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Safety is priority

Your recent articles regarding maternity services in Solihull call for a response that both outlines the true situation and reassures women in Solihull, particularly mothers-to-be and those thinking of pregnancy.

Your recent articles regarding maternity services in Solihull call for a response that both outlines the true situation and reassures women in Solihull, particularly mothers-to-be and those thinking of pregnancy.

The provision of a high quality, safe service for women throughout their pregnancy is paramount in what is commissioned and provided at Solihull Hospital.

Your stories, which say that maternity services are to be ‘slashed’, is misleading on many counts, not the least that women will not be able to receive care during their pregnancy in Solihull.

The configuration of maternity services in the West Midlands has been the subject of a great deal of work by obstetricians and midwives, and this work has led to an independent review of care during labour and delivery at Solihull Hospital. The review will give us a number of options that we shall need to consider for providing safe, high quality care during labour for women from Solihull and surrounding areas.

We will share the information from this expert review with local people, especially women and their families, and seek their views on how maternity services, fit for the 21st century, should be provided. This will include antenatal and postnatal care as well as care during labour and delivery.

Our motivation for reviewing local maternity services is not to make financial savings. Our considerations are excellent antenatal care, safe and appropriate delivery of the baby and quality care of mother, baby and the wider family after the birth.

Once we have the full report of the review we will ask users of our services and local people for their views. This will be done in a measured, sympathetic and responsible way and we will give everyone the chance to be involved. Until this process has been completed, services will continue as usual at Solihull maternity unit.

When we reach that stage in our considerations, we will ensure that local people are kept well-informed and encouraged to share their views.

Sally Burton

Chief Executive

Solihull NHS Care Trust

How much?

I have received a glossy 16-page newspaper this afternoon from the Solihull NHS Care Trust.

Just how much did this exercise cost? (The postage alone must have cost the trust a fortune.) How many days of the threatened maternity service could this money have financed? I believe we should be told.

G Lloyd

Knowle

Many thanks

We often read in this and other local papers complaints and misgivings about our local hospitals. I should like to put the record straight on the basis my recent 14 day admission to Heartlands for a major tummy operation, corrective not sinister, I hasten to add.

The treatment I had was second to none. A few days after surgery I threw a wobbly and ended up in ICU/HDU (Intensive Care Unit) for a couple of days. I was particularly impressed by the response. The crash team had me breathing normally again within minutes and my own surgical team were also immediately around and had me through the CT scanner without any delay to ensure that the problem was not associated with the surgery itself.

Once I got back to the ward and started to eat again I recovered quickly and found the food excellent and something to look forward to.

So congratulations and thanks to all staff in ward 12 and ICU/HDU you do a great job. Incidentally I am now rapidly getting back to normal and can take part in walks of several miles organised by my local rambling groups.

Roger D Edwards

Decision time

If it is an essential skill for budding politicians to avoid answering a straight question then Tim Hodgson deserves full marks.

His ability to duck and dive rather than face up to the choices around the regeneration of Shirley centre may be clever spin but hardly moves the debate forward.

For example he calls for something to be done about the former Territorial Army and Powergen sites and seeks to divert blame for the delay in development whilst ignoring the fact that both sites are integral features of the scheme he has consistently opposed.

Given that the Public Inquiry inspector concluded there is no viable alternative scheme to breathe new life into Shirley shopping area and that Asda will not vacate Powergen whilst matters are unresolved, the choice is clear.

Either proceed with investment in new shops, housing and park improvements that will free up the Powergen building for alternative use or abandon the scheme and allow Asda to build a superstore on its existing site as suggested by a previous correspondent.

Sorry Tim but it is decision time.

Ken Meeson

Leader of Council

Despite the current economic crisis, New Labour still plans to squander as much as £76bn on replacing the Trident missile system, weaponry recently described by one British field marshall and two generals as “completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently, or are likely to, face - particularly international terrorism”.

When even senior military figures point to its uselessness and renewal would weaken diplomatic attempts to halt nuclear proliferation, why is our government so determined to throw away billions preparing for a vision of war which belongs to another century? Every penny spent on this outdated madness is a penny we could be investing in a more stable present and a brighter future.

Steve Green

Solihull

I am pleased that David Jamieson, in his News column recently, agreed with my analysis that the European Union must deliver real benefits for citizens in job creation, science, technology, climate change and tackling third world poverty. But advances can be made in all these areas without the need for more centralised power in Brussels and more political integration. We want a reformed, open and flexible European Union, working together on the issues where cooperation is indispensable, but with no more centralised powers. In response to UKIP supporter Mr Nurcombe’s letter, also in the News last week, this is a clear and unambiguous policy. And, as the European Election vote showed, it is a sensible position that a large number of electors support.

That’s why Conservative MEPs are joining a new, centre right, non-federalist group of MEPs in the European Parliament. The European Conservatives and Reformists Group has been launched this week. With at least 55 MEPs, it is likely to be the fourth largest group in the new Parliament. The members of the group are mainstream centre right parties, including many with experience of Government. We shall continue to co-operate closely with our friends in other centre right parties where we have shared policy goals. But we will now be free to articulate our opposition to the centralising Lisbon Treaty and our support for the Treaty Referendum in Britain that was promised in the 2005 Labour Manifesto.

We are certainly not linking up with the “extreme fringes” and we will certainly not be in the same group as UKIP or the BNP.

Malcolm Harbour MEP

I have grown up all my life in the pleasent village of Hockley Heath. I am now 32 and have three children of my own.

Over recent years I watched Hockley Heath park become very run down and tired.

I am deeply saddened by this as I spent alot of my own childhood at the local park and I would like my children

to enjoy such local amenities in walking distance.

As a parent I now take my children to nearby village parks such as Dorridge and Knowle as the play areas they offer

are far superior to Hockley heath. I applaude the Council for the investment they have made to Dorridge Park, and the

park at Knowle is very unique and nice to walk around.

The residents of Hockley Heath deserve a park to equal standards as Knowle and Dorridge. The playarea at Hockley Heath is very dated

and even dangerous in my opinion. Having spoken to other parents in Hockley who use the park, agree and often to

travel to other parks aswell.

