Does Newcastle City Council exist to serve local residents or their highest paid and most powerful staff?

Dear Editor,

I was amazed to read that the Labour-controlled Newcastle City Council has given Chief Executive Pat Ritchie yet another pay rise.   This latest pay rise will reportedly put Ms Ritchie’s (who was already paid more than the Prime Minister) salary at  £160,000 per year.

This Labour council have spent the last few years threatening local residents with cuts to everything from healthcare to school crossing patrols ‘due to a lack of government funding.’  Whilst there is no doubt that Tory austerity has made life difficult for councils, I admit that I find it curious that  even in the midst of savage cuts to frontline services, Newcastle City Council seem to have a limitless pot of money available  to fund pay rise after pay rise for senior council staff.

I for one cannot blame your readers for questioning whether this council exists to serve local residents or their highest paid and most powerful staff.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Do you want more prisons? Or more criminals on your street?

Dear Editor,

Due to mismanagement by successive Tory and Labour governments our country is in the midst of a long-running and high-profile prison crisis.

We do not have enough prisons or cells, and many of those we do are outdated and unfit for purpose. We do not have nearly enough prison staff and our prison system has a huge discipline problem extending from contraband (such as phones and drugs) being commonplace within our jails to full-scale riots which have been taking over control of prisons. This utterly unacceptable situation has taken a huge toll on the wellbeing of both prison staff and inmates.

Lib Dem MP Nick Clegg has proposed a ‘solution’ – reducing prison numbers by releasing criminals. I cannot speak for your readers, but if I were given the choice of building more jails or having more convinced criminals on the streets, I would build more jails.

We must address the prison crisis by building new, modern prisons; vastly increasing the number of cells available across the UK, and significantly increasing the number of staff in our jails. Whilst we are doing this I would also recommend reviewing sentencing guidelines and introducing harsher deterrent punishments where appropriate. If sentencing is robust and prison conditions are tough, hopefully there will be fewer criminals and a safer society for everyone. A disciplined prison system will protect hard-working prison staff and increase inmate security.


Jonathan Arnott MEP
UKIP, North East

Supreme Court ruling response

“I am disappointed by the outcome of this case. There were strong legal arguments put forward on both sides, and ultimately I had hoped that the government’s case would prevail because it would have reduced the risk of even greater delay to the British people’s decision to leave the European Union.

“Nevertheless, the ruling has now been made. In the United Kingdom, when something goes against us – an election, a referendum, the final process in a legal case – we accept the result and move on. That is the nature of living in a democracy. I fully accept that this result has gone against my views, and now it is the responsibility of our Westminster Parliament to enact the will of the British people and get us out of the European Union.
“Just as I must accept the result of this court case, so too must our MPs and Lords accept the result of the referendum. Exactly seven months on from the declaration of the referendum result, we are still waiting for the decision of the people to be enacted. I call upon Parliament now to pass legislation for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union as a matter of extreme urgency. The democratically-expressed will of the British people can be frustrated no longer.”

Impact of the Landfill Directive

Dear Editor,

As a UKIP MEP I obviously look forward to the day we get our country back and are free of the EU shackles.

Having to dance to their tune is just wrong and I am thrilled that we voted to make our own music in last June’s Referendum.

Meanwhile, though not everyone is aware quite how many aspects of our life they rule one that people are conscious of is the impact of their Landfill Directive demands.

The government is under pressure to meet the EU’s impossible recycling targets and councils are under financial pressure from the government.

I well recall when our household rubbish was collected each week but after recycling bins came in most local authorities seized on this as opportunity to introduce alternative week collections.

Now some areas of the country only get their household bins emptied every three weeks and, outrageously in my book, trials are now going on with just once a month collections.

That is iniquitous and will lead to fly tipping and rubbish burning, which ironically will worsen pollution which the EU’s targets are designed to reduce.

There are public health issues here and the government should stand up the local authorities planning this madness and ensure we leave the EU fast and set our own targets.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Greater emphasis needed on academic standards

A study showing that 90% of secondary schools in Redcar and Cleveland have worse than expected progress scores demonstrates the need for greater emphasis on academic standards, said local MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

The findings have emerged through new ‘Progress 8’ statistics following the 2016 GCSE results. Progress 8 is a measure of average pupil progress in attainment in eight subjects.

“It is, of course, disappointing to see that Redcar and Cleveland have scored so badly but teachers across Teesside tell me that they have to focus too much on paperwork,” said Mr Arnott, a former teacher.

“Many are working as much as 60 hours a week to make sure they get their paperwork right, but they feel the additional time spent on paperwork isn’t actually benefiting the education of the pupils they teach. Every parent wants their child to do well and so do the teachers, otherwise they would not have entered the profession, but they are under tremendous pressure in completely wrong directions.

“Government reforms keep moving the goalposts and making it harder for teachers to give their pupils the best possible education they can. The reality is that schools are terrified of what Ofsted is going to do. They concentrate on getting the paperwork immaculate to prepare for inspections, but those inspections should actually be concentrating primarily on how well pupils are progressing.”

Mr. Arnott’s comments on teacher workload echo those of the National Union of Teachers, whose ‘eight steps’ programme provides suggestions for reducing unnecessary paperwork.

“This data in the annual school performance league tables for secondary schools will serve as a wake-up call for schools deemed to have made insufficient progress. But it should also be a wake-up call for the government to make sure that they get the emphasis right in teaching standards and ensure sufficient funds are put in, particularly in working class areas.

“Teachers across Redcar and Cleveland work incredibly hard to do the best they possibly can for pupils. We should praise the work that they do, but also trust them as the professionals they are and provide them with the tools they need to get on and do the job”, said Mr Arnott.