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Close examination

The views expressed in the letter from Jean Shearman on the Planning Committee’s consideration of the Dorridge Sainsbury application (Letters) give a rather jaundiced account of what was described by several residents as an illustration of ‘democracy in action’.

The views expressed in the letter from Jean Shearman on the Planning Committee’s consideration of the Dorridge Sainsbury application (Letters) give a rather jaundiced account of what was described by several residents as an illustration of ‘democracy in action’.

Far from ‘capitulation’ members of the committee took great care in considering the very detailed report and listened attentively to presentations made both for and against the scheme.

Her pejorative description of ward councillors sitting on the fence does little justice to the months of work in discussing concerns with council officers, attending workshops and meetings with both DROVS and other groups opposed or supporting the revised scheme.

The fine balance was illustrated in the log of representations from constituents; divided almost 50/50 but with nearly all wanting a shopping facility to replace the Forest Court.

In our presentations we made clear that apart from store size, the main issues were around parking and traffic, matters addressed extensively in the report with its requirement for an approved Travel Plan.

This condition was not a sudden addition but councillors took the unusual step of insisting that the Plan comes to the full committee before the planning approval is signed off.

Either for or against, we all genuinely want a solution that brings life back to Dorridge centre whilst maintaining the distinct character that makes our area such an attractive and good place to live.

Ken Meeson, leader, Solihull Borough Council

Cart before horse

further to Jean Shearman’s letter calling on people to write to the planning committee to remind them of their responsibilities. On August 2 last year I submitted my response to Sainsbury’s planning application, and with regard to the traffic issues I commented as follows:

“The image of pavements crowded with school children and 38-tonne vehicles passing a couple of feet away from them, is the stuff of nightmares for parents and may be for planners too. Thus the traffic problems also throw up not only problems of safety, but, together with: air pollution (exhausts), noise pollution (engines) and light pollution (floodlights 24/7), Dorridge residents will wonder what they have done to deserve to have all this visited upon them. Surely it is out of proportion to any perceived gain?” A copy of my e-mail was sent to our MP and councillors, but unsurprisingly I suppose, I received no response from any one.

It makes me wonder why consent was given before a satisfactory traffic plan had been submitted.

Now, on an after-the-fact-basis, we understand there is to be one submitted for approval by the Planning Committee. But what if no satisfactory one can be devised, will the planning consent then be revoked? Will Arden Academy and Dorridge Infants and Junior schools be consulted about the traffic implications for their pupils before the plan is submitted?

Alex Erskine, Rodborough Road, Solihull

Handed in

I WOULD like to thank the very kind and honest lady who picked up my husband’s wallet which he dropped in Lodge Road in Knowle on Monday.

It was handed into Barclays Bank where our son just happened to be working. It’s nice to know there are still trustworthy people around.

Nicola Horobin, via Solihull

Bad example

I was shocked to read the advice given by someone from Solihull Council who after the concerned couple had made every effort to reunite the dog with its owner gave the advice to ‘find a quiet place and drop the dog off’ (Solihull News).

The person behind this piece of wisdom should be severely disciplined, because surely this is the procedure that callous animal dumpers adopt anyway? Those people who had not thought of dumping will now think that is fine to do so as it has backing from the council.

Fortunately all ended well in this instance, but it could have ended very differently.

Let’s hope sensible advice is given in any future instances regarding strays.

Mrs J Axtell, Solihull

No surprise

With reference to your front page articlereporting on the Solihull MBC out of hours service for stray dogs.

The story came as no surprise as we are aware that both Solihull and Birmingham are not providing an out of hours collection or attendance service.

Up to 2005, the police took responsibility for stray dogs.

New legislation took the service away from them and the budget was moved to all councils, with the intention of offering the general public a seamless service.

We are aware that local authorities across the country are operating differently and this has been acknowledged by Meriden MP Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department responsible for dealing with the stray situation in the UK.

Local authorities are operating a less than satisfactory service due to council cut backs and no overall standardisation of facilities.

Dogwatch UK would like to see the arrangements for handing in a found dog, at all hours, improved and then advertised so that people realise that the police are no longer responsible but the council is, which in turn takes the pressure off us as a charity.

DogwatchUK, Elmdon Lane, Marston Green

Vanity project

By the time these words are read, we’ll know whether the Government is to pour nearly a billion pounds into the planning of HS2.

The publicity from the pro HS2 lobby certainly had some bizarre elements.

Strange that the “one million new jobs” appears in places 100 miles from the line, and before HS2 is running!

As for the unions, they haven’t registered that HS2 is to be a segregated and non-unionised railway, and that if the trains have drivers at all, they’ll get a fraction of today’s rate.

Then we have the Network Rail report. Apparently the Government finds this highly influential, even though it came five months after the consultation closed, and the source has been highly supportive of HS2 from the start.

At least we can be indebted to Network Rail for detailing the full horror of the disruption; local and long distance trains will be stopped, delayed, or rerouted, and major sections of the road network will suffer the same fate.

All of this needs to be set against the background where the peak hour mainline trains are just 56 per cent full.

Overcrowding - more accurately, over-cramming - affects a few trains due to a lack of carriages, the fares policy, and some bottlenecks in the system.

The main bottleneck in this area is New Street station, which is to be restyled at a cost of half a billion pounds, but with no functional improvement.

Transport policy in this country is in chaos.

The rail system is a bottomless pit for public money, yet is used by only 12 per cent of us.

We should take note of the Dutch experience, whose high-speed line is losing £320,000 a day.

Before pumping £33 billion into the HS2 vanity construction project, the Government should decide what the problems are, then take a rational approach to solving them.

Richard Lloyd, chairman, Heart of England High Speed Railway Action Group (

A point of view

WHO is this Jesus P Thomas goes on about?

There was once a man who preached a point of view - no more than Cameron and others who would have us believe in their doctrines.

And how can anyone believe it was Jesus who was wrapped in the Turin Shroud when no-one can know how he looked?

In my opinion religion, like superstition is all a ‘big con’ that many believe in, while others have more sense.

Harry M Scharf, Solihull



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