order for Britain's Tony Blair as he shows the other World leaders
around Weston Park.
The eyes of the world were firmly focused on Birmingham in May
as high-powered leaders from around the globe gathered in the city
to thrash out their problems.
The G8 Summit conference read like a political superstar parade
with such international figures as American President Bill Clinton,
French President Jacques Chirac, Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor,
Russia's leader, Boris Yeltsin, and Britain's Prime Minister Tony
Blair - all getting round the table to try to solve some of the
And vast business and trade opportunities for Birmingham were
generated in the wake of the political gathering.
The city proudly basked in its new-found glory and huge crowds
turned out to greet the VIPs. In fact, Birmingham, and the wider
West Midlands, became a huge shop window for the region's trade
A reception of civic leaders and the world's press were waiting
as Bill Clinton's presidential plane touched down at the city's
And the conference had hardly got underway when the top men headed
into a row over sanctions following India's nuclear tests.
The Third World debt also concentrated the leaders minds during
the visit as they headed for less formal talks at Weston Park, near
Wolverhampton, where a 50,000-strong army of protesters against
the debt were expected to greet them.
At Weston Park the politically famous drank Pimms and lemonade
on the sun-kissed lawns as they planned a drive against world crime.
More than 800 police maintained a low-profile security operation
round Weston Park during the visit. All this was taking place while
President Clinton himself was in the firing line over his affair
with Monica Lewinsky.
By September, Republicans in the United States were said to be
bringing a formal inquiry of impeachment against the President.
But the world's most powerful man didn't seem to have a care in
the world as he went walkabout in Birmingham, calling in at the
Malt House, off Broad Street, for a pint.
Pub staff were gobsmacked when the American leader stepped up
to the bar and said: "Gimme an English beer".
Boys brought safely down to earth . . . A 14-year-old boy
who had been on a boozing bout, was rescued from an 80ft high water
tower in Brownhills in November, amid fears that he would jump off.
The youngster's 16-year-old friend climbed the tower and pinned
him to some railings while firefighters raised a hyraulic platform
to bring him down.
Both boys were brought down to safety suffering from shock and
the effects of cold after being on the tower at Brownhills Comprehensive
School for around 45 minutes.
Firefighters said it appeared that the 14-year-old had scaled
a drain pipe and a ladder to reach the top of the tower following
a family dispute.
"He had consumed a lot of drink and we undertand he was very distressed
before he went up there so there was an assumption that he was going
to jump," said a spokesman.
He added that fortunately the 16-year-old was holding him against
"Had it not been for him, anything could have happened," he went
on. "He was in a very unstable state."
lose a battle in road war: Bailiffs moved in to evict anti-road
campaigners squatting in a derelict cottage near Lichfield in July,
after four of the Birmingham Northern Relief-Road protesters lost
a case against the Department of the Environment. They were ordered
to pay 200 costs.
The Highways Agency confirmed that this meant the protesters could
be turfed out of the Moneymore Cottage, near the A38, at any time,
unless they appealed within a five-day deadline.
A spokeswoman said Muppet Dave and others were illegally occupying
Good news at Staffs show: Overjoyed Staffordshire farmers
welcomed the lifting of the export ban on British beef in November-
but some warned they would have to fight to bring back lost markets.
The good news came as farmers attended the National Primestock
Show in Stafford, where the decision was due to be rung out to shoppers
by town crier, Peter Taunton.
The lifting of the ban brought to an end three years of waiting
and hardship for beef farmers all over the country. The ban was
thought to have cost the industry nationally around 4 billion.
Although they were delighted to hear that the ban had been cast
aside, the Staffordshire farmers were also quick to be cautious
and warn that there was still a great deal of work to be done to
win back the lost markets. It was felt the ban had done "irreparable
M6 'worse than M25' The Midland M6 was even more congested
than the M25, a survey revealed in April.
Congestion on the M6 was costing business 7.6 million a month.
AA shock: Plans to close 142 shops nationwide, including 60
in the West Midlands, were put forward in August by the AA.
New shops planned: In Kidderminster a multi-million pound
deal was clinched for a "waterside" shopping centre in the town.
It was being launched in November by a consortium which included
the Wyre Forest Council and Brintons Carpets.