Statement from Jackie Owen

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

I have lived in Wrexham/Clwyd South Area for 8 years. I live with my Partner Anthony & my Mam. We have 4 Adult Children. I work for the NHS as a Registered Nurse, with over 30 years’ experience.

I believe that working people are underrepresented in elected positions and as a result, too often, decisions are taken that don’t really improve the lives of ordinary people like you and me.
I believe that the Tory/Independent led Wrexham Council aren’t doing enough to improve the lives of the people of Bryn Cefn and Wrexham. With your help, I want to do something to change that. As a registered nurse, I must maintain the highest standards to retain my nursing registration, standards I commit to replicating should I be elected.

I passionately believe that having a committed councillor fighting to deliver policies that will really make a difference is important. It’s also important to offer the people of Bryn Cefn a credible alternative candidate on their ballot paper to that of someone upholding the values of the Tory Party which puts the interests of their ‘non-dom’ family members above the impact of the cost-of-living crisis that is affecting the working people of Wrexham.

When every penny counts, I was angry to learn that the outgoing Wrexham Tory/Independent administration didn’t even apply for all the funding available from the Welsh Government over the last few years. I will ensure that every penny made available to support people is applied for and accounted as spent to improve our lives.

I am a trade union and community activist with a track record of improving working conditions and creating community resources such as founding an Unemployment Support Centre in a previous community where I lived. I am a member of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), UNISON the union and I’m Secretary of Clwyd South Labour Party & North Wales branch of Co-operative Party.

I will use the skills and values I’ve developed as a nurse and activist. I’m a good listener and communicator and a keen advocate for people needing help. I will work collaboratively with others to find solutions that work. I can be supportive of those individuals and groups that have ideas that they need to develop. I will particularly concentrate on those who don’t have a fair voice and a fair chance and ensure that decisions are made that strive to eliminate inequality and create opportunities for all.

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?

As I have walked the streets of Bryn Cefn campaigning during this election and meeting people, there are a number of recurring themes The residents of Long View suffer from speeding cars. I will liaise with all stakeholder groups to implement solutions to make the streets safer and reduce the incidence of speeding. Cuts to bus services have impacted on those who rely upon them. Welsh Labour’s manifesto for Wrexham is committed to improve services – both in regularity and cost. I will fight tirelessly for Bryn Cefn to benefit from the delivery of this commitment.Food poverty effects our community and the increase in food bank usage is evidence of this. Food insecurity is increasing because people have less money to spend on food due to massive increases in the cost of living. I will fight for the Right to Food for all & especially our young people & families who are struggling. I will push for the council to develop a food action plan and appoint a food champion responsible for delivering food justice to our local communities.

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 ?

Post pandemic, a complete, visible development plan is essential to ensuring the council plays its part in helping our communities recover from the pandemic. I was surprised to learn that the outgoing council didn’t have such a plan. I believe that the Welsh Labour manifesto for Wrexham, if implemented, would make a significant contribution to the borough’s post-pandemic recovery. Our commitment to the environment would attract ethically inward investment, insulate our homes and improve outdoor recreation. Welsh Labour’s plans to build green council homes and improve housing standards in the private rented sector would make a big difference to people’s lives many of whom desire safe, secure and affordable housing. There have been major challenges in our county to provide appropriate levels of health and social care. Welsh Labour’s commitment to end the privatisation/outsourcing of social care in the County will make a big difference to where the money is spent. In doing so, it will improve care packages to those being discharged from hospital and free up resources that are in such demand.

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 don’t have ambition for any particular role. I simply want to make a difference in the community and properly represent those who have elected me. The Labour Group uses a democratic selection process to allocate their elected councillors to positions on committees etc. I would be happy to take up a position if selected. Given my experience in health care, I would be particularly keen to take a position related to health and social care if asked to do so.

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

We all share equal responsibility for addressing the climate emergency which threatens our very existence. We must protect the planet for future generations. Our Welsh Labour Government declared a climate emergency in 2019 and much can be done by our council to contribute to decarbonisation. If elected, I will work tireless to implement policies that will contribute to decarbonisation – e.g., a planned programme to properly insulate homes in Bryn Cefn which has the added benefit of reducing the cost of gas and electricity during the current cost of living crisis.

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?)

The track record of the Tory/Independent led council has been poor in more than one area. A transparent county development plan is an essential component to properly planning our future. This is still missing. There is no proper control over private developers and no planning to deliver increased service provision where building takes place. We need a transparent county development plan. Too many of our schools are in special measures and very little has been done to address the climate emergency. Welsh Labour’s manifesto for Wrexham addresses these issues and many others and I will fight for its implementation

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

It’s time to examine new & innovative ways to improve primary care. We should recognise and encourage active roles for all members of our community in the design & control of our social care. Community based health centres that prevent & treat patients closer to their local areas & reduce pressure on hospital services. The full impact of the pandemic on mental health is yet to be fully realised. It is important that local community services are fully funded & able to support people’s wellbeing such as green spaces, parks & leisure centres.

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

The decisions made by our council have had a direct and adverse effect on people already struggling under the decisions of the UK Government. A government that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer! Each day, more people are having to choose between heating and eating! I was appalled to learn that the outgoing leadership of our council had not even applied for all the funding it could have done to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis. I will fight for every penny of available funding to be used to alleviate this crisis. As a woman, I see how the crisis is having a disproportionate effect on women. The council cut in half it’s funding to Women’s Aid immediately before the Covid crisis. I will do better, to ensure that crucial services have access to the funding that is available.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

Our secondary school results are not good, and some are in special measures, so it is clear more must be done to give our young people the best possible start in life. I would want to start to contribute to the improvement of education by becoming a governor of our local schools to help me understand how I can personally contribute to the debate to improve education in the county.

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?

Welsh Labour is the only Party that can form a majority in the new council as we are standing 30 candidates across the county. I ask the people of Bryn Cefn to elect me so that Labour has a clear mandate to deliver its manifesto and start the task of improving the performance of the council for the benefit of the people of Bryn Cefn and the whole of Wrexham County. The current Tory/Independent leadership is clearly not working and I hope to be part of a Labour Group who can begin the work of improving the quality of life in Wrexham. But that is in the gift of the electorate. If elected, I will work collaboratively with anyone who is prepared to make a difference to life in Bryn Cefn.

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 ?

I welcome the chance for 16 and 17 year olds to vote. Their futures are reliant on so many of the council’s services delivering to the highest possible standards. So they deserve the right to elect their councillors and have an active voice in their future. I believe that our Welsh Labour manifesto for Wrexham offers many improvements for their future and hope that I reach them through their preferred communication channels. That way, they will see that having a plan of action to address the climate crisis, delivering secure and affordable homes and creating and delivering a plan to improve secondary reduction in Wrexham will have a positive impact on their lives and that of their friends and family members.

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