Dear Editor, Last week the Labour Government announced three, watered down versions of policies the Conservatives have been calling for.
Firstly, there was the Government announcement on Monday that employers would be given up to £2,500 for every person they trained who had been unemployed for more than six months. Conservatives have been arguing for these measures for a number of months.
Secondly, Wednesday saw the Government unveiling support for SMEs with a loan scheme guaranteeing up to £20billion of loans. This is a pale imitation of the Conservative policy to guarantee up to £50billion for all companies in the UK.
Labour’s plans barely begin to address the scale of the problem – and won’t even provide assistance to some of the country’s largest employers such as Jaguar Land Rover, LDV and others. Until the Government deal with the credit stagnation then businesses of all sizes will continue to suffer across Birmingham.
I wrote to the Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, on December 16 asking him to look urgently at measures the Government should take to ease JLR’s credit difficulties. As of now this Government has yet to take the direct action required.
Finally, the Government announced plans on Thursday, to build a high speed rail link to Birmingham – a policy we announced at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham three months ago. Our plans go much further and would link Birmingham via high speed rail to the north.
It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but Labour fool no one by presenting themselves as the answer to the economic problems they have largely created.
It is clear that the Government is fast running out of ideas on how to solve its recession.
It is increasingly clear that the people who have got us into this mess are less likely to be the ones that get us out of it.
Andrew Mitchell MP,
Conservative, Shadow Minister for Birmingham.
Faster Midlands broadband is an educational necessity
Dear Editor, As the latest league tables for school performance in the Midlands are published, greater scrutiny than ever is likely to be placed on the role technology plays in improving children’s education. Research by BECTA has shown ‘good use’ of broadband can significantly improve the likelihood of children gaining more than five A* to C grade GCSEs.
Given pupils now have such technology-rich personal lives, are schools living up to expectations?
Research from ntl:Telewest Business found Midlands teachers are in favour of such technology in the classroom. Some 57 per cent believe Web 2.0 applications, such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Wikipedia are educational tools, yet the rest felt they are a distraction.
A quarter use Wikipedia as a resource in classrooms, a resource 44 per cent of pupils aged 13-18 believed useful.
Clearly it is vital a chasm does not open between the tools pupils want to see and what teachers are using. However, the key to using Web 2.0 tools effectively is having the right infrastructure to deliver them. It is only a matter of time before social networking takes on a more extensive role in the classroom, so schools and colleges must provide sufficient bandwidth for media-rich applications. Some are already in the early stages of adoption and need a provider that can help them plan, design, and implement the technology required to deliver interactive education to today’s digital generation.
Head of department for ntl:Telewest business in the Midlands,
Small Heath, Birmingham
It’s high time we rid this country of the overpaid civil servants
Dear Editor, “Many civil services deserve axing”. These are the words of ex-trade minister Lord Digby Jones. He told a committee of MPs that he thought the civil service could “frankly be done with half as many people”.
I think this revelation was something that most thinking taxpayers have known for a few years since Blair and Brown moved into Downing Street. It is a sad fact that it is a pity that politicians find it only necessary to tell us the truth after they have left their lucrative posts. Brown and Blair have flooded government offices, set up Quangos and poured civil servants into council offices (my local council has just recently spent £8million to accommodate, with comfort, the extra staff) to administer the numerous laws that New Labour has introduced in the last 10 years on human rights, equality, immigration controls, politically correct polices etc. Council taxes have doubled in recent years to pay for it all! We are again being manipulated to accept a five per cent increase on top of the doubling.
The new fiscal year is fast approaching and Brown has given the councils the green light to increase taxes again by five per cent, more than double the “present” inflation, which in reality is government fixed. They have warned councils in giving them this inflationary increase that they will “cap” any council who go over. Most of them are cutting this to 4.9 per cent to give us the impression they are doing us a favour.
Of course, with this recession only just starting to bite, they should be working on a nil or even a decrease in our taxes.
However, I am reading where many councils are discussing not only these inflationary increases but also cuts again in their services.
Soon there will be nothing left and we will be paying councils simply to give this army of civil servants their gold plated pensions and generous salaries.
Numbers of civil servants, numbers of MPs (Westminster and Brussels) and a number of echelons of local councils should now, at this time, come under scrutiny for rationalisation. Lord Digby Jones tells us that we can manage with half of civil servants, so why don’t we get on with it?
There has got to be a stop made to this bloated administrative juggernaut of a dinosaur civil service in councils, parish, district and county and regional all over the country, demanding more and more of our hard-earned cash from hard working families.
Perhaps Lord Digby would accept the leadership if we asked him of a new party to get these matters put to bed at last. He will have my vote immediately; there’s a start! We are also too soft by half!
Alcester Road, Rushford,
Salford Priors, nr Evesham