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

The Gambling Commission has found that 450,000 children are gambling every week

Dear Editor,

Gambling is so often the preserve of the poor and the desperate. Sadly too many find themselves in such financial straits in the North East.

It is all too easy to be lured into betting and the growth of online gambling is making it even easier –  all from the comfort of your own home or even out and about with a mobile phone.

Now it emerges that bookmakers are apparently targeting youngsters by using children’s cartoon characters to promote their online service.

I am glad to see that the ASA is investigating, particularly as the Gambling Commission has found that shockingly 450,000 children are gambling in England and Wales every week.

Youngsters are particularly susceptible as playing online games is part of their culture. The Local Government Association has revealed that one in ten children aged between 11 – 15 are “following” gambling firms on social media.

It is ironic that it was a Labour government that liberalised the gaming industry allowing its evils to proliferate and it is those in its traditional heartlands, such as this region, who are paying a particularly high price.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott MEP

The government plans to impose vicious cuts upon the Army Air Corps.

Dear Editor,

I was deeply disappointed to learn that the government plans to impose vicious cuts upon the Army Air Corps.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party have been justly criticised for their attitude towards our Armed Forces but the record of Tory governments under both David Cameron and Theresa May have been equally appalling.  Despite this record, the Conservatives tend toreceive relatively little criticism for their decisions towards our Armed Forces.

The Conservative Party like to talk big on defence spending and constantly say that they view our Armed Forces as a key priority for any government.  However, the actions of successive Tory governments have proven that these are no more than empty words designed to win votes.

Defence must always be a priority for the British Government but it appears that neither our current government nor the official opposition can be trusted to properly defend our nation and give our Armed Forces the resources and funding that they require.

What a deeply troubling state of affairs.

Jonathan Arnott MEP

I welcome plans to increase animal sentencing guidelines

Dear Editor,

I have long complained about the inadequacy of sentences handed down for animal cruelty so I am delighted that Michael Gove plans to increase the maximum jail term to five years.

The current maximum of six months is woefully low and with an automatic third off for a guilty plea very few people are actually put behind bars for such offending behaviour. I hope that the proposals also include the imposition of far longer bans on animal ownership.

The case of two brothers given a suspended sentence at Hartlepool Magistrates for appalling cruelty to a young bulldog – which they had sickeningly videod – is a case I highlighted at the time as demonstrating the need for a change in the law.

We are known as a country of animal lovers and this proposed change is very long overdue. The Sentencing Council needs to ensure that when it is on the statute book the guidelines they issue actually results in deterrent sentences so these thugs don’t keep walking away laughing.

Yours faithfully

Jonathan Arnott,

Crossrail 2

The government’s decision to approve London’s Crossrail2 project has proven controversial.
When Crossrail was approved we were assured that investment in the North was a priority – everyone in the North East knows that this claim proved to be false.

Now Crossrail2 is being finalised and we are once again being told that infrastructure in the North is a priority. I wonder if any of your readers actually believe these latest claims? I certainly don’t.

During every election campaign Labour and Tory MPs come up to the North East to reveal their grand plans to invest in our roads and railways, but once the election has ended we seldom hear anything more about these promises until the next election campaign has begun.

The North East does not need any more empty promises or pointless hype about the mythical ‘Northern Powerhouse.’ We need the infrastructure investment that we have been lacking for decades.