Saving the city's Post Offices from closure
Dear Editor, The Post Office is in the middle of a new closures programme which will involve 2,500 branches across the country shutting their doors for the last time.

Despite having had our Post Office network decimated through the last round of closures (deceitfully called the "Urban Post Office Reinvention Programme" by the Government), in spring 2008 the Post Office will decide on some more Birmingham branches to axe in the next round. Formal consultation on the latest branch closures will take place in June (after the local elections).

It is my opinion however that Birmingham's Post Office network should survive the latest round of cuts intact. This is because, in comparison with all the other core cities, Birmingham's residents are already extremely badly served by the Post Office network.

Manchester for example has a population of 441,200 and a network of 125 Post Offices (according to population figures for 2005 and branch numbers on the Royal Mail website locator). Bristol has a population of 398,300 and 117 Post Office branches, while Nottingham has a population of 278,700 and 123 Post Offices.

Birmingham has a population of 1,001,200, so on these figures, you might expect us to have well over 200 Post Offices. In fact, having had our network slashed last time, Birmingham now has just 144 Post Office branches. This equates to one Post Office for every 6,952 people in Birmingham. At the same time, Nottingham has one Post Office for every 2,265 people, Bristol one for every 3,404 people and Manchester one for every 3,529 people.

In fact every one of the other core cities (a list which also includes Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield) has more Post Offices per head of their population than we do. No wonder when I went into the Victoria Square branch (a couple of weeks ahead of the Christmas rush) I found 37 people in the queue ahead of me.

It is clear from the figures (and the queues) that Birmingham has suffered far more than the other core cities during previous rounds of Post Office closures. With so many extra potential customers per Post Office, our branches must surely be more viable than in other cities.

I therefore call upon the Post Office to admit we have been badly done by in the past, and omit us entirely from this next round of closures. I await the response with interest.
Coun DEIDRE ALDEN,
Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Edgbaston

Reflecting the future
Dear Editor, A lacklustre list for politician of the year? I agree.

Birmingham City Council is punching below its weight in terms of influence nationally. However, if you had wanted a candidate reflecting the future politics of our city, rather than its past, you might have included Salma Yaqoob. She is a conviction politician, like Lynne Jones; and, with respect to the gentlemen, a better ambassador for Birmingham and its communities (on programmes like Question Time) than Mike Whitby or Liam Byrne can ever be.

Time to re-open the list, I suggest, and draft in Salma Yaqoob?
 PAUL SLATTER, Kings Heath

Exciting solar plan to cut carbon emissions
Dear Editor, It seems encouraging that Europe is considering the construction of a string of giant solar power stations, each fitted with thousands of giant mirrors which would generate electricity to be transmitted by undersea cable from North Africa to the European Union member states, including Britain.

This exciting project could mean that billions of watts of power could be generated, and so provide Europe with a sixth of its electricity and allow us to make significant cuts in carbon emissions.

At the same time, these giant power stations would be used along the Mediterranean and North Africa coasts as desalination plants and provide for desert countries such as Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia etc, so that not only would this project be a possible technological triumph, but it would also help to reduce the threat of hostilities over our decreasing water supplies.

Recently the project, named 'Desertec', was presented to the European Parliament and physicist Gerhard Knies, the co-founder of the scheme explained: "We don't make enough use of deserts, during the day the sun beats the ground mercilessly and yet by night the heat is lost.''

So far only small stations have been tested, but soon plants capable of generating up to 100 billion megawatts of power could be built with approximately 30 billion watts being exported to Europe. How much power this represents is reflected in Britain's electricity generating capacity which is 12 billion watts.

It's no exaggeration to describe the Desertec project as a major development, especially as scientists estimate that sunlight could provide 10,000 times the amount of energy needed to fulfil humanity's current energy needs. 
 GRAHAM REA, Yardley

Enabled by your abilities
Dear Editor, The London Marathon is a major date in the running calendar and it would be fantastic if people could take up the challenge for Leonard Cheshire Disability.

I know first-hand how tough running a marathon can be. I had my legs amputated when I was 11 months old and learnt to walk on prosthetics. But this has never stopped me doing what I wanted to do.

A few years ago I had never even stepped onto a running track, let alone run a race. But just four years later running has become my passion and I'm a paralympic world record holder. I am close to qualifying for Beijing in 2008 to compete in the Olympic Games.

By taking part in the London Marathon you can experience first-hand some of the enormous rewards running can bring. As well as improving your fitness, you will also be raising much-needed funds for Leonard Cheshire Disability. It's a great charity that empowers disabled people to live life their way.

The London Marathon takes place on Sunday April 13 2008. You need a deposit of £100 and a commitment to raise £1,600 in sponsorship. Simply call the events team today on 0870 420 4301.

Thank you for your support, and remember that you are not disabled by your disabilities but enabled by your abilities.
 OSCAR PISTORIUS,
 Short Distance Runner and Paralympic Gold Medallist

Impressive standards at concert
Dear Editor, I was invited to a concert given by the young men at King Edward School Birmingham on Friday night, and was so impressed by the standard, versatility and confidence of the pupils.

Congratulations to all the staff involved in the schools music programme, it must have given them great satisfaction to see their work come to fruition.
 DOROTHY BATES, Aldridge