Statement from Rachel Allen


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

I am married to Chris, and we have two grown up children. I was born and brought up in Wrecsam. Having moved away to go to university followed by getting jobs elsewhere, we returned to the area to raise the family and this year we will have Trefor for 20 years. We love being here; it is a privilege to live in such a beautiful part of the county, with everything it has to offer. Both children attended Ysgol y Garth and Ysgol Dinas Brân, which is where I currently work.

I have had a varied career - I joined a bank following graduation, becoming a training consultant for them for a few of years before joining WCBC as a Business Advisor in the Economic Development Department. I left to undertake teacher training, as it was something I had always wanted to do. During a break from teaching I worked for the Fire Service as a Fire Safety Advocate and the charity Young Enterprise before returning to teaching. I have been the Head of Business at Ysgol Dinas Brân for nearly 10 years. I am leaving this role in the summer to become Assistant Head of Sixth Form from September. I will be supporting young people in school and helping them to choose the right study and career paths for them when they leave.

I come from a family of manual workers, and you could say I was destined to be a Labour voter! And vote Labour I did until, like many others, I started to question why I’d let myself be hoodwinked by Blair’s ‘New Labour’. For a short while I felt politically homeless. And then something clicked. I have always identified strongly as Welsh, and as I grew more disillusioned with what was going on in Westminster, I became more interested in the work of what was then the Welsh Assembly. I began to look into Plaid Cymru, and after Leanne Wood visited the school in which I teach, I realised that I’d found my new political home. Plaid Cymru is the only party solely based in Wales, and always put the needs and interests of our communities first. As I’ve recently pointed out on social media posts, the Plaid Wrecsam team are amongst the kindest, most caring, supportive people I have had the privilege of working with. Individually they will stand up for you as a member of their ward every bit as much as we’ll collectively stand up for Wrecsam.



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?

Having been out and about talking to residents, there is no doubt that the three main issues are parking and roads (I may be cheating counting them as one thing..!), lack of provision for young people (which is causing anti-social behaviour) and, you may have guessed it.. dog poo! There has been a huge increase in the number of visitors to the World Heritage Site. There is car parking, but rather than pay to use it for short visits, residents are finding that visitors are parking on the roads outside their houses, causing blockages and other difficulties. There have been lots of promises from the council to get it sorted, but only limited action. I aim to work with the Canals and Rivers Trust and Highways in order to resolve the problems as efficiently as possible. In addition, some roads and footpaths are in poor condition and need renewing. Residents in some areas – such as Garth - have had to put up with terrible roads which have been patched up, whereas others have been fully resurfaced. I will work to prioritise those that have been left behind. There are some well-equipped playgrounds across the community, but many residents are reporting that, with no facilities for older children and teenagers, they are congregating in the playgrounds and not only leaving litter, broken glass and other unpleasant items, but also intimidating younger children and putting them off. Parents report being afraid to let their children visit the playgrounds. One of the top issues in a recent social media survey backed up the need for youth clubs and facilities in the area provide the older children with somewhere to go/ do. This is something I will be working with the community council on. Dog poo - and littering in general – seems to be on the increase and is a real issue in certain parts of the ward at the moment. Some have suggested the need for more bins, and whilst an extra one or two in strategic places may go some way to solving the problem, the use of fines (something that, according to recent reports, WCBC are way behind other areas of Wales in doing) for repeat offenders is something is something I think needs further exploration. As a me mber of Wrexham Litter Pickers, and a Keep Wales Tidy Litter Champion, I already spend a lot of time talking to dog walkers and residents whilst out doing litter picks. Getting more people involved and engaged by organising more community clean up events is another way I hope to tackle the problem.

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 ?

