Dear Editor, The last week or so has seen the Grand Central rise again, showing you cannot keep an idea whose time has come down, no matter how the Luddites in our midst may try.
The Luddites we all recognise as the promoters of Birmingham Gateway have, by saddling us with the Gateway to the past, condemned Birmingham and the West Midlands and its people to a second class existence from a second class decision by second class cabal who ought to have known better. By so doing so they sacrifice the real needs of us all to satisfy the greed of developers.
These short-term thinkers clearly do not have the capacity for strategic thinking beyond “building a few apartments” for rent. A failed strategy illustrated by the downturn means they will not be needed for many years and now all know where property speculation has got the nation in the opening years of this century.
The oddest thing is that these “property speculators” have been so blinded by their rush for quick returns that they have missed the real opportunity that Great Central would provide.
It is they, Stephen Hughes, Geoff Inskip (he should know better), who are not prepared to admit they are wrong. They have let a block of flats for students destroy the best option for removal of the New Street blot not with a Gateway to the past but by a replacement a Grand Central at the heart of the city. They admit that Gateway will NOT meet the regions needs by saying Moor Street station will have to be used and millions of pounds spent on diverting local lines there because the Gateway will not be capable of carrying all the local traffic.
Even worse, they then go on to say the high speed rail link will have to be brought into this relic of the 19th century Great Western railway which built it as a suburban overflow for Snow Hill. What an entrance to a city striving to become a leader in the business and commercial world.
The plans, if that is what you can call them, for Birmingham in the 21st century is New Street (Gateway) plus Moor Street plus Snow Hill, ie no less than three terminals when one Grand Central would do.
The Moor Street proposal shows their piecemeal approach to transport and city planning. Their contention that land does not exist upon which a Grand Central could be built shows their unwillingness to do their best for Birmingham.
Of course costs will be higher. By their short-sightedness they have made that so. No doubt they will be shutting themselves behind closed doors to ensure the land that could be available is quickly given planning permission to ensure Grand Central is blocked forever and Birmingham becomes a third-rate city in a third rate region after Manchester and Leeds.
Lord Snape put the facts to them and their response shows he hit the target.
Grand Central is a metaphor, a metaphor for a first-class transport interchange serving a first-class city in a first-class economy and its people.
These little men with small minds and short-term ideas have no belief in the future of the city and region, beyond property development. If they had, they would put development in the area under question on hold until a full inquiry could be set up to decide the best way forward – a decision they seem incapable of.
They Gateway promoters are too ashamed to admit they were wrong but they have failed the city and region.
The slowdown in the economy, and specifically in property development, is a golden opportunity to get together a group of independent consultants to determine the best solution for the city and for the region.
Have these Gateway apologists got the guts to do so or the broadness of thought to realise the situation has changed even more in favour of Grand Central. Have they got the get-up-and-go to realise they would then be praised for their courage and open minds.
I have no doubt Grand Central would win. Have they the courage to put Gateway to the test.
H T Harvey,
Plea for return of ‘lost’ memories
Dear Editor, I have lost my camera. Not exactly exciting information – it is not worth much, less than £100 new – so very little in its three-year-old very-much-used state.
We are insured and I will get another camera immediately BUT stupidly I did not download my photos regularly.
My second daughter was born only four months ago (my older daughter is two) and I have lost all but a handful of the photographic moments captured in this time. Babies and toddlers grow so quickly and change all the time, every day.I now have nothing to look back at.
There are hundreds of photos on the camera and these are irreplaceable-the camera and blank memory card can be replaced easily.
The last time I remember having it was in Stourport, Saturday, July 12. I could have lost it anywhere between the car park opposite the fairground there and home – Cotteridge (B30).
I would happily offer a reward for the safe return of the memory card if someone has found it/bought it.
The camera is a Canon powershot A75.
I can be contacted on 07718 904 001 for further information.
I appreciate you are not a lost property service but I am still hopeful that someone would hand the card in (if not the camera) if they realised how valuable it was to us.