When will there be some investment into this recreational area? Before all the local residents begin to head further a field to take their children

to a better and safer playarea.

Graeme Smith

Hockley Heath Resident 32 years

Your front page story last week regarding “Award winning SCH in the dock” was certainly a ‘deja-vu’ moment for me. From my depressing experiences with Solihull Community Housing, their partners - The Anti-Social Behaviour Team, and both the Solihull and Birmingham Housing Benefits Office over the past ten months, the only award any of these departments deserve is a “National Procrastination Award”!

Over nothing more than a case of trespass by one of their council tenants (admitted eventually), a case concerning the Freedom of Information Act (still fighting them on this one) and a case of a Housing Benefit tenant absconding owing rent (they seem quite happy to condone and even encourage such behaviour) it is unbelievable that these three matters could create such a waste of ratepayer’s funds when with a modicum of common sense, coud have been settled in a matter of a week or so.

But, and I can understand if readers of this letter, who will surely all be ratepayers, find this almost impossible to believe, I have to date, over the past ten months generated around 67 letters, 30 emails, all of which required a reply, and countless phone calls. I have dealt with well over 20 different named Solihull Council employees in the process. There was also the matter of setting up a two stage complaints procedure, which involved a senior council employee having to interview several of the employees involved, followed by a two hour meeting with myself.

None of the above came close to any meaningful conclusion, and of course must have cost us poor ratepayers more money than I care to think about. (As an OAP I am now paying ONE THIRD of my state pension to Solihull Council - which is by any standard an absolute disgrace)

“Award winning SCH” - you must be joking! - More like “Not Fit For The Purpose”

Name and address supplied.

Hello there’ my name is mr D bailey ‘ I would like no know if you can help my family find our sons bicycle which was stolen on 9th july 2009 around the hours of 9am 4.30pm the area which the bicycle was stolen in is gardeners walk on the high street of solihull. The bike is a black carrera with yellow & white writing on the tyres. This bike was locked to a post out side maplins on the high street the police have been informed about this. The bicycle did have a security mark on it also the bike was worth £600 pounds can you help us thanks here is my number 07508003596 or 01217785670 mr bailey.

I WOULD like to congratulate Solihull Council on commissioning vibrant ‘street art’ to brighten up our lives and the thoroughfares of the district.

The council is obviously going through its yellow period - having had their representative (was it Banksie?) paint yellow lines to form large squares on the roads (I think to indicate where work/Tarmac is required) and then instructing road artists to come along and create very small oases of Tarmac, carefully avoiding the yellow lines and being sure not to disturb the areas of emerging greenery, cracks and ripples in the road surface.

The council tells me that the yellow art work is biodegradable, but I’m pleased to say that the lines are as fresh today as they were when painted back in January.

Well done Solihull Council, I can’t wait for your ‘purple patch’. What next? European Town of Culture?

I don’t know about art - but I know what I like - and I don’t like this!

CC, Knowle

HOW right the resident of Damson Wood is regarding Yew Tree Medical Centre.

What a shambolic state of affairs when trying to make an appointment. It’s a joke.

There seem to be one or two members of staff whose attitude should, we say, be more welcoming.

The medical side is excellent.

Buck up Yew Tree - you are well below par.

Hampton Lane resident

RECENTLY my husband was walking our dog when he came across an injured stray dog. We think he may have been hit by a car because he could hardly walk. We managed to get him to our house. Then the fun started!

We made the phone calls to the so-called animal charities, police, RSPCA, dog wardens, but there was either no reply or they didn’t want to know. We are pensioners and by this time we just didn’t know where to turn.

Then our neighbours gave us the number of Hollytrees Kennels in Packhorse Lane and our prayers were answered. We can not praise them enough, they were angels. They were there within ten minutes and even traced the dog’s distraught owner.

Considering this rescue trust is totally voluntary they deserve every penny that’s donated. These people are the true caring charity.

Mrs G Smith, Coton Grove, Shirley

I READ with interest your account about Sal di Silva who was billeted in Solihull during the war.

I was born in Solihull in 1924 and have lived here ever since. I have seen Solihull develop from a delightful little village into the town it is now. I well remember the Americans being stationed in Blossomfield Road, Solihull.

Regarding Dr Hill, he was one of the doctors at the group practice at Quinet House on the corner of Warwick Road and Lode Lane. I remember him well and I have a friend who owes her life to Dr Hill. The other doctors in the practice were Drs Burridge, Oswald, Craig and Blahill.

Dr Hill lived in Streetsbrook Road, on the right hand side going out of Solihull, near to the island where St Bernards Road crosses into Prospect Lane.

Mrs M Middiman, Castle Lane, Solihull

AS if to emphasise the need for the United Kingdom to remain part of the European Union while playing a constructive role, two significant events have taken place.

Firstly, the threat to British and Iranian staff employed at our Embassy in Tehran being put on retrial for alleged anti-government protests will clearly heighten tensions. Furthermore, Hossein Rassam, the British Embassy’s chief political analyst, is still in custody and is expected to stand trial. While the moderate candidate in the recent election, Mir Hossein Mousay, faces the prospect of a trial, it should be borne in mind that on July 3 2009 it was the European Union that summoned all Iranian Ambassadors to its 27 member states to receive formal protests over the threat to try the employees.

Secondly, indeed there are other developments such as the proposed oil pipeline that could create £10 billion when it is hoped it will ship gas and oil across the Sahara desert to Europe - according to the Nigerian national oil company via Algeria, Nigeria and Niger Republic.

The plan comes at a time when Russia is attempting to apply pressure on price and availability and it would be prudent for the European Union to secure alternative supplies as well.

While there are those who vehemently detest Europe, is it not time they approached this importance with both candour and pragmatism.

Graham Rea, Queens Road, Yardley

AT the moment with all the various strains of flu and viruses around, we are being told to wash our hands and attend to hygiene to help stop the spread of swine flu. So why do most shop assistants lick their fingers or blow into plastic bags to open them? Surely a most unhygienic thing to do. Why can’t they use a wet sponge on the counter when they serve you? Even without the current flu outbreak, I do hate to see this done.

