Dear Editor, It has been reported that the Carling Academy had secured a new location on the site of the old Dome nightclub on Bristol Street.
On the one hand this is clearly good news that the future of the Academy is now secured, in the shadow of the plans for the demolition of its current site on Dale End to make way for the forthcoming Martineau Galleries development.
On the other hand, while it's good the Academy has found a new home at all, I do worry about that location compared to the current one, which is slap bang in the middle of the city centre. The new location will be perfect for the Birmingham University students coming in on the bus (and of course those of us who live in the city centre already who go to gigs...), but it does become a little out of the way for everybody else - especially when it comes to getting a bus home at the end of the night.
That almost certainly won't affect the big name bands who play at the Academy (and its predecessor, the Hummingbird), but it has to be remembered not all the Academy's bands are big names - there's always been a tradition of smaller bands playing there (I've even played there myself), which an increased trip time could make all the difference between getting a decent audience and not even getting the dog to turn out to see you.
But particularly depressing was the quote in the news story further down the page:
"City licensing chiefs gave the go ahead for the move to Bristol Street despite protests from local residents and the nearby St Catherine Roman Catholic Church and Primary School over fears of anti-social behaviour and late night noise.
They claim the venue will attract a large number of binge drinkers, drug takers and with them vandalism, litter and late night noise as well as disturbances from taxis and traffic".
Nice to see the church there stereotyping all people who go to listen to popular beat combos as being drug-crazed binge-drinking knife-wielding window-breaking yobbos.
Would it be unkind of me to equally stereotype churches, and especially Roman Catholic churches, and church primary schools as brain-washing money-grabbing control freaks?
SIMON GRAY, firstname.lastname@example.org
* The pain of such a loss
Dear Editor, I was deeply saddened to read your article on May 21st about Warwickshire couple Dean and Rachael Eaves who lost their nine-month-old son Liam to meningococcal septicaemia in August 2004. I lost my son Spencer to meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia some time ago and can well imagine the pain that all those who knew Liam are suffering.
I am sorry to read that the GP failed to spot the tell-tale symptoms and wrote it off as an ear infection before the rash appeared. Dean and Rachael have now been given an out-of-court settlement but said their main priority was making people aware of the symptoms.
Most parents who take their loved ones to health care establishments do so because they are extremely concerned and know their children best. This should always be taken into account when health professionals consider the condition of a patient, especially when they are showing the signs of meningitis.
Here at Meningitis UK we sadly know only too well how devastating the disease can be and how quickly it can strike. Sadly the disease can often be incredibly difficult to detect as the symptoms are hard to distinguish from the common cold or flu, plus there are occasions when people show no or very few symptoms. For all these reasons, we believe prevention is the only way to truly eradicate the disease and developing a preventative vaccine to protect against all forms of meningitis and its associated diseases is our sole focus at Meningitis UK.
Last year we launched our Search 4 a Vaccine Campaign, which aims to raise £7 million to fund lifesaving research into developing a vaccine against Meningitis B, the most
common form of meningitis in the UKfor which there is currently no vaccine. We receive no government funding and are reliant on the general public to help us in our fight against the disease and to raise money to put a stop to the heartache and suffering it causes.
Great advances have been made in the last 20 years including vaccines against Hib, Meningitis C and Penumococcal Meningitis and our scientists believe that a vaccine can be found within the next few years if we can raise £7 million to support the breakthroughs being made.
In the absence of a vaccine to protect against all strains, we also distribute a wide range of material to raise awareness of the common symptoms and need to act quickly, which can mean the difference between life and death.
If any of your readers would like a symptoms information pack, including wallet-sized symptoms cards, or to find out more about supporting our Search for a Vaccine Campaign, they can call Meningitis UK on 0117 373 7373 or visit meningitisUK.org
STEVE DAYMAN, Chief Executive, Meningitis UK
* Feature shows city full of tall storeys
Dear Editor, It is interesting that you chose to illustrate feature on tall buildings (Post, May 21) with the familiar device of a composite photograph of all the city's tall buildings lined up against a wall, so to speak, like The Usual Suspects.
This gives the lie to the claim, made in your leader and elsewhere, that it is design quality that counts, not simply size. Your written descriptions of the buildings photographed also emphasised their height as their singular characteristic, and had not much to say about their design (unless you count "shimmering glass structure" and "soaring glass-fronted structure" as architectural assessments).
The other point illustrated by your photographic identity parade is that there is a tendency for tall buildings, because of their creators' desire for them to assert their singular presence, to be seen as isolated objects, detached from their context. You can metaphorically cut them out of the city and paste them in a line, as your photograph does. No matter how individually interesting they may be, a humane and habitable city cannot be made out of isolated objects. Some of us learned this in the 1960s. Most of the cities we admire and enjoy visiting have a continuous and consistent architecture that makes enjoyable streets and squares for people to inhabit.
It is depressing to read yet again in your leader the tired equation made between tall buildings and "a city that knows it is going places". There is in fact no such correlation. Look at the Mercer list of the world's 100 Most Liveable Cities (Birmingham is 55th, well done), and you will find no relationship between the quality of life for citizens and whether or not that city has tall buildings. It is easy to cite admired European cities (Paris, Lyon, Amsterdam, Barcelona come to mind - all higher than Birmingham in the list) where there are virtually no tall buildings in the centre. Well-designed tall buildings in the right places can be fine. But they are not a magic formula for success.
JOE HOLYOAK, Birmingham
* Active role in housing debate
Dear Editor, Caroline Flint's case for two eco-towns in the West Midlands has two underpinning justifications.
She says we need more houses. The Regional Assembly have considered this issue and put forward proposals for the whole region which are currently being properly debated as part of the Regional Spatial Strategy Review. CPRE is taking an active role in that debate which centres on what is the genuine housing need of the region and how best to address it. Eco-towns, while a relatively small contribution to the total number of houses, prejudge the outcome and rely on developers putting forward pet projects.
Secondly, she says that ecotowns will kick-start a higher level of ecobuilding in the region. Her criteria for ecotowns explicitly excludes developments below 5,000 homes or within urban areas. So the major proposals for regeneration in the Black Country or the plans for 1,400 homes at Longbridge as part of a broad redevelopment package are excluded.
If the Government is serious about new homes being in the right place and if it is serious about higher standards for ecobuilding it needs to get the bigger picture right. Ecotowns which are poorly located will not resolve the underlying problems.
GERALD KELLS, Regional Policy Officer Campaign to Protect Rural England