Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

VIDEO: Protecting our Hoo Peninsula

In this short video, Mark Reckless, UKIP’s Parliamentary candidate for Rochester and Strood, talks about his commitment to protecting our beautiful Hoo Peninsula, a place very close to his heart and to the hearts and minds of those who live in the area.

Mark led our campaign to defeat Boris and his proposed estuary airport. Now that David Cameron has said he plans to stand down with Boris likely to take over, the Hoo peninsula is not safe with the Conservatives. Mark has also forced a Public Inquiry into their plans to build 5,000 houses in a bird sanctuary at Lodge Hill. Every Conservative on the Planning Committee, including from Rochester and Strood, voted for that at Lodge Hill. The Council’s cabinet, in which Mark’s Conservative opponent sits, is now spending your money on lawyers to defend its Lodge Hill plan.

On 7th May, vote for Mark Reckless as the only candidate with a track record of defending and protecting our Hoo Peninsula.

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REVEALED: Vote Tory, Get Boris

Boris Graphic

Only Mark Reckless can stop Boris Johnson destroying our Hoo Peninsula.

Mark led the campaign against Boris Island, and won!

If, as expected, Boris is soon Tory leader a Tory MP here would be whipped to back his airport.

Mark Reckless has a track record of beating Boris.

Nigel Farage has agreed with Mark that UKIP will block Boris as PM unless he drops his airport plan.

On 7th May, vote UKIP to save our Peninsula.

Sign Here To Say No To Boris and his Bonkers Airport!

Why I am leaving the Conservative party and joining UKIP

Today, I am leaving the Conservative Party and joining UKIP.

These decisions are never easy. Mine certainly hasn’t been. Many have been the sleepless nights when I have talked it over with my wife and thought about the future of our children.

But my decision is born of optimism, conviction Britain can be better, knowledge of how the Westminster parties hold us back, and belief in the fresh start UKIP offers.

We all know the problem with British politics. People feel disconnected from Westminster.

In fact, “disconnected” is too mild a word. People feel ignored, taken-for-granted, over-taxed, over-regulated, ripped off and lied-to.

And they have reason to.

MPs, with some honourable exceptions act, not as local representatives, but as agents of the political class. Too many focus, not on championing their constituents’ interests at Westminster, but on championing their parties’ interests in their constituencies.

We’ve even evolved a special vocabulary to talk about the way MPs betray their constituents’ interests. We talk of politicians being “brave” or “mature”, “pragmatic” or “realistic”. But they’re all euphemisms for the same thing: breaking your election pledges.

Well, I can still remember the promises I made in Rochester and Strood at the last election, and I intend to keep them.

I promised we would cut immigration. I promised we would deal with the deficit and then bring down taxes. I promised we would localise decisions, including over housing numbers. I promised more open and accountable politics. Above all, I promised to help get Britain out of the EU.

And shall I tell you something? I’ve found that it’s impossible to keep those promises as a Conservative. That is why I am joining UKIP.

I haven’t reached this decision lightly. I’ve been a Conservative for as long as I remember. I have friends across that party, in Parliament and in the constituency. I hope some will remain friends.

I don’t doubt the patriotism of Conservative volunteers and supporters. But I’m afraid that my party leadership is now part of Britain’s problem.

Let me return to those promises I made in Rochester and Strood.

I promised at the last election, as did every other Conservative candidate, that we would cut net immigration from the hundreds of thousands a year to just tens of thousands. The reality is that in the last year 243,000 more people came to this country than left, back up to the levels we saw under Labour.

I’m not someone who is always and everywhere against immigration. It takes guts and energy to cross half the world in search of a better life, and I support a sensible amount of controlled, legal immigration.

But if my constituents are asked to accept the case for some immigration, they want to feel, in return that we are in control of whom we are admitting and in what numbers. And we have no such sense today.

The insanity of our migration rules mean that second generation Britons in my constituency have huge difficulties just

to bring granny over for a wedding, let alone marry someone from abroad themselves, yet they see our borders open to unlimited numbers of EU migrants.

Does anyone, on Left or Right, genuinely support an immigration system where we turn away the best and brightest from our Commonwealth, who have links and family here, in order to make way for unskilled workers from Southern and Eastern Europe.

I promised to cut immigration, while treating people fairly and humanely. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

I also promised that we would make government live within its means, just like the rest of us have to.

Instead, we are adding more to the national debt in just five years than even Labour managed over 13 years.

And two weeks ago the three Westminster parties have just committed themselves to giving every Scot £1,600 more a year indefinitely.

I promised to restore order to our public finances. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

I also promised to put my constituents’ interests first and return power from the centre to our locality.

In particular we promised to do away with Labour’s top-down housing targets that forced us to concrete over our green fields.

