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An Eton education

I HAVE a question which could be set on next year’s A-level business studies paper, prompted by the Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative Party conference:

I HAVE a question which could be set on next year’s A-level business studies paper, prompted by the Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative Party conference:

1 Discuss: which would you choose as an individual - a) stay at home on benefits all day, get up when you like, do what you like all day, don’t work a day in your life and earn £26,000 per annum or b) go out to work, slave all week, battle the rush hour, pay expensive travel costs, get up early and get home late and earn what George Osborne classes as an average family wage, £26,000 per annum.

Once you’ve answered that, then move on to the applied maths paper as set by the Chancellor and make a mathematical and economic case for a household where one person earning £44,000 loses Child Benefit but a household where two people each earn £43,000 (jointly £86,000) doesn’t.

If that’s an Eton education for you, as enjoyed by David Cameron and George Osborne, don’t think I’ll bother. Give me a good old comprehensive any day.

Rosemary Worsley, Bronte Farm Road

Shirley

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HS2 ‘just wrong’

YOUR correspondent H T Harvey perpetuates a number of errors in his support for the HS2 railway project (letters).

He describes the project as important and useful, because it addresses current overcrowding and saves a few minutes on the journey time.

However, the documents released by the Government include cheaper and less damaging alternatives. Current trains are already being lengthened to give a 50 per cent increase in capacity. We can have the benefit at a fraction of the cost and in easy stages, so we won’t have to wait 16 years.

Once built, HS2 would need a bigger taxpayer operating subsidy than current trains.

The sad truth is that HS2 is wrong.

The glossy blurb suggests there’ll be money to drive the line into the centres of our cities, but they’ve given up on that on the continent and in London, so don’t hold your breath.

HS2 is divisive. It will increase the disparity between North, Midlands, and South, will increase the inequality between business zone and the bulk population, and will cut the countryside and its wildlife in half.

When huge sums of public money are up for grabs, there’s no shortage of takers ready to do their bit “in the national interest”. Maybe Mr Harvey looks forward to the housing and resource pressure from 10000 new commuters. Most people don’t.

Richard Lloyd, chairman - Heart of England High Speed Railway Action Group ( www.hhag.org.uk )

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Facts, please

I WISH to respond to two letters in last week’s column. Firstly I can assure Mrs. Tyrrell that Solihull Council is committed to Every Disabled Child Matters as I am on the trustee board of the National Children’s Bureau that organised the campaign.

As a result, Solihull was one of the first local authorities to endorse the ECM Charter and we are making progress towards full compliance.

The letter from Councillor Tim Hodgson is of a totally different nature and once again displays his capacity for ignoring facts.

He knows full well that the original Heart of Shirley (now Parkgate) proposals were recommended by an all-party working group and the scheme subjected to one of the widest programmes of scrutiny, including independent public consultations, presentations to councillors, consideration by the Secretary of State and a Public Inquiry.

The scheme received planning approval and before the current scaling down revisions and revised development agreement were agreed they were discussed at an all-party briefing and question session on which his party was represented and able to express views. There was no opposition either then or at the subsequent cabinet meeting earlier this year.

It is true that under the council’s constitution votes at cabinet are restricted to the current administration. His leader was however able to make representations and of course the decision could have been called in by the Liberal Democrats or challenged through a motion to council, as my own group did over the flawed Lab/Lib cabinet decision on the Local Development Framework.

Tim has consistently opposed the Parkgate scheme since becoming a councillor, despite not living in Shirley or representing the ward in question. He is perfectly entitled to his own opinion but the public is also entitled to expect that he sticks to facts.

Ken Meeson – Leader of Conservative Group

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A compromise

REGARDING the debate raging about Parkgate, what I don’t understand is why we cannot incorporate the best of both arguments.

Yes the Powergen site and the brownfield site on the other side of Haslucks Green Road both desperately need thoughtful development to enhance Shirley high street. But the parkland definitely does not need to be encroached to achieve this.

We deserve a modern shopping centre with a strong local presence whilst preserving the treasured parkland and its habitats.

I believe the Parkgate scheme could deliver this with only a small amount of tweaking. Reduce the size of the overall development by five per cent so that the parkland can be saved and if the majority of this saving comes from the size of Asda this will benefit the local businesses and maintain healthy competition. (Have people seen the large Asda in Hay Mills and the traffic problems it causes – in a word – chaos!).

I’m sure a good designer could implement the small reduction in overall scheme size, maintain the current green shield (between shops/apartments and the park) and even incorporate the ‘ring of oaks’ as a feature of the development.

Simon, Shirley

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Helping hand

I AM delighted that Solihull Council has been able to confirm that Solihull taxpayers will not be paying for the new A45 to divert around the airport’s longer runway.

I do however feel for Birmingham taxpayers who are paying for it. I’m certain that Birmingham City Council wouldn’t treat every business so favourably.

What remains a concern is that Solihull’s ruling councillors in the Lib-Lab coalition have chosen to pay back the council’s shareholder dividends to subsidise the airport.

Subsidies at a time there are to be cuts to Solihull’s schools, social services and other frontline services are hard to justify.

If the airport is not making enough money to pay for its own expansion, could it be that the business case does not stack up?

Chris Williams

Solihull Green Party

 

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