Statement from Anthony Wedlake

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

I’ve lived in the Wrexham area for the last 8 years and made Coedpoeth my home 3 years ago. I live with my partner Jackie and her Mum. We have four adult children.

I currently work as a senior manager in a member owned building society. In my spare time I enjoy following the Welsh football team – home & away. I also volunteer for a number of local charities.

I love most sports and have just joined my crown green club after decades of playing lawn bowls. As a former secretary of a village football team, I appreciate the central role and positive contribution that sports clubs play in village life.

I first joined Welsh Labour aged 14 and I have long campaigned for my beliefs, both inside the party (e.g. Green New Deal) and outside the party (e.g. actively campaigning against the poll tax). I am the chair of Clwyd South Labour Party, the treasurer of the North Wales Co-operative Party and a member of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and UNITE the union.

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?

It was clear, when delivering food share to our village hall last Christmas Eve, that there are too many people in Coedpoeth that are struggling to make ends meet. And that was before the impact of rising fuel and energy bills, the hike in National Insurance and the cut to Universal Credit. It is a scandal that the outgoing council leadership has failed to apply for all the grants available to them from the Welsh Labour Government. I will fight to ensure that every penny possible will be found to support our community. I will also work to find a regular way for people to access food share directly from our community. We can further improve the provision of youth services in Coedpoeth. I applaud the work that my colleague, Krista Childs, has done to improve things along with members of our community. If elected I will use my new position on the community council and the council to understand how we can further increase youth provision in Coedpoeth by working with all related agencies.The outgoing council regime told us we were paying more council tax last year to fix our roads; I see little evidence of that when I walk around Coedpoeth. I will hold those accountable to ensure we get a fairer share of funding to improve our roads.

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 ?

It came as a shock to me to find out that the outgoing leadership of our council didn’t have an agreed development plan for Wrexham. 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 believe that the Welsh Labour manifesto for Wrexham, if implemented, would make a significant contribution to the borough’s post-pandemic recovery. For example, our commitment to the environment would attract ethically inward investment, insolate our homes and improve outdoor recreation. That combined with building green council homes would make a big difference to people’s lives.I also recognise that 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 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?

If elected, I would be happy to take on any role that the Welsh Labour Group asked of me. We make such decisions democratically and through discussion and understanding each other’s strengths.I would expect that my knowledge and skills acquired during my work career would be taken into consideration. For example, during the pandemic, I worked with my teams to keep them safe whilst delivering essential face-to-face financial services to the most vulnerable. Thus demonstrating my strong team building attributes and communication skills. As a board member, I have experience in ensuring the appropriate levels of challenge and oversight when making decisions.

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

The climate emergency is just that – an emergency – and emergencies need urgent and co-ordinated action. The climate emergency threatens our very existence and if not halted will adversely affect the lives of our young people in many different ways. Although the scale of the crisis can sometimes appear overwhelming, we all share responsibility for changing the way we think about our lives in response to the emergency and positive actions taken by elected representatives is essential. As a council we can build houses to the highest green specifications, ensure private landlords meet their new legal obligations and deliver schemes that better insulate our homes which will also mitigate against the spiralling cost 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 sincerely wish that there was just one thing! A transparent 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.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?

Let’s be honest many of the current pressures existed prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has made things so much worse. In Coedpoeth it could be argued that we have better access to GPs than in other parts of Wrexham but access to other services are poor, particularly in relation to social care. Whilst campaigning in this election I have heard too many stories of ineffective (and in some cases non-existent) care plans that place intolerable pressures on family carers. I will work with local GPs, the local health board and other health stakeholders to improve the co-ordination and delivery of social care services. At a policy level, Welsh Labour’s manifesto commitment to end the outsourcing/privatisation of social care services is a priority if we are to improve the quality of social care provision.

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.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. This crisis has a disproportionate effect on women. The council cut in half its 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. I will challenge every step of the way a party and a philosophy that puts the protection of the ‘non-dom’ status of the rich and privileged before delivering policies that make a real difference to the people of Coedpoeth that are most affected by the cost-of-living crisis.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

I am proud to be the vice-chair of Penygelli CP School’s Board of Governors. The move to the new curriculum is to be welcomed, but comes with challenges for our professional teaching staff. I will support Coedpoeth’s primary schools in delivering the best possible outcomes with the new curriculum.Wrexham’s Secondary School performance (including the number of schools in special measures) has not been good enough and the new council must step up its efforts to deliver a higher standard of secondary school education for all. It’s the least we should expect for our young, that they are given the best possible start in life.

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’m proud to stand as a Welsh Labour candidate and I stand with a group of Welsh Labour candidates who aspire to lead the council and deliver on its radical policies that will make a real difference to people’s lives. Whether we do or not, is in the gift of the people of Wrexham and whether I do or not is in the gift of the people of Coedpoeth. My hope is that Welsh Labour will form the new administration without recourse to compromising the change that our constituents will have voted for. We are the only party fielding enough candidates to form such leadership. So, if people want change, vote Welsh Labour

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 ?

Knocking the doors over the last few weeks, I am very aware that many 16/17 years olds are excited at having the chance to have their say at the ballot box. The issues facing the young are many and challenging – for example: the cost of higher education, low pay, the high cost of housing and the climate emergency.The only party’s manifesto that addresses these issues and more is Welsh Labour’s. I appeal to all youth voters to use their vote and to use it to make Wrexham a better place for them to plan their future.

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