Dear Editor, The £53m West Bromwich Art Gallery really must clean up.
On the strength of Terry Grimley’s recent review, this morning I visited The Public - the newly opened £53m art gallery in West Bromwich centre.
Contrary to Terry’s article telling us that there was to be free admission until mid-July I found most of it was still closed and was told the full charges would be introduced when it opens later in the month with some small discounts for Sandwell residents.
Apart from some visually very exciting architecture only the ground floor and the coffee bar are open with a free exhibition of rather striking portraits of local residents.
There, sadly, the good news ends.
Sitting sipping coffee you start to see the bits of paper and broken polystyrene blowing in off the squares each side of the building. Then there’s the layer of dust on the floor and an even thicker layer of dust, blobs of builder’s mastic (or was it chewing gum?) on what should be bright metal window surrounds.
For a building that opened to the public 11 days ago to be this grubby suggests it wasn’t cleaned at the outset and hasn’t been given a dusting since.
For my money, when we get the chance to pay the £6.95 admission charge to see the rest of this place, I think I’ll stay on the tram and visit the delightful Wednesbury art gallery instead, for free, with it’s world leading collection of Ruskin glazed pottery and works by Millais, Benjamin W Leader (his February Fill Dyke is in Birmingham’s art gallery) and Birmingham School of Art’s Florence Camm.
Then maybe go to Wolverhampton art gallery to see the Pop Art collection – Roy Lichtenstein, Peter Blake. Or what about the excellent Walsall art gallery for the dozens of bronzes by Sir Jacob Epstein. All for free.
The last straw, and what sums up “The Public”, is that sometime someone must start to pick up the dozens and dozens of cigarette stubs stuck in the mat outside the front door – it’s no good thinking it’s enough just to put a snazzily designed stainless steel ash tin outside the building – you have to have cleaners there each and every day keeping the £53m building looking like somewhere you are willing to pay to go in to.
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If we’re the best, let’s not be afraid of telling everyone
Dear Editor, Elizabeth Green’s article concerning Birmingham’s big brand debate was thought-provoking. I was told the first rule of marketing is to proclaim something as the best.
Clearly then saying we are the `second city` is sending out the message that we are second rate or second class.
One of the Birmingham`s major problems is its lack of self esteem; popular culture in this country revolves around Football and Music.
We fare badly against Manchesterand Liverpoolin both these aspects.
However there are many other things we could do to promote the name of Birminghamto the outside world. Using the City as the backdrop to a major film would be a great advantage.
This present council have improved the facilities greatly hence the improvement in our world business ranking, but we cannot rest, continuous improvements need to happen. Bear in mind most visitors see only the City Centre and surrounding areas, lets develop them further so that this city becomes a `must see` venue to compete globally.
Managing Director Corporate Solutions,
Brown is to blame over axe for Post Offices
Dear Editor, As a regular reader of your paper, I read with interest the letter last week from Mr Natrass on behalf of UKIP, which indicated that the closure of the local Post Office network was due to the EU rather than Gordon Brown’s government.
As usual with the lunatic fringe, UKIP have got it wrong. The Post Office closures are not the direct result of a EU decision but are part of the Post Office’s business plan. Our Government claims the Post Office is an independent business whereas the truth is that it is a business with only one shareholder – the Government. So it is Gordon Brown who is to blame for the closures and not the EU.
The EU has made a Postal Services directive but this deals with the liberalisation of Postal delivery services across the EU and introduces competition into this area. Local Post Offices are not connected with postal delivery and so would not be affected by this legislation.
Also, the threat to Post Offices has been evident for many months now and UKIP has done nothing locally to oppose the planned closures. Labour has closed almost 5,000 Post Offices since 1997, many of which were profitable, and last week saw the announcement of seven more to close across North Warwickshire and Bedworth.
As usual, pensioners, the poor and vulnerable that rely on local services and cannot easily travel to those that remain will be hardest hit. What makes the closures harder to take this time is that Mike O’Brien, the North Warwickshire MP who is also pensions minister, voted in Parliament to close the Post Offices pensioners rely on to collect their meagre pensions.
If Mr Natrass and his colleagues want to really help save Post Offices, their time would be better spent joining the protests already underway rather than preaching from the fringes. Or is it that they see a bandwagon and feel they are missing out if they do not jump on it?
Cheltenham Close, Bedworth.
Liverpool are to blame – not Villa’s captain
Dear Editor, Re John Payton’s letter of the 8th.
Why is it understandable that Gareth Barry should feel let down? Yes he's given ten good years to Aston Villa but has been paid very well for those years. Martin O’Neill has made it very clear that although he does not wish to lose Gareth, provided Liverpool pay the required money Aston Villa would not stand in the players way and he can join Liverpool.
Gareth Barry’s beef should be with Liverpool for trying to purchase a top international player on the cheap.
Why should the Villa expect less than the market value, who would,especially as Gareth has two years to run on his current contract?
With regards to how many better payers has the manager signed,well let’s wait and see, there is still around two months before the curtain comes down on the transfer market.
That’s the time to judge Martin O’Neill.