Statement from Ethan Jones

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

I am from Johnstown, the village where I lived for the last 23 years. My mother has lived here for decades, and my father was born here. I went to school in Johnstown and Rhos, then college and University as an apprentice in Wrexham. I am a Labour member and have been since I was 16. I am also an active Unite the Union member. I now work on the Wrexham Industrial Estate as an Engineer. I am a Community Councillor on Rhos Community Council, and I am a long-standing member of a local cadet organisation.

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?

1. Litter/Dog-fouling – I will work with enforcement to ensure people are educated on the issues of litter and dog fouling. Where appropriate, people will need to be issued fines if they refuse to cooperate. I also plan to get actively involved in keeping our community tidy. Already on Rhos Community Council, I have supported introducing more bins in our community, signs in the area and installing bag dispensers. The bins and bag dispensers are a work in progress, and I hope to identify further needs in the community for these. 2. The landfill – This has been a very large issue since it was first created and of course would never be permitted today. However, despite the best attempts of dedicated residents, it seems the landfill remains. I will work to ensure that they fully comply with regulations, keep disruption to people’s daily lives to an absolute minimum, and do all I can to have it close as soon as possible. 3. Young people – One of the major issues in our community is the lack of activities for young people to engage in. As someone who is actively engaged in working with young people, I recognise that Wrexham Council does not do enough to provide for young people. I will push to have a youth and play provision in Pant and Johnstown to fill the gap. Additionally, I will work with local volunteers and organisations to support them and get our young people involved in their groups. Underpinning all this is the cost-of-living crisis which Wrexham Council have refused to recognise. I myself have felt the effects of this self-made crisis by the Conservatives. Whilst it is not a “local” issue, it certainly affects our community, and I will do all I can to support people in this difficult time.

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 ?

My personal ambition for Johnstown is security, prosperity, and respect. To recover from the pandemic, I believe these principles are needed across Wrexham. To prosper, we need a strategy to reinvigorate Wrexham town where high-quality and well-paid jobs exist for people. The businesses in Wrexham need to prioritise local supply chains to support other local businesses and jobs. Then, we need a sustainable transport system that supports all communities based on need – not profit. For security, people need access to secure housing – more council houses, basic standards on private rental homes, and affordable homes are all part of this. They need safety which comes from reducing anti-social behaviour through youth provision, education, and reducing poverty. Respect comes with working with the community. Speaking to residents and local businesses is an absolute must for democracy. Communication and Consultation are the cornerstones of keeping people involved and informed. I don’t believe this has been as effective as it could be in Wrexham and people’s apathy towards the Council speaks volumes. I would hope to change that.

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 ambitions to further my career as a councillor – I intend to do the best I can to serve the community regardless of my position. I would be honoured to accept a Lead Member role if my skills are needed in such a position. The Labour Group on the council have a specific and democratic process to select Lead Members (the Council’s “cabinet”). Each member will provide their CV and respond to a Q&A. From there, a vote is held to elect the best people to the positions. If I am selected to a position, then I would look forward to the opportunity to further serving our County and making Wrexham a better place.

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

The Climate Emergency is the crisis of this century. As an engineer, one of my professional responsibilities is to sustainability. On our doorstep, we have a massive landfill site where thousands of tons of waste are dumped into the ground every day. This landfill produces copious amounts of greenhouse gases and is on a site which has been inhabited by Great Crested Newts. Landfills are undeniably producing greenhouse gases which directly affect our climate. That is why I will do whatever I can to reduce the lifespan of this landfill. Welsh Labour in the Senedd declared a Climate Emergency in 2019. As a councillor, one of the most forefront considerations will be my responsibility to sustainability and the 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?)