There are many ways that people have been affected by the pandemic, from business owners who are still struggling to build back their customer base to individuals suffering with physical and mental health conditions, made worse during the lockdowns. I think there is much that can be done as a whole council to help in the recovery. First off, the council shouldn’t just be encouraging Wrecsam residents to buy locally (the free parking initiative to encourage people into town is a good one, by the way), it should be setting an example and buying locally itself. Plaid Cymru councillors have already been calling for a better procurement policy based on the successes seen elsewhere in north Wales. We need to build in community benefit clauses, unbundle large contracts and set ambitious targets for local spending. We also need to encourage a diverse range of independent businesses to set up in Wrecsam by ensuring the town is an attractive place to be. Working with organisations to create events such as FOCUS Wales is an important part of this. In terms of a more ‘hands-on’ role, as a councillor I want to be open and approachable to support those still struggling on their road to recovery. I am keen to set up face-to-face surgeries in the ward, as well as being available by email and ‘phone, to meet the needs of all residents. Sometimes just having a chat with someone may be all they need, sometimes they will need more, and I would hope to be able to signpost them to the right service and help them access services they need. I will also look to creating community events where residents are able to support each other.

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 a teacher, I feel I could offer some expertise in the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee, and it would be an obvious place for me to start, for me to get to know how the council works. I also have a business background, and previously worked for the council’s Economic Development Department as a Business Advisor, so another choice would be the Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee. Personally, I am passionate about protecting the environment - in every way I can. Living where we live, I would really like to be a member of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Joint Committee. I have already mentioned my membership of litter picking groups, and I also take part in activities organised by groups in association with the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB partnership.

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

The climate emergency to me is far wider than a ward issue. Yes, given my interest in the environment, I have lots of ideas about what we can do within the ward to ensure we do our bit to increase biodiversity, reduce our impact on the natural environment, and actively find ways we can use green spaces to the benefit of residents and wildlife in Llangollen Rural. As a Climate Cymru ambassador, I took part in the campaign to sign up 10,000 voices from Wales to deliver a strong message to COP26. I organised a Great Big Green Week (GBGW) wildlife walk and litter pick around the area last autumn, as well as helping to organise the GBGW in school, which involved all students and got the climate emergency message out to local politicians. As a councillor, I will seek to ensure that Wrecsam Council takes action to reduce its own carbon emissions. We can start by improving the procurement policy which accounts for 74% of the council’s carbon emissions. We also need to show leadership by ensuring new council buildings, including homes, are energy efficient and incorporate renewable energy generation. I also want to see the council taking ownership of sustainable energy production and investing in green energy schemes - projects that give direct benefits to the communities they're based in. We can do much more in terms of recycling, transport, tourism and divestment, too. I could go on but will save that for any questions!

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 do not believe the current ruling administration have listened to the people of Wrecsam. It has been too much of a closed shop; decisions have been made behind closed doors and without full and proper communications with residents. We need more honesty, more integrity and more genuine open debate. We only need to look at the city status debate for an example of how the majority of the council has acted. The fact that so many councillors voted for the council tax hike of 4% in the face of the cost of living crisis also makes me question whether many of them even considered the impact of their decision on the residents in their ward. To me, being a councillor means listening to both the concerns and aspirations of the residents in my ward, and being their voice in the council. It means doing whatever I can to make the lives of local people better. As a councillor and as a member of the Plaid Cymru group, I want to work towards making the council a fully open and transparent one that truly represents the communities of Wrecsam.

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

Yes, we all know that there are shortages within the NHS. We know that it is chronically underfunded and mismanaged; and that doctors, nurses and other staff are overworked and tired. As a council, much is out of our control - the Welsh Government needs to step up in terms of recruiting more doctors and nurses - but one thing we can do is to stop adding to pressure on hospitals and GP surgeries by not building thousands more houses we don't need. I am a firm believer in Plaid Cymru’s National Care Service policy; that is the integration of health and social care into one seamless service, led by local government, free at the point of need. This deals with the fundamental problem that the health board is not accountable enough. We also need to identify ways we can improve social care services locally.

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

I have to say this is the toughest question to answer. I will do everything I can to support people and to signpost them to any help that's available. We have seen that where government policy has failed people, new community groups and charities have stepped in, collecting food that may otherwise have gone to waste and distributing it, or offering it, to those in need; we’ve seen local food banks overwhelmed by demand. It’s also important to look at council budgets. As mentioned, the council recently voted for a 4% rise in council tax across the county. Plaid Cymru were the only group to vote against this, acknowledging that it would push even more residents into financial hardship. If ever there is a reason to dip into the reserves, the ‘rainy day fund’, it was this. I will push for whatever support I can get for those that need it.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

