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Fury over pool

I WOULD like to express my continual disgust at the farce which is Solihull Leisure Centre.

I WOULD like to express my continual disgust at the farce which is Solihull Leisure Centre.

Am I wrong in thinking that land from a public park was destroyed to provided ‘state-of-the-art’ services for the use of the public? It seems no.

Not only is the pool closed on Saturday mornings for private swimming lessons but when I took my four-year-old girl on Sunday, March 29 I was informed that the pool was again closed for a private function.

How much more contempt can the council show towards ratepayers? To destroy an area of parkland and then deny the public use of these facilities at peak times is disgusting.

E Whitehill, Widney Road

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A fat pay rise

I WOULD take issue with some of the comments by Ross Crawford on councillors’ pay (View point, March 27). I too recall those committee meetings we councillors sat through and the long council meetings debating and amending decisions, sometimes into the early hours. But it’s simply not like that any more.

Under the cabinet system, except for planning, all decisions are made by a single cabinet member (councillor) with two opposition representatives allowed to comment but not vote. Meetings are fairly short.

Full council meetings are now formal, receive Cabinet reports, are able to change nothing and councillors, having been provided with a cooked tea, will with luck be home in time for the Archers.

Most councillors are excluded from decision making and have little or no responsibility under the present Cabinet system which is deplorable.

We are simply saying that in the present difficult circumstances councillors’ pay should be linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) and where council tax is increased by more than this it should be a major factor in deciding the level of pay and there should be no reward for failure.

Currently RPI is zero and likely to fall and council tax is up 4.5 per cent while councillors’ own basic pay is to up seven per cent. Ratepayers have taken this up with the Independent Councillors Remuneration Panel whose job it is to recommend the level of pay and we believe this is rightly a matter of public interest.

Trevor Eames, secretary, Solihull Ratepayers’ Association

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Link it to prices

I HAVE just read your article advocating an increase of council members’ allowances from £7,000 to £7,500pa.

If you look at the published figures for 2006/7 you will see the basic allowance was £6,613 and on top of that 34 of the 53 members then received special responsibility allowances and 23 claimed travel allowances on top of that. Therefore if you average out the total allowances for that period between the 53 members, that comes to around £8,500/£9,000 per member.

Paying more I would suggest will not attract younger people, they are much too busy enjoying themselves and hopefully you don’t want professional politicians as we have 600 plus of them in Westminster and just look where we are. For once Mr Eames is right that any increases should be related to the Retail Price Index.

Malcolm Brumwell, via e-mail

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Nothing wrong

SO once again we see a Cabinet Minister claiming £60,000 housing allowance when he lives just three miles away from the Commons, but “I’ve done nothing wrong” comes the shout, and of course in the bizarre self-serving parliamentary rules Mr McNaughty hasn’t.

It really is an insult to the people that are being forced to sign on by government’s mismanagement of the economy that our ministers are filling their pockets with an immoral loophole that allows them to pilfer the public purse.

ST Vaughan, Glastonbury Road, Yardley Wood

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A fair argument

TO claim that Lorely Burt MP is equating legitimate concerns over immigration to Nazism is not only to miss the point, but is also a clear straw man argument.

In the article, Burt does not once make reference to legitimate arguments contrary to immigration policy, but rather argues against those that are illegitimate.

In this case, she attacks the view that immigration is wrong because those of different ethnicities or nationalities are ‘not like us’. This ‘not us’ argument was used to justify Nazi atrocities, as it has been in many countries under many regimes, and therefore the link between this view being expressed by a constituent and Nazi policy was not a tenuous one for Mrs Burt to draw. It was an argument from historical precedent; an admonition of what these attitudes have in the past been used to support.

Also to criticise her for supposedly ‘assuming that her elderly lady caller was a racist’ is slightly unjust. Given the circumstances (a constituent had expressed concerns over immigration because the immigrants were ‘not like us’ and didn’t want to express this in front of a ‘not us’ colleague) it seems perfectly justifiable to conclude that this lady had some clear prejudices.

The objections to her article seem to say more about the prejudices that the general public hold towards the perceived attitudes of MPs towards the subject of immigration than they do about her argument.

Joel Butler, Olton

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Overpopulated

LIKE the elderly lady mentioned by Lorely Burt (March 20) there are many people who resent the growing influx of immigrants into this already grossly overpopulated country and the growth of the migrant industry that accompanies it: the translators, the interpreters and other aid workers, all funded by our state through the taxes paid by us.

