I must congratulate the Post on its excellent coverage of Gateway developments over the past few weeks and submit this letter as comments on several articles on several different dates.
On the strength of the second-rate decisions he and his Gateway committee have made, I feel proud to be included as one of Sir Bernard Zissman’s whingers.
We so-called whingers are Brummies who are proud of their city and region. Unlike him and his colleagues, we whingers are not prepared to accept a second-rate decision by a second-rate quango on probably the premier decision to be made for the future of the city over the next century.
We simply cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the second half of the last century.
Manchester and Leeds will certainly not do so – they have civic leaders who have more of a sense of seeing where and how their cities will best go forward into this century. They would choose a Grand Central solution to take their populace forward at 200mph rather than sit around in a Gateway at the altar of a sweeping reflective metal and glass structure with huge cathedral-like atriums where passengers will browse in shops while waiting for their trains
The Gateway scheme will meet only one of the criteria he set himself that of “impact on the city skyLine” – a purely aesthetic issue.
Gateway fails miserably on the three other practical criteria
It will NOT benefit passengers nor visitors if they arrive by train
It cannot be afforded since it does not meet future rail (passenger) future needs and is therefore a misuse of public funds
It is a glass-fronted retail centre first and not a railway station or transport hub
We are told by no less than Liam Byrne New Street will “remain at the heart of the rail network for 20 years”. Currently the station sees 21million passengers annually and passenger growth is about five per cent per annum. Assuming linear growth that means New Street. will be handling 42 million passengers.
There is no way New Street could handle this number of passengers.
Train capacity can hardly be expanded within the current New Street confines. Proposals to increase train lengths from four to eight coaches on the busiest commuter routes means platforms that are used for two trains will only accommodate one train.
The most serious problem limiting train capacity is the access through the tunnels into the station.
It is already congested and train lengthening will increase the access time (if only by several seconds per train) into the station, further increasing congestion trains.
Nothing could be worse than New Street Station as the entry point for visitors to Birmingham.
Nothing that is other than having to negotiate a crowded glass-roofed shopping centre when rushing for that crowded train they will probably miss.I have a proposal to put to Sir Bernard.
I submit Grand Central would meet all of his criteria and provide a better retail centre. better-integrated transport hub, ideal access for high speed rail. and provide the foundation for a development (retail and transport) far superior to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and a more significant basis for an iconic development suitable for the best city (London included).
Sir Bernard and his second class quango colleagues should resign now. They have failed the city.
If we whingers have got it wrong, can the members of the design panel, or Gateway Partnership please tell us
? How many extra trains Gateway will handle compared with New Street?
? How much the journey time be improved by the Gateway design (including walking time from entrance to station to getting on a train?
My fellow whingers and I want the best for Birmingham but we are being let down by our civic leaders and planners.
They are ecstatic over a less-than-adequate glass-fronted waiting room and shops.
No wonder the thinkers and doers are emigrating in droves. We should all emigrate and leave Sir Bernard, Liam Byrne and the quango to it.
Even better we should ask them to emigrate and leave us to get on with it we could not fail to do a better job than this lot.
Forward with Grand Central
Backward to the future with Gateway
H T Harvey,
Police chief’s gang slur irresponsible
Dear Editor, As someone who has taught at Holte School since it opened in 1971, I find myself in open-mouthed disbelief at the defamatory and irresponsible remarks attributed to chief supt Coughlan (Post, October 8).
Over many years, school staff have worked strenuously in an area of extreme social deprivation to raise the aspirations and achievements of youngsters and to attempt to improve their life chances.
In more recent years, under the determined and dynamic leadership of its current head teacher, Holte has gained recognition in all aspects of its work.
Its last Ofsted report awarded the school a Grade 1 (outstanding) for the behaviour of its students and a Grade 1 for curriculum (which incidentally includes an excellent citizenship programme). It has also achieved many awards for its work and initiatives within the community it serves.
