Letters – The government must decide quickly on airport expansion

Dear Editor,

The Airport Commission has reported back; a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick could create up to 77,000 jobs and £147 billion for the UK economy.  The decision will have a significant knock-on effect to the economy of the entire UK, and it will impact upon us here in the North East of England.  I would urge the government to now take a decision quickly on a matter which they should have resolved years ago.

We’re all used to flights being delayed; this time it’s not a flight but an entire runway running a long way behind schedule!

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letter – The number of people who smoke whilst pregnant in Hartlepool is extremely concerning

Dear Editor,

I was extremely distressed to read in Friday’s paper that Hartlepool has more than twice the national average of women who smoke whilst pregnant.  As the Mail said in its editorial, we all know that smoking has risks and we are constantly bombarded with reminders of this.  However, shouting very loudly does little good if nobody is interested in listening to what you are saying.

The quantity of warnings is not in doubt, but what about the effectiveness?  Does the public understand the risks involved with smoking during pregnancy?  The current drive against smoking is focused on plain cigarette packs – but I have to wonder if this will actually influence any smokers at all or if it is just a way for the government to look like they are doing something about the issue?

I don’t want a nanny state, we should not ban smoking – it is a personal choice and any adult should be free to smoke – but like many of your readers I am deeply concerned by the impact it could have on unborn babies. I am also puzzled how Hartlepool can be over twice the national average?  I could understand how a town could be over the average, but double?

Regardless of the reason, this is not a problem that will be solved overnight – or by a simple letter from a politician.  This is an issue which will require a lot of thought – both locally and nationally and it is one that must be addressed.

In the short term, I would encourage all smokers who fall pregnant to get in touch with your doctor and ask about nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) – patches, gum etc which are available free on this NHS – which coincidentally is yet another reason why key hospital services must be available within Hartlepool.

If anyone would like to discuss how we might begin to approach this important issue or why the rate is so high in Hartlepool then I would love to hear from you in my office at 41 Elwick Road, Hartlepool or via email at jonathan.arnott@europarl.europa.eu

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Outside of the EU we could negotiate tailor-made trade deals

Dear Editor,

It’s not often that I see eye-to-eye with my Labour colleagues in the European Parliament, but Jude Kirton-Darling MEP is right to say that there are huge dangers with the proposed EU-US trade deal known as TTIP.  There is certainly a threat to our public services, and an Investor-State dispute mechanism which would give companies huge power to sue national governments.  I’ve received thousands of emails, letters and phone calls on this subject from people who care about the issue.  It’s a level of political engagement from local people that I’ve never seen before, and none of my UKIP colleagues have either.

I’m not interested in attending champagne receptions to be lobbied by big business.  I am, however, interested in being lobbied by the constituents who elected me to work for them in the European Parliament.  I was hugely disappointed that the President of the European Parliament used an arcane procedural rule to prevent the vote and debate on this issue from taking place, but expect it to come back in September.  I assume that Jude will be re-submitting her amendment which opposed the investor-state dispute mechanism, and I will support that and other amendments with the same aim.  Likewise, I hope that Jude will support the UKIP amendments aimed at specifically protecting the British NHS.

I must, however, point out that outside the EU we would be free to negotiate our own trade deals; not only could we get a deal that is tailor-made for the UK rather than a European fudge, but we could (like Switzerland) actually have more free trade deals than we do at present.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – Let local people decide on important local issues

Dear Editor,

The plans by Persimmon Homes to build 1,260 new homes in Hartlepool is exactly the type of development that should be the subject of a local referendum.

Under UKIP proposals referenda would be held for just such controversial applications so that local residents’ views are paramount and not just ignored in a “consultation”.

A binding local referendum would be triggered by the signatures of 5 per cent of electors within a planning authority area collected within three months.

This particular application in a South West Extension development has led to serious concerns being expressed by the Fens Residents Association on a number of grounds, including lack of need.

There is a housing shortage nationally, partly fuelled by uncontrolled immigration, but that does not mean that the views of local residents should be ignored and nor should green belt land be imperilled.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

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

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

 

Letters – Mental Health Awareness Week

Dear Editor,

This is Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual event which has my full support because it highlights an area of health which I believe fails to receive the funding and publicity it deserves.

It is basically the Cinderella of the NHS because mental health issues may not as obvious as physical ailments, but the reality is they are just as important and debilitating.

They cause anguish for the sufferer and their families who deserve all the help they need from health professionals but funding shortages mean they face long waiting lists.

This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue, we have all read of those who have taken their own lives while waiting for help. Mental health services must be properly funded for the sake of those afflicted as well as society generally.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Letter – For once Cameron is right, UKIP voters should return “home” – to UKIP

Dear Editor,

David Cameron has written in the Telegraph asking UKIP voters to ‘return home’, naively assuming that if UKIP weren’t there we’d vote Conservative. That’s just not true: most UKIP voters I meet would never vote Conservative even if UKIP didn’t exist.

But for once, I’m going to agree with David Cameron. I too call on UKIP voters to return home, though not in the way that he means. Those who are considering voting Labour in case it ‘lets the Conservatives in’, or those who are thinking about voting Conservative in case it ‘lets Labour in’ probably balance each other out in the end anyway. You could return home to UKIP, standing firm in your belief that we can control our borders, save billions of pounds on the EU and foreign aid, scrap Income Tax on the minimum wage and reward hard work.

In fact in most North East seats, the Conservatives don’t stand a chance and the main challengers to Labour are UKIP. It shouldn’t be ‘vote UKIP, get Labour’ or ‘vote UKIP, get Conservative’ but ‘vote UKIP, get UKIP.’

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP
MEP for the North East region and UKIP PPC for Easington