Unseasonal greetings from the sunny city of Birmingham

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The Independent Online
THE BURGHERS of Birmingham have again defied the Yuletide spirit. After the politically correct street decorations - no Santa Claus, no nativity scenes and no angels, for fear of offending ethnic minorities - comes the non-seasonal Christmas card.

Robins? Holly? Stagecoaches? Snow? Not quite. Festive greetings from the International Convention Centre, owned by Birmingham City Council, come through the post this year as a photograph of the glass- fronted Hyatt Hotel. The sky is cloudless blue; the trees are in full leaf; hundreds of tulips fill the foreground. No message appears on the front and it is possible to identify it as a Christmas card only from the greetings inside.

Even though the picture was taken by Lord Lichfield, as part of a series to promote the city, not all citizens are impressed. 'It is the worst Christmas card of the year,' said Alan Blumenthal, a Conservative city councillor, who is Jewish. 'They must have really worked hard to find something as inappropriate as this.'

The Labour-controlled council has erected a 'Merry Christmas' banner in the city centre as a response to earlier criticism from church leaders, traders and shoppers over the non-traditional Christmas lights.

'This sanitised, censored version of Christmas must not be allowed to continue,' Mr Blumenthal said.

The convention centre put a brave face on things. 'The card is a summer scene,' a spokesman agreed. 'But at least it does have some red in it.'

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