GALLERY: Vale of Clwyd parliamentary candidates made to stop at red during meeting

Reporter:

Suzanne Jordan

VALE of Clwyd parliamentary candidates were made to stop at red during a meeting hosted by an organisation that tackles social injustice.

During the accountability meeting, held by Together Creating Communities (TCC), James Davies, Conservatives, Mair Rowlands, Plaid Cymru, Chris Ruane, Labour and Gwyn Williams, Liberal Democrat, fielded questions from the floor.

A strict traffic light system switching from green, amber to red allowed candidates a minute to a minute and a half to speak on topics such as fracking, the minimum wage, the voting age, devolution, housing, immigration, Trident nuclear deterrent, Glan Clwyd’s maternity unit and a new shared faith school in Rhyl.

The meeting, held at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Rhyl, was attended by members belonging to various community organisations, young people including students and faith groups.

Paul Davies-Cooke, UKIP candidate for Vale of Clwyd, was unable to make the event.

Mr Davies echoed his party’s views on Trident and stating that “we need a nuclear deterrent in order to keep world peace. We have got to look at the reality of the world.” Ms Rowlands insisted that it wasn’t needed. She said: “Plaid is completely against Trident. We’ve spent so much money on weapons of mass desruction that we would never use.”

Speaking about the migrant boat disaster in the Mediterranean, Mr Ruane said: “We need a two prong approach. I believe the story of the good samaritian. We need to stop people feeling frightened in their own countries so they don’t feel the need to get in boats witth holes in. We should be using our foreign aid budget to help stabilise turbulent countries.”



Ms Rowlands said the incident was a "tragedy."

"We should be providing support to those countries," she added. "Immigration brings people to this country, we should be supporting refugees and provide the necessary support."

Mr Williams spoke how immigration was “good for the county”.

All candidates lent their support to proposals for a new shared faith school in Rhyl aside from Mr Williams who commented: “I am committed to the new school, but I think people want it built outside of Rhyl for a reason. I think people send their children to school out of Rhyl for a reason."

When speaking about Glan Clwyd Hospital’s maternity downgrade plans, all candidates agreed that the matter could have been handled better. Mr Davies deemed the plans as “dangerous” while Ms Rowlands said: “the idea of newborns and mothers having to travel down the A55 is unacceptable”.

The candidates were questioned on Wrexham’s £200m super-prison site which will house more than 2,000 prisoners.

Mr Ruane responded: "It is not just about the building but what goes on in that building. I think we need to introduce mindfulness. Mindfulness is a better treatment than anti-depressants. We need to take prisoners off these and use mindfulness."

Ms Rowlands added: "We believe that a prison is needed in Wales but it is too large for the people of Wales. It is going to happen so we need to make the most of it now and make sure there is sufficient health services." 

Mr Davies commented: "The prison is in Wrexham so it is far enough away so it is not really going to have a great impact on this area. There will be jobs created and it will be easier for families to visit inmates."

Mr Williams said a family member's experience had changed his view on zero hour contracts. He said: "I changed my mind on zero hour contacts. After six months she was depressed and made to feel like she was feeling exploited. We need to move away from them."

All candidates answered yes to the question "if they would work with TCC again". Mr Ruane quipped that he was already working with TCC. 

This was TCC's fifth accountability meeting. Meetings are run so members of TCC can build relationships with parliamentary candidates ahead of the general election. 

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