Dear Editor, MLA West Midlands welcomes debate about the development of the Library of Birmingham, however I was concerned to see the coverage concerning the new Library last Saturday (Selfridges is not iconic - it's just another shop, Post February 16).
At their best, good public libraries become an integral part of life, serving people of all ages and backgrounds and open at times that suit the lifestyles of communities today. The continuing popularity of public libraries, (Birmingham Central Library is currently the second most visited library in England), is in part due to their success in adapting to meet the changing needs of society.
Few would now disagree that Birmingham needs a world-class central library, suitable for those people living in Birmingham, and those who visit the city from across the West Midlands, the United Kingdom and the world. We strongly support the need for such a development, however this is just the beginning of any discussion. The new building has to encompass
and be part of a greater vision; a vision that is ambitious enough to ensure that the coming together of the Library and the Rep continues to prosper and serve the city effectively through the 21st century and beyond.
We should commend Brian Gambles and Birmingham City Council for beginning to articulate that vision. As Mr Gambles has clearly stated, a broad consultation process will be at the heart of efforts to create a memorable and lasting cultural beacon. So the citizens of Birmingham will have a real say in shaping the development of what will be a unique landmark building as well as an excellent public library.
Any decision about the ultimate form of the library has to be informed by a positive discussion concerning our vision for what should be a new icon to add to those already gracing the city.
Chief Executive MLA West Midlands: the regional council for museums, libraries and archives
Programming does not represent the region
Dear Editor, After reading the recent letter in The Birmingham Post from the controller of BBC Birmingham, Andy Griffee, in regards to the BBC's commitment to the West Midlands and Birmingham, I wondered if he actually watches the BBC? It's great so many factual programmes are commissioned in this city, but in no way do they represent the region - most of them have nothing to do with it, Coast for example.
I can't remember the last time I saw a drama or programme set in the city. Doctors, for example, was a fictional Midland town initially: was the BBC so ashamed of Birmingham and its 'dire' accent that they did not want to inflict it on the nation? The last drama I remember with a distinct Birmingham flavour was Backup in 1995. In comparison to say Liverpool or Manchester, which never seem to be off our screens, accents and all.
Surely one of the largest conurbations in Europe (and the most ethnically diverse population outside of London) should be a fertile production ground for a quality broadcaster like the BBC, but obviously not.
The fact is the BBC does little to represent this city nationally and now only provides a token base here, which seems slowly to be losing jobs and any kind of production: no doubt when Salford opens more will transfer there in a bid to justify that politically motivated move.
Lack of true representation for all Britain's regions and cultures will mean the end of the BBC. Why should people in the Midlands support an organisation that holds them in such obvious contempt? Maybe a change of name to the London and North West Broadcasting Corporation would be more suitable, with a subscription service for people who want to buy the programmes it produces.
As a Midlander and license payer, the BBC offers me nothing at the moment apart from a website and a local radio channel, and I don't need to pay £135 a year for those thanks.
Still living in the 1970s
Dear Editor, I read with great interest the article regarding the prospect of another one day strike by council workers (Post, February 14).
What was even more interesting was Coun Ian Ward's statement that, while he believed it would be in the city's interests for the Labour group to attend the council meeting due to be held on the same day, he would have to consult with the unions first.
Let's not forget that it is the Labour Government who instigated Single Status and it is Labour, under the direction of Albert Bore and Ian Ward, who apparently failed to do anything about it when they were in power. Could it be that Coun Ward's statement highlights the reason why they failed to tackle the issue?
If indeed it is the case that Labour councillors need union permission to attend full council, it really is a sad state of affairs. Surely it is the duty of every councillor, be they Labour, Conservative, Liberal or whatever, to represent their constituents to the best of their ability at all times. If Labour cannot do this without permission, then it is questionable whether they are worthy of their positions.
By their actions and comments Labour are endorsing the inconvenience that will be caused to the elderly, to children, to parents etc across the city.
Back to the Seventies? It would appear some Labour politicians never left.
A 21st century iconic building
Dear Editor, These people moaning about Selfridges really make me sick (Post Agenda, February 19).
James Benton labels it the "biggest embarrassment in the history" of Birmingham. Really? What about the areas riddled with gun crime and gangs, James? Prouder of those parts?
He goes on to complain of a lack of "stone or brick". Well perhaps he enjoys the look of the 60s tower blocks that frequent our skyline?
The architects have gone for something different and given Birmingham an icon. Talk to people around England and they'll always make the same jokes about Birmingham, but frequently they'll say "except, I love the Bullring". It's moved us into the 21st century and I for one am happy about that.
Controlling emissions from air travel
Dear Editor, The BIA spokesperson featured in your recent article is illinformed and deluded on the size of the aviation industry's contribution to global warming, but then again, I suppose his job depends on it (Study backing BIA runway flawed, say opponents, Post February 20).
According the UK Government's own figures, emissions from air travel create 13 per cent of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. If you include the return flights of UK citizens it's almost 20 per cent.
What an example to be setting the rest of the world as a climate leader.
And just for good measure, the UK Government now wants to double flights at Heathrow and triple national passenger numbers nationwide.
This is completely incompatible with our proposed and inadequate Climate Change Bill goal of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050.
Aviation growth will wipe out all other gains we make and destroy the UK's chance of tackling climate change. Add to that the tourism trade deficit of £18 billion and rising that we have each year.
And let's not forget the tax breaks worth £10 billion each year that the aviation industry receives through no tax on fuel and zero rating for VAT.
If it wasn't so serious, we'd be laughing.
Reducing our carbon footprint
Dear Editor, I was surprised to read the attack by a Birmingham International Airport spokesman on airport protesters for not focussing on "the 98 per cent of carbon emissions that are not aviation related", (Study backing BIA runway flawed, say opponents, Post Agenda, February 20).
But one flight is equivalent to driving your car for a year. Carbon dioxide in the air has increased 25 per cent in the last 50 years and we need to control those activities which are most damaging. How great are the emissions created flying to China or California, compared to communicating by email, phone or video link?
Responsible businesses are seeking to cut out the unnecessary globe-trotting, as they try to limit their carbon footprint.