By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

LABOUR AM, KEN SKATES, has called on the Welsh Government to tackle the impact alcohol-related problems are heaving on communities in North East Wales.

Speaking during First Minister’s questions on Tuesday, the Clwyd South AM welcomed the Welsh Government’s “Don’t let drink sneak up on you” campaign to improve people’s awareness of how much alcohol they consume but said those suffering from addiction needed better support.

In 2011, Wrexham suffered the biggest increase in alcohol-related crime in North Wales, recording 43 more incidents from April to September 2011 compared to 2010.

CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said: “We know that alcohol is one of the three highest risk factors for reduced life expectancy and linked to a whole host of preventable diseases. More than this it also affects other people quite significantly and is having a clear impact on communities in North East Wales.

“In 2011, Wrexham suffered the biggest increase in alcohol-related crime in North Wales, recording 43 more incidents from April to September 2011 compared to 2010.

“The worrying thing is that often these problems start at an early age. A recent report by Alcohol Concern highlighted that children as young as 10 in North Wales are more able to recognise alcoholic drinks brands than those of best-selling ice creams or cakes.

“The issue highlights a wider problem we have with drink in Wales, with the cost to the NHS of excess alcohol consumption believed upwards of £69m a year. Tackling the problem of excessive drinking and the impact it has on the health of our nation is probably the number one public health challenge we face in 2012.

“There is an established link between issues like crime, mental health problems, domestic abuse and alcohol, and in some areas like North East Wales this is causing real problems in our communities.

“We need to work closely with our local authorities, the local health board, the police and the licensing trade to make our communities safer and make sure individuals with drink-related problems get the help they need.”

Latest figures show there were almost 500 alcohol-related deaths in Wales in 2010. Based on the worst case scenario published in The Lancet, annual deaths could exceed 700 a year in Wales over the course of the next two decades, equivalent to 14,000 in the 20-year period.


More information on the Welsh Government’s “Don’t let drink sneak up on you” can be found at:

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

KEN SKATES AND SUSAN ELAN JONES, have called on councils in Wrexham and Denbighshire to work together to fund school transport in Llangollen.

Recently it was announced that Ysgol Dinas Bran had voted to provide transport itself for learners coming from the traditional catchment area of Chirk from 2012 after Wrexham Council voted to stop funding the service. The Labour MP Susan Elan Jones said she welcomed news that school children would continue to have access to free school transport, but AM Ken Skates added the funding burden should not fall on schools when councils couldn’t work together.

SUSAN ELAN JONES MP said: “I welcome news that schoolchildren in Chirk will continue to get free school transport to Ysgol Dinas Bran.  This is an issue that has been on-going for a long time, causing significant concern to parents as well as pupils who currently attend the school.

“Maintaining the strong bond that exists between the two communities is vital and I’m pleased parents will be free to choose the school that is right for their children.”

KEN SKATES AM said: “I welcome this decision, but am disappointed that it is the school that has had to step in and fund transport that the local authorities should be paying for.  Wrexham and Denbighshire Councils need to get together to ensure that vital money that is intended to be spent on children’s education is not diverted away for school transport.

“The Minister for Local Government Carl Sargeant has made it very clear that councils need to collaborate more effectively to ensure delivery of services for our constituents gets better.

“I am clear in my mind that this is an example of where local authorities in North East Wales could collaborate more closely to provide better services for people living and working on the border between Wrexham and Denbighshire.

“I would like to see Wrexham and Denbighshire get together and sort this issue out so schools can spend their money on teaching our children, not mopping up after local authorities who cannot agree to do the right thing.”


By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

LABOUR AM KEN SKATES today called on the Welsh Government to examine the possibility of introducing Universal Free School Meals in Wales.

Speaking in a debate in the Assembly, the Clwyd South AM said despite the introduction of ‘cashless’ systems of paying for Free School Dinners (FSD), the stigma of FSD remained a problem.

The AM said a renewed debate was needed on the introduction of Universal Free School Dinners, believing it could have an important impact on the academic achievement of pupils in Wales.

Clwyd South AM, Ken Skates, said: “We need to look again at the merits of introducing Universal Free School Dinners in Wales as a way of raising academic achievement and tackling the stigma of those who currently receive financial help.

“Instead of rolling out cashless systems, at a considerable cost in terms of IT procurement and staff training, perhaps we should take the natural next step in tying together our education and health objectives with the adoption of Universal Free School Dinners.

“The Assembly’s Children and Young People Committee has previously advocated that this idea be looked at by the Welsh Government and I believe that introducing it in areas like North East Wales could have significant impacts.

“The benefits of universal healthcare and education, free at the point of delivery, is well understood. When you are in the Wrexham Maelor you are not billed for the medicine or food that will make you better yet why then, are children in my constituency being billed for dinners, which are of critical importance to their learning?

“Such an approach would be affordable because of the economies of scale involved, would help in boosting the local produce used in our schools and raise the academic performance of those children from areas of Wrexham and Denbighshire who miss out on a nutritious lunchtime meal.

“In Hull, where studies into the benefits of universal FSD have taken place, 80 per cent of teachers reported having more focused classes and better results. “It is our moral duty to protect children and I believe that provides the most powerful argument in favour of Universal Free School Dinners.”

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

CLWYD SOUTH AM, KEN SKATES has called on the Welsh Government to do more to support small rural businesses in North East Wales.

In questions to the Minister for Business and Enterprise in the Assembly, the AM said concerns such as a lack of access to credit had been one of the key concerns raised with him during his short time as an AM

He called on the Minister to look at the capital support available to small rural businesses as a way of getting the local economy back on its feet.


“One of the many concerns raised with me since taking up my post has been from people running rural small businesses and the access they have to credit and finance.

“As we emerge from the recession and recover from the global financial crisis how we support small and medium sized enterprises located in rural or semi-rural areas like mine will be important in helping get the Welsh economy back on its feet.

“By helping small rural companies to expand and grow their business we can get more people from those areas back into meaningful paid employment and help make the local community economy more sustainable in the long-term.

“I have asked the Minister to examine the sort of capital support that is available to rural enterprises and to ensure we do all we can to help small business in constituencies like Clwyd South.”

The Minister Edwina Hart agreed the issue was very important and committed to examining the support on offer.

By Ken Skates AM / Latest News / 0 Comments

Skates to Fight Bank Closure

Clwyd South Labour AM Ken Skates has vowed to fight plans by HSBC to close their bank in Cefn Mawr.

Mr Skates said the lessons of bank closures elsewhere must be learnt and the Cefn Mawr branch should stay open.

He said: “In Glyn Ceiriog, where the HSBC closed another of its branches and replaced it with a cash point, the machine was vandalised and the bank has failed to respond swiftly to it being out of use.

“Similar stories have been reported in Rhos and so I am totally opposed to the loss of the Cefn Mawr branch.

“It’s about time banks started to make good on the claim they prioritise the interests of their customers.