Donna Lalek – Welsh Liberal Democrat
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner offset=”vc_hidden-lg vc_hidden-md vc_hidden-sm”][vc_wp_custommenu nav_menu=”3276″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]
Q1 Are you able to tell us a little about who you are, any political history and about your political leanings?
Alyn and Deeside has been my home since I moved to Broughton when I was three. I have been an activist since a young age for causes I truly believe in. Whilst studying for my A Levels I was selected to represent the UK as part of a United Nations Youth Delegation at the UN’s New York Headquarters.
I am currently a community councillor, which is my first venture into politics. I became a member of the Welsh Liberal Democrats because of their focus on fairness, equality and communities. The community is very much at the heart of everything we do – we care about people and the society in which they live. I became involved in community politics because politics affects every aspect of our lives and if you want to improve people’s lives you have to get involved. There is no point in standing on the sidelines complaining and doing nothing.
Fairness and equality are not just vague concepts, they are central to my values and at the heart of any decisions I make. They are what led me to qualify as a lawyer. So much of what is going on at the moment is simply not fair. It’s not fair that young people cannot find jobs, or get a leg up on the property ladder. It’s not fair that that people are waiting far too long for hospital appointments and treatment. It’s not fair that we have thousands of empty homes whilst people are sleeping on the streets or relying on food banks to feed their families. I am determined to do everything I can to change that. No one will fight harder for our community.
Q2 What do you feel the top 3 local issues which affect the Alyn and Deeside community specifically and what is your policy on it?
North Wales needs more investment. Council taxes regularly rise as services get cut. For example, Flintshire’s road maintenance funding has been cut by 75 per cent. We need more funding for council services, our high streets and public transport. The Labour Government in Cardiff continues to spend more in South Wales than it does here in North Wales. We are not getting our fair share. I will fight to get the funding we desperately need and deserve.
Most of us, me included, know people who work for Airbus. Brexit poses a risk to their jobs. Vice president Katherine Bennett said: “We do build wings in China now, and believe you me they’re knocking at the door as a result of the situation that we’re in”. Everything Airbus export goes to the EU so access to European markets and non-tariff barriers are a huge issue. It’s obvious that without Single Market membership the future of Airbus is uncertain. The Conservatives and Labour Party have clearly stated they’ll take us out of the Single Market. This will be devastating for Alyn and Deeside. I will always fight for our jobs and to keep us in the Single Market.
The number of people in Wales who waited more than a year for surgery has risen by 400% in the last 4 years; this is simply not good enough. NHS Wales and social care need more funding and we have to be willing to pay a small amount more tax to ensure they get this funding. I will always fight for improvements to the NHS and especially for mental health where waiting times can be more than a year. It is time the government recognised that mental health is as important as physical health and gave those with mental illness the help they need.
Q3 what arguments can you put forward to ensure that there is a fairer funding formula for Local & Welsh government?
In the hundreds of doors I’ve knocked on by far the biggest issue brought up is the fact that Flintshire loses out in funding to South Wales. That is why I have put fighting for a fair deal for Flintshire at the heart of my campaign.
We’ve always been told that South Wales receives more money than North Wales because there are more people, but Flintshire receives hundreds of pounds less per person than councils in South Wales. This is despite the fact council tax is over a hundred pounds less in these areas. Clearly the current funding formula is flawed.
We need a full and transparent review of the formula to ensure a fair deal for Flintshire. This includes the relative contributions of local council taxpayers and the Welsh Government to the cost of council services. When these have been published the formula must be adjusted to ensure a fair deal for council taxpayers across Flintshire.
Q4 what relevant experience do you have for the job of Alyn and Deeside AM?
I am not a career politician; in fact I’m relatively new to the world of politics. But I care about our community. I’ve lived here all my life; I’ve seen all the changes that have taken place. I’ve seen the erosion of public services, the lengthening of hospital waiting lists and the decline of our high streets. I want to be in a position to do something about it.
From my early teenage years I’ve fought for justice and worked to improve the world we live in. We all know life isn’t fair, but I firmly believe it should be and I’ve dedicated myself to tipping the scales a little more in the right direction. This commitment to working to making a positive difference to the world led me to study law. The fact that justice is not always served is more reason to fight for it, not less.
I have always been a passionate and committed activist. I’m currently an elected Community Councillor in Broughton, the Chair of the Broughton Playgroup and I work longer hours four days a week so that I can spend the fifth work day volunteering in a school. My experiences as a student and a teacher have provided an excellent foundation by which I can contribute to the great work that Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Kirsty Williams is doing as Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Education.
We need representatives at Cardiff Bay who know how lives in this area are affected by decisions they make, who will bring real life experience the role and will make people the focus of the decisions they make.
Q5 what is the biggest differentiator between yourself and your fellow candidates?
Of course there are things that we all agree on in this election. All candidates want a better health service, a better education system, more jobs and affordable housing.
Where we differ is in how we approach these matters. On education the Welsh Liberal Democrats introduced, increased and expanded the Pupil Development Grant. This has resulted in millions of pounds of extra funding going to help deprived pupils across Wales. This funding has levelled the playing field, ensuring these pupils are able to reach their full potential and creating a fairer system. As a Liberal Democrat I believe in action rather than just vague ideas.
We all want a health service that is more accessible and more readily available. We recognise that this isn’t just about money; it is also about doing things differently. We must ensure investment reaches frontline services and support collaboration between services to make the system more efficient and deliver better outcomes for patients.
My politics are rooted in the community – too many politicians seem to make decisions without thinking of the effects on people. I’ve lived in this area all my life, I care about this community and I care about its people. I want to see it thriving.
Tweets by DonnaLalek