We have invited all candidates to complete a very brief bio / question set ahead of the General Election.
You can also view our live debate on the evening of 30th May.
Q1 Are you able to tell us a little about who you are, any political history and about your political leanings?
I’m Andrew Atkinson and I’m the Conservative Party candidate for Wrexham.
Wrexham is my home. I love our town. I was born and raised here and now I’m raising my family here. I live in Llay with my wife Anwen and our two young boys. I am currently the councillor for Gresford East & West and volunteer as the chair of the Town Centre Forum Steering Group and director of the local Citizens Advice Service.
I have a small cleaning business and have been self-employed since I was 17. Until recently I also worked as a caseworker for an MP and was also previously a councillor in another area.
I stood in the 2015 general election and came within 1831 votes of winning here. I was also a candidate in the Welsh Assembly election in 2016.
I became involved in politics about seven years ago because I wanted to get involved and change things for the community. I’m a Conservative but consider myself to be more pragmatic than political. I’m a grafter and keen to get stuck in and to make a difference. I’ve got no time for petty party politics and will work with anyone to get the job done.
I’m passionate about attracting more businesses and more higher paying jobs to Wrexham. Improving our infrastructure, and revitalising our town centre, as well as tackling issues like drugs and anti-social behaviour, will make a big difference to our town.
I want our young people to have the best education possible and I’m keen to encourage better links between local industry and our schools, colleges and university to provide skills and training for the jobs market locally.
I believe in an NHS free at the point of need, protected and improved.
As Wrexham’s MP, I’ll always put the needs of local people first. I’ll be a strong and pragmatic voice for local people and positively champion our town always, working to attract investment and never talking us down.
Q2 What do you feel is the top local issue for this election and what is your policy on it?
Many people have raised the issue of Brexit on the doorstep. I wholeheartedly support our Prime Minister Theresa May as the best person to negotiate for our Country and deliver for us. These negotiations are complex and cover many areas, and local people are telling me they want strong leadership to ensure our interests are properly represented.
Locally, the top concern for residents is the need to invest in the town centre to make it somewhere we can all be proud of and tackle the issues of drug abuse and anti-social behaviour.
I have a plan to improve our town centre, which includes working to fill empty shops, looking at alternate uses for long-term empty properties, working alongside the Council to use their planning enforcement powers to compel landlords to smarten up their properties whilst also fighting for a fairer system for business rates and lower parking charges. Im part of a great team that organise our fantastic street festivals and other events in Wrexham and I believe with investment and a proper long term strategy, our town can have a very bright future.
The problem of drug abuse is critical and urgent action is needed. I’ll continue to work with the Council and Police on this issue. We need to develop a plan to house services under one roof in a more appropriate location, and campaign for a workable needle exchange policy. We need a holistic approach to ensure that people who need help get it and that the root cause of these problems are dealt with. As your MP, I will take up the ongoing issue of ‘legal highs’ with the Government. I will also continue to support the Council and work with them, not against them, as well as all stakeholders to tackle these issues.
This problem can only be solved by everyone working together.
Q3 What do you feel is the top issue for Westminster in the forthcoming parliament term, and briefly explain how you would like to see your desired outcome achieved?
The Brexit negotiations will be the top issue in Westminster and I will work with Theresa May and her team to secure the best deal for Wrexham and for Britain.
We must enter the negotiations in a spirit of cooperation, committed to getting the best deal for our county. It is essential that we have certainty and clarity over our future, including control of our own laws and immigration.
We must protect workers’ rights, pursue free trade with European markets, and secure new trade agreements with other countries.
Pursuing free trade with European markets and securing new trade agreements with other countries will open up opportunities for our country and this area and I am keen to see that we benefit from this.
In Westminster, I will champion Wrexham as a place to invest and do business. We must take every opportunity to connect Wrexham to the Northern Powerhouse and work to attract more businesses to our industrial estates and town. I will push for investment to improve our road networks, rail connections and bus services, as well as improved broadband, mobile signal and digital infrastructure.
I’m positive about our town’s future and I’ll always make the case that Wrexham is a great place to live, invest and do business in.
Q4 What relevant experience do you have for the job of MP?
I’m a normal person who can relate to people. I’ve been running my own small business since I was 17 and we’ve just bought our first home, so I understand the aspirations of local people and the challenges facing our town.
I’m not a career politician. I’m someone that got involved in politics about seven years ago to make a difference. I believe that my experiences mean that I get what life is like for many and I know how hard things can be at times. This puts me in a good position to stand up for people who need help and support and a strong voice to represent them.
I have experience representing people as a councillor, trustee of a children’s charity, director of a social enterprise running leisure centres and director of the Wrexham Citizens Advice Service.
I also have experience working with local people to ensure their voices are heard. I campaigned to save maternity services at Wrexham Maelor Hospital and I’ve been working with town centre traders, councillors and police to tackle the drug and anti-social behaviour issues in our town.
I’m approachable, I listen and I’m determined to get the job done. I’ve proven as a councillor that I’m not afraid to stick my neck out and stand up for constituents even if it goes against my own party’s policy.
I firmly believe that this independence of mind is exactly what’s needed and will allow me to put the interests of Wrexham people first.
Q5 What is the biggest differentiator between yourself and your fellow candidates?
I have no interest in comparing myself to other candidates. People in Wrexham can do that to make an informed choice.
I’m driven by one objective: to do my best for Wrexham. I’ve campaigned for investment in our town and I’ve shown that I will work with anyone, regardless of background or political affiliation, to get the job done.
As Wrexham’s MP, I will continue to do just that. I will consult local people and listen to what they have to say. And I am determined to fight for our interests in Westminster and ensure that our voices are heard.
Most importantly, I will always put local people first and never, ever talk our town down.
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