By Sarah Atherton

MP for Wrexham

Over half of UK adults have now received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. This is an astonishing achievement and one of which we can all be proud. A number of constituents have contacted me about the pace of rollout in Wrexham, when compared with neighbouring areas, and this is something I have been speaking with the Health Board and the Welsh Government to address. With that in mind, following the news that the UK Government has allocated an extra £400 million to the Welsh Government specifically for healthcare, I have written to the Welsh Government urging them to invest a significant portion of that money here in North Wales.

As we recover from the pandemic, it is important that the young people who have been so affected by missing out on education and on social interaction are encouraged to develop to their full potential. Here in Wrexham we have the Maelor Hospital, Coleg Cambria, Glyndŵr University, Xplore!, and one of the largest industrial estates around. We also have strong links with the rest of North Wales and with Liverpool, Manchester and the Midlands. And we play our part in the fill and finish of the UK-made Covid vaccine. We have the potential to be the gateway to the UK and so I was delighted to speak in Prime Ministers Questions to promote Wrexham as a potential centre for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers in future and also in a Westminster Hall debate advocating Wrexham’s Science and Discovery Centres

Also important to the UK’s recovery is the news that from April 1st, around two million of the country’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a pay rise because of the increases to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage. This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for workers, so having the Government put a bit more money into the pockets of the lowest paid, including 113,000 people here in Wales, is a massive plus.

In March, the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons. This Bill will double the maximum sentences for those that assault emergency workers. It will increase sentences for child murderers. It will end the automatic halfway release of prisoners convicted of serious crimes. And it will prevent unauthorised encampments, such as the one we saw at Alyn Waters Country Park, by making it a criminal offence for the first time. These are some of the reasons why I am supporting it.

This Bill also gives the police more powers to act in disruptive protests such as those we sadly saw in Bristol last week. There has been much made of this in some quarters, claiming that it is a curb on civil liberties. However, the protests which have taken place outside my office will still be just as lawful once this Bill becomes law as they are today. The right to protest is central to our democracy. But shutting down a city, preventing ambulances from getting to hospitals, planes getting off the ground, and people getting to work, is not acceptable.

Back here in Wrexham, many people have contacted me about littering and fly-tipping. This is a problem that has increased over recent months, as lockdowns kept the recycling centres closed. While there are ways we can mitigate these problems – longer opening hours for recycling centres, more bins on the streets – it is unacceptable to litter and fly-tip, whatever the reasons and so we must have better enforcement against those that do it. I went litter picking this week to clean up one of the hotspots in Stansty. It took me next to no time to fill three bin bags of rubbish. If you know of an area that is particularly bad, and seems to see no action, please do make contact with my office and I will raise it with the Council.

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As always if you are resident in Wrexham and need my assistance with any local or national issue, please make contact with me by emailing