Save the core council services
Dear Editor, There is a method of meeting the council deficit incurred by the equal pay awards.
That is to apply similar principles to those used by the rich when faced with outstanding death duties. For the council is a repository of hidden assets greater than those of many landed families.
Examine its assets – works of art purchased in buoyant times; old artefacts of symbolic value only, such as silver and gold regalia; land and buildings suitable for immediate sale; lastly, and most important, salaries of the “younger sons” of Birmingham Council, executive posts at inflated salary levels.
Asset strip, starting with extravagant salaries, to protect the core “estate” of the City of Birmingham, which is the provision of maximum utility and service to the people of the city. This the council is legally bound to provide.
If they are unable to see their way through this crisis by anything other than further borrowing, their heritage will be but a wasteland of decay, poverty and cynicism.
A different form of exploitation
Dear Editor, As a mother I want the BBC to survive.
But I can’t help feeling there is something ugly and grubby about advertising to children.
Commercial children’s TV is full of very aggressive toy adverts, usually for toys based on the characters that the children have just been watching, encouraging children too young to understand the importance of money to pester their parents to buy things.
Get priorities right on speed limits and tunnel closures
Dear Editor, As an organisation that has been campaigning on the issue for years, Birmingham Friends of the Earth welcomes the City Council’s passing of a motion to develop 20mph speed limits on the city’s residential roads.
The benefits of lower speed limits are clear – children and other vulnerable road users can cross safely, cyclists can use the roads with confidence, and streets are less likely to be used as rat-runs.
Those who oppose this scheme have come out with the usual arguments, saying that the proposals are expensive, unworkable and unenforceable. This does not have to be the case; 20mph speed limits do not require speed bumps and other traffic calming measures.
Changes to road layouts and speed signs can be carried out within the rolling program of highway maintenance.
As to enforcing the new speed limits, we should not suppose that all car-drivers try to break speed limits and drive as fast as possible.
Providing the necessary enforcement is primarily a matter of political will. Having limited 20mph speed limits only around schools would ignores the fact that children live in areas away from schools. 20mph will give safety benefits to other road users as well
With more than 25 local authorities in the country having already successfully implemented 20mph speed limits, and many more investigating the idea, it is time to see this as not some flight of fancy, but as a sensible policy which has many environmental and road safety benefits.
Julien Pritchard, Friends of the Earth
Campaigns Support Worker
Dear Editor, So Birmingham City Council’s contractors Amey are going to close the Queensway tunnels for the six week school summer holidays next year and the year after for essential maintenance.
They have chosen this option of a complete closure rather than protracted night time only closures because it will save millions of pounds.
They say that because traffic is 20 per cent less during school holidays it will cause the minimum disruption.
These closures may be saving the council (or Amey) millions but what effect is it going to have on the other 80 per cent majority, many of whom are business users?
For some it will just mean starting out for work a little earlier or getting home later, but for many businesses it will cost them dearly.
I am a sole trader based in Sutton Coldfield but covering the whole of Birmingham and I use the tunnels daily and sometimes several times a day. My type of work entails lots of calls to different households and businesses during my working day and the subsequent delays are going to cost me a great deal in lost business due to having less time to carry out my work.
Whether they are delivery/haulage firms, sales reps, servicing companies or whatever, all are going to suffer some significant financial losses and if you add up all those lost revenues, the cost to the local economy and the personal hardship it is going to cause businesses and individual tradesmen like me, the figure would be astronomical.
I think this proposed course of action is totally unfair and the council should reconsider. Night-time closures might mean a longer duration and cost more them a little more, but they would at least be less damaging to the local economy.
Neil Barnett, by email
Dear Editor, Are speed cameras about safety or are they about money?
It seems that when the police were in receipt of the profits we couldn’t have enough of them.
Yet now the cash goes elsewhere and so does the argument.
For years we’ve had these yellow ATMs on every main road, taking our cash, so why suddenly do we need to shut them down? Isn’t it ironic it happens just as Birmingham Council comes up with the stupidity of a 20mph madness.
We don’t need more politicians
Dear Editor, In the current climate of economic austerity the government is saying we will have to make do with fewer nurses and other NHS staff.
We will also have to make do with fewer police. We’ll have to make do with fewer Council workers. We’ll have fewer soldiers, sailors and airmen.
However, they’ve decided they need MORE politicians.
This week people in England and Wales will be asked vote for the new posts of Police and Crime Commissioner.
These new well-paid posts, and the expensive elections to select them will be paid by the tax-payer.
The major political parties are fielding candidates and it his becoming obvious that the independent candidates standing will just split the independent vote leaving the way clear for the major parties to get their candidates in. Thus a whole new layer will be added to the political gravy-train.
The Home Secretary Theresa May indicated in that the government would ignore a low turnout at the polls.
If you do not agree with the new posts then there is one easy solution available. Spoil your ballot by not crossing any voting box but write “no PCC” across the ballot paper. This is a perfectly legal act.
Returning officers have to read out how many spoilt ballots were counted at the announcement of the vote results.
If there are substantially more spoilt ballots than in any normal election it will send a message to the politicians they cannot ignore. If there are more spoilt ballots than the winning candidates get then it will be hard to see how the government can claim legitimacy for the new posts.
Dear Editor, If it wasn’t for a polling card coming through the post we would have no clue an election was even taking place,
We have had no information sent to us by any candidate – I don’t know who is standing or what they are standing for what their proposals are.
I feel the government has wasted far to much money on this – at least £350,000 on ballot papers due to the government getting the law wrong. It’s going to be a farce. We are looking at a very low turn-out as most people will not vote blind.
If the world were looking in we would I fear look not much better than a banana republic who wanted a low turn out to ensure the “right” man got in somehow.