Statement of Mike Davies
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
I was born in Rhosnesni and still live here with my wife Angie.
I worked for a several years in retail management before joining the Fire Service. I have been with the Fire Service in Wrexham for 29 years, the last 3 years working in the Community Fire Safety department. In that role I regularly visit residents to advise on home safety measures. This contact with the general public has given me an appreciation of the problems and issues that concern the public of Wrexham. Through my lifetime as a local resident I have gained a wide knowledge and understanding of the needs and desired of the community.
I have been an unpaid official in the Fire Brigades Union for over 15 years. I spent a while as Brigade Secretary for North Wales FBU representing hundreds of service members. In this role I was frequently in contact with MPs, AMs and Councillors, campaigning and fighting for a better service for Wrexham and North Wales. In order to increase my knowledge and skills I have undertaken training via the TUC and the Open College Network in a number of subjects such as: Deaf Awareness, Dyslexia Counselling and Lifelong Learning.
I was involved at an early stage with the FBU project to encourage Lifelong Learning in the Welsh Region. This culminated in a successful bid for funding from the WAG and setting up a Partnership between the Union and Fire Service management in all of Wales. I am currently Union Education and Learning Official for the Welsh Region.
I contested the 2012 Council elections, against four other candidates and came a close second losing by only 27 votes. Some 2000 electors in Rhosnesni chose not to vote last time but I trust that with a greater turn-out, I could win the seat this time and be given the chance to represent you as I feel you deserve.
Over the years, I have been involved in numerous campaigns for Local and National issues. Some of these local activities were campaigning to protect the Special Care Baby unit at Wrexham hospital, protecting green spaces, and most recently, campaigning to save a fire appliance and 26 jobs at Wrexham Fire Station.
I cannot make promises other than to say I am not afraid of getting involved in important issues and will do my best to stand up for the people of Rhosnesni if I am fortunate enough to be elected as your Councillor.
I want to make Rhosnesni and Wrexham a better place for people to live, work and bring up their families.
Questions & Answers
1. Often we are told that highways, street lighting, bin collections and anti-social behaviour are some of the issues people care most about. Aside from those what are the key local issues in your ward? (The question below will ask what you think should be done)
Some of my concerns are indeed bin collecting services and poor roads. Obviously I have other concerns. Rhosnesni houses 2 schools. Consequently there is a proliferation of speed humps and other traffic calming measures in the area. Speed humps are not an ideal solution, they have been scientifically proven to increase traffic pollution exactly where we shouldn’t want this (next to schools). There are better and safer methods to control speed. Even the government is planning on discouraging this. They are set to reveal these plans in the very near future. The council has been aware of these concerns but has blindly gone on recently renewing speed bumps. The Rhosnesni are has recently been heavily targeted by burglars, I myself have been a victim of burglary in the last few months. I would work with local Police and Police Community Support Officers to keep residents informed on protective and preventative measures. I wold also ask for a more visible Police presence.
2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?
All problems are surmountable, unfortunately they all cost money. I feel we need to priorities the order of “fixing”. Anti social behaviour is probably top of most peoples list. There is the problem of youngster gathering and causing problems outside public places and also the problems of homelessness and drug taking in public etc. They all require a different approach. I would encourage cooperation of the Council and Police. Probably schools could also be encouraged to take part. Regarding problems with poor roads and street humps etc. Again this would need to see prioritising of actual locations rather than a random scattergun approach. Safety is paramount, so work around schools would be paramount, although as mentioned previously, road humps are not the correct solution. Issues like bin collection could be improved merely by better supervision.
3. As a councillor and as a member of the council what would be in your power, and your priority, to help local businesses?
Rhosnesni ward has a number of small shops/businesses. Fortunately these seem to be thriving, I am glad to see the empty butchers shop on Borras Park road has been recently re-occupied by a new business. It is sad that we are losing one of our 3 public houses though. However, Wrexham town centre is a different story. There are numerous empty shops and other business premises. Parts of the centre have become a ghost town. I would like to see assistance with Rent and Rates if possible. We need more independent traders to breath a bit of life into the town and hopefully encourage shoppers back. I feel the lack of cheap parking within short walking distance of shops is hindering the problem. I would like to see cheaper off-peak parking, possibly even free at certain times. I also believe that some of the underused pedestrianised parts of town could be opened up to be used as “Drop Off and Pick Up” zones. Lambpit street for example would be an ideal place for this to be trialled.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
More Government funding should be provided to Councils to help. Also the Council could consider a slight increase in council tax, after all we are all getting older and many of us will require support eventually. I want to see a reversal of the Councils decision to close its care homes.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
Whilst I am no expert in this field. I believe the Council’s decision some years ago, to close one secondary school and produce two “Super schools” was badly thought out. The whole exercise was very costly and resulted in the the debacle of the Groves site. Whilst this cannot be undone, I feel that more careful thought and planning needs to be made regarding future educational needs. Obviously there is a need for more schools to cater for the projected increase in population. One such site is the redeveloped steelworks site in Brymbo. I believe that thought must be given to traffic access and parking near to any such new school to ease congestion that occurs when parents arrive to collect their children. Obviously we also have the Groves site as I will cover in the next question.
