MEDIA

Jill Seymour resigns as UKIP Transport spokesman

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Jill Seymour MEP has resigned her position as UKIP Transport spokesman, with immediate effect.

The West Midlands MEP has held the post since being elected to the European Parliament in 2014, but says she is ‘struggling to be loyal to a party that is changing direction’.

Mrs Seymour has written to UKIP leader Gerard Batten, and to the party’s NEC, to inform them of her decision, saying: “I joined UKIP 18 years ago to fight for our country’s independence and its self-determination; being good neighbours with our European friends, without being suffocated by EU laws.

“However, over the past few months the party has moved away from our core beliefs – the main one focusing on the betrayal of Mrs May and her EU friends, who have quietly deceived the 17.4 million leave voters.

“We should have been the most prominent Brexit party, holding meetings and campaigns across the UK over the past months, leading up to 11th December and beyond until March 29th. Sadly, I do not believe this has happened.”

She said Mr Batten’s decision to stand by controversial figures was causing unrest, not just within the party, but across the country.

And she added in her letter: “Many of our colleagues and loyal activists are resigning from the party because of your decisions, and this is very concerning.

“I am struggling to be loyal to a party that is changing in direction, and conscious of the grassroots who look upon us for support.

“I have begged you to listen and be guided by the NEC and your friends, which you have the right to ignore, but feel this could be at the cost of both yourself, and the party.

“You have made it difficult for me, and many, to stay true to the party and our leader, so I feel I have no alternative but to resign from your front bench team, and consider my future.

“I appeal to you to reconsider your present direction; to focus purely on fighting the establishment who are clearly betraying millions of us that wish to leave the EU. This is the only subject this country should be discussing right now.”

Rail fare rises: Will they lead to more broken promises?

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UKIP’s transport spokesman Jill Seymour has condemned the latest inflation-busting rise in rail fares, describing them as the fore-runner for another year of broken promises.

The price of a train ticket in Britain will go up by an average of 3.1% from the start of January – just weeks after it emerged that UK train punctuality is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

Mrs Seymour said: “Every year the rail companies say the price rises are vital to allow them to improve service, yet every year they fail all customer service metrics. It’s all talk, and broken promises.

“It begs the question – exactly where is this money being spent? The stories we hear from commuters about tatty, overcrowded rolling stock suggest it’s certainly not improving the lives of paying customers.”

She added: “The Government is constantly talking about encouraging people to ditch their cars and switch to public transport, yet the price of a rail ticket is already prohibitive for many.

“With these latest rises, many long-distance commuters will see the annual cost of getting to work rise by hundreds of pounds.

“And particularly for those working in London, who can’t afford to buy a house in the city because of crazy property prices, they have no choice but to pay. Someone, somewhere, is laughing all the way to the bank. It’s disgusting.

Mrs Seymour added: “The very least we expect to see is a similarly significant increase in the quality of our railway network.

“Yet just look at the outpouring of anger on social media from customers, who talk about having to pay more to be late for work, and crammed into carriages like sardines.

“You cannot continue to hike prices, without addressing shoddy customer service and providing value for money. Rail companies could start by simplifying the ticketing system, to ensure passengers can find the cheapest deals.

“Britain already has the highest rail fares in Europe. Why not scrap the tens of billions being wasted on HS2, and focus instead on supporting the existing railway infrastructure where prices are going sky-high at a time when customer satisfaction is falling through the floor?”

Charity should begin at home for bankrolling road repairs

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UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour is calling on the Government to stop bankrolling investment in overseas roads – when so many parts of the UK’s own surfaces are in such a bad state of repair.

She was responding to a report which reveals that some £37 million of the UK’s £13 billion foreign aid budget is currently being used to patch up potholes and upgrade roads in India.

“This is a country which has its own space programme, and is planning to spend £10 billion on a fleet of warships – why should we be funding public services they are clearly perfectly able to afford themselves?

“Meanwhile, many British roads are in a poor state of repair, even though our motorists pay some of the highest taxes in the world.”