Yet, now I find that, under government pressure, our Conservative council in Medway is increasing its housing target from the annual 815 we had under Labour, to at least 1,000 every year.

Despite the promised EU referendum, it is assumed that current rates of open door EU immigration will continue for at least twenty years.

In my constituency that means they are giving permission to build 5,000 houses in a bird sanctuary on the Hoo Peninsula, despite it having the highest level of environmental protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. If that goes ahead, where will it stop?

I promised to protect our rural Hoo Peninsula. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

I also promised to help make government more open and accountable, so MPs would answer outwards to their constituents, not inwards to their Whips.

David Cameron and his government promised to cut the number of MPs, give Parliament its own timetable, offer free votes in bill committees, have 200 postal open primaries, and bring in Recall for voters to sack MPs.

Yet, not one of those promised reforms has happened.

I promised political reform. I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

And, of course, I promised to give people a vote on leaving the EU. When I voted that way in the Commons, along with 110 other MPs from various parties, we had three-line Whips against us from all three party leaderships.

Since then, David Cameron has promised a referendum. But I’m afraid I’ve reluctantly reached the view that he is doing so purely as a device. He has already preordained his intended outcome, namely continued membership of the EU on something very close to the current terms. Everything else is for show.

What the prime minister has in mind – it’s not even a secret at Westminster – is modelled on what Harold Wilson did in 1975, a bogus renegotiation followed by a loaded referendum.

David Cameron, and all levels of government backed with taxpayers’ cash, would pretend the terms of membership were radically reformed, when in reality little or nothing would change.

A referendum should be a solemn and binding moment. A reminder to politicians that we work for the rest of the country. It shouldn’t be a party-political trick, a way to paper over cracks, or a way to buy yourself time.

I believe the question now is, not if we get a referendum, but when and on what terms. So, why should we accept terms loaded against us?

In this hall we want a straight referendum. An honest question. In or Out. No fudge, no conjuring trick, no sleight of hand, no fake renegotiation, no pretended new terms. Just a clear choice between EU membership and an independent Britain, trading with Europe but governing ourselves.

Every vote for UKIP, every MP for UKIP, means a better chance of getting that straight, fair referendum. If you vote UKIP, you get UKIP.

I promised a straight In/Out Referendum. I can’t keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.

And when we get that referendum, I want us to make the case for British independence in warm, optimistic language. We are not backward-looking or gloomy, still less xenophobic. The only nostalgia I see is the nostalgia of those Euro-enthusiasts who cling to their 1950s vision of a United States of Europe.

In almost every other field of politics, we have moved on. We no longer believe, as we did in the 1950s, that big conglomerates are the future, that the expansion of government is benign, or that economies needed to be planned.

But the EU remains a child of its time, wedded to its five-year plans, its unelected commissioners, its common workplace entitlements, its fixed prices, its corporatism, its lobbying cartels.

That is why Europe is the world’s only declining continent.

It’s therefore not nostalgia that makes us Eurosceptics. It’s optimism. We understand how much greater Britain could be if we raised our eyes to wider horizons.

All of you in the hall already know this. But I want our friends watching through the media to understand it, too. UKIP is a positive party with a positive vision. We believe in a global Britain, prosperous, independent and free. We believe in a Britain of opportunity we would be proud to leave our children.

Before I conclude, I want to invite you to come to my constituency. And I may need you even more than Douglas because Rochester and Strood is not Clacton.

Matthew Goodwin, the leading academic to study UKIP, says Rochester and Strood is not even in the top 100 Conservative constituencies vulnerable to UKIP.

I am proud to represent many ambitious professionals, aspirational families and young commuters. And by the way, if any of you are watching now, I hope you will be voting for me.

In Rochester we have a castle and a cathedral. We’ve a lovely high street full of independent shops. There are French patisseries and Italian delicatessens. We are less than an hour from London and just two hours from France.

Matthew Parris would love it.

But, just as Douglas Carswell answers to his constituents in Clacton, I answer to the constituents I serve in Rochester and Strood.

They are my boss. And, if I want to represent them under different colours, I hope in a party closer to their values, then I should ask their permission.

So, I will resign my seat in Parliament, trigger a by-election and, your National Executive allowing, stand for UKIP.

And I need you to join my campaign because, if we can win in Rochester and Strood, as well as Clacton, and perhaps here in South Yorkshire then we will show that UKIP can break through across the country. We will show once and for all that if you vote UKIP, you get UKIP.

A UKIP which can do for politics, what modernity has done for society. A UKIP which is about hope and optimism. A UKIP which can safeguard our children’s future. A UKIP which believes we are more than a star on somebody else’s flag.

The Hoo Peninsula Is Under Threat And I Need Your Help!

