Statement from Peter Howell


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

My name is Pete Howell, and I was born and bred in Wrexham. I bought my first ever house in Gwersyllt in 1982 (a 3-bedroomed house that cost a mere £16,000).
I live in Gwersyllt with my wife Alexis. My 3 children are all grown up, but 2 of them still live locally, and I am lucky to have 2 lovely grandsons.
I worked in a Technical/Managerial role at the Pathology Laboratory at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital for 26 years, and then spent 17 years working for a Global Healthcare Company, but with a focus on the NHS Wales landscape, with the aim of achieving Prudent Healthcare and value-based Procurement for all the NHS Wales Health Boards.
I took early retirement in April 2021, and this has given me the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do, and work even closer with (and for) the local community, and stand as a County Councillor in Gwersyllt.
Over the years, I have been a School Governor at St. Mary’s Primary School, a helper with the local HCPT Group (taking disabled children to Lourdes every Easter), Cub and Scout Leader with Bishop’s Own Scout Group, and a Board member of the Wrexham Supporters Trust prior to the Rob and Ryan takeover.
I was also a STEM Ambassador for several years, which gave me the opportunity to visit local Schools to talk about career opportunities in the Science sector.
Currently, I am a Committee Member at Wrexham Athletics Club, a Run Director at Alyn Waters Junior parkrun, a Trustee at AVOW, Wrexham Litter Champion for Gwersyllt, the Co-ordinator for the North Wales Community Alert/Neighbourhood Watch Group for Gwersyllt ‘South’, and a Community Speed Watch Co-ordinator for Gwersyllt.
I have been a Wrexham AFC supporter for 51 years, and I am a season ticket holder along with my daughter and grandson.
Politically, I used to vote Labour as my father and grandfather did. However, as I became more aware of National and local politics, and recognised the sad decline in traditional Labour values, both Nationally and locally, I have voted for Plaid Cymru.
I am also a Plaid Cymru member, and as a proud Welshman (having a passion for the Country, people and language) I cannot consider being a member of any other Political Group.
Plaid Cymru are there to represent everyone, no matter what their background is, and will always do what is best for Gwersyllt, Wrexham and Wales, unlike some of the ‘sullied’ examples from other parties or Independent Councillors we have seen over recent years.
The record of the Plaid Cymru Councillors in Wrexham speaks for itself, and I am proud to continue their work and values into the future.



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?