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
The site should be used as educational establishment. With the proposed growth of the local population there is a need for a new educational places in Wrexham in the very near future. The building was designed for that very purpose. There is a large fenced field already on the site which would lend itself perfectly to sporting activities. There is also the option of utilising part of the building for adult education or Apprenticeship schemes. The already existing hall and stage could possibly be used for a young theatre company or musicians wishing to have a place to practice. There are endless possibilities, it just needs people with some imagination Obviously the building would have to be renovated, but the basic infrastructure is already in place. I would suggest that it would be extremely helpful if part of the land could be utilised to create dropping off and pick up areas, this would alleviate the problem caused by traffic build up outside schools.
7. What are your thoughts on the housing supply in Wrexham, and if you feel more housing needs to be created in volume, where would that be sited and who would it be targeted at?
There are hundreds of empty council houses awaiting refurbishment. Many of these are in good condition and indeed in better condition than many privately rented houses. They could be utilised as short term rental properties, possibly at a reduced rent whilst awaiting prioritised modernisation. There is a need for new homes, the council should encourage the building of affordable homes in small developments on vacant and even “brownfield” sites. Rather than large scale developments on green land as is the desire of building companies looking for a bigger profit. Any new development should be targeted for expected future growth of the existing population, rather than encouraging people to move into the area from more expensive places. This would merely boost the increase in the local population and cause more demand for already straining services. By encouraging building on certain empty sites, we could remove certain ugly eye sores from the outskirts of town.
8. On litter and dog fouling enforcement, do you think this should be provided via a third party, and should it be enforced to the letter of the law or in a more lenient manner?
To be honest, despite what many people say, I feel dog fouling is much less of a problem than in the past. Many dog owners seem to be responsible enough to take bags with them when out walking their dogs these days. I would suggest more bins in appropriate places for the disposal of these would be beneficial. I feel the bigger problem is dogs being let out unaccompanied, many without the owners address on the collar, so it would be near impossible to enforce a fine anyway. Maybe we need to look at dog wardens. Litter is a perennial problem, however there is already an agreement in place for the next couple of years for a third party to enforce this. Maybe we need to see how the next couple of years pan out.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
I would prefer a politically balanced system. The executive board system leaves many councillors with less say on policies.
10. As has happened in Wrexham recently - if you change political allegiance from what you are currently seeking election for (eg. resigning from, or joining another party) will you trigger a by-election? If not, why not?
I believe anybody who changes allegiance midway through their term, should inform their electorate why and call a by-election.
11. 'Reshaping' Wrexham Council is a major theme impacting all areas of the local authority. What areas do you think could see deeper savings made and why?
Rationalisation and sharing resources with other areas could be looked at to save money. Greater cooperation between neighbouring councils could avoid buying duplicate equipment and vehicles etc. The use of expensive consultants should be questioned when we have a number of highly paid employees already working for the Council. Are they not able to make decisions on their own?
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
The Council could consider utilising its existing services and resources to create opportunities to increase revenue. One example being, there are various privately run recycling and waste collection services, some of these are operated by businesses from outside the area. Maybe the Council needs to tender for more of this work, thereby keeping money in the local economy. Also if the Council needs to outsource, it should be encouraged to use local businesses whenever possible. For example, I do know of one Council in North Wales that has its printing provided by a company many miles away. There must be many other examples of Councils not supporting local business.
13. The Town Centre Masterplan is an aspirational document which could shape and transform the town centre over the next ten years. What is your future vision for Wrexham town centre, and how will you help achieve it?
There are too many empty shops in the town. Some of this problem has been exacerbated by the Council itself building new shopping centres on the outskirts of the town. Many businesses have simply relocated to the newer units (often at more attractive rates), leaving the old units empty. Zones could be created with more attractive rent and rates, encouraging new businesses to fill the town. Parking is a problem, certain parts of town are out of reach of people due to expensive parking. Many cities throughout the world have explored better and safer methods of allowing vehicles access to shopping areas.
14. Many politicians are accused of being out of touch with voters and only surfacing before elections. What will you do to ensure you stay in touch through the coming years if you are elected?
During my current campaign I spend much of my time speaking to people on their door step. Sadly many have commented that that is something that they have rarely experienced. I would continue this practice if elected. I live locally and spend much of my time walking around and shopping in the ward. I would encourage anyone to stop me for a chat if they see me. I would keep residents informed via the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter etc). I would be easy to contact by email, phone etc. A regular News sheet will also be produced and circulated to all homes in the ward.
