North East infrastructure must not be upgraded on the cheap, the whole of the A1 must be dualled

A government road scheme has been described by a local MEP as “trying to upgrade North East transport on the cheap’”.

The proposed ‘expressways’ scheme would remove roundabouts and traffic lights from some of the country’s A-roads, creating motorway-style slip roads and junctions to ease traffic flow.

On the list of projects is turning the A1 north of Newcastle into such an expressway.  Restrictions are likely to be placed on the new class of road, including new traffic rules and a ban on bicycles.

But UKIP Euro-MP Jonathan Arnott believes that the plan is fundamentally flawed, because there is still no commitment to make the whole length of the A1 dual carriageway.

“The whole of the A1 must be dualled, with no exceptions. If they were planning to do that, then I would be all for this new proposed ‘expressway’ which would help to cut journey times still further.  But my worry is that once again, the government is trying to upgrade North East transport on the cheap.

The Chancellor’s ‘Northern economic powerhouse’ looks pretty shaky when London has 25 times the public spending per capita on transport that we get here in the North East.

“My simple message to the politicians in Westminster is this: Stop expecting us to be grateful when we’re given the crumbs under the table after London has had its share.”

UKIP has been campaigning for the dualling for the A1 and A69 for years, since Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall’s announcement at the 2013 North East Conference.

Mr Arnott has previously branded the single-carriageway A1 as ‘a disgrace’ given that it is the main road between London and Edinburgh, saying that development of business requires proper transport links.

The new expressways will be an entirely new road classification, intended as a halfway house between an A-road and a motorway.  Similar transport schemes exist already in Italy, Holland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

Report shows jobs meltdown claims are untrue

A report from the influential Institute of Economic Affairs “gives the lie to ridiculous claims that leaving the EU would cause a jobs meltdown,” said UKIP MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“The other three main parties peddle these ridiculous claims but as the author of this report notes, there may well be net job creation in the wake of a British exit.

“What is quite clear is that the ability to trade does not rely on membership of a political union, but the ability to be an independent democracy relies on not being absorbed into a political union.”

“David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband should all level with the British public. The reason they want to stay in the EU is not because of any likely adverse effect on jobs or the wider economy, it is because the British establishment is doing very nicely out of the EU when it comes to jobs for the boys,” said Mr Arnott, Euro-MP for the North East.

“It would be a rash punter who gambled against at least one of these gentleman ending up as an extremely well paid EU commissioner in the very near future.”

“But over the long-run, EU membership has been prohibitively expensive and disastrous for many of our industries – from fishing to coal mining. Britain would be better off out.”

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.