Name and address supplied

I AM writing to place on record the sincere congratulations of Fordbridge Town Council and the people of Fordbridge to Ann Conway (the lollipop lady featured in last week’s edition) on hearing the fantastic news of her being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

This honour is a magnificent and well deserved reward for years of dedicated service to the local community. It is particularly heart-warming and appropriate to see recognition given to such a well known and visible person from this area, who performs such an important but often under-valued role to help so many people.

Neil Millard, Clerk to the Council, Fordbridge Town Council

ON June 9 my son went on a school trip to Dunfield House with some of his friends and three teachers, Mrs Rogers, Miss Reed and Mrs Vincent, all from Chapelfields School.

I went to pick him up from there on June 12 and found out what a fantastic time he had on the trip.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone involved and to say how proud of him I am and of the school he goes to, and what a credit the teachers are to the school.

Denise Goldingay, Wells Road, Solihull

THE solution to car clamping is make it illegal if they can ban it in Scotland why can’t we ban it in england, after all most of our cabinet is Scottish and most of their seats in scotland so why is it, that Scottish MPs see fit to exempt Scots from this outrageous piracy but see it as all right to be inflicted on the English, after seeing the peers of the realm changing laws to suit lobbyists you have to wonder could our MPs and peers have more than a passing interest in car clamping.

ST Vaughan, Glastonbury Road, Yardley Wood

ON June 22 a number of residents of Henley and Rowlands Crescent and nearby residences attended a public hearing at the council offices in Solihull.

We were campaigning for rejection of a planning licence for a large catering trailer to be sited near our homes. This is the type of vehicle normally seen in laybys on A roads. It was quite unsuitable for residential estates. Fortunately the planning committee agreed with us.

We would like to thank our local councillors who spoke knowledgably on our behalf.

On June 1 a small supermarket opened in Henley Crescent. This is exactly what was needed. It is attractive and well stocked. The proprietors are pleasant, welcoming people. If they are to have a successful business it is up to all local residents to support them. If the majority of local householders spent even a small sum there on a weekly basis, it might ensure its survival. We must realise that the local shop can not compete with the large supermarkets.

HDW, Henley Crescent, Solihull

ACCORDING to your regular Bible-thumping correspondent P Thomas, we are all doomed to spend our after-life consumed by the flames of Hell. I would like to reassure him that I think we will be OK, as the amount of evidence supporting the theory of evolution is far stronger than a superstitious belief in mythical things like virgin birth, Noah’s Ark, and people living to 900.

Such beliefs should be filed away in the archives along with Greek, Roman and all the other mythologies, and labelled Christian Mythology.

So readers of the Solihull News, put away your asbestos suits - there’s nothing to worry about!

John Smith, Stratford Road, Hall Green

IN reply to Miss Seinman (letters, June 12). As a 70-year-old pensioner who does not wear Jack boots or has never been in any Panzer Divisions, I would like to make it known that I vote BNP for a number of reasons. Like 50 million other people in this country I would like to see capital punishment brought back, and also conscription, and I would like to see us pull out of Europe, rip up the Human Rights Bill and bring the troops back from Afghanistan. Then we might be able to put the word great back into Great Britain. I nearly forgot immigration, just like Labour, Liberals and Conservatives who are trying to resist entry into Britain. The BNP would like to go one step further and stop it for the next five years while we sort out the mess we are in now. So Miss Seinman, stop watching the History Channel, find other schools books to read and move to this century.

LR Checkett, Lighthorne Road, Solihull

WHILE the Solihull News is an extremely respected newspaper, nevertheless I’m pretty certain that the letter from Betty Tanner (June 12) is perhaps unique. Of course your correspondent is as entitled to her views as anyone else, but she commences the second paragraph of her missive “in actual fact we are not in Europe.”

Yet does this criteria also apply to other nation states that are mainly situated on the periphery of our continent such as Switzerland or Norway? And what about those nations like Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova who hope that one day they will be free to join the European Union?

While Betty Tanner refers to the EU in such apocalyptic terms, it is significant that apart from Greenland (also colonial protective of Denmark), no member state has yet demanded the exit and while I’m no expert on ‘cataclysms’, it would be equally absurd to get rid of the English Channel Tunnel if we are sincere about creating new jobs and increasing Britain’s influence in the modern world.

Your correspondent evidently bases her case on a trauma that occurred centuries ago but that does not invalidate our relations with Romans, the Normans, the Scots, the Norsemen etc with whom we had mixed relations.

Today the European Union is the world’s largest economic trading block yet there are other vital reasons why Britain should not only maintain membership but play a more positive role, because once the world recession ends the United States, Brazil, India, China, Japan and the EU will recover, but if Britain jumps ship then there is the danger of the UK becoming vulnerable and isolated.

Graham Rea, Queens Road, Yardley

I’M ready to complain when it is justified, but I believe it is equally important to praise good friendly service. Thus I’m delighted with AM Mobility, 769 Old Lode Lane (Freephone 0500 702 700) who have just supplied me with a replacement top quality, virtually unused second-hand, full size four-wheel battery scooter, saving me at least £1,000.

When my old one (supplied at a high price by a rogue trader) broke down, AM bosses Alan, Steve and Maggie James immediately came to my aid, enabling me to quickly regain mobility, instead of being housebound. They gave me valuable unbiased advice, so I can confidently recommend them to any potential future purchaser of a collapsible scooter.

I also thank Solihull Mobility Centre, who hire out scooters daily to invalids at a very reasonable price and put me in touch with AM. Also neighbours who kindly helped me when I broke down restored my belief that there are still many good Samaritans.

Don Bargery, Solihull

FOLLOWING a national newspaper report of a kitten giving a painful scratch to a postwoman’s hand, as a postman myself for 33 years, though now retired, I wish to take this opportunity to support all those who have to get up for an early dawn start in order to deliver, in all weathers, all year round, to the likes of Mr K Ridge of Clapham, SW London, the owner of the kitten, who seems to think that his hurt feelings are more of a consequence than the postwoman’s hand. She would have had no choice but to have reported this incident which would be logged in the accident book should it become necessary for her to take time off work.

