Expression of opposition to Royal Mail sell-off

The further sell-off of the Royal Mail has been criticised today by North East MEP Jonathan Arnott.

The plans announced by George Osborne will see the Government sell the remaining 30% stake in Royal Mail leaving it owned by a mix of employees and private investors.

“I oppose the Royal Mail sell-off. It’s a natural monopoly and I firmly believe it should have always remained in public hands to safeguard its long-term future.” Said Mr Arnott.

“EU Postal services directives 97/67/EC and 2002/39/EC don’t help because they allow companies to compete with lucrative parts of business leaving Royal Mail with the expensive parts of delivering letters. I don’t want to see our 1st Class Royal Mail become a 2nd Class service” He added.

Royal Mail has already had to make huge changes to the way it operates in the last twelve months including the difficult decision to undertake huge cuts to try to remain profitable. This further sell-off makes the long term security of the Royal Mail even more uncertain.

North East jobs are at risk because of EU bureaucracy

Vital jobs in the North East are at risk because of EU bureaucracy, warned UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

The situation in the North Sea oil and gas industry has been described as “critical” by an industry chief because the UK loses out to foreign competitors.

Dennis Clark, chairman of OGN Fabricators, says the industry is on the brink of extinction and has predicted that if no more work is secured before the last of its two remaining contracts is completed in November their Wallsend yard will close with 1,250 job losses.

“When the government is spoken to about this he says that they respond saying they cannot favour UK content as it is against European rules,” said Mr Arnott, North East Euro-MP.

“This is just not good enough, British jobs including thousands in the North East, are at risk.

“This is a classic example of how our hands are tied by the EU and nothing is going to improve on that front until we withdraw our membership.

“Our government talks about developing the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but

this does not auger well. The North East needs a great deal of investment and commitment and this includes the offshore oil and gas industry,” said Mr Arnott.

Letters – Supporting action against legal highs

Dear Editor,

I would like to praise the government for the action they are taking to counter legal highs and make these substances illegal.

Use of these substances often has severe consequences for the (predominantly) young people that take them and action on this topic has been long overdue.  This situation got so out of control that we even heard reports of these dangerous substances being used as pizza toppings here in the North East!

It is also vital that we do not simply consider this matter closed now that legislation is being introduced, the argument that new substances will simply be developed as a result of new laws is an accurate one.

We must keep on top if this issue and take action as new substances are brought onto the market.  This is not a case of expanding big brother or seeking to fill prisons to look tough on crime, it is important that action is taken so that we can save the lives of a great many young people who do not understand the threat posed by the substances they are taking.

Alongside this ban we must focus on education, we must continue to raise awareness of these substances and the threats that they can pose.   I understand many people who take these drugs are only trying to have a good time but I am convinced that many of these people do not fully understand the nature of the substance they are taking or the health risks involved.

I am not naive, I know that a ban will not simply end substance abuse overnight, but if it even saves a few lives and raises awareness of the threats these substances pose then I will support these moves wholeheartedly.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – The UK needs a National Brownfield Sites Register

Dear Editor,

I was unsurprised to read in today’s Journal that problems are arising with the government’s plans to build upon Brownfield sites.   The simple truth is that we do not even know exactly want land is available and what each site is suitable for.  Without this knowledge it is virtually impossible to create widespread, long-term plans.   This is why UKIP argue that the Environment Agency must create a National Brownfield Sites Register and provide a remediation assessment where appropriate.

One of the issues with this process (as highlighted by the Journal story) is that we are currently working based upon private assessments and estimation.  In order to develop an effective national building plan we need to know what land is available.  Creating this register will allow the government, councils and developers to know exactly what land is available and what this land is suitable for.

We are faced by a crippling housing shortage that is having a significant impact of property and recent prices, less stable tenancies and rising homelessness.  Just to keep up with demand the UK needs to be building a new house every seven minutes.

The current situation is completely unsustainable and we need to urgently embark upon a major house building programme.  However, how on earth can anyone even try to come up with a credible plan to address this crisis if we do not even know exactly what resources are available?

We need to create a Brownfield Sites Register so that we can finally come up with a strategy to address this long running issue that is causing so many issues all across the UK.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letter – Local people should have the power to decide upon local issues

Dear Editor,

The decision by South Tyneside Council to build luxury townhouses despite a 750 name petition opposing it demonstrates precisely why UKIP would offer local referenda on such controversial issues.

The go-ahead for the homes in Whitburn has been given even though three environmental groups also raised objections to the scheme.

We believe that the views of local people are paramount and this is a classic example of when we would allow for a binding local referendum which would be triggered by the signatures of 5 per cent of electors within a planning authority area collected within three months.

We all know that generally more homes are needed, fuelled by uncontrolled immigration, but they should be of sympathetic design to the area involved.

Meanwhile any incursions into our precious greenbelt land, wherever in the country, must be resisted and a national register of brownfield sites (as pledged in UKIP’s manifesto) would be an excellent alternative to begin meeting our housing need without concreting over our greenbelt.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Response to OLAF fraud report

Figures released by EU anti-fraud investigators OLAF are doubtless just the tip of the iceberg of the vast sums lost to fraud, said local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

“These shocking figures show that Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria are the worst countries for such illegal behaviour and I’m glad to say that the UK is at the bottom of the list.

