West Midlands needs 100% of Liam Byrne
Dear Editor, Liam Byrne MP is becoming something of a wily old fox of a politician. He sits on the Government front bench in the House of Commons chewing gum as if he does not have a care in the world.

As Minister for the West Midlands he seems to have endless meetings and as the Minister for Immigration he also seems to be involved in a great many meetings and much soul searching too.

For a Secretary of State (such as Des Browne), to have two different Government department positions is workable and, though I personally believe it to be wrong, they do have the power of delegation. In contrast, for ministers this can only be wrong and Liam Byrne has proved this.

Ministers have become little more than circus acrobats, but without the ability to keep their eyes on the roles they juggle.

In Liam Byrne's case, one has to wonder if his inability to concentrate solely on the issue of immigration has been a factor in what has been termed a "cover-up"? If the answer to that question should turn out to be "yes", then is it not sensible to ask what could happen in the West Midlands if Mr Byrne feels he need not offer 100 per cent concentration on the issues we feel are of importance to this region?

As Gordon Brown prepares to review laws which the Blair Government brought into existence, then perhaps a review of dual ministers should be looked at too.

Regional Ministers with no other departmental responsibilities within the Communities Department might just be a better solution and make this Government department fit for purpose.
 PAUL BURKE, Sutton Coldfield

Unfortunate message to passengers
Dear Editor, While the Transport Secretary is promising to reduce the hassle factor at British Airports, Birmingham Airport appears to be working on an opposite agenda.

As I discovered last weekend it is now no longer possible to drop off a passenger at the airport without incurring a £1 charge. Since the lane to the terminals has been closed for security reasons all traffic is diverted to a drop off zone which turns out to be the airport's old short stay car park.

As far as I know no other airport in the UK has taken the step of charging all passengers before they even step through the departure doors. Up to now the only people to have profited from the terror threat in Britain have been Al Qaeda. Birmingham Airport's move seems to send out a very unwelcome message to travellers like me.
 JEREMY HAYES, Birmingham

A place to commemorate our war dead
Dear Editor, A number of plaques listing the names of Birmingham's war dead are kept in storage in the Council House because there is apparently nowhere for them to be displayed in public.

Nowhere? I know the city centre is very small, at one time I could walk around it in half-an-hour, but it is not so small that it cannot find a site to commemorate her war dead. How about next to the magnificent statue of the fathers of the industrial revolution, Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch? The same spot could then commemorate two very different periods in our history.

What does the cabinet minister for culture have to say about it?
 JAMES BENTON, Birmingham

Lost in the irony of it all
Dear Editor, I'm afraid my self-deprecating irony was lost on your correspondent at Advantage West Midlands' conference last week.

The only ego that I was suggesting was in need of setting aside in our New Street negotiations was my own. Coun Whitby is doing a superb job leading Birmingham's partners, hence my confidence that our bid is going from strength to strength. 
 LIAM BYRNE, Minister for the West Midlands

Spending less
Dear Editor, According to Deloitte's Annual Christmas Retail Survey, this year we're all planning to spend £63 less on presents, food and drink than we did last year.

However, I don't think retailers should get too despondent just yet. Don't we all end up spending far more than we planned at Christmas?
GERALD LUCK, Birmingham