Dear Editor, I cannot pretend to have taken too much notice of city council elections in Birmingham in the past, but I feel moved to write following your coverage over the past week or so of what can only be termed "dirty tricks" by the various political parties.

In particular, allegations levelled by the Liberal Democrats against Nahim Khan, the successful Respect party candidate in Sparkbrook, who it was suggested might not have been a legally qualified candidate as a result of his former employment with Birmingham City Council.

I stress "might not" since the allegation against Mr Khan appears to have been launched very much in the manner of "I've heard something which may or may not be true" by John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Yardley.

It seems to me that Mr Hemming chose, disgracefully, to rely on one of the oldest tricks in the political handbook. That is, to spread a bit of mud around and hope that it sticks. In the case of Mr Khan, suspicion about his standing as a candidate could have been enough to dissuade floating voters, or even Respect supporters, who might have taken the view that their vote would be wasted, in which case the Liberal Democrat candidate would probably have won in Sparkbrook.

I suppose it is too much to hope from an MP that an apology might be forthcoming?

We have the benefit of a very clear statement from the council chief legal officer, to the effect that Mr Khan's employment with the city finished several days before the cut-off point for candidates' elections, yet there has been nothing but silence from Mr Hemming and his cronies. Perhaps they are too embarrassed to comment since their shabby attempt to influence the electorate so obviously failed.

And on another point, whatever happened to that "independent" Liberal Democrat inquiry into the behaviour of the party's Aston councillor Ayoub Khan and former candidate Saeed Aehmed? It would be interesting to know who is running this inquiry and when its findings will be made known.

I KHAN, Birmingham


Rooftop restaurant should be on the menu

Dear Editor, One of things I think stands out from the proposal for a new tower on Colmore Row is the possibility of a rooftop restaurant on top of the 35-storey structure.

I hope this, or at least a viewing room, is included in the final building and I would be very excited to see the West Midlands from 441 ft.

I have always felt Birmingham has lacked a public viewing area in one of its iconic tall buildings.

What's the point of building a large skyscraper and then not letting the public to look at the view, leaving only businessmen or penthouse owners to see it?

I'm sure the London Eye, Manchester Wheel and the numerous observation decks in New York show that a view could be profitable in Birmingham - especially if accompanied by food.

ALEX WRIGHT, Politics student, Aston University


Helping our hidden heroes

Dear Editor, This year marks the centenary of Britain's hidden heroes, the Territorial Army.

Sir Winston Churchill once referred to them as being "twice a citizen" - squeezing two jobs, two lives into the space in which others barely have time for one.

These dedicated professionals commit themselves to regular training and, when called upon, serve alongside their colleagues in the regular army.

During this centenary year the West Midland Central Branch of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association would like to thank the men and women of Birmingham and Sandwell who unflinchingly dedicate themselves to their TA duties.

TA and reserve members have been mobilised in numbers unprecedented in recent history because of the continuing pressures on all our armed forces, leaving homes and families for the hardships and dangers of Iraq or Afghanistan.

In turn, their families undergo the stresses of having loved ones on the front line but without all the support of the established military community.

Many experience situations unimaginable to many of us, and sometimes find it difficult to settle back in to civilian life. The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association supports those who serve, those who used to serve and the families of both.

This includes our TA and reserve forces past and present, and we provide practical and emotional support before and during deployment, on return, and for the rest their lives.

The West Midland Central Branch of SSAFA can be contacted on 0121 427 6459.

All enquiries from those seeking help will be dealt with confidentially.

JOHN JONES, Branch secretary, West Midland branch, SSAFA