It would be no laughing matter to the postwoman, who would not only have been in pain from the deep bloody scratches but would have possibly suffered this to the end of her delivery. It’s not so funny when you have been bitten and you try not to get blood all over the letters. Though I did once wipe blood down the door of a lady who acted as though it was my fault when I suggested that she put a cage on the door, after her dog had bitten me as I put her post through the letter box.

I came up against all kinds of creatures and having made friends with many dogs on my rounds, even after being bitten by them, I found that, contrary to popular belief, the dog was not the only hazard, apart from ‘snappy’ letter boxes.

I’ve had numerous anti-tetanus and booster jabs and could fill your newspaper with encounters of having to fend off ferocious dogs. I’ve also had an insect bite, which caused me to be off sick with an allergic reaction, and the most embarrassing incident was when I too was attacked by a cat which had leapt at me as I entered a block of flats and hung onto my thumb with its teeth and claws and would only let go after I shook and hit it. So I know from experience just how an innocent looking feline can turn into a ferocious ‘little tiger’.

As an act of contrition, Mr Ridge should apologise to the postwoman, fit a cage to his door and be grateful not to have to collect his mail from his local post office, assuming it hasn’t been closed under the cost-cutting of New Labour, something the ‘Old Labour’ we knew would not have been guilty of.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many people who appreciate their postmen/women and the job they have to do, even if it means having bills dropping through their letterbox, and I write this as tribute to their friendliness which, on many a day, put a spring in my step as I plodded on my round.

Wal Baglin, Castle Bromwich

REGARDING the resurfacing works that took place around the bypass area on June 20 and 21 - what a fiasco!

I queued and queued on Saturday morning when travelling in to Solihull from my home. The queue from the town centre stretched across the motorway and way back through Knowle.

Why were we, the ratepayers, not notified of this work? Why was it done on a Saturday at 9am, just when everyone is going in to Solihull town centre to either work or shop? Why was the road closed? Surely they have to issue some form of notice for this. Why was the machinery parked doing nothing when we were all stuck in traffic? Surely they could have let us through the slip road up to the park. Why weren’t the traffic lights changed at Hampton Lane and the bypass junction to let all the extra traffic through?

Someone, somewhere, possibly Solihull Council, was not doing their job yet again. Why oh why do they keep letting themselves down?

Mr J Whatts, Station Road, Knowle

WITH reference to the letter from Sybil Atkins, I can also recall US soldiers in Solihull. At that time I attended St Alphege C of E school. Some of the soldiers were billeted at the George Hotel opposite the school. After school when we saw the soldiers we would say to them: “Got any gum, chum?”

My mother and father, William and Edith Webb were caretakers of the two Methodist churches in Station Road. The first church, known locally as the Old Chapel, was used by the soldiers as a recreation hall where they could play table tennis, cards etc.

I sometimes went with my mother when she went there to make tea for them. There was a canteen where they could get chocolate, cigarettes, coffee and even doughnuts, which were sent to them from America. As it was war time I had never seen so many luxuries.

Jean Alder, Lode Lane, Solihull

LAST week’s newspapers carried several letters from the committee of Balsall Common Village Residents’ Association, all favouring the proposed health centre on the edge of the village. I accept their views are sincerely held, but regret they feel it necessary to bolster their arguments with personal remarks. My earlier letter to the newspapers was written as the chairman of Berkswell Parish Council, and was a report on the facts and opinions expressed at the open meeting we had held. I see no substantial errors in the published versions of the letter or in the various statements attributed to me as quotations.

Berkswell parish is one of the largest administrative areas served by the existing surgery, covering a large part of Balsall Common as well as Berkswell village, smaller settlements, and isolated dwellings. The Parish Council aims to act in the best interests of our residents, taken as a whole, based on the information and opinions we receive. The very thorough Village Plan survey showed little difference in views across the Balsall/Berkswell boundary, indeed, why should there be? We all know what the Care Trust has now admitted that health care is inadequate and under-funded. And the great majority want services in the centre of the village.

The statements from BCVRA and others foster the illusion the Care Trust has a pile of money to spend. It doesn’t - the capital cost is to be borrowed by the developer on the strength of promises by the Care Trust to pay higher fees in two years time. At a later date, an enquiry into the commercial arrangements between the various parties might illuminate why a green field site is so strongly favoured. My recommendation to BCVRA would be to support those trying to get the village centre regenerated. The Village Plan Medical Topics Group could also contribute by carrying out their intended survey of patients’ preferences on site location and hours of opening. Even a modest increase in hours would reduce the space required and make it easier to find a more suitable location.

Besides these strategic issues, the Parish Council is quite properly concerned by the impact on neighbours of any large development. Few people want a tin-roofed carbuncle against their back fence, and few want one next to a Grade 2 listed building.

Richard Lloyd, chairman, Berkswell Parish Council

I HAVE just written to the new Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham MP demanding a total ban on cigarette vending machines.

We don’t allow alcohol, fireworks, knives or other age restricted products to be sold from vending machines because we know a face-to-face transaction is the best way to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.

Cigarettes should be no different. We need to tackle this anomaly which allows children an easy way get hold of cigarettes and damage their health.

The Health Bill, currently going through Parliament, includes further restrictions on cigarette vending machines but stops short of a full ban.

I urge you to support this campaign and visit www.bhf.org.uk/outoforder where you can let the Government know they must prevent children picking up an addiction that threatens their future health.

Richard Baker, Berberry Close, Bournville

I WOULD like to offer my congratulations to the Friends of Knowle Park for organising yet another an excellent Knowle Festival. I hope I speak for the whole of Knowle.

Their voluntary efforts made it possible for many organisations to raise much needed cash in these times of economic hardship. This will help their charitable work.

At the same time it helped to develop a sense of community in our village. It was pleasing to see such a large crowd of people enjoying themselves.