I started my campaign, back in October, and starting so early has given me the opportunity to find out what the real issues are in Gwersyllt South. The first and biggest issue is totally unforgiveable: 1) Ignored Residents: Residents of specific areas in the Ward feel totally ignored and neglected for many years, and are angry that this has been allowed to happen. Facilities are seriously lacking ; they have no shop(s), no café, no community centre, a scarcity of buses, and broken benches that are over 50 years old. Even their post-box has been removed. They simply do not feel part of the village of Gwersyllt at all. So my first aim will be to ‘up’ the profile of these areas, listen to and hear the residents requirements , and act to make them feel a valuable part of the Village again. I have lots of ideas how this can be achieved, and I have already started with some ideas as residents have contacted me directly about their worries. I will gladly continue this campaign if elected as their Councillor. I will ensure, if elected, that communication and consultation between myself and all residents will be organised, regular and effective. 2) Environmental issues: This covers a multitude of issues, including littering, dog fouling, fly tipping, broken glass, blocked drains, localised flooding, and potholes. Residents need assurances that their local Councillors are taking them seriously and acting appropriately. To be told recently that the Council have been in possession of special CCTV cameras to catch/deter fly tippers for 8 months, but they have still not been installed, is appalling. And also to be told that there has not been one fine issued for dog fouling in Wrexham in the last 12 months, when another Welsh Council has issued 250 fines in the same period is totally unacceptable. As a local Litter Champion, I have been litter-picking in the Village for over 12 months now, and have collected over 400 bags of rubbish in that time, so I am acutely aware of all of these issues, as I see them every single time I go out collecting litter and picking up dog mess and shards of glass. I have already organised one Group Litter Pick as part of my ‘Keep Gwersyllt Tidy’ campaign, and this helped to clean up a large area on the main Mold Road ‘gateway’ into Gwersyllt with several other willing volunteers. Dealing with these issues after they have occurred is one thing, but my aim will be to deal with these issues proactively, and try to prevent them from happening in the first place. I have many solutions for achieving this, at minimal cost, whilst realising that realistically it will never cease completely. But any improvement will lead to cleaner and safer streets, public areas and play areas. 3) Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB): This is a particular concern within the Village as a whole, and is not just specific to Gwersyllt South Ward. There have been major concerns for many years about ASB, but here we are, years later, still ‘talking’ about it but with no real conclusions or solutions to deal with it effectively. I was personally ‘attacked’ whilst litter-picking one day, so I can understand totally how victims feel about this : it cannot be understated or ignored. Again, I have lots of plans of how to deal with instances pro-actively, and make the streets safer, and for all residents not to feel afraid to park their cars on the street, or simply go out for a walk with their dogs. The Village used to have 4 x PCSOs, basically one PCSO for each Ward ; now we have just 1 PCSO, who is not even dedicated just to Gwersyllt ; they are also covering Gresford, Marford, Wrexham Industrial Estate, etc. This is not a criticism of the PCSO Team, who are doing a remarkable job in the circumstances. I have led recent campaigns asking residents to report every incident of ASB to 101, as when I met the local PCSO before Christmas it was felt that ASB was not a ‘big’ problem in Gwersyllt. If there is a mechanism to fund an extra PCSO for the Village, or even to have a dedicated PCSO who covers just Gwersyllt, that is something that I will be pushing for as a priority. Some of these ideas will cost money, but it will be money well spent in my opinion.

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 ?

Everyone in the Town has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in some way. Residents have had to change the way they live and function. Businesses have lost valued revenue and then found it difficult to recover. Local people are the heart-beat of the Town ; post-pandemic, the importance of listening to residents becomes even more vital. Access to Social and Mental Health Services (or other assistance) for all ages needs to be easy, effective and timely. Wrexham Council should be doing everything it can to help local businesses and people in the pandemic recovery period, especially encouraging more foot-fall in the town centre, and making the Town as attractive as possible to counter the ‘competition’ from Chester and Mold. How about free bus travel into the Town Centre? Cheaper Business rates and rent? The loss of affordable ‘eateries’ in the town needs to be addressed, and also the lack of hotels to attract people to visit (and stay) in the Town for longer, rather than just a few hours. The Council really need to push the ‘buy local’ message, something which I have been focussing on in my campaign, and giving local businesses opportunity to showcase via Facebook videos how they fit in to the local Community, and are a vital part of Village life. Unfortunately, the Council have not set a very good example with this ‘buy local’ message, with only a fraction of their budget spent within the Wrexham area. If the Council does not set the example, how can they expect other people to shop or buy locally? My aim, if elected, is to be a local 'champion' for residents and businesses alike.

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?

My first aim is to get elected, and then start to put into action all the things I have already mentioned to make Gwersyllt South and Wrexham a better place to live for everyone. However, my 43 year experience working for NHS Wales and for Roche has given me essential skills of dealing with and controlling multi-million pound Contracts, KPIs, targets, budgets, customer experience, marketing, added-value, financial restraints, and value-based Procurement. This involves making every Procurement exercise as cost-effective as possible without skimping on quality. Just because a Company responds to a Procurement with the ‘cheapest’ price, it does not mean it will be the most cost effective over the duration of the Contract. Hidden costs often make the cheapest offer the most expensive over the Contract term. This is something that seems to escape the current Council Procurements, and the cost (both financially and environmentally) of shipping potatoes from Rochdale to Wrexham for school meals for example, is probably extortionate and will result in such a Contract becoming a potential millstone. So, any opportunity to scrutinise Procurements, budgets and Contract control would be ideal for my skillsets.