Mark Reckless (centre) meets with representatives of RSPB and Medway Countryside Forum to discuss threat to Lodge Hill

Mark Reckless (centre) meets with representatives of RSPB and Medway Countryside Forum to discuss threat to Lodge Hill

Following the appalling decision by Medway Council’s planning committee to green-light development at Lodge Hill on the Hoo Peninsula, there is now a clear and present danger not just to Lodge Hill and, as a result, other potential sites for development on and around the Hoo Peninsula, but also nationally if Medway Council is allowed to drive a coach and horses through the regime which protects Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) such as Lodge Hill.

WP_20140924_018I am asking you to take five minutes of your time to help me convince the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, to call in this decision for further examination. The deadline is midnight on 25th September 2014.

Medway Council’s decision, announced on 4 September – two days after we successfully won the battle against the Mayor of London’s proposals to concrete over the Hoo Peninsula, will directly destroy 144 hectares of the SSSI, one of the largest losses of a SSSI since the Wildlife and Countryside Act came into force in 1981. The decision is in direct conflict with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Lodge Hill is a protected site and one of the most important ones in the country for nightingales with around 84 pairs of nightingales present on the site. There has been a rapid decline in nightingale numbers, up to half of the population has been lost in the past two decades. Lodge Hill is one of those rare environments in which the birds are apparently thriving, though nobody, including the RSPB, is quite sure why.

It was therefore hugely disappointing when Medway Council’s planning committee decided to ignore expert advice and the strong views of local residents and ward councillors in approving the Outline Planning Application. Particularly galling is the fact that many of the councillors sitting on the committee that evening, none of whom were from the Hoo Peninsula, had already hypocritically stated their commitment to doing all they could to stop homes being built on land at Capstone Valley which does not enjoy the same level of environmental protection as Lodge Hill.

I believe the council’s decision is simply not credible and I intend to fight it.

But I need your help

I need you to join me and thousands of others in writing to the Secretary of State, asking him to ‘call in’ Medway Council’s decision. You can do so in your own words by directly emailing eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk. Alternatively the RSPB has set up an online form which you can access by clicking here.

The future of our rural communities and the unique environment on the Hoo Peninsula is under threat. Join me and act now before it’s too late!

We Win! Estuary Airport ruled out by Airports Commission

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After several years of uncertainty and blight caused by the pie in the sky proposals to build an airport on the Isle of Grain, I am delighted that the Airports Commission has finally ruled out an airport in the Thames Estuary. The news that the Commission has found that the proposals for a new airport in the Inner Thames Estuary has substantial disadvantages and is not a credible option will, I’m sure, be welcomed by the majority of my constituents.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your contributions and the support which, I believe, has added weight to both the work which I have done locally and in Parliament, and to the wider No Estuary Airport campaign. The Airports Commission reported receiving hundreds of submissions to their consultations from Rochester and Strood residents, and in my Estuary Airport ballot 92.6% of constituents said that they did not support these pie in the sky proposals.

Throughout this process I have sponsored and participated in a number of activities to highlight the negative impact which a Thames Estuary Airport would have on our region. I have continuously contributed to the Airports Commission’s consultations and invited them to several important seminars which I hosted in Parliament with aviation, economic and environmental experts. These efforts resulted in the Airports Commission recognising a number of my arguments in their feasibility studies, such as the cost of a Thames Estuary Airport at £148 billion and that landing charges could be around 2.5 to 3 times higher than at Heathrow.

Much of the work which I and others have done began over a decade ago when we campaigned against an airport at Cliffe. I believe that we finally have a decision so conclusive that surely even the Mayor of London cannot overrule it, leaving our residents safe to enjoy the diverse landscape and habitats of the Hoo Peninsula.

My thanks again for the support and input which you and many others have provided throughout this campaign.

MP responds to Airports Commission

Mark Reckless with representatives of Medway Council at the Thames Estuary Airport costs summit in Westminster

Mark Reckless with representatives of Medway Council at the Thames Estuary Airport costs summit in Westminster

Airports Commission
Sanctuary Buildings
20 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BT

23rd May 2014

Dear Sir/Madam

I refer back to my previous submissions, and again emphasis that land in and around the Thames Estuary, particularly to the North side of the Hoo Peninsula, is strongly protected by UK and EU law and UN conventions. Since you have already determined that there are three other options which are credible and merit further detailed consideration, building at the Thames Estuary site would be unlawful as a precondition for this is that there should be alternative.

Building an airport in the Thames Estuary is also likely to be financially unfeasible due to the phenomenal and extraordinarily uncertain costs involved in the construction of a new airport in the Thames Airport.

Such an enormous infrastructure project could not realistically be privately financed. Construction of a new airport, as opposed to the expansion of existing infrastructure at Heathrow or Gatwick, cannot offer any predictable return on investment. Any private financing for a Thames Estuary Airport would have primarily to come from banks and debt capital markets, yet the asset against which funds would be secured would remain speculative for well over a decade before the airport was functioning and earning any revenue to begin to service its debt financing.