It takes many hours of preparation before the event to ensure that things run smoothly on the day so that crowds can enjoy themselves.

Hopefully the Friends of Knowle Park will crown this year’s success with another next year.

They are dedicated to preserving our park for the benefit of all Knowle residents of all ages and deserve our support for their unpaid efforts.

Once again congratulations.

Jeff Potts, Langfield Road, Knowle

AT last the public’s honeymoon with the wheelie bin is over, and these ugly green monsters have been unmasked for what they really are. They are not the answer to household waste and they have blighted neighbourhoods. providing ladders for burglars and being an arsonist’s friend, and worst of all they are not fit for purpose. The old and the disabled can’t move them, they are breeding in numbers as councils want them as recycling receptacles as well. So it’s bad enough having one but the master plan is you will have three micro-chipped wheelie bins covering your drive.

ST Vaughan, Glastonbury Road, Yardley Wood

I WAS born in Solihull on April 25 1979. My birth mother was called Patricia Canning (her surname is now Swain). She originally called me Martin but immediately gave me up for adoption. She was 17 when she fell pregnant but was 18 by the time I was born.

I have since located my birth mother in Melbourne, Australia (she moved there within two years of having me with a man called Victor Swain) and she has told me that my birth father is David Evans and that he had an interest in Birmingham Speedway. They would have met or known each other around July/August 1978 and I can only assume my birth parents are approximately the same age, which would place them around 47-50 years old.

My birth records show little to no detail about my birth father, nor do my adoption records. I wonder if any of your readers could help me find him. My home telephone number is 01604 766491 and my mobile number is 07828 428759.

James Bretherton, via e-mail

I WOULD like to express my sincere congratulations to all those involved in arranging and helping out at Kingshurst Parish Council’s Fun Day.

The day was a great success and it was a pleasure to see the Mayor and Mayoress of Solihull having a good time. The day was a great success, thank you very much.

Coun Debbie Evans, Kingshurst and Fordbridge Ward

I WOULD like to say a massive thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who support the children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent.

In the West Midlands alone we have more than 380 volunteers who offer their spare time to help children and young people with cancer and their families. Our supporters range in age from approximately eight to 80 and lend a hand in a variety of ways from selling programmes and taking part in the annual Midlands Hospitals Choir Christmas Celebration at the Symphony Hall, to organising a bingo night in or setting up a car boot sale in. Whether they are able to offer the occasional hour or several days, by giving up their time they are helping to make a real difference to families whose lives have been turned upside down by childhood cancer.

Sadly, every day ten families are told the devastating news that their child has cancer. CLIC Sargent is the only charity offering them care and support, every step of the way. Locally, the charity provides four social workers, one young person’s social worker, one youth development worker and one nurse based in Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

If you’ve got a couple of hours to spare and you would like to make them count, why not join CLIC Sargent as a volunteer. For more information visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/volunteering.

Thank you to everybody who has given up their time to support us – your help is really appreciated!

Lindsay Manning, CLIC Sargent community fund raising manager, Henley-in-Arden

I WAS interested in your mention of early flying at Birmingham Airport. In about 1949 it was possible to pay for trips of about 15 minutes around the area in a De Havilland Dragon Rapide Bi-plane. The photograph shows me, my little brother and my mom before our flight.

Note that I, the elder, am looking somewhat pensive and suspicious, and maybe nervous whereas my brother looks more outgoing and self-confident. These were traits we took into adult life which perhaps explains why I, in old age, am in sheltered accommodation in Knowle whereas he lives in business retirement in some style, in Devon.

Mom, who died only last year in her 90s, had one cheerful complaint - that we did not fly over one of the large houses where she was in service in her youth. It would have been nice to look down on them. Oh halcyon days.

Rob Brooke, Wilsons Road, Knowle

WE were concerned to read the letter headed ‘Agency cash’ in which Sandra Troman asks whether any percentage of money given in street collections (and particularly in our case with house-to-house collections) is retained by a collecting agency.

Whilst we can not speak for Air Ambulance we can assure Mrs Troman that all money collected for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution is banked promptly in a central bank account maintained with HSBC Bank at Poole where our head office is situated. All pre-sealed boxes are opened under dual control and all collectors (members of our branch) are notified of the amount of the entire contents of their boxes.

As a branch, we have only recently completed our annual house-to-house collection which provided a total of £7,983.

The RNLI’s ongoing thesis is that it operates with volunteers. With isolated exceptions, the crews who take our lifeboats to sea are not paid. Moreover, we feel confident in saying that those of us who work in fund raising branches never pluck up courage to work out how much it costs us personally to do so. If Mrs Troman would like further information we would be happy to meet her.

Peter Hunt (chairman), Stephen Power (hon treasurer) and Robert Wooldridge (past chairman), RNLI Knowle & Dorridge Branch

I COULD not agree more with Stephanie Hemmings (letters, June 5). Whilst it’s obvious that people with physical disabilities need to park near supermarket entrances, I can not understand why the same privilege is also extended to parents of young children. Wider bays, yes, preferential parking certainly not. In fact, if their offspring had to walk from the farthest corner of the car park, maybe we’d see a reduction in adolescent obesity.

Zoe Seinman, Richmond Road, Solihull

I AM writing on behalf of the Meningitis Trust to thank Angela Cloke from Solihull for organising a hugely successful Coffee Break for us, which raised £1,831.13!

This money will make a big difference to the lives of people living with the impact of meningitis in the UK right now. As we are reliant on voluntary donations to continue our work, events like Coffee Break and the generosity of people like Angela are essential to our future.

Coffee Break is an annual fund-raising event. Anyone can organise one - at home or work, with friends or neighbours - and everything you need is included in a pack that we’ll send you for free!

This year, our supporters raised more than £65,000 with their Coffee Breaks, with money still coming in every day. This money will enable us to continue offering our support services to anyone affected by the disease, providing a lifeline to people whose lives have been shattered by meningitis.

