Dear Editor, I have been reading with interest the various articles and letters published in The Birmingham Post in recent weeks with regard to the proposal by British Land to build a new 35 storey building where currently the Nat West Tower is situated on Colmore Row.
At the heart of the debate are two key issues. Firstly, whether the Nat West Tower should be listed, something it would seem English Heritage cannot find a definitive answer for, last year saying no, this year reviewing their original decision. Secondly, concerns expressed by the Council’s Heritage and Conservation Panel and the Victorian Society that the proposal put forward by British Land will be of detriment to the look and landscape of Colmore Row.
As Chief Executive of Birmingham Forward, I regularly walk down Colmore Row to various meetings and each time I pass the current Nat West Tower I cannot understand why anyone would wish to protect this outdated and obsolete 1970s building.
I can imagine when National Westminster Bank put forward their proposals in the early 1970s concerns were expressed then about the design of the building and its potential effects on the look of Colmore Row.
However, I can also imagine that thirty five years ago when it opened as a major centre for business and banking in the city, creating jobs and providing the city with a major demonstration of its value and place as a business centre, that it was widely welcomed.
I believe we should now be doing the same for its replacement. Of course, attention and care should be given to ensure that the building fits within the Colmore Conservation Area and that any effect to the views from the Council House to the Cathedral is not unduly comprised. It is also reasonable to expect that the building both in terms of its functionality and design adds to the city’s business district. British Land’s proposal does this.
It is widely acknowledged that the Nat West Tower is not commercially viable, it has been an empty shell and an eyesore, for some considerable time and this is not a positive image for the city’s business district. British Land are prepared to invest in a new building that will create jobs, provide new exciting business accommodation and facilities and during this present economic climate when development on this scale is either being cancelled or delayed make a £160 million commitment to our city.
As an organisation we are just about to lead on a Business Improvement District (BID) around the commercial heart of our city including Colmore Row.
As part of this BID we are keen to see imaginative and innovative new buildings being appropriately sited within the centre to continually demonstrate we are a world class forward looking city.
I hope that, with all the checks and balances we would expect from the Planning Committee having been undertaken, that planning is granted for this project and that English Heritage decides against requesting the building to be listed.
This will be another opportunity for the city to demonstrate its progressive attitude towards its future development and in doing so promote the vibrancy and success of one of the key areas of the city for business.
Chief Executive, Birmingham Forward.
Strolling towards charity boost
Dear Editor, We, the Meningitis Trust are celebrating being chosen by baby travel expert, Silver Cross, as their charity partner of the year.
From June, Silver Cross are donating £5 from every one of their ‘Fizz’ strollers sold in England, Scotland and Wales to us, to raise vital funds for our work. Our life-saving signs and symptoms cards are also attached to the product, to raise awareness of the disease that kills more children under 5 than any other infectious disease in the UK.
Silver Cross’ Chairman, Alan Halsall chose to support the Meningitis Trust as he understands from his own experience of the disease how difficult and scary it can be coping with the impact it leaves on people’s lives.
With as many as 500,000 people living in the UK who have had either viral or bacterial meningitis and up to one adult in every four knowing of someone who has had meningitis, our ongoing work is much-needed.
As we are reliant on voluntary contributions to continue our work, we are extremely grateful to Silver Cross for their generous pledge to raise £50,000 for us through this partnership.
Their donations will allow us to help thousands of people struggling with the after-effects of meningitis in the UK today.
The Meningitis Trust.
Is William the hero just more hype?
Dear Editor, Just as his brother in Afghanistan, William in his ‘plum’ posting to a Royal Navy ship in the Caribbean, is also experiencing success.
His capturing of a speed boat in his frigate, Iron Duke, of £48,000 worth of drugs, is an early success which only the most cynical would refer to as a ‘set-up’ for publicity for our future king.
One would hope now, with this early success, that he will spend some time to make himself a career in the Navy. His short stays in the Army and the Air Force were disappointing but they were branches of the services for which he was not suited, despite all of his parading and marching and flying of helicopters.
The Caribbean must be one hell of a place for one’s National Service, chasing motor launches. It could have been destroying poppy fields in Afghanistan. No doubt, later on in life, he will be parading with his medals with Harry and they will be hailed as Royals who saw action with their men and dubbe ‘heroes’ dressed as smart Generals and Admirals uniforms.
I do get fed up with the hype and the spin....
Douglas J Wathen,
Salford Priors, Evesham.
Back UKIP - we’re the only chance for post offices
Dear Editor, It is outrageous that the West Midlands stands to lose its small local post offices, thanks to the European Commission.
Are you aware that the government has to ask the European Commission for permission to subsidise post office services?
And because the Commission, since 2003, has frozen the government subsidy at £150 million per annum, loss-making parts of the service such as small local post offices in urban and rural areas are being threatened with closure.
The annual subsidy has been frozen for so long that it is worth less and less each year which is why these post offices are being earmarked.
Small post offices are a vital service in our local community, particularly for pensioners.
We need to keep them open.
What is even more despicable is that Lib/Dem MEP Liz Lynne (like most British MEPs) has hit out at the planned closures urging people to get involved when she voted in the EU Parliament to support the directive which will close these post offices down.
UKIP who voted against these closures is urging the government to ask them to ignore EU interference in the postal service and to keep all our local post offices open.
Support us to support the local post office.
Mike Nattrass MEP,
(UKIP West Midlands).