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?
My name is Carrie Harper and I am 37 years old. I was born and raised in Wrexham and have lived and worked here all my life. I am a county councillor for Plaid Cymru and have been involved in a wide range of local campaigns over the last decade. I have a particular interest in local housing and have spent much time campaigning to ensure that housing development in Wrexham is based on local need. I have also supported a variety of other grassroots campaigns, such as the recent successful campaign to save Wrexham’s fire engine, the campaign to save Dee Valley Water and also the campaign to save Grove Park School from demolition.
My politics are based on grassroots campaigning and a drive to empower local people and to ensure our voice is heard. People feel so divorced from those making political decisions on their behalf that they often become cynical about changing anything and give up. I want to change that attitude and show that, by standing up for what we believe, we can make a difference. I am also a proud Welsh woman and strongly believe that the best decisions about our nation, will be made by the people who live and work here.
I also believe that political change in Wales and Wrexham is long overdue and that now more than ever we need a strong voice in Westminster fighting our corner. The London-based parties will always have a conflict of interest in that regard as their biggest voter base is in England. It’s time for Wales to choose a party that will always put our needs at the top of the agenda. A Plaid Cymru MP will always put Wrexham and Wales first.
Q2 What do you feel is the top local issue for this election and what is your policy on it?
Locally the top two issues are the decline of the town centre and the increasing pressure in the Maelor hospital. The solutions to both of these challenging issues cross a range of political institutions, such as the local council, the Welsh Government and Westminster.
As regards the town centre, the key areas repeatedly raised by people locally are empty shops and drug use/anti-social behaviour.
In order to revitalise the town centre and encourage new business start-ups, Plaid Cymru have a long-standing policy to extend the business rate relief scheme run by the Welsh Government to include more small and medium-sized firms. At a local council level we also have a policy to help local firms to win more council contracts, meaning millions more being invested into the local economy and creating local jobs at no extra jobs. Additionally we have also put forward a policy in our recent manifesto – see plaidwrecsam.cymru – for the council elections to trial free town-centre parking to encourage more footfall.
Drug use and anti-social behaviour is ultimately a much bigger issue that we have to have some open-minded discussions about as a community and society more generally. The bottom line is that I do not believe the current approach to tackling drug use is working and we need to look to the example of other countries who are having more success. I’m fully supportive of initiatives by the Police and Crime Commissioner to tackle this matter with a combined approach with the health board and council.
There is also a specific issue to look at in Wrexham in terms of so many services being concentrated in the town centre/Rhosddu area, which is intensifying the problem. There is also a need for agencies to work together to develop a joined-up strategy to tackle this issue, which is a top priority for our newly elected county councillors.
The pressures at the Maelor hospital revolve around the shortage of doctors and nurses we have in Wales. We currently have one of the lowest ratios of doctors to patients in Europe, with only Slovenia, Romania and Poland worse off. The frustrating issue is that these shortages were foreseen over a decade ago but no plans were put in place to address doctor recruitment. Plaid Cymru’s policy is to train and recruit 1000 doctors to address this issue as well as developing a Medical School in North Wales. I am delighted that Glyndwr University is to start a new nursing course after some years’ absence because currently every nurse being trained in North Wales is employed. More staff and a seamless link with social care provision in the community would ease the pressures of bed blocking, which in turn puts huge pressures on A&E and our fantastic ambulance services. This is the sharp end of Tory cuts in London and we have to say enough is enough.
Although the NHS is largely devolved and managed by Labour in Cardiff, our NHS also faces threats from a creeping privatisation agenda from the Tories in England, which will have a knock-on effect in terms of our funding in Wales. Our NHS therefore currently faces mismanagement from Labour in Cardiff and the threat of privatisation and cuts by the Tories in Westminster – services across the border are struggling as much as ours. It’s another good reason to vote for a strong Plaid MP.
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 top issue for Westminster is Brexit and ensuring a Welsh voice is heard and that the needs of our nation are a priority. Plaid Cymru accept the result of the referendum, we will be leaving the EU but we need leaders who will prioritise the needs of our economy and communities during that process. Wales needs a voice now more than ever as we are in danger of becoming the forgotten nation when we can least afford it. It seems that the Tories will be speaking for England, the SNP for Scotland, what about us? Brexit poses both threats and opportunities for Wales and Plaid Cymru is best placed to look after our interests.
Our five key pledges are centred around protecting jobs, maintaining existing trade ties and fostering new ones. We will also fight to ensure that the £30m a week pledged to Wales during the referendum is delivered by Westminster. We also want to see our country take greater control over its own economy with the transfer of key fiscal powers, such as the ability to vary VAT – the transfer of that power from Westminster to Wales is long overdue.
Q4 What relevant experience do you have for the job of MP?
I’m a mum to two teenagers – perhaps the toughest job of all! I’ve worked in a variety of jobs and with voluntary groups to try to make Wrexham a better place to live. Being Plaid Cymru’s candidate isn’t a careerist move, it’s what I believe in with all my heart.
I know Wrexham, I know our people and communities and I know there is a better future out there for us when we start speaking up for ourselves. That knowledge and connection is, I feel, much more important than even my past experience as a county councillor. My priority will be to protect our public services and defend our communities against the Tories as well as to ensure our voice is heard loud and clear in Westminster.
Q5 What is the biggest differentiator between yourself and your fellow candidates?
My top priority is Wrexham and Wales, that can never genuinely be the case for the London-based parties, who ultimately have to pander to their UK bosses and their very different priorities
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