May I use your letters column to endorse the moving and personal tribute by Simon Brew (Post, May 19) to his parents as their year of office as the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Birmingham draws to a close.

As Secretary of the Birmingham Faith Leaders' Group, I have had the honour and the pleasure, of meeting the Lord Mayor on a number of occasions.

I would venture to say that his evident commitment to Birmingham in all its creative diversity and his recognition of the importance of the faith communities to the city's future, has been one of the inspirational aspects of his tenure as first citizen.

In December 2007, the Lord Mayor enthusiastically launched the Faith Leaders' book Exploring the Faithful City, in the Banqueting Suite at the Council House.

It was evident he had read the book, recognised its significance for Birmingham and beyond and spoke with authority in endorsing it.

He never needed to be persuaded that Birmingham is in the lead nationally and throughout Europe in terms of the positive relationships between its faith communities.

There followed events to launch the inspirational new Birmingham Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education and a faith-led conference on quality of life in Birmingham.

He encouraged the faith communities to arrange with his office civic services, especially in the principal worship centres of Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism and Buddhism, where such events had rarely happened previously.

Earlier this year he also asked to come, as a visitor, to one of the regular meetings of Birmingham's faith leaders. He came, as always, with his evident personal commitment and entered into the group's deliberations with insightful contributions.

Without a doubt, Coun Randall Brew has been a good and firm friend of religious faith in Birmingham and, in that as in many other areas, he has been creative and forward-looking.

The leaders of Birmingham's faith communities wish to thank Coun and Mrs Brew for their support and commitment to the whole of Birmingham.

They will be a hard act to follow but we have little doubt that Coun Chaudhry Rashid will continue the good work in the knowledge that the office of first citizen has been greatly enhanced during this year.

JONATHAN GURLING, executive secretary Birmingham Faith Leaders' Group


Find it in your hearts to help with collection

I am writing to ask your readers to spare a couple of hours to help hearts this June by volunteering to support the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) Help a Heart campaign.

In the UK nearly 600 people lose their lives to heart and circulatory disease every day. This summer the BHF aims to raise £1.5m to help fund vital heart research to save and improve lives. By sparing a few hours to join the team of supermarket collectors in Birmingham, you will be investing in the future heart health of the nation.

Heart disease can affect everyone. Last year I was diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Fortunately my condition was picked up in time, but many people aren't so lucky. That's why I think supporting the BHF's Help a Heart campaign is so important.

By giving your time you'll be helping to fund research that could spare friends and family the pain of losing a loved one to heart disease. It's so easy to volunteer; all you need to do is contact Donna Stokes, your local BHF representative on 0121 353 2087 or email

Every donation you collect this June will help us save precious lives.

Dr CHRIS STEELE by email


Debate must be free and fair

I was interested in your story 'Birmingham professor speaks at extremist Islamic group debate' and the criticisms, ostensibly from Pro-Israeli students, in debating with Hizb ut-Tahrir.

It bemused me that the report relied heavily on remarks by Ruth Jacobs, director of the Birmingham-based Israeli Information Centre. Did it not occur to the author that representatives and advocates for the Israeli propaganda machine are hardly advocates of 'free speech' and rational debate?

I am sure the residents of Gaza, who have spent the past year in poverty would question the Israeli government's commitment to civility.

JALAL PATEL by email

* Editor's note: The story in question featured just one quote from Ms Jacobs which was at the end of the article.


City motorists courteous

On Thursday, May 8, I drove from Broadwas, Worcestershire, to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, using the M5 and A38.

I was very impressed with the standard of driving in Birmingham.

Despite hold-ups and roadworks everyone was driving sensibly and were being courteous to other drivers, who like me, sometimes got in the wrong lane. No blowing of horns, flashing of lights, or finger signs from the road ragers.

Well done Birmingham drivers, it was a pleasure to drive with you.

Perhaps people who race at 60mph around country lanes where I live, could learn by your example.

B J BURRETT, Broadwas


Back to Earth please, PM

According to Brown and the sanctimonious "spin'' spewing out of 10 Downing Street, this New Labour's incompetent government is telling us that it has immigration under control, with the awarding of points as the million or so eastern Europeans return as fast as they can by the bus load to their own countries.

We will soon have houses to give away. With this good news, something we have been waiting for all of 10 years, Brown and his political three million new homes, called eco, eco, eco (ee-aw, ee-aw, ee-aw!) towns should be unnecessary and put on the back burner.

Don't be misled by Brown's terminology of "affordable,'' for it will be the taxpayers that will end up having to afford them.

Now that thousands of houses are becoming vacant and repossessed; now that the debt and credit bonanza has caught up with us; now that it is nigh on impossible to get a mortgage or an additional mortgage to pay off debts or for that foreign holiday; now that the economy is on a downturn, affordable has taken on a much more sinister and different meaning.

Is ecology or economy more important?

Brown, the listener, needs to swallow his political spin and go back to the meaning of the word affordable and spell out who it is he has in mind, because it is doubtful now that three million people will be able to afford to pay. If built they will quickly become ghost towns; not very economical, but very ecological.

DOUGLAS J WATHEN, Salford Priors


First with tax compensation plan

Conservative MPs have been making a great noise about the need to compensate people who lose out as a result of the Government's decision to double the 10p income tax starter rate. Have they forgotten that in June of last year they failed to support a compensation package which was proposed by the Liberal Democrats?

Do Conservative MPs have such short memories?

COUN JERRY EVANS, Springfield Ward.