The number of apprenticeships in the North East must be increased as a matter of urgency

The number of apprenticeships in the North East must be increased as a matter of urgency, said local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“National Apprenticeship Week has quite rightly trained the spotlight on apprenticeships and I don’t think that anywhere in the country would benefit more than this region.

“The economic potential for the North East is massive and there are tens of thousands of young people who could benefit from the opportunity to get a placement.

“The crazy target for 50% of school leavers heading to university has done some no favours with their hard working efforts being devalued by the sheer numbers now obtaining degrees.

“If, as has been suggested, some employers, schools and young people believe apprenticeships are a second rate option compared to a university place they need to have a re-think, particularly for higher level apprenticeships.

“For apprentices it means that as well as earning a salary while you learn on the job they avoid student debts that now average more than £44,000 and gives them a flying start on life,” said Mr Arnott.

“And for employers it means they can develop a mutually beneficial top notch work force,” said Mr Arnott.

Cautious welcome for rail plans

News that the rail line between Middlesbrough and Northallerton has been designated a tier one route has been welcomed by local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott.

But he is unhappy that the rest of the region is being left in a transport network wilderness for the foreseeable future.

“Electrification of the Middlesbrough – Northallerton line is great news for the Tees Valley but it will obviously not happen overnight and it is vital that plans speedily follow in the rest of the area.

“This first stage will help provide a much needed financial boost but it is just part of the jigsaw for economic success and a small part of the revitalised transport system needed in the North generally,” he said.

“Yet again, the North East is getting the crumbs of what is left after other areas have had their share: we’re potentially getting just one line upgraded which is only partly in the North East, yet Yorkshire and the North West are getting far more.

“But I fully back the concept of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ as the potential for the future is plainly tremendous and UKIP will seek to make this a reality.

Jonathan Arnott MEP endorses remarks from Roger Bootle

Following the visit to the North East by top economist Roger Bootle, local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott has endorsed his remarks.

“Roger Bootle is absolutely right.  The current weakness of the euro is no surprise, given that they’re trying to have the same financial policy for Germany as for Greece.  We’re just fortunate that we’re outside the eurozone and have been insulated from some of the worst excesses of the financial crisis.

“If Greece wasn’t in the euro, it could devalue its currency and develop exports.  People would flock to Greece for cheap holidays and bring employment back there.  It’s time to admit that the euro experiment is a failure.

“It’s good that he recognises the scaremongering about British business is just that – and how timely, coming on the same day that Airbus revealed the bizarre claims in the Channel 4 mockumentary ‘The First 100 Days of UKIP’ are entirely unfounded.

“Outside the EU, we could reignite our relationship with the Commonwealth – which covers over 25% of the world’s population.  And, like Switzerland, we could develop our own free trade agreements,” he said.

Response from Jonathan Arnott MEP to today’s announcements from George Osborne

Following George Osborne’s announcement of plans for the North East, Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP for the area said,

“Whilst I welcome any investment into the North East region by central Government, I’m slightly sceptical at the timing of this announcement. We are a mere 69 days from a General Election and suddenly there are billions of extra pounds to spend.

“The decaying infrastructure problems and lack of North East investment have not just appeared overnight, they have been created by decades of neglect by Labour and the Conservative coalition. Where was this funding many years ago when it was needed?

“One of my bugbears with this pledge today is that a portion of this promised infrastructure work has already been discussed and promised previously, such as dualling the A1 and improving the A19. Residents have a valid reason for thinking the Government are taking them for a ride.

“What’s more worrying is that the proposed timetable for this work to commence, on the A1 for example, will not start till 2020. This gives the Government of the day ample time to ‘amend’ or withdraw the investment as they see fit, whilst at the same time, forcing North East residents to wait with sub-par infrastructure, a lack of investment and a feeling that the North East region just gets scraps of funding from a London-dominant pot.

Anger over wind turbine go-ahead

Local UKIP Euro-MP Jonathan Arnott has reacted angrily to planning approval being given for three huge wind turbines in Hartlepool.

“Although slightly smaller than originally envisaged they are still monstrous beasts at 574 ft (175m). I find it horrifying that they will be 56ft higher than Blackpool Tower and visible from five miles away.

