Statement of Graham Anthony Rogers

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

Dear Elector,

Many within Hermitage have known me as your Labour Councillor representing you the electorate since my election victory in May 2012. My commitment in 2012 was to make the ward of Hermitage a more viable and vibrant place to reside in, anyone wishing to get their foot on the property ladder Hermitage is the ideal place in setting up a home.

The experience I have gained over the last five years along with twenty two years of being a Full Time Trade Union Officer of AMICUS and eighteen years of being a Senior Shop Steward in the Steel industry gives me a distinct advantage of being able to represent any matters that are brought to my attention, I am the best person to carry out the role of both County and Community Councillor and I have the ability to listen, debate and deliver on important matters that affect everyone within the ward young and old alike. I am approachable, a good listener and I trust you will agree I am more than capable of taking up your concerns. I am a straight talking person who will work to the bitter end in resolving any issues big or small that are brought to my attention.

I have been a member of the Labour Party for many years and agree with the values of the party. This election is about local issues that affect the lives of the public of Hermitage and the wider County Borough.

** Please vote to re-elect myself on the 4th May to continue my unfinished work in Hermitage. **

Kind Regards and Best Wishes
Graham Rogers

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)

There are many issues that are raised with myself by ward residents, I shall list a few, these being anti social behaviour, dog fouling, selling of drugs (which are blatantly seen by some residents), misuse of alcohol and the associated problems this causes, litter is another issue which concerns myself and everyone, untidy gardens etc. The aforementioned are just a few examples of the frustrations that are raised by residents, I have and will continue in my efforts if re-elected in making the ward of Hermitage a more vibrant and viable place for all and it would be helpful with your assistance in achieving my ultimate goal.

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

I have continuously worked with North Wales Police and third parties such as CAIS, Communities First, Youth Workers and have had successes, if elected I shall continue in my efforts in working with these organisations in trying to achieve a zero tolerance approach. To achieve this I will require your assistance and co-operation of achieving the standards for the benefit of all in Hermitage.

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

If I was re-elected I would continue in my efforts to support local businesses within Wrexham which will include close partnership such as Community Development Credit Unions, Development Banks and Workers’ Cooperatives, assistance with business rates if achievable, voluntary organisations and the third sector, you will have in your possession the Labour commitment which includes the manifesto that is our promise to the electorate of Wrexham.

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

I think Adult Social Care in Wrexham should be funded through collaboration with other local councils the integration of Health and Social Care budgets ensuring the needs of the ageing population and vulnerable are met.

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

I think the most urgent thing in the power of Councillors would be to concentrate on the local education system to raise education standards across Wrexham Borough provide the support that teachers and to introduce a programme of recruiting teachers by achieving the Welsh standard of education that is recognised by the Senedd.

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

The building and site is in a prime location, on the edge of the town, to develop a centre for skills and lifelong learning which will inevitably lead onto increased footfall into the town centre during the day, a win-win situation for all. Much of this however is dependent upon a strong partnership with both Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr University in order to develop plans for the future.

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?

With the growing population predicted in Wrexham there will be a requirement for additional houses. Owing to their not being a Local Development Plan in place, Wrexham is in danger of being over-run by poorly thought out profit-driven developments with little regard for the needs of existing residents in terms of things such as parking, schools and health care provision. It is envisaged the housing requirement will be in the region of 8300 new homes. Two local sites have been identified one on Ruthin Road and one on Cefn Road these are in the early stages, if both sites should come to fruition this adds up to around 2,400 new homes. However it is imperative that any developments that are built include sufficient new social housing and affordable properties to meet the needs of people living in Wrexham along with sufficient new infrastructure such as schools, GP surgeries, play areas etc.

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?

In all my previous newsletters I have made reference to dog fouling and requesting the assistance of residents within Hermitage to ensure the ward becomes a cleaner place to reside in, I have frequently requested the involvement of Kingdom Security to address this vile practice. It is important that enforcements are carried out in a fair and ethical way for all, and the Council needs to review the present contract in situ which expires in 2019 the current enforcement providers and to ensure that they follow the National Guidelines, as other enforcement bodies have, rather than unfairly targeting some people as is currently happening.

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

The current board system works well in other councils across Wales and could be made to work well in Wrexham if it were led in such a way as to promote open, fair and honest debate with full democratic and accountable processes. Unfortunately this is not happening at the moment. I would question a politically balanced system. Furthermore I would like to see a reduction of the present ten executive board members down to eight thus allowing savings to be used in maintaining current services.

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 do not condone what happened in 2014 when ten Labour Councillors were elected on a Labour ticket who then chose to change their allegiance and continue as Independent councillors. I condemn such a practice and in these circumstances by-elections should have taken place. You can be assured I will not be changing my political allegiance having been a long-time supporter of the Labour Party.

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?

I would be looking at collaborating with other local authorities, organisations and the Third Sector by working together in providing services such as Adult Social Care, Day Care, Housing and Highways etc. – by maintaining and improving the level of service provided to the residents of Wrexham whilst benefitting from savings that can be made through economies of scale.

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

Much of the potential for growth and revenue creation has been outlined within our ‘Alternative Budget’ which despite going through the recommended internal processes of costing and approval were thrown out by the last administration without thought or consideration of the savings that would have benefited the public of Wrexham. For consideration these included areas such as Councillors to pay for the parking of their vehicles when attending Councils meetings or Non Council meetings, contribute towards the cost of IPADs a saving of £41,000 per annum, reduction of two Executive Board seats a further saving of £50-60,000 and the introduction of ‘street works permit scheme’ giving additional monies to administer other potential revenue streams and working with local neighbouring authorities on shared projects therefore enabling both savings and budget generation.

