Overhaul of car crash legal assistance will hit victims
Dear Editor, I am appalled by Government plans to force hundreds of thousands of injury victims to argue their cases in court without a lawyer.
The Government wants to increase the number of road traffic accident cases heard in the small claims court. But this court is designed for people to represent themselves, rather than have legal assistance.
This means if someone crashes into your car, injuring you or your family, you will have to go to court with no legal advice and argue against fully qualified lawyers defending the person whose negligence caused the injuries.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) knows from experience that people can be seriously undercompensated in these circumstances as, of course, any insurance company’s first duty is to its shareholders.
It’s completely unfair and makes a mockery of justice.
It’s a classic David and Goliath situation with people unable to recover the money they need to get their lives back on track.
Insurance companies persuaded the Government to introduce these plans by claiming costs would reduce and savings would be passed on to motorists through lower premiums.
Unsurprisingly, insurers have refused to give the Government any commitment on how they will come down or when.
These changes will create a totally uneven playing field, weighed heavily in favour of big business.
People with genuine injuries will struggle to find justice while insurance premiums remain sky high.
Past-president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL
Slater & Gordon
City’s priority must be on the young
Dear Editor, I think it is important to put into perspective the coverage you reported about Birmingham topping a” league of shame” in terms of variable broadband speed.
Of course, cutting edge communications networks are vital for competitiveness, innovation and prosperity. In fact, due to the work of providers like Virgin Media and BT, Birmingham’s businesses benefit from world class connections.
Nearly 95 per cent of businesses in the citv have access to future-proof fibre connections, ranging from 100Mbps to a massive 40Gbps, including those at Birmingham Science Park and the Custard Factory (in our arts and media quarter in Digbeth).
Whether we’re talking about digital start-ups, well-established companies, public sector organisations, high street retailers or home workers, Birmingham has benefited from significant investment in digital networks to help businesses prosper and grow.
The real challenge is not fixing the wiring; rather, it is helping people make the most of the networks already available and empowering businesses with the digital skills they need to seize the opportunity.
From online marketing and smarter search engine results to expanding a supplier or customer base across the UK and globally, there’s a real opportunity to drive economic growth through the expansion of digital skills.
We should be proud of Birmingham’s connections and our leading role at the heart of the UK’s digital economy.
Our priority now needs to be focused on encouraging local businesses to take advantage of the great tuition to be found in our colleges of Further Education, so that their employees take full advantage of the digital opportunities already on their doorstep.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group
Both instantly recognisable and quintessentially English
Dear Editor, Stephen Roberts’ appreciation of the much under-estimated legacy that Clifford T Ward has left us musically, perhaps deserves a further analogy.
This is, with another son of Worcestershire, Edward Elgar.
Both men, although in different genres, wrote quintessentially English music, instantly recognisable with their harmonies and sometimes poignant moments but always moving.
Clifford eschewed publicity and rarely performed in public and that in many ways explains why, during his lifetime, he never received the recognition his music surely deserved.
I never saw him perform, apart from the odd item on television in his early 70’s ‘popular’ heyday, but his songs continue to feel fresh, even 40 years on.
So go on, track some of his music down and realise what an unsung talent we can be proud of in the West Midlands.
Richard Gray, By Email
Clobbering society’s poor
Dear Editor, Any government which targeted the wealthiest one per cent as aggressively as the current government are targeting the poorest 10 per cent would no doubt be accused of waging ‘class war’.
Of course everyone should be better off working than not: but clobbering those already struggling to make ends meet is not the way forward. A ‘Citizen’s Income’ (as proposed by the Green Party) would be a fairer way of ensuring that anyone taking a job (whether full-time or part-time) would be better off than if they didn’t.
Mike Wright, Green Party, Nuneaton
Thatcherism’s legacy today
Dear Editor, Prime ministers come and prime ministers go and most of them leave very little sign that they had been in office.
But not Margaret Thatcher. All prime ministers get some things wrong and Mrs Thatcher was no exception (eg, the poll tax), but what you cannot deny is that when she became prime minister in 1979, she took over a country which was the infamous ‘sick man’ of Europe and we were a standing joke.
Neither can you deny that when she left office a decade later she had, almost single-handedly, transformed us into the vibrant man of Europe by neutering the appalling destructive power of the industrial trade unions and selling off the hopeless, lossmaking public utilities, which quickly, in private ownership, became successful, tax-paying enterprises.
Proof that those policies were right is the fact that, during 13 years of Labour government the trade union laws were not repealed and the utilities were not renationalised.
AJ Hubble, Burntwood
Dear Editor, As a former employee of the electricity supply industry in 1988, when the industry was already making a financial surplus, we were being obliged to increase electricity tariffs so as to make the industry more attractive for privatisation.
At that time many of us remember Mrs Thatcher’s words in support of the ‘selloff’ of the nationalised industries: “Competition will keep prices down.”
So much for her confidence and convictions.
Robert Roger, Sutton Coldfield
We need to look closer to home for our own imports
Dear Editor, Jerry Blackett’s argument is fine so far as it goes (Don’t forget – Europe is very good for business, Post April 4).
However, taking a different perspective, perhaps we should make the same amount of consideration in the reverse direction.
By that I mean import substitution.
Perhaps the Chamber, the banks and the West Midlands Manufacturing Consortium could get together.
An important task would be to understand how much is imported by value and materials.
We know already that in some parts of our car industry, the UK is an assembly plant. However, aside from those materials which have to be imported, perhaps other studies could be conducted.
One obvious reason for the high level of imports is the unit cost.
However, perhaps these bodies could explore which raw materials/components could in fact be manufactured here?
Surveys about Europe are all very well, but did they ask about how to avoid imports?
Axed line was partly reopened
Dear Editor, Julian Holland’s well-balanced article on Dr Beeching (Post, March 28) could have carried more good news.
The caption to the photograph at Ashchurch should have added that, as “Ashchurch for Tewkesbury”, the station was re-built and re-opened in 1997. Although served throughout the day, Ashchurch could do with more through services to Birmingham.
(Railfuture West Midlands)