Our involvement in the guns and gangs debate itself has been persistent and tenacious, with attempts made to engage students, parents, governors and other interested parties in the issue.
I write to you, therefore, with a great sense of dismay and frustration that an ill-informed, ill-considered and utterly irresponsible series of comments which can only damage the huge majority of hard-working and responsible young people, 79 per cent of whom achieved at least five A - C grades at GCSE this summer.
Chief Supt Coughlan should at the very least issue an unreserved public retraction of his misrepresentations without delay
E W Holland,
Government fails to deliver on changes to cannabis law
Dear Editor, When the Government earlier this year decided to restore cannabis to the status of a Class B drug, it was an honest admission on its part that the previous decision to soften the punishment for possession had been a mistake.
Those of us living in areas where cannabis is routinely smoked by young people on the street, often in front of younger children, welcomed the prospect of a more vigorous street-level enforcement regime by West Midlands Police – complementing its excellent work in detecting and closing cannabis factories throughout the city.
However, it is with regret that once again the Government has shown itself to be wanting when devising effective legislation to address wrongdoing.
By confirming that cannabis users will have to be caught twice before being given a fixed penalty, and then apprehended three times before an arrest can be made, the Home Office has again failed in its duty to protect the public
Its admission that a first offence will not even be recorded on the Police National Computer, thus making it difficult to enforce more stringent penalties later, smacks of sheer incompetence.
Like so much of Labour’s rhetoric on law and order, the party talks the talk, but is incapable of walking the walk.
Dear Editor, This week, the Alzheimer’s Society published a new report, Dementia: Out Of The Shadows, which examines the impact a diagnosis has on the lives of people with dementia, and highlights the importance of tackling head-on the stigmas which may still be attached to the condition.
There are currently 2,240 people in the Solihull area with dementia and this figure is set to rise to 2,956 by the year 2021. There is therefore a need to increase public understanding in order that the condition may be treated appropriately and sensitively.
As the executive director of a community opening in Knowle in the New Year, caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, I am aware of the limited understanding of this condition and lack of comprehensive information available to the wider public. Unless we tackle these issues head-on, it is inevitable that the seniors, and those that care for them, may continue to suffer.
By increasing awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia, it, we will help to ensure that sufferers will be able to live with their condition in the best possible way, with the best possible support.
Sunrise Senior Living, Knowle.
Search for WWI veteran's family
Lancelot Cooper was the brother of a Canadian Air Force veteran from WW1. His brother’s dog tag has been found in Kent and we would like to pass it on to anyone in the family.
Lancelot, John, Thomas and Hilda Cooper came from Leominster, Herefordshire, and so far Lancelot is the only one I have been able to trace from WW1 on. John Cooper was sent to Canada as a home child, in 1910, at the age of 14. He joined the Canadian Air Force in 1918. We do not know whether he stayed in England or came back to Canada.
Thomas Arnold Cooper also joined the service in WW1 in England as did Lancelot.
If anyone knows of this family, I would appreciate any help we could get.
Missed chance to build iconic landmark
Dear Editor, I refer to Dr Nick Winterbotham’s response to my letter of October 8 regarding Millennium Point.
As Lord Heseltine spoke in favour of the development and the fact that he granted the city £300 million for this black box building, and being surrounded by Conservatives and a guest of the city, it is not really surprising.
In the meantime, it was most unlikely that he was aware that most of the items from the old Museum of Science and Industry were rotting away in storage, while the remaining items are crammed into Think Tank.
This museum was internationally famous whereas, the Think Tank had only 300,000 visitors, mostly children, who are bussed in from schools.
It is quite obvious that the appointment of Clive Dutton and Philip Singleton is to see that such a building of such little public impact does not occur again.
As previously mentioned, this is a dull business area with few attributes and that the failure of Millennium Point to be an iconic building was a unique chance missed.
What did Dr Nick Winterbotham expect Lord Heseltine to say? Coming from a politician one could hardly expect the truth.