Craig urges community groups and charities in South Thanet to apply to the Aviva Community Fund

Craig Mackinlay MP is urging  community groups in his South Thanet constituency to apply for funding via the Aviva Community Fund, which launched last week.

The Aviva Community Fund awards funding of up to £25,000 for local community projects across a range of categories such as skills for life, health & wellbeing and community support.  Last year Aviva had over 450 winners and this year they have even more awards up for grabs. 

 Applications can be made until 12 noon on 10 October via this link, with winners announced in January. 

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 Aviva have a team on hand to answer any queries who can be contacted at: avivacommunityfund@charitiestrust.org / 0151 284 1018. 

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“I hope all community groups and charities in South Thanet will want to apply to the Aviva Community Fund. With funding of up to £25,000 available for a variety of community projects, a successful application could make a real difference to the lives of local people. Applications are open until 10 October so there is still plenty of time to apply.”

Last week in Parliament

Last week in Parliament was both lengthy and stimulating. I took part in two debates on the floor of the House; the first as part of the debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill where I highlighted the opportunities for coastal communities of a new domestic fisheries policy which would return access and profitability to our fishing fleets outside of the scandalous Common Fisheries Policy foisted upon us by the EU.

I was pleased that the second reading of the Withdrawal Bill was carried by 36 votes, and I pay tribute to many Labour members who were unwilling to support their Party’s new position of opposition to the Bill. It is somewhat strange that the Labour party’s manifesto for this year’s General Election was one of support for the referendum result, but they are clearly now backtracking on their respect for the will of the electorate. Politics before country springs to mind. Voting started at midnight and I was finally in bed at after 2am.

The next day was the debate on the Finance Bill (no 2) 2017. Much of the Finance Bill brought forward in April remained unfinished because of the snap general election. I gave my analysis of various flaws in our tax code, not least its complexity and unforeseen outcomes of the proposed Bill. My contribution was, to be fair, somewhat dry and technical in nature, but that is the nature of tax. This Bill alone ran to 665 pages. We have the most labyrinthine tax code in the world, running to 22,000 pages and 10 million words. The complexity is clearly unsustainable and unnecessary.

I was also pleased to support and speak at a rally in Parliament Square organised by Compassion in World Farming. The live animal export trade in the UK is now wholly focused on Ramsgate and I committed once more to do all that I can to see this incoherent trade stopped. Pressure I and other colleagues are bringing to bear on the government will hopefully be reflected in a future Agriculture Bill that will set out the framework of post-Brexit farming.

My attempts to get common sense to apply by Belgian authorities in relation to ‘Red diesel’ and fines being levied against boat-owners continued with a meeting of the Royal Yachting Association and the Cruising Association with HMRC officials in advance of a crunch meeting in Brussels with other EU27 customs representatives.

I took part in a new initiative to reduce use of plastic bottles with independent Councillor Suzanne Brimm and Thanet Green Party. The campaign is to encourage a network of Thanet businesses, particularly around our beaches, to allow water bottle refills. Plastics are a scourge of modern life internationally, and growing, with half a trillion (that’s 500,000,000,000) bottles used annually around the world, with a huge amount discarded to landfill or ending up in the sea. There is a wider debate to be had about unnecessary packaging in general. I do hope, on a voluntary basis, that retailers take note.

I had my regular meeting with the local Chief Inspector of Kent Police. We had a constructive discussion on anti-social behaviour, particularly in the Ramsgate area. More to report at a later time.

In summary it has been a busy few weeks in Parliament and in the constituency. We are now in the conference season recess, so stand by for a further diet of politics over the next month!

 

Pupils from Newington Community Primary School interview Craig for AAA Radio

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Young reporters from AAA Radio station at Newington Community Primary School have been on a special assignment. Ruby and Macey, both aged nine, grabbed the chance to interview South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay, when he visited the school on Friday 15 September.

The girls, who are in Year 5, are members of the online radio news team and they prepared questions to ask their local Member of Parliament in an recorded chat that will be broadcast via the school website and social media platform during the next few weeks.

