Dear Editor, Suggestions by Chris Kelly (Post December 1st) that Advantage West Midlands (AWM) is following an anti-road agenda are misdirected.

AWM is well aware that the automotive industry is important to the regional economy and that greener vehicle technologies have a key role to play in delivering a new, low carbon economy of the 21st century.

Only two weeks ago, AWM and Jaguar Land Rover announced an £80million programme that will encourage West Midlands automotive companies to conduct further research and development into low carbon vehicle technologies.

However, transport is a complex issue that often requires complex solutions. There is growing road congestion on our motorways and in the urban areas; increasing numbers of people are using the trains to commute.

AWM is not responsible for building or managing the transport networks across the region, but it does have a role to play in working with partners to identify transport options for the future.

The quote which Chris refers to was made during the Transport breakout session at AWM’s recent annual conference, Meeting the Challenge, where we were talking about:

* Smarter use of the transport networks

*?How we can make the best use of our networks in terms of both capacity and cost efficiency

*?How we can improve the way in which we manage traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions.

This is not an anti-road agenda – it is about finding the right mix of transport options (public transport, road and rail) to enable the people and businesses of the West Midlands to make the right choice for themselves.

Nick Paul,
Advantage West Midlands.


Confusion over tax status of donations

Dear Editor, No doubt many of you have been requested by numerous charities to gift aid your donations, a very noble thing to do of course as any extra cash that the charities can get, especially from the Government is all good. However the tax implications for the donator are anything but clear, I doubt whether all members of the public understand how this can affect your tax if you are unlucky enough to have to complete a Tax Return.

I am endeavouring to complete an on-line self-assessment tax return that includes a section about Gift Aid donations. Last year I gave Cancer Research £60.00 and had instructed the charity that I wished to gift aid this donation. I duly indicated this amount on my return and to my horror discovered that I now owed the Government £16.00 for doing my charitable best! I did speak with a very helpful advisor at HM Revenue and Customs and I would like to say that everyone I have spoken with have been exceptionally nice and helpful, (and all from the North which is very nostalgic for me), this goes a long way when you are trying to get your head around this incredible complicated system of ours – who invented it I ask myself.

It turns out that gift aid relief as it becomes when you complete a tax return only benefits the higher tax payer. (This isn’t explained at all well on the notes or website, in fact the notes seem to indicate a slightly confused understanding by the department themselves as the word “broadly” is used on occasion – not very re-assuring).

So if you are in the low tax band, and I was told this officially, do not indicate your gift aid donations. I don’t understand why the gift aid donation becomes a tax issue for the donator as well as the charity anyway, when you quickly complete a gift aid form as you pay your entrance fee to view the latest Museum exhibit or whatever; you are hardly expected to know to declare or not to declare!

I am a person who likes to understand the full implications of all that I do so took the time to try and make sense of my return and it certainly pays to keep asking for the answers even if you don’t quite know what the question is!!

Sutton Coldfield.


Residents need sympathy, not environmental campaigners

Dear Editor, In response to the editorial comment December 2 regarding the proposal to extend the runway at BIA, I would like to make several points:

The wealth and job prospects of this region are not dependant on this runway extension. In fact, basing hopes for future wealth on the aviation industry at this time would be a huge gamble. Airlines are currently going out of business as quickly as companies in other sectors of the economy and there has been no independent survey showing the need for the envisaged increased air traffic.

On the other hand, as the Stern report and recently published Green New Deal have shown, there is a great need for investment in new carbon neutral technologies, which could really kick start the economy.

In our view the potential economic benefits of the proposed runway extension have been overestimated, and the potential economic and environmental costs underestimated, to such an extent that the real costs are likely to outweigh the benefits in the long run.

There is no need to ‘feel sorry’ for the environmental campaigners, as your editorial suggested. Rather feel sympathy for those local residents already affected by aircraft noise whose plight is set to worsen, and for all those people who will still be on this planet when the effects of climate change are truly felt.

Joe Peacock,
Joint Campaigns Co-ordinator,
Birmingham Friends of the Earth.