Would the view of the Mersey from Otterspool be so enjoyable if EU regulations had not tackled pollution?
Would the view of the Mersey from Otterspool be so enjoyable if EU regulations had not tackled pollution?

Why I will vote Remain

Paul UngerVoting for the UK to stay in the European Union is a must for personal and professional reasons after benefiting from membership throughout his career, writes Paul Unger, editor of Place North West.

When I opted out of a career in regional newspapers 15 years ago to specialise in business news, particularly property, I began a spell as a freelancer for national trade titles. My first regular gig was two shifts a week for EGi, Estates Gazette Interactive, covering the North West, back in the days of Beetham towers and the Fourth Grace. After visiting the editorial honchos at EG in London and securing this invaluable retainer, the first conversation I had with the commissioning editor began with her explaining that under European law I was entitled to pro rata paid holiday, even as a self-employed correspondent. I would get two fifths of the statutory minimum holiday. This was news to me but meant that over the years as a freelance I could be sure at some stage each year of being able to take a proper holiday and visit family overseas, without always having to work whilst there (I still filed from a hotel business lounge in Kuala Lumpur at my cousin’s wedding).

Five years later, when I wanted to launch my own regional trade publication, I benefited from European aid through the Objective One programme in Merseyside. Local suppliers such as Rippleffect, the Liverpool-based agency I chose to design and build this website, received grant money to subsidise the cost of supplying their services to local businesses. The money-go-round of Objective One cash in Liverpool was a hotly debated and at times infamous thing, and there were often accusations of inflated invoices being issued to exploit the system. Even if there were a few fudgy fees and some system-playing, creative agencies undoubtedly grew in Liverpool, they trained and hired good people, and as a customer I was happy to play along and just had my eyes on the service. Service that included an extremely effective sales director, who had also escaped the middle ranks of regional newspapers, who called me every Friday for six months to see how the investment raising was going and a talented creative director, Ben Hayward, with serious editorial website experience, who I still call on today. In 2006/07, when a decent website cost tens of thousands of pounds, and WordPress wasn’t a household name, that subsidy and knowhow counted an awful lot to a freelance wannabe publisher and produced something I could be proud to take to market for discerning business readers.

By then I had my own home in Aigburth, south Liverpool, between Dingle and Priory Woods, across the way from the old garden festival site and a few steps or turns of a bicycle wheel to Otterspool promenade. The wide grandeur of the river as it flowed towards the city centre and the Irish Sea, the kite flying, summery picnics and pirate-themed playgrounds on the raised lawns, the ever-changing light of the water, were a huge part of what made that area such an attractive place to live and a pleasant surprise to many visiting friends and family. A perfect place for a brief escape on a hectic deadline day.

Thirty years ago the river was heavily polluted with human effluent and industrial discharge, one of those embarrassing symbols that made Liverpool a laughing stock in many people’s eyes pre-Capital of Culture. Today the river is clean, lined with angling tourists, host to sailboat races every weekend and welcomer of cruise liners from around the world. The difference? European Union directives on water pollution, the powerful regulatory stick needed to make United Utilities invest millions of pounds in improved waste water treatment stations up and down the river.

I don’t normally take to the page to share political views, belonging to the school that says journalists shouldn’t take sides or join any particular group – better to retain our neutrality and independence.

The fact I haven’t spoken to any property folk in the past few weeks who say they want to Leave, yet don’t see many property companies campaigning to Remain, concerns me – if it matters that much is it not right to share our views at this time?

Regeneration efforts across the North West have been boosted by many European Regional Development Fund grants and loans in the past 20 years. Property markets would probably have a fit of wobbles in the next couple of years if the vote goes the way of the Leavers. These are important circumstantial factors but not so persuasive as the personal reasons I feel I have to vote Remain.

Your Comments

A powerful example of the positive contributions the EU has made. It’s very welcome, after all the macro arguments and headline numbers, to read something that makes clear just how the EU can help individuals too.

By Josh Owens

We and many companies in a similiar position to us will and have benefitted from EEN funding and the ability to find suitable partners in Europe to form alliances and consortiums. I originally voted YES to join back in the 1970’s and will continue to vote YES to remain.
We will be exporting to the Asean market amongst others, where imports from outside can be subject to large import duties depending on the product. The EU has just negotiated a deal to import through Singapore to avoid these duties, I believe it took a long time and will need refining, so if we leave we would be on our own and exporting in my humble opinion will be a lot more difficult. There are many reasons to stay, it’s not perfect the EU, but lets help reform it.

