The Metro moves ahead

The Midland Metro

The West Midlands new hi-tech tram system between Wolverhampton and Birmingham is expected to be officially launched this summer by the Queen. Transport bosses have been holding "informal" talks with the region's Lord Lieutenant about making an approach to Buckingham Palace to invite the Monarch to head the opening of the 145 million Midland Metro system.

Metro bosses feel such a "prestigious project" should be recognised at the highest level and it would therefore be fitting for the Queen to open it. The first Metro line service was pencilled in for this month (January) and Altram, the company in charge of designing, building and operating the new supertram, has already warned of financial penalties for work finished on the system behind schedule.

Metro is now going through the formalities of inviting the head of state. In the meantime tests are being carried out on the Wolverhampton to Snow Hill run to make sure everything is ready for the big day.

The new MiniThe new Millennium Mini, which is being built at the famous car's existing home - Longbridge, Birmingham - could go on sale in America, says the Rover Group. The company adds that the Mini is very popular in America where there are more Mini clubs than anywhere else.

The current model costs around 9,000 and the company says the new vehicle will cost more than that. However it suggests that the floated figure of 13,000 was probably a little high.

Sales of the legendary vehicle in the United States stopped in the late 1960s after tough emission rules were brought in by the Americans.

The new Mini is a successor to the car which captured the imagination when it first came out in 1959 - but it's wider and longer than the original.

Cannock needle-woman, Sylvia Everitt, is really putting herself on the map for the year 2,000. She is making an ambitious 22ft-long tapestry covering the last 1,000 years - and it is expected to go on show at venues throughout Staffordshire in the new century.

Sylvia, of Cannock Wood Road, Rawnsley, sees the work as the county's version of the Bayeux Tapestry. She took five years to complete ten of the 11 panels which cover 19th century transport, a fabulous map of Staffordshire and the earliest car made by the Star Cycle Company of Wolverhampton.

The former wages clerk says that Wolverhampton and West Bromwich are included in the tapestry because they were part of the county for 700 years.

Wood, silk, leather, jewels, pearls and beads are among the materials being used in the tapestry. Sylvia's contribution to the millennium is being sponsored by a number of local councils.

Nearly 1,000 jobs are in the pipeline for the 75 million leisure complex being planned in Birmingham by Richardson Developments of Oldbury, in partnership with Wolverhampton based Tarmac. The new centre - Star City - is going up at a former power station near Spaghetti Junction and is due to open at Easter. Making their mark at the ceremony will be actor-director, Lord Attenborough, and screen, stage and television star, Julie Walters.

Smethwick-born Julie and Richard Attenborough, have already visited the site and recorded their handprints in concrete in a Warner Village Walk of Fame at the new venue. The 25-acre fun centre, all under one roof, will have a 30-screen cinema, restaurants, and a family entertainment centre, the first of its kind outside London.

Movie mogul Lord Puttnam is taking on a demanding new role for the millennium - as the godfather. He has been appointed as one of the 10 expert advisers for the exhibition inside the 758 million, Millennium Dome.

The award winning producer is advising on both the Work and Learn Zones at the Greenwich Dome. The "godparents" are there to work with the Dome organisers, The New Millennium Experience Company, and zone designers and sponsors to ensure the highest standard. Among other "godparents" announced by the NMEC was children's TV presenter, Floella Benjamin. NMEC also announced a 1.5 million television campaign.


From Old Moore's

January New scientific developments, including computers that are able to respond to human thoughts, could well be on the cards.
The first month of the political year is also considered to embrace tension and serious criticism of the government.

February There is profound opposition to the approaching single currency system, including talks in some quarters of possibly abandoning the whole project.
There could be major sex scandals involving British government representatives and clashes between Israelis and the Palestine police are forecast.

March Further peace moves in Northern Ireland are continuing with excellent chances of a positive agreement, but not of major deals. Civil violence is likely in Russia and there could be a mutiny within the army there.

April A refusal to compromise coupled with bitterness proves the scenario in several hotspots, including Africa. Major institutions, both political and financial, are expected to collapse.

May The world may be facing tragedies, possibly maritime disasters and displays of public grief or religious fervour. The British government must prepare itself for heavy losses in the local elections.

June The Derby at Epsom could be won by the second favourite, and a French trained filly could win the Oaks.

July The government in Palestine is in danger of being dissolved, producing anarchy on Israel's border.

August There may well be concern expressed about new diseases and increasing pressure on Britain's over-stretched health service.

September New laws concerning marriage and divorce could be brought in for Britain - and a messy divorce involving a celebrity will be in the news.

October. The cocaine cartels bid for power in Columbia fuels drugs wars in Latin America.

November At Doncaster the second favourite is tipped to win in the November Handicap.

December Industrial unrest could be on the cards in Britain, but legal decisions that could strengthen workers rights are more likely. The world views states which have nuclear potential with suspicion, as it has through most of the year.