Tel: 07718 904 001.
Awards recognise the best in GB swimming
Dear Editor, The Olympic Games in Beijing are only days away so I’m getting very excited about cheering on my friends in the GB swimming team. With this in mind, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to let you know about the asa’s Swimtastic Awards, sponsored by Kellogg’s.
The awards celebrate some of the country’s most outstanding achievers in the pool. Aimed at amateur swimmers, the ten award categories recognise people of all ages and abilities as well as those responsible for providing learn to swim lessons.
National winners will be invited to a special awards ceremony at the Stratford-upon-Avon Holiday Inn on 17th October 2008 where they will be able to join me as well as some of the GB swimming team in the pool before receiving their awards at a celebration dinner and disco in the evening.
The event highlights some of the heart-warming, courageous and motivational stories of the people involved. Swimming has given me so much in my life and Swimtastic is a celebration of what the sport has done for different people at different levels.
I hope you will join me in giving your support to these awards and helping us to generate nominations for those who really deserve this kind of recognition. To find out more about each award and to nominate someone who deserves recognition for their achievements, call 0800 220 292 or email at email@example.com. Nominations close on 29th August 2008.
Olympic Bronze Medallist.
Is the revamp of New Street station really necessary?
Dear Editor, That the £600 million redevelopment of Birmingham New Street is cosmetic rather than capable of addressing growth in demand for train travel has been the elephant in the room for some time.
The July 21 report by the Transport Select Committee articulates this further.
New Street isn’t currently the disgraceful passenger experience that some seem to imagine. Its subterranean platforms are certainly atypical of British stations, but finding your train or changing there is quick and straightforward, the crowds are impressive but no more so than at London mainline stations.
Lengthen the platforms (part of the plans) by all means, but why not hold off from the disruption and expense of changing the rest until we find out if the station is set to become even more of a train bottleneck than it is now.
A case of mistaken identity
Dear Editor, By listing the address of the society’s office in the Birmingham & Midland Institute, your publication of my letter (Birmingham Post July 26) on the Civic Society’s views on the proposed replacement for the Natwest Tower implied incorrectly that I am chairman of the Institute.
Let me make it clear that I am chairman of The Birmingham Civic Society and not chairman of the Birmingham & Midland Institute.
The views expressed in my letter were those agreed by the Civic Society and should not be taken to represent those of the Institute or any other organisation with which I am involved.
Fresh support for library from waterway fans
Dear Editor, The debate is continuing between people who are determined to pull down Birmingham’s Central Library and those who find it perfectly satisfactory.
It might therefore be worth mentioning a comment I recently read in a national magazine about the attractions that Birmingham has to offer the visitor.
They call the Bullring a “retail gem”, and give a favourable mention to the Symphony Hall, Victoria Square, and “a grand library”.
The article was in the leading magazine for waterways enthusiasts, many of whom will be passing through Birmingham by boat on their way to the National Waterways Festival in Wolverhampton at the end of August.
I hope they will stop off to see what the city has to offer, but they will have to bear in mind that the library is a functional building and not just there for show.
Few people find it unattractive, and I can say from long experience that it is an excellent library. I have spent many hours – days even – mainly in the reference section carrying out research that has led to the publication of a considerable amount of material. I cannot praise it enough.
Stanley A Holland,
Primary reason for scheme is to entice people to spend
Dear Editor, The only railway stations I have seen operating on an “airport lounge” basis are in the USA for the few remaining long-distance trains.
It was more of a tradition there, when railroad passenger services were at their height, that long-distance train passengers were shepherded and controlled – enticed to spend at the many lounge shops – before being allowed to descend on to the platform to join the waiting train (after it had arrived and unloaded detraining passengers).
Commuters, on the other hand, were serviced as in any normal European railroad station.
I think the New Street development is much more angled to getting folk to spend money in yet more shops, rather than increasing train capacity.
I understand such “lounge” arrangements will actually decrease capacity.