By Man on bicycle

Very good balance of a personal perspective but some tangible examples for us all to consider there, Paul.

Surely the weight of the industry is in favour of Remain: get out there and vote on June 23rd.

By creep

I appreciate I will be in a minority, although perhaps not considering Nick Leslau wrote an article in the EG saying we should leave, all of things you say are the reasons to stay could have happened just as well without the EU, rights for employees and workers can be decided by the UK govt, grants for business can be implemented by the UK govt, we can impose environmental legislation on companies.

When people say the EU gives out money, whose money is it the they distribute? answer ours, after deducting a rather large admin fee on the way through to pay for two sets of head offices and all the staff and benefit costs, you raise the matter of dodgy invoices as a small issue, well the EU has not once been able to have its accounts signed off by auditors!

I don’t agree with the little Englander politics, what I do believe in is that we can trade equally well with the rest of the world, look at other big overseas businesses that have been successful without being in the EU, has it stopped Amazon, Facebook, Google, or for example Tesla sport cars trading and selling into the EU? answer no it hasn’t. JCB have said that will not be a problem to their business.

All it will mean is that we have more control of our destiny, yes there may be a short term blip… but do I want my children growing up as part of a Europe that has no democratic control … answer no.

How has this great EU trading bloc helped young people in Greece, Spain and Italy where youth unemployment is at an all time high. You quote workers rights… they are great if you have a job not much use if you are one of the thousands of young EU citizens in countries thrown on the scrapheap, and in Greece they had the audacity to vote for a political party that didn’t fit the rest of the EU model…. and were basically told to think again.. god forbid any future catastrophe should hit our country, but if it did I would want to know that the government that we elect are able to do what they are elected to do without Germany France or any other European country deciding our fate and that my children or granchildren are worth throwing on the scrapheap as a price worth paying to keep their projects alive, yes it may cause short term uncertainty but a price worth paying.

So I am one property person who wants to head for the exit door.

By leaver

Why I will be voting to leave the European Union!

They say the pen is mightier than the sword! the problem is
in the echelons of time, when Prime Ministers, Presidents and Politicians are making resolute decisions, they rarely have any ink
left in those fine eloquent pens to put pen to paper, but be sure mine is fully charged!

From the dawn of time the people of this country have had to stand up and be counted for, in the fight against tyranny! that moment in time has come round again and your precious vote is needed against the tyranny that is the European Union. The bureaucratic, the dangerous, the extremist organisation that is the European Union which syphons off more and more elective powers and vast amounts of money from our great country every single day! just to reimburse us with a little bit in return, in this merry go round circus that is the European Union.

The European Union is an organisation which is walking nation states and its people into a dangerous European federal state by way of stealth across the twenty eight nations, they are destroying what is most valuable of all to people! Their national and personal identity’s and what comes with it! our cherished laws, our independence and our freedom to name but a few!

If you put things into context the European Union is like a massive company who needs to survive by getting as much money as possible by streamlining and to be more efficient amongst other things! Now to do this! They need to destroy and consolidate any type of variability or waste. For this dangerous organisation to fully blossom to a federal state it needs this, “vanilla fits all scenario” no variables, no waste but one big European Union entity.

There are twenty eight states who have a period of presidency and every time the sun shines on your country’s turn! you have to be seen to be doing something like drawing up the next European Union law and suddenly it becomes a macho thing where each leader draws up a bigger and better (worse) policy or law than the next that might only match one third of the membership requirements and before you know it you’ve walked into a European federal state you didn’t want to be in!

These European Union bureaucrats are self serving and ultimately are wanting to eliminate our country’s way of life and in doing so propel their self serving dream of having there names echo In the corridors of power and time!

Our country has survived for thousands of years on its own! The question is. Do you want to be subjected to tyranny, bureaucracy, and extremism, which is the European Union or to be on the side of freedom and independence of which our country is. I sincerely implore you! not to underestimate the gravity of the situation we are in! and beseech you to “vote leave the EU”

Many thanks
The choice is yours?

By VOTE LEAVE Cheshire

Bravo, great article!

By ernshki

Yes! great redress from vote leave Cheshire

By Vote leave too

For all our sakes, let’s untie from the rotting EU carcass and watch it’s bloated gut float off into the distance…it’s been exposed for the failed experiment that it is.