As a teacher, this is clearly a topic close to my heart! It’s also a big question to tackle, so where to start? The entire focus of the education system should be on the whole development of the child/ young person. It should recognise that each one has innate abilities, and should be flexible enough to enable and encourage them to make a meaningful contribution to society. In the first instance, we need to ensure schools are nurturing environments where young people feel comfortable, confident and cared for. This is why I am proud of Plaid Cymru’s free school meals policy, as well as their commitment to cut the cost of the school day and to make schools safer. A happy child is more likely to attend well and be engaged in their own learning and development. If elected, I will push for the extension of universal Free School Meals to include secondary school pupils during the next council term. Secondly, the new Curriculum for Wales’ (CfW) focus on skills and purpose is a fantastic opportunity if we support our schools in its implementation. This is what really needs to improve. Teachers are professionals who want what’s best for their students, but they need to be given adequate time and professional development opportunities to ensure the CfW can be delivered consistently and successfully. Whilst there has been some provision, the fact remains that teachers haven’t been given anywhere enough time to plan and prepare for a completely new way of working based on what’s been learned, and there have been significant other pressures on their time and workload in recent months. In order to address this, as well as considering the better use of training days, I will push for the local authority to support schools in recruiting additional non-teaching staff, such as teaching assistants and admin support roles. I will also push for the simplification of the supply teacher structure advocated by Plaid Cymru. This would mean reverting to a system run by Local Education Authorities. Currently, supply teachers get a raw deal when it comes to accessing training and professional development, and this coupled with the teacher recruitment and retention crisis is severely impeding the education system. Thirdly, if elected, I will advocate for better quality post-16 provision. Vocational education is every bit as vital as academic education. Skills and qualifications in key areas such as care, construction and agriculture should be prioritised. As part of team Plaid Cymru, I am committed to increasing the number and quality of apprenticeships available, and to actively working to remove financial barriers to training and increase the diversity of apprentices, and expand lifelong learning opportunities available. Better school buildings that are equipped with appropriate resources that can be used to provide range of learning opportunities are also high on a teacher’s list of things that would improve education. As an elected member this will also be high on my agenda.

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 Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales - candidate, and I’m hoping to be elected to stand alongside a strong Plaid Cymru team. I have genuinely never met a group of people in politics who are so in touch with the community and honestly want to make a real difference.

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 am lucky enough to work with this age group and I know they care deeply about their futures and where society is heading. I am a big advocate of getting young people interested in politics – because politics is life. I have always encouraged them to find out information and think for themselves, not simply to take the word of others as gospel – including mine! For many, the Youth Climate Strike movement was the first opportunity they had to really express themselves and their concerns. Information and ways to join in was made easier through use of social media. Prior to this, a big problem they faced was not being listened to; they were dismissed as not having the knowledge or maturity to make big decisions such as which way to vote. Thankfully, this is changing, and whilst the number of registrations and turnout in the age group in the last election wasn’t as high as hoped, I am getting encouraging signs. Since the pandemic, issues such as mental health support have become a priority, and the lack of services and facilities are often a concern. More and more young people are realising that they are now able to influence decisions on such issues through getting involved in politics. We need to recognise, though, that the way they communicate and find out information is different from what we, the older generation are used to, even in terms of the use of social media! Facebook is NOT the best way to get in touch with this group, that’s for sure!



Social & Web links

Where is my polling station?

Your polling station address should be on your poll card, delivered by post before the election.

How do I vote?

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 5th May.

If you don't have your poll card, you can go to the polling station and give them your name and address. You don't need any other form of ID.

Give your name and address to the staff inside the polling station when you arrive. You don’t have to take your poll card with you.

You’ll be given a ballot paper containing a list of the people, parties or the options you can vote for.

  • Take your ballot paper into a polling booth.
  • Follow the instructions on the notices in the polling booth and on the top of the ballot paper to vote.
  • Put it in the ballot box.
...Done!


OTHER CANDIDATES FOR Llangollen Rural


All Wards





What is this?
Another local democracy project by Wrexham.com

Wrexham.com does not accept any political advertising. All candidate promotion on this site has been provided for free with the same offer to every candidate. Anyone who wishes to use our election coverage content (text, video or images) please feel free, all we ask is a link back to this site if it is used online, or an equivalent prominent credit if in print or other mediums. We would also request that you use it without misrepresenting the context of candidate answers.