It's time to reconsider road widening
Dear Editor, I am glad the Government is reviewing the widening of the M6 in Staffordshire and Cheshire.

The decision to go ahead in 2002 was in response to the West Midlands to North West Multi-Modal Study. Its conclusions were based on a widening proposal costing £670 million, not the £3 billion we are now confronted with.

The study recommended a package of measures including road pricing on the M6 and substantial rail improvement. However they admitted that what they were proposing would increase carbon dioxide emissions from the motorway and its wider corridor and that the non-widening option was the only way to reduce those emissions.

Five years on it is time to reconsider whether the widening is good value for money and whether cheaper alternatives might deliver better results. It is also important that any decision on the M6 takes into account the knock-on effects of increasing capacity. After all we know where much of that traffic will end up - on congested roads in the Black Country and Birmingham.
 GERALD KELLS
 Campaign to Protect Rural England
 West Midlands

Premature reports of our demise
Dear Editor, Your report on the planned new headquarters for Business Link West Midlands states that the decision not to move to McKean Road in Oldbury leaves a question mark over the future of Black Country Chamber of Commerce. This is simply not the case.
The Chamber in the Black Country will continue as a membership organisation, as it has done for the last 150 years, supporting the business community across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

The Chamber is undergoing a major restructuring exercise, designed to put the organisation even closer to the interests of its members. As part of that project we have a new headquarters lined up for the New Year and are seeking new premises for our Dudley Chamber.

Reports of our demise are more than a little premature.
 DAVID CHAMBERS
 Chief Executive Black Country Chamber of Commerce

A political correctness too far
Dear Editor, So Labour Party advisers within the Institute of Public Policy are suggesting that "Britain should only celebrate Christmas if similar recognition is given to major religious festivals of other faiths".

The word 'insulting' certainly comes to mind, as well as taking political correctness a step too far. Who do these people think they are? For so-called highly educated people they are surprising foolish.

We are a Christian country and still retain and cherish some of our pagan ways as well. To suggest our traditions are not worthy of celebration is not only offensive but a sure way of creating division within our communities.

I only hope that the Birmingham Labour Party, which has some history in jumping feet first into these ideological causes, thinks twice and rejects such nonsense from so-called advisers.
 PAUL BURKE
 Sutton Coldfield

Taxing question of Lewis Hamilton
Dear Editor, When I heard Lewis Hamilton say he was leaving England because of the stress caused by the media, I felt this was a rather strange excuse.

He is a young man who exposes himself to danger by driving at speed, and has the resilience to keep doing it, and yet he is afraid of the media.
Without the media of course, we wouldn't know if he was a winner or a loser or indeed what he looked like. I suppose in some way the press has helped him in his career and has increased the popularity of his sport.

I'm wondering if perhaps it isn't stress that is causing him to move, but the taxman?
 DOUGLAS WATHEN
 Salford Priors

Clear on better transport
Dear Editor, Contrary to your recent claims, the Government is extremely clear about how to deliver better transport systems - for Birmingham and across the country (Talk is cheap, let's get moving on transport improvements, Post Oct 31).

Just last week we announced £150 million for reducing congestion on the motorways around Birmingham. As well as this, a new operator will soon start work on improving West Midland train journeys by introducing new trains, new services, upgrading stations and introducing more car parking.

The document published on Wednesday is looking at the many options available to improve transport for the long-term. It offers a range of possible solutions that can be used in different packages to meet the individual transport needs of local areas.

Far from being confused, this is a sensible way to plan for an efficient transport network that supports the economy and plays its part in tackling climate change.
 ROSIE WINTERTON
 Transport Minister

No room for a third party in the middle ground
Dear Editor, Whilst Nick Clegg is right to recognise the need for Liberal Democracy to look outwards, is he correct in his belief that the disenfranchised millions in the Stay-at-Home Party are in fact closet Liberals struggling to come out? Are they not in fact those left out of, or objectors to, the realignment of New Labour in 1996 - the cause of deepening divisions - who will respond to economic reality but continue to ignore protestations of good faith, having seen and heard it all many times before?

If Nick Clegg does recognise the causes of the current democratic crisis, and Charles Kennedy's role in failing to offer Liberal Democracy as a meaningful antidote to Blair, why then is he offering the former leader a job?

It can only be that he wants to curry favour amongst those who are blinded to the reality that there is no room at all for a third party in the middle ground of British politics; those people who just enjoy arguing amongst themselves, and are involved in politics in the way that people go every so often to the cinema or for a walk, as a kind of social diversion?

Certainly he is personable, a powerful communicator and a true internationalist, but does he in fact have his eyes on real people living real lives, or is he seeking to superimpose a textbook liberalism on vast numbers who really want to see the beef and know that real life is about more than good intentions.

By giving in to ageist pressures and failing to prop-erly analyse the facts (that Ming Campbell's personal ratings remained constant during his leadership) the frightened Lib Dems have been bounced into a position no party would choose - an election between two identikit candidates. This merely reflects homogeneity, rather than the broader canvas of viewpoint, and - despite their individual talents - reflects poorly on party diversity, especially at a time of huge demographic shifts and great movements in sexual and racial awareness and equality.

 BILL HAYMES
 By email