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

To me, climate emergency means urgent action is required to reduce climate change if we are going to avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage. The main problem with the ‘term’ is that lots of people do not take it seriously, see it as someone else’s duty, or think that whatever small steps they make, it will not make a difference. In my Ward, the most important message will be that if everybody did something to reduce environmental damage, it would have a much bigger impact in the Town, County, Country and World. Simple actions such as more wild flower spaces, bee and swift bricks in all new builds, 'grow your own' initiatives, safer cycling, and 'walk to school' challenge, to name but a few. Recycling rates locally are good, but I would be looking to encourage more up-cycling as well to avoid fixable things being discarded, and giving them a new lease of life. Maybe a local ‘Repair Shop’ type model? Loss of green land locally is a massive issue, and we have already lost many green spaces within Gwersyllt South with the recent start of the 189 housing estate on Main Road in Rhosrobin. I have been helping local residents for the last 7 months with objections to a further planned Estate of 92 houses on Llay New Road in Rhosrobin. Loss of green space is not just a loss of a field, but a loss of habitat for flora and fauna. Once green spaces have gone, they can never be recovered, and it is important that greedy developers do not have an ‘open door’ to destroy green spaces to build more and more Executive houses when there is an urgent need for more social housing in the Town. Affordable housing on these new Estates has become a misnomer, as they are usually ‘unaffordable’ for young couples or single people trying their hardest to get on the property ladder. Stopping urban sprawl is essential. We must prevent Developers from running ‘slip-shod’ over local Planning rules, destroying green spaces, and ignoring the requirements for local essential infrastructure.

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?)

I have never been part of the Council in Wrexham before, and I feel that this gives me an advantage in that as a resident (and taxpayer) for many years, it has been easy to see the constant failings of the Council, the waste of monies, ignoring the population, and the Executive Board stopping and shutting down debate and democracy for many years. This has also encouraged me to put my head above the parapet, and stand for the Council to try and change it for the better for the people of Gwersyllt South and Wrexham. So answering the question about ‘what would I have done differently’ : I would have listened more to the people who voted ‘me’ in as a start. For example, the City Status debacle was embarrassing to see. In fact it was a great example how NOT to proceed with such an important Project. The last time Wrexham applied for City Status in 2012, and was subsequently turned down, the report of the deciding Committee stated that one of the reasons was the lack of consultation with local residents. Why did Wrexham Council therefore make exactly the same mistake again, not listening to the mass outcry, ignoring the residents, and not even allowing an open debate with all 52 Councillors? I will ensure that if I am successful in the Council Election I will listen and consult my local residents, and represent their views, not mine. If necessary, I will knock on every door in Gwersyllt South to get the opinions of everyone when it comes to such important decisions that are going to effect their lives for many years to come.

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

Having worked within the NHS for 26 years, and more recently for a Company providing essential services to every Health Board in Wales, it is clear that there is no easy or quick solution to solving long-term issues like Health Board performance, Hospitals, staffing, waiting times, etc. Nothing happens fast within the NHS, and current issues are going to take many years to correct and improve. Throwing extra money at the NHS is not the long-term answer. There needs to be a concerted effort by all concerned in Health Care provision to make any difference at all. Chronic underfunding for many years by the Welsh Government, broken promises of extra Medical and Nursing staff, and a loss of focus on front-line services has not helped the situation, and the pandemic has just added more stress to an already over-stretched and under-resourced system. The formation of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in 2009 was a major mistake in my opinion. Three NHS Trusts across North Wales becoming the largest Health Board in Wales was a brave step, but it has been clear that the decision was a mistake, and the size of the Health Board has made it unwieldy and slow to react to required changes. Nationally, Plaid Cymru are committed to the introduction of a seamless National Care System that will deal with all aspects of Health ; properly funded, adequately staffed by Health Care Professionals that are paid a decent wage, and treated as ‘key’ workers. Wrexham Council can help the current situation by ensuring that there are adequate facilities in the Community to free up beds in Acute Care to enable the Hospital to admit patients in a timely manner to receive the treatment they require. Funding of extra care facilities in the Community, and the valuable staff to accompany that, is essential, and can be potentially helped by Council funding, intervention and scrutiny by working in conjunction with the local Health Board. Further setting up of Community Wellbeing Hubs is another way that the Council can help to provide ‘prevention’ services rather than ‘cure’ services. This would also help with the requirement for valuable Hospitals beds which are currently utilised for treatment of chronic conditions. A commitment from the Council to work closer with the local Health Board is vital, as this will help to nurture our essential G.P. services, provide encouragement of healthy lifestyles, resulting in reduction of chronic ill health in later years.

