economic Affairs Committee, which is examining the economic impact of HS2.

He's expected to tell the committee that 80% of people in a recent survey said the project will have a positive impact on the West Midlands.

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Miliband attacks Sports Direct over zero-hours contracts

Ed Miliband will single out high-street chain Sports Direct for criticism over its use of zero-hours contracts in a speech today.

Sports Direct has said it will change its working practices. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The Labour leader will accuse a number of firms of using "Victorian practices" in using such terms, which see employees given no guaranteed hours and those at the top can escape taxation.

Speaking in Coventry, Miliband will describe Sports Direct as an example of a firm where the "vast majority" of employees are on zero-hours - calling it a "bad place to work" for many staff.

The retail giant agreed last month to make "major changes" for staff after legal action brought by a former employee.

Sports Direct did not comment on Mr Miliband's attack, but repeated an earlier statement on its plans to make changes.

A spokesman said: "The company will continue the process of reviewing, updating and improving our core employment documents and procedures across our entire business beyond its existing compliant framework."

Inner city fast-food outlets 'fuelling' obesity

A new report by experts at Leicester University has linked diabetes and obesity rates to the number of fast-food outlets in inner cities.

Researchers have described the results as 'alarming'. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The study of 10,000 people in the UK found there twice as many fast-food outlets within 500 metres of homes in non-white and socially deprived neighbourhoods.

They also claim how close you are to fast-food outlets may be linked to your risk of Type-2 diabetes and obesity.

Researchers say the results have 'important implications' for councils when they are granting planning permission for fast-food outlets.

Our study suggests that for every additional two outlets per neighbourhood, we would expect one additional diabetes case, assuming a causal relationship between the fast-food outlet and diabetes.

– Professor Kamlesh Khunti

The report comes on the day that MP Keith Vaz officially opens a new Diabetes Out-Patient Centre in Leicester General Hospital.

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Jaguar Land Rover workers threaten to strike over pay and pensions

Jaguar Land Rover is facing the threat of strike action after workers overwhelmingly rejected the company's latest pay and pension offer.

Some 96% of workers voted against Jaguar Land Rover's proposed changes to pay. Credit: PA Wire

Unite union said 96 per cent of its members had rejected the proposed changes, claiming it "fell short of expectations" and "failed to recognise the workforce’s contribution to last year’s profits of £2.5 billion".

ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills said that while the company was "thriving" the Jaguar Land Rover workforce were "unhappy with the way wealth is being shared".

  1. Mark Gough

Back to work, thanks to the power of the Midlands' car industry

The growing car industry in the Midlands is helping people who have not had a job in years get back to work. Many are not used to the quality control standards now demanded by firms like Jaguar Land Rover.

One of its suppliers has set up an academy to drill the message home to jobhunters that working in a factory is not as easy at it looks.

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Frustration as cycle route work forces 3 mile diversion in Lincoln

The work will continue until March 2015 Credit: Kate Hemingway

Work to create a cycle route and improve the footpath on a road in Lincoln is forcing drivers to take a 3 mile diversion around the centre of Lincoln. The improvement works on Station Road in North Hykeham are ongoing for 16 weeks until March 2015. But because of a level crossing half way down station road Lincolnshire County Council says it's been forced to put a strict one way system in place.

A number of parents whose children attend a nursery situated half way down the road say the roadworks are adding up to an hour each way on their usual drive to drop off and pick up their children as they take a three mile diversion through the centre of Hykeham.

Businesses off station road, such as the Lindum Group, who employ 400 members of staff, say the work has also cost them around £300,000 in lost trade.

The construction firm, which also has a number of hauliers coming to and from its base, says it's also impacting staff and their working hours. The company has even resorted to letting its staff leave off early to miss the rush hour traffic.

Full consideration was given to all means of traffic management during the works on Station Road – unfortunately due to the proximity of the level crossing to the works, and the safety implications associated with the unmanned barrier crossing, Network Rail has not permitted the use of two-way traffic management with traffic lights. We are aware of traffic congestion in the area, particularly at peak time, and are working with local businesses and residents to constantly monitor and review the situation.

– Vanessa Strange, Transportation Manager at Lincolnshire County Council

Kate Hemingway reports:

Cable to unveil £1bn vehicle research hub in Warwick

Business Secretary Vince Cable will unveil a new £1 billion pound hub at the University of Warwick today, which will research and develop vehicles of the future.

Business Secretary Vince Cable Credit: PA

The Government and the automotive industry are each contributing half of the money to the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

It is thought it will place the MIdlands at the centre of the future global motor industry.

Jaguar named as 'Best British Luxury Brand'

Jaguar has been named as the Best British Luxury Brand at the Walpole British Luxury Awards in London.

Jaguar was chosen as Best British Luxury Brand by a panel of esteemed judges Credit: ITV News Central

Jaguar Land Rover was also nominated in the Corporate Social Responsibility category.

It is a huge statement for Jaguar to be named the Best British Luxury Brand this evening, particularly among such esteemed competition. It is richly deserved recognition of the efforts my colleagues in design, engineering, manufacturing and marketing have made to develop Jaguar into such a prestigious British brand in recent years

– Jeremy Hicks, Jaguar Land Rover UK Managing Director

American Airlines to launch Birmingham to NY flights

A brand new flight route between Birmingham Airport and New York’s John F Kennedy Airport will launch next May, American Airlines have announced.

A new flight route between The Midlands and New York will operate from May next year Credit: Felix Hörhager/DPA/Press Association Images

It is hoped that the launch, which will introduce direct daily flights to and from New York from 8 May 2015, will boost business and tourism links, encouraging new intercontinental relationships.

Last year, the West Midlands exported £4.5billion worth of goods to North America and has the largest trade surplus with North America of any UK region, and with global brands such as JLR, JCB, Cadbury and Kraft trading both locally and in the US, this is an important link for Midlands’ business.

The region is also a major tourist destination for Americans, with attractions such as Stratford, Warwick and Birmingham drawing in thousands of visitors every year so we look forward to welcoming many of these tourists into Birmingham next summer and thank the team at American Airlines for recognising the region’s vast market opportunities.

– Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive, Birmingham Airport
The first American Airlines plane will depart from Birmingham Airport on Friday 8th May 2015 Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The new route is expected to provide just under 100,000 seats between Birmingham Airport and JFK.

Customers will also be entitled to earn and redeem British Airways air miles due to a code share between the two airlines.

As the seventh largest airport in the UK, Birmingham Airport currently handles more than nine million passengers.

Adding Birmingham to American’s growing global network is an exciting development.

Tourists from the U.S. will have closer access to a wide range of attractions in the Midlands while business travellers will also be rewarded with greater choice when flying across the Atlantic.

– Suzanne Boda, American Airlines Senior Vice President
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