It is clear that providing finance for the Thames Estuary Airport through the sale and redevelopment of Heathrow is not a tenable method of funding the project. The sequencing involved in building an Estuary Airport is such that money could not be extracted from Heathrow until after the site is closed, and the airport could not close until the Thames Estuary Airport is fully operational. Planning for financing which will not be available for perhaps 20-30 years is an unworkable model. It is also notable that in Hong Kong the closed airport still remains undeveloped.

WP_20140516_016Even if there were any prospect of a contribution from private funding, all parties agree that the project would require a very substantial public subsidy, previously as a figure in the region of £65Bn on the basis of the Commission’s £82-112 billion overall estimate. The costs seminar involving city analysts and industry experts which I chaired at Westminster on 16 May 2014 reached an overall estimate of approximately £148 billion, implying public subsidy of over £100 billion given the estimates of maximum private financing capacity to which the Commission has referred.

Aside from the almost certainly insuperable difficulties that this figure would present to the exchequer, the taxpayer, and the political process, a subsidy of this magnitude would constitute an unprecedented instance and scale of State Aid. This would at a minimum require lengthy consideration by the EU Commission before construction of the airport could begin, and money spent to design and prepare for that could be wasted if spent in advance.

If State Aid is found to distort competition in a way which is harmful to citizens and companies in the EU, then the State Aid would likely be found to be illegal. Again, because of the need to show such aid to be ‘necessary’, the exception hurdle is likely to be insurmountable since the Commission has already identified three other options as credible alternatives.Further, the Mayor of London in promoting this project, has done so on the basis that he believes such a state-backed project would be for the UK to prevail in competition with hub airports based in Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Schipol in particular would have a great incentive to invest very significant resources in legal and political efforts to prevent such a state-back Thames Estuary Airport.

In order to make a return on the investment in a Thames Estuary Airport, the landing charges levied would need to be at least around 2.5 to 3 times those charged at Heathrow. I had previously estimated that a Thames Estuary Airport would add an additional £50 to the price of each plane ticket and others have estimated a total per person charge of £70 being required. As Heathrow’s landing charges are already some of the most expensive in the world, such charges would make a Thames Estuary Airport highly uncompetitive, whether contrasted with European hubs or airports in the Gulf States. This combined with the destruction or international flight of business based around proximity of Heathrow would both undermine the UK’s hub aviation and greatly harm the UK economy.

Yours faithfully

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Mark Reckless MP
Member of Parliament for Rochester and Strood

Mark Reckless urges residents to respond to Thames Estuary airport consultation

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Mark Reckless MP with residents and Parish Councillors in Grain

In a letter being sent out to thousands of residents in the Rochester and Strood constituency, Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, is urging as many people as possible to respond to the Airports Commission further consultation, which closes on 23rd May 2014, on proposals for an airport to be built in the Thames Estuary.

In his letter, Mark Reckless states:

I am writing with further details of the study which the Airports Commission is currently undertaking regarding the feasibility (or otherwise!) of building an airport in the ‘Inner Thames Estuary’ on or near the Isle of Grain.

In its Interim Report published on 17th December the Commission, led by Howard Davies, said that proposals put forward by the Mayor of London and others had not been shown to be credible and were not short-listed to be taken forward. It instead short-listed a second runway at Gatwick and two options for a third runway at Heathrow. However, we must still deal with a further ‘study’ regarding the Isle of Grain.

The study includes a consultation, which closes on 23 May 2014, and calls for evidence and views to inform the Commission’s study in four main areas: environmental impacts; operational feasibility and the attitude of the airline industry; socio-economic impacts; and surface access impacts. If you would like to read the relevant section of the Interim Report you can find it at http://goo.gl/ARSDkW on pages 179-187.

I would encourage you to contact the Commission with any comments you have on a Thames Estuary Airport. Their email address is estuary.studies@airports.gsi.gov.uk and you may also copy to me at mark.reckless.mp@parliament.uk. Points which I am making include:

  • Building an airport here would devastate key nature and environmental reserves that are protected under British and international law, making this illegal if there is any alternative, and the Commission has already short-listed three alternatives as credible.
  • There are large potential risks of flood and bird strike at the proposed Isle of Grain site, which is on a coastal flood plain and estuary, and people do not want to be ‘regenerated’ if they chose to live where it is peaceful and away from noise.
  • An Isle of Grain airport would cost £82-112billion, more than five times the cost of the Gatwick and Heathrow options shortlisted, twice the cost of HS2, and enough to add £50 to every plane ticket, hurting the poor and damaging the whole UK economy.

I have said I will do everything in my power to stop a Thames Estuary Airport and hope we can together use this study to get it ruled out once and for all. Thank you.