“And as well as being a terrible eyesore they are not an efficient energy source,” said Mr Arnott.

“I completely understand that in this day and age we need to look at sustainable energy sources but expensive wind farms are not the answer. The winners are wealthy landowners and the losers families and pensioners who feel the brunt of the subsidy on their energy bills.

“We should instead be investing in alternative technologies such as tidal and nuclear power, which are both far more sustainable and efficient.

“Hundreds of objections were made by local people to these turbines at Graythorp Industrial Estate, Brenda Road West Industrial Estate and Tofts Road West and their views have been ignored. Future generations will look back at this era of wind turbines and see it for the utter madness it is,” he added.

Local UKIP Hartlepool PPC Phillip Broughton added “I don’t believe that people want wind turbines in the area at all, but they certainly do not want any this big.  The idea of putting turbines higher than Blackpool tower within the town is crazy.   Besides this, these turbines will simply result in yet more expensive taxpayer subsidies for inefficient wind technology.

UKIP Easington hold inaugural Public Meeting

Local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott spoke at a public meeting in Horden (Easington constituency) last night, alongside West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge. At just a few days’ notice, the venue had to be moved due to serious damage to the roof at the previous venue. Fortunately everyone was hugely accommodating, with another excellent venue around the corner hastily arranged, and people who had received leaflets were directed to the new venue on the night.

Jane Collins MEP had been due to attend, but sadly had to miss the event due to a service for the 1400 victims of the child sexual abuse scandal in Rotherham. Thanks to Bill Etheridge MEP not only for stepping in at such short notice, but also for a superb speech highlighting his working-class background from the steel industry and how UKIP truly is a Party of the people.

With the local branch having been in existence just a few short weeks, the vast majority of those present were non-UKIP members and had never been to a UKIP event or meeting previously. It was clear that Jonathan and Bill did much to persuade the audience of UKIP’s message; five new Party members and the promise of help and support from some who didn’t join will attest to that!

The biggest issue was that of jobs; with unemployment a huge problem in the area, UKIP’s education policies and positive vision for a focus on apprenticeships and technical education as well as on the academic side were discussed in some detail. Business owners lamented a lack of current skills; fixing the current mess in Jonathan’s opinion could take years. But we cannot continue to overlook our manufacturing sector.

What did Jonathan think of the Conservatives’ economic record in government? Not much, it seemed: they have achieved little for working people, the gap between here and the rest of the country economically is growing, not falling. Bill added that the Conservatives have added more to the national debt in 5 years than Labour did in 13.

Is it futile to believe that we can develop manufacturing jobs in this country? No, Bill replied, the British spirit is to never give up. And UKIP’s Redcar PPC Chris Gallacher was in the room to point out that prior to his personal intervention, new jobs at a plant in Redcar were due to go exclusively to foreign workers; now, the vast majority will go to local people.

It was heartening to see that former non-voters and Labour voters alike were turning to UKIP. “I haven’t voted at the last two General elections, because I haven’t felt there’s anyone to vote for”, one confessed afterwards. But he assured us that this time would be different, and we were left in little doubt where his cross would be going!

One local Labour Party official turned up to the meeting – furiously taking notes throughout and then asking a string of questions which were easily responded to.

Don’t we need immigration for our NHS to cope? He was boxing at shadows: UKIP’s policy recognises that we need skilled immigration, but in the long term it’s irresponsible not to train doctors and nurses ourselves. After all, we are depriving some of the poorest countries in the world of desperately-needed medical personnel.

Would ex-pat Brits living in EU countries be deported back to Britain under UKIP proposals? Of course not, just as no-one proposes to deport existing migrants in the UK who remain law-abiding citizens. And, for example, the Spanish government would hardly shun Brits taking their money into Spain.

Would British people wanting to live in France have to learn to speak French? That would be a matter for the French government. What business of ours is it to tell the French how to run their country? Jonathan speaks as much French as possible in Brussels and Strasbourg, trying to learn the language to help the work he does in the European Parliament – and also out of respect for local people.

The message of the evening was clear. No-one has challenged Labour in Easington for decades. But there’s no such thing as a no-go area for UKIP, and we will give the people a real choice.

