Steve Witherden – Welsh Labour – Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr General Election 2024

 

This is a candidate page for the Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr constituency – the full list of candidates are: Jeremy David Brignell-Thorp, Oliver Lewis, Glyn Preston, Elwyn Vaughan, Craig Williams, Steve Witherden.

You can view our Election 2024 homepage here.

Provided Bio…

I’m Steve Witherden and I am standing to be the MP for Montgomeryshire and Glyndŵr, a new constituency that adds Acrefair, Cefn, Chirk, Esclusham, Pant, Johnstown, Ponciau, Penycae, Rhos, Ruabon, and Dyffryn Ceiriog to Montgomeryshire.

I am standing because for 14 years, almost everything in our country has been going backwards. Five Tory Prime Ministers have left working people struggling with rampant price rises, an NHS on its knees, sewage in rivers, and a faltering education system. They have made it difficult to have hope for the future, and I want to fix that. We deserve a fresh start.

I have worked as a teacher in the area for 18 years and it has been heartbreaking to watch over the course of my career as Tory austerity has undermined the funding on which our schools rely. I was statemented as dyslexic at age 11 and did not learn to read until secondary school, later getting a degree in English Literature from Lampeter University and then my PGCE from Aberystwyth University.

I know how tough it can be, and that’s why I’ve spent my whole working life trying to do the most for those who are disadvantaged. If elected, I will use my voice to break down barriers and fight tirelessly to provide opportunities for young people, so they have ready access to secure jobs and affordable housing, on their doorsteps.

My wife works for the NHS in Wrexham. Waiting lists are at record highs while satisfaction levels are at record lows. With problems with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board continuing to negatively impact the health of our communities, including the ongoing delays to the development of the Cefn Mawr Health Centre, I will facilitate Westminster and Cardiff Bay working together to modernise our health service and make it fit for the future.

My father was a founding member of the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, so environmentalism is in my blood. One of my top priorities will be to attract green investment into the area, creating well-paying jobs and cutting energy bills, while protecting the environment for future generations.

Whether it is the problem residents in Chirk are having with the dust from the Kronospan plant, or the opposition of the Esclusham Community Group to unsafe proposals for a battery storage unit, I will be an accessible, locally minded MP. I will always put residents first.

We need funding, reform, optimism and of course plenty of hard work to fix the ever-growing list of problems the Tories have left us with. If elected, I will vote to support the most vulnerable, invest in green energy to tackle the climate crisis, help bring care closer to home, back our small businesses and push for fairer funding for Wales.

If you lend me your vote on July 4, I will fight to make Montgomeryshire and Glyndŵr a fairer and greener place for all.

Wrexham.com Q&A Answers…

1. What is the top issue that you feel the people of Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr will want you to represent them on, and what is your position on it?
The Cost-of-Living Crisis – whilst not the only thing coming up on the doorstep, it is by far the most prominent.
It will be my highest priority along with supporting Labour’s Green New Deal if I am elected. I’m fed up with working people being told that they will be irresponsible asking for a pay rise whilst big corporations (including food retailers) post record profits and pay record dividends. They are profiting from our misery and it must stop! The same can be said for Utilities and Energy companies who make excess profits whilst people must make decisions between paying for food and heating!
The creation of Labour’s new publicly owned ‘Great British Energy’ will invest in cheaper renewable energy and share the gains with us all – helping to reduce bills whilst addressing the climate emergency.
At the same time, the new deal for working people should eliminate zero hours contracts and address low pay – a vital step in improving working people’s cost of living!

2. Cost of living is up, mortgages are up, food prices are up, energy costs are up, rent is up – all with inflation still increasing. What can you practically do as an MP to help people in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr in the future?
At a UK level, I have outlined above the difference a UK Labour Government can make to people’s lives after 14 years of Tory austerity.
But with a Labour MP, Labour MS, Labour Senedd and a UK Labour Government, I can work in a joined-up way to attract investment into the constituency.
I have no political ambitions beyond being a back-bencher which will allow me to work tirelessly with all community groups, local businesses and trade unions to develop a strong network of support and investment in our constituency.
I will also look to create a Development Trust to actively support enterprise trusts to enhance the lives of ordinary people in our communities.

3. Social housing wait lists are high, private home ownership is more and more unattainable with more people in their 20s and 30s still living at home with their parents. In your view, how can this be resolved?
Labour has a bold policy to alter planning rules so that we can build 1.5 million new homes. Our stance is that one of the main problems is supply and demand. The population has grown but the housing stock has not kept pace. It is basic economics that in housing shortage prices balloon but when there is a surplus, prices come down. The building of the new homes would also generate a lot of new jobs. We need to end the practice of private house developers sitting on empty sites making paper profits whilst 1 million children go to sleep each night whilst officially homeless!

4. Young people are often an afterthought during election cycles and after years of disrupted education, including closure of youth facilities and lack of mental health support. What do you think needs to be put into place to support young people and how would you lobby for this if elected.
As the only candidate who is a secondary school teacher in Wrexham, I am particularly aware of the lack of mental health support as CAHMS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) referrals can take an intolerable amount of time and whilst waiting, a young person’s mental health can deteriorate even further. In the evenings, closed youth facilities often mean that young people have nothing for them to do. Labour is committed to recruiting 8,500 more mental health staff and a new network of Young Futures Hubs.