They said: “We rehearsed our questions and were a bit nervous at the thought of interviewing an MP. But once everything was underway it was great and we had a chat with him. He answered all our questions well and we learnt quite a lot about Mr Mackinlay as a person through our interview.”

Craig was asked about how school has changed since he was a pupil, what it is like being an MP, how important democracy is for young people to understand, who he would love to meet from the past and chat with, and what his favourite type of music is. The interesting answers will be revealed when the pupils have edited and produced the audio for broadcast as part of the regular AAA Radio news magazine programmes.

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Craig was impressed with the radio set up. He said: “This is a fantastic radio suite – I have never seen anything like it in the schools I have visited. I believe music and media are areas that must be explored and taught in our schools. This radio station is a great educational learning tool as part of developing literacy and communication skills. I was impressed with the way Macey and Ruby conducted the interview and the questions that they asked me. It was quite a tough interview with good questions and I enjoyed it.”

The MP added that he will “certainly listen out for the interview with interest” once it is streamed on AAA Radio for pupils, staff, families and the community.

Headteacher Cliff Stokes said: “It is terrific for children as young as nine to get the chance to interview an MP about his life. We thank Craig for making the time during his busy schedule. The radio project is great for encouraging teamwork, self-confidence, communication and literacy skills. It is listened to in school and via our website, and it is also a great link to our world at Newington for families and friends.”

The name AAA Radio encompasses the Newington ethos of Ambition, Achievement, and Aspiration. It has already won praise from pupils, families, staff and governors. It also features contributions from staff.

Craig signs pledge to Back British Farming in South East

Craig Mackinlay MP has recognised the vital role that South East farmers are contributing to the economy, the countryside and food production as he pledged to Back British Farming at an event in Westminster last week.

Farming in the South East contributes £880 million to the local economy and provides 47,246 jobs – this is on top of the safe, affordable food farmers produce and British countryside they maintain.

In addition to its role producing food, farming also supports the work of other industries, such as vets, solicitors, surveyors and feed merchants.

The event in Westminster was held by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) as a rallying call to MPs to support farming – during a particularly crucial period for British farming as the Brexit negotiations begin.

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Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“There are so many worthy reasons to support British farmers: they are responsible for securing our fantastic British food supply, looking after our world-renowned countryside and sustaining a dynamic rural economy.

“Indeed, farming in South Thanet alone is worth £8.3 million to the nation’s economy and provides 450 jobs locally.

“These reasons are why I wanted to support the NFU’s Back British Farming event in Parliament and ensure our decisions in Parliament reflect the strategic importance of British food and farming to the nation.

“As one of the sectors that will be most affected by Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, it is critical that as politicians we create the right regulatory environment to ensure our farmers can continue to provide the safe and affordable food that the public trust and demand.”

If you would like to find out more about how you can Back British Farming, you can join thousands of supporters of the National Farmers’ Union campaign here.

Craig addresses Stop Live Transports event in Parliament Square, Westminster

On Wednesday,  13 September, South Thanet’s Member of Parliament, Craig Mackinlay MP, joined Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Compassion In World Farming and other like-minded organisations and individuals at a rally in Parliament Square in support of this year’s ‘Stop Live Transport: International Awareness Day’.

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Millions of live animals are transported thousands of kilometres every year. These long journeys result in immense suffering. Many animals receive insufficient food, water, rest and space to move, and face inhumane treatment at slaughter.

At the event, Craig Mackinlay MP, who is hoping to re-introduce a Private Members Bill which would remove the obstacle in UK law preventing local authorities from banning live animal exports for slaughter, addressed the rally encouraging people to speak up for farm animals and make it clear that it is time to stop these horrifying journeys.

Disappointingly, the first live animal shipment of the year left from Ramsgate on Wednesday 9 August.  

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“I was delighted to be invited to address the Stop Live Transport event on International Awareness Day and to reassure the protesters that I will continue to campaign for the removal of the obstacle in UK law that prevents local authorities, such as Thanet District Council in my South Thanet constituency, from banning live animal exports for slaughter.

