Statement of Jim Duffy
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
Holt Ward comprises of three distinct communities Holt, Isycoed and Abenbury their diversity makes Holt Ward a fantastic area to live, it is vibrant with a diverse range of people and businesses. If I am fortunate enough to be elected in the forthcoming local election I will work tirelessly to ensure the Holt Ward is fully represented in Wrexham. I can assure local residents of all the communities that I will advocate strongly on their behalf on issues that concern them.
As a family man I have been fortunate to have raised my children in Holt and through my grandson I see another generation benefitting from the area. I have lived in Holt for over thirty years and during this time I have actively contributed to the social well-being of Holt community life. In my spare time spanning nearly twenty years I acted as leader of Holt Youth Club for two evenings per week. This gave me an opportunity to work closely with and encourage young people in our community to develop their confidence and social skills. Through this work I got to know and became friendly with many parents, which I feel is important in a small rural community.
As a former Head of Service in Wrexham’s Adult Social Care Department, I was involved in shaping and delivering Health and Social Care Services for residents of Wrexham. I feel these services are crucial to the well-being of any community and if elected I will tirelessly advocate for them to be protected and resourced. Proper care of vulnerable people whether they be young or old is a prerequisite of any decent society.
As a rural community Holt provides a diverse range of employment, as such, it is important that local shops and businesses are fully supported and encouraged to develop services. In Holt Ward farming is an area of key employment and it is important with the advent of Brexit that farming sustainability and transitional arrangements are properly managed to protect our farming community entering a new era.
There are challenges ahead for health/social care, education, employment and training. As a local person standing in a local election my request to the people of Holt Ward is please give me a chance to represent you. If elected as a local councillor I believe I could make a positive contribution to improving local services and always do my best to represent the interests of all of Holt Ward’s communities.
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)
Issues raised with me by local people have been: • Parking problems. • Speeding on B5102 Holt to Common Wood road. • Dog fouling. • Council not listening to local people opposed to the construction of a gas fired power station on Wrexham Industrial Estate regarding the impacts it may have on their community. • Provision of local Social Care Services and how they are funded.
2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?
• Meet with local residents and businesses to clarify parking issues. Present local views to Highways Department asking them to present new options to improve parking. • Ask the Police to randomly conduct speed checks in the village and on the stretch of road to Common Wood road. Meet with Highways to look at traffic calming measures in the village and to review speed limits for Common Wood road to establish whether new limits are necessary. • See my response at q8 in regard to dog fouling. • I would advocate on behalf of all Holt Ward’s communities to ensure local resident’s voices are heard and that total transparency and honesty is applied in any planning consultations undertaken by the Council which may affect Holt Ward communities and their residents. • See my response at q4 in regard to the provision of local social care services.
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 would work closely with local businesses in Holt Ward to support them in providing services that are sustainable, secure their future, and embrace the needs of the local communities. A local community/business forum could be developed to look at local issues and how best they can they can be addressed to the mutual benefit of all. • Holt Ward is a rural area and farming is an area of key employment. It is important therefore that with the advent of Brexit farming sustainability and transitional arrangements are properly managed to protect Holt Ward’s farming industry. Farmers are entering a new era and I will ensure at the local level that their voices are heard. • Empty shop premises in Wrexham are an eyesore and damaging to the local economy. I would work with Labour colleagues to try to incentivise the use of empty buildings by keeping streets clean and tidy, addressing anti-social behaviour, working with other agencies to deal with the root cause of substance abuse.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
Several residents in my community have spoken to me about care services, the costs and the worries they have in getting locally provided and affordable care for their relatives. To address this I would pursue the following actions: • Support the Welsh Labour Government’s policy to more than double the capital people can keep before paying for residential care. • Create a fully integrated Health and Social Care Community Team, capable of providing choice and accessibility to all relevant services based on an individual’s assessed care needs and means tested on their ability to pay. • Establish a jointly agreed pooled budget for the team (NHS/Social Services) whose focus will be to provide preventative intervention and community based health and social care services. • Ensure the pooled budget is ring-fenced, devolved and managed directly by the integrated team lead.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
I cannot give single response to this question, however some key areas I will focus on for Holt Ward communities will be: • Working closely with head teachers to secure an equitable allocation of resources to support the education and development of young people in our schools. • Encouraging local businesses to work with the Council, by providing mentoring and quality work experience for our young people. • Supporting the Welsh Labour Governments policy to deliver 30 hours of free child care for working parents of three and four year olds. • Developing stronger partnerships with Glyndwr University and Coleg Cambria to enhance learning opportunities for residents of the Holt Ward. • Ongoing development of the 21st Century Schools Programme.
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
Develop the site as an education centre for life-long learning. This will require consultation with the local community to create a shared vision for improving education/training for residents 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?
After five years in power the current Council does not have a Local Development Plan in place. This is diabolical failure and can impact disproportionately on our local communities. Without a Development Plan there is the potential for developers to build for profit without concern for local community needs. Currently there is an estimated shortage of 7,500 homes in Wrexham. I would work with Labour colleagues to develop a plan across Wrexham to cover two council terms of office. My areas of focus would be: • Listening to local people’s views on housing development and conducting open and transparent consultation with local communities. The consultation would be used to feed into the Local Development Plan and be an opportunity for local communities to be fully involved in shaping future developments in their area. • Work within a mixed economy of public and private developers to ensure the full spectrum of housing needs is covered.