5. Health is devolved, but there is a link to Westminster and England in many ways. People are waiting longer for GP appointments, hospital waiting times have risen, staff are poorly paid and overworked. In your opinion, how do you think the issues in the NHS need addressing
I am married to an NHS worker and timely access to excellent healthcare is something that I am passionate about. Labour will: cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more appointments per week; double the number of cancer scanners; and introduce our new Dentistry Rescue Plan. However, whilst the health sector is in a dire state across the whole of the UK, I think it is important to myth-bust and celebrate our successes in Wales: long waits have fallen by 70% here since their peak in March 2022; FREE hospital car parking; performance against the four-hour target in Wales’ major emergency departments was better than in England in 15 out of the last 20 months; and FREE prescriptions! The track record of Welsh Labour is strong and when a UK Labour Government properly funds the NHS, further progress will be possible.
In relation to NHS staff pay, more NHS staff will be retained and new ones attracted to the NHS when they can receive a living wage! And that is why, when the RCN went on strike for better pay last year, I stood in solidarity with them on their picket line.

6. How do you think climate change will affect Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr in the future, and what as a local MP can you do on the matter?
This is an area of huge concern, but it is also another area where we should not let our morale dip or our belief that we can change things for the better before it’s too late. Montgomeryshire currently produces 96% of all its energy from Renewables. If every part of the country could emulate this, we would be in a far firmer position to tackle this growing crisis.
Labour’s policy here is the implementation of the ‘Green New Deal’ – we would embrace the Second Industrial Revolution, with a massive investment in solar, wind and tidal energy, by creating ‘Great British Energy’ a Publicly Owned utilities company. This would: help to protect the environment from further damage; reduce rocketing energy bills by profiteering energy companies that we used to own! And reduce our dependency on unstable dictatorships, with appalling Human Rights records.

7. Do you think migration is a big issue to the people of Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, and if so, why? Summarise your views.
I believe that there are multiple issues around migration.
We have a government who promised to reduce it, but instead repeatedly broke the record for it, because they cut the budgets and sacked the staff responsible for processing applications!
However, I also believe that this issue is distorted by those who wish to distract our attention from the Cost of Living Crisis and the damage they’ve wrought upon the country over the last decade or so. Whilst it does come up on the doorstep, it comes up nowhere near as often as the Cost of Living Crisis, but this does not correlate with the media narrative we’re often fed by some outlets.
Outward migration is a massive problem in Montgomeryshire as young people, who want to stay in their community, often migrate outwards due to a lack of housing and a lack of opportunity.
I would also like to speak up for our migrant communities who have enriched our area and helped to ensure that vital services and the local economy can continue functioning effectively.

8. What are your views on the current devolution arrangements from Westminster to Cardiff, and what change if any, would you support?
I passionately support devolution. I also support both further devolution – for currently un-devolved policy areas, such as criminal justice and a better and fairer system of funding for Wales.
First we lost our EU funding under this government and the promise of ‘Levelling Up’ turned out to be one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated against the British people. We were forced to pay Wales’ share into HS2 and then the line that would have serviced us was abandoned! We should have been given that money back, but the Tory Government in Westminster pocketed it to fill potholes in the southeast of England instead!

9. What is your view on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and what future path would you like the UK Parliament to take?
Seeing all of the death and destruction on our news screens from Russia-Ukraine and other global conflicts is heartbreaking. I condemn Russia’s invasion but note that whether Ukrainian or Russian, it’s the ordinary people of both countries that suffer whilst those in power beat their chests!
I also believe that nearly all wars end when people sit down and start talking about how to end them. The future path I would like to see parliament taking is being a facilitator of peace talks taking place. We had Minsk I and Minsk II and then peace talks in Turkey to try to end the conflict, but all ended in failure. One of the most depressing things is that there seems to have been no serious overtures for peace over the last year and this is what I would like to see change. This is incredibly serious as failure to achieve peace could lead to a nuclear exchange.

10. Finally, Trust in politics is at an all-time low. How will you engage with residents if elected and work to rebuild that trust and more importantly, why should voters put their faith in you?

I recognise that many people think that politicians are ‘all the same’. I have heard it on the doorstep and there is a trust deficit in our communities. One reason is because, those that represent us, don’t really understand the challenges people face on a day-to-day basis. Rishi Sunak’s biggest hardship was going without Sky, whilst many in our community struggle to buy school uniform, visit foodbanks and struggle to make the weekly budget stretch as far as its needed.
My lived experience is different, I was diagnosed as dyslexic late in my childhood, meaning I was illiterate until my teenage years and my parents fought hard for the support I needed. My wife works in the NHS and I earn a wage as a teacher.
If elected, I aspire to bring my own lived experience to Westminster along with those of my fellow constituents – whether it be low pay, poor or no housing, young people being blamed for the ills of Tory Party policies which have reduced their opportunities year on year – I want to be their voice. I will stand with them and champion policies that will increase faith in politicians within our constituency.

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