Red routes essential to relieve congestion
Dear Editor, I refer to your report on red routes that, while highlighting concerns which we are aware of and helping traders to address, also contains some inaccuracies which I would like to address.

The red routes network is part of a package of measures being implemented to tackle congestion across the West Midlands. The cost of that congestion to business each year is high and likely to get worse unless it is tackled.

As part of these measures, parking is not, as your article states, being "outlawed".  The Stratford Road scheme in Birmingham provides dedicated parking and loading boxes as well as additional off-street parking.

Double red lines are limited to those stretches of road where a 24-hour restriction is essential, for example at key junctions and to improve safety. In all other areas the underlying restriction is a single red line allowing unlimited parking and loading between 7pm and 7am, and all day on Sundays.

In addition, there are facilities where parking and loading is permitted throughout the day.

During the development, implementation and post implementation of the red routes, we have continually engaged with business groups and the general public, and Birmingham City Council has already implemented changes to the parking and loading facilities in response to comments received.

Currently, surveys for the Stratford Road scheme are being undertaken by an independent consultant on behalf of the city council, and this will assist in assessing the effectiveness of the red routes network.
 ROD BLACK, Red routes programme manager

Red Ken model has nothing to offer
Dear Editor, The civic leadership of Birmingham has little or nothing to learn from former Young Conservative Ken Livingstone - especially as he is one of the biggest reasons why local government isn't trusted by Whitehall.

Wearing his Mayor of London hat, Lord Red Ken has almost no power other than to make radical-sounding speeches. He can't even order a box of paper clips without going through Sir Humphrey. The way that Tony Blair stitched him up is one of the few great services that dreadful man did the country.

If Harvard Business School graduate Liam Byrne is serious about boosting the West Midlands region, then he needs to throw away his rose-tinted specs and publicly acknowledge this can only be done at London's expense.

Ideally this would involve moving the UK's seat of government to Manchester and spreading all the ministries around the UK's largest cities. He would also need to get the infamous 1974 Local Government Act repealed and break the power of HM Treasury.

New operator, same service
Dear Editor, As train users shiver on platforms, waiting for cancelled or delayed trains, they probably don't give a cuss about which failing firm is meant to run the service.

Sacking Virgin from the local Cross Country franchise caused few tears, but the new firm, Arriva, has just upped fares by seven per cent and immediately used £20 million of our cash to tart up the staff with new uniforms, trains with new livery and issue old apologies for on-going poor service on new stationery.

Which other European country would get away with rip-off rail fares to repaint trains?

Just the ticket
Dear Editor, To eradicate the problem of people travelling on the region's trains without paying, the train companies should install automatic barriers on all stations similar to those on London Underground.

The cost would be more than recouped in increased revenue.
 L TURNER, Wythall

Oh, the irony!
Dear Editor, Well, it's good to see Birmingham City chairman David Gold does irony. He complains about the FA appointing a foreigner in Fabio Capello as England manager, claiming that the FA is "driven by the requirement of success, rather than morality".

Yes, Mr Gold, it is shocking that anyone could leave their morals at the door as they go after success . . . but it is also surprising that this should particularly upset a man who made his millions from peddling porn.
 S RIPLEY,  Edgbaston

Put your trust in Hillary
Dear Editor, It was often said during the Bill Clinton administration that you could trust the president with the economy but not trust him with your daughter.

The reverse has often been said of the present incumbent.

Indeed, it could be argued that his maladministration of the American economy is one of the reasons for the global slow-down that we are currently experiencing.

It can only bring cause for optimism then that Hillary Clinton has re-emerged as a front-runner for the democrats after the New Hampshire elections.

For one thing, she is more likely to be better for the Americans domestically. With her experience on the Senate since 2000 she has constantly supported a return to fiscal responsibility.

This of course will have a knock-on effect for the global economy.

Secondly, she is far more likely to help create a more stable world, particularly in the Middle East, whereas President Bush seems far more prone to create conflict where once none existed.

There is also cause for hope when we discover that of the two front runners for the Democrat ticket,

one is a woman and the other black - reasons to be even a little more optimistic about America's future.
 JACK GROVE,  Staffordshire

Regular screening for drivers

Dear Editor, If Gordon Brown's idea of regular health screening for all, on the grounds that prevention is better than cure, will make for a healthier NHS and ultimately a healthier nation, then the same could and should apply to drivers.

If drivers where regularly screened for poor eyesight, and alcohol/drug dependency (optician's and OAPs could be obliged to notify the authorities where applicable), then road casualties would surely be reduced and subsequently a burden taken off the NHS.

Also if more drivers had to take retests - perhaps after blatantly breaking the law; being involved in crashes; after suffering injury or illness that could impair driving ability, and certainly after acquiring a disability which can't fail to impair driving ability - then casualties and the burden on the NHS, and indeed social services, could be reduced even further, and wouldn't it reduce congestion too?