Dear Editor, Although I welcome your coverage of the first day of the public inquiry into the Longbridge Area Action Plan (Post October 15), can I correct a small but important mistake in your report of the comments I made at the hearing?
I did not say that no information about the Longbridge redevelopment has been volunteered to residents except at my initiative. That would be a ludicrous claim for any politician to make.
What I said was that I could not recall the city council proactively seeking to engage me, as the local MP, in strategic discussions about the development.
The discussions which we have had between us have normally only taken place because I have approached the city council.
I was giving this example because I think it illustrates a broader problem with the way Birmingham City Council goes about things.
That problem was very well summed up in a report from the Audit Commission in February 2007 which concluded: “Many key partners have expressed negative views about the nature of their partnership with the city council.
“The council needs to engage with its partners and have an honest debate about the reasons for this. Once it has understood the concerns of partners, the council will be better placed to make its partnerships work more effectively.”
That kind of honest debate is vital if the redevelopment of the Longbridge site and surrounding areas is to achieve its potential.
Richard Burden MP
Dear Editor, I find it rather incredulous that Richard Burden is claiming that if it wasn’t for him then there would have been no consultation about the Longbridge redevelopment.
Having been party to a very thorough consultation by the city council from the very beginning, I can only say that the consultation has, in fact, been done despite Government red tape which resulted in the process being delayed for three years.
Also it should be noted that the results of the inquiry into the MG Rover demise are still to be seen. Surely this should be top his agenda instead of a thinly-veiled attempt at self glorification.
Dear Editor, Inflation at 5.2 per cent means that pensions and benefits should rise accordingly.
However, what’s the betting that the Government moves the benchmark and does some creative accounting to turn inflation figures into a pensions cut, rather than an increase.
We have seen Gordon Browns clever sidewards shullfe before and I’m surprised that, with his footwork, he hasn’t been invited onto strictly come dancing.
S T Vaughan
Yardley Wood, Birmingham
Dear Editor, I certainly agree with your correspondent James Benton. On television, Britain is too often pronounced as “Brin”, and it is not only newsreaders who are slovenly in their enunciation of so many other words.
Dear Editor, As you informed us (Post, October 15) that Nick Paul insisted his organisation brought investment into the West Midlands, will you now please tell us how much it cost?
Dear Editor, This week we have seen that European governments are trying to use the financial crisis as an excuse not to tackle climate change.
The climate crisis is potentially far more devastating than the economic crisis and ironically, the measures needed to address it are precisely those which could also help avoid a global recession.
Strong policies which sufficiently incentivise wind power, for example, could result in an avoided fuel cost of €20.5 billion across the EU alone by 2020, and provide more than 500,000 jobs.
European ministers should urgently put in place a Green New Deal for Europe.
In other words, based on the precedent of Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s, we need the re-regulation of international finance, an end to subsidies for coal and nuclear, and a programme of public and private investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, generating thousands of green-collar jobs in the process.
That way we can make the transition away from fossil fuels and avoid a huge economic downturn at the same time.
Prospective MEP, West Midlands
Dear Editor, Regarding the article “Bring home the truth about booze in the West Midlands” (Post, October 16), binge drinking is a self- inflicted anti-social occurrence that is avoidable.
It renders the individual to helplessness and needing the help of the police, the emergency services and in many cases requires an overnight stay in hospital which all of us as taxpayers have to pay for.
The effect of binge drinking requires urgent positive action by our elected politicians to put in place deterrents that will deter the binge-drinking fraternity from setting out with the sole intention of drinking more alcohol than they know they can cope with, knowing full well that the police and ambulance service will take care of them in their hour of need
If any of those who engage in binge drinking were aware that if they required the help, support or assistance of any of the emergency services they would be subjected to an on-the-spot fine of £150 and their employers and family were notified, the binge drinker would then take a more responsible attitude to their consumption of alcohol.
As we approach the Christmas drinking season, the unnecessary cost to the taxpayers will escalate, but I fear our politicians will do nothing to help the law-abiding taxpayer, the police, the ambulance service and hospital staff from this avoidable anti-social activity by a growing number of irresponsible people who have no respect for anyone, not even their own health.
My Member of Parliament has told me that the ambulance service and hospital staff would not accept the fining of the offending party as this would contravene the covenants of the NHS, where all treatment is” free at the point of delivery”.
It would be interesting to read if any readers of this newspaper share the same opinions as myself or that of my MP.
Dear Editor, Trident replacement – can we afford it? Should the Government invest £76 billion into replacing Trident in the present financial situation?
Banks and stock markets around the world go down like ninepins, so the Government has committed billions of pounds to assure British investors.
Already our borrowing makes us the most indebted state and we are financially, as well as militarily, overstretched in Iran and Afghanistan. Do we need Trident replacement?
While the general perception is that nuclear weapons bring security, the reality is otherwise; their presence is a source of danger.
If we replace Trident it will signal that nuclear weapons are essential as a “nuclear shield” and will lead to a new nuclear arms race.
Since such a figure as ex-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has echoed the sombre warning of Mikhail Gorbachev a few years ago, calling urgently for zero nuclear weaponry worldwide, should we not support the Nuclear Security Project he has set up and reverse our decision to replace Trident?
Dear Editor, It costs around £40,000 a year to keep a criminal in jail – much more for high- profile prisoners and those whose crimes would have previously attracted the death penalty.
Should we not be prepared to spend £40,000 or more each year on chemotherapy or other drugs to try to keep alive people with potentially life-limiting diseases such as kidney and other cancers?
These individuals bear no responsibility for their problems.