By George Smith

Let’s face it the European Union is on life support and is on the verge of imploding

51% youth unemployed Greece. Spain. and Portugal and Italy nearly as bad.

Greeces public debt is running at nearly 178% of GDP
economists have already said it would be better if Greece left the EU and started again as it would take 30-50 years to pay its debt inside the EU.

if Turkey isn’t allowed in the EU the gates will be opened up! so the ENDGAME is up we need to take control of our borders now before its to late!

More immigration means more houses on our green belts and ultimately a concrete landscape from Southampton to Newcastle and a total annilation of our public services.

why don’t The EU want us to leave its because we are a cash cow!

In the next couple of years the EU are saying they are the ones who will be issuing National Insurance numbers NOT the country your from!

it will be job tourism around Europe remember what happened to Detroit. in USA
it lost about 1 million people and it’s never recovered from it!

We need to take control now! vote leave

By VOTE LEAVE

Completely agree with leaver and Cheshire – sorry Paul. All of the money you talk about was ours in the first place. Its basic maths – what we get back is less than what we pay into it. Its a club – and one that no longer is interested in (if it ever was) the people. Just so long as they are able to fund their own flabby and unaccountable lifestyles the ordinary people of the EU just have to jump to their tune. Whilst we think its just us who are hacked off – your average young unemployed Italian, Greek or Spaniard will also testify to the fact that its all a busted flush.

By Developer

You are having a laugh if you think any of the money ‘saved’ from leaving the EU will find its way to the NHS and the pockets of ordinary people. Boris, Give et al will use it to benefit their wealthy friends.

By Imperator

The point many of the above ‘Leavers’ are missing when they say ‘it was our cash in the first place’ is that our London-centric government would never have achieved the redistribution of wealth towards the north (particularly Liverpool) that the EU has. EU has been a great friend to the north and to Liverpool, arguably more so than our own elected officials in Whitehall.

One immediate repercussion I can see coming is on John Lennon Airport – almost it’s entire business model is built on budget EU flights. Reducing this ability has potentially enormous implications for jobs in S Liverpool and wider tourism market.

By Hokey Cokey

Hi Paul
Good read. I will be voting remain, its not perfect of course. Successive governments abandoned Liverpool with any investment to speak of, it does seem we were experiencing ‘managed decline’ looking back, so Objective One funding stepped in and helped us get back on track to where we needed to be. Second Tranche was much more transparent and well invested I would say. What has Europe ever done for us – quite a lot in the Liverpool City region I would say.

By Mike Edwards

Interesting article and respect your opinion. I believe hat the EU is outdated and its now time to go. There are many reasons for it (too many to mention) I’ll be voting out.

By Craig Earley

Paul- thank you for sticking your head above the parapet, and for your impassioned piece.

I don’t understand why the leavers think they have a monopoly on including emotion in their arguments. Maybe it’s because they are so short on facts? Our industry relies on confidence, and I feel sure Brexit would create an immediate recession whilst the undoubted uncertainty plays out. Much better the devil you know, even though the EU is imperfect. The problems in the Mediterranean countries are related to the Euro rather than the EU.

Before voting leave, please stop and think. This would almost certainly lead to Prime Minister Johnson. Do you really think he will give a toss about the North, the NHS, or workers’ rights? His tenure as Mayor of London, such as the debacle of the garden bridge over the Thames, tells us that it will be all about him and his friends. Give me sometimes irritating bureaucracy over that kind of chaos any day!

By Gene Walker

I appreciate I will be in a minority, although perhaps not considering Nick Leslau wrote an article in the EG saying we should leave, all of things you say are the reasons to stay could have happened just as well without the EU, rights for employees and workers can be decided by the UK govt, grants for business can be implemented by the UK govt, we can impose environmental legislation on companies.

Rights for employees and workers can indeed be decided by a UK government, and they can also be rescinded. I feel safer having a European-wide minimum standard.

Grants for businesses can indeed be implemented by the UK government – but if you look at the values of UK support given to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester, it is minimal. The temptation for a UK government could be to continue to invest in London/the south-east at the expence of the regions, in the name of narrowly contrived benefit/cost calculations.

We can and do impose environmental legislation, but without EU-wide coordination, much of this is meaningless. We’d end up trying to coordinate anyway, without the benefit of being a member and having a say on the rules.

