So-called regeneration costing us the Earth
Dear Editor, It is indeed rare to have so many intelligent contributions concerned for our general well-being as appeared on the pages 10 and 11 of Thursday's Birmingham Post.
In particular, the letters from Richard Worrall (New Street project veering off the rails) and Bill Haymes (Leading us down the path to global ruin), give us plenty to think about.
It appears that all mainstream political parties - at both national and local level - are willing to assist property developers, through the planning system, to destroy existing buildings rather than improve, restore or re-use them.
In many cases, they are also prepared to sell council land to the developers to help this process, in the name of "regeneration".
Currently, this is taking place in and around Birmingham's city centre. There are many reasons why it should be opposed but most important of all is that it is unsustainable.
In Birmingham, it is typified by the support for the demolition of the central library. On the front page of Tuesday's Post it was revealed that the library is to be joined by the wholesale markets.
Birmingham's mainstream parties are also happy that, as in Eastside, small businesses and community projects should be closed down with no relocation plans.
This includes the wonderful Cafe One social enterprise. Destruction will be large-scale, including a wide swathe from Paradise Circus, along Broad Street, to the far side of Five Ways.
This proposed massive redevelopment will not even result in meeting the basic needs of the citizens of Birmingham. There will be no carbon-neutral social housing or small independent social and commercial enterprises as in Barcelona and Brighton.
Instead, we will have yet more hotels unaffordable apartments, shopping centres for the global retail chain businesses (such as New Street Station Gateway project) and offices.
What is being ignored by the supporters of this particular bit of economic development is the true costs which we will all have to bear.
As a result of demolition, extraction, transportation and construction, huge amounts of energy will be used and consequently the so-called regeneration will generate an enormous amount of carbon emissions.
Such an increase will more than cancel out the gains from the few energy efficient projects which the Birmingham Strategic Partnership (BSP) have so far initiated.
The BSP, that unelected, unaccountable organisation given responsibility for tackling climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Birmingham well understands this underlying contradiction and conflict.
In their minutes of July 16, 2006, the BSP Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (CCS & AP) group ask themselves: "How are the issues of growth dealt with in the strategy? eg business growth, economic growth, population etc."
They conclude that: "Strategy needs to acknowledge the conflict between growth and reductions in energy consumption." However, they also "want to avoid negative messages around conflict but acknowledge that there needs to be clear policy coherence in areas of contradiction. To be incorporated into the consultation draft".
Well we're still waiting. The whole interminable process of producing a BSP and CCS & AP (it started in 2005) has become a tragic farce. It is clear that the endless pursuit of profit is costing the earth.
This kind of economics is ecologically unsustainable. Unless there is a radical change in the way we live, and an abandonment of traditional economic growth, there is no hope that we can achieve a sufficient reduction in emissions in time to avoid catastrophic climate change. We in Birmingham should be leading the way.
Of course, it does mean choosing politicians who can resist the power and influence of global big business.
PETER BECK, Quinton
Help us to create badge of pride
Dear Editor, This week sees the great TV vote on the People's Millions BIG Lottery Fund. Four projects go head to head for a huge £50 million lottery grant and you can help decide who gets the lot.
The Black Country as Urban Park needs the support of every man, woman and child in the West Midlands. It is an extraordinary combination of limestone caverns, canals, and internationally renowned fossil beds.
We want to create a unique enchanting journey underground through canal, through underground funicular railway, through limestone caverns the size of cathedrals, hewn by Black Country workers to feed the furnaces of early industry, before surfacing at the top of a hill with exposed fossil beds and amazing views over our beautiful region.
You can help make this happen - you can help create a new badge of pride for this extraordinary region. So I urge all of you to please watch the TV programmes on Thursday and Friday, and vote for the Black Country as Urban Park - by email and on the telephone.
And don't forget to tell all your friends and family.
LIAM BYRNE, Minister for the West Midlands
Staff website ban hits wrong buttons
Dear Editor, I have a lot of sympathy for the leaders of Birmingham City when it comes to the single status hot potato.
It was a problem they were forced to tackle and I fail to see how they could ever have come out of it looking good.
For the most part, I believe they've dealt with it well - after all, they've managed to avoid any industrial action to date. That said, they do seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot.
What on earth could they hope to gain by banning the www.birminghamsinglestatus.co.uk website from council premises?
All they have achieved is increasing publicity for this site and alienating staff even further.
They would have come out of this much better had they just gritted their teeth and let this site run its course. Instead, they've ensured it front-page status in The Birmingham Post .
JEFF LIGHT, Birmingham
Time for Brown to go
Dear Editor, According to the press, each of the last four weeks has been "Gordon Brown's worst ever week" in politics.
Even if Harriet Harman, or some other top Labour bod, is forced to fall on their sword in a bid to save their leader, I fail to see how Brown's reputation can really survive. This is the second time in as many years that the police have come knocking on the door of Number 10.
Gordon Brown needs to go before irreparable damage is inflicted not only on himself and his Labour Government, but also on Britain's political reputation in the eyes of the world.
BETH SKINNER, By email
Heading for a fall?
Dear Editor, The number of flats going up in Birmingham is phenomenal. I walked from the city centre to the Jewellery Quarter this weekend, via St Paul's Square, and virtually everywhere I looked there was a building site.
With the housing market currently so jittery - fewer mortgages being granted and a slide in prices - isn't it about time the council started to rein in the number of planning applications it grants? At the very least, it should be insisting on family housing rather than the current stack-'em-high policy currently pursued.
If we're not very careful, the city could be heading for a fall.
BILL FERRIS, Birmingham