Statement from Kevin Hughes

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

• My name is Kevin Hughes, I have lived within the Community for the whole of my life. I have been married to Tracey for 35 years. She is employed as a Support Worker for Wrexham Social Services. I have two children and two grandchildren. I am a natural Welsh speaker.

• I am employed at Wrexham Glyndwr University, where I lead a small team of staff who organise over 700 student placements across eight different departments.

• I have been a Councillor on Rhos Community Council for over seventeen years and I have represented the Ponciau Ward on Wrexham County Borough Council for the last ten years.
I am currently Chair of Rhos Community Council. I am also Deputy Leader of the Labour Group in Wrexham.

• I am Chair of Governors at Ysgol Maes y Mynydd and a member of the Governing body at Ysgol Maes y Llan.

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 main issues affecting the Ponciau Ward as I see them are: • Speeding Vehicles • Anti-social behaviour and • Potholes and Highway re-surfacing I have regular meetings with North Wales Police and the local PCSO’s regarding anti-social behaviour and speeding within the Community. There has been a recent spike in anti-social behaviour over recent months, particularly in the Ponciau Park area as demonstrated by residents. I have communicated those residents’ concerns to local PCSO officers who have stepped up patrols in the area. Speeding vehicles is also of concern to the residents of the Ward despite much of the area being a 20mph zone. In our regular Rhos Community Council meetings with the police, I regularly share those residents’ concerns regarding speeding vehicles. The local PCSO team have visited various locations across the Community with a speed camera. Rhos Community Council has also purchased several interactive speed signs which are placed at strategic locations as requested by Councillors. Information gathered from the signs are shared with the PCSO’s. With regards to Potholes and Resurfacing, you may be aware that budgets are reducing year on year. However, I make representations regarding highway repairs to the Environment Department on several roads within the Ponciau Ward. If I am re-elected, I will continue to make representations regarding the condition of the roads within the Ward.

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 ?

The last two years have been difficult for us all. During the Covid pandemic, I have continued to support the residents of the Ward, despite the restrictions placed upon us for our own Health and Well Being. I have liaised with multi-agency groups including AVOW to try to secure the best outcomes for the residents of the Ward. I am also a member of the Rhos Community Working Group, a group that has worked with Rhos Community Council, other local groups e.g the Community Café and the Community Agent for the benefit of the Community. Wrexham is also in need of inward investment to help generate the much needed jobs and apprenticeships required to kick start the 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 sat on numerous Scrutiny Committees during the last five years including Safeguarding, Communities and Well Being Committee and the Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committee. I am also a member of Environmental Licensing Committee and the Standards Committee. I have an extensive working knowledge of schools and Higher Education and would apply for an additional role should one arise within my area of expertise. This would of course be subject to an internal democratic process within the Labour group.

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

The Welsh Government declared a Wales Climate Emergency on the 29th April 2019. This Emergency is not unique to Wales and is a worldwide issue. If we are serious in wanting to reduce our carbon footprint and hence our carbon emissions, we need to take urgent action now to avoid problems for future generations. An example of this could be to grow food locally thus avoiding transporting food over greater distances. I am pleased to have been involved in the introduction of replacement LED lighting within the County. This is a practical example of Wrexham County Borough Council and Rhos Community Council reducing its carbon footprint.

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?)

There are a significant number of residents on the Council house waiting list. I would have liked to have seen a comprehensive programme of house building in the County. This would of course need significant investment in infrastructure e.g., schools and doctor surgeries. I, together with many residents of the Ward, believe that we need to undertake a comprehensive review of Wrexham Town Centre. The high street has been hit hard mainly due to the rise in online sale providers and an increase in property rentals. We need to be more imaginative as to how we can reverse this trend. I would also like to see a reverse in the decline of public transport, this would be a priority for the Labour group.

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

I am acutely aware of difficulties in our Health Services, due in part to the COVID pandemic. I have met with Health Service representatives, including members of the Welsh Ambulance Service, on several occasions and have shared residents’ concerns with them. I believe that Health Services should be delivered locally i.e. at Community level. This would leave the Hospital to deal with the more urgent cases. I also believe that adequate provision for Health Services need to be considered when deciding any future housing developments. If this is not considered at the outset, it will only put further pressure on already stretched services. Another solution could be a Minor Injuries Unit, similar to those in the Shropshire area. This would help reduce the pressures within the Accident and Emergency Department at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

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

The COVID pandemic has seen a significant strain on family budgets. I have ensured that residents of the Ward in need of assistance, have received the necessary help and support from myself or have been signposted to where they can receive additional support from Community Support Groups, i.e. foodbanks. Wrexham County Borough Council must reach out to all residents and ensure that every penny of support from Welsh Government is drawn down to ease the financial burden. As we slowly move out of the Covid pandemic, other significant pressures include: • Increased Energy and fuel costs, • Increase in the cost of food • Increases in Council tax.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

The Covid pandemic has impacted on all schools in Wrexham with lessons being moved to online during the period that schools were required to close. As a Governor at two local Primary Schools, including Chair of Governors at Ysgol Maes y Mynydd, I am acutely aware of the need to be continuously striving to improve educational standards. While standards in Primary schools in the County are good, there is a need to improve standards in some Secondary schools. I believe that further steps should be taken to support those schools, including more challenge and additional financial resources to raise educational standards. I believe that this will enable every child to achieve their maximum potential.

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?

As you are aware, I am a member of the Labour Group. I believe that following the election in May 2022, that all 56 Councillors should work together in the best interests of Wrexham County Borough Council as a whole and ultimately for our residents.

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 ?

The Electoral system is subject to regular reviews. At this election we have seen a review of all Ward Boundaries. This election will be quite a different with 16 and 17 year olds being allowed to vote for the first time. If we ignore their views, we do so at our own peril because they are our future. I believe the biggest issue for them locally is the need to have some meaningful training, an apprenticeship, or a job opportunity. As for the future, I believe that the lack of affordable housing will be a significant issue for them.

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