Dear Editor, So now we know. David Cameron has no idea about how to deliver for the people of Birmingham.
His patronising claim last week that somehow the city had to beg for New Street cash said it all.
Last summer the New Street bid was full of holes, and all the partners knew it.
We hadn't asked the private sector for everything we could. No-one knew who would bear the risk of any cost over-runs. The business case wasn't finished.
This is not to criticise. Big half-a-billion pound deals are complicated, and it was the patient (and cross-party I might add) teasing through of detail that got the right deal done for Brum.
So Birmingham deserves better than party leaders brushing aside the realities of how you get things done with glib soundbites.
David's barrage of sound bites got another runout on Friday night, when he added insult to injury with an attack on something he called "state multi-culturalism", by which I think he meant Birmingham's proud record of tolerance and diversity.
He invoked a story told by the chief rabbi (not that David acknowledged the source of course) about how society should be a "house we build together".
Over coffee, I congratulated him on the quote, which I've used often myself and asked what Mr Cameron had thought of the chief rabbi's fantastic book on the question. Had he read it?
Er, no. He just liked the cover.
Mr Cameron, the people of Birmingham deserve better than a pocketfull of spun phrases. What they want is investment in our trains, in new hospitals and better schools.
Minister for the West Midlands
Metro: Stop talking and start building
Dear Editor, It's interesting to see the head of steam being built up over funding for the Midland Metro extensions, and the continued debate over the role of trams in a city centre.
It seems that Birmingham City Council is having second thoughts over running the trams from Snow Hill along Corporation Street and past New Street Station.
I can only point to experience in Europe, where many cities have banned the bus from their central streets but kept faith in the tram.
In Germany, Freiburg-im-Breisgau (supposedly Europe's greenest city) is one and Mannheim another, while in France, Strasbourg has all but cleared buses out of the core after building a tramway from scratch since 1994.
Why? Trams have greener credentials than buses, and with their fixed tracks their path is predictable, so present less danger to pedestrians.
They can also deliver passengers to where they want to be, not some outer fringe.
If a new route is decided, there will have to be another expensive and time-wasting inquiry to obtain the necessary approvals.
In the time taken to build Midland Metro, Strasbourg, pictured below, has built a complete five-route system and both Freiburg and Mannheim have extended and bought new trams.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly was collared by Centro-WMPTA officials on Friday and taken for a tram ride to brief her on local transport.
Let's hope she's persuaded.
Good service in decline
Dear Editor, Whether in your local restaurant or the checkout at your local supermarket, it would seem that, wherever you look, the word "service" counts for nothing in this country.
I should not have been in the West Midlands this Mother's Day weekend. Thanks to the lack of service provided by British Rail in cancelling a train without notice or explanation, I have been forced to spend my time here in Sutton Coldfield rather than enjoying the pleasures that Aberystwyth might have held for me.
Even when I was on the station platform I heard several announcements of train cancellations, all without warning or any explanation whatsoever simply an automated announcement apologising for "any inconvenience caused by the delay in your journey".
However, if you are talking about security in this country then we seem to go totally over the top the other way.
For example, with the Labour Party conference in Birmingham during the past few days, the ICC has been swarming with police, sniffer dogs etc. Quite apart from the financial burden on the taxpayer, can't we perhaps start to get more of a realistic perspective on things?
We should place an emphasis on matters like service which should be given more of a priority in this country.
Indeed, we should be proud to provide good service as a part of everyday life.
End the stamp duty trap
Dear Editor, On Thursday, a survey by the National Housing Federation reported that young house-buyers in Warwickshire face property prices of up to ten times local average salaries.
Even in the cheapest local area - Nuneaton and Bedworth - average house prices of £137,500 are 7.3 times average salaries.
What this report fails to take into account is the additional impact of stamp duty on hard-pressed first-time buyers.
The current national stamp duty threshold is just £125,000, which means Gordon Brown is cashing in from house price inflation from first time buyers in North Warwickshire.
As house prices edge up, more and more people are caught in Brown's stamp duty trap. This underlines the need to raise the stamp duty threshold for first-time buyers in particular.
Gordon Brown's stealth tax rises, from stamp duty to council tax, are all making home ownership harder and harder for more and more people.
Conservatives recognise the importance of affordable homes in providing the bedrock of stable, safe communities.
Our pledge to double the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 will mean thousands of first-time buyers in Warwickshire will pay no stamp duty at all. We will make it easier to get on, and move up, the home ladder.
Parliamentary Candidate for North Warwickshire and Bedworth
Council tax reform needed
Dear Editor, The news that average council tax bills are to rise by four per cent will bring more misery to millions of pensioners who are already struggling to meet rising food and energy bills.
The Government has no solution to the unfairness of council tax, apart from asking pensioners to claim discredited means-tested benefits.
This is not the answer, and we urgently need complete reform of the system to take into account the ability to pay.