It’s time to close the revolving door
Dear Editor, This country is in serious social, economic and environmental trouble, largely due to the decisions taken by governments against the public interest for many years. These have encouraged the investment of financial capital abroad and the export of manufacturing jobs.
As the Public Administration Select Committee [PASC] reported earlier this month, there is ‘a genuine issue of concern that there is an inside track, largely drawn from the corporate world, who wield privileged access and disproportionate influence.
Lobbying – usually done behind firmly closed doors – benefits the few. A more subtle form of persuasion is due to the access and influence of staff transferred between government and the business world – known as the ‘revolving door’.
The PASC has called for consistent rules to prevent former ministers and other public servants from using contacts built up in public office to further their own and others’ private interests.
Many concerned about vested interest in politics [VIP] support this proposal.
The PASC also proposes that there should be a single body to oversee and regulate lobbying.
Instead of this it would be far better to rule that individuals, whether teachers, drivers, financiers, newsagents or company directors, all bring their concerns directly to the attention of their MPs, through the usual channels.
Banning lobbies and large-scale funding of parties, then firmly closing the revolving door would help to cleanse politics and free MPs to make more decisions in the public interest.
A. Haydock , Shirley
Why we have apostrophes
Dear Editor, So Birminghams city council has decided to do away with the apos’trophe. It ought to be as’hamed of its’elf. S’uch a cop-out is an outrageous ins’ult to it’s citizen’s, it’s vis’itors and i’s a “kick in the teeth” to the educational well-being of it’s schoolchildren to whom it ha’s an overwhelming respons’ibility.
Some years ago a contributer to BBC’s Radio 4 offered the following defence of the apostrophe: “I came home from work and went to the fridge to find some food to make my dinner. There was no food in there so I had to eat the dogs”. There, in a nutshell, is the proof of the necessity of the apostrophe. Three different meanings, dependent upon the absence of an apostrophe or on its alternative placing.
I rest my case. Stephen Williams, Armour Close, Burbage, Hinckley , Leics
Housing rating shows how far we have come
Dear Editor, I would like to congratulate all the staff at Birmingham City Council Housing Department on their achievement in attaining a “two stars with excellent prospects for improvement” rating. Birmingham is only one of three authorities to have gained such an achievement.
This award confirms that our Council Housing stock has risen even further from the ashes of disrepair and under investment, that was all too evident under the previous Labour administration, to a level where nearly 90 per cent of the housing stock meets decent homes standard and with the department on target to meet the 2010 deadline for 100 per cent. Those shameful days where Labour left our pensioners freezing in houses where rotten windows, doors and constant drafts were the norm are long gone. Under Cabinet Member John Lines and the current Conservative/Liberal administration we have witnessed what can only be described as a transformation. How far we have travelled since the days when Labour squandered millions in their failed attempt to offload the tenants of Birmingham. Sad then that the Labour MP for Edgbaston could only see fit to criticise and indeed question the award by the Independent Audit Commission.
I don’t ever recall her criticising when it was Labour in charge and the Labour government were about to put the department into special measures and I still don’t see her complaining or doing anything about the millions of pounds of tenants’ hard-earned rent her government takes from the city in order to give it to underperforming authorities in other parts of the country.
So well done Birmingham Housing Department on a fantastic achievement and shame on Labour for refusing to recognise what a great job is being done.
Coun Ken Wood, Longbridge