Statement of Irene Lewis

We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.

My Pledges to You:
I will act at all times with openness, honesty and transparency and be accountable to you.
I will provide the bridge between the people of Gresford and the Council to raise your issues.
I will answer to the Labour Manifesto Promises.
I will listen to your concerns and focus on the best solutions for you.
I will act to resolve your issues using my skills and experience to ‘GET THINGS DONE FOR YOU’
Fairness and Equality for All
I believe everyone is entitled to fair and equal representation and all voices should be heard, needs should be met and contributions be listened to and valued.
By giving me your vote this will enable me to WORK FOR YOU and give Gresford the voice it deserves.
I have lived in Gresford for 43 years.
I was born and raised the daughter of a Monsanto Chemical worker and his wife in a Council House. They were both supporters of Labour and instilled in me the values of fairness, equality, tolerance and justice which I have tried to follow in every aspect of my life and work. They gave me opportunities in music and dance and supported me in my education at Grammar School and Further Education.
Having left university with an M.Ed and B.Ed degree I entered teaching in 1970 and became the Headteacher of a Primary School at 35. I moved to a larger school and lectured for the Open University also acting as an external examiner for Lancaster University. I worked with the Government Dept. to set up the initial QTS qualification. These various working situations gave me the opportunity to develop my management skills, to involve everyone in the decision process, to develop policies and to run very tight school budgets. Often the latter meant making difficult decisions re people’s futures!
My late husband, Lou, and I also toured the country as a professional cabaret duo. I sing with Cantorion Rhos and am their elected Publicity Officer. I also sing with Gresford Church choir. I volunteer at Nightingale House, Maelor hospital, Theatre Clwyd and am on the grounds and stewarding committee for Llangollen Eisteddfod. I am secretary for the North Wales R.S.C.Music. These roles are not a full time committment and leave me available to give fully to the huge demands of this role.
I know I will be an asset to any community as I am totally committed to anything I do. I will be available to monitor any on going issues in Gresford, to listen to your ideas and to attempt to answer all questions honestly and support any person who needs me in a Councillor capacity. My managerial and budgeting skills will be invaluable in facing the challenges Wrexham Council faces. I believe Wrexham needs a new strong Labour voice in these difficult times with its various challenges and I would be proud to be a member to assist.

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)

I will address loneliness/isolation among people of all ages. I will strive to make Gresford a Dementia Friendly village. Commuter parking is a continuing concern. There are a minority of inconsiderate dog owners. There are ongoing legal proceedings re unsightly sites. Lack of facilities for young people.

2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?

I would develop social functions, for example, coffee mornings, to bring people together. There is Welsh Government funding available through a Community Agents scheme which helps people connect with key services to support their well-being and make them feel more independent, secure and so improve their quality of life. I would seek to bring this scheme to Gresford. I will access professional advice and guidance to help develop a Dementia Friendly Scheme. I will liaise with private car park owners to explore solutions to long term parking and will also explore limited time parking and/or resident only parking. I will liaise with the enforcement team and run an awareness campaign to highlight the issues of dog fouling. I will continue to press for a continuation of the legal procedure regarding unsightly sites and have a professional conversation with any owners. I will work to develop further facilities for the young people of Gresford.

3. As a councillor and as a member of the council what would be in your power, and your priority, to help local businesses?

I will work with the business community to develop small incubator hubs to help nurture local enterprise. The Labour Group will take a multi-agency approach to develop a forward thinking economic plan to shape the future of Wrexham. I will support skilled apprenticeships. A number of support mechanisms may be considered such as Community Development Credit Unions, Community Development Loan Funds and co-operatives.

4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?

Welsh Labour promotes the integration of Health and Social Care budgets. Pooled budgets allow efficiency savings and a more effective delivery of the service. Not for profit corporations and social enterprises also have a role to play.

5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?

To take responsibility and adopt a new and ambitious approach towards the management of education and children’s services which not only establishes coherent and balanced expectations but also recognises that children and young people have different experiences and needs as they travel through the system. To ensure that schools have genuine opportunities to share good practice. To ensure that governors access the necessary training to act as effective, supportive and progressive employers.

6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?

The Groves site should be developed as a centre for skills and lifelong learning and this would be in full consultation with the people of Wrexham.

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?