Roza Woodley, Event Organiser, Meningitis Trust

MANY thanks to all those who came to support our Muscular Dystrophy family barbecue on Sunday, June 14. It was a beautiful day and we managed to raise almost a thousand pounds towards research into neuromuscular diseases.

We would like to thank the local organisations that kindly made donations in support of our raffle: Aesthetics Hair Stylist and GelNail at Dovehouse Parade, The Arden Hotel, Bickenhill, The Forest Hotel, Dorridge, The Greswolde Hotel, Knowle, Laithwaites Wine, Solihull, The Orange Tree, Chadwick End, The Town House, Solihull, Virgin Active, Blythe Valley and The Warwickshire Golf Club, Leek Wootton. Hazel Hopkins, Knowle and Dorridge Branch, Muscular Dystrophy Campaign

RE- the Birmingham Airport taxi dispute, I would like to make this comment - how the biters are bitten. As a black cab proprietor in the 1980s I was expelled by the so-called Birmingham Taxi Association on a completely false charge brought by a report printed in the Birmingham Evening Mail. The whole proceedings were, as I pointed out at the time, a kangaroo court and they would get their comeuppance in the not too distant future. This so-called powerful Taxi Association, when they offered to accompany me to the paper and ask the reporter with my permission to state if I was one of the people involved in giving any statement to him, was turned down flat. The result was I was banned from operating at Birmingham Airport and incidentally New Street railway station.

I was effectively forced to give up my position as a licensed Hackney Carriage proprietor. Even the local authorities who license all taxi vehicles were unable to intervene because the Association rented both New Street Station and owned the taxi rights at Birmingham Airport.

Power corrupts - absolute power corrupts absolutely. And if you think it’s a fatuous saying, look up your history dictionary under the heading Adolf Hitler.

Ex-cabby, 10 years service

IN a recent newspaper article headed ‘Residents join forces to fight bid for centre’ the title and the article content should in truth almost read the reverse. Over several years nine major groups have been involved in the planning and consultation of this project including the populations of Berkswell and Balsall Common area. This process sought a number of communal meetings, surveys of the villagers’ viewpoints and the formation of a Medical Topics Group (MTG) which liaised between most of the parties concerned.

Following several years of work the MTG concluded that the extensive range of services and the ability to serve the growing population was a worthwhile necessity and could only be accommodated at the location as close as possible to the Balsall Common village centre, remembering that this location also provides easier access to the Berkswell parish residents. The current doctor’s practice serves in excess of 12,000 patients with circa three quarters of the patients in Balsall Common and the remainder in Berkswell.

The site which is in so much contention was chosen from 14 proposals, six of which were shortlisted and reviewed in considerable detail with the final choice being the Riddings Hill site on the grounds of viability and suitability.

Far from opposing the new facilities and plans, the proposals have had a vote of 19 in favour and nine against at the Berkswell Parish Council, 25 in favour and one against (Mr Richard Lloyd, chairman of the Berkswell Parish Council voted against) at the Balsall Common Residents’ Association and the majority of Balsall Common Parish Councillors voting in favour of the plan. In addition to these more formal views there have been a considerable number of letters to the planners and signature to a petition at the current surgery in support of the new surgery.

The new surgery has the support of the majority of the community, the Care Trust and the local doctor’s practice. To lose the support and if the planning application was unsuccessful may mean the loss of the new and improved facilities for many years to come.

Paul Lucas, chairman of the Village Plan Medical Services Topic Group

I MUST take issue with your paper and Mr Lloyd (Berkswell PC).

Whilst it was true that Balsall Common residents were originally opposed to the proposed site for the medical centre at Riddings Hill, the January 07 meeting made it quite clear that if there were valid reasons why a preferred site in the centre of the village could not be used (the Partco building), the residents would accept the best viable alternative.

With respect Mr Lloyd represents an area quite small in relation to the total areas to be served by the new centre - regrettably as parish boundaries are still somewhat archaic, the site of the new centre falls in Berkswell. His comments about this being ‘out of town’ are quite ludicrous - the proposed site is within the existing built-up area of the enlarged Balsall Common village (part of which falls within Berkswell Parish).

I accept there may be access problems for some but until a decision is made hopefully giving the go-ahead for this new centre, these issues can not be addressed (local bus service etc to provide transport for elderly/infirm patients). Indeed can I throw back to Mr Lloyd this rhetorical question - how does he think the elderly and infirm get to the existing site in Meeting House Lane - answer by car. Will this change with the new site? Yes - more parking facilities.

I was one of those opposed at the January 07 meeting but if the application is not given planning permission it is abundantly clear that there is no ‘fall back’ situation and Balsall, Berkswell and Meriden patients will lose this opportunity to bring local medical facilities into the 21st century. Surely no one in their right mind wants this to happen?

What will Mr Lloyd and his misguided cohorts do then? How will they explain to their voters why they still have to cope with a myriad locations to get to for treatment when it could have been ‘under one roof with admittedly a bit of inconvenience to some’ - how very true the saying ‘you can please some of the people all of the time but not all of the people all of the time’!

Dave Ellis, via e-mail

I WOULD like to say a huge well done to 2nd Olton (St Margaret’s) Brownies!

As part of the centenary celebrations for Girl Guiding, each Rainbow, Brownie or Guide unit was invited to take part in a ‘Changing the World’ Project. 2nd Olton chose to support the project in aid of Camfed. Camfed works in some of the poorest countries in Africa to enable girls to go to school – as many as four out of five girls in Africa do not go to school because of poverty. The project had two challenges – to raise funds for Camfed and to spread the word about Camfed’s activities.

The Brownies took part in several activities where they compared their lives to that of girls in Africa, and thought of all the benefits of going to school. They also made African-style masks and drums. These were put to good use on their open evening on June 25, when they invited parents, relatives and friends to a presentation about Camfed. They also sang songs and played the drums.

From the raffle and sale of refreshments an the open evening and individual fund-raising efforts by the girls, we raised a whopping £268 for Camfed, enough to send three girls to school for a year and to help two more girls with uniform! Well done to all girls and a big thank you to all who supported us during the project or came to the open evening.

