Letter – We must focus on key services, not vanity projects

Dear Editor

Westminster Council have just approved a “garden bridge” at the cost of £175m to the taxpayer.  Not only is this bridge expensive but it will cost £3.5m in annual maintenance.   Some people have dubbed it “the most expensive footbridge in the world”.

It is interesting to see that London Councils can afford to build hundred million pound infrastructure projects primarily as a piece of art.   Here in the North East we have run down railways with cattle trucks for trains, inadequate, overcrowded roads and a health system that is being gradually decimated due to lack of funds.  Many Councils here couldn’t afford to build a footbridge for practical reasons, never mind artistic ones. Perhaps the people of London could make do with a simply functional new footbridge and the extra (estimated at around 5-10 times what was necessary) funding could be redistributed around the country to help areas where the infrastructure doesn’t even meet the most basic of requirements.

I for one would welcome a large investment into our local railways, even if it didn’t quite meet the artistic tastes of Westminster Council.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letters – Build houses on brownfield sites

Dear Editor,

I welcome the Journal article of 26th November which highlights the urgent need for house building in the North East, specifically on brownfield sites.

In the UK we simply do not build enough houses (or other infrastructure) to support an ever growing population and our constantly growing immigration numbers.  So it is a damning indictment on our housing infrastructure in the North East that we are below even the national average.
A focus on brownfield sites has been UKIP policy for many years and would generate significant improvement in our region. Let’s make sure that this includes affordable homes for first-time buyers whilst protecting our cherished greenbelt.
Jonathan Arnott MEP
UKIP, North East

Letter – The NHS must put patient care above all else

Dear Editor,

Recent reports show that more than a thousand patients a day are taking up beds in NHS hospitals because nobody is available to look after them at home.

The solution to the NHS crisis is more than just throwing money at the problem – it is about careful management and spending money wisely.

In recent years the NHS has spent millions on art, and local hospitals employ huge amounts of back end staff in non medical functions, many doing what has been referred to as “non jobs.”  Whilst cutting services and medical staff, NHS hospitals have hired huge numbers of spin doctors, an “EU office director” and an “arts in the hospital co-ordinator.”  The NHS is currently advertising a “Senior Media Manager” position for which they are offering an annual salary of £53,367 – enough to hire 2 nurses for the year.

The NHS needs to be refocused upon patient care.  Is it acceptable for the NHS to lay off medical staff, shut A&Es and cut down key services but spend millions on art and hire legions of PR staff that do nothing to deliver frontline patient care?  I don’t think so.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letter – Correcting tiresome Labour spin

Dear Editor,

With another day comes another Labour attack claiming UKIP wish to privatise the NHS.

It is kind of Mr Blenkinsop to try to mislead your readers, but here are a few facts about UKIP’s policy on the NHS (taken directly from our Policies for People document):

– UKIP will ensure the NHS is free at the point of delivery and time of need for all UK residents.

– UKIP opposes plans to charge patients for visiting their GP.

– We will stop further use of PFI in the NHS and encourage local authorities to buy out their PFI contracts early where this is affordable.

– We will ensure that GPs’ surgeries are open at least one evening per week, where there is demand for it.

– There will be a duty on all health service staff to report low standards of care.

Our health service is a British birthright, UKIP will not seek to privatise the NHS and we would reverse Labour’s crippling PFI privatisation scheme.

Mr Blenkinsop reminds us that it was the Labour party that established the NHS, but sadly the Labour party of Aneurin Bevan would not recognise the unprincipled, spin-obsessed, Labour Party of 2014.

Same old Labour, all spin – no substance.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letter – Same old Labour, all talk – no substance

Dear Editor,

Labour’s new “anti-UKIP unit” has sprung into action, launching spin and (often anonymous) personal attacks all across the country.  Yesterday, Mr Miliband boldly declared Labour needed to debate UKIP to show “where they stand.”

Our response? Bring it on!  Nigel Farage immediately accepted the challenge. Sadly, Mr Miliband promptly backed down.   Same old Labour, all talk – no substance.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East

Letter – E-cigarettes make a positive impact on many smokers lives

Dear Editor,

Not a day goes by when I do not receive a letter or email from constituents asking me to support the growth of e-cigarettes, and oppose domestic and EU attempts to slow down and over regulate the industry.

From my experience with my constituents here in the North East, it is clear that e-cigarettes help a large number of people escape from long term cigarette addictions.  Even though some non smokers will inevitably take up e-cigarettes surely this is preferable to taking up smoking? It would be better to smoke neither, but e-cigarettes are much less unhealthy.

I understand that people have misgivings over televised adverts for e-cigarettes. However, can we really be sure that banning such adverts would not unintentionally lead to higher levels of smoking regular cigarettes?

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East