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

Letter – Politicians must bow to the will of the people and scrap the bedroom tax

Dear Sir,

The North East Manifesto finding almost 76% of those surveyed want the ‘bedroom tax’ scrapping comes as little surprise.

This tax operates unfairly and takes insufficient account of the needs of families and the disabled. It is a major concern for tens of thousands of households in the region and this under-occupancy penalty would be ditched by UKIP.

It causes a great deal of hardship and suffering and inevitably affects those least able to deal with it. It is wrong in principle and people should not be forced out of their homes or have their housing benefits cut.

There is an increasing need for new housing largely caused by the unprecedented immigration of the last decade and that pressure will continue until we leave the European Union.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott MEP,

UKIP PPC for Easington

Letter – Why wont Labour let the British people decide for themselves?

Dear Editor,

 

Ed Miliband and the Labour party have made it clear that they are opposed to the UK leaving the European Union.  This is fine, we now have a debate on this issue which is both healthy and constructive.  Many viable arguments can be made on both sides of the debate and I am delighted that this discussion is now being held in the political mainstream.

What I take issue with is the fact that Labour do not wish to give the British people a say in this vital decision.  Politicians are elected to work for the people, not dictate what they can and cannot have a say on.  From immigration, to educational funding the EU has a impact on so many aspects of life in modern Britain and I believe the British people deserve a say on this issue.

We need an open, fair, referendum on this long running and divisive issue so that once and for all we can settle what way the future of our country is headed. Labour as a party (unlike many of their voters) are opposed to British withdrawal from the EU yet they are very reluctant to make a case for this in front of the British people; I suspect this is because they know that if a referendum is held, the result very well may not go as they hoped.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

 

Letters – Health and safety has gone beyond mad

Dear Editor,

The phrase “health and safety gone mad” is over used in modern society.  However when you hear that a Sure Start centre has banned the use of prams and cites “health and safety” as the reason, I am not sure that “mad” is a strong enough word.

I appreciate that health and safety and even red tape does have a role in modern society but the idea of banning prams from a building designed to support parents and children is simply crazy.

Those in charge of this centre and Darlington Borough Council must see sense and ensure that parents are able to bring a pram into a children’s support centre. This is yet another example of someone in a back office coming up with a policy that on paper sounds sensible but in reality is completely impractical.  What we need is a common sense approach to health and safety.

As all parents will tell you, leaving expensive prams unattended (in a designated area or not) outside where it could get wet and cold is a ludicrous idea. It could make the prams uncomfortable, unusable, damaged or even stolen.  Darlington Council needs to address this absurd situation immediately. Parents and young children are entitled to use this support centre with ease and they should not be forced to jump through hoops to make use of it.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – We need a new breed of politicians who will put the needs of the people before financial gain

Dear Editor,

 

It is rather sad that our politicians have not appeared to have learnt their lesson from the ways that they have let down the British public in the past.  We all remember the expenses scandal; it will be a long time before the voters forget that their elected representatives were billing the public for ludicrous expenses such as moat cleaning and duck houses.

It therefore shocks and surprises me to see that in 2015, Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham has billed the taxpayers £17 to pay for a wreath of poppies presented on Remembrance Day. Most shameful of all is that she described this tribute to our war dead as a “necessary expense” as part of her office costs.

Not only does this act seem disrespectful to the taxpayers, our armed forces and our veterans; but in my opinion it is yet another abuse of our expenses system.   One would assume that a politician’s morals and values would be enough to prevent this sort of malpractice.  If that wasn’t enough you would also think that the fear of more discrediting newspaper headlines such as those we saw in the run up to the last General Election would discourage MPs from dishonourable acts such as this.

This saddening situation just shows yet again that our out of touch political class don’t seem to care about the people of this country.  They come across to the public as being too busy worrying about quangos, expenses and squeezing all they can from the hard working taxpayers.

What we need is a shake up within our political system and a new breed of politicians in Westminster who will put the needs of the people before their own financial gain.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

 

Letters – There is no such thing as EU money.

Dear Editor,

The Beamish Museum is in the news this week because it is no longer earmarked to get £4 million from the European Regional Development Fund.

Now I am a great supporter of this County Durham heritage site, which is an economic asset to the North East, and I hope it long continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.

But no one should be fooled into thinking that we should rely on and be grateful for European money. Let me make it plain – there is no such thing. This country meekly hands over a staggering £55 million a day to the EU and then they very kindly give us some back and we jump up and down in gratitude.

It is madness almost beyond belief and the sooner we leave this failing economic bloc the better.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott,

Re-engaging voters with politics will take more than hollow words

As we are now in a run-up to an election, many politicians are declaring their distress at low turnouts and slow voter registration.   The truth is that many people are disillusioned with politics full stop.  No matter what politicians promise or say, some people feel it won’t make a difference.

I regularly speak at public meetings all across the North East and at every single one  somebody will come up and thank UKIP for standing; saying that they haven’t voted in years and would not have voted this time if UKIP weren’t standing. This is something I am very proud of: UKIP may not be for everyone, but we have provided a voice and alternative option for many people who previously felt disenfranchised.

I’m living in the Easington constituency (one of the safest seats in England) and am standing for Parliament there.  For many years no-one but Labour has really campaigned there.  There are no no-go areas for UKIP, and – like many UKIP members standing in seats written off by the other parties – I hope to provide a real alternative choice in that area for the first time in decades.

The Scottish referendum showed how energised politics can be when people care about an issue and feel their vote matters.  When many young people in England don’t care about political parties, the answer isn’t more party politics but more direct democracy.

Giving power back to the people is core to UKIP’s beliefs. We believe local people not just politicians should be able to contribute towards the big decisions that impact their area.  Increased local democracy, referendums on key issues and a more representative voting system would all be positive steps to bring politics and power back to the people.