I’d like to say a special thank you to Maddy’s grandparents for their very generous donation. Also a special mention to the Brownies who attend Our Lady of Compassion (Katie, Francesca, Caitlin, Olivia, Grace, Licia, Abby, Maddy and Sophie) who made bracelets and sold them at their school fair in aid of Camfed, raising a massive £50.10.

2nd Olton Brownies meet at St Margaret’s Church, Olton on Thursday from 6pm to 7.30pm. We have finished now for the summer, and will restart in September, when any enquiries are welcome.

Ruth Galvin, Snowy Owl, Solihull

Travellers site?

I WAS interested to read of the discussions about to commence with regard to the provision of sites for travellers.

I suppose this could just cause a few flutters in the hearts of the Marsh Lane residents opposed to the plans for a Marie Curie hospice in Marsh Lane.

Name and address supplied

New home needed

IT is with sadness that I have to take time out from patient care at the Marie Curie Hospice in Solihull to respond to the recent misinformed statements from the Marsh Lane Area Residents Group.

The suggestion that our proposed new hospice building is ‘so much larger than needed’ and has ‘such a lot of conference and administration facilities’ is both misleading and untrue.

As a charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care values every penny it gets from its supporters and the NHS. We have taken every step to ensure the design of the new hospice offers real value for money, but at the same time provides the best possible environment in which to care for local patients and their families.

The group is correct that the in-patient beds at the hospice will take up 25 per cent of the total floor area. But hospices in the 21st century are about so much more than just in-patient care. In addition to the 24 single rooms, the new building will enable us to provide enhanced day care and outpatient services for patients who are able to remain at home.

Essential support functions such as the laundry and kitchen are not optional extras. They are necessities, along with the office space for consultants, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and medical secretaries to discuss and organise patient care.

The ‘conference’ facility is actually an education and training space, accounting for just 6.3 per cent of the proposals, allowing us to share our specialist knowledge in palliative care with local GPs, District Nurses and other care groups, as well as ensuring we meet the mandatory needs of our staff to ensure their professional development.

Over the past 41 years, the Marie Curie Hospice on Warwick Road has provided free care to thousands of local families. However, the current building is entirely unsuited to the needs of the local community.

It has taken us eight years to find a new site and I believe the silent majority in Solihull will support our plans, which can be viewed at www.mariecurie.org.uk/solihull.

Liz Cottier

Hospice Manager

Worrying statistics

I AM sure I’m not alone in getting increasingly worried about the speed at which people drive along some of our local roads.

In fact figures show that almost two-thirds of deaths are now on rural roads, while cycling on them is three times more dangerous than in urban areas. Out of 24 OECD countries, we have slipped to 5th on road deaths overall and shockingly are 17th in terms of child pedestrian deaths.

Recently, I noticed the Government is asking for people’s opinions on how it can make our roads the safest in the world. I think this must include making people feel safe using our roads without having to be protected by a metal chassis, so I decided to send in a letter. And I’d like to urge all your readers to do the same. The Campaign to Protect Rural England has a draft letter on its website that you can use: www.cpre.org.uk.

Please write – we all need to do our bit to put a stop to these harrowing statistics.

Martin Callanan

Solihull

Thanks

KNOWLE Male Voice Choir would like to thank everyone who supported its second concert of the 2009 season.

Over £1,600 was raised in support of Acorns Children’s Hospice.

Thank you!

Michael Metcalfe

Via email

NHS did top job

HAVING just returned home from Solihull Hospital, I must express my appreciation of all the care and prompt attention received.

I was referred to the MAU from Richmond Medical Centre, quickly diagnosed, treated and sent to the CCU.

Once stabilised I was taken to Ward S17.

The NHS teamwork was very efficient and the care and compassion of all levels of staff was wonderful.

May God bless the NHS.

Guy Devolle

Olton

IN 2007 my mother died with Parkinson’s, a devastating neurological condition, for which there is no cure. The care she received from her local hospital and subsequently home carers was exemplary, and made dealing with the illness much more bearable for her. However, not everyone suffering with Parkinson’s is lucky enough to get the same level of care as she did.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence ‘NICE’ guideline on Parkinson’s has been in place for over three years, yet on July 8 the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Parkinson’s disease released a report highlighting shocking variations in access to treatment and services across the country. This included limited information for patients, lack of respite for carers, and poor access to expert nursing and therapy, all underpinned by a failure to deliver a ‘joined up’ approach to care.

The problem won’t go away. With an ageing population, the number of people with Parkinson’s will inevitably rise. In the UK today there are approximately 120,000 people with Parkinson’s – equal to the population of Norwich - affecting one in 100 of people over 65 and one in 50 of those over 80. Just how will this country, and ultimately the taxpayer, cope with the added cost of care?

It shocks me to realise that my mother was one of the lucky ones. We must ensure all people with Parkinson’s, wherever they live, are given the Fair Care they deserve. To support the campaign and for more information visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/faircare.

John Stapleton

Television presenter

THE present government have the power to dictate our national policies because they have more than half of the MPs in the Commons, a majority of about 50.

How did they earn this majority? They did it by getting just 36 per cent of the votes cast in the UK 2005 general election. Yes - 36 per cent! That means that a ‘mere’ 64 per cent of the votes in the election went to other parties. When I last studied maths, 64 was a lot more than 36. But in the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ system we are privileged to have in the UK, the 36 per cent puts you in charge with a Commons majority, and the 64 per cnt don’t decide anything in the government. That means the government can put through any stupid policy they can con or bully their own MPs into backing. We can all think of many examples!

Labour thinks this system is so good that after 12 years of power they have done nothing to change the system of electing the House of Commons - and therefore the government, though they have changed to a more fair and rational system for MEPs and for Welsh and Scotttish assemblies.

David Cameron says he does not want to change the system because he does not want people in ‘smoke-filled rooms’ to decide which parties join up to form a government. So he’s saying he doesn’t believe in two parties sharing together in the government, he wants the largest party to get a free ride to total power, like the wonderful Brown government we are stuck with at present, even if it got only 36 per cent. That’s Dave’s view!

