Statement of Wendy Margaret O'Grady
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
I am a member of the Stewart family from Garden Village and grew up here. I have lived in and around Wrexham all my adult life. I am passionate about making a difference and doing everything I can to improve the lives of people in Wrexham. If elected I will use my experience as a fundraiser for local charities and community groups to involve the local community and businesses to enhance publicly funded services.
I am privileged to have served as a community councillor for Stansty and have been returned unopposed in the election this May. I have recently been appointed as a governor at Plas Coch school. I am looking forward to this new role as we work to secure more primary and Welsh language places for our children. I am the women’s officer for Wrexham Constituency Labour Party and want to see more women play a full part in local politics. I am standing for election because I believe that Wrexham will prosper best with a Labour-led Council.
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)
People are concerned about the increase in burglaries in the area. Since the closure of Garden Village Youth Club we have seen a reduction in the number of activities available locally. We have a larger proportion of elderly people in Garden Village than most parts of Wrexham. We need services tailored to meet their needs and those family members involved in their care. Many people outside the immediate area use the Garden Village shops and come to events at the Institute but those areas do not do the ward justice. The immediate area around the Institute and the shops needs some investment to improve pavements and seating.
2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?
It’s essential that I keep listening so I will hold regular surgeries in the ward. I want to see increased community policing and to encourage the establishment of a neighbourhood watch scheme. I will work with the local community to secure more activities for young people in Garden Village. I will do everything I can to protect and improve the quality of social care for our most vulnerable residents. I will work with the Community Council to improve and protect the local environment for residents and those running and using local businesses.
3. As a councillor and as a member of the council what would be in your power, and your priority, to help local businesses?
Welsh Labour will work with the business community to introduce a Business Improvement District and support apprenticeship training with the county’s major employers, especially higher level apprenticeships. We need better local public transport to link with the Welsh Labour Government’s plans for a North Wales metro.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
A Labour Council would integrate health and social care budgets to get the best value for money. It would also work with not for profit organisations and social enterprises. With central government funding reducing, I think we may have to see some increase in Council Tax to pay for essential services and those who can afford to pay more, should do so.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
All children deserve the same opportunities within the education system. We need more school primary school places to give our children the best start. I would want to see more support workers for children who need them. At secondary level we need to make sure that all our young people are prepared for the needs of the modern workforce.
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
Now that the building has been saved, I want to see the site developed into an Education Centre for Lifelong Learning.
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?
I know how difficult it is for young people to find affordable housing. Wrexham needs about 7500 more homes and these should be spread right around the County. We need more social housing. New developments, especially those on the outskirts of the town, must have the right infrastructure and services to support an increase in population.
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?
People are being penalised too heavily for dropping small amounts of litter, such as young parents struggling with children and shopping. The Council’s contractors should be required to follow the National Guidance, which the Police and the Council’s own Enforcement Teams work to.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
I believe in democracy and debate. The current Cabinet Executive Board works in other Welsh Local Authorities. Wrexham Council is the stifling necessary debate and too much power sits with a few people.
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 will not be changing my allegiance. When a councillor changes allegiance, I think it it is wrong for that person to remain in post. There should be 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?
All councils in Wales are having to make big savings because of savage cuts imposed on the Welsh Government by the Westminster Government. Protecting jobs and services is a priority for Welsh Labour. Councillors should start by looking at what savings they can make themselves such as reducing the number of senior salaries on the executive board and paying for their own parking.
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
The Labour Group provided an alternative budget in February that set out savings and schemes to generate revenue. These included the introduction of a permit scheme where organisations wishing to carry out works in the town pay for permits. This could make the Street Works department self-financing and save over £40 000. We could also have fixed penalty notices for substandard work and works that run over time and re-invest this back into the local road network.
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?
I would start by asking the people of Wrexham through a large survey and by making parking free to encourage more people to use the town centre. Welsh Labour plans to work in partnership with the Town Centre Forum and business community, seeking to create a vibrant town centre and improve the evening economy. The dire state of the Town Centre and the impact on local businesses suggests that we need much more than an aspirational plan. We need action on these critical issues.
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?
I would publish regular newsletters and hold monthly meetings to let local people know what is going on in the Council and allow plenty of time for people to ask questions and put their ideas forward.
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?
It is important to keep the arts alive in Wrexham town centre but the Arts Hub business plan was challenged by the Labour Group on the basis of cost at a time when essential services were facing cuts. The Arts Hub should be transferred to a Trust as funding would be more readily available.
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?
The Football Club is very important to me. I have been involved in fundraising for the club for many years, running the 50/50 half time raffle which has raised thousands of pounds. I want the club, the council and Glyndwr University who own the Racecourse, to work together to promote the club and secure more international games.
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 needs to work with the Town Centre Forum to make sure that we do everything to prevent anti-social behaviour and crime, otherwise other businesses will close. It’s important to balance the needs of the night-time economy with those of residents.
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?
PSPO’s do not address the root causes of the anti social behaviour. The Council needs to work with residents, businesses and the police to develop a plan of action to deal with the root causes of the anti social behaviour.
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
This is a form of anti social behaviour currently rife in our Town Centre. Ideally we need to be working together across the region. Working with medical professionals, our youth clubs , schools, young adult charities, and Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr have a vital role to play in raising awareness.
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?
I believe very strongly in public service and that Councillors should lead by example when public services are being cut. They should pay for parking for example. Senior salaries should reflect the current period of austerity. Labour wants to introduce the leasing of IPad’s which will make IT investment self-financing. The Executive Board should reduce from 10 senior salary portfolio holders to 8.
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?
Under the Council, the Leisure Centre was losing £500 000 a year. In cases where Community based Trusts/Social Enterprises are taking over council services, they should be supported during their start-up phase by the Council. The Council should be looking at the longer term saving and the priority should be the continuation of the service.
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 governor of Plas Coch school I will be working to increase the number of Welsh Language places for our children.
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?
Yes, all meetings should be webcasted, including scrutiny meetings,
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 have been encouraging the young people I have met while canvassing to get on the electoral register and vote. Our 39 Labour candidates are diverse in age, gender and experience.
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?
As a member of the Rhossdu Community Council, I am working to keep Price’s Lane Community Centre open instead of bulldozing the building down. I want to see the community involved in running the building
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
I am very sincere and honest. I will make sure I attend all Council meetings and keep in touch with the people in my ward. I believe in the Labour Party manifesto and think that Garden Village residents will do best with a Labour run Council.
Social & Web links
The above is a ward map screenshot taken from the OS Map - if you click the map itself it will show a slightly bigger version.
If you click here it will open this map on the OS website itself, allowing more options to zoom and move around.
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OTHER CANDIDATES FOR Garden Village