JCB is a single company, and the widely publicised views are of one person there. Has anybody interviewed the whole board? I’m sure there are those within the firm who take the opposing view.

As regards democracy, we have an unelected House of Lords and an unelected Head of State, and have just come out of 5 years of a coalition nobody voted for, into a Conservative government that achieved only 37% of the popular vote. This isn’t to say we should overlook the EU’s democratic deficit, but leaving hardly solves the issue either.

Greece, Spain and Italy are weak economies that would have borne the brunt of any economic catastrophe (as the events of 2008/09 were). Yes, Greece voted for a government that wanted to oppose the EU package… while still wanting to be part of the EU, while also having no bargaining power. Britain isn’t Greece, or Spain… or Italy.

Nor is it America, and let’s not get carried away with ourselves with our position in the world. Yes, we are one of the strongest economies in Europe, but we are a second-tier party. The leavers seem to share some vague vision of a pre-war world-beating Britain that just does not match reality. Britain’s wealth was built on empire and the exploitation of those within its dominions – clearly a vastly different world to the one Britain finds its place in today. We are far better negotiating as one collective block with the new and future economic powers outside Europe that we are so keep to trade with: USA, China, India, Brazil, etc.

One point to note is that, although non-EU trade is on an upward trend… so is our trading within the EU, and it is forecast to be our biggest market for many years to come: whether we leave or not.

By creep

Hokey Cokey makes my main point better than I did.

By creep

Hokey Cokey and Creep – I don’t disagree that our politicians are very London centric and therefore any extra cash would not necessarily benefit our region. The point is however that you can (at least) directly hold them to account through a democratic process. The EU spends what it wants where it wants and frankly doesn’t give a stuff what you or I think – because we cannot remove them.

By Developer

Developer. The EU spends money entirely on a needs basis, not a political one like Westminster. That is difference. What is there to hold to account if the money goes where it is most needed? Just look at the vast amounts of our money that gets thrown at London on such things as for example, a garden bridge. Sorry, I’d sooner give some of my hard earned to a faceless bureaucrat in Brussels than a faceless mandarin in Whitehall, I might have at least some chance of seeing some of it back then.

By Loganberry

Developer – the EU is not some foreign body that does stuff to us. We ARE the EU; or at least we are part of it and so we are every bit as responsible for the impact of EU policies in France or Germany or Greece as how they affect us.

If there are issues, you work as a member state to change them from within or as an individual you can talk to your MEP. What you don’t do is throw away the significant, the many and the well documented economic and social benefits of EU membership for the sake of narrow, insular nationalist sentiment.

The British Empire died long ago thank goodness. In the modern world the best way to further your goals in any walk of life is cooperation – not isolation.

By Planner

I believe Wales and Cornwall are the only real beneficiaries of EU aid now? I am not sure if this is true? The EU in my view only benefits poor members and therefore poor parts of rich countries are left to rot.

By Elephant

The North West now has a bigger economy than Greece.London a bigger economy than Sweden.Greater Glasgow bigger than Bulgaria.What are the real benefits for the UK? Surely we can function without the EU? I do not care either way,but aren’t we so rich,it is a bit of a no story? The only fear is EU money no longer being there for aid,but this funding is probably our own anyway. The one country which should leave is Germany.They must be sick of subsidising everybody else.

By Elephant

I have been actively campaigning for Remain around Sale (where I live) and Altrincham (where I work) and generally speaking most people in business are in favour of Remain. Talking to people in the street, and the few in business, who are in favour of Leave highlights the mis-understandings about the EU that the Leave campaign is actively promoting.

Businesses can sign up to the Remain campaign a download a factsheet at http://www.strongerin.co.uk/businesses#74DxQ2vgH6kUwRJZ.97

By Damian Utton

I can understand why those in the SE are looking to vote out – because as they repeatedly tell us – “WE” put more into the system than get out. HOWEVER, WE ( and by we i mean us in the NW – we are on placeNW after all) are net gainers from the EC so we gain from remaining.

And as said above do you really think a tory government will look to redistribute money back into Labour areas where they know whatever they plough in it wont get them one seat ??

wake up and smell the coffee

By Jake Hanratty

Can we vote to leave the ‘Northern Powerhouse’? Its another made up kingdom, just like the EU

By Napoleon

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