“Now that we have voted to leave the European Union, this leaves the UK in a better situation to ban live animal exports. The European Commission have been firm in that they would not accept any change in UK law regarding live animal exports because it would break EU rules on the free movement of goods. I am hopeful that as negotiations progress with the EU, we will finally put a stop to this barbaric practice.

“On this issue, I will not stop until we are successful.”

Craig poses in pink at Westminster to support Breast Cancer Now’s vital research

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Craig Mackinlay MP, the Member of Parliament for South Thanet, has dressed in pink to lend his support to Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, which will see thousands of people across the UK adding a splash of pink to their outfits on Friday 20 October and raise vital funds for breast cancer research.

Craig is encouraging his constituents in South Thanet to join him and sign up to take part in the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser. The event, which takes place during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is in its 16th year and has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research.

Craig, joined by fellow parliamentarians in Westminster last week, showed his support for the thousands of women and men affected by breast cancer each year, encouraging people across the UK to take part on wear it pink day.

Anyone can take part in wear it pink, which brings together schools, workplaces and communities. All you need to do is wear something pink, or hold a pink event at home, work or school, and make a donation to Breast Cancer Now. Whatever you do, you’re helping the charity achieve its aim that, if we all act now, by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. One in eight women will face it in their lifetime, and every year around 11,500 women and 80 men lose their lives to the disease. This is why I’m urging everyone in South Thanet to take part in wear it pink on Friday 20 October. It’s such a fun and easy way to support Breast Cancer Now’s vital research, and help stop breast cancer taking the lives of those we love.

Also in attendance was Sky News presenter and former Olympic gymnast Jacquie Beltrao. Jacquie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, is lending her support to wear it pink in the hope that thousands of people across the country will take part in the event.

Jacquie Beltrao said:

“I’m very proud to support wear it pink; it’s a great excuse to dress up in pink and have some fun while raising money for a really important cause. I have had breast cancer myself and following my diagnosis and treatment have become incredibly passionate about raising awareness and funds for research.

“Wear it pink has raised over £30 million to date for Breast Cancer Now, which is incredible. The event raises funds for the charity’s world-class research, which will hopefully one day put a stop to this dreadful disease. That is why I’m asking people across the country join me, and the MPs who took part in Westminster, by adding a splash of pink to their outfits on wear it pink day and donating to Breast Cancer Now. I hope lots of people across the UK take part!”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“It is fantastic that so many MPs dressed up in pink at our Westminster wear it pink event and we are really grateful for all of the support and enthusiasm shown. We hope that by wearing pink, Craig Mackinlay MP will encourage his constituents in South Thanet to get involved in their local community and help us fund life-saving research this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Wear it pink is a wonderful opportunity for communities across the UK to come together and have fun, whilst showing their support for everyone affected by breast cancer. Simply by wearing something pink and donating, you’re raising funds for life-saving research and helping Breast Cancer Now reach our goal that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live.”

To take part in wear it pink this October, please visit wearitpink.org/2017 for further details, fundraising ideas and how to register for your free fundraising pack.

Craig Mackinlay MP, Royal Yachting Association and the Cruising Association join forces to seek government assurances over red diesel

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Craig Mackinlay MP has welcomed assurances from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that the department will strive to defend the UK stance on red diesel as the Committee on Excise Duties and Indirect Tax Expert Group (attended by all 28 EU states) prepares to consider the issue on 18 September 2017.

In a meeting organised by the South Thanet Member of Parliament held in Parliament yesterday, Craig, the RYA, and the Cruising Association raised with civil servants from HMRC the problems boaters have been experiencing in Belgium in recent months relating to the use of red diesel for propelling private pleasure craft.

RYA Cruising Manager, Stuart Carruthers, said: “The UK Government and the European Commission have been in discussions over the continued availability of marked ‘red’ diesel for use in private pleasure craft in the UK for several years. We will continue to actively lobby on this matter, working closely with HMRC, and will keep boaters informed as the situation progresses.”

