Dear Editor, I would like to thank you and your readers for the support given to our campaign to retain the Walsall to Wolverhampton rail service.
Your backing really is essential if we are to win our fight to keep the service running beyond December.
Sadly, this situation is one we have faced before. On a number of occasions over recent years the future of this vital link has been in jeopardy due to a lack of funding.
But we have always managed to win the battle to keep it going before, thanks to hard work and dedication.
Now, due to improving the reliability and awareness of the service it is carrying more passengers than ever before, providing a fundamental connection between Walsall and Wolverhampton and connecting rail services to over 60,000 people a year.
The only public transport alternative to this 15 minute service, as we are all aware, is a bus service which takes over 40 minutes, and often longer due to the heavy congestion especially around the motorway.
Sadly many people will have no option but to get in the car.
It is therefore more important than ever that we win our fight to keep the Walsall to Wolverhampton service running and work to enhance the service further.
At Centro we have been putting significant effort into looking at ways to retain the rail link and provide an even better service, such as a half hourly frequency and the possibility of a station at Willenhall.
Unfortunately, with a lack of rolling stock, timetable clashes and funding this is very difficult.
That is why we are undertaking a detailed study this autumn which will give us a properly analysed review of the transport needs of Walsall and how the rail network can cater for this.
Then we will be able to continue working with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to see how we can work around these problems to continue providing a direct rail link for the people who rely on the service in Walsall and Wolverhampton, and those further a field in Staffordshire.
In the meantime, I, together with many others including passengers, councillors and MPs, have written to rail minister Tom Harris to express my disappointment at his decision not to continue funding for the service.
I have also invited Mr Harris and Minister for the West Midlands Liam Byrne MP to come to the West Midlands and get first hand experience of the rail link.
For readers wanting to show support for the service and help us in our campaign to retain it, I would urge you to write to the rail minister, but to also demonstrate your backing by getting on board.
Following the start of this new campaign, some independent surveys appear to show even more people are now using the service compared to the most recent official figure of 60,000 passengers a year.
Coun Gary Clarke, Chairman, Centro, the region’s passenger, transport authority
An economy based on debt and nonsense
Dear Editor, David Middleton rightly claims (Agenda, 25 August) that the challenges mankind faces are many and inter-linked. Indulging in a single issue debate (usually about climate change) is a good excuse for pursuing “business as usual”.
In fact if we take climate change out of the equation, we still have an unsustainable debt-based economic system dependent on continuous growth, which is remorselessly destroying our planet.
Yet where is The Big Debate on changing that? Nonsensical headlines such as “The Economy Grinds to a Halt” illustrate the disconnect between reality and economics.
A system based on inflationary money creation by profit making institutions (banks) requires continuous growth in order to pay off our debts to those institutions.
The largest offender is of course government which, instead of creating sufficient money to pay for our infrastructure - hospitals, schools - places the whole economy in hock to private institutions.
Oh, and of course, when a bank goes bust, we have to bail it out, even though there isn’t enough money to pay for our health service - or build an integrated transport system for about the same cost! David is also right to point out that much of the necessary change is beginning to happen ground up - not from within the - as he puts it - “cumbersome,deadly slow and complex .... bureaucracy”.
He reminds us that we eat food, not money, and yet whilst we have farmers totally committed to serving their local communities, we have procurement systems which ignore that commitment, and a political system still speaking with forked tongue on “food security” - local is good - but we can always import our foodstuffs.
Fortunately as free citizens, we can take action to move our society in the right direction. As business people, we can ensure that local groups such as The Midlands Environmental Business Company have our support; and as individuals we can join growing movements such as Transition Towns, a branch of which has just been established in Birmingham. That is why, at Globally Local, we are planning a 3 day “Changing Lifestyles” event at Birmingham Town Hall in February, to showcase these “ground up” initiatives, and to promote the development of a genuinely sustainable regional economy.
Malcolm Currie, Globally Local LLP
Is council trying to pass the buck?
Dear Editor, Birmingham City Council (BCC) has been blasted by vulnerable residents in Sutton Coldfield for its abject failure since 1995 to do anything at all to divert run off water from Boldmere St Michael’s football pitch and car park, that feeds the shallow water table beneath Council designated sheltered accommodation in Warden Avenue.
The lake created every time it rains heavily, fed by run off water from what historically is a natural water course, is suspected of being the source of damp disrepair inundation affecting several homes that for too long has blighted the quality of life of BCC social housing tenants.
Several of the properties concerned, that house disabled and the elderly and infirm have already been classified as “Non Decent Dwellings” this according BCC’s own figures in the Birmingham – Business Plan Statistical Appendix – Annual monitoring 2006, now available under the Freedom of Information Act, but even so BCC landlord of the properties and landowner of the ground, leased to Boldmere St Michael’s Social Club, has been sitting on hands ever since the run off water issue was raised formally in 1995, when after at best a flawed investigation, BCC disclaimed any responsibility which in effect amounted to a denial that the council had any “duty of care” towards its tenants.
However this perverse position was challenged in March 2007, but even so it took a further fourteen months following the threat of an Ombudsman complaint, before Coun John Lines, Cabinet Member for Housing, very hurriedly sent out a housing department building inspector to investigate.
But with constructive knowledge of what had already been investigated more than a decade earlier, it appears to be the case that hitherto with abject disregard for the disabled and the elderly and infirm concerned, the Council’s priority is to save face by employing legal services in defence of the indefensible, to try to pass the culpability buck elsewhere.
Brian Emery, Boldmere, Sutton Coldfield