Dear Editor, I understand why West Midlands council leaders are having to reject plans for region-wide congestion charging schemes (Brakes put on road charging, Post March 4).
How can they support something that will make our businesses uncompetitive - not only against other areas of the country, but across the global market - and add extra burdens on council tax payers who are already paying through the nose?
However, despite this, we can't escape the fact that there are too many cars on our roads.
Hours are lost every working day just sitting in traffic on the M6, M5 or M42 - and that's before drivers actually reach the city.
Then, of course, there is the whole issue of pollution and global warming.
The time has come for the Government to bite the bullet and introduce a nationwide congestion-charging scheme.
Motorists on the Continent have been paying to travel on authbahns, autoroutes and autopistas for decades without serious complaint. Why is it so inconceivable that something similar could be introduced on this side of the Channel?
Charging for travelling on motorways would be a fairer way of taxing drivers than the pay-as-you-go blanket schemes that have previously been considered.
They would not penalise the "little man" who needs to travel a few miles to check on elderly parents; they would not make city-centre traders uncompetitive; and, pitched at the right level, they should not force drivers off motorways onto rural rat runs.
The Government needs to end its current piecemeal approach to congestion charging and lead the way, rather than hoping to push the responsibility onto local authorities and let them take the flak from the public when things backfire.
Transport needs should not be mutually exclusive
Dear Editor, Why can't the advocates of one form of public transport make their case without condemning another? (The best plan for rail in the West Midlands, Post Agenda March 1).
Tramways are internal, while rail is external. Therefore, we need an improvement to the railway system and a tramway system.
Since successive governments have poured billions of pounds into the bottomless pit of the EU, surely they can afford the relatively modest sum needed to meet the transport needs of Birmingham and the rest of the West Midlands.
Coventry could do worse than have a tram service - it couldn't be any more indifferent or spasmodic than the part-time bus service it already has.
Who knows, there could even be an inter-city tramway between Coventry and Birmingham?
It should not take long in planning, only another century or so.
Laws fuels drink binges
Dear Editor, When the Labour Government introduced 24-hour opening-times for pubs, they said it would be the start of a Continental style of drinking (Drinking crack-down targets off-licences, Post March 4).
Well they seem to have achieved their goal.
Now, instead of having to travel abroad to go on 24-hour benders, British lager louts can stay at home and indulge on a more regular basis, and where once they might have gone on to a single club after last orders were called at pubs 11pm - finally heading home at 2am - now they go from one venue to another, drinking for as long as they can find a bar to serve them.
Opening pubs for longer hours does nothing to tackle the underlying causes of binge drinking, which seems to have grown to epidemic proportions, and the Government's Licensing Act must take the blame.
So-called fans are sick
Dear Editor, A friend and I, both season ticket holders at Villa Park, select an away match each season to go and support Aston Villa. We both fancied a first view of The Emirates Stadium and the chance to watch Arsenal's enchanting brand of football.
The boys on the pitch did us proud and made for a very enjoyable day out - it was a pity they could not hold out for another 15 seconds.
However, I must agree that the chant about Eduardo was rather unnecessary. The chant was printed in at least one national paper last weekend.
Worse than the chant likening Eduardo to Heather Mills, there was a small group chanting their own lyrics to the tune of Monster:
"What's that sticking out of the pitch? Is it an ankle? Is it an ankle?"
Why can't they just stick to expressing their support for Villa?
Search on to find Andrew Noble
Dear Editor, Can any of your readers help me trace Andrew Noble? I believe he is currently living in the Birmingham area.
Andrew was living in Rushden, Northants, in 1989, while his mother and stepfather - Lil and Dick Leonard - lived in Cambridgeshire. He has two brothers, Mark and Peter.
His late uncle Alf Smith was married to my mother-in-law Isabel and they lived in Wendover, Buckinghamshire.
I met Andrew when he brought Isabel north to my house for a holiday after her husband died.
I would dearly like him to contact me as I have news for him.
I can be contacted at 51 Stanley Road, Brampton, Cumbria, CA8 1DY, or by telephone on 0797 342529 after 6pm.
GM answer to food price rises
Dear Editor, Food is expensive and the price of it continues to rise. There are various contributory causes but the main one is the conversion of the United States grain surplus into ethanol to power its motor cars.
This is in response to complaints about its contribution to global warming and climate change.
A possible escape from the world shortage of food stocks is genetically modified crops. However, research into these in this country has almost come to a halt.