Statement from Matt Birnie

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

My name is Matthew Birnie and I have lived in this area all of my life, I was born and
grew up locally. I went to primary school in Johnstown and attended Ysgol Y Grango.
From this I feel I have a very good knowledge of our local area, with friends living across the locality.
My parents have lived here for many years. They are very well
known around the community and taught me the importance of valuing our local

I have always worked locally, presently in a secretarial role but start a new position
with the GMB Union at the end of April. My experience in work has given me an
insight and knowledge in understanding of people’s needs and what drives them.
Because of this I decided to become involved in Trade Union activities, representing
members in different workplaces.

I have been interested in local politics for many years and I am a firm believer in the
values of Welsh Labour, the emphasis on community and people, I believe that
bringing everyone together will help to build on an already strong community.

Given the opportunity to represent Penycae on Wrexham CouncilI, I will work night
and day to represent you all, I will listen to your issues and concerns and work to
overcome the problems that face us locally.

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 biggest issues in our ward would be, public transport, fly tipping and road conditions. I believe all 3 can be resolved. One promise to you in our manifesto is to create a sustainable transport system with an established park and ride for the county as a whole, this would solve the issue many residents have brought up. Fly tipping has been raised many times, especially down the banks in Coed y Nant. I know Penycae is already working hard with this issue, given more representation on Wrexham council I believe we can resolve this, by adding more netting and encouraging litter picking throughout the community. A Labour council will organise and improve consultation and engagement with residents and businesses. I also believe more representation on the Council means we will be able to push through road improvements around the ward, people in our community have been making their voices heard for a while and they are yet to be satisfied.

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 ?

I think a Labour controlled council will be able to help Wrexham recover from the pandemic and also develop upon what we already have. We have many ideas on how to do this when it comes to the environment, housing, transport, employment and much more. We want to become the greenest County, attracting ethical inward investment and decarbonisation. We promise to introduce an ambitious council house programme, delivering more affordable and greener home for the future. I mentioned transport in my last answer with regards to my ward's issues, to deliver a sustainable transport system with an established park and ride for Wrexham County. When it comes to employment, we plan to introduce an economic growth strategy that would reinvigorate our town centres, create high-quality, well-paid jobs and prioritise local supply chains and combat poverty at its core. This will create a resilient and inclusive economy that benefits the whole area.

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'm standing to represent the people of Penycae, It would be up to my colleagues if they wanted to nominate me for a further role as this would need to go through a democratic process to select a nominee. If I was picked for a further role, I believe my negotiation, people and listening skills acquired through my job with the GMB Union and previous employment would all contribute.

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

The words climate emergency scare me, governments have been too slow to address the issue and we now see extreme weather as a direct result of apathy from governments worldwide. The constant named storms that batter us every few weeks it seems, do a great deal of damage to our local area, Storm Eunice seems to me to have been the most destructive. We must all play our part to reduce our carbon emissions, every ward, every county council, every nation. In 2019 Lesley Griffiths MS the Welsh Labour Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs declared a climate emergency in Wales and we need to do more for future generations.

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?)

This current administration has failed US, hence why Wrexham is stagnant, HSE have had to intervene in the past and the council ended up going to court, more and more schools ended up being placed in special measures, again on their watch. My last point is that there's a feeling throughout Wrexham County that there is very little transparency with the local administration. There needs to be more openness and all elected members should be challenged, not just the ruling administration.

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 issues in the hospital were present before the pandemic, the Coronavirus pandemic just made them more noticeable and brought them to light for all to clearly see. The council needs to work with the health board for every ward within Wrexham. As GP's retire and close their surgeries, we should create Community Health Hubs with actual salaried GP's and Nursing Practitioners to provide healthcare services locally. This would also save the trip into Wrexham for the Maelor.

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

Every decision we make affects people as councillors, that matters so much more now with the cost of living crisis, food, gas and electricity, petrol prices, rent, taxes - all skyrocketing. A good Wrexham administration should soak in every penny of support from the Welsh Government to ease the effects. It's a big shame and embarrassment that the Tories are out there in this crisis, more concerned with protecting the status of non-doms family members rather than the survival of the public. For those who are really struggling, it is a matter of survival. I know people who don't turn the heating on, and haven't done so for weeks as they can't afford to. Cook the food or heat the house it's heartbreaking to see this choice being made in a country like ours.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

Let’s face it, our secondary school results aren’t good enough, students and teachers are being let down by our current tory/independent administration. The main reason for this is poor funding, our amazing teaching staff are trying their best but there is only so much they can do when they are being let down from the top. Our group would introduce a totally inclusive education system to build upon the current failing plan. To add upon this, I am currently applying to become a governor for Ysgol Maes Y Mynydd, I believe I would have better inside knowledge regarding the underlying issue when appointed.

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?

It’s too early to say yet, the makeup of the council is up to every ward member. I am standing as a Welsh Labour candidate and we have 30 wonderful candidates this time, we have enough for a completely Labour controlled administration, and we are the only party able to do this. My colleagues and I want people to vote for change, to drastically improve on this current tory independent administration.

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 ?

This time around with 16 and 17 year old's being able to vote we have been presented an opportunity for all to reach out to them by different means, different social media platforms etc. The main issues when it comes to young people are the cost of living crisis, covid consequences when it comes to education and mental health. When I was 16 and 17, I wasn't thinking about these sorts of things, no person that age should, it’s very upsetting that they have to. Our job would definitely be to ease the stress, now is the time for governments to put the youth first, that is our plan if you return a Labour Council.

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