Dear Editor, Alun Thorne’s piece on the M6 Toll road ends with the suggestion that it would be interesting to survey the picture in another five years.

It would have been more interesting if he’d surveyed it thoroughly and in a more balanced way now and drawn some reasonably conclusions, instead of packing his piece with the frothy and hyperbolic rhetoric we’ve grown to expect from the property sector.

In claiming that the road has done great things for them, they have failed to produce a shred of substantive evidence that it was the road, rather than the buoyant market conditions of the last five years, wot done it.

The rationale of the M6 Toll, a controversial development at the time, was not merely the enrichment of a fortunate few in the property sector. It was the relief of catastrophic and growing congestion on the M6 through the West Midlands, benefiting the region as a whole.

Thorne’s piece tells us that traffic of 120 000 vehicles a day was projected, rising to 144 000. It is currently 41, 635 a day, down 13.2 per cent on the same period last year, while average daily revenue, at £163,800, is down 2.8 per cent despite frequent and significant increases in charges.

That means that nearly 80 000 vehicles a day, two-thirds of the projected market, are staying away and continue to clog and wear out the main M6 and impede traffic flow throughout the region.

A major infrastructure investment showing usage more than 60 per cent below prediction five years after opening must be described as a complete failure in its own terms, and we must accept that its’ impact on the West Midlands as a whole is marginal.

The reason is clear enough. It’s over-priced. I travel regularly from Warwickshire to north-west Staffordshire and at £2.50 or even £3.50 each way, I used the M6 Relief Road, both for the thought that I was almost certainly saving time and stress and for the pleasure of driving on an empty motorway which was in perfect condition.

But at £4.50 each way, £9 for a return trip, as well as the cost of petrol, I have stopped using it and instead risk the uncertainties and occasional nightmares of the main M6. It’s as simple as that.

On current usage ,the M6 Toll will never wear out, and its Australian owners’ are probably content to see revenues down less than three per cent while maintenance costs plummet through lack of use. And while they wring every last penny from their customers with unnecessary, and unnecessarily large, price increases, the M6 Toll will continue to be a white elephant, failing the region that had such high hopes of it.

J E S Bradshaw,
Nightingale Court, Southam, Warwickshire.


Motorway schemes invariably expensive

Dear Editor, I don’t know where the claim that the M6 toll was designed to take 120,000 vehicles off the M6 comes from (Post 10 Dec 2008), but it was never in either MEL or the Highway Agency’s evidence to the Public Inquiry. They anticipated up some sections of the M6 Toll carrying 70,000 - 80,000 vehicles but most of those vehicles were never using the M6 in the first place. And since at peak times only 20 per cent of vehicles on the M6 are passing through the conurbation the number that could transfer to the M6 Toll is relatively small.

Nor is there any reason to think that the M6 Toll would save 45 minutes. On average it is somewhere around 8-12 minutes. The biggest hike is on a Friday afternoon. Most of the time people are paying for a perceived benefit and for reliability not time saving.

When examined new motorway schemes invariably turn out to be expensive, environmentally damaging and of limited benefit. And that is why in the medium and long term the Government needs to decide on what Transport Strategy it is pursuing, whether it wants to vainly try to accommodate traffic growth or to control it. Until it does there is a great danger we will be trapped in congestion and rising climate change emissions and our countryside increasingly dominated by cars and trucks.

Gerald Kells,
Regional Policy Officer,
Campaign to Protect Rural England.


Kings of sizzle axed by House of Fraser

Dear Editor, I felt I had to write to you to say how disappointed I was to read in the Birmingham Post that House of Fraser have just de listed Lashford – their local supplier of excellent sausages.

I am a Business Mentor for a catering company based in Birmingham. We have dealt with Lashford for the last 7 years. Lashford have always been a delight to deal with.

It is a small family run company. We could always speak to a real person at Lashford instead of an answering machine. Lashford have always delivered on time and Lashford have always helped us out on extra deliveries in an emergency.

Lashfords sausages are excellent, they have won more than 100 awards. Indeed our own Catering Company won the Midlands Sausage Sarnie award (which was featured on Central TV) with a Lashford sausage in 2006.

In the article in the Post you say that the reason that House of Fraser have replaced Lashford with a Suffolk based sausage is because of the ethos behind their product.

I would like to ask House of Fraser where is their loyalty to Lashford which is a high quality product and have supported them for 25 years. I would also like to remind House of Fraser that their customers come from Birmingham not from Suffolk. Lastly, I would like to remind all businesses in the Midlands including House of Fraser that if they do not support local businesses then House of Fraser and probably even the Post and Mail will run out of business.

Where do House of Fraser think their Customers will come from Suffolk? I do not think so!

Please feature an article in the Post and Mail and ask House of Fraser and all businesses small and large to think again about what they are doing and to point out that all companies should support their local businesses otherwise they cannot expect anyone to support them.

Ricky Rudel,
by email.


Locksmith’s House is still open – if you ask

Dear Editor, The Locksmith’s House in Willenhall, run by the Black Country Living Museum since 2003, is not closing, as the article by Mike Bradley in the Birmingham Post of December 10 suggests.

It is closing to the general public from December 17th but remains available for pre- booked parties who should contact our booking office on 0121 520 8054.

With visits from the general public numbering less than 1,000 a year, we cannot afford to maintain regular opening and, in fact, believe that the building would be better relocated to the Black Country Living Museum where it, and the story of lockmaking in the Black Country, could be seen by almost 300,000 visitors a year.

Fiona Carding,
Media Relations Officer,
The Black Country Living Museum.