Statement of Kath Goodchild

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

I was born and bred in and around Wrexham, and have worked in community support services for all of my working life. For 25 years I lived in Marchwiel and Cross Lanes, and I now live in Bangor on Dee. For the past 10 years I was Chief Officer of the Beechtree Centre, a health and wellbeing project in Whitchurch.
The Beechtree is just two miles from the Bronington Ward boundary, and over the years has supported many people from Bronington, Tallarn Green, Whitewell and Fenn’s Bank.
Retiring from this full time post last October, I would now like to bring my experience to work for the Bronington Ward in which I live.
If elected I would work hard to make Wrexham Council’s fiscal policies fair and inclusive; prioritising transport links that get children to school, people to work and keeping older people socially and physically active.
I am standing as a Labour candidate and I am an active member of Clwyd South Constituency Labour Party, having recently set up a Women’s Forum and re-established the Maelor Branch.

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)

The increasing number of heavy goods vehicles on the A525 (travelling to Wrexham Industrial Estate) is causing damage to the roads which when patched up create increased noise and vibrations for adjacent homesteads. Roads leading out of Bangor Isycoed are plagued by speeding cars. Public transport services are poor. Local shop and Post Office in Bangor Isycoed at risk of closure, creating further isolation for those without their own transport.

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

Working with the Community Council to explore the location of flashing speed alerts at hotspots. Re- examine plans, developed around 10 years ago, to re-route traffic off the A525 to the North of Bangor Isycoed.

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

Investigate support for local shop/post office through Community Development Loan Funds

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

Closer integration of health and social care budgets. Develop social enterprises with the Council as main Trustees, taking back control of domicillary and residential care support. Social Enterprises are a more flexible business model which can raise funds from different sources and reinvest any surpluses to keep care services affordable to all.

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

The priority is to raise school standards across Wrexham Borough, not just for the few but for all. Fully supporting the teaching profession and empowering them to give our young people the best start in life. As councillors we need to go out and listen to teachers and hear what they need to excel in their jobs. We need to be collaborating closer with local colleges to improve the choice and uptake of apprenticeships.

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

The Labour group in Wrexham Council have worked hard to develop plans for the Groves School site as a centre for skills and lifelong learning. We need to provide our young people opportunities to learn skills which will keep them in employment and our local economy vibrant. I am passionate about lifelong learning opportunities for adults throughout their lifetime, and the Groves site could become a Centre of Excellence.

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 Council should now be taking a lead from Flintshire and starting to build social housing. In Wrexham there is no Local Development Plan in place, with developers continuing to build for profit, paying lip service to the creation of ‘affordable housing’. Siting of housing would carefully be considered in a new Development Plan.

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?

I understand this service is contracted out and implemented in a draconian manner. Labour have pointed out that the delivery needs to follow the National Guidance which allows for some discretion.

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

Having watched the webcasts of Council meetings, the current Executive Board system far to readily shuts down debate and discussion. Democracy works for the public good if there is discussion and debate, so if the Wrexham economy, schools, housing and public services are to become the best they can be, we need more transparency, discussion and debate at the very heart of local Government.

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 change my allegiance, I am Labour.

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?

Starting at the heart of Wrexham Council, savings could be made by reducing the Executive Board from 10 to 8 members. Although elected members remuneration is set independently, there lower tiers which could be adopted creating more savings. The Labour Group have created an alternative budget, introducing Street Works Permit Schemes which could generate income. Creating social enterprises to deliver health and social care in the long term would reduce costs as profits would be re-invested back into the services rather than into the pockets of private owners.

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

Street Works Permit Schemes ‘Reactive’ Works Budget.

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?

Since the development of Eagles Meadow, the Town Centre has been hollowed out, leaving little to attract visitors. The Masterplan needs to move forward NOW, with the same enthusiasm and dedication given to Eagles Meadow project.

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?

Visit locations around the Ward on a rotational basis, schools, community centres. I will be contactable through email, post, facebook.

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?

The Library/Arts Centre in Wrexham have always held some amazing exhibitions which are important for cultural life. However the business plan for the proposed Arts Hub would be a financial millstone for the Council, which it can ill afford.

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 think working with Welsh Government to undertake a full review of the situation. In particular I think the controversy surrounding the Student flats needs clarification with Wrexham Council demonstrating transparency and fairness throughout the process.

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?

Important to work closely with partners and businesses through the Town Centre Forum.

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 are the result when things go wrong. Important to develop good working relationships with residents, businesses and housing officers to resolve issues before they become out of control.

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

Schools, colleges and university to provide clear information on the dangers. Get clear legislative guidance to tackle this issue.

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 should lead by example, and reduce their remuneration to a lower level. Introduce leasing of Ipad’s. Councillors to pay for 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?

Where the Council is losing money running public services, I think they should consult with the local community and explore the option of a Trust or Social Enterprise. The council should provide initial support to help the service become self-financing.

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

The Council is bi-lingual and needs to support opportunities for those who want to learn Welsh, or need to improve their skills.

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?

This is an important cornerstone of our democratic process, and provides scrutiny. If there is funding from Welsh Gov. then yes it would be good to extend to other 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 am 63 years young, female and have a wealth of experience working at grass-roots with charities and community groups. I have also worked for a short time in local government, so have experience of policy development and how that translates into effective outcomes (or not), for those on the receiving end of public services. I would like to see schools and colleges engaging their students in issues around civic rights and responsibilities, in preparation for adult life as a citizen.

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?

Out and about, taking to people, finding out what matters to them. Whether I win or not, I will still be a committed member of the Labour Party, Women’s Officer, and secretary of the Maelor Branch, encouraging members to discuss and debate issues and help shape the Labour Party.

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

I believe that if you care about people and communities and can do something positive about it, you should. Over the past 7 years the Tory/Conservative Government have implemented austerity budget cuts which have adversely affected every Local Council the length and breadth of the country. I believe these cuts are political and not an economic necessity. Budget cuts have impacted most severely on those in our communities who are the most vulnerable. Yes, local councils have difficult choices to make with continuing cuts to their budgets, but a Labour controlled council would be more imaginative and compassionate, defending public services which help bring some dignity to vulnerable people's lives.

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