Congratulations to UKIP North Tyneside on holding another very successful public meeting

Congratulations to UKIP North Tyneside on holding another very successful public meeting.  This meeting was very well attended with over 60 local people turning up and yet again demonstrated the growth of UKIP across North Tyneside and Tynemouth.

I spoke alongside local PPC and branch chairman Gary Legg; a candidate whose passion for the local area could not be missed. After the speeches we had a lively Q&A.   At this Q&A local residents raised a number of issues; these varied from what the questioner called the “shameful PFI programme” (which UKIP would seek to permanently end) to ambulance waiting times, local infrastructure and how UKIP would reinvest the money we would save by leaving the European Union.

I always find these public meetings to be very valuable and constructive events.  As MEP for the entire North East, I can’t visit every local community regularly so these chances to meet local people at regular grassroots events all across the North East is invaluable.  I spoke in Stockton last week, North Shields last night and I look forward to a meeting in Horden tonight.  If you wonder what UKIP could do for you, please come along to one of these meetings when we are in your area and ask any questions you like – especially the tough ones.

UKIP condemns hopeless EU financial control as auditors say tens of billions have been spent “in error” from rural development funds

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East and member of the European Parliament Budgetary Control Committee, said: “The European Commission has again shown it is incapable of finding a way to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent properly. For eurocrats, the failure to spend a billion-plus euros according to the rules is business as usual.”

UKIP press release, February 23, 2015. Immediate.

Arnott said while one “could expect any multi-billion euro operation to have a rate of error in how money is spent, the auditors found that the rate of error in spending EU rural development funds in 2011-2013 was ‘unacceptably high.’ In fact, the rate was 8.2 percent, or four times the maximum rate of error that would be tolerated in private enterprise.”

“In this report the auditors calculated the rate of error just for three years. If calculated across the entire €150bn (£110bn) 2007-2013 rural development budget, this would indicate that €1.23bn (£900m) has been spent by member states without adhering to the rules. The Commission is responsible for ‘shared management’ of these funds, so the eurocrats must share the blame for the failed oversight and gross errors made in how these billions were spent.”

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP calls for clarification over e-cigarette adoption guidance

Urgent clarification is needed from Durham and North Tyneside Councils after confusion over e-cigarette guidance for adoptive and foster parents, said local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott today.

“In my view the guidance should say that loving couples anxious to provide a home for a child should not be prevented because of vaping.

“In the wake of a Staffordshire couple being barred from adopting after the would-be father was seen smoking an e-cigarette it has emerged that different councils have varying approaches.

“These I believe include North Tyneside and Durham local authorities who state they will not place under-fives with e-cigarette users.

“Many of the councils that take this stance cite the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), which recommends ‘users of e-cigarettes be considered smokers’ until concerns about the devices are cleared up.

“They have concerns that e-cigarettes ‘may act as a “gateway” for children and young people to start smoking.’

“However Public Health England has found there was ‘no data’ supporting the claim and that it was ‘rare’ even for teens to experiment with e-cigarettes. And they have also recently stated that the health risks of passive exposure to electronic cigarette vapour are… ‘likely to be extremely low.’

“It seems to me that the stance of the BAAF and the councils following their guidance needs urgently reviewing. Particularly as other councils follow alternative guidance from the Fostering Network, which says that people ‘should not be prevented from fostering or applying because of e-cigarettes use’,” said Mr Arnott.

“There are 69,000 children in care in this country in need of foster homes or adoptive parents and it seems that their chances are being hindered by politically correct social workers and conflicting guidance.

“They need to concentrate on the priorities of these children seeking a family life instead of looking for reasons not to provide it,” he added.

Cautious welcome for North East unemployment figures

Figures released today showing that unemployment figures in the North East are down have been cautiously welcomed by local MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“The fact that unemployment figures in the North East are now declining is a hugely encouraging sign.  However, we do need to be a little cautious when looking at these figures as the North East still has the highest rates of unemployment in the country.

“The gap between the North East and the national average is still over four times as high as it was at the end of 2007, and these figures come on the back of three consecutive quarterly rises,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP’s North East Euro-MP.

“Many people still aren’t feeling a recovery, but at least for once there is some good news to report.  We need to make sure that those who are in work are always better off than they would be on benefits, and one good way to start is with UKIP’s policy of no tax on minimum wage.”