On Monday Parliament spent several hours debating about US celebrity (and occasional politician) Donald Trump. Earlier in the day Tata Steel had announced over 1000 job losses across the UK (another dark day for the already crippled UK Steel Industry.) Here in the North East, Hartlepool will be impacted by the Tata job losses and people in Berwick are also coming to the terms with the loss of over 200 much needed jobs at Jus- Rol as the company are moving production to Greece.
Simultaneously David Cameron’s feeble EU negotiation rumbles on, the NHS continues to be faced with the possibility of further strikes by medical staff (not to mention the numerous other crises that face our Health Service) and countless other political issues continue to impact the everyday lives of millions of people in the UK.
I have found myself wondering if perhaps our political leaders could find more pressing issues to address than Donald Trump and his annoying brand of shock jock politics?
Jonathan Arnott MEP
Question for written answer E-001161/2015
to the Commission
Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)
Subject: Christian persecution in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries
According to Open Doors, countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region are amongst the worst persecutors of Christians. Does the Commission intend to raise the issue of Christian persecution in these countries, with the possibility of revising the 1988 GCC-EU Cooperation Agreement if the situation does not improve?
Answer given by Vice-President Mogherini
on behalf of the Commission
The HR/VP is well aware of the issue raised by the Honourable Member.
The EEAS is closely monitoring the situation of individuals belonging to different minorities, including religious ones, in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
As recalled in the EU guidelines on freedom of religion or belief adopted in June 2013, the right of individuals belonging to religious minorities to practice their religion and worship freely, without fear of intimidation, discrimination, violence or attack, has to be upheld.
In this respect, the EU is consistently engaged with the local authorities in an ongoing dialogue on human rights concerns and encourages reform measures. The areas of concern include among others: freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, corporal punishment, death penalty and the reform of the judiciary.
The EU will continue to support efforts that promote minorities’ rights in an inclusive society and safeguard freedom of religion or belief. People should have the right to practice their religion and worship freely, without fear of intimidation, discrimination, violence or attack.
The EU Member States have also been actively engaged in the UN Universal Periodic Review sessions on GCC countries.
The scrapping of plans for weekly bin collections was inevitable and it is wrong that the public has been deceived, said local UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott.
“There has been a £250million investment in a failed scheme to encourage town halls to reverse the trend towards fortnightly collections.
“This was a complete waste of our money with not one council restoring weekly bin emptying and some actually scrapping them in favour of fortnightly collections.
“The government is now saying that the scheme is to be dropped which flies in the face of Tory promises while in opposition to restore ‘the fundamental right’ of families to have their bins emptied very seven days.
“But what they never actually admit is that behind the change to alternative week collections lie two EU directives, said Mr Arnott.
“The 1999 Landfill Directive – supported by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – and the Waste Framework Directive created ridiculous and impossible recycling targets.
“Not only are householders hit in the pocket with council tax paying for bin collections but also lumbered with this £250million doomed project.
“Decisions affecting people in the North East should be made in their best interests and not because our hands are tied by Brussels rules and regulations,” he said.
It is understood funding for the scheme will be axed in the autumn spending review because the Department for Communities and Local Government is facing budget cuts of up to 40 per cent.
At a time when the parents of about 80,000 pupils have learned that they have not got their first choice of school it comes as no surprise to learn that
almost 188,000 of the 695,000 UK births in 2014 were to migrant mums.
The figure has more than doubled since 1997 when Tony Blair introduced New Labour’s open-door immigration policy. And it is expected to rise as high as one in three births by 2021.
We need much tighter immigration controls, our country is bursting at the seams and our infrastructure is struggling to keep up with demand.
It has recently emerged that net migration has soared by 50% in a year to 318,000 – the highest level for a decade. We just cannot go on like this.
We need to leave the EU and introduce an Australian-style points system for immigrants so that we have control over who lives here and brings the skills we need to grow our economy. We owe it to our children who are already being affected by the over-demand for school places.
Jonathan Arnott MEP
Last night Jonathan Arnott MEP spoke alongside UKIP PPC for Stockton South, Ted Strike, at a public meeting in Ingleby Barwick. There was a good turnout to hear both speakers. Ted spoke with passion about his work in the local community and what he had achieved for local people over the years, as well as his charitable work overseas. Jonathan gave an overview of UKIP’s policies and his work as an MEP in the European Parliament.
The call comes following the publication of the most recent Youth Homelessness North East (YHNE) report, showing that youth homelessness is continuing to rise across the region.
In February 2014, between 246 and 275 young people presented as homeless to local authorities. This equates to an average of between 31 and 34 presentations per local authority and is an increase on the previous year’s average of between 18 and 23 presentations
Arnott said “There simply isn’t enough one bedroom accommodation available throughout the North East for those who wish to secure their first property. It is incredibly unfair that those who do manage to get their first place, are taxed on any extra rooms that they may hold”.
The survey showed that the introduction of the bedroom tax had affected 72% of the respondents either ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a bit’ in young people’s ability to access secure accommodation.
Six housing associations and two homelessness agencies in the survey also suggested that young people’s understanding of welfare reform was poor, with one homelessness agency also suggesting understanding was ‘very poor’.
“Our benefits system needs to be accessible and flexible. The whole system is completely mind-boggling. People should at least be able to have some sort of understanding of the system so they can clearly see just what they are or aren’t entitled to.” Mr Arnott added.
According to figures released by the Local Data Company (LDC), the North-East is the only region in the country to have shown a decline in its fortunes with an increase in shop vacancy rates by 0.4% to 16.4%.
Stockton is the area with the fifth highest rate of empty shops in Britain, with 23.9% vacant, according to figures compiled by the Local Data Company (LDC).
Arnott, the region’s local MEP, said “The report highlights how the North East’s once thriving high streets are being left to the dust bins of history whilst the rest of the country moves forward.
“Drastic action is needed to attract businesses and customers from the convenient out-of-town shopping malls and back to the high street, which were once the life blood of communities right across the country.
“In Stockton, scrapping the first two hours parking charge would be a step in the right direction to draw greater business interest into the local area and shoppers into the town”.
Matthew Hopkinson, director at the Local Data Company, said: “The first half of 2014 has shown a positive improvement in vacancy rates across the country both by geography and location type.
“What is very clear, however, is that this positive trend is not universal and hides significant variances.”
The North-east is the part of Britain where retail parks are performing best against high streets, with 18.6% of high street shops empty, compared to 7.8% in retail parks.
Arnott continued, “Yet again, a worrying pattern is emerging; whilst the rest of the country’s fortunes improve, the North East is left behind. I would urge councillors, not just in Stockton, but right across the North East to consider reducing car parking charges in a small step to attract business and punters back to the high street”.
UKIP’s local Euro MP Jonathan Arnott has hit out after figures released today shows that unemployment is still rising in the North East despite the region already having the highest levels in the country.
The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, shows that there were 132,000 people out of work in the region between May and July this year – an increase of 1,000 on the previous quarter.
Arnott said “Yet again, our region is shown as the region which has the highest rate of unemployment in the country.
“Over the course of the last week I visited a foodbank in Redcar, and an employability resource centre in Blyth; both are doing fantastic work for those who need help and support. However, the broad consensus prevailed that those in Westminster have no idea whatsoever as to how to get those who are unemployed in the North East into training and work.
The region still has the highest unemployment rate in the country, with one in ten people without a job.
“We have to dual the A1 in this region to make the region a more attractive proposition for business, scrap income tax on minimum wage jobs to make work pay, and provide greater levels of investment to manufacturing companies to rejuvenate our once thriving industry”.