Dear Editor, During the course of a fairly uninspiring Budget, both in terms of content and delivery, the Chancellor announced plans for small firms to win 30 per cent of all public sector work in the next five years.
This news was, I suppose, both encouraging and daunting. Encouraging because it will, on the face of the statement, open new doors for the smaller producers. Daunting, because it can be fairly difficult to penetrate the bureaucracy of government, although Whitehall sources suggest that the Chancellor intends to ease the burden of red tape for the smaller companies.
In order to maximise this opportunity, I got in touch with the Department of Trade and Industry in London, seeking guidance. To my surprise, I was quickly put through to a helpful official, who advised that the information I sought was to be obtained from another Government department, namely, the Office of Government Commerce, and provided me with a telephone number. So far, so good.
A quick telephone call connected me to Richard Gourley (01603 704973) who was, I am bound to say, very helpful. A couple of minutes with him, brought a promise of e-mailed information, which appeared on my laptop some 10 minutes later. This missive was very helpful, for it endeavoured to quantify what was required from a potential supplier.
Reviewing the contents, companies can utilise a website, Supply2.gov.uk, which is designed specifically to give organisations easy access to lower-value contract opportunities, typically worth under £100,000 offered by the public sector.
It states that this portal brings buyers and suppliers together for the first time, and aims to be the first contact point for lower-value business opportunities.
Those prospective suppliers wishing to register can do so free of charge on this website. All fairly simple and straight forward. However, the problems arise when it comes to the actual task of quoting for a received enquiry
The tendering process can be quite daunting. At present, Government offices seem to require a mound of information with each tender. I sincerely trust that Alistair Darling will institute a review of the data needed for the presentation of same, in approved format, takes time and costs money.
Nevertheless, a door of opportunity appears to be opening for the smaller companies, to win much needed work and maintain jobs.
Let’s hope the Chancellor keeps his word.
RUSSELL LUCKCOCK, By email
Welcome the rating of empty property
Dear Editor, I do have some sympathy with Mr Chopra, but I welcome the rating of empty business property (Punishing the owners of commercial property, Post Agenda March 13).
Our company has been trading in Birmingham for 96 years and is currently situated in Eastside. Due to the councils plans for the area vast swathes of industrial property are empty. Some are owned by property developers, some by companies who have relocated and are waiting for lucrative offers from the property developers.
When business rates are applied to these properties the councils coffers will be overflowing and they will then reduce the overall business rate which will assist those businessses employing staff and keeping the economy moving.
Perhaps I am being naive.
JOHN BENNETT, Dorridge
PS I am being naive. I have just received next year's business rates. However, it could take 12 months before the coffers are filled, next year could be different - we all live in hope.
An old saying of Dr Johnson's
Dear Editor, A suggestion from our inept and incompetent Government that people should take an oath of loyalty to the Queen calls to mind one of Dr Johnson's sayings:
"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
PETER ZOLTY, Solihull
In search of our best man
Dear Editor, On March 22, my wife Margaret and myself celebrate our golden wedding anniversary.
While in the RAF at St Mawgan, Newquay, in 1953/56, I met a very good friend, Alan Parks, who was originally from Solihull. During that time, Alan wrote to Margaret to cement our relationship and he later became our best man.
We have since lost contact, but if he reads this – or anyone who knows him and his wife Ann see this – please convey our sincerest thanks for making the last 50 years possible.
C J COOK, Yeovil
Dear Editor, You report that the Arts Council will grant yet another £330,000 to the Birmingham Opera Company and £28 million in a three-year "luvvies" pact with half a dozen other dance troupes (Post, March 10).
By mid August in Birmingham there will be seven performances of La Traviata massively subsidised by tax and council taxpayers while hardly being cheap for posh opera-goers either. Turn up in t-shirt and jeans to watch any of the 17 performances of La Traviata at the Unesco heritage site of the National Opera at Riga, Latvia, and you’ll be lucky to get a ticket at sell-out events or even standing room at £1.50 a time.
Thousands of youngsters sit spellbound with parents on Sunday performances of the Lellu Opera (Puppet Opera) and gain experience and understanding of opera at family bargain prices.
Either we in Birmingham allow an establishment elite to swank around at our subsidy or we get them dancing their tights off, providing accessible entertainment and packing extra concerts for all in the UK.
STEVE KIRKHAM, King's Heath
Spare the rod and. . .
Dear Editor, Years ago, a parent told a naughty child "do that again and I will smack your bottom". This threat in itself was a deterrent, because the child knew you meant it and would carry it out.
These days a child will tell its parents "touch me and I will report you", and then merrily goes through life doing exactly what he or she wants.
Tie a parent's hands and the frustration and anger will build up, so I believe banning smacking could actually result in an increase in child cruelty, rather than stopping it, and encourage verbal abuse, which can be far worse than a smack.
During the war, I spent time as an evacuee in a home. One night we broke the rules and got out of bed, enjoying a bout of shouting and jumping about. Each of us received one stroke of the cane. We never broke the rules again and, like it or not, whatever our age, we have an obligation to do what is right rather than wrong. Such should be imprinted on us from early childhood.
Children are, without a doubt, worse behaved today because they know they can get away with it and because so-called experts have confused love with sentimentality.
I had two sons, two adopted daughters and I fostered hundreds. My kids were my life, but they knew better than to misbehave and there was a penalty if they did.
BARBARA DUNN, Moseley