There are lots of different election systems throughout the democratic world, like in New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, for example, where there are still constituency MPs, but a fairer election result based on the votes cast.

It’s a pity the Labour and Tory power grabbers can’t grow up, and catch up with the 21st century, instead of perpetuating the one-party-state based on an outdated undemocratic system.

D Hartley

Damsonwood

THIS is a message for the so-called driver who cut up my grandparents on Highfield Road in the Hall Green/Yardley Wood area on Wednesday morning.

After causing their car to nearly mount the pavement when you cut them up and then braked to stop in front of them, I thought you might like to know the consequences of your reckless and dangerous actions.

I know you are aware you caused another vehicle to go into the back of my grandparent’s car, as you chose at that point to drive off like a gutless coward. One of my grandparents has whiplash, and I thought you might want to know my wheelchair bound severely disabled brother was also travelling in the car. Due to the other car going into the rear of their car as a result of your dangerous driving, it was very difficult to open the boot of the car to access the ramp to get my brother out to ensure he too was not injured.

Specially adapted wheelchair accessible cars are not like ordinary cars where you can just hire one while your own vehicle is being prepared, it can take months to wait for one of these cars to be made to purchase in the first place. I’m sure you are aware you have also caused an inconvenience to the person who smashed into the back of my grandparent’s car as they too are without their car.

Well all I want to say to you is I hope you can sleep well. I know my Grandmother won’t through the injuries you caused, and I won’t knowing there are dangerous so called drivers like you on our roads.

Name and address supplied

THE current controversy surrounding maternity services at Soilihull Hospital can also apply to their policy of transferring elderly fall victims to Heartlands because Solihull Hospital does not have any beds available for trauma patients unless they are able to travel there with their own transport.

I am writing from bitter personal experience because I have now lost both of my parents as a result of them being sent to Heartlands and subsequently dying from a pneumonia virus. Although I was advised that there is no difference in the infection rates between Solihull Hospital and Heartlands, the fact remains that elderly people are very vulnerable to infections and Heartlands has a far higher turnover of patients and visitors who may be carrying various and numerous types of viruses and diseases.

As one of your readers has correctly pointed out, travelling to Heartlands can take a long time in heavy traffic and consequently this can endanger the lives of patients if health complications arise during the journey. Quite apart from this, there is also the extra expense and inconvenience caused to visiting friends and relatives - particularly if they are elderly and disabled.

There is therefore no reason why any hospital should not have its own facilities if resources are used more efficiently and its about time that Solihull residents should be entitled to use their local hospital unless exceptional circumstances prevent them from doing so.

John Brightling

Rectory Gardens

Solihull

WHAT is going on at our local hospital. I and a lot of my friends do charity work at Solihull Hospital and raise a lot of money to buy vital equipment that is urgently needed.

The staff in the maternity ward were shattered to hear the news of the downgrading and other staff in other wards are worried that their department may be next for downgrading oir even closure.

No wonder morale is low amongst the dedicated staff who work there.

Please come clean.

George Cother

Chairman

Friends of Solihul Hospital

I WOULD like to give sincere thanks to the driver of the 510 (Solihull/Cranes Park) bus also passengers and passers by who came to the aid of my in-laws, both in their 90s when they had difficulties walking on Cranes Park Road and them Mum fell.

The driver waited for the ambulance and then helped Dad home and opened windows and offered to make tea.

I’m pleased to say they are both fine now, many thanks.

J Simpson

For the Bird Family

Station Road

Marston Green

I AGREE with the comments made by ‘Resident of Damson Wood, Solihull’ (Sick of centre Letters July 10).

The appointments system is appalling and the receptionists seem to be in competition with each other to see which one can be the most unpleasant and awkward.

I speak to many patients who share these views.

Resident of Solihull

ON JUNE 13 a party of residents from Chestnut Court, Castle Bromwich and various other local residents, travelled to Weymouth for a very enjoyable weeks holiday, organised by Pauline Keatly. This happened to be Weymouth’s annual ‘Veterans Week’ and everyone enjoyed the truly magnificent parade along the sea front and the generous hospitality of the local hostelries.

Wednesday, June 17 was the 65th wedding anniversary of my wife Eira and myself, and completely by surprise, Pauline had arranged a special breakfast treat with our table decorated with gold stars, streamers and banners proclaiming the event, together with a bottle of Champagne and chocolates in a replica Ration Book carrier bag, and also with a beautiful hand made anniversary card which was signed by everyone in the party. The card and the memories are something we will treasure always.

This letter is to say a very big thank you to Pauline and everyone who contributed to a truly memorable week.

Joe & Eira Griffin

Marlborough Road

Castle Bromwich

I AM absolutely disgusted that my partner after having booked a day off work to have a minor operation at Solihull Hospital while standing in the queue that same day has just been told his operation has been cancelled and moved to another day.

Evidently somebody two days previously (Saturday) had called him and left a message on his phone. Nobody from this hospital had the decency to make sure he got the message or speak to him in person.

There was also no message left on the answer phone. Luckily my partner gets paid for being off – but there are a lot of people that do not.

There are notices pinned up on hospital walls about patients missing appointments – but it’s no laughing matter to patients when it happens the other way round.

Not pleased of Solihull

CURRENTLY there is a single anaesthetist on-site after 6pm who is responsible for epidurals and any instrumental deliveries including emergency Caesarian sections, cardiac arrests, emergency operations as well as intensive care unit. With so much to cover, an epidural in labour cannot be guaranteed because that is deemed lowest priority. Consultant anaesthetist currently provides cover for both Heartlands as well as Solihull hospitals and thus is not always able to come either.

From April 2010 there will be no obstetric or anaesthetic input to the proposed midwifery unit. Thus there will be no epidural offered at all to labouring women. Any woman in labout developinig complications requiring instrumental delivery of an emergency Caesarian section will have to be blue-lighted across to Heartlands Hospital. And if they are full capacity then to Good Hope Hospital, and after that to Birmingham Womens’ Hospital etc.

 

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