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?

The Town Centre Masterplan is an aspirational document and if fully implemented it would bring much needed footfall and business back to the town centre. The town centre is the focal point of much in Wrexham and it is something we should be proud of. The future shape of the Town Centre relies heavily upon not just the Council but current and future businesses identifying it as a place which is open for business. This projection needs to involve current businesses, the Town Centre Forum, all departments of the Council, North Wales Police, service deliverers, agencies and Welsh Government working together to develop a Plan which takes everyone on a journey to improve the town centre for all.

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 have over the last five year term communicated on important issues within the Borough and my commitment if re-elected will be to continue and to communicate with all residents in Hermitage on ward issues. I have held and would continue to hold surgeries in the ward, throughout my five years I have personally hand delivered a newsletter to all properties three/four times per annum.

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?

I do not agree with how the council have chosen to proceed with the Arts Hub. The current business plan developed to support the introduction of the Arts Hub within Wrexham has been consistently challenged by the Labour Group within the Council. The current projected costs for its introduction, development and continuation will be a significant challenge for the council to realise at a time of continual budget pressures and could ultimately have a significant impact on other services. The answer to this is the development of a ‘not for profit’ Trust who would be better placed to achieve continued funding via external sources and not to the detriment of other services.

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 am sympathetic to the situation that the Club has been through. Due to austerity the council are not in a position to offer direct financial support. However the club is a great asset to the town and wider area and should be supported as much as possible to help further developing and the hosting of events, campaign for the return of both football and rugby internationals and to assist in any reasonable way to ensure the return back to the glory days of the past.

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 night time economy and how it is managed is the responsibility of all partners. This includes local pubs, clubs, restaurants and fast food outlets as well as statutory bodies like the police and the council. If there is not a coherent partnership approach to the challenges and demands that it brings then less people will feel safe or encouraged to attend. All of this however needs to be balanced with the needs of both local residents and those businesses that operate during the day. Wrexham council has a clear responsibility to ensure that all partners sign up to and accept their due responsibilities in the management of the town centre. Future developments could and should come out of the development of the Business Improvement District as specified within our manifesto.

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?

The issues within Wrexham Town Centre are of significant concern and need a robust plan of action to address them. The plan needs to ensure that concerns of local residents and visitors to the town centre are both heard and responded to. By initiating the PSPO’s the Council is reacting to the issues, and merely dispersing the problem from public view and not looking at the root causes. During many public meetings that have been held to enable the concerns of residents to be heard I was struck by the words of the Chief Constable of North Wales Police who stated quite categorically that we cannot arrest our way out of social problems, what we do need to do is engage all partners in identifying solutions to ongoing problems in a speedy and effective way. Given the problems identified within the town centre are very much of a national concern, simply excluding people is not the answer. The use of PSPO should be viewed as very much a last resort when all other attempts have been exhausted.

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

I have seen for myself on many occasions in the town centre the condition people find themselves in when taking such psychoactive substances. Until such time as these substances are properly recognised and controlled they are going to cause huge issues for us all. Given that the problems identified within the town centre are very much of a national concern, simply excluding people is not the answer. A small number of individuals who continue to use such substances cause a great deal of anxiety for all and the use of the PSPO should be viewed as very much a last resort when all other attempts have been exhausted.

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 strongly believe that councillors should be paid for the work they do but it should be commensurate to the commitment they give and not as has happened in Wrexham where excessive payments have been made to a small number of members. In this time of austerity senior members pay should reflect reducing budgets and be paid at the lowest level on the scale. They could also consider leasing their own equipment such as I Pads etc.

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?

The responsibility for funding and running this amenity now lies within the third sector. Plas Madoc is an important amenity not just to the people of the Plas Madoc but of the surrounding areas as well. As such the council should give its full support to the trust running the centre to ensure its continuity for the many people that use and rely on it Whilst not giving any guarantees as to any future council spending I believe this should include financial support if required and available.

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

I believe in freedom of choice and if people wish to encourage wider use of Welsh Language across Wrexham then I fully support this.

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?

In short my answer is yes as I am member of Planning Committee and I do express my views openly and honestly for all to see, furthermore I believe in democracy, transparency and accountability of the council for all to witness. Additionally the current Executive of the council changed the timings of council meetings making it much more difficult for working people to attend, participate on important matters that affect the everyday lives of the public of Wrexham. If it is in my power if re-elected I will endeavour to get the existing times reversed back to 6 pm thus allow greater public participation in persons at 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?

As a member of the Labour Party it is good to see that we have 39 candidates standing throughout the County Borough. These candidates are diverse in age, gender and experience and all contribute to the development of policy and our manifesto. I fully support this and will continue to encourage people of all backgrounds, ages and experience to get involved in local issues.

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 worked to enhance the ward with regards to the disposal of litter and the continuation of grass cutting etc. I have close working relationship with the area supervisors and have full admiration for them all in supporting cooperating with myself for the benefit of the residents of Hermitage, if re-elected you have my assurance that I shall continue to work very closely with members and supervisors of the Community Payback Team.

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

I have nothing more to add other than I hope the people of Hermitage will have realised the efforts and work I have done for the ward during my current term of Office. We all want Hermitage to be the place we are all proud of. I am seeking your support on the 4th May for re-election as the Labour Councillor for Hermitage for a further term. Thank you for taking the time to read this and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss anything with me.

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