Dear Editor, My wife and I travelled from Stoke-on-Trent to Birmingham to see Tony Iommi receive his accolade of having a place on the walk of stars. It took us three hours to get there (accident on motorway) then spent another two hours standing in the pouring rain waiting for Tony to receive his award. What followed was beyond belief!
He accepted the award, said a few words, and I mean a few words, promptly turned from the fans, was ushered into a waiting car and away.
Where was a little bit of PR and appreciation of fans who had waited ages for a word, autograph, or a handshake from one of their idols?
I have been a massive fan of Tony for over 30 years, first seeing him on the mob rules tour at Stafford.
I have seen him on numerous occasions with different line-ups over the years and have amassed every album on vinyl and CD and have over 20 DVDs and numerous other items.
The pinnacle of all my support and fan-based appreciation of the great man was to meet him in person – I thought this would be the day – what a huge disappointment.
What a contrast to July 2007 when a similar ceremony took place for Ozzy Osbourne - who, on receiving his place on the walk of stars, found time to speak to his fans, sign a few autographs, a little thank you to people who had supported him over the years.
A reply to this letter would be nice but if Tony’s attitude to his loyal fans is consistent to Sundays then I don’t suppose one will be forthcoming.
As with governments, film stars, television stars, pop stars and sports stars it is the public who put them where they are today and sometimes the public can be very unforgiving in instances of this nature.
World-class transport system is on its way
Dear Editor, I refer to your report on the Centre for Cities publication On the Move (Post, November 21, 2008), with particular reference to passenger numbers on the West Midlands transport network and what the region needs to deliver to address these issues.
At Centro, our aim is to deliver a world-class public transport system for a region on the move and over the past two years we have already made significant steps towards achieving this – tackling those issues raised in the Centre for Cities report.
For example, next year Centro is introducing its own smartcard system (equivalent to London’s Oyster card) which in partnership with the key operators will make it much more convenient for people to travel around the West Midlands by public transport.
I would also like to point out that, while bus travel across the majority of England has been in decline over the past decade, as a result of partnership working among Centro, local bus companies and the seven West Midlands councils over the past year the West Midlands bus network has had an increase in passengers of 5.1 million – there are 330.6 million bus journeys in the region every year.
Together with our partners, we have focused on improving a number of key bus routes in the region. The Premier services, for example, have had increased reliability, higher frequencies and state-of-the-art buses, and we have seen the number of passengers increase by an average of 12 per cent as a result.
As the Centre for Cities report identifies, access to good public transport to assist regeneration, housing and employment is vital. This is why this year we completed a pioneering bus network review in Dudley where we worked with all the local operators and the council to transform bus travel in the borough by reconfiguring the network.
We achieved improved links to key employment, retail and residential centres and improved integration between bus services and other transport modes. As a consequence we have already seen passenger numbers increase and thanks to the resounding success of these initiatives we are planning to replicate this work in other boroughs and on more key bus routes.
Again, due to improved services and consistent delivery, passenger numbers are also increasing on rail and Metro in the West Midlands, with 36.6 million people catching the train in the region in the past year, an increase of 9.3 per cent on the previous year, and Metro use rising by 4.2 per cent.
The report identified better integration between different modes of transport through co-ordinated timetables, better information and transport hubs as being important to encourage public transport usage.
That is why the Network West Midlands initiative addresses these very points by improving infrastructure, information and connectivity among bus, train and tram, and walking and cycling. Making it easier for passengers to use public transport has been one of the key contributors in the patronage increases identified above.
Your readers, I am sure, understand the need to provide a public transport network that further enhances the quality of travel in the West Midlands to tackle climate change, reduce congestion and sustain economic growth and social inclusion.
This is why, within the resources we have, we are doing so much to achieve this, working on important transport projects, such as the New Street redevelopment, improved rail services, the Metro extensions and new bus interchanges.
Finally, your readers will be interested to know, as the report acknowledged, that there is a much higher level of public subsidy into the transport system in London – £3 billion per year compared to £200 million in the West Midlands.
If we had a fairer allocation of government funding of course we could do more to deliver the world-class public transport system the West Midlands needs and deserves coupled with the thousands of new jobs and economic growth this would bring about.
Geoff Inskip, Chief Executive