Craig Mackinlay MP commented: “Given that bulk diesel at UK marinas is only available as ‘red’, is fully taxed and in accordance with UK law, it really is perverse that boat owners are being fined by the Belgian authorities due to the existence of ‘red diesel’ within their tanks. We received a positive and sympathetic response from the HMRC who assured us that the Government will do its level best to bring about a fair and equitable resolution when they attend the EU Committee meeting on 18 September.”

Craig's speech to the House of Commons on the Second Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, 11 September 2017

I shall raise just one issue in the short time available: the living marine resource that under international law is bestowed on the United Kingdom.

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The great repeal Bill has changed its name to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, the second half of which, which brings virtually all the EU’s acquis into domestic legislation, causes me a few concerns. The reason for most of that is completely understandable. It is entirely necessary, because when the termination date of article 50 of the treaty on European Union is reached and EU treaties cease to apply in this country, along with the EU regulations that take their authority from the EU treaties, vast swathes of domestic legislation will simply disappear. Bringing the acquis across will fill that void, which can be sorted out at a later date.

The method by which that will be sorted out has caused a great deal of debate in this House. In my opinion, the method that has been proposed is entirely necessary and desirable. I support it completely for legislation that is applicable only to the United Kingdom, but when dealing with legislation that involves relationships outside the United Kingdom, such as the common fisheries policy, I have a few concerns, because the body of legislation—the acquis—that is the CFP is made up almost entirely of regulations. The only way we can achieve compatibility is through a legally binding withdrawal agreement, and that in itself brings some problems. First, at this stage, we do not know what that agreement will contain. Indeed, we do not even know if we will be getting an agreement at all, such has been the appalling behaviour, sadly, of our EU partners.

Secondly, taking the common fisheries policy as an example, article 50 takes us out cleanly, so there is no possibility of future legal challenges that we would have to try to avoid. Regulation 1380/2013, which will be brought across by the Bill, will re-establish the common fisheries policy in all but name, possibly paving the way for a legal challenge, perhaps via the Vienna convention on international treaties, through the withdrawal agreement. The evidence of that is the acquis that we have accepted and transposed into UK law, thereby creating a continuation of rights thereon.

I would like to see the proposed fisheries Bill, which is due before us at some stage, and which could solve the problem. We have no idea what that Bill will contain. Will it continue to give away the nation’s wealth that is its fish? Will it continue the disastrous CFP policy of quota allocation, which puts the resource in the hands of a few, and is the cause of the completely immoral iscarding of prime fish that we have seen all these years? We simply do not know. Why are we going down this tortuous route when the easiest route would be to exempt the entire fisheries acquis from the withdrawal Bill, and produce a fisheries Bill, coming into force on 30 March 2019, that confirmed what international law bestows on this nation? That is not unusual, because the withdrawal Bill already exempts parts of the charter of fundamental rights.

Fishing is the area in which the British people demand a clean Brexit, and I think they will accept nothing less. Fishing must not be used as part of a trade-off, and availability must not form part of a deal elsewhere. Control of our exclusive economic zone extending to 200 nautical miles or the median line will regenerate our coastal communities, but if we follow current fisheries policy, we will certainly fail to do that. It is quite odd that we commit vast amounts of cash to communities such as mine in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and parts of Margate through the coastal communities fund—I am thankful that we do—but we seem to have no clear commitment to the one thing that could provide great rejuvenation for our coastal communities, which are recognised as having lower rates of employment, and which are in need of restructuring and infrastructure.

On this subject, the electorate are very wary of shenanigans. We cannot afford to create failure, and it is our responsibility to make this a success. I am happy to trust the Government by supporting Second Reading tonight, but I would very much like to hear more about their proposals for restoring one of this nation’s finest treasures—our very positive fishing grounds, which have the potential to benefit our communities and should never have been taken away.

The whole issue of our fishing policy encompasses a lot of what was wrong with our membership of the European Union, which would not listen to us. The Bill represents a great opportunity for our coastal communities. I intend to deliver a good fishing policy for our under-10 metre fleet, which is particularly prevalent in Ramsgate, so I will support this Bill tonight.”

Cross Party action to reduce plastic waste across Thanet

Cllr Suzanne Brimm has launched a campaign to reduce plastic waste across Thanet and has secured cross-party support for her initiative.

