Statement of Timothy Edward Hodkinson

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

My name is Tim Hodkinson. I was brought up on Telford Avenue, Trevor estate and went to Garth School. I then went to Ysgol Dinas Bran, Llangollen and left at age 18 after completing a BTEC National in Business and Finance. At the age of 14 I started my volunteering by calling Bingo numbers at the local community centre and got a buzz out of meeting people and the knowledge that I was able to support the club to keep going.

At 18 I got a job at the Wild Pheasant Hotel, Llangollen where I did housekeeping, portering, waiting on, bar work and office work. During this time I also worked a Monday-Friday 9-5 Job at Bryn Melyn Garage in the office for around 5 months. Although hard work and low pay £1.30 an hour back in 1994 I learned a lot and set up a good work ethos.

During 1996 I got a new job working in Rhosymedre for a new Community Regeneration Project which was a partnership with Dee Valley Family Project and the Council. The job was part-time Monday to Friday and I was appointed as an Admin Assistant. I also volunteered as Clerk to the Governors to Cefn Mawr Primary School and Acrefair Primary School (the remuneration for this was £60 per annum for each school). By 1997 I was employed by Wrexham Council who took responsibility for the Regeneration Project and went upto Full-Time as an Admin Assistant.

In 2002 I was promoted to Community Development Worker and in 2012 as a Business Advisor with the Council across many different areas in Wrexham where I have worked in Cefn Mawr, Ruabon, Coedpoeth, Gwersyllt, Bersham, Town Centre and Wrexham Industrial Estate spanning loads of different projects.
ie. Development of Cefn Enterprise Centre, Project Management aspects of Cefn High Street, Implementation of European projects in West Wrexham, Project Management of Plas Kynaston Field Project, Manager of Coedpoeth Enterprise Centre, Support to friends of Ruabon Group and developer of Wrexham Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, working with Small Medium Enterprises to navigate support, working with numerous Social Enterprises/community groups.

From 2005 – 2008 I completed my accountancy qualification in Coleg Cambria (Yale College).

I was an active part of the Labour Party from around 1996 till around 2005, and over the last 12 years I have voted for the person that would get the job done. Our existing Councillor Pat Jeffares has done a fantastic job for last 18 years and I am of the believe that he could not have done the good he has achieved if it were not for the fact that he is independent. In Politics I usually vote for the best person for the job, ie. For Police Commissioner I voted For Arfon, not because he was Plaid because I felt he was more qualified for the job. For assembly elections I voted for Aled Roberts not because he was Liberal because he would have stuck up for the people of Wrexham.

I do believe that independents can stand up for the people of Wrexham not a political party who dictate what you can and cannot do.

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)

sorry i cheated here a bit but highways is a massive issue here: Speeding on A5 in Fron is an issue, these include commercial vehicles that speed through village when crossing the road; Public Transport is very poor in the Garth area all the time and is very unfair to our older residents that live on the the top of a very steep road which spans around 2 miles to the top point; Evening transport is very poor for a lot of areas in South Wrexham, its like chicken and egg, we want footfall for evening economy but don't have the affordable infrastructure to get people there. Road Infrastructure cannot cope to get to Trevor Basin Car park, people are constantly trying to park in the small car park which is making it lethal as a constant fight for right of way as cars loop back and to over the bridge. Broadband speeds are an issue for some, eg. I get around 2 meg and cannot stream a you tube music video without it buffering.

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 bring community together to address the issue. Flag issue up with Ken Skates Constituency and ask local policing teams (Wrexham Rural) to monitor the issue. The community could potentially use one of the community speed guns. I would push for a solution, even if it means looking at a community transport solution. It is not acceptable that we should leave our communities isolated. I would look at what peoples needs are for evening transport and look at matching a solution. We need better signage (electronic) that says Trevor basin car park full please use alternative. I know that double yellow lines are coming soon for rest of parking issues on road that I will not take credit for. I would push Ken Skates office to push Openreach for a speedy resolution. Superfast Broadband Wales has had a multi-million budget and action needs to be taken for the sake of our residents and 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?

