LETTERS

Welcome for proposals to increase prison sentences for drivers who cause death by dangerous driving

Dear Editor,

I welcome Government proposals to increase prison sentences for drivers who cause death by dangerous driving or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The plans suggest the same should apply for causing death by speeding, racing or using a mobile phone and it is proposed that the current 14 year maximum should be increased to life, making it equivalent to manslaughter, which in reality is what it is.

With an automatic third reduction for a guilty plea the maximum a motorist, who admits such an offence, can receive is less than ten years and is usually less. While no sentence can bring back the life of the victim their families so often leave court feeling that justice has not been done.

Raising the limit to life will enable judges to impose higher sentences more in keeping with the gravity of the offences.

But I was disappointed to read that the Prison Reform Trust and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety do not support raising the maximum terms with the former instead suggesting longer driving bans and “community based intervention.”

Frankly that is both out of touch with public feeling and reality. A driving ban, long or short, will not deter many of the defendants whose selfish behaviour has wiped out a life.

Meanwhile I am pleased that the proposals also include a new offence is to be created of causing injury by careless driving as this fills a gap in existing legislation.

 

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

LETTERS

The Gambling Commission has found that 450,000 children are gambling every week

Dear Editor,

Gambling is so often the preserve of the poor and the desperate. Sadly too many find themselves in such financial straits in the North East.

It is all too easy to be lured into betting and the growth of online gambling is making it even easier –  all from the comfort of your own home or even out and about with a mobile phone.

Now it emerges that bookmakers are apparently targeting youngsters by using children’s cartoon characters to promote their online service.

I am glad to see that the ASA is investigating, particularly as the Gambling Commission has found that shockingly 450,000 children are gambling in England and Wales every week.

Youngsters are particularly susceptible as playing online games is part of their culture. The Local Government Association has revealed that one in ten children aged between 11 – 15 are “following” gambling firms on social media.

It is ironic that it was a Labour government that liberalised the gaming industry allowing its evils to proliferate and it is those in its traditional heartlands, such as this region, who are paying a particularly high price.

Yours faithfully

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

LETTERS

The government plans to impose vicious cuts upon the Army Air Corps.

Dear Editor,

I was deeply disappointed to learn that the government plans to impose vicious cuts upon the Army Air Corps.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have been justly criticised for their attitude towards our Armed Forces but the record of Tory governments under both David Cameron and Theresa May have been equally appalling.  Despite this record, the Conservatives tend toreceive relatively little criticism for their decisions towards our Armed Forces.

The Conservative Party like to talk big on defence spending and constantly say that they view our Armed Forces as a key priority for any government.  However, the actions of successive Tory governments have proven that these are no more than empty words designed to win votes.

Defence must always be a priority for the British Government but it appears that neither our current government nor the official opposition can be trusted to properly defend our nation and give our Armed Forces the resources and funding that they require.

What a deeply troubling state of affairs.

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

LETTERS

I welcome plans to increase animal sentencing guidelines

Dear Editor,

I have long complained about the inadequacy of sentences handed down for animal cruelty so I am delighted that Michael Gove plans to increase the maximum jail term to five years.

The current maximum of six months is woefully low and with an automatic third off for a guilty plea very few people are actually put behind bars for such offending behaviour. I hope that the proposals also include the imposition of far longer bans on animal ownership.

The case of two brothers given a suspended sentence at Hartlepool Magistrates for appalling cruelty to a young bulldog – which they had sickeningly videod – is a case I highlighted at the time as demonstrating the need for a change in the law.

We are known as a country of animal lovers and this proposed change is very long overdue. The Sentencing Council needs to ensure that when it is on the statute book the guidelines they issue actually results in deterrent sentences so these thugs don’t keep walking away laughing.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott,

LETTERS

Crossrail 2

The government’s decision to approve London’s Crossrail2 project has proven controversial.
When Crossrail was approved we were assured that investment in the North was a priority – everyone in the North East knows that this claim proved to be false.

Now Crossrail2 is being finalised and we are once again being told that infrastructure in the North is a priority. I wonder if any of your readers actually believe these latest claims? I certainly don’t.

During every election campaign Labour and Tory MPs come up to the North East to reveal their grand plans to invest in our roads and railways, but once the election has ended we seldom hear anything more about these promises until the next election campaign has begun.

The North East does not need any more empty promises or pointless hype about the mythical ‘Northern Powerhouse.’ We need the infrastructure investment that we have been lacking for decades.

LETTERS

Successive governments have imposed damaging cut after damaging cut upon our Armed Forces

Dear Editor,

Tory Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has been attempting to convince military leaders and experts that he is not in charge of managing the decline of the British army; indeed he went as far as claiming that “defence is growing.”