She has identified single-use water bottles and plastic straws as key local offenders, often making their way into the marine environment and is encouraging local businesses to offer water refill stations and to roll out paper straws, particularly around Thanet’s popular Blue Flag beaches to reduce waste ending up on our coastlines and the sea. Plastics can take up to 500 years to decompose, often resulting in the release of toxic substances. The amount of plastic used globally is staggering, with an estimated 165 million tonnes of plastic in the world’s oceans. The UK uses 5 million tonnes of plastic each year, with only 24% recycled.

Cllr Brimm said “I would like to see Thanet emulate the hugely successful Refill campaign that is working in Bristol. They have rolled out a Refill App which shows which local businesses are happy to refill bottles. I am now seeking out local businesses who are willing to get involved. Britain’s drinking water is some of the safest in the world, it is simply daft to buy bottled water and then simply throw away the bottle.”

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Supporting the campaign, Thanet’s Green Party spokesman, Trevor Roper said “This is a positive initiative that will help Thanet. With 500,000,000,000 (half a trillion) plastic bottles used annually around the world, each refill represents a saving of oil, manufacture and transport, all of which create a massive carbon footprint. On top of that there is the environmental saving of rubbish collection and landfill, and cleaner beaches. This is a triple win.”

Also in support of the clean-up at Ramsgate’s main sands was South Thanet’s MP Craig Mackinlay who said. “I have become increasingly active in the anti-plastics campaign. I am pleased that plastic microbeads, used in many everyday products such as toothpaste and cosmetics are to be banned in the UK. It is time that retailers start to consider their use of excessive plastic packaging. I will be doing all that I can to support Cllr Brimm’s excellent campaign including raising the issue in Parliament.”

The Repeal Bill, EU negotiations & the new Wetherspoons in Ramsgate

As Parliament returns this week, the most simple, yet, for some, contentious piece of legislation has its second reading – the Repeal Bill, or to give it its full title – The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. Despite all previous Parliamentary votes on matters relating to our withdrawal from the EU passing comfortably, we now have mixed messages from the Labour Party as to what they think a post-Brexit Britain or interim should look like. This topic is too important to play politics with and I hope, on this historic issue, the country will be put first, not petty game-playing. My interpretation is simple – the regaining of our laws, borders and money and honouring the clear intent of the majority who voted for that in June last year. This cannot mean allowing the jurisdiction of the increasingly ambitious European Court of Justice to have effect in the UK by staying in the Single Market, nor allowing the EU to speak for us on international trade matters via continued membership of the Customs Union. The opportunity for new trade deals and friendships is the true ‘Brexit dividend’ of a truly global Britain

The behaviour of EU negotiators has been questionable, insisting on the settlement of a divorce bill before allowing talks to advance into matters of what the shape of trade between the EU and the UK will look like post-Brexit. I am sure I speak for many that this behaviour merely confirms all the suspicions about what was wrong with the EU, and that our vote to leave was absolutely the right one.

Early rising has never been one of my strong suits, I’ve always been more of a ‘night owl’, but the opportunity to do the newspaper review at 7am for BBC Radio Kent, live from Tunbridge Wells, was sufficient to get me on the road early. Spare a thought for all who work unsociable hours as the norm to keep the world turning. I covered diverse news topics from the strange irritant gas that hit the Sussex coast, the increasingly worrying situation in North Korea, the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, to the very human story of a local illegal immigrant whose attempts to remain through the courts system had concluded and failed and the quite bizarre new adverts by the Financial Conduct Authority encouraging final claims for PPI compensation, utilising Arnold Swarzenegger in its multi-million advertising drive. Underlying this is the fact that £50 billion of potential claims still exist. This would represent £75 million in South Thanet alone if successfully made.

I am yet to try the new Wetherspoons in Ramsgate, but will do shortly. All I have spoken to are hugely impressed with the quality of the refurbishment. By all accounts it has been extremely busy which has caused some consternation by local bar and restaurant owners. I’ve always taken the view that business makes business, so let’s see the effect on the local economy as it beds down.