“The EU Commission’s financial control is useless and tens of billions of pounds are lost through mis-management and dishonesty,” said Mr Arnott, who sits on the parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee.

“This lack of control makes it much easier for fraudsters to get their sticky fingers on the money – a staggering £55million a day of which comes from the UK.

“OLAF relies on co-operation from the member states. I think we can see that some countries, particularly in Eastern Europe, are, to say the least, lax with their financial safeguards and open to exploitation.

“Every day we find more and more reasons why we urgently need a referendum so we can escape the tentacles of the EU and get back our sovereignty and keep our taxpayers money in our own country.”

Letters – We should develop more stringent driving test standards

Dear Editor,

This week saw the 80th anniversary of the UK driving test and I would like to take this opportunity to lend my voice to those calling for the development of a more stringent test.  Specifically, I would like to see driving on both country roads and motorways (traditionally covered by the optional pass plus course) added to the current learning and testing process.

I believe that driving under these conditions can present some of the toughest challenges that inexperienced drivers will face on the road.  I have always found it odd that traditionally we have regarded it unsafe for learners to drive on the motorway even when they are accompanied by an experienced instructor but as soon as they have passed their test that same driver is immediately entitled to go straight onto the motorway unaccompanied despite having no experience using that type of road.

I believe that if the driving test was extended (or drivers had to sit a follow up test that included motorways etc) that road safety would improve and lives could be saved. Having safer, more experienced drivers on our roads benefits everyone, regardless of whether they have been driving for 1 week or 10 years.

Both the driving test and the standard of driving on British roads have come a long way in the last 80 years; I hope we can now take one more proactive step towards saving lives and improving road safety for all who use them.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

 

My Column – How to Win Referendums and Alienate People

A cynic’s guide to winning an EU referendum for a pro-European Union prime minister. So far, David Cameron is following my simple, step-by-step guide to the letter. How much longer will it last, I wonder?

1. Announce that there will be an EU referendum years in advance, when it looks like you won’t be in power to push such a referendum through.

2. Spend years doing nothing to renegotiate with the EU, on the basis that the referendum probably won’t happen anyway.

3. When this plan inexplicably fails and you fluke a General Election win through fear of the SNP, it’s time to move to Plan B.

4. Don’t ask for anything the British people actually want, as part of your proposed renegotiation. Anything we want, the EU won’t let us have.

5. Ask for things which are generally meaningless or semantics.

6. Find a couple of minor issues that the other leaders will fight you on.

7. Win those battles, largely because the concessions involved are tiny.

8. Come back from Brussels trumpeting the ‘success’ of your renegotiation with the EU.

9. Tell the British people how amazing your ‘new deal’ actually is.

10. Make sure that the referendum question makes no mention of the two alternatives: EU membership, or free trade agreement. Mention only the EU. People vote for the status quo if you don’t make the alternative clear.

11. Who should vote in the referendum? There’s a clear strategy to ensure this is weighted in favour of the pro-EU camp:

a) Announce early that the decision on Britain’s future should be one for British citizens

b) Set the earliest possible date for the referendum to be held

c) Wait for the pro-EU House of Lords to amend the Referendum Bill to allow more people to vote

d) Tell everyone that your timescale won’t be derailed, so you won’t wait to use the Parliament Act to force the legislation through

e) Cave in to the demands, allowing a wider electorate to vote

12. Now the real campaign starts. You’ve got to portray yourself as a eurosceptic who’s been persuaded that actually, we now have a great deal with Europe.

13. Whatever you do, do not tell anyone that you have another Plan B up your sleeve. You know perfectly well that you could get a good free trade deal with the EU if we were outside it, but don’t let that one slip. Make people feel that they’d somehow be isolated if we left.

13. Scaremongering and denigration will now take you the rest of the way: repeat a big enough lie often enough, and people will believe it. Now where have I heard that phrase before?

14. Scaremonger about non-existent jobs that depend on EU membership. They don’t, of course, they depend merely on trade with the EU which would be unthreatened if we were to leave.

15. Scaremonger about every ‘good thing’ that the EU does for us, and forget that every benefit of the EU is only a benefit because we’ve handed the power over from Westminster to do it better ourselves.

16. Denigrate your opponents. They’re extremists, the lot of them. Racists perhaps (the closet variety). Of course they are; they don’t agree with YOU, Dave. The people who want to trade with the wider world and emerging markets, avoiding insular narrow-minded EU protectionism? Why, they must be little Englanders!

17. If a newspaper goes against the EU, it’s a gutter tabloid and the press should be more responsible. If it comes out in favour of the EU, that’s responsible journalism.

18. It has to be socially unacceptable to accept you want to leave the EU, so smear early and smear often. Imply that a ‘No’ vote is a vote for racism, to prevent more people putting their heads above the parapet.

 

You can read the rest of this article on my Huffington Post blog here.