A further £265 million has been spent on building a new road corridor in Pakistan, and £700 million on a road and power project at Lake Victoria in East Africa, the Government’s foreign aid spending watchdog has revealed.

“It is insane to be throwing such large sums of money at these overseas projects when our own road and rail network is creaking at the seams, crying out for investment,” Mrs Seymour said.

“When it comes to investment in transport infrastructure, we have got our priorities completely wrong. The only domestic transport project the Government seems bothered about right now is the white elephant HS2 project which we don’t need.

“Charity begins at home. We pay enough taxes to have the best roads in the world, but instead they are rapidly becoming the worst.

“Once all of our own roads are fixed and our deficit is gone, then maybe we can look at helping to repair and build roads around the world.

“Until then, this insane nonsense has to stop, and our incompetent Government needs to wake up and listen to the people – or stand aside and let someone else into power who will but the needs of the British people first.”

Mrs Seymour, who sits on the transport committee in the European Parliament, said the ‘hidden cost’ of the lack of investment in UK roads was already being passed to long-suffering drivers in spiralling car repair bills.

In the 12 months to the end of September, the RAC revealed that its patrols attended 14,220 breakdowns including incidents with distorted wheels, broken suspension springs and damaged shock absorbers – likely to have been caused by potholes.

The RAC’s Pothole Index, a long-term indicator of the state of our roads, now stands at 2.63 which means pothole damage is more than 2.5 times as likely to cause a breakdown than in 2006.

The estimated cost for local councils to repair roads in England and Wales is £14 billion in the next two years and the Asphalt Industry Alliance warns that one in five local roads is in a poor condition with the frequency of road resurfacing in decline.

Mrs Seymour said: “Our Government needs a big shake-up. They are spending vast sums of taxpayers’ money on trying to buy friends overseas while the hard-pressed British motorist is counting the cost of the terrible state of our roads.

“It beggars belief that our own motorists should being ruthlessly exploited in this way, and expected to put up with sub-standard domestic roads while their taxes bankroll investment on the other side of the world.”

Royal wedding critics have their priorities all wrong

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West Midlands MEP Jill Seymour has slammed critics of today’s royal wedding who have branded it a waste of taxpayers’ money.

And she accused the Daily Star newspaper of spiteful and appalling behaviour by handing out souvenir sick bags “for those of you who just can’t stomach” the cost to the public purse.

The Metropolitan Police spent around £6.35 million on security for Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton, and up to £4 million on Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle last year.

Along with Thames Valley Police, they are expected to rack up another big security bill as a result of Princess Eugenie’s wedding to Jack Brooksbank in Windsor today.

But Mrs Seymour said: “People are quick to criticise the royal family at the first opportunity – without considering the money they bring into this country in tourism revenue.

“The crowds out on the streets today will be spending money in our shops, and the TV coverage will have been selling the UK as a tourist destination all over the world.

“The benefits of our royal family to the British economy hugely outweigh the costs – and I for one wish the royal couple well.”

She added: “It’s a pity that these spiteful critics don’t get their priorities right. The insulting behaviour of the Daily Star, in particular, is absolutely disgraceful. Just how low will they go for a cheap headline?

“Why don’t they campaign against the £4 billion of foreign aid we are giving to countries like India and Pakistan, part of which is being used to fill potholes on their roads when we can’t get our own holes fixed?

“Why are they not railing against the white elephant HS2 project here in the UK, where the budget is spiralling closer to the £100 billion mark by the week, before a track for this unwanted project is even laid?

“And how about the high court judges who look set to get a pay rise of around £60,000, when they already get an average salary of more than £180,000 and earn more than the Prime Minister?

“I’m very keen for the UK to help countries which have suffered genuine devastation, like this month’s earthquake tragedy in Indonesia.

“But when it comes to bashing the royals ahead of some of our other crazy spending policies, it seems to me that priorities in this country have become totally unbalanced – it’s simply not logical.”