In my role of business advisor I had dealing with many Small Medium Enterprises (SME); there is a lot of support lacking from Welsh Government Programmes. These programmes only support growth businesses. In 2016 Wrexham had 9515 businesses (source Stats Wales) which employ 47,800 people in Wrexham. Of these 8,760 are micro businesses which account 14,700 jobs (included in overall figure) and these are the businesses that often get over looked for support. These businesses will be finding hard to access finance and to pay the rent and support should be important. Filling vacancies is a challenge for some businesses and training for our young people is priority. Again Transport to get to jobs is important.

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

Social Care funding is dictated by Welsh Government charging policy via the Social Services and Well Being Act that we would have to adhere to. I take it that we talking about elderly care? By adding charging onto council tax it is tax rises by the back door. There needs to be a grown up dialogue how we address this issue not only on a local basis, but on a Wales and UK level. With reference to Learning Disability, Mental Health, PSNI I think that Social Enterprise can play a fantastic role. People that we Support should be seen as assets and have a great deal to offer our communities. This adds a positive dynamic to the community and can also support groups and community assets to stay open.

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

The most urgent thing is to map out opportunities for our young people. Some may want to go out to university but others will need opportunity to access apprenticeships and young people need to be made aware of what skills they need for the local economy. Most local people from Llangollen Rural goto Ysgol Dinas Bran, our feeder school which is under the jurisdiction of Denbighshire Council. I would seek to establish dialogue here to ensure the needs of our local people are met.

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

Groves building should be used for education as per the covenant on the site. The building should be sympathetically repaired and incorporated as part of the estate for the new school. This would incur additional cost where additional financial support from Welsh Government should be sought.

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?

Additional Housing is required to meet demand in Wrexham. This should be on brownfield land and provision should be need for extra capacity at GP's, schools. It should be a mix of affordable housing, family homes, flats. Consideration needs to be made to convert derelict properties into housing. I believe that green field land should not be developed and only considered once other options have been considered. Rural areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty will have different housing needs than urban areas and big developments could have a negative impact on smaller communities.

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?

litter -i think we were a little over zealous over handing out loads of fines for something that perhaps needed a warning first of all. Fly tipping is a massive issue and people need to be made aware that employing someone on facebook to get rid of your rubbish who subsequently dumps it could still come back on you, if they find out its your rubbish. Dog Fouling is an issue and more effort made to trace these problems. Dog poo trees are also a big problem :(

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

I think that exec board should be politically balanced. So if independent win 50% of council seats they should get 5 out of 10 exec board places. Who ever holds the power should then have the ability to name their cabinet (lead members).

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 am standing as an independent. If I switched from a non-aligned councillor to an independent group I would not expect to ask the electorate to endorse me to do this. If I switched to say plaid group I would ask the electorate and trigger bye-election. If I was sitting as a political candidate and was expelled from a party for sticking up for my area I would not expect a by-election if that person then joined the independent group.

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 is some difficult decisions to make in the future, but there are better ways to deliver some services. Using Social Enterprises to keep services going, Collaboration with other agencies and other councils to share back room services Cutting down on empty offices and letting out parts to other people (income); Incorporate departments under one roof in various communities instead of having multi-bases in same place Reducing the amount of time that council houses stay empty (supporting Housing Revenue Account) Ensuring that all services are still required and fit for purpose

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

Ask Social Enterprises or other organisation to expand their offering to retain services, they get income to sustain what they do and council makes a saving; Place other services in Local Authority Trading Company and offer services out to other companies, eg. Architectural services; Let out commercial rooms and office space surplus to requirements.

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 believe that the council has a masterplan for the Town Centre. The longer term plan is for leisure facilities, places to eat by Henblas St. However in the shorter, medium term I would encourage work and support for people to take on short term leases on places like former boots, BHS, TJ Hughes to create affordable start up space for other start up businesses to thrive. This should be again on a Social Enterprise basis. Examples of this can be found in Shrewsbury Phoenix Centre.

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 already promised to meet with my communities in Fron, Garth and Trevor to come up with an action plan to address