Letter: Birmingham's new deal

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ALONE among the national press, you reported the change of political leadership in Birmingham ('Renaissance that never was' 10 October).

Three days before the Prime Minister addressed the Tory conference, Birmingham's new leader, Councillor Theresa Stewart, had acclaimed the priority as being 'Back to basics'. And quite right, too.

Nick Cohen's article described the report which demolished the trickle-down theory of urban regeneration in Birmingham as a 'dry research paper'. I can assure him that I could not put it down. In it, I saw all the warnings, complaints and allegations made by MPs behind closed doors over the years verified.

Last January I arranged for the authors to make a presentation to all 12 Birmingham MPs. We were struck by the detailed stripping apart of all the financial spin doctors' arguments for trickle-down regeneration on the back of prestige projects. The published accounts were explained to show how the money had been kidnapped from social programmes.

The message has got through at last. Indeed, the Opposition education team has just published a consultation paper on the need to ring fence local education budgets or to run education via directly elected education authorites, to stop the kidnapping of funds. Lessons are being learned. A lot is riding on Councillor Stewart.

Jeff Rooker MP

House of Commons, SW1

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