By Sarah Atherton

MP for Wrexham

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas (Nadolig Llawen) and a Happy New Year! Thank you to the dedicated emergency service staff and key workers in Wrexham who worked hard over the festive period to keep us safe and healthy.

Although we are in a new year, serious issues with healthcare sadly remain. Ambulances continue to bank up outside the Maelor Hospital and as a result, ambulance waiting times are getting worse, surgeries are being cancelled and cancer targets are consistently falling short. At the same time, the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services asked health boards to slash their budgets by 10%, whilst admitting that there are considerable health pressures this winter.

Despite the significant funding settlement from the UK Government, where Wales receives £1.20 for every £1 spent on public services in England, the Welsh Labour Government simply is not prioritising spending on health. Instead of wasting money on unnecessary projects like increasing the number of politicians in the Senedd and the 20mph blanket policy - which together will cost well over £140 million - the Welsh Government should spend this money where it matters, on improving the quality of health services for the people of Wrexham.

In a couple of weeks, I will be speaking with the Chief Executive of Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board (BCUHB) on what BCUHB is planning to do to improve the situation. In advance of this meeting, please let me know your experiences of health or any issues you would like to me to raise by emailing or fill in my Health Survey on my website homepage:

Regarding 20mph, you may have seen that both candidates running to replace Mark Drakeford as First Minister have said they would support a review of the 20mph policy if elected. I sincerely hope that Welsh Labour Ministers will finally stop ignoring the people they are elected to represent and listen to myself and the nearly 500,000 people who signed the petition to scrap the blanket 20mph policy. Let me be clear, I am not opposed to 20mph speed limits outside schools and hospitals, however this default speed limit is criminalising hardworking Wrexham residents, slowing down our emergency services and deterring drivers from coming across the border to Wales. It needs to be scrapped.

The 20mph blanket policy is also costing a staggering £40 million to implement, is forecast to cost the Welsh economy £4.5 billion, and is slowing Wales down. One example of this is that Arriva have had to implement new bus timetables and invest in a new bus to cope with the consequences of this policy. This comes at a time when they were looking to reduce ticket costs and increase the ticket boundaries to make public transport more affordable for rural areas of the constituency. I understand that this has been put on hold as a direct result of the costs of Labour’s 20mph policy.

Later this week I am speaking to the Chief Executive of Wrexham Council regarding 20pmh exemptions and will be encouraging the council to use their powers to ensure that more roads are exempt from 20mph. More broadly, I will continue to scrutinise the Welsh Government on the implementation of the 20mph policy, how they measure its success and value for money, and what plans they have for the future of this hugely unpopular policy. Having revamped my Transport Survey, I want to hear your thoughts on the 20mph policy and transport services in Wrexham via my ‘Transport Survey’ on my website homepage.

Lastly, having worked with multiple families in Wrexham and lobbied Northern Ireland Secretaries, I am pleased that a case from a Wrexham constituent will be one of the first to be reviewed through the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR). The ICRIR is a commission being set up to provide information to families, victims, and survivors of Troubles-related deaths and serious injury, and to promote reconciliation. After many years, it is pleasing to see some progress finally being made and a clear example of how my work in the constituency has directed my work in Parliament.

If you are a resident in the current Wrexham constituency boundary and need my assistance with any local or national issues, please contact me on: