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 stood in Clwyd South last year as the Welsh Conservative Candidate for the Assembly and since then have remained involved in local issues and campaigning, particularly for the local Council elections. I am a Trustee of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and twenty years ago I set up a charity called Concertina – Music for the Elderly for which I now act as Administrator. It helps organise music in Day Centres and Care Homes for the elderly across Wales and England to brighten up their lives and provide a therapeutic benefit, particularly for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
I am not a career politician and worked in finance for many years and then ran my own shop selling second-hand books. I have lived in this area of Wales for most of my life having grown up at Lake Vyrnwy where my father ran the hotel and I now live a few miles south of the Ceiriog valley. My main focus is on community politics as I strongly believe that local decisions make a big difference to the quality of our lives. As a County Councillor and Town Councillor I have had plenty of experience of getting things done locally such as improving street cleaning, raising money for a school playground and serving as a school governor at both primary and secondary school level.
Q2 What do you feel is the top local issue for this election and what is your policy on it?
There are a mix of local issues which concern people in Clwyd South depending on where they live in this very varied constituency which includes both urban and rural communities. Health is a key issue even though it is run by the Welsh Assembly and not by Westminster. In 2015 I helped to organise a petition to save the maternity services at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. I strongly support our NHS, keeping it free at the point of use and continuing our policy of increasing its budget in real terms every year.
People are also concerned about their high streets and in 2016 I organised petitions and public meetings to oppose the closure of HSBC branches in Chirk and Ruabon. The future of our high streets is a complex issue, related to the rise in the internet, but one that Welsh Conservative policies can help such as reducing small business rates, encouraging retail investment and curbing car parking fees.
Slow broadband speeds and poor mobile signal seriously affect many homes, businesses and other organisations in Clwyd South. This is another area in which I have campaigned over the last two years and it will be a top priority if I become the next MP for Clwyd South. Service providers need to sort these problems out urgently so that businesses ranging from hotels to one person home start-ups can thrive and bring more jobs to our local community.
Transport is another issue that is often mentioned on the doorstep by residents in Clwyd South. We need to look imaginatively at solutions to improve rural bus services and to continue to work on a cross-party basis to improve direct rail links with London and secure investment in our roads to cut congestion, particularly in rush hour.
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 ?
I feel that the top issue for Westminster in the next parliament will be the successful negotiation of Brexit. Like the majority of people in Clwyd South, I voted for Brexit last year and I am very pleased to see that the economy in Britain took the outcome of the referendum in its stride, registering GDP growth last year of 1.8%, second only to Germany.
Theresa May commands considerable respect as Prime Minister both at home and abroad and her leadership is vital to a successful outcome in these negotiations which will start 11 days after the General Election.
The Prime Minister has triggered Article 50 so we can start the process of leaving the EU and has published a white paper on Brexit. This sets out our 12 negotiating objectives including the control of our own laws and of immigration as well as rights for EU nationals in Britain, and British nationals in the EU. The objectives also include protecting workers’ rights, free trade with European markets and new trade agreements with other countries. These negotiations will not be easy but the objectives are achievable if Theresa May is given a strong mandate in this general election to represent Britain on our behalf.
Q4 What relevant experience do you have for the job of MP?
I have a mix of voluntary sector and business experience which is very helpful for the job of MP. Running a shop brought home to me the difficulties facing independent retailers and the need for low taxes and reduced bureaucracy which can otherwise strangle a small business. My career in finance included working abroad, particularly in Europe, and considerable involvement in managing younger colleagues which provides useful experience when helping large, medium and small businesses in Clwyd South in all different sectors.
Growing up at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel, I saw at first-hand the sheer hard work involved in running a family hotel business with long working days and few holidays. I have huge respect for the many people in Clwyd South who run such businesses and provide a wonderful holiday for the many visitors in our beautiful area with its World Heritage status.
I have always felt that it is important to put something back into my local community and, in addition to supporting the music charities mentioned earlier, I play the organ once a month in my local church and have been Chairman of our County Youth Orchestra and Band. I am also Chairman of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust which works hard to champion our public parks and gardens and protect them from neglect and bad planning decisions. The Trust has a thriving branch in Clwyd and nine others across Wales and publishes two newsletters a year featuring projects across Wales including recently the community orchard of native Welsh apples and pears at the Brymbo Heritage Centre.
Q5 What is the biggest differentiator between yourself and your fellow candidates?
When standing for election, whether at a local or national level, I have always shown respect and courtesy to my fellow candidates as I believe that we need to work together to achieve the best for our communities even if we have disagreements on policy. Different candidates bring different strengths and experience to politics in Clwyd South and elsewhere and we should celebrate that and harness it for the good of our community. If I was elected as MP, I would want to represent everyone in the constituency regardless of which political party they had voted for and make sure that their voices were heard and their problems were addressed.
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