Dear Editor, Your feature article "Challenging the many myths about Gypsies" (Post March 5) brought the phrase "flying to cloud cuckooland" springing into my mind.
The claims by the article's author, Ian Hughes, chief executive of the Evesham-based Rooftop Housing Group, were incredulous.
In his article, Mr Hughes called for a "greater understanding" of the travelling community, and the prime mover in a new report on these itinerants, The Rt Rev David Walker, Bishop of Dudley, claims these scroungers are being "demonised", with no regard for their traditions or understanding their cultures.
We had an encampment of them in the park opposite my lane, it took some £30,000 of ratepayers' money to clean the appalling mess up after they were eventually moved on after about two weeks: no children could play football, school league matches were cancelled, dog owners had no park facilities, the language of the "school-less" children was shocking, and they openly stole from the local shops and were barred. It took an earth mover to load the gas bottles, Tarmac, concrete rubbish, beds, cookers and fridges onto several lorries after they left; there was also excrement everywhere, burnt tyres, wild dogs roaming the streets and thefts from local gardens.
We now learn that Communities Minister, Iain Wright, is about to squander a trifling £97 million of our taxpayers' money on these people.
Comments made in Mr Hughes's spurious and totally unfactual article, include "many think that they are fly tippers", "some gypsies and travellers are criminalised when they set up camps on someone else's land even though is not a crime in itself" and "many gypsies feel that they have no alternative but to trespass".
Have these professional and purported 'responsible' people, like the Bishop of Dudley, gone totally bonkers? The elderly have no heat, people are waiting for days on trollies in A&E units around the country, gangs of kids threaten the law of the land, there is open drug-taking, a police force that appears to be impotent in returning law and order to our streets and decent citizens, like Gary Newlove, are kicked to death trying to protect family and property.
As a tax and ratepayer in our great city, I truly despair reading tripe like this totally uniformed article from the pen of Ian Hughes.
Vote against referendum
Dear Editor, In 2005, Labour won the General Election with a manifesto that included a pledge to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution. Sadly, on Wednesday this week, our Labour MP Mike O'Brien betrayed the voters of North Warwickshire and Bedworth and broke that commitment by voting against a referendum in the House of Commons.
He has broken his promise. It's as simple as that.
The pretence that the Treaty of Lisbon is substantially different to the EU Constitution has been shown to be a lie, with every other Government in Europe conceding that the two documents are the same. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said of the new treaty: "The substance of the Constitution is preserved. That is a fact." And Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said: "Only cosmetic changes have been made and the basic document remains the same."
This is a shocking betrayal of local voters, and further proof of how arrogant and out of touch our local MP and this Government are. Mike O'Brien and Gordon Brown should wake up to the fact that the British people aren't stupid, and they know when the Government is trying to pull a fast one.
Twenty-nine Labour MPs had the guts and the integrity to honour their promises and vote for a referendum. Why didn't our MP? It's an issue of trust, and frankly he should be ashamed of himself.
Parliamentary Candidate for North Warwickshire and Bedworth
Blockade of Gaza is a human crisis
Dear Editor, The humanitarian situation in Gaza is worse now than it's been at any time since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967. The weekend's upsurge in violence and human misery has brought together agencies from around Birmingham calling for strong action from the UK and EU authorities.
The local organisations are warning that Israel's blockade of Gaza is a collective punishment of the entire Gazan civilian population of 1.5 million. Israel has instigated a blockade following indiscriminate rocket attacks from inside Gaza.
The agencies concern follows a new report published this week by Amnesty International UK, CARE International UK, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save The Children UK and Trocaire. The report concludes that the Israeli government's policy of blockade is unacceptable, illegal. Furthermore the policy fails to deliver security for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
The blockade of Gaza has dramatically worsened levels of poverty and unemployment and has led to deterioration in education and health services. Over 1.1 million people are now dependent on food aid and of 110,000 workers previously employed in the private sector, 75,000 workers have now lost their jobs.
We are calling on the UK and EU authorities to exert greater pressure on the Israeli government to open the crossings into Gaza and stop fuel and electricity cuts in order to stem the worsening humanitarian crisis. Furthermore we call on authorities to abandon the failed policy of non-engagement and begin negotiations with all Palestinian parties, including Hamas.
Oxfam Midlands Campaigns
Christian Aid West Midlands
Amnesty International UK (West Midlands)
A very healthy service
Dear Editor, I have just had my first experience of attending an NHS hospital in over 20 years. For me it was in direct contrast to the many reports of mismanagement, incompetency and uncleanliness I have read.
I attended the A&E unit of Selly Oak Hospital and was then admitted to the medical assessment ward. I had blood tests and a CT scan within two hours of arriving at the hospital and the results of this 30 minutes later.
What I did find were clean wards, caring nurses, dedicated doctors and cheery ancillary staff returning to give my visitor a cup of NHS brew after all the patients had been served. Older patients were saying the food was good, but much too much.
Finally, a male nurse working on the ward told us not to believe the negative things you read about the ward about treating the wounded of the Iraq and Afghanistan armies.
Information on rabies alert
Dear Editor, On March 4, on the two o'clock news on Radio 4, there was a brief item about rabies found in a dog in France.
The French authorities said there was a low risk, but travellers to France were advised to take extra care in four areas ... and that was it. There was no mention of which areas one had to take care in.
As a public service broadcaster I found it amazing and irresponsible that they did not take a few seconds more to give out important information which I am sure they must have had available.