Statement from John Ramm

We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.

Wrexham has been my home town since my parents moved here from Wallasey in 1971. I’ve lived in Hightown with my wife Helene since we married in 1989. We have four daughters and two cats and we live in rented accommodation on the Barracks Field estate.
I have voted Labour for as long as I can remember and Helene and I have been paid up members of the party now for several years. We espouse the Labour principles of fairness, equality and social justice and feel that if these principles are rooted into our society and, indeed, our local community, then it will be a better place in which to live.
I am a musician and sound engineer, and I also have significant experience in the charity sector as a board member for the RNIB, a non-executive Director of Habinteg Housing Association and a member of the steering group for our local society for the visually impaired, Vision Support.
I have been totally blind since the age of ten months so I’m no stranger to overcoming real or imagined barriers which stand in the way of me living my life on a daily basis. I am a life coach and I love to see people finding their way to solutions for them in their lives, whatever they are.
I believe that a Labour led council in Wrexham would work better for the people of the town. Not only would a Labour council improve local services, it would also provide an ambitious plan for the future. After 2 years of the pandemic and 5 years of the Independent/Tory administration failing the people of Wrexham, I believe that this election should not be about one ward but about the future of the town. Additionally, a Labour council would allow easier alignment with the Welsh Labour government in the Senedd so, therefore, I’m asking you to vote for me and for a Labour run council in Wrexham.

Questions & Answers

1. What are the three biggest issues for your ward, how do you think they need to be resolved, and what will you do to achieve it?

Like many wards across Wrexham, Erddig has the problems of dog fouling and litter but it is also a ward with so many lovely green spaces we should not take for granted. Labour’s promise of cleaner and better maintained streets will benefit the whole of Wrexham especially as a rapid response team is integrated into this pledge. Labour also commits to Wrexham becoming the greenest of counties so protecting our green spaces is a critical part of this promise. Without a Local Development Plan (LDP) in place, our green spaces are under threat so we need to have a vision for the future of Wrexham which gives us the economic development we need but ensures that we are mindful of our environment. Not all our residents have the benefit of their own transport so it is important that we have a public transport system which serves all parts of Wrexham and gives all residents accessibility to the town centre and important places such as the hospital. Wrexham Labour pledges a sustainable public transport system with an established park and ride scheme which serves all the county.

2. What do you think needs to be done to help Wrexham recover from the pandemic and what hands-on-role can you play as a councillor ?

After these difficult pandemic years, we need hope for the future. We need to rediscover this town which has kind and resilient people who, I believe, care about this community. Most people are in despair at the state of our town centre and this has not just happened because of the pandemic – it has been this way for many years. The current Independent/Tory administration has no answers and all they did was to remove paving which was fine and replace it with expensive new paving. We need some joined up thinking – a clear strategy with economic growth at the heart of the plans so that we not only revitalise the town centre but we also bring better jobs and introduce a comprehensive plan to tackle poverty. The cost-of-living crisis will impact on all of us but some are more vulnerable than others. No part of Wrexham should be left behind and Wrexham Labour’s ambitions will lead us towards a more resilient and inclusive community.

3. As a councillor you may have the chance to take on further roles eg. Lead Member, Audit, Scrutiny. What appeals to you and what skills do you bring to that role?

I understand that the Labour Group within WCBC has a process to ensure that the right person is chosen for the right role bearing in mind the skills and interests of each councillor. I would support this process but as someone with a disability and experience of advocacy in these matters, I assume that this would be a consideration.

4. What do the words climate emergency mean to you and your ward?

It was a proud moment for Wrexham when our MS, Lesley Griffiths, declared a Wales Climate Emergency in 2019. This is a huge issue and we ignore it at our peril. Working together locally to drive decarbonisation and promote biodiversity is something we can do and involving our schools and youth clubs would be a great way forward. It is heartening that young people have recognised the importance of this issue and so we must harness this enthusiasm as this is their future and they need to play a part in protecting our environment.

5. What is the biggest thing you would have done differently from the ruling administration over the last 5 years? (Or, if you were part of the Administration - what would you have done differently?)

It is shocking that several of our secondary schools have been in special measures and that regulatory bodies have noted Children’s Services and Social Care as a cause for concern. Something is very wrong with the Independent/Tory administration for this to be the case. Independent councillors do not stand on a manifesto so you have little idea of what their views are on the big issues such as education, social care, the environment and other important services. It has been clear for five years that ad hoc decision making and the lack of cohesion has been a big part of the problems in Wrexham. We need a plan; we need more openness with our residents and we need to significantly improve our approach. Only Labour has a manifesto which has been written by local people who understand what is required to take us forward as a town.

6. Local health pressures are well documented, from delayed ambulances to issues in the hospital. How can the council help resolve those problems?

To ease the pressures on our local NHS and respond to the fact that many GPs are retiring and closing their practices we must consider community health hubs which offer a variety of services. With salaried GPs and nurse practitioners they are more resilient and sustainable. This is possible if the council engages with the Health Board at a local level and there are plenty of examples which illustrate that these health hubs are a good practice model.

7. What will you do on a local level to help support people in your ward affected by the cost of living crisis?

The cost-of-living crisis is very worrying for everyone but especially for those where there are small margins between managing and entering into difficulties. The Welsh Government has a good record of mitigating against the worst impacts of poverty which are caused by UK Tory policies. Local authorities are supported by the Welsh Government so WCBC must ensure that all the financial support available is accessed to provide support where it is needed. In addition, the council must work creatively with the broad range of agencies which exist in Wrexham to protect our most vulnerable residents from the worst aspects of this crisis especially in areas with high levels of child poverty already. Having the skills to navigate complex bureaucratic systems is sometimes at the heart of problems so the council must double its efforts to offer the right advice and guidance to people.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

While there is much to celebrate in Wrexham’s primary education, there are deep concerns over the secondary sector. The school system must be fit for purpose for all our children and not just for those who are high achievers. A thorough review of the secondary education system in Wrexham is needed so that lessons are learned. Although schools are autonomous units, they are supported by the local authority. Therefore, ensuring that there is a strong connection between the education department and the schools is important and with all schools working cohesively and sharing good practice better provision should ensue. There is no doubt that we have talented and hard-working teachers and support workers but their skills need to be recognised and they need to be well supported and resourced.

9. When the public view the Full Council meeting in June, do you envision you could be part of a Party, Group or coalition, and if so, specifically who and why?

The voters will determine the makeup of the future administration but only the Labour Party is well placed to hold an outright majority. I believe that this election is about more than just one ward, it is about the future of Wrexham. We need to bring back prosperity and pride to the town. Our much-loved football club has put us not only well and truly on the national map but on the international map too so we need ambition and vision to take us forward. Only Labour offers ambition, vision and hope.

10. This is a noteworthy election with 16 and 17 year olds now able to vote, what have you done to engage this new electorate and what do you think is the biggest issue for them locally ?

The pandemic has impacted severely on so many young people with the adverse effects on their education but I believe it has also motivated many to become more involved in decision making. The future is theirs and I applaud the Welsh Government for taking this critical move by involving 16- and 17-year-olds in our democratic system. It has also been good to see the local authority and other organisations promoting the registration of younger voters

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