Promises to address the transport spending gap between the North and South usually prove to be no more than empty words

Dear Editor,

I am not surprised that a row has broken out about the transport spending gap between the North and South, it is a perennial problem and likely to remain so I’m afraid.

This issue has spanned many successive governments, both Labour and Tory. We have heard countless promises of investment but it usually proves to be no more than empty words.

Whether the think tank IPPR North has got its figures right or not, as claimed by the Department of Transport, there can be no doubt that there is large discrepancy and it needs to be addressed.

But governments rise and governments fall and though I’d love to be wrong about this,I fear this spending gap will survive.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

 

 

 EU Commissioners are ignoring their own scientific advice by letting Dutch fishermen use electro-pulse fishing on British fishing grounds

Dear Sir, You can’t beat a fish and chip supper, but how often do we stop to think about where and how the fish was caught? We all know that our fishing grounds have been decimated by the EU Common Fisheries Policy and so many of our traditional fleets, including in North East, have literally […]

 The UK is on the brink of a massive recycling crisis

Dear Sir,

It is plain that the UK is on the brink of a massive recycling crisis and it is one the government can no longer ignore.

We had impossible recycling targets thrust on us by the EU under the Waste Framework Directive and this threw our local authorities into a tail spin to try to achieve them without any real hope of success.

Attention has been concentrated on meeting these targets instead of a developing proper detailed proposals to deal with waste, particularly plastics.

The general public are waking up to the menace of plastic packaging – some of it which is not or cannot be recycled – at the same time as China has declined to keep taking our plastic detritus.

This eventuality must surely have been anticipated by the government but according to our recycling industry leaders there seems to be no Plan B.

The concept of incinerating such materials must raise concerns about potential air pollution and landfill sites are already getting full.

There is plainly no easy answer to the existing plastic waste – but meanwhile it is essential that pressure is applied to ensure manufacturers cut right back on using such materials in the first place.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott MEP

It is right that we should take back control of our waters as soon as we leave the EU 

Dear Sir.

I am pleased to read that we are to get a squadron of armed navy patrol boats to prevent European boats fishing illegally in UK waters.

It is right that we should take back control of our waters as soon as we leave the EU and without any delay. These four boats, being paid for by DEFRA, should help ensure a thriving future for our fishermen and we must stand up to the inevitable challenges by foreign operators.

We have tragically lost so much of our fishing fleet over the years because of the Common Fisheries Policy but with time I hope it can be re-built, at least to some extent.

Meanwhile though I do hope that these proposed vessels are really shipshape, unlike the £3.1 bn HMS Queen Elizabeth which has embarrassingly sprung a leak.

We have a proud naval tradition – sadly eroded by successive governments – and we need to be able to protect our country as well as our fishing fleets and let the world know we are not to be messed with.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Arnott,

UK train fares are among the highest in Europe but that is not matched by the services provided on many lines

Dear Editor,

The depressing hike in rail fares from next month will hit travellers all over the country, but it is those in the poorer areas, like the North East, who will feel it most.

Trains provide a vital link for commuters so they can earn a living and keep a roof over their family’s heads. Every penny counts and many people are already feeling the pinch in funding their transport costs without a rise in costs.

The RMT Union has rightly described it as “another kick in the teeth” for passengers who are already unimpressed by the fact that 12% of trains failed to meet the rail industry’s punctuality target in the past 12 months.

According to Transport Focus, fewer than half (47%) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets and that figure is now bound to rise.

The hard pressed train users are entitled to an efficient and affordable service on good quality rolling stock. Investments have been made in new trains, track and signals but this should not be coming out of commuters’ pockets.

UK train fares are among the highest in Europe but that is not matched by the services provided on many lines.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Fishing for Amendments

Seeing the slow but inexorable decline in our fishing industry has been frankly heartbreaking.
Our once proud fishing fleets have been decimated by EU legislation and during the referendum campaign fishing communities were amongst the loudest voices in the Leave camp having experienced how disastrous EU policy has been to our country.

It was hoped that with the Brexit vote, we could reclaim the 200 – mile exclusive economic zone to which we are entitled under international law and repatriate the 70% of the total allowable catch in British waters that are currently taken by EU vessels.

However, government ministers have confirmed that the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will be included in the Great Repeal Bill, which will transpose all EU law on to the British statue books for a transitional period.
Frankly this is abject betrayal of Brexit and my colleague, Mike Hookem, UKIP’s Fisheries Spokesperson, has launched a petition to force the Government to remove it from the Repeal Bill.

I have long been dismayed as the fishing fleets in the North East have decreased thanks to the EU and I would urge everyone to get behind this petition, which can be found at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/204098

Regards,

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

A lot of fake news comes from the heart of Westminster

Dear Editor,

Fake news has become a common and controversial topic in UK politics, often blamed on Russian spy agencies and foreign powers trying to subvert Western democracies – but, in reality, it’s more likely to be generated by the power of the internet to spread information without quality control or checks. However, a lot of fake news comes from the heart of Westminster itself.

Last week, there was a controversial story about MPs voting against animal welfare – suggesting that animals are not sentient, and cannot feel pain. Traditional media platforms such as the Independent and the Evening Standard ran this story. Politicians savaged fellow MPs for their votes and huge petitions were started in opposition to this decision. There was only was problem – the story wasn’t strictly speaking true.

I have written to your paper times stressing the importance of animal welfare issues. A quick glance at this story made me uneasy: what would be the actual legal impact of a vote contained within the EU Withdrawal Bill? As a result, millions of people were unwittingly exposed to little more than political propaganda. When it turned out that the story was in fact the very definition of ‘fake news’, one story being portrayed as something else, I wasn’t surprised.

We live in an age of fake news and it has become a part of everyday life in this digital age. We must be more careful than ever to scrutinise and verify for ourselves what we read both in the media and online. I try to read both left-wing and right-wing news sources, national and regional, so that I’m able to get a feel for what’s fact and what’s opinion – and to understand the opinions of those who think differently to me.

 

Regards,

Jonathan Arnott MEP

The latest claims from Michael Barnier sound rather petulant to me 

Dear Editor,

There clearly is no tactic the EU will not use to try to sabotage our country’s Brexit.

The latest is a claim by their chief negotiator Michael Barnier that if the negotiations fail it will be harder to travel with pets from the UK to the EU.

It sounds rather petulant to me but highlights that they are willing to use any opportunity to try to threaten and frighten the British public. They know we are a nation of animal lovers so obviously see this as a means to scare those who travel abroad with their pets.

The EU is desperate for Brexit to fail and for us to remain tied to their apron strings because they need our money to keep their project afloat. It is no wonder they keep coming up with pie-in-the-sky divorce settlement figures and any scaremongering device they can invent.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

Research showing that rail transport in London receives six times as much funding as that in the North East is depressing reading.

Dear Editor,

Research showing that rail transport in London receives six times as much funding as that in the North East is depressing reading.

The government keeps talking about the Northern Powerhouse and investing billions of pounds across the North of England but meanwhile businesses in this region continue to suffer from poor transport links.

I have long argued that we need real action and not just hot air and yet again figures reveal that the promises are not being translated into reality.

The potential for growth in the North East is tremendous with the skills, enthusiasm and sheer hard work ethic – but we are still being let down by the powers that be. And it is not good enough.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

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