Partnership for canal restoration projects
Dear Editor, Michael Fabricant deserves thanks and recognition for speaking up in the debate on Staffordshire's canals, and in particular for the restoration of the Lichfield and Hatherton canals.
He is a years-long supporter of the project that would transform Walsall and Brownhills from canal backwaters to focal points on the national waterway network, and re-link the Lichfield and Cannock areas with Birmingham's canal network.
For too long, the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust (LCHRT) has pushed the project forward with little or no support from the local authorities which stand to reap the sizeable economic and regeneration benefits of these restorations.
The Trust's most notable achievement was to persuade MEL, the hard-nosed builders of the M6 Toll, to allow for canal crossings at Churchbridge (a navigable culvert) and North of Brownhills (an aqueduct), which were fully charitably funded by the Trust.
This was a truly defining moment for, without these canal crossings, the restoration project would have died there and then. And that is exactly what would have happened, had it been left to Walsall and their neighbouring authorities in Staffordshire. So a huge debt of gratitude is owed to the volunteers of the LCHRT.
I happen to think that the time has now come where the Trust should no longer have to soldier on alone. If the representatives of the communities in the areas of the West Midlands and Staffordshire that stand to benefit most are truly serious about these restorations, a partnership should now be established involving the Trust, the British Waterways Board, Walsall Council, Staffordshire County Council, Cannock Chase, Lichfield and South Staffordshire District Councils, and the Inland Waterways Association.
Only by working together will we have the strength to win and assemble the funding necessary to bring this laudable strategic project to a successful conclusion.
RICHARD WORRALL, Walsall
Strategy of meaningless and costly gobbledygook
Dear Editor, I have just finished reading the new West Midlands Economic Strategy "Connecting to Success" that was released this week. Its 50 very expensively produced pages are full of meaningless gobbledygook, with all the words that we now come to expect from our governing and tax-taking masters, like "clusters" and, as John Duckers noted in his article on Tuesday, much use of the word "partnership".
How on earth anyone could think that they, government employees, can get real value in stimulating economic success in this highly competitive and fast moving world beats me. I just wonder how much of all of this cost us?
But my real interest in taking an hour or so to suffer reading this twaddle, was to see what plans they had for our creaking transport infrastructure, and out of 50 glossy pages, the absolutely vital subject of transport got ... half a page.
To confirm my concerns, I noted that we will "have to make best use of existing networks", and public transport will get "new infrastructure where required". Compare that to our European or even Far Eastern competitors.
We’re told that the "Lead Support & Delivery Partners" (yes that word again), is the "Regional Transport Partnership" whoever they are, and they are backed up by the West Midlands Regional Assembly for goodness sake.
So there we are, and folk like me – heavily invested and with a lifetime involved in the transport sector – can settle back, and take heart that our bureaucratic masters know just where they’re taking us.
CHRIS KELLY, Keltruck Ltd, West Bromwich
Lack of a central bus station
Dear Editor, Is their any town, let alone city, in the UK that doesn't have a central bus station? Answer, the second largest city in the country.
Visitors alight at Digbeth coach station, New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill only to wander round the streets looking for bus connections. The impression this gives to visitors and newcomers doesn't take much imagination.
No underground, no metro system of any note, no council that has the vision to think beyond their term in office and bereft of any ideas not supported by government handouts.
Why isn't it possible for all parties on the local council to unite in a long-term self-funded strategy, and leave a transport infrastructure of which generations could be proud? Or am I just dreaming?
That "world class city" ambition will soon grind to a halt if we can't get this right. Come on councillors, just for once pull together for the sake of the city.
N SMITHSON, Convention Quarter
Old rockers still have the magic
Dear Editor, Magnificent. Fantastic. And what a voice Robert Plant still has.
I was one of those fans lucky enough to win a ticket to the gig of the decade – Led Zeppelin – on Tuesday night... and they didn't disappoint. After 19 silent years, the old rockers showed they still have all the magic – and in spades.
DAVE WHITE, By email
Fair share of Olympic funds for the region
Dear Editor, Labour MP Sion Simon is right to challenge Olympics Minister, Tessa Jowell, on how much of the vast £9.3 billion of public money will go into the Midlands economy.
In the run up to the Olympics, we were urged by Lord Coe and his team to support London’s bid because – allegedly – the whole country would benefit.
Equally right is Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell when he says that "this Government has consistently favoured London and neglected Birmingham" and sought assurances that it wouldn’t happen in the case of the Olympics.
In stark contrast to this welcome fighting talk is the comment by the networking group, Birmingham Forward, which suggests that as the Olympics are going to happen anyway we had better "make the most of it rather than complain".
Birmingham is hosting the Chinese track and field Olympic team and, I believe, hoping to welcome the US team. We urgently need a proper Olympic-sized swimming pool here (unless Tessa Jowell would prefer simply to confirm that the Olympics are just for the benefit of the South East), perhaps Ms Jowell could allocate the appropriate funds to Birmingham to build one.
NEIL MAYBURY, Birmingham Business Focus
Irony rewarding failure and the lack of skills
Dear Editor, A so-called England football manager can't do his job and is sacked, but walks away with £2.5 million?
An Engineering MD, through rank bad management goes insolvent and 17 skilled workers are made redundant. Their redundancy money has to be claimed from the Government. That's the real world.
It's ironic how there are fewer English footballers due to the flood of foreign players over here on high wages, while there are fewer English toolmakers due to the work going abroad because of the cheapness of the cost.
IAN MANN, Coleshill
A broken promise
Dear Editor, It is reported that the Prime Minister will go to Lisbon and sign the EU Treaty, but will arrive late and miss the main ceremony.
In doing so he will earn the contempt, not only of 'Little Englanders' such as myself, but also the dismay and ridicule of the Euro enthusiasts.
Clearly Mr Brown is ashamed and embarrassed at his betrayal of the British people, and also of the promise he made in 2005 that he would allow a referendum if Labour was returned to power. It was that falsehood that helped Labour to win the last election and the same one that will lead it to defeat at the next.
The Prime Minister is too embarrassed to be seen sipping Champagne with other European leaders at the great betrayal.
Large numbers of traditional Labour voters will simply abstain from voting in 2010 and the Tories will win by default as they have done before.
The public will never forgive such blatant treachery.
JAMES BENTON, Birmingham