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 feel this is an emotive area and regardless of who provides the service it should be reviewed to ensure compliance with national guidance, which the Police work to.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
I believe in democracy and debate. The Executive Board structures works well in other authorities. My perception of the current Wrexham Council is that the balance and checks on the Executive is not robust enough. The Chair under the current arrangements stifles debate, as such I feel this role needs to be reviewed.
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 would not change my allegiance • If people change their allegiance I feel they are cheating both the party they stood for and the people who elected them. My view is they should resign and trigger 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?
• The current Council has misled Wrexham residents by suggesting they have made savings, when in effect they have introduced massive cuts to services. If savings have been made have the Council’s balances been allowed to grow to the detriment of services? As a Labour councillor I would be honest and not mask cuts as savings. I would work to find solutions to maintain and improve services/jobs and keep costs within budget. • Stop the use of consultants and use the Councils own staff to review, improve and implement service change. • My experience of consultants meeting with staff asking them for their ideas, listing the ideas and then selling staffs ideas back to the Council is ludicrous and a waste of Council money, which could be put into critical services.
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
Wrexham Labour Councillors have already suggested several revenue generating streams in the Alternative budget that was put forward to the Council in February. Unfortunately these were voted down by the current administration. I personally would like to see: • Social Enterprises created and used to develop opportunities for people. • Reduced senior member salaries on the Executive Board. • Generation of income from Councillors with them paying for parking and leasing their iPads rather than getting them for free from the Council.
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 work with Labour colleagues to consult with the public on a comprehensive strategy for Wrexham town centre that would increase trade, improve public safety and regenerate the image and wealth of the town. It is important to work in partnership with The Town Centre Forum and the business community to create a more vibrant town and evening economy.
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 will hold public surgeries and produce news letters to keep Holt Ward communities and residents up-to-date on Council issues that may affect their lives.
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 understand Labour Councillors have continuously challenged the current regime’s Leadership business plan for the Arts Hub and its reliance on 10 years of public funding requiring between £80=£200k per annum. • With public finances under pressure to maintain and improve education and social care services the current leadership has failed the Hub to establish itself as a Trust to compete independently for funds, I feel this is an area that needs to be reviewed • I personally use the Odeon Cinema, the Little Theatre and the William Aston Hall. I would like to see more concerts and outdoor theatre events taking place at the Racecourse and on the green behind the Guildhall.
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?
• Promote work with the Welsh FA to get more internationals played at the Racecourse • Explore with the Welsh FA options for creating a regional youth hub to improve Welsh football standards in North Wales. • Speak to the local community neighbouring the Racecourse to look at options for holding events to generate revenue for the club.
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?
• More support for the night time economy as part of the plan for a Business Improvement District. • Partnership work with the Police, local businesses and bars to create a safe and welcoming place for people to come and enjoy a good night out
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?
• Blatant criminal activity needs to be tackled directly by the Police. • PSPO’s are reactive and do not address the root cause of anti-social behaviour such as homelessness, unemployment and substance misuse. Seeing public places being misused by people sleeping rough, abusing alcohol or taking illegal substances is creating a public anger, which is understandable and needs to be addressed. • This needs to be tackled using a multi agency approach requiring the Police to patrol the areas designated. Health, Social Care and Housing will need to proactively deal with the root causes (drugs, alcohol abuse, homelessness) which manifest into anti-social behaviour. • As a Labour councillor I would push for a multi agency intervention and support strategy to be developed in conjunction with local businesses and residents in the communities affected by anti-social behaviours.
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
• New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) otherwise known as legal highs are having a detrimental effect, impacting on the lives of vulnerable people. It is critical that education relating to this problem is delivered by community health specialists, using an informed approach to raise awareness in schools, colleges, youth clubs, drop in centres and other community settings. • A zero tolerance strategy needs to be adopted by all agencies to tackle dealers and get drugs off our streets.
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?
• All councillors should pay for their own parking and iPads. • Senior salaries should be paid at the lowest rate and the Executive be reduced from ten to eight salaried posts.
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 current Council this facility was losing £500k per annum. In cases where community based Trusts/Social Enterprises are used to undertake Council services they should be supported by the Council during their start-up phase. • The Council should look at the longer-term savings potential such enterprises can provide, with the priority being to ensure the continuation of services.
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 would support initiatives to increase school places in Welsh medium schools for those parents and children who want to learn the Welsh language. • As a former head of service in Wrexham’s Adult Social Care Department I acted as the department’s lead officer on the North Wales regional group responsible for introducing a new client database. This entailed ensuring a bi-lingual system was one of the group’s priorities.
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?
• My answer to this is yes, as it is important the public have the opportunity to view and scrutinise how Council meetings operate. • I also believe time should be allowed for members of the public to be given a slot on the webcast to present their views. If this happened before councillors debated issues affecting communities e.g., Gas Power Stations and Prisons etc., views could be presented by the people most likely to be affected.
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?
Welsh Labour has fielded 39 candidates across the County. They 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?
I’ve recently become a community councillor; this has given me an insight of local people working for local people, regardless of the result I will continue to work actively for my community.
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
I am committed to the Holt Ward communities, one of which I’ve lived in for over thirty years. During this time I’ve raised my family and actively contributed to village life leading the local youth club and managing Holt football team. Having worked as a head of service in Wrexham County Borough Council Adult Social Care Department, I believe I have the understanding and knowledge of local government to work in the best interest of all residents of Holt Ward’s communities. I am hardworking, trustworthy and reliable and as this is a local election about local issues I believe I have the integrity and honesty to work diligently for the whole community. My request to you the residents and voters for Holt Ward is trust me and give me my first chance to serve you, as your local councillor.
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OTHER CANDIDATES FOR Holt
- Welsh Conservative Party