Potential for classic Edwardian building
Dear Editor, The Birmingham Foundation has followed with interest the ongoing saga of Moseley Baths. It takes issue with suggestions that there is a need for a modern building to replace this classic Edwardian structure.
You only have to look four miles away to see what can be achieved by investing in this type of facility, which is so rich in our heritage. I am, of course, referring to Nechells Baths.
Nechells Baths were opened in the same year as Moseley; they were closed by the city council in 1996. Over the next few years the building soon became derelict, to the extent that the roof was about to fall in.
Located in Nechells, one of the most deprived wards in the country, it was acknowledged that this area was crying out for a local community centre to help boost opportunity and give assistance to those who needed it.
The Birmingham Foundation saw the potential to transform the Nechells Baths building which was subsequently offered to the charity by the very forward thinking city council planners. With the help of our funders, including AWM, the Birmingham Foundation has returned a neglected grade-II listed building back to its former glory, not as a swimming facility but as a vitally needed community centre.
As well as providing 25 much needed local jobs, the centre provides crèche and nursery facilities, English spoken as a second language for local Somali residents, training facilities, a training kitchen, café, internet café, heritage training workshops, as well as providing office accommodation for several local, not-for-profit community organisations.
Local councillors also hold their surgeries there. During the evenings, the facility is home to a host of activities including a youth club, community bingo, and a thriving dance group.
Our flagship tenants, Pertemps People Development Group, have, in just two years, successfully put more than 350 local, long term unemployed back into work, as well as enabling over 200 local people to gain educational qualifications to enable them to get work or study further.
All in all a great success story and one that we are confident could be emulated by Moseley. If anybody would like to see the success story that is Nechells Baths, please contact us (www.bhamfoundation.co.uk).
DAVID BUCKNALL and DEREK INMAN, Birmingham Foundation
Unnecessary speed limits on the M42
Dear Editor, I frequently travel on the M42 and am becoming increasingly frustrated by the (to me) unnecessary speed limits being imposed. It is so annoying to be kept to 50mph when there is little traffic on the road (yes, that does happen occasionally) and everything is flowing smoothly.
I begin to wonder who is in charge of deciding that we all need to be curbed and, indeed, if the person who operates the messages on the gantries is adequately trained?
Recently, I travelled east around Birmingham and all traffic was reduced to 50mph because of "congestion". This was not at all apparent and, when I got to the junction in question, the "congestion" was apparently on the slip road - again not obvious.
Why reduce all lanes to 50mph in this circumstance?
I should just like a comprehensive explanation of how this variable speed limit is imposed.
P FORD, By email
Strength in numbers
Dear Editor, Birmingham City Council can no longer be in any doubt over the strength of feeling among grass-root workers over the issue of single status pay.
I applaud those brave enough to march on the Council House this weekend and commend those people who travelled from across Britain to support them.
Most of all, I admire those who have been brave enough to speak out against the pay cuts being implemented. Without a doubt, there have been abuses of the bonus and pay systems over the last decade or so. However, the majority of workers earn very ordinary amounts - wages they can ill afford to lose and which keep a roof over their heads.
If the council persists in cutting employees' wages by thousands of pounds, there will be a strike. I hope the public at large understand the issues involved and will come out in support of the people who work so hard to deliver their essential services on a daily basis.
BILL FRANK, Birmingham
The superiority of EU law
Dear Editor, To play fair with our European neighbours, Parliament told British judges they should give priority to EU rules.
But until now MPs have never been asked to agree that EU laws are inherently superior to laws made by their own Parliament, a claim invented by lawyers at the EU's Court of Justice.
That changes with the Treaty of Lisbon. For the first time, British MPs will vote on a treaty which declares that both EU treaties and EU law have primacy over British law - not excluding British constitutional law.
If MPs endorse that declaration, it will make a nonsense of their oath of allegiance.
They might as well take a new oath: "I pledge my allegiance to the European Union, and promise that I will never propose or support anything which may be contrary to its treaties and laws, as interpreted by its Court of Justice."
Any MP who would object to taking such an oath should not vote to approve the Lisbon Treaty.
D COOPER, By email
Explaining a misunderstanding
Dear Editor, It was useful to see the response from Mr Joe Kelly, MD of Birmingham International Airport, refuting my accusation that the airport was at fault for requiring soldiers to change into civilian clothes before entering the terminal.
I apologise for the misjudgement and look forward to a contribution to your paper from the soldiers' Commanding Officer and/or the MoD, who seem to be the ones responsible for this aberration.
TESSA MILLER, Sutton Coldfield
A well-honed nose for the informative
Dear Editor, Clive Platman's article on Champagne was characteristically so readable, informative and well-researched. He draws the reader into his obvious enthusiasm for wines and their production, and for the personalities of the producers who share his enthusiasm.
There is none of the self-opinionated drivel that characterises some of the more "famous" wine-writers.
I was an avid reader of his weekly column when it was published on Wednesdays. Now I confine myself to your Saturday publication, and have yet to work out when I might find yet another of his stimulating articles. Surely you can persuade him to write every week?
ERIC SILOVE, Birmingham