Duncan Rees – Green Party
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Q1 Are you able to tell us a little about who you are, any political history and about your political leanings?
I have been a member of the Green party since 2014 – and a supporter / voter for the party for about 10 years. Before 2003 I had been a member of the Labour party for many years, but resigned my membership after I became disillusioned with the leadership of Tony Blair, and with the final straw being the disastrous war in Iraq.
In the Green party, I am a convenor for the NE Wales party branch, and also a member of the Green party’s Wales Council. I have stood for the party at the 2015 General Election, the 2016 Wales Assembly election – when I was the Green Party lead regional list candidate for North wales, and in the 2017 local elections.
I base my political beliefs upon a set of personal values & principles which include working for a fairer & more equal society, opposition to discrimination or prejudice based upon any form of racial or gender based discrimination, the upholding of basic human rights and the protection of our environment. I believe that politicians seeking the support of the electorate have a responsibility to be clear about their core values – and how these would be reflected in practice if elected.
Until recently, I worked for the Co-op – covering mainly north and mid Wales. My role there included membership education, PR work, supporting local communities and organising campaigns led by the co-op on a number of important issues – including education on healthy eating, measures to protect the honeybees that our crop pollination depends upon and Fairtrade. My work in the Fairtrade area also included being Chair of Fairtrade Wales, during the period when Wales became a fairtrade nation.
I have also worked for Oxfam as a a manager in their campaigns team which covered the Greater London area – dealing with public education, fundraising and Oxfam shops.
I am a member of Sustrans, the cycling charity, and strongly support their work in creating and extending traffic free cycle paths in North Wales. As a cyclist myself, I can see the benefits these routes bring, both to their users, and in terms of reducing traffic on the roads, and thus lessening the impact of toxic traffic fumes – which are now a serious and growing public health issue.
Q2 What do you feel are the top 3 local issues which affect the Alyn and Deeside community specifically and what is your policy on it?
- Local services: Local services in Alyn & Deeside are under threat due to austerity policies at national government level, and a reduction in local spending. Services that could be affected include recreation & leisure services, community facilities, bus services and bin collections. Flintshire county council is reported to be considering CUTS of 1% to its budget in the forthcoming financial year. At a time of rising costs, increased demand and the need for more investment this will inevitably damage the local community.
- Public transport and roads: The entire public transport and roads system in Alyn & Deeside is in desperate need of reorganisation and investment – which will put the interests of the local community at the top of the agenda. The area needs:
- Better planned and integrated highways, residential and shopping streets, with ample space and safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists as well as other traffic. There should also be bus priority lanes where possible.
- Railways: The Wrexham – Bidston line should be electrified and connected into the Merseyrail system. It should have new trains and services at least every 30 minutes. Shotton Railway station should be improved, with proper disabled access, new signage, better waiting and ticket office facilities – Shotton low level station should also have more stopping services on the main line between Chester and Holyhead – and that line too should be electrified, with new trains linking communities across north wales – and as far as London..
- The NHS and Social care services: With the Wales Government and the Assembly due to gain new powers, including the ability to raise taxes it is essential that local people have a say in determining spending priorities.. The need for the NHS in Wales to be better funded is a good example of this, and we believe that spending on health and social care must be substantially increased. NHS services, which are devolved in Wales, also need reorganisation and along with other public services should benefit from a properly funded public sector pay rise.
Q3 What arguments can you put forward to ensure that there is a fairer funding formula for Local & Welsh government?
We believe that there needs to be a complete and fundamental review of the funding needs for Wales at a national and local level. This review needs to recognise that the social and economic problems of Wales are of a different and higher order than many parts of England. We need to recognise in particular that problems of rural isolation, poverty, insufficient access to services and public transport, and lack of affordable housing are all matters that need addressing.
Any new funding formula which recognises the needs of Wales, must also however be backed by a welsh Government is which is prepared to use its new tax raising powers to address those needs. All of this should also take place in the context of a sustainable policy for energy resources, employment and the economy in wales.
Q4 What relevant experience do you have for the job of Alyn and Deeside AM?
I have wide experience of working across Wales in a variety of community support, retail, campaigning and public transport related organisations. Through this work I have been able to experience at first hand how the National Assembly and Government in Wales functions . Having lived in north east Wales for 22 years, I am familiar with both the many varied and splendid aspects of the area, as well as the seriously difficult challenges faced by many of our communities, including in Alyn & Deeside. My work with the Co-op involved working with organisations supporting a range of deprived communities in parts of Wales – which has given me valuable insight into the issues they face. I also believe that people living in constituencies like alyn & Deeside need to be better informed about the work of their representatives in the Wales Assembly and Welsh Government, and that there should be more accountability to voters on the part of elected AM’s.
Q5 What is the biggest differentiator between yourself and your fellow candidates?
The Green party has a coherent policy which addresses the real needs of the people of Wales, whilst at the same time being sustainable, and built upon policy foundations which recognise the severe threats we face from issues such as pollution, climate change and rising sea levels. None of the other parties standing at this election has such a policy.
Welsh Labour is not delivering for wales – in fact it has failed, and continues to fail the welsh people. On too many measures – whether it is the health service, housing, the economy, public transport or the issue of poverty – the Welsh government is failing. The main Tory opposition is little more than a cheerleader for the disastrous policies of the unpopular Tory government in London. The other opposition parties are providing little serious opposition to Labour in Wales, and continually argue among themselves. It is time for a real change – and that is why a vote for the Green party makes a difference.
I believe that the time has come for us to get away from the tribal politics and habits of voting in Wales. It should now be possible for people to say that they will vote for real change, and not simply continue voting for the old parties out of habit. I am proud to say to electors – vote for what you believe in! And if, as I believe many will, you agree with the policies we advocate, then be prepared to make a change on February 6. Vote for what you believe in, Vote Green.