Wrexham Council have fallen short on many fronts. Unfortunately, there is a lack of responsibility and vision from the existing administration. Wrexham itself has stagnated – a once vibrant market town is now but a shell of its former self. Long before COVID, Wrexham had failed to grow or even maintain its economy. An economic growth strategy is desperately needed. Our schools are struggling, with many in special measures. The ruling administration have failed to make meaningful improvements and now our young people are suffering the consequences. Immediate and coordinated intervention is needed to respond to the concerns. Council workers have suffered with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome which has landed the Council in court. Such a serious failure of Health and Safety should never have happened. Taking responsibility and making the necessary changes to prevent any further issues would have been my priority.

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

This is a very emotional issue for residents in my ward, particularly considering recent events. I myself know of people who have struggled with the pressures on our health services. In our community, people often face difficulties with accessing local health services. Of course, having access to health services locally is key to relieving pressure. Being able to see a GP or nurse in your local health centre means less pressure on hospitals and addressing medical problems before they escalate. The Council must identify needs in our communities and work with the Health Board to ensure we have more salaried GPs and Advanced Nurse Practitioners to address local demand. We need to ensure that people can be treated in the community rather than travelling to hospitals which is both difficult for patients and increasing demand on hospital staff. This can only be achieved in partnership with the Health Board and the Council.

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 has hit everyone. I am particularly aware that this crisis will impact hardest on those already struggling. As October comes around with the next rise in energy price-caps, heat-or-eat will be a decision made in tens of thousands of households around the Country. Locally, what we must do is ensure that all the support available from Welsh Government is used to look after as many people as possible. Also, every decision made in the Council should be evaluated to determine how it will impact on people in the crisis. Finally, the support services in the community must be accessible at the point-of-need to help people who are struggling.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

The local education system is certainly struggling with many schools in special measures in the County. Our Secondary results are far below the standard where they should be. Since becoming a Community Councillor in 2017, I have sat on the governing bodies of both Ysgol Yr Hafod and Ysgol Maes Y Mynydd. I firmly believe that young people are the future of our communities and the quality of their education is the quality of our community’s future foundations. To improve the local education system, I believe we need to ensure that every school has a strong leadership team – particularly at Secondary level. With that strong team at the helm, we then also need to ensure that team is thoroughly supported by the Council. We also need to ensure the governing bodies that robustly support and challenge the schools to improve them. I have been very happy to be a governor for Ysgol Yr Hafod and Maes Y Mynydd. Both schools have good leadership and the Estyn reports have been positive. As a governor I look forward to giving continuing support to these schools. I also hope to be more involved with Ysgol Y Grango in future to support our local Secondary school.

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 a Labour candidate for the election, and I certainly envisage myself being a Labour councillor; of that I have no doubt. If every one of the 30 Labour candidates are elected to Wrexham, then we will have enough to take administration of the Council. That is the scenario I envision and believe in. The current situation with an Independent/Tory coalition is clearly not working – there is no direction or ambition from this Council. We need a change and I believe a Labour Council is needed to “Secure Wrexham’s Future!” However, the decision on who will take Wrexham forward is up to the voters. The voters will elect their representatives and it is every Councillor’s duty to work together to improve their wards and the County Borough as a whole. I will work to achieve improvements in Pant and Johnstown as well as Wrexham as a whole.

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 still consider myself to just about be a “young person”. At 16, the one of the big issues for me was public transport – getting to and from college in Wrexham. I remember GHA Coaches and the short-lived EasyBus. Affordable transport for young people to get to and from Wrexham on weekends such as the young person’s £2.50 return are lost to history. I was also concerned about my future, even when I was 16 the idea of affording your own home was almost a pipe dream. With house prices rising considerably still and wages not keeping pace with inflation, it is almost impossible for young people to even consider moving out when they become adults. But I think what will always be one of the biggest issues for young people is their education or career. I think keeping the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in Wales for students has been incredibly important for young people’s financial stability in Further Education. That is in addition to the Higher Education grants available to Welsh students. Locally, the I believe the Council needs to keep feeding this back to Welsh Government to let them know it is important to our young people and our future.

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