Dear Editor, Transport and passengers come a very poor third in the Gateway scheme, with the strategy being about retail facilities and property development, rather than laying the foundation of a 'transport revolution'.
It shows the lack of strategic thinking displayed by city and regional planners, Network Rail and the Government in providing the framework and leader-ship in such matters.
It will take at least six years to build, with all the disruption to passengers that entails, and all they will get from their £400 million will be a glass-fronted waiting room where they can pass the steady increase in waiting times - necessary because there is no increase in track capacity.
The two extra platforms may provide the means for more trains to 'wait' in the station, but these do not cure the major problem which remains - the queues of trains waiting to enter and leave New Street.
Passengers will know who to blame for their continued delays over the next 20 years. They will certainly have plenty of time to think it over it whilst they wait (and wait) for their delayed trains.
Four tracking the Birmingham - Wolverhampton line is welcome, may improve journey times between these points, Rugby and Coventry, and will provide additional freight paths. However, it will do nothing to improve congestion through New Street, which is due to the speed limitations on approaches. This will only get worse with this Gateway project.
Where rail passengers are concerned, it is difficult to see where the benefits will come from.
The scheme's critics claim the Gateway development is 'better than nothing', but even this is open to question. However, I certainly wish it success and hope my fears provide the seed corn for the delivery of a real strategy for the future.
HENRY HARVEY, Birmingham
* Be wary of charity collectors
Dear Editor, I have recently been notified of individuals knocking on doors in the Saltley / Alum Rock area, and possibly other areas, allegedly fundraising for Save the Children. They have been asking for cash donations, and also peddling goods, saying profits will be donated to the charity. However we have not been receiving these donations.
This is very worrying, and if your readers have donated to these individuals, their generous gesture will not have reached the millions of children around the world who are still denied proper healthcare, food, education and protection.
This is a plea to ask residents to be extra vigilant when answering the door and responding to such requests. Make sure that the person shows their ID, and if it is a charity collection, make sure that they have permission from that charity. These individuals may also be collecting using other charity names.
If your readers would like to support Save the Children, I would recommend that rather than donating to people at your door, that they get in touch with me on 0121 558 0111 or visit www.savethechildren.org.uk.
JENNY PAUL, Save the Children
* Spirit of a great man
Dear Editor, I was saddened to hear that Dick Knowles had passed away, he gave the city the kick in the backside it needed to get things moving - and when the going got tough he stuck to his guns and saw it through to the very successful end.
It's a great tribute to the spirit that started then, that I was not able to get a ticket for the Indoor Athletics at the NIA recently.
So come on everyone, let's all start pulling together to make us the Great City of Birmingham - somewhere we can all be proud of.
ANTHONY TAYLOR, Harborne
*India and aid packages
Dear Editor, Everyone knows that our Government is having to borrow heavily in order to pay its way. So our Prime Minister goes to India and offers £800 million of foreign aid.
The money is borrowed just to be given away.
And what for? India is now emerging as an important industrial nation, capable of standing on its own feet. Indian business interests have acquired Corus, the former British Steel firm. It is reported that Jaguar and Land Rover are to join them. That's not all: a leading brand of
Scotch whisky has been purchased by an Indian magnate. A famous brand of packeted tea was recently sold to Indian interests.
And that is not all. Amongst the "non-doms" - those folks who have a special tax status - resident in London are many Indian business men and women.
So, surely the time has long since gone when India needed aid packages, to be paid for by the British taxpayer.
JOHN MELLOR, Wolverhampton
* Demanding a referendum
Dear Editor, On Wednesday February 27 there is to be a mass lobby of Parliament. People of all political parties, and more, will converge on Westminster to lobby their MPs to demand a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.
As has been pointed out many times in these columns, it was the promise of a referendum by Blair and Brown that helped Labour win a third successive term of office, which is why the promise was made.
Once the treaty has been signed, there can be no going back. The veto will be held in obligation, since the treaty is self-amending.
If the Government signs the treaty, the public will not forget the wretched lies that helped it to power; Labour will lose the next election by default.
It is not too late for a referendum. Everyone who has an interest in this lovely country is urged to attend.
JAMES BENTON, Birmingham
* Boldness and equality, not dogma
Dear Editor, The albeit temporary nationalisation of Northern Rock, clearly the right solution at the right time (shareholders' lawyers aside) may finally mark the beginning of a government at last finding a new reforming confidence - especially if Andrew Miller's Private Members Bill, giving equality to agency workers, also makes it to the next stage.
Will the Government finally find the courage to lead the red-top newspapers instead of vice versa?
The Labour Party has never really understood that the vast majority of the electorate has always wanted more boldness, more equality, less dogma and a genuine departure from Thatcherism.
BILL HAYMES, Coventry