No warning of road works on motorway left us in delays

Dear Editor, Having had a great day out watching the rugby international at Twickenham on Saturday February 23 our return journey to Shropshire in the evening was severely delayed by the overnight roadworks that were taking place on the M6 north.

I have no problem accepting that these have to take place.

What astonished me was why there were no overhead sign warnings on the M42 telling motorists that there were long delays on the M6 around Birmingham which would have allowed us the option of using the M6 Toll road.

I am sure that the residents of Walsall would have much appreciated having less traffic diverted through their town, and our journey time would have been reduced by two hours.

Surely a little forward planning and cooperation is not too much to ask in these matters.

Geoff Eastgate

By email

Restaurant is far better than critic suggested

Dear Editor, I think Richard McComb (Post February 21) must have been very unfortunate when he dined at Piccolino in Brindleyplace.

I eat there regularly and have found the food extremely well cooked and well presented.

The service is first class and the restaurant provides extremely good value.

Derek Bennett

Edgbaston, Birmingham

Too early to say welfare to work is 'failing city'

Dear Editor, Your sweeping judgments about the lack of success of the Government’s Welfare to Work programme in Birmingham in last week’s front page article are premature.

The figures you quoted came from November’s Department of Work and Pensions statistics which in turn related to figures in an earlier period.

Birmingham Chamber Training is involved in delivery of the programme and we believe the statistics you used will not stack up when more up-to-date data is available.

We all agree that unemployment in Birmingham, Greater Birmingham and the West Midlands is unacceptable and the Chamber has been lobbying hard for some time for the government to help make conditions easier for businesses to take on people by reducing regulation.

But to state that the Welfare to Work programme is already a failure is both disappointing and a kick in the teeth for those people in the three private firms you identified who are working flat out to deliver the government contract and get people into work.

It is also demeaning to those firms who have come on board to help.

One of the businesses delivering the work programme is EOS and when I visited their Aston employment centre you can see that their unique and innovative approach is working and that they are meeting the needs of recruiting employers of all sizes and from all sectors.

Their delivery model encourages an active inclusion and participation of employers to identify, fill and sustain job opportunities, and it really is something to see.

The employment centres are equipped with purpose-made facilities for practical skills training, providing vocational qualifications and accreditation across a range of high-demand disciplines including catering, construction, warehousing, fork-lift operation, health and fitness, office administration, security and retailing.

The Work Programme is still gaining momentum against the backdrop of a depressed economy and in a little more than 18 months on from its inception it is delivering hope and jobs to thousands of people throughout the West Midlands, particularly in areas of high unemployment such as Birmingham.

Everyone’s task is getting people work-ready and suitably skilled to give prospective employers the calibre of people they need to grow their business, and this is precisely what EOS – and the other businesses involved, Intraining and Pertemps People Development Group (all Chamber members)– are at the forefront of achieving.

It is too early to say that Welfare to Work is failing Birmingham, as your headline did, because there is undoubtedly another side to this story that will take a little while to emerge.

Jerry Blackett,Chief Executive

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group

* Editor’s note: The story was a contemporaneous report of a Birmingham City Council meeting. The reference to “failing Birmingham” was a quote from Hodge Hill MP Liam Byrne

Excluding buses puts our city shops on the road to nowhere

Dear Editor, I read Emma McKinney’s article in the Birmingham Post (Feb 14) entitled ‘Retail bosses bid to get shoppers spending again’.

I was amazed that she did not include what I consider is a major and obvious reason for the lack of shoppers in the city centre, and that is the ridiculous exclusion of buses from Corporation Street, all for the sake of the extension of the Metro from Snow Hill station to New Street station (only one tram stop near the Arcade?).

I would estimate that 90 per cent of Birmingham bus passengers are not coming in as all their Corporation Street bus stops have been removed to most inconvenient places, in many cases far from Corporation Street and the shops – and no vehicles or taxis are allowed there.

Last September and again recently, I undertook a small random survey of Corporation Street shops and nearly all, including House of Fraser and Sainsbury’s, complained of loss of trade due to the removal of the buses from a main shopping street.

This also affected the Great Western Arcade and nearby areas. Also when there were so many buses to different parts of the city in the street, it meant it was easy to transfer to other routes whose stops were within a short distance.

All that connection has now gone and necessitates more time and effort to get to the next bus. There are a considerable number of would-be shoppers who, like me, have some difficulty with walking and can not manage the additional distances involved.

I myself find it very tiring to have to walk from the entrance to New Street station on Queensway (the terminus of the 45 and 47 buses), through the station over to Corporation Street, do some shopping and then face the prospect of struggling back over the station to get my bus home (the 45 and 47 termini were in Corporation Street).

When the tram (which will be useless for most people) comes in two years’ time, those regular Metro users from Wolverhampton and the north of the city may have no shops to come to as, by then, they will have closed due to lack of business!

Helen Berry,

Selly Park

Are we all willing to pay for HS2 line?

Dear Editor, Constantly we are told that HS2 will bring prosperity, yet through your columns, Birmingham is doing very nicely, thank you.

Last week we read of a large enterprise zone (40,000 jobs, £2.8 billion/year) and 160,000 jobs in new city deals as the city continues to transform itself despite austerity measures.

Frustratingly, the council cabinet toil, head in hands, over a black hole in the budget through government cuts still believing HS2 will be our tomorrow. Do we really need it?

We were reminded again that this line will have to be paid for by the people. But how on earth can anyone believe the people are willing?

Sensibly the majority of the population are correct to listen to those that oppose HS2, the facts they present against the project are real.

Peter Bray


Good at something?

Dear Editor, At last Birmingham tops the UK league table for something.

What a pity it’s only the list of home-grown jihadists.

JES Bradshaw, Southam

Acknowledging our forgotten war heroes – by post

Dear Editor, So, nearly 70 years too late and with very few survivors left, those heroes who served in Bomber Command aircrew and on the Artic convoys are now eligible for a speical award.

Big deal – in the case of Bomber Command, my navigator father who still lives locally in Sutton Coldfield will only get his little clasp posted to him if he claims it.

It’s just like the begrudging acknowledgement which allowed the Memorial to be built and opened in Hyde Park last year.

No public money was provided for the Memorial which relied entirely on private donations. And now again the government wants to add more insult to injury.

The RAF Bomber Command Association knows where my father lives, so why don’t they contact him direct?

And why can’t we have a decent civic ceremony, reception and parade in Birmingham to present the awards to all the surviving heroes with the Lord Mayor and Lord Lieutenant present, together with senior serving RAF personnel?

Richard Dickson