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

LETTERS

I am glad to hear that European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is looking forward to “a friendly relationship” with the UK

Dear Editor,

I am glad to hear that European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker is looking forward to “a friendly relationship” with the UK after we leave the EU.

He has told the BBC that as well as hoping to have a friendly relationship over the next decades he is not in a hostile mood with Britain. Again I am glad to hear that.

Time will tell, of course, and there’s an awful lot of negotiations to go under the bridge first. One thing he has said that is undoubtedly true is that the EU is not in the best form and shape it could be in.

He admits that if three, four or five more countries leave the EU would collapse but does not believe that will happen.

Again time will tell, but the whole EU edifice is a flawed concept and collapse is its ultimate destination.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Yet another sickening crime against an animal

Dear Editor,

A dog has been burned alive in a bin bag, after a catalogue of recent offences including a nail hammered through the skull of a dog before burying it alive, a horse stabbed in the legs, neck and abdomen, and thugs filming themselves torturing an animal to death. These sickening crimes happen regularly, as readers will know.

Many culprits escape jail altogether. But when was the last time that for any such offence, no matter how horrific, anyone ACTUALLY spent more than 2 months in jail? I honestly can’t remember it happening. The maximum sentence is 6 months, which is discounted to 4 on a guilty plea – and those sentenced to 4 months are released in just 2.

When the very worst offenders spend no more than two months in jail, it’s time to change the law. A 5 year maximum, as recommended by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, would be a good starting point.

If MPs thought there were a million votes in it, there’d be a Bill on the floor of the House of Commons within hours. Instead, out-of-touch politicians (with some notable exceptions like Anna Turley) continue to ignore this outrage.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

Newcastle does not need a congestion charge

Dear Editor,

Local bus companies have proposed introducing a London-style charge on motorists who wish to drive in Newcastle. They claim that this should be done to ‘cut congestion’ but I would not blame some of your more cynical readers if they saw this as a bid to increase bus company profits. London is very different from Newcastle, is much bigger than Newcastle, and has a level of public transport funding that we couldn’t imagine in our wildest dreams.

This charge would add yet another financial burden to already stretched local families and small businesses.  It would also do much to discourage people from visiting (and spending money) in Newcastle. We should be encouraging people to visit our cities, not putting them off.

Frankly I think motorists are already paying enough. We pay 58p a litre in fuel duty, then we pay VAT on the cost of the fuel and the duty. We pay road tax, tax on our insurance premiums, extortionate parking charges and a toll to go through the Tyne Tunnel. Should a driver stray into a bus lane for more than a millisecond, a fine quickly follows. If local bus companies want to increase their profits they should focus on improving their service to make bus travel more appealing rather than launching a war against local drivers.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

The North East needs investment, not empty promises

Dear Editor,

New reports suggest that North East schools would get an extra £323 million per year if they were based in London.  The worst thing about this?  I am not even slightly surprised.

Just about everything in the North East is underfunded when compared to other parts of the country (especially London).  Roads, railways, the NHS, ambulance services and schools are just a few examples of public services that have been underfunded in the North East for a very long time.

At every General Election Labour and the Conservative Party come to the North East promising investment, jobs and opportunity. They tell us that the North East has been overlooked for too long – but nothing ever changes and those same politicians  always come back making the same empty promises at the next election.

The North East needs investment, not empty promises – it is a great shame that successive Labour and Conservative governments have shown no interest in providing this investment.
Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

LETTERS

I do not feel that David Cameron is a suitable candidate for the office of Secretary General of NATO

Dear Editor,

The political establishment recently launched a campaign to promote David Cameron as a candidate for the next Secretary General of  NATO.

 

David Cameron oversaw a government that made savage, reckless, shortsighted and damaging cuts to our armed forces – particularly the Royal Navy. As a result of these cuts the UK’s Army, Navy and Air Force all significantly lack equipment, manpower and funding.

 

Given the Cameron government’s failures in this regard I do not feel that he is a suitable candidate for the office of Secretary General of NATO. NATO needs to be lead by someone who is actually committed to defence and will push member states to meet NATO spending targets.  NATO is vital to British, European and global security; its Secretary-General should be someone with a proven track record when it comes to defence.

 

After Tony Blair’s disastrous time as Middle East peace envoy, perhaps our country could do to learn a thing or two about the advisability of ex-Prime Ministers grandstanding on the world stage.

Regards,
Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

The UK foreign aid budget is now so large that the government can no longer even think of sensible things to spend it on

Dear Editor,

The UK government has long been criticised for providing foreign aid to countries with space programmes and nuclear weapons programmes, or to countries in the G20. Tabloid newspapers give us stories of our foreign aid budget being used to support girl bands and the growth of football. And now further media reports reveal that the government is currently considering sending foreign aid to European Union countries like Poland, Hungary and some of the Baltic states post-Brexit.

There is a strong moral case for a sensible foreign aid budget which responds to earthquakes and volcano eruptions, to outbreaks of killer disease and to famine. There is a strong moral case for a foreign aid budget providing clean drinking water and vital medical supplies. There’s also a strong moral case, post-Brexit when we regain the power, for eliminating tariffs for buying goods from some of the world’s poorest nations and helping them through trade which develops their economies. All of these things give a helping hand to those who truly need it. However, whilst so many key services in the UK are being cut due to a lack of funding I think that it is appalling that our government would even consider providing ‘aid’ to relatively prosperous Western nations.

It is clear that the UK foreign aid budget is now so large that the government can no longer even think of sensible things to spend it on. For that reason, I can accept the official UKIP position. I can support trimming our foreign aid budget to remove all the wasteful and unnecessary spending – and at a time of crisis in the NHS, the Party is absolutely right to say that the savings should be ploughed into our NHS to ensure that we provide better care for those who are sick and in the most need in our own country.

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East