Witness the activity outside the Hotel Sangatte, opposite Solihull Police Station every day. Witness the disruption in the schools where many of the children, not speaking English, need to have special arrangements made for them at our expense.

We want to protect what is ours, and has been ours for many generations.

Eddie Martin, via e-mail

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Feeding extremism

REGARDING Lorely Burt’s article ‘In difficult times. . .’ (Letters, March 20). The elderly lady is right to be concerned. Immigrants are queuing up to come into this country which is already stretched trying to accommodate too many in too short a time.

The objection is not immigrants but their number. No wonder that usually tolerant voters are using right wing parties as a means of registering their disgust with Parliament.

My father (the Great War) and myself (World War II) offered life and limb to help prevent our country from being overrun and taken over by foreigners.

John Humphreys, Rushleigh Road, Shirley

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Grasp the nettle

I REFER to Lorely Burt’s article ‘In difficult times there will always be the scapegoats of society to blame’ (March 20).

I was appalled by the treatment of the elderly lady who was concerned about immigration. Every day in the media we hear of problems concerning immigrants.

There is widespread concern about immigration and the effect it is having on our resources.Ms Burt’s attitude to her elderly consistuent stems from her failure to grasp the nettle that is immigration. Such timidity and irresolution is in danger of furthering support for extreme right wing views.

I voted Liberal Democrat at the last election but I shall not do so next time.

Dr A Mutchell, Miall Park Road, Solihull

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Crying foul

ON Tuesday, March 31 my son had a concert so we left for school earlier than normal. We entered the Hazeloak to Velsheda alley at 8.30am.

I witnessed a dog on a lead defecate right next to the dog fouling sign and bin. Its owner left the two piles of sloppy excrement on the ground and carried on.

I called her back and asked her to clear it up. She said that she didn’t notice and that her dog had got ‘the runs’. I said that I did notice. She picked up one dollop of excrement and left a second dollop behind.

The woman was white, late 30s, average height/build with blonde hair tied back.

Her dog was about 10 inches tall with a shaggy white coat and looked like a Bichon Frise.

A man who was walking behind me saw what happened and is happy to help identify her. I was also fully armed with camera/video equipment.

These people should receive heavy fines.

Name and address supplied

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Swim together

AS a life-long New Labour supporter I know Lorely Burt and Caroline Spelman are top class constituency MPs. Similarly most councillors do a really good dedicated job.

Whilst praising our Labour councillors, being fair, I must admit that up until now our two Labour parliamentary candidates for the borough seem conspicuous by their absence in public.

I realise we can not win the two Solihull seats, but they should put up a believable positive fight, supporting our excellent Labour MEPs in a difficult but important European election this May.

The UK has more influence ‘in’ rather than ‘out’ so we must reject ‘Little Englander’ UKIP and the extremist BNP. In this global world we all swim together or foolishly sink alone.

Don Bargery, Solihull

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Bus fiasco

ON March 13 a letter from Chris Perry, Head of Operational Services at Centro, was published in the Solihull News. He argued that the new service S2 and S3 were an improvement on those previously in the Knowle, Bentley Heath and Dorridge areas. He obviously does not have any first hand knowledge of the present situation.

The replacements do not cover the same routes as the 40A and 40C, nor are they as punctual. How could they be when the new routes are much longer and are therefore more susceptible to traffic delays?

Since the changes, the bus shelter at the corner of Poplar Road is crowded with customers waiting for the S2 or S3. Both are invariably late. Whilst they wait, buses 37 and 6 pass frequently, and mostly have few passengers.

As for the argument that the 40 routes were not yielding large profits, this seems irrelevant. Yes, a lot of the passengers were senior citizens, but these are the people who have helped to make Solihull the success it is today. They are not ‘freeloaders’.

A further consideration is that a convenient bus service persuades people to leave cars at home and thereby decreases traffic congestion and the need for parking spaces.

I hope that Mr Perry’s promised ‘amendments’ are well thought out and carefully scrutinised by Solihull Council’s Joint Transport Policy Team (who I hope will protect our interests) before they are implemented.

B Jones, Knowle

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No passport

I FEEL I must reply to P Thomas’s letter (March 20) regarding his/her friend going to hell because they were not a Christian. So, everyone who lived before Christ is now in hell? What utter nonsense!

Christ was a Jew. Christianity began when he died on the cross and his followers were then called Christians. I am a Christian but that is not a passport to paradise.

Some of the nicest and good people I know do not profess to be of any faith. Surely it is how you live your life that matters, not what religion you belong to.

M Ryan, Chelmsley Lane, Marston Green

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Service please!

I LIVE in a Band D property so I ask, has Coun Gary Allport been absent or asleep for two years because March 2007 was when my council tax bill was £1,049.66, excluding the fire service and police? The £1,099 he forecasts for next year was March 2008.

As for providing good services, I have cleared from the footpath broken glass, fish and chips, autumn leaves and general rubbish, but I refuse to clean up other people’s dogs’ dirt. I have complained, with no response, that the footpaths never get swept.

I visit a friend in Hall Green and see workmen picking up litter. This friend also lives in a Band D property and pays less council tax.

If Coun Allport is correct are thousands of us due for a huge rebate?

Mrs J O’Grady, Haslucks Green Road, Shirley

Councillor Allport apologised for his error last week - ed

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Turn it off

MAY I suggest that Jenny Morgan learns some manners (Tesco fishmonger, Letters). Fancy expecting to be served in Tesco whilst talking on a mobile phone and then having the audacity to report the assistant for not serving her. Turn your mobile off whilst shopping. Your rude and ignorant behaviour is not acceptable.

Mrs C Dale, Lyndon Road, Solihull

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Bad manners

WITH reference to Jenny Morgan using her phone in Tesco. Of course it is bad mannered to use a mobile phone while being served.

Mr and Mrs E Lyon, Marsh Lane, Solihull

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Pay attention

THE recent issue of the Tesco fish counter assistant and the customer on her mobile phone reminds me of one instance last week at a greengrocer’s shop in Shirley.

The girl on the till was constantly talking while serving the people in front of me, to another girl who was arranging things just outside on the pavement. When it was my turn to be served she just held her hand out for my money without looking at me and carried on talking.

I told her that I was sorry to interrupt their conversation by wishing to make a purchase, she said that she was serving me, so what! I then pointed out to her how impolite it was for them to carry on with their conversation whilst serving customers.

Only when I had her attention did I give her the money for my purchase.

AH, Shirley

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Two way thing

IN answer to your question about talking on mobile phones when shopping, all the staff where I work find it very rude as the customer is not listening to us when they are talking on the phone. Customers don’t like it when staff are talking to each other or talking on the shop phone and not giving their full attention to them, so it does work both ways.

Mrs F Hart, Solihull

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Good old days

I KNOW you have had an overwhelming response in favour of the fishmonger but I must reply to Mrs Irene Agg, the dissenting voice.

I too had 50 years in men’s clothing retail, from 1945 onwards, and during that time pipe smoking was quite fashionable, but from a shop assistant’s point of view nothing was more annoying than trying to find out what your customer required through a cloud of smoke with a pipe in their mouth, and now lo and behold the mobile phone is now the modern day pipe.

It would have been more than my job was worth to have said what our friend the fishmonger said. But times change, in this case for the better.

I’m sure Mrs Irene Agg must have bitten her tongue as I did on many countless occasions.

Mr D Smith, Coton Grove, Shirley

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What a cheek

WHAT good news that the Solihull Ratepayers’ Association and the Taxpayers’ Alliance have teamed up. Perhaps this will mean that taxpayers will receive a fairer deal and give Solihull people more say in the way affairs are run.

It is unacceptable that council taxes rise every year and it just a matter of by how much, regardless of the state of the economy. Why are they being raised by 4.5 per cent this year when the country is in recession? In the present climate how can councillors possibly have the brass neck to increase their own pay? There are no pay rises for pensioners or the jobless?

Wendy Parker, Acheson Road, Shirley

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Money first

I DO wonder why the money God is so much more popular than the God Almighty. I do wonder why so many are born with nothing and have nothing all through life, and so many have everything and due to their lust, greed and stupidity they lose everything. I do wonder why when giving to a large charity it is rather like using a sat nav. So often it doesn’t get to where it should be going.

Ray Dyke, Leafield Road, Solihull

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Well done to council

I BELIEVE all residents of Acheson Road, Shirley would join me in giving a big thank you to Solihull Borough Council and all the people who worked so hard giving our road a rejuvenating facelift.

With brand new, smooth road surface, tidy kerbs and green grass carpets around the trees, Acheson Road now looks clean and cheerful, ready to greet the freshness of spring. What a great idea this was!

