Dear Editor, We are all aware that post offices are currently being closed across the country (the branches which are to be axed in Birmingham will be announced on June 24). Now, however, it would appear that there is a cull of post boxes going on as well.
A few months ago, a post box in Grove Lane, Harborne, was taken away and reinstated only after a vigorous campaign by a local resident and a council officer. Now, just a few weeks later, a post box in Harborne Park Road has been closed off and I am told by Royal Mail that the box will be uprooted and removed today.
The reason given for the removal in both cases is "health and safety". In the case of Harborne Park Road, I'm told it's because there is nowhere for the van to pull in now the Golden Cross car park has been closed. There is, however, adequate on-street parking in front of the parade of shops in Harborne Lane, about 50 yards away.
Because it's now apparently considered unhealthy and unsafe for the driver to walk this short distance, the elderly people who live in the area are expected to walk about 500 yards in each direction to post a letter. To make matters worse, two of the alternative boxes being suggested are up a steep hill.
Perhaps Royal Mail think their drivers might be mugged while carrying the post 50 yards. If that is the case, the simple solution here would be to move the box 50 yards across to the parade of shops in Harborne Lane where there is space for the van to pull up right beside it.
However the notice on the box states quite clearly that they are not intending to replace the box. They said the same with the Grove Lane box until there was a public outcry. So I am beginning to wonder, is there a bigger plan here - to cut the network of post boxes on the spurious grounds of "health and safety"?
I would be interested to know if other Birmingham Post readers have had their local post box removed.
I would also like a reassurance from Royal Mail that there is no plan to cut the network of boxes, in which case there is surely no reason why the post box which they are removing from Harborne Park Road cannot be replaced nearby immediately.
Coun DEIRDRE ALDEN,
Conservative parliamentary candidate and councillor for Edgbaston.
Come on, Mr Brown, show your hand
Dear Editor, Having viewed last week how politicians were flattered into the most sickening obsequiousness at being thanked for the Battle of Agincourt et al by a Gallic popinjay, is it any wonder that the main political debate still revolves around the meaningless Blair/Brown vortex when it is clear to every schoolboy that our national priorities should be energy, transport and the environment?
Brown has had his breaking-in period and no one is any the wiser what he wants to do, except see some football club win a trophy. Round and round in ever decreasing circles he broods and ruminates, progress apparently being confined to the fact that he no longer calls his Ministers at 4am. So, a few ideas: n Brown should get a serious grip on rail transport - even Mussolini is remembered for this, and perhaps his Pontine Marshes could be the Severn Barrage, also desperate for a decision.
* He should lay down his basket of books, forget all the murmurings of esoteric philosophers, and begin to consider practical ways to make a real impact on alternative energy eg to hugely promote microgeneration, (learning from the Germans on feed-in systems), which is a lead the public - aside a few dinosaurs and assorted Nimbies - seriously want.
Brown has now had long enough to show some real leadership, and should he not get his act together by the summer we, as a nation, could do no worse than choose a PM by a lottery system.
BILL HAYMES, Coventry
Make the most of our Minister
Dear Editor, Paul Burke unfairly accuses Regional Minister Liam Byrne of inaction. Presumably this is motivated by party spite as it hardly matches the facts (Little action from our regional ministers, March 29).
Those of us who have seen the Minister at various of the regional summits and meetings he has attended have been struck by his willingness to energise the regional agenda and not only represent the Government to the region, but put the region's concerns to Government.
On transport alone Mr Byrne has won plaudits from friend and foe alike for his ability to cut through red tape, notably around finalising the funding package for New Street Station.
Political gibes apart, I agree with Mr Burke on the need for further improvements in the ability of the region - that's the urban and shire areas together - to hold central government to account and, more importantly, enjoy greater influence on regeneration, transport and strategic planning policy.
The Government is already offering potentially greater local powers in the new Local Transport Act. This could pave the way for a region-wide transport authority - a "super CENTRO" - able to take the benefits of joined-up public transport to the whole region and properly reflect modern travel to work patterns. The current focus on the city sub-region of the urban West Midlands county is fine for promoting closer working there but, as with Advantage West Midlands and the West Midlands Regional Assembly, we also need an all-region approach.
Carping apart, Mr Burke may be right about the need for a West Midlands select committee or, better still, some broader variant involving regional representatives, to create proper accountability for the Regional Minister role. With the loss of the Assembly in 2010, we need debate on how regional partnership working between business, councils and the wide range of other interests currently engaged can be maintained.
However that goes, in Liam Byrne we have an active champion for the whole region. While the ultimate shape of regional government is in a state of flux, he has brought new focus to a number of policy areas - not least at the recent transport summit where a broad-based regional audience met to review mobility priorities for the region. Contrary to Mr Burke's claim, the Minister was open to debate on how we deliver for the five million people of the region. Ultimately, a strong West Midlands' voice can only be guaranteed via a single elected body for the whole shire and urban area. This could emerge from a reformed House of Lords elected via the English regions and UK nations. With constitutional reform clearly back on the political agenda, this sensible solution to the unfinished business of devolution is again an option.
Liam Byrne's role is an opportunity to ensure that Whitehall better understands the real needs of the West Midlands region. Let's not waste it.
Regional Transport Partnership
It's time to come clean on recycling
Dear Editor, We are reliably informed that Stafford now has an excellent recycling record. But has it? Surely, there are two aspects to question here. The first has to be: What exactly is this recycling?
The people of Stafford really should be told more about it. There is a very strong rumour going around that most of the so-called recycled plastic is being shipped out to China - for them to sell back to the rest of the world (mainly the USA and the EU ) as tat that we will then bin and sell back to China. Not quite the type of recycling that most of us have in mind. Please Stafford/Staffordshire authorities, give us some honest answers. The second aspect relates to the percentage of the rubbish that is being recycled. Is a figure in the lower 30s really something to crow about? It doesn't sound that good.
JOHN GALE, Stafford