Dear Editor, In the very first line of his report on the proposed British Land building in Colmore Row, Paul Dale puts his finger on what is wrong with the proposal.

It begins "A soaring 35-storey tower at the heart of the Colmore Row Conservation Area....." The purpose of a conservation area is to ensure that new development preserves and enhances the qualities that make that area special. In the case of the 18th century street grid between Colmore Row and Great Charles Street, filled with 19th century buildings, what is special is the consistent scale of development.

This is very clear if you look down Colmore Row from the cathedral churchyard towards Victoria Square; you see a row of distinguished buildings on a continuous building line, sharing a more or less common height, a rare sight in Birmingham.

The proposed 35-storey building, completely unrelated to the area in which it is placed, would blow a destructive hole in this consistent fabric. But do those who are responsible for the city's planning care about such things? It appears that in terms of sensitivity to matters of urban quality we have returned to the 1970s. We have a civic leadership who, in oldfashioned Brummie fashion, are impressed by sheer size, particularly the macho assertiveness of tall buildings on the skyline. At the same time we have a weak conservation team in the Council, who are unable to effectively defend urban quality in the face of aggressive commercial development pressure.

Paul Dale writes that the proposed building "will be seen from miles in any direction". Big deal. What matters to both residents and visitors is the quality of the city as experienced at street level, not abstract shapes on a distant skyline. I thought that this fact had finally been understood by the decision-makers, as a result of the events and arguments of the 80s and 90s. But it now seems to be increasingly forgotten, obscured by political, economic and architectural opportunism.


Chair of Casework Subcommittee

The Victorian Society

(Birmingham and West Midlands Group)


Antics of the Vine

Dear Editor, I may be incorrect but I think it was Jeremy Vine who fronted two toe curlingly embarrassing items in the BBCs Election 2008 and not Andrew Marr.

It is quite irrelevant which one of the highly-paid BBC employees was involved but it again highlighted the the depths that the organisation, operating on public funds, has slumped to in its attempts to produce programmes worthy of a grown up and intelligent audience.

May I recommend that the producer/director in charge of this debacle turn their obvious graphic talents to CBeebies where they may find an appreciative audience.


by email

Dear Editor, Apologies are due from Miss Bennett (letter this mornings' edition "Marred by tomfoolery" to Andrew Marr.

For sure it was Jeremy Vine shooting the holographic tin cans.

Otherwise I wholeheartedly agree with her comments.



Dear Editor, It was Jeremy Vine not Andrew Marr on the BBC's election night programme. However her comments are not wrong, I too was open mouthed at the presenter's antics.

BBC news and topical affairs seems to have lost a lot of its journalistic integrity of late but this display was just banal!


RMC Holland


It's a little late to be loyal now Gisela

Dear Editor, I almost laughed out loud when I read that Edgbaston's Labour MP Gisela Stuart was warning fellow Labour MPs they should unite behind their leader (Post, April 28th). I wonder how they like being told they should be loyal by the very woman who only last autumn fuelled the criticism about Gordon Brown when she very publicly branded him "indecisive and lacking veracity" and said "real leadership requires subtlety and strategy, both notably lacking as Labour's troops were marched up to the top of the election hill".

It was pretty clear what Gisela thought about her leader then, and even as recently as a couple of weeks ago she was presenting herself as one of the leading rebels over the abolition of the 10p tax rate, ready to vote against her party on this matter of principle. Yet now she has the cheek to tell everyone else they must be loyal.

The tax rebels, led by Frank Field, quickly caved in when the Prime Minister and Chancellor promised them the tax losers would be compensated.

But a couple of weeks have gone by and it looks in fact as if not everyone will be compensated, and that maybe not all compensation will be back-dated. This week's Sunday papers suggest Frank Field is preparing to take up the fight again.

So now what will Gisela do? Join Frank Field's rebels again only days after telling everyone else they should unite behind the Prime Minister? Or abandon her principles about the abolition of the 10p tax rate now the local elections are over and stick firmly with Gordon Brown against Frank Field? Either way, she's going to look pretty stupid.


Conservative Parliamentary

Candidate for Edgbaston


Serving with care and dedication

Dear Editor, Almost twelve months ago (New Mayor, Post, May 24), through these pages, I had the pleasure of congratulating Coun Randal Brew on taking up office as the First Citizen of Birmingham.

My letter at the time concluded with a reminder that "behind every lord mayor is an even harder working lady mayoress ".

Sandra Brew over the last twelve months has shown just how true my remarks were.

As both Randal and Sandra come to the end of their year in office, we should congratulate and celebrate with them for the positive image they have shown both locally and nationally of what Birmingham has become.

They have served with humour, dedication and much care. For these and many other reasons their charities and Birmingham as a whole will undoubtedly see benefits for years to come.

Thank you to you both, for such a positive year in office.


Sutton Coldfield