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

As part of my campaigning, this topic is something that has been raised again and again as a major worry. The current Plaid Cymru Councillors voted against the recent 4% rise in Council Tax in Wrexham, but the rise was still voted through by the Tory/Independent coalition. Plaid feel that this would have made a big impact to all residents facing cost of living crises, as well as giving out a message of some understanding of their plight. There are other initiatives that the Council could introduce to help with this major worry, including free bus services and ‘shop-local’ initiatives with associated discounts. Nationally, Plaid Cymru have worked in conjunction with the Welsh Government to agree to funding of free school-meals for Primary School children (with the aim to extend to all Secondary School children), and free child-care for under-2 year olds. This will have a major positive impact on spending of families and parents with children. Also, my aim will be to set up regular cost-of-living Surgeries with expert advisors from Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Shelter Cymru, for example, to help with any debt worries or assistance with benefit payments. My role as a Trustee with AVOW will help me to identify how the voluntary sector can help to support local residents and businesses, and knowledge of any grant provision that may be available.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

The education of our children is vital, and cannot be ignored. Providing young people with the experiences, knowledge and skills for their future lives is more important than ever. Attendance is a problem in some schools, so any system that can be introduced to discourage truancy will lead to an improvement in education and learning potential. We have 3 Primary Schools and 1 Secondary School in Gwersyllt, so it will be an essential part of my role as a Councillor to ensure that all these Schools have the correct mix of Teachers, Teaching Assistants, and non-Teaching staff to function properly and support the children to achieve the highest level of education possible. The Plaid Cymru pledge for free School meals for all Primary and Secondary School children will take away the usual stigma attached, as well as providing a well-balanced meal to every child, which is a baseline requirement to maximise the learning experience. We also need to ensure that more training and employment opportunities are available, and an extended partnership between the Council and local Colleges will be a major factor in the future of school leavers in the area. Lastly, the Council agreement to a new Welsh medium Secondary School in Wrexham is vital, so I will do my best to encourage this initiative within the next 5 years if elected.

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?

As previously mentioned, I am standing as a Plaid Cymru candidate, and I am a member of Plaid Cymru. I will be proud, if elected, to stand aside the other Plaid Cymru Councillors on Wrexham Council, as the current Councillors have shown time and time again that they are ‘in-touch’ with the local Community : Plaid Cymru Councillors will take the time to listen and serve their residents at every opportunity. The current Tory/Independent Coalition is damaging to the future of the reputation of the Council, the Town, and its residents. Independent candidates who say they have no party to dictate a ‘party-line’, and then join this Coalition ‘bandwagon’ are a major obstacle to the democracy of the local political landscape, and justice and fairness for our local Communities.

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 ?

As I mentioned earlier, when I started voting I just followed the political views of my Parents. My Dad came from a family of coal miners in South Wales, so their political persuasion was to always vote Labour. The 16 and 17 year olds today are far more ‘savvy’ when it comes to politics, and what is ‘right or wrong’. Their opportunity to vote at such an age is a major incentive for them to map out their future landscape, both locally and Nationally. As part of my campaigning, I have taken every opportunity on the doorstep to engage with these ‘first-time’ voters, asking parents if they have any 16/17 years olds as part of their household. This has resulted in several discussions with this age-group, and their awareness of current affairs has been both refreshing and encouraging for the future. It has even resulted in awareness of the upcoming Election date, and a promise that they will register to vote so they can ‘have their say’ on May 5th. Any Candidate who has not taken the time, or made the effort, to engage with these ‘first-time’ voters have made a serious error of judgment.



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