Jeremy Richard Kent – Welsh Conservatives – Wrexham
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?
My name is Jeremy Kent, I am 34 years old and live in Wrexham. I have been selected as the Welsh Conservative candidate for the Welsh Parliament elections. As a resident of Wrexham, I want to see positive change for our area and feel that Wrexham needs a strong voice in the Senedd that will stand up for residents.
I have worked in a range of areas from education, the charity sector and also the private sector, previously running a business in the Wrexham area. I now work with a range of schools to provide development opportunities to students in areas of high deprivation. In a voluntary capacity I am the senior cadet forces’ adult volunteer in Wrexham, a governor at a local secondary school and sit on several charity trustee boards in Wrexham and North Wales.
Throughout my personal and professional life I have gained and developed a wide range of skills that I can use to best deliver for the people of Wrexham if elected to represent them in the Senedd. I am standing as the Welsh Conservative candidate as I feel they are the party that best aligns to my views of getting on in life, having high aspirations, and that no matter what your background, hard work pays off. Growing up as the youngest of 3, I saw my mother strive to provide for my siblings and I, and it was through this that I learnt the value of hard work.
Wrexham will need someone that will champion their cause, and many people feel that the Cardiff-centric Labour Welsh Government has often forgotten our area over the last 22 years that they have been in power in Wales. I will work for the whole of Wrexham to ensure that following the pandemic and into the future, Wrexham bounces back as a great place to live, work and visit.
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 ?
Speaking to residents, there are two areas that are often raised to me. The first is access to local healthcare services and the concerns that the local health board was in special measures for so long. People also want to see Wrexham get its fair share of funding as all to often we find ourselves near the bottom of the list.
There will undoubtedly be a focus from whoever forms the next government in Wales on the Welsh NHS and local health boards to ensure that they recover following the pandemic. As the MS for the area, I would work with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to ensure that all residents have access to the quality healthcare they deserve.
2 – What is your plan for helping residents and businesses in your constituency in the coming years to recover from the pandemic?
Businesses will need the right economic environment to be able to recover and bounce back from the pandemic. I will work with businesses to ensure that they are being provided the direct support required and also that they have their concerns voiced in the Senedd. A Welsh Conservative government would cut the business rates for small businesses so that there is one less thing to worry about. I will be committed to supporting residents with their concerns following the pandemic and if a Welsh Conservative government is returned in May, there are a number of policies that will directly support many families across Wrexham.
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 has shone a light on what devolution means for the people of Wales and how much power the Welsh Govermnment has over the aspects that affect our daily lives. I think for the first time many residents across Wrexham and Wales will now realise the that some of the issues they have faced are actually devolved powers, especially health.
For me, the pandemic and devolution has only highlighted the need for a strong voice in the Senedd that will stand up for Wrexham, not be distracted by other roles and responsibilities, and will put Wrexham residents at the heart of all that they do. This is what encouraged me to stand as that person that will be solely focused on Wrexham.
4 – What would you have done differently on the Welsh covid response?
I appreciate that with the benefit of hindsight it would be easy to say what would be done differently. However, based on what we knew at the time, I felt that a whole Wales approach to restrictions was at times disproportionate and that more local, targeted interventions would have had more of an impact, as people who were in areas of low incidence rates soon became fatigued with lockdowns where they didn’t see the high case rates of other areas. It was also important I feel to share more data with those that were forced to close their businesses.
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 any legislation that would question the strength and importance of our United Kingdom. The pandemic has shown the benefit of being a part of the UK through the financial support and the vaccine procurement programme. I would vote to remain a part of the UK and would campaign strongly to show others the benefits of being a member of the 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?
I feel that Welsh language use / growth should be supported as it is a part of the cultural identity to Wales. There are already things in place to do this.
7 – What does “climate emergency” mean to you, and why?
It is clear that we need to be doing what we can to reduce our impact on the climate. There is much we can bring forward in terms of legislation, but we also have a personal responsibility to ensure that we are doing all we can.
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?
Many see Cardiff as far away as Westminster and feel that areas like Wrexham have been left behind. I am determined to speak up for Wrexham and North Wales to ensure that we get out fair share. The Welsh Conservatives are committed to working for the whole of Wales and will deliver much needed investment in the area, as well as locating more elements to North Wales, creating jobs for the area.
9 – What are your views on a LGBTQ+ plan for Wales?