Ralitza Gilbert, Acheson Road, Shirley

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No place for SATS

THE Primary schools SATs league tables have just been produced and parents are anxiously looking to check their school is getting high scores. But teaching children to pass tests is not the right model for education.

This ‘Big Brother’ presence in the classroom has narrowed the curriculum and turned teachers into stressed target chasers and children into passive recipients of lessons geared to maximising SAT results and the school’s league table position.

The Green Party would abolish SATs and devolve more control to schools over curriculum and policy, in order to let teachers teach, and help children learn. That is surely preferable to the stressful cramming that is poorly understood and quickly forgotten, as a result of ‘teaching to the test’.

Felicity Norman, Green Party European Election Candidate

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Join our day of action

HERE in Solihull, the Solihull Pensioners’ Convention is ‘Making a Stand for a Decent State Pension’ on Pensions Action Day, April 6 2009.

After 100 years of the state pension, Britain still has at least one in four older people living below the official poverty line, and millions struggling with the rising cost of living, high fuel bills and an increase in council tax.

This is why members of SPC will be peacefully protesting on April 6 at 11am outside the SMBC Chamber Offices. Councillor Bob Sleigh, the ‘pensioner champion’, has agreed to listen to us .

The Government has found, at short notice, £3billion to bail out gamblers (bankers), has known for years of extremely wealthy non doms’ and bankers’ use of tax havens and has condoned the practice. Woe betide the poorer citizen who evades tax!

So why over all the years of New Labour have the pensioners been denied a decent pension? The money has been there!

We invite all Solihull pensioners to join the protest on Pensions Action Day.

Josie Herbert, chairman, SPC

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Path clean up

MAY I respond to your correspondent ‘Bemused Monkspath resident’? (Letters).

My colleague Councillor Martin McCarthy and I have spent some time on the monks path arranging for dangerous slippy areas to be repaired. Hedgerows adjacent to Frankholmes have been cut back as well as litter clearance.

The Youth Offending Team is arranging a litter pick and cut back of over hanging foliage around the Horton Grove area at the rear of Tesco’s together with a fence repair to stop unofficial cutting through of the site which is causing damage and litter in the area.

Litter and dog bins are being emptied daily and repaired quickly when any damage occurs.

The police and Tesco at Monkspath are working together with neighbourhood management to tackle some of the problems affecting the Tesco site. Interventions may include a surgery being held at Tesco.

May I say I appreciate Ross Crawford’s supportive comments on the level of allowance to councillors? (View point).

Even more so I echo the request for younger councillors to come forward. Several years ago when I myself retired from public service, I first became a councillor for Shirley East, before five years ago joining the new Blythe Ward in 2004. So I give my age away.

In raising a new issue following the creation of four new parishes to replace the Hockley Heath Parish, may I call on younger residents to consider serving their area? Details are available from Solihull Council.

Coun Brian Burgess, Blythe Ward

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Dangerous driving

THE problem with personalised number plates is that they are easily remembered. There is one such a vehicle. ‘Undertaking’ and cutting up on the M42 roundabout Knowle-bound, using the motorway feeder lane is dangerous driving. As the driver in question uses this road regularly this was not accidental. I hope she cares more for Birmingham City than she does for other motorists who will always come off worse against her ‘tank’.

The surviving red Vectra

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Have faith

I WOULD like to respond to Mrs JM Greaves’ letter (March 20).

I was sorry to hear of the loss and trauma she has experienced concerning her husband and mother, and her obvious distress at world situations.

We can not blame God for what man does to man. I also have arthritis and have a great deal of pain each day.

He is right by my side giving me strength for each day. He also fills my life with joy and peace.

I hope that one day Mrs Greaves will be able to put her trust in the Lord and know the peace that only He can give.

JM Ashley, Shirley

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On the move

SINCE August last year we have had over £12,000 in grants from charitable trusts to buy new electric scooters and wheelchairs. Thanks to their generosity, our customers have been able to enjoy a smooth ride on brand new state-of-the-art vehicles.

We have had donations from The Bewley Charitable Trust, The Birmingham Mail Charity Trust, The Bryant Trust, CHK Charities, The Cole Charitable Trust, The Eveson Charitable Trust, The GJW Turner Trust, The Rowlands Trust and The Yorkshire & Clydesdale Bank Foundation.

David Williams, Solihull Shopmobility manager

 

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