Ukip pledges to keep WMCA under tight control
Just as we were gearing up to announce a series of Public Debates with all the Mayoral candidates yesterday, the man standing for Ukip in the election on 4th May formally launched his campaign.
Pete Durnell says he is standing for Metro Mayor because he is “incredibly passionate about the West Midlands and is excited by the opportunity to play a major role in driving forward long overdue improvements to housing, transport, skills and mental health across the region.”
He says he believes:
…creating the right environment for particularly small and medium size businesses to thrive will be fundamental, and that the WMCA can play a major role in achieving this aim, but only if it is kept under tight control at all times.
It absolutely must not be allowed to penalise those who live and work here by applying constant council tax and business rate increases, and taking out huge loans which will serve only to significantly add to already rapidly rising levels of debt nationally and locally.
Mr Durnell also returned to one of his familiar themes of national debt, although also stating in his launch that he would fight: “tooth and nail” against the region “being a prime target for the extremely damaging cuts the Conservative government unquestionably still has in store, as it continues with austerity.” On debt he said:
The harsh reality is that we are currently a nation slowly drowning in a sea of debt.
Nationally this debt is now rapidly approaching £2 trillion, we have hospitals forfeiting 10% of their annual budgets to repay PFI for the next 30 years, an estimated £1.8 trillion hole in pension fund provision, and the councils currently involved in the WMCA have already accumulated several billion pounds worth of debt prior to even being involved in it.
He goes on to say:
…the last thing we need is for them to get together and create yet another set of huge debts which our children, and their children, will end up somehow having to attempt to pay back.
Ukip has opposed the formation of the West Midlands Combined Authority, but has decided to stand in the election for the Mayor which will chair the WMCA. The Ukip candidate says:
…this new layer of government, not directly elected and largely unaccountable, will always be looking to expand, gain more power, extra responsibility and influence and that unless it has an extremely strong minded and decisive elected Metro Mayor to keep it in check, it is highly likely to become our very own ‘mini EU’ …it will inevitably develop into another enormous money pit, a new body which actually hinders rather than contributes to growth and prosperity in the West Midlands.
Picking up the Brexit theme on the day the House of Commons voted to give the PM the power to trigger Article 50:
As a nation we are finally beginning the process of divorcing ourselves from one huge, wasteful, expansion obsessed, undemocratic beast, the WMCA must not be allowed to grow into a slightly smaller, but otherwise exact mirror image of its probable parent (it’s no coincidence the EU greatly favours regional governance).
The ‘clear and present danger’ of this is the key reason given by UKIP for being vociferous in opposing the formation of the WMCA.
However living in the Black Country, [I] also understand the fear of loss of identity for many living outside of Birmingham, and will fight to ensure that much cherished heritage is not lost and forgotten.
The West Midlands needs an elected Metro Mayor who believes passionately in less government not more.
Much, if not all, of Ukip’s efforts are currently going into supporting their leader, Paul Nutall, fighting the Stoke by-election where he has a good chance of beating the Labour Party. Mr Durnell will be looking forward to the return of Ukip troops after 23rd February.
Mr Durnell says he is the only candidate who campaigned for the UK to leave the EU, and who believes we can be a strong, sovereign, successful independent nation after Brexit.
The Ukip candidate adds:
… it is essential that the WMCA Metro Mayor is a leader of extremely strong character, and must possess an ability to get representatives of many different organisations to work together. It is also essential that the mayor is a clear thinker and an excellent problem solver, as there will inevitably be a huge number of extremely difficult issues to be tackled and resolved over the next three years and beyond.
Mr Durnell says he believes that all funds available for improving transport infrastructure should be allocated purely: “on a cost/benefit basis across our region, and not solely aimed at developing road and rail links to the ‘vanity project’ extension to London’s commuter belt, more commonly known as ‘HS2’.”
Mr Durnell has been strongly critical of the “widely touted budget” for the new devolved authority expenditure of £8 billion over a ten year period.
The truth is this money does not currently exist, and never will do.
Mr Durnell’s Pledges, Priorities and Vision:
* Provide incentives for investment in innovation, research and development
* Concentrate WMCA policies on supporting small and medium sized businesses
* Use the WMCA and Metro Mayor role to help SMEs gain access to the funds they need to expand and grow
* ‘Post Brexit’ : favour UK companies in contract provision (banned under EU law)
* ‘Post Brexit’ : push for the removal of growth-restricting, EU-generated red tape
* Ensure our communities and businesses are at the forefront of the Government’s high-speed fibre broadband rollout program
* Prioritise improvements providing greatest benefits to local businesses
* Trial reduced HGV charges on M6 Toll road to encourage HGVs to switch
* Review and adopt measures improving traffic flow across our towns and cities
* Continue to oppose the £70bn ‘London commuter belt extension’ (HS2)
* Focus on identifying and refurbishing empty houses
* Focus on converting empty shops and offices into affordable housing
* Incentivise preparation and use of brownfield sites, protect our green belt
* End large scale relocation of families from other parts of UK to West Mids
* Champion the introduction of greater flexibility in our education system
* Enable transfer to grammar schools for children between 11 and 13 yrs
* Identify and ensure that our colleges provide courses in the key skills local employers need, in particular by increasing vocational training options
* Ensure Mental Health provision given equal priority and status to Physical
* Ensure ‘ringfenced’ funding for Mental Health becomes truly ringfenced
* Provide help needed to those on streets due to mental illness/drug dependency
* Provide help back into society for those who have simply ‘fallen on hard times’
* Support police in removing & prosecuting those who are ‘professional beggars’
* Ensure WMCA & Metro Mayor activities visible to the public, no secret meetings
* Ensure honesty, openness & transparency are at the heart of ‘everything WMCA
* Highlight and mitigate against the threat from the EU’s Europe 2020 – Eurocities program which may will continue well beyond Brexit, with significant economic and operational implications for the WMCA
Mr Durnell has represented UKIP in elections a number of times, increasing UKIP’s share of the vote on every occasion, most recently in the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner election where he polled more than 93,000 votes, 17% of the total cast. He is currently Chair of UKIP’s Sandwell Branch and a member of UKIP’s West Midlands Regional Committee.
More detail on Mr Durnell’s campaign can be found at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/petedurnell1, page: UKIP.PeteDurnell.
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