23rd Sep, 2018

LETTERS: Your discussion across the borough from this week's Observer

As a member of Solihull Labour Party, I read with great care and interest the excellent article in last week’s Solihull Observer on the speech given by Jeremy Corbyn in Coventry on the Labour Party’s policy on Brexit.

I also read with equal care the recent speech given by our Prime Minister on what she is seeking for our future relationship with the EU.

The most striking difference between the two speeches is the priority given by Labour to safeguarding jobs and living standards.

By contrast the PM admits that because she is seeking a deal outside a customs union, frictionless trade between the UK and the EU will not be possible. Therefore, trade will be costlier and will be reduced as a result.

As part of his speech Jeremy Corbyn stressed that the 52000 car manufacturing jobs in the West Midlands depend on frictionless trade with EU supply chains.

So, given that a customs union is part of a sensible solution to protect British jobs and avoid a hard border in Ireland I hope Parliament will insist that the government retains the option of negotiating a viable UK -EU customs union in the interests of the West Midlands and the rest of the UK.

Phil Beyer Solihull

This month (March 2018) is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – a time when charities come together to raise awareness of a terrible disease which takes the lives of 4,100 women in the UK each year.

Ovarian cancer steals an average of two decades from women’s lives. That means missed anniversaries, birthdays, weddings and first days of school; countless hugs and cups of tea.

Identifying the symptoms of ovarian cancer (stomach pain, bloating, feeling full more quickly, and needing to wee more frequently) is currently the best way to diagnose the disease but most symptoms present in later stages when cancer has already begun to spread.

With your help, we can change this and protect future generations from the devastating effects of ovarian cancer. Launched this month, our campaign #StolenMoments aims to raise £1million to help us develop a new screening tool that detects pre-cancerous cells so that they can be removed as early as possible.

This test could stop ovarian cancer in its tracks and give women more time with the ones they love.

For information on ovarian cancer, or to donate to the campaign, visit www.ovarian.org.uk. Thank you for your support.

Yours faithfully,

Katherine Taylor, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action

It is excellent to note your report that “ Solihull is one of the first places outside London to create special crossings that include cycle lanes, known as parallel crossings “. If Solihull Council had acted on the recommendation from the Solihull Cycling Steering group in 2016 to incorporate such a crossing on Herbert Road as part of the Solihull Gateway Scheme, Solihull would probably have installed the first such crossing outside London.

However, better late than never.

Unfortunately such improvements to the cycling infrastructure are very rare now and are generally only possible when they are included as low cost additional features to wider traffic or safety schemes that have obtained funding from other, more generous budgets.

This is a consequence of current central government pressure on local authority funding which means that, despite Government and local authority expressions of support for cycling, funds are not available to provide cycle networks that are genuinely safe, effective and attractive enough to persuade more people to use bicycles for local utilitarian journeys.

( i.e. a modal switch from cars to bicycles. )

We hear a lot about the increase in cycling activity, but much of the increase is of a sporting or adventurous/charity fund raising nature. Solihull does have a small but determined number of people who ride their bikes for local utilitarian journeys, but I suspect that most of them ride their bikes despite the unsatisfactory conditions. They shrug their shoulders and accept a cycling infrastructure that is patchy, discontinuous and sometime downright dangerous, as something they just have to put up with if they wish to enjoy a healthier, quicker, convenient and more enjoyable mode of transport without adding to pollution and congestion.

Regrettably, apart from the current squeeze on Council funding, there appears to be little public enthusiasm or support in Solihull for a more radical approach to creating a high quality cycle network. When the Lode Lane scheme was put out to public consultation, although this was primarily a public transport scheme and only provided peripheral benefits for cyclists, the main complaint appeared to be, ( and apparently still is from some correspondence in the local press ), that road space was being taken away from motorists.

Although money is tight at the moment, there will be many opportunities in the future transport and infrastructure development proposals for the West Midlands to incorporate quality cycling friendly features. However our politicians need to believe that there is public support ( and votes ) for cycling. If they do not hear from their constituents who want to be able to cycle in safety they will be reluctant to support cycling measures in the face of the often very loud anti cycling lobby. All cyclists or those Silhillians who would like to cycle need to keep reminding their Councillors that the Solihull Council has a published commitment to make it easier for cyclists use our roads. Tell your Councillor that you want a safer cycling environment.

Brian Jameson

Solihull

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