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   Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday January 23, 2006

Empty homes

Derelict house
Boarded up - empty homes can blight surrounding properties

Across the West Midlands, around 76,000 homes stand empty and unused.

Many of these properties become a magnet for crime and anti-social behaviour – and drag down the value of neighbouring homes.

Yet, while these houses and flats stand empty and neglected, thousands of people are struggling to take their first step on the housing ladder.

Inside Out meets a first time buyer who has become so frustrated with soaring house prices that she is considering buying and renovating a derelict home.

We also head out on to the streets of Birmingham with a new council team which has the task of reducing the number of empty houses in the city.

But while the broken glass and boarded windows may make these properties easy to find, tracking down the owners and forcing them to act can prove a much harder task.

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Senior Singletons

Couple hand in hand
Lonely hearts united - older people seek their love match

Kay Sutherland is fed up of feeling lonely.

The grandmother from Coventry has been on her own for more than seven years - but now she wants to find a new companion.

And she is not alone.

An estimated 300,000 senior singletons live in the West Midlands and many of them are seeking their love match.

There are so many people over 60 looking for love that seven new specialist dating internet agencies sprung up in the last year alone.

With all those potential partners out there, can Kay find her perfect match in a world she still feels is obsessed by young love?

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Coffin factory

Coffin factory
Newmans - what future awaits the former factory?

For more than 100 years, a family-run factory in the West Midlands produced some of the world’s finest fixtures and fittings for coffins.

Newman Brothers’ ‘furniture’ featured at funerals throughout the 20th Century, including those of Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and Princess Diana.

But since the company closed in 1999, its Birmingham base has stood untouched, the contents left to gather dust.

Inside Out takes a tour around this intriguing factory and asks why more is not being done to preserve what is a unique piece of Birmingham’s manufacturing past.

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