Statement from Frank Hemmings

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

1. I have lived in Chirk for 36 years living in Pentre with my wife Jane, I have been a member of the Labour Party for almost 40 years and had a strong union background for most of my working life. I worked for a major transport company for over 40 years having started as a driver and worked my way up to a senior manager.
I have been a member of Chirk Town Council for over 30 years and have been elected as chair of the council on 4 occasions working with some strong community advocates along the way, this town is very important to me, and I have given a considerable amount of time for the residents which makes me very proud of the achievements we have done together.
As a Borough Councillor I have represented my ward to the best of my ability serving on several scrutiny committees and chaired a group looking into the recovery of the Wrexham Town Centre which is important to us all as well as honesty and integrity which is a priority for all politicians

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?

• When visiting the Food Cupboard on a weekly basis make you realise how people are struggling now and supporting the volunteers here is most important as they turn up each week to help those in need, it’s important for me to be able to signpost people here and to help them target the support they need. • The people of Chirk want reassurance that the air that they breathe is safe and that any concerns in this area are understood and addressed, I was able to secure 2 air quality monitors for the community and they are used daily to assess any damaging pollutants in the area. I will work with all agencies with responsibilities for this area to ensure European Standards are met in all sites affecting the town. • Housing in particular social housing is a great need across the county I will push for greater investment in this area to ensure everyone has an opportunity to live in a home that meets the Welsh Government Housing Standards. We need to build more council homes and all private rented property must be maintained to highest standard reducing heating costs and maintaining a healthy population.

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 ?

• Having served on the Task and Finish groups both on the indoor markets and the Town Centre I feel there is work to do here and would really want to continue that work, the days of shopping centres just for shops are fading away and I feel that Wrexham is well placed to re-establish itself but as a vibrant cultural centre with the venues we currently have and to provide entertainment and hospitality to suit all. • We are fortunate to be able to work with others in North Wales and just across the border to bring prosperity to our borough with growth deals and an alliance with others working together we can grow our economy

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 have been fortunate to be on several scrutiny committees in my 5 years as a councillor and will be more than willing to continue that process. Having been a school governor for 20 years I feel I understand education and Lifelong Learning, and also my skills obtained in my working life enable me to fit into many roles. Being a Senior manager in a national company has taught me a lot not just about business but people skills which I believe to be important in life.

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

We are now in a situation where the planet is at risk, our seas are rising the earth’s temperature is increasing we need to act now, so much is talked about electric cars but much of this is beyond the average individual. We can for example by improving public transport reduce the number of car journeys cutting down on pollution, bring in more 20mph limits, encourage greener transport, we must act now before it’s too late. In many ways this is an opportunity to cover 2 areas that are important to our party, home insulation and improving homes to the Welsh Standard, windows and doors all need to be of a high standard in all homes across the county. The use of Solar and other reusable energy sources by the authority and encouraging investment into the area from companies to provide greener sources of energy.

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 would like to have seen better consultation with the public, listening to the person in the street is vital to take the public along with you. We have seen recent investment in education to ensure that it meets the requirements of the Welsh Government inspectors, had that investment happened a lot earlier we would not be in the situation we are now and the department not in a category. Building more social housing should have been a greater priority, housing waiting lists are too excessive, we need to help people to have a home they can be proud of.

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

A lot of my time and my colleagues has been trying to work with GPs locally to improve communication and improve the relationship with practices, this has proved difficult we must work together to help the public to get the best from the service. I have been a member of the Community Health Council for some time and have raised patients concerns as well visited hospitals to promote the case of the patients. It is vital that social care and the NHS work closely together to free beds in hospitals we saw in some cases the transfer of elderly patients being held up and this then blocking beds in hospitals. There must be a close partnership between BETSI and the local authority to ensure this is possible, it is also vital that when patients are discharged, they are given the full support they need whether at home or in care.

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

There is a growth in numbers of those needing support due to the current crisis where possible we can support and advise people on the benefits they are entitled to; I also help out with the local food cupboard where Fair Share food is distributed. Its important also to ensure homes are at a high standard with Welsh Government standard housing insulation and efficient heating. We need to stop people having to make the choice between heating and eating, as one of the richest nations we should not expect people to make these choices.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

I have been part of the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee for some time and in the last few months we are starting to see improvements across the county but that needs to be maintained, the additional investment that has taken place must be maintained and improved. The new curriculum for Wales is being implemented across schools and the changes to how children learn will require extensive scrutiny both at County and individual school level this will require councillors to be governors challenging our schools and at a higher level offering greater challenge to the department through scrutiny and Task and Finish groups.

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 think that is the choice of the voter, whichever group has the highest number of seats will be able to make that decision, clearly a Tory Independent coalition has failed to work over the past ten years and a fresh ambitious approach is needed going forward, Conservative Austerity has failed this country for over 10 years now which places limits on Local Authorities but we can do more and better with what we have and hopefully we, Welsh Labour, will get that opportunity.

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 ?

Youth service is an area that is totally lacking in my ward, locally we are trying to provide services, my colleagues in the town council are bringing forward ideas which I am happy to support, pre pandemic I worked with students who had been failed by the system they helped me with projects in my ward and at my school which was a very positive experience for us all, everyone needs a chance in life and we need to make that possible.

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