I really do not know who Mr Fallon is trying to fool.  The British Army, Royal Airforce and Royal Navy are all undermanned, underfunded, underequipped and there seems to be no long-term vision or plan to address these problems.  Just this week the UK launched an impressive new aircraft carrier to much fanfare.   However, in recent years the size of the Royal Navy surface fleet has become alarmingly small and this has caused many people to question whether we are even in a position to properly utilise and protect these new carriers.

Successive governments have imposed damaging cut after damaging cut upon our Armed Forces and this has had a devastating impact across the board.  It is time for our political leaders to stop pretending that these problems don’t exist and start talking about policies to address these issues.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

Hartlepool Borough Council should reject proposed 31% increase to councillor allowances

Dear Editor,

I was both shocked and disappointed to learn that Hartlepool Borough Council are considering raising councillor allowances by 31%.

Local councillors play a vital role in their community but in a time of cuts and council tax rises I believe that it would be extremely inappropriate to provide any councillors with a higher allowance.

In January Council leaders told us that they had ‘no alternative’ to raising council tax because of government cuts and a lack of funding. I would like to think that every single councillor who supported this tax rise will now be voting against raising allowances.

Residents were told that this tax rise would protect vital services, not fund a higher allowance for the councillors who enforced the tax rise. The Council should not even be considering this idea, if they have spare money in the budget then they should be investing it in frontline services such as social care.

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

Increase in manufacturing export orders welcomed

A report showing the strongest increase in manufacturing export orders in six years has been welcomed by North East MEP Jonathan Arnott.

The weak pound is making UK goods more competitive and demand from non EU markets has improved at a record pace. The demand from domestic customers is also at the strongest for three years;

A survey by the Confederation of British Industry also showed that expectations for export orders are at their at their strongest level in more than two decades.

Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP, said, “This report shows how wrong were those against our breakaway from the grip of the EU. They have been holding us back but now we are on the path to regaining our independence and our economy is going from strength to strength.

“The manufacturing industry in the North East has suffered badly over the decades but there is so much skill and thirst for success in the region that this survey can only be good news.

“Instead of trying to hold us back those politicians who still can’t accept the Brexit vote should wake up to the reality and make sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction as we move forward.”

LETTERS

If a war broke out tomorrow, would our Armed Forces be capable of defending Britain’s territory?

Dear Editor,

The idea of a war between Spain and the UK over Gibraltar is ridiculous. Politicians on both sides may enjoy blustering about this issue but it would never happen. However, this non-debate does highlight a much more serious question – if a war broke out tomorrow, would our Armed Forces be capable of defending Britain’s territory?

Savage cut after savage cut (many of the worst under David Cameron) have dramatically reduced the size and effectiveness of our Armed Forces. I also worry that we lack an effective long-term defence plan and that decisions are made based on short term and financial considerations. Politicians seeking re-election are often tempted into stopgap measures, knowing they won’t still be in office when bigger problems hit.

For example, the government (eventually) decided to invest in some new aircraft carriers (which are electorally popular, unlike for example anti-submarine vessels) but are we actually in a position to use these effectively? Does the Royal Navy have the resources to put together a true carrier squadron? If they somehow managed to scrape one together what impact would this have on operations in other areas of the world? The UK should have aircraft carriers, but if we invest in this we must ensure that we have a surface fleet capable of protecting and utilising them – otherwise they are good for little more than selfies on Conservative Party election materials.

Nor is it just our Royal Navy; the Army and RAF are also critically underfunded, undermanned and lack many basic resources – just last week Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was discussing the possibility of huge cuts to the Royal Marines.

MPs have underinvested in our Armed Forces for decades, but it takes a lot of nerve to make an implicit threat of war in the same week that you are also planning the next round of savage cuts.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP
UKIP, North East

LETTERS

The government must be prepared to fight for our fishing industry

Dear Editor,

Democracy has prevailed! Article 50 has been triggered and the United Kingdom is leaving the EU. Talks between the UK and EU will kick off soon and many different priorities have been discussed in recent days; these have included everything from defence and security concerns to the wellbeing of London bankers.

One policy area that I feel has not received enough focus from either politicians or the media is our fishing industry – particularly here in the North East. We are a coastal region whose strong traditional fishing industry has been decimated thanks to EU policies which have caused untold misery and unemployment. Brexit represents a chance to start to undo some of these mistakes and could give the fishing industry a chance to prosper. We must stop foreign vessels overfishing our waters and rebuild our fishing fleet.

However, this will not happen if Theresa May and her government do not view this industry as a priority. British fishermen have been let down countless times since 1972; it is only fair and right that they be prioritised now. The Remain campaign did not agree, but our fishermen and the wider fishing industry are every bit as important as trendy jobs in London and our government must be prepared to fight for them.

 

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP