Dear Editor, Arun Bajaj is spot on when he says the Charity Commission should apply its scrutiny proportionately, but less so when he says we've "little interest in learning how things are done in other countries and cultures" (Ensuring the best use of charity funds, Post Agenda January 18).
In 2002, we opened an inquiry into the funds raised by Radio XL when the charity that had been promised the money in 2001 told us that £30k of funds were still being kept by Radio XL. Mr Bajaj promised us they would be released. In 2003 this still hadn't happened. Nor by 2006, at which point we opened a second inquiry, which resulted in over £120k finally being transferred to a charity who could put them to the use that donors had originally given for.
We don't know as much as we'd like about other faiths and cultures - which is why we set up a Faith and Social Cohesion unit last year. But we do know that sitting on over £120k of money raised by a community to help disaster victims is not a good use of charitable funds. Others in this position might want to think about handing over the funds to an organisation already operating in the area with infrastructure already in place.
Our role is to make sure that charities use their resources as effectively as possible and that charitable funds get to charitable causes. And that's exactly what we did in this case.
An artistic masterpiece in the glovebox
Dear Editor, Following a cursory check that it was not, indeed, the first day of April, I relaxed to enjoy the report on the current exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts (Post Culture, January 24).
This was illustrated by a large picture of a Birmingham A-Z map with what appears to be an ink stain on one page.
Good luck to artist Cornelia Parker, but I shall have to check, as I suspect that I have a similar artistic masterpiece lurking in the depths of my car's glove compartment.
The title of the exhibition, Behind Closed Doors, is most apt.
It's nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions
Dear Editor, Joanna Geary's column on global warming made interesting reading. I believe that our Government introduced a tax called Climate Change Levy some eight years ago, which was a tax on all fuel used by shops, offices and other businesses.
This tax, as far as I am aware, was only introduced in the UK and not in any other European country; therefore these additional costs were passed onto the consumer. No wonder our costs are higher than in any other country.
Climate change is nothing unusual. In AD 43 until the 4th century, Romans grew grapes - even in northern England (so it must have been warm) - so their 40,000 troops and their supporters could drink wine. It is believed the Romans left in the Dark Ages due to dramatic bad weather and cold temperatures (brought about by volcanic activity which affected the world for many years).
The weather has only changed dramatically since Mt Helens erupted some 30 years ago, which reduced its height by several thousand feet - this affected the trade winds and thus the world's climate.
Nature is now on a warming-up cycle and it is nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions.
Unfortunately experts and governments are unlikely to disagree with global warming as it would create so much unemployment and it is now too late for them to reverse.
Birmingham city centre
Extraordinary value for money
Dear Editor, After 20 years developing the work of Birmingham Opera Company in order to share the profound and life-enhancing experience this art form has given me, with the broadest possible range of people and to give something back, I must now read in the newspaper that the Arts Council believes my work does not represent value for money.
Thirty years in over 60 opera houses, directing in Glasgow prisons and factories, working with the unemployed in Yorkshire and in schools all over the world, has given me the experience to know that the unique work of Birmingham Opera Company cannot be achieved for less money. It is indeed a credit to our small staff and enormous number of loyal volunteers that we repeatedly manage such remarkable work within the available resources.
Our recent production of La Traviata at the NIA specifically addressed the evolution of a society which knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
As the goalposts shift I am confident of one thing: our work represents extraordinary value for money - unless, that is, you do not value the work.
Birmingham Opera Company
Cash for things we actually need
Dear Editor, Twenty million pounds for consultants to help Birmingham City Council save money? (Consultants are paid £20m to save city council cash, Post January 25).
That's all very well and good if these consultants actually do help them to make these savings and efficiencies, but that's still an awful lot of money that is not being spent to help improve Birmingham residents' lives.
I have written to the city council on numerous occasions begging them to improve the lighting in our street, but I get the same old reply every time - a lot of flannel, followed by "well, we'd like to help, but there's no money in the pot".
When I ask them about street cleansing - there's no money in the pot .. and they are still shuffling their feet about the refurbishment of Harborne Swimming Pool (not to mention Moseley Pool).
It's unbelievable. Birmingham City Council seems to have a miraculous ability to find money when it wants to do something, but when it's something that the residents want or need, all of a sudden, the money has dried up.
Totally unfit for public office
Dear Editor, I cannot believe the bigoted, inflammatory and apparently uneducated comments made by Councillor John Lines on asylum seekers (Veterans 'treated worse than asylum seekers', Post January 24).
Is any senior politician in the city going to comment? Coun Whitby? Coun Bore? Coun Tilsley maybe?
What about individual members of the Liberal group who are helping to sustain him in his post?
In my opinion the man is totally unfit for public office and the Conservative Group should remove him at the earliest opportunity.
Gutted about UB40
Dear Editor, I've been a fan of UB40 for 26 years maybe, and attended 30 concerts. I'm just gutted Ali Campbell's leaving the band (UB40 shake-up, Post January 25).
The band is the band and when you've followed someone since 1982 it's a bit disappointing really.