Wrexham is in desperate need of a Local Development Plan (LDP) which coalitions have not been able to produce for the last 12 years! Taking into consideration windfall sites and housing already in the pipeline this will greatly reduce the number of houses now needed. The LDP is essential to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place. Open space should not be compromised. Welsh Labour will commit to robust quotas for affordable housing.

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?

The present privatised enforcement is criminalising people. Along with ethical enforcement we would support education/information campaigns to reduce this problem.

9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?

I believe in democratic debate as too many issues have been stifled and the power sits with too few people on the Council. Scrutiny and accountability must be seen to be upheld. A Labour led Council would have a full debate on various models as soon as possible in the new Council.

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?

If anyone changes Party they should resign their position as a matter of conscience. I do not envisage this being an issue for me

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?

There should be more collaborative workings with other councils. Fewer executive members working more efficiently would create savings.

12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?

With the introduction of the Permit Scheme, the current Street Works Dept. becomes self financing saving £41,202 negating the budget pressure for future years. Additional income can be realised from Fixed Penalty Notices for substandard work, overrun works and emergency/short notice permit requests, reinvested back into the 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?

Labour would consult with the public on a comprehensive strategy for the town centre. We would aspire to increase footfall, improve public safety and regenerate the town. I would also work to maintain and improve small shopping areas such as Gresford.

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 produce an informative newsletter regularly which would include residents’ views as well as local issues. I would hold regular, well advertised surgeries in a variety of venues. I would be regularly seen in the village and be accessible to anyone who would like to chat. This I could do because I have no other major commitments calling on my time.

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?

As a past secretary of the Arts Association I fully support the Arts but it is vital that it is accessible and affordable to all. I would aspire to reform the Arts Association to promote and arrange community events covering all aspects of the Arts. Additionally, the Business Plan has to be viable so moving the facility into a Trust would allow it access to external funding. The current administration has failed to follow this route.

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?

I would support the Welsh Government to undertake an open and transparent review of the past management of the football club. I would support any action to bring more events and functions to the Racecourse. I recognise that it is a very important community facility.

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 key seems to be in balancing the needs of residents, the pressures on the Public Sector – Police, Ambulance, A&E, and the support for the businesses that benefit from the Night Time economy. A Business Improvement District is incorporated into the Labour manifesto, but this can only be achieved through consultation with businesses and other partners.

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?

This is a reaction but does not address the root cause and can often move the problem on to another area. We need a comprehensive plan to facilitate the work of the PSPOs. Something similar to the INFO shop for young people would be advisable in the centre to support those whom wish to use it.

19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?

A new drop in centre and education delivered by medical experts and health professionals who are fully aware of the real risks. There are a number of agencies where help may be sought in dealing with raising awareness of this serious issue – adult charities, youth clubs, substance misuse groups and the schools to name but a few. We cannot afford to continue to do nothing!

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?

Labour would implement the leasing of iPads to pay for upkeep and replacement. Councillors should not benefit from free parking in the town centre. I, personally, would look at the need for the position of Mayor, as I prefer a Chairperson to conduct council meetings.

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?

Many public amenities have been closed and these are now run by trusts who need and deserve support. A vibrant ‘Together In Wrexham’ programme would assist these trusts to work and thrive. The priority should be the continuation of these important community facilities.

22. What actions would you take, or support, as a councillor to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?

Increase the number of Welsh language places in primary schools. Continue to support the Welsh language learner classes for adults already in place. The council needs to embrace a bilingual policy for the Welsh language to encourage more learners and tolerance.

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 am keen for more openness and transparency and webcasting would assist this if the correct funding is in place.

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?

Labour supports increased diversity in age and gender. Evening council meetings would encourage more working age councillors to participate. Welsh Labour has fielded 39 candidates in this local election with a diverse range of 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?

I am a member of the Church choir and organised a day when anyone of any age could come and play the organ. I am on the Grounds Committee of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. Visitors from abroad are housed in Gresford. My volunteering role in Nightingale House and the hospital allows me to support people from Gresford. I seek to use my educational expertise to support the governing bodies of local schools.

In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?

I am honest, reliable, trustworthy and hard working. I have the time and commitment to give to the role. I have lived here 43 years and it's my time to give something back to Gresford.

Social & Web links

Map of Gresford East & West

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