Dear Editor, The latest Government intervention to prevent the collapse of Bradford & Bingley ends the sorry saga of former building societies that ill advisedly threw away their trusted mutual status.
If only it would also bring to an end the intemperate behaviour and worthless values that riddle the financial sector today.
We hear much too much about ‘creation of value’, usually for institutional owners and bonus besotted managers. We don’t hear half enough about the destruction of values that is the core reason for the whole financial crisis.
This latest tale of woe is symptomatic of finance as a value-free zone. We now see the breathtaking extent of the dangling of deceptively cheap mortgages in the US to those who couldn’t afford them, but similar things had been going on here.
For example self certification, where people seeking a home were offered the tempting chance to lie about their incomes, was almost equally devilish.
In the US the resulting financial assets were mixed up with others in deliberately complex and obscure packages which were hawked to lazy and incompetent bankers abroad, and how could we as a nation have produced leaders who allow – indeed encourage – the loss of ownership and the evisceration of the real economy that make us so dependent on such “services”?
In 1986 the Government allowed building societies to cast caution to the winds, throw away their mutual status and cave in to carpetbaggers.
Behaviour contradicting the principles of thrift on which ordinary people are brought up was thus rewarded, but a hopeful fact is that a majority of people still hold to these values.
What is needed is more opportunity for them to put them into practice.
This is one of the reasons why I have argued for the re-establishment of trusted and trustworthy municipal banks. I am convinced that there is a major role for the public as well as the voluntary sector in the realm of savings and loans.
It should not be confined to clearing up private sector messes, picking up liabilities and organising fire sales.
The Government was right to intervene, I only wish there was a prospect of continuing public involvement in good times as well as bad.
One reason for this, apart from my belief in co-operation as well as competition, is that I also believe it will take far longer to infuse values rather than value into the financial sector.
Please don’t tell me you can’t change human nature, whatever you might mean by that. If you take this view, get out more and speak to ordinary decent people who would never dream of acting like feckless financiers.
It is their nature that is inspiringly human and whose example should be followed.
We also need to ensure that remaining building societies stay mutual and return to their traditional approaches.
There have been signs of contagion from the banking sector – particularly taking advantage of, rather than respecting, the loyalty of their savers.
It all could be done, but I fear it will take more than a long weekend or two to put together.
Coun Michael Wilkes,
Hunt-loving Cameron should not become Prime Minister
Dear Editor, David Cameron can spout off all he likes about how wonderful his party is, but I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.
For a start, he has no policies of his own and he’s a hunter. How can anyone trust a man who was chosen by that blood-thirsty organisation the Countryside Alliance? All they care about is getting back their legal right to torture wildlife to death again.
Cameron has said that the majority should not dictate to the minority. OK, so does that go for murderers too?
People who hunt an animal to its death for the fun of it are murderers – basically, killers without a conscience. This is why having a Prime Minister who would go out to kill foxes for fun in his leisure time, is a terrifying prospect.
Supplement was a timely boost for region
Dear Editor, Congratulations on your timely supplement “100 Great Things about the West Midlands”!
All right, I wouldn’t have included the M6 Toll road or private schools at the expense of the Birmingham Chinatown or Gay Village areas, but then you’ll never please everyone.
Over the weekend in the Gay Village I met scores of representatives attending the Tory Conference who were amazed by the transformation of our city, its humour, warmth of locals and value for money compared to traditional resorts.
Hopefully they’ll take your supplement home to remind them of their visit to the big beating heart of Britain and consider Birmingham in the future.
As one leading Tory told me, “I just can’t wait to come again”.
Kings Heath, Birmingham.
It’s vital that small business plan ahead for when recovery comes
Dear Editor, As the impact of the credit crunch continues to be felt across the country, one of the key questions for the economy is how small businesses can remain confident about their future prospects
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is actively participating in BT’s Small Business Week which takes place from October 13-17, dedicated to championing the 4.3 million- plus small enterprises in the UK and will highlight the reasons for confidence in small businesses, despite the current economic outlook.
During stormy economic conditions, SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) need good solid advice from accountants. Over the last five years ACCA has committed itself to becoming the accountancy body closest to the small business sector.
Careful planning is necessary now more than ever.
We recommend that small businesses should maintain a meaningful dialogue with their accountants and banks.
Further information relating to Small Business Week can be found on www.sbw08.co.uk.
During these turbulent times the message for SMEs is to closely manage your business, and prepare for the economic recovery that will inevitably follow.
Director, ACCA UK.
Survival of Post Offices in balance
Dear Editor, Post Offices can survive but only if they are allowed to, because what has happened is Post Offices have been sabotaged by political espionage.
The removal of contracts, pensions and other services have left the Post Offices at a business disadvantage, and this isnt bacause they coudn’t compete but because the Government had a secret agenda to close them.
We have seen the mock consultancies and the manipulations, but Post Offices can suvive,
However, can they wait for a change of Government.
S T Vaughan,
Yardley Wood, Birmingham.