15. What are your thoughts on the current provision and support for the arts in Wrexham, and what would you do to support the arts?
With the new Art Centre and existing theatre at the University, we already have in place an infrastructure. We need to cultivate these and encourage more events.
16. Wrexham Football Club had been let down greatly before being taken over by the fans themselves. As a councillor what action would you champion to help the club?
There are hundreds of members of the Wrexham Supporters Trust. I was a member and supported the WST for a while, until the club was finally taken over and saved. With the collective support of Trust members, the Council should encourage large events to utilise the facilities. This would help sustain the club and also bring people into the town, which would also benefit local business. Hopefully the Kop could be refurbished at some point and include office accommodation or small retail units.
17. Wrexham's Night Time Economy employs a large number of people and generates revenue for the town. As a councillor what action would you like to see from Wrexham Council to improve that sector?
The Council should consult with businesses on how they feel matters could improve. After all, surely a business should know better what they need to flourish. Rather than be dictated to.
18. Wrexham Council currently has two Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) in place in the town centre and Rhosddu area. How should anti social behaviour be tackled?
I’m not sure these plans really achieve much other than to move problems elsewhere. More work needs to be done to try to understand the root cause of the problems.
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
Banning something doesn’t make it go away. It merely drives it underground and we lose control of the situation. I do not pretend to have the solution, Councils and Governments have tried for many years to control substance abuse and its related problems.
20. Councillor pay, iPads as tools for the job, and allowances have all been topics of debate over the last few years. What is your view on this?
Councillors pay should reflect the pay of their employees. So in a time when many public sector workers are experiencing a pay freeze, I would assume Councillors would lead by example. I would presume that anyone wanting to take up a role in the Council would already have access to I.T. equipment. If they do not, then they could apply for assistance with this. I do not believe that people should be able to claim expenses to travel to their work place or indeed enjoy free parking.
21. The ownership and operation of Plas Madoc Leisure Centre has been debated over recent years - where do you believe the responsibility for funding and running such public amenities should lie?
I was one of many who campaigned to keep the Leisure Centre. It is vital to encourage people to take part in sport and other physical activities It should be seen as a vital service rather than a profit making venture. After all we do not look to make money out of street lights do we? They are vital for public safety.
22. What actions would you take, or support, as a councillor to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
As a proud Welsh person, who unfortunately does not speak Welsh. I would encourage the use of the language by people who wish to speak in their native tongue. It is good to see that shops and businesses etc are being encouraged to promote Welsh. However I would prefer a softly, softly approach to this rather than legislation as this could lead to resentment and reluctance from some sources.
23. Currently Wrexham Council webcast their Full Council, Executive Board and Planning meetings, and some Scrutiny. Would you like to see the webcasting system rolled out to cover all meetings and how else do you think the local authority could involve the public more in the democratic process?
I believe the machinations of Council meetings should be public. Many people do not get the opportunities to attend meetings, especially now that many take part in the afternoon. Meetings should be webcast and also archived online.
24. This will be the first time some people are old enough to vote, with that age limit possibly dropping in future. Candidates are on the whole older and male. What will you do to represent a more diverse viewpoint?
I believe the age limit for voting is about right at the moment. Many councillors are indeed male and of an older generation, this is not helped by various factors. The times for council meetings are not very friendly for much of the population. It is unhelpful for younger people who work outside town and also women with children to aspire to be Councillors. However I am happy to talk to anybody when it is convenient for them, as a long time serving union official I am used to making myself available when needed. Interestingly. Whilst out canvassing, a voter told me that whilst he hadn't really read my leaflet, his 16 year old daughter had. and she told him he had to vote for me. He told me his children were politically very astute. I am glad to see that the younger generation are willing to get involved.
25. What local activity have you taken part in over the last few months to improve your ward? Regardless of if you win, will you continue any such action that benefits your ward?
I have been involved in many activities for many years. Not necessarily just for Rhosnesni but for the community at large. The last few months I have been campaigning to protect a fire appliance and associated jobs in Wrexham. Over the last few years some of the campaigns I have been involved in include. Protecting Plas Madoc leisure centre. Preserve the iconic Wrexham swimming baths building. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Wrexham etc. More locally, I am always keen to improve my ward and will regularly report such issues as pot holes and faulty street lights etc.
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
I have always lived in the ward and I am familiar with many of the issues and concerns, I want to help the community that I call my home. I have never been one to sit back and moan and complain about things, I have track record of getting involved and trying to change things. For years now I have worked and campaigned for issues that I believe in. Some people may have different opinions to me, but if I am elected as your Councillor, I will listen to what you want me to help with.
Social & Web links
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