Closing A&E units due to staff shortages is a scandal

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By Jill Seymour

So now we know. Overnight accident and emergency services at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital are due to close for at least six months, from November.

This simply cannot be allowed to happen. It is a scandal, in a supposedly developed society such as ours, that health officials should find themselves backed into a corner by a chronic lack of qualified staff.

The Government has it entirely in its power to address this issue before the scheduled shut-down – and it must do so, without delay. This is no time for political side-stepping, or lame excuses.

I know from personal experience just how much difference an extra 10 or 15-minute dash down the M54 or A5 can make in times of emergency.

The first few moments of a blue-light call are the most critical, and once Telford loses its night-time A&E service, the chances of it being gone for ever will rise sharply.

The result? Downgrading of a hospital serving one of the fastest growing populations in the Midlands, and an even longer tailback of night-time ambulances in Shrewsbury, Stoke or Wolverhampton – which are already struggling to cope with their own excessive workloads.

The Royal College of Medicine recommends that SaTH’s two A&E departments should have 52 emergency medicine consultants or middle grade doctors – they have just 21.

The NHS, and its hard-working Shropshire staff, are being treated with contempt by our Government, which is too busy dithering and in-fighting to put Britain’s best interests at heart.

It’s time to remove the chiefs, and put the running of our hospitals back into the hands of those who actually work on the front line, and understand what is needed.

Better still, get this Government to stop throwing money into vanity projects like HS2, stop wasting money on giving foreign aid handouts to countries who make it clear they don’t need it – and roll on to March 29th 2019, when we regain our independence and stop sending money to the EU.

Charity should begin at home, and right now, our people are crying out for priority services and care. Instead, all we hear about and see are cutbacks . . . to police, schools, health, and social care.

This Government is moving backwards, and has seemingly forgotten to listen to the people it serves.

So here are three simple requests, for starters.

Firstly, and most urgently, we need to pull together as one community voice – regardless of age, background or political persuasion – to force the Government to stand up and listen, and come to Telford’s rescue.

Secondly, Britain needs an NHS training and recruitment system which is worthy of the name. This has been neglected for far too long, and attempted remedies in recent months have done little more than offer a tiny sticking plaster for a gaping open wound.

And thirdly, we must give NHS staff the salaries and conditions which their skills deserve, and make them feel appreciated for the incredible work they do, in trying circumstances.

Another HS2 shambles, wasting OUR money

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The decision to allow thousands of young trees to die in the summer heatwave is the latest example of a shambolic lack of common sense among the team behind HS2, according to UKIP’s Transport spokesman.

Jill Seymour MEP has criticised officials for neglecting saplings which it planted in Buckinghamshire, allowing them to die because it was not deemed ‘cost-effective’ to keep watering them.

“This is yet another example of shambolic planning, and a disgraceful waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Mrs Seymour, who re-affirmed her party’s opposition to HS2 in her speech at this month’s UKIP conference.

Under the terms of its contract, HS2 must plant new trees along the line of the proposed route to compensate for the loss of the many pockets of ancient woodland which are being decimated by the project.

But HS2 admitted neglecting saplings it planted in Buckinghamshire during the summer, allowing them to die because it was not seen as ‘cost-effective’ to keep watering them.

Around 50,000 young trees – a mix of oak, hazel, dogwood, holly and other native species – were planted in March in the Colne Valley that borders the London borough of Hillingdon.

HS2 claims only a third of the trees, which it says cost around 50p each to plant, have since died, but the Denham Against HS2 group has reported that as many as 36,000 have been lost.

Mrs Seymour said: “For HS2 to suggest that leaving saplings to die, and replacing them at a later date, would be more financially sensible than finding a way of watering them is nonsensical.

“Are you seriously telling me that HS2 thought it would be able to leave young saplings to fend for themselves, without some form of nurturing – with or without our summer heatwave?

“No-one plants flowers, shrubs or trees without making sure they are watered in until established. As usual though, HS2 officials didn’t do their homework.

“If each sapling cost 50p to plant – and I suspect the actual cost is much higher when labour and maintenance is taken into account – then it looks like the replacement bill, in this one location alone, is going to come to more than £15,000.

“And remember, this is all coming out of taxpayers’ pockets, before a single line of track has been laid. It’s a scandal.

“This is yet another reminder of why this gravy train should be halted in its tracks. It’s a vanity project with no proven business case, and it’s haemorrhaging money.

“The technology being planned for HS2 is already decades out of date, and who knows how much the scheme is going to end up costing – if it ever gets finished at all.”

Don’t just delay HS2 legislation – scrap it altogether!

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UKIP Transport spokesman Jill Seymour says the £56-billion HS2 ‘white elephant’ project is falling apart – and has called on the Government to cut its losses and scrap it altogether.

Mrs Seymour, who has been campaigning against HS2 from the outset, responded to a report in The Times which claims the Government is preparing to delay HS2 legislation by at least a year.

The newspaper says legislation needed to pave the way for the second section of HS2 to serve northern England is to be put on hold, and the bill enabling the line to be built to Manchester and Leeds will not now be tabled until at least 2020.

Mrs Seymour said: “All of the time that the clock is ticking, the budget for this vanity project is spiralling further and further out of control. And it’s the taxpayers who will have to pick up the pieces.

“This is surely the perfect opportunity for the Government to take stock of the situation, admit that it has got things wrong, and scrap HS2 altogether. It’s not too late.”

She added: “The Department for Transport says it is important that HS2 ‘takes full account’ of Northern Powerhouse Rail, the scheme to boost rail connections from east to west across northern regions.

“Is this not an admission that we should be redirecting time and resources towards getting our existing railway infrastructure up to speed, before wasting billions on a luxury line that most people will never use?

“I call once again on transport secretary Chris Grayling to open his ears to the growing volume of opposition to HS2, and take a reality check. No amount of money – our money – or parliamentary delays can possibly make this fatally flawed project worthwhile.

“The question we should be asking instead is, when is this gravy train going to stop? When can the innocent people whose lives and homes are set to be wrecked by the line sleep easily in their beds once again?

“Victims of the HS2 land seizure, who are losing their properties and livelihoods, are already being pushed towards financial ruin as HS2 heartlessly tries to grind them down by delaying compensation payments, and news of these delays only prolongs their misery.

“This is so, so wrong. HS2 is not a financial game – innocent people’s lives are being destroyed by a project which the vast majority of people say they don’t want, won’t use, and certainly don’t need.”

Paul Griffiths, the managing director of phase two of HS2, has already announced he is to leave the post at the end of this year.

Mrs Seymour said: “He can clearly see that the writing is on the wall for a project which has never had a proven business case. The Government should follow his lead, and turn its backs on the whole sorry mess.

No amount of money could make HS2 ‘worthwhile’

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By Jill Seymour MEP

It’s now being recommended that ministers should spend an extra £43 billion to make the construction of HS2 ‘worthwhile’.

Worthwhile? You must be joking. No amount of money – our money – could possibly make this white elephant project worthwhile.

The question we should be asking instead is, when is this gravy train going to stop?

The latest senior official to question the suitability of the current HS2 plans is Sir John Armitt, who chairs the National Infrastructure Commission.

He warns that passengers will face ‘inadequate’ transport links at either end of their travels unless more money is spent to connect the line up to better ongoing transport services.

And his recommendation? An extra £43 billion investment, which would virtually double the already escalating spend on HS2.

When is this all going to end? Sir John’s comments highlight HS2’s fatal flaw – it will be of no use to the vast majority of travellers, even though every single British taxpayer will be funding it.

And while these eye-watering sums of money are being bandied around, victims of the HS2 land seizure, who are losing their homes and livelihoods, are being pushed closer and closer towards financial ruin as HS2 heartlessly tries to grind them down by delaying compensation payments.

This is so, so wrong. HS2 is not a financial game – innocent people’s lives are being destroyed by a vanity project which the vast majority of people say they don’t want, won’t use, and certainly don’t need.

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