Barbara Ann Hughes – Conservatives – Clwyd South
All views on this page are from the candidate unedited.
We first asked them to tell us a little about who they are, any political history, about their political leanings and what skills you have to be a top level politician in Wales?
1 – Aside from Covid and Covid recovery, what do you feel is the top issue for this constituency in the forthcoming parliament term, and briefly explain how you would like to see your desired outcome achieved ?
The top issue for us in Clwyd South is getting our fair share of funding for economic development projects and local services from the Welsh Government. The North Wales Growth Deal should create thousands of new, good quality jobs for Clwyd South and is a great example of what can be achieved when the UK Government and Welsh Government work together.
2 – What is your plan for helping residents and businesses in your constituency in the coming years to recover from the pandemic?
We need a Welsh Government that will work constructively with the UK Government to deliver big projects like the North Wales Growth Deal, which will create more good quality jobs for people in Clwyd South.
3 – The pandemic has highlighted to many for the first time the powers that the Senedd have under devolution. How has the pandemic changed your views of devolution?
The pandemic hasn’t changed my views on devolution. Devolution gives us the opportunity to try innovative approaches to the delivery of public services in Wales. However, too often we see Labour and the Liberal Democrats using their position in the Welsh Government to further their own political ends, rather than focusing on providing public services.
4 – What would you have done differently on the Welsh covid response?
I supported the Welsh Conservatives’ COVID-19 response plan, broadly outlined below:
- Appoint a dedicated COVID-19 Recovery Minister in the Welsh Government to oversee all areas of coronavirus recovery including the vaccine rollout across Wales, and is responsible for the administration and delivery of any booster shots.
- Support people experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19 by establishing clinics dedicated to treating long-Covid, ensuring they get the support they need from Welsh Government.
- Ensure that Wales is prepared in the event of another pandemic, working to create a Welsh Pandemic Network for the production of PPE and hand sanitiser to support our Welsh NHS and care homes.
- Urgently establish routes to support for people suffering with mental health problems from the pandemic, especially NHS staff and care workers from providing palliative care and those suffering bereavement who weren’t able to say goodbye to loved ones.
5 – Would you support legislation to hold an independence referendum for Wales? How would you vote in such a referendum and why?
I would not support legislation to hold an independence referendum for Wales and I would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom. Thousands of people cross the border with England every day for work, to shop and to see their family and friends – a border between both countries would be disastrous. Wales’ interests are best served by being part of a strong United Kingdom.
6 – What actions would you take, or support, as a MS to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
As a first language Welsh speaker myself, I’d encourage equal use of both Welsh and English at every opportunity.
7 – What does “climate emergency” mean to you, and why?
The climate emergency is the risk that climate change will have a drastic and irreversible impact on our quality of life. The climate emergency covers everything from more unpredictable weather events like flooding, to the destruction of natural habitats, to non-recyclable waste polluting the environment.
8 – There can be a perception that politicians are too “South Wales focused” and can see a north south divide. Do you think this is the case, and realistically if elected which of your North Wales specific goals do you think you can deliver?
The perception that the Welsh Government is too “South Wales focused” is correct. Too often we see local authorities (including schools) in South Wales prioritised for funding at the expense of North Wales. I would challenge the next Welsh Government to change their approach and ensure that local services across Wales are funded fairly.
9 – What are your views on a LGBTQ+ plan for Wales?
No one should face discrimination due to their gender or sexuality. I’m supportive of practical steps to make our society a more tolerant one.
10 – Children and young people have missed almost a full year of regular education – what are your plans to make sure that children who have missed out on academic and social experiences are not left at a disadvantage in the next few years?
We need to focus on making sure that our young people don’t miss out on important skills above everything else.
11 – Local services such as libraries, leisure centres and community centres have been badly affected in recent years due to lack of funding – how would you support local authorities?
The Welsh Government needs to realise that it expects local authorities to provide a huge number of public services in Wales and make sure they are funded properly. We also need to end the North / South Wales divide and introduce a “funding floor” to top up the funding available to councils like Wrexham.
12 – How would you resolve issues at the local health board that are emerging from special measures?
I would push the next Welsh Government to conduct a thorough review of the failings within Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. From conversations I’ve had with NHS staff and their union representatives I know that front line staff feel let down by distant and “out of touch” management – this needs to change.
13 – What are you planning to do to help those who are finding it hard to find work?
We need to create a wider range of good quality jobs for people in Clwyd South. The North Wales Growth Deal includes projects focused on expanding the opportunities for people interested in going into agricultural jobs. The Growth Deal also includes a North Wales Tourism Academy project, which will focus on teaching the skills needed within the tourism sector.
14 – One of your plans for Clwyd South if elected is to champion Welsh Farmers and campaign for rural investment. Do Welsh farmers need more support than just ‘championing’ and can you outline what rural investment you would campaign for and how it would be utilised?
Rural communities are often forgotten by the Welsh Government. One example is the decision to designate the whole of Wales as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone. This risks making small, family farms unsustainable, which will lead to less food being produced in Wales and less jobs being available in rural communities. Lesley Griffiths assured the Senedd that the whole of Wales wouldn’t be designated as a Nitrate Vulnerable Zone, only to change her mind at the last minute.
15 – A lack of bus services, a poor road network, a need for more active travel and an improved train service are some of the more contentious issues in the area. If elected what would you campaign for and deliver for your constituency?
I would campaign for local authorities to be better funded so they could carry out the essential road maintenance and fund the non-commercial bus services our communities need. I would like to see the roll-out of “flexi-bus” services in rural communities to make public transport more sustainable. Finally, we need a commitment from the Welsh Government to step back from introducing tolls on trunk roads like the A5 and A494 – tolls would be disastrous for our area.
16 – Your party promises “65,000 new jobs 3,000 more nurses 1,200 more doctors 5,000 more teachers”, how many will that be in this constituency?
A significant number of the new jobs, more nurses, doctors and teachers will be based in North East Wales and accessible to people living in Clwyd South.
17 – The Welsh Conservatives have pledged a council tax freeze for the next two years. In Wrexham there have been increases in recent years, with Conservatives being part of the administration that decided that. The administration said even if Welsh Government had given more cash there would be no cut in council tax as the increases were ringfenced. How can voters believe your pledge? For clarity, the pledge says ‘council tax bills’, will that include freezing of all precepts, and if so, how?
Council tax levels are set by the council as a whole, not the Independent-led administration. Out of the 52 councillors in Wrexham there are only eight Conservatives, with two being invited to help oversee public protection activities and children’s social care. A Welsh Conservative Government would increase local government funding by £90m, negating the need for council’s to increase council tax.
18 – If you change political allegiance from what you are currently seeking election for (eg. resigning from, or joining another party or group) will you trigger a by-election? If not, why not?
I wouldn’t envisage resigning from the Welsh Conservative Party.
19 – At the time of writing where has the top three sources of funding for your campaign come from, and are there any funding sources you feel would be relevant to voters to know about?
At the time of writing the top three sources of funding have been Conservative Central Office, Clwyd South Conservative Association and Women2Win, an organisation that supports female Conservative candidates.
20 – In a few lines to wrap this up, why are you the best candidate compared to your competitors?
I’m a normal, hard working person born and bred in Clwyd South who will make a real difference to our communities.