I fully support the development of an LGBT+ plan for Wales. We have come on a long way, but there is still much to be done to ensure fairness and equality.
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?
Having worked in education, it is clearly a concern that children have missed some key moments of the last 12 months in terms of their development and education. One thing that I feel is particularly important is that children and young people are not allowed to become victims of the pandemic or made to feel that they are forever disadvantaged. The important thing to me is that our young people leave school with the skills and abilities to enter the world of work or higher education. The vocabulary we use when talking about “lost education” needs to be considered very carefully.
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?
Our local authority in Wrexham is continually near the bottom of the list when it comes to the funding settlement received from Welsh Government, which often means tough decisions have to be made. I will campaign to ensure that Wrexham gets its fair share of funding. If a Welsh Conservative government is formed following the elections we have been clear that we will address waste and ensure that our front line services get the financial investment they need.
12 – How would you resolve issues at the local health board that are emerging from special measures?
Like with any problem, we need to fully understand what the issues are. I will work with the new Chief Executive and other partners to ensure that we can resolve the issues that have been the plight of local residents for years. We need to understand from all levels what are the issues, as all to often the ones on the front line, are those that can really provide the best views. It is important to create a culture where everyone feels that they have a voice in making the heath board a success.
13 – What are you planning to do to help those who are finding it hard to find work?
By creating an environment where new businesses can invest and grow, this will provide extra employment opportunities. I would be keen to work with business to provide training and skills to those struggling to find work to enhance themselves so that they can seek suitable employment. There are some great charities in the area that are working on similar things and they will have my support. I would like to bring businesses together to hold job fairs and training events to support people getting into work.
14 – On your Facebook you’ve promised to cut business rates for small businesses, promoting Wrexham as a place to invest and encouraging small businesses to open in town, but there’s no explanation on how. How would you achieve your pledges if elected?
With a Welsh Conservative plan to cut business rates for small businesses, this will allow for businesses to set up in Wrexham. I will work hard to promote Wrexham as a thriving town and encourage new businesses through support to those keen to start a business or move into the town. I will work with established businesses to provide mentoring and support to new businesses.
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?
We need to encourage more people to get out of their cars and to walk, cycle or take public transport, but to do so we need the required infrastructure. If elected I will work to ensure that we have sufficient investment into local rail and bus services to ensure that all areas of our town are covered to allow all to make use of the services. We also need to ensure that we plan for active travel routes to allow for greater cycling uptake. In terms of the road infrastructure in the Wrexham area, this is a massive concern for many drivers, the council have pledged additional funds for this are I would work with them to ensure that adequate assistance is provided from Welsh Government.
16 – In videos in December you spoke of disappointment on pandemic restrictions introduced by the Welsh Labour Government, a disappointment with an all-Wales lockdown and disappointment you couldn’t pick up a few last minute items for Christmas. With the subsequent peak a few weeks later and large impact on Wrexham’s hospital did you get that wrong?
My concern has always been about the impact of the restrictions and people understanding the rationale behind them. My videos regarding hospitality were based on the lack of clarity to businesses about why and how the measures would impact the case rates. Businesses had no issue in doing their part for the cause, but asked for the evidence behind the decisions which were lacking. The video around the closing of non essential retail was around the fact that such measures had come in with such short notice for both retailers and shoppers. Many people is the tourism and hospitality sectors have felt that their livelihoods have been an afterthought for the Labour Welsh Government
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?
A Welsh Conservative Government will introduce a new funding formula to ensure that councils get fair funding to provide services. We would provide £90 million to freeze the County Council precept across Wales for 2 years. We are also going to ensure more money reaches our schools, ending the underfunding of our young people.
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 do not feel that any other party reaches out to me and I do not see myself leaving the party so this would not be an issue.
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?
My campaign had been funded by local party members and donations to the local Conservative association, as well as personal contributions.
20 – In a few lines to wrap this up, why are you the best candidate compared to your competitors?
I am a local candidate who wants to see long lasting positive change for the area where we live. I have always held a sense of public service and support to others, and there would no greater privilege to represent the residents of Wrexham at our Welsh Parliament. Having worked and volunteered in a wide range of settings and being involved in several community groups, I have developed skills and knowledge that would make me a strong and dedicated Member of the Senedd for the people of Wrexham. After 22 years of a Cardiff-centric Labour Welsh Government, the people of Wrexham are ready for change and I stand ready to be their voice come May 6th.