Statement from Victoria MATTHEWS

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

Hello all,
I came to Cefn Mawr back in 2002, my family and I became part of the heart of the village when we started running Cefn Mawr Post Office. It remains a key attribute in the community, not just from a usual perspective of a Post Office but as a place to come for advice and clarification on community issues.
I live locally with my husband, two children and our beloved pets, and that is where my focus is, I want to help improve the area for all, especially our children, building a safe and secure environment for them to thrive.
As an Independent my political views are not at the front of my drive to be elected, but rather my passion for the community, my view is that community councillors are there for a specific reason and it's not politically driven.
I come from a technical background, specialising in Software Architecture Infrastructure, spending my time as Head of Infrastructure for a global software company. I want to bring my management skills to the community council to really get things done, in my line of work the initiative is 'Plan, Action, Resolution'.
I want to see diverse and motivated councillors, who have great skills that can benefit the community, lets shake it up and get some fresh and bold ideas out there. My drive over everything is what the community wants and how I can stand up and push that forward for them!

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?

The ward has a large amount of vehicle traffic in the Arcefair and top of Cefn Mawr areas and this is an issue for young families, as some paths are very narrow, causing young children to walk single file along the path next to busy roads. I plan to look into what improves could be added to alleviate this issue and make the area safer for the children as well as the motorists. Play areas are a great asset to our area and are used frequently but for many its not suitable for wheelchair users and buggies, accessibility is an issue and I would like to drive a solution forward to make areas of the parks accessible for those on wheels, children and young adults love the parks and I'd like to see something for them within my time at the council. I am a mother of two and I can say sitting in the park to watch them can be hard with a lack of social areas to sit down, my children love to be out come rain or shine, it would be wonderful to introduce eco friendly shelters for us parents to sit dry in whilst they enjoy all the wonders of the welsh weather. I'd like to bring the idea to the table as I think many would share my passion in reference to this. The other issue I think needs focus is the mental health of our community, the pandemic really shone a light on the issues faces by young and old, from loneliness to feeling trapped and isolated, the pandemic had a horrific impact on our ability to get out and socialise, of which some just simply haven't recovered. There have been many projects that have seen young and old coming together to help each other, children providing energy and simplistic play that encourages those less abled to move about and laugh with the children and vice versa with the older generation telling us their stories of survival and tip and tricks to make things last longer and how economically we can repair items rather than just send them to landfill. I believe achieving this would doable and would see an increase in positive mental health across generations. My goal, a safe and thriving place for all.

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 ?

Research carried out during the pandemic reported that the biggest concerns of young people were mental health and employment, where as the elder community raised high concern for mobility. I believe a big part of this is transport, for the young its to get to interviews and social events and for the elderly its to feel free again. I plan to roll up my sleeves and get involved in the transport side of things, as an outsider (non councillor) currently I'm not privy to transport specifics within the Wrexham County but I'd like to explore what we can do to help our community use our existing services and possibly expand services. The recovery will take time but with great services in place we can get ourselves mobile again.

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?

As an experienced Operations & Infrastructure Head of Department with a proven track record of success in the logistics, marketing, insurance and Biometric sectors, providing operational and project management control enabling achievement of consistently improved business performance, I think this will give the council someone who isn't afraid to really get their hands dirty on projects and see them through all the way to the end. I'm a strong pro-active leader, empowering people to take ownership, providing coaching, training and mentoring to build cohesive teams working together to achieve individual targets and wider objectives. I want to bring all the wards together to be a unit that strives for a better Wrexham County, from its core to its borders.

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

According to Oxford Dictionaries, climate emergency can be defined as "a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it” and this is what climate emergency means to and the world, we are living in a time where we need to act now, because it is an emergency, it may not be our generation that is effected or your children but the earth will inevitably get to breaking point. My ward is the beautiful gateway to the Dee Valley, we pride ourselves on keeping it clean and tidy and spend a lot of time tending to our gardens and surroundings, the change in the climate is showing in our ward, our nature and wildlife are getting confused, we see our flowers budding to soon and our animals getting thrown out of their natural time lines. People from all over come to our ward to roam its green pathways and stare in wonder at the hills that seem to never end as you head towards Llangollen, we're an important part of the journey and we want to stay that way.

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'll start by saying that I believe that they would have done the best they could with the global situation faced over the last 2 years, I'm not someone to berate others, I believe we learn from the past and should use it in a positive way moving forward. I plan, if elected to hopefully work closely with my predecessors to do 'discover sessions' to gain perspective from the community and those who have worked in the councillor positions to make improvements. Now of course you all do want to me to say something I'd improve, as that is the question...communication and viability would be what I'd like to do differently, coming from a tech background I will be looking to communicate regularly via the online communities as well as being in the community itself, I'll be available via the Post Office in person and be there to sit down with you and talk one to one about the issues.

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

Having personal experience of the delays in emergency and hospital services I'd like to get involved in the first responders issues we're facing, there is no denying it, it is an area that needs significant improvement. One of the initiatives I've seen in other countries is the introduction of Mental Health first responders, so that if the Emergency HQ gets a 999 call in reference to a mental health crisis that trained responders go out to deescalate and help the patient to get to the right professional, rather than sending our ambulances and police, this is an initiative I'd very much love to discuss within our council and health board. I would like my fellow councillors to look at their wards and bring their concerns of first response and mental health in their area to the table so we could seriously look at this as a possible solution, or at least try it as a 'proof of concept'.

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

On a local level I'd like to encourage Health Living On A Budget at our central hub (Cefn Mawr Post Office) and online, providing recipes and costing for meals to feed all the family. By helping the community see what the cost of a meal is they can plan their week within their budget. For those still struggling I'll work with the council and local food banks to ensure that they get the help they need. I'm happy to work directly with families to gain access to their required resources.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

The education sector is a large area with many complex aspects, for the local area I'll be looking to get involved in the additional needs perspective and help the school/s to find the right paths for additional help/funding for those children who need the additional resource. I have personal experience and a lot of knowledge in this area and will being opening that up to the school/s and parents to assist in getting the right help. It's a labyrinth of different avenues and I'll putting my experience forward to see an ease of complexity in reference to this area. I'm a parent of two children with additional needs and pride myself in pushing for justice of those who need help.

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?

I am an open book and standing for the community, I envision the council working as a whole, that may mean that I will work in coalition with others and I absolutely cannot wait to do so, I'm a friendly person and as mentioned before not interested in berating others, I love nothing better than working in a team and my skill set reflects that. I very much look forward to working with the bordering wards to mine and plan to work alone side the nominee for Cefn West, to bring a collaborated stronghold to the area.

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 ?

It's a big year for so many reasons and I believe the new voters are always a little nervous when it comes to voting for the first time, there is so much to take in and understand, that will be the same for these young adults too. My engagement has been via online, I use many social platforms and I think its important to provide the information in an accessible area for our younger voters. I have also done the usual leaflets and letter to the residents, delivered through your doors. This coming Tuesday 19th April 2022 I'll be at Cefn Mawr Post Office for meet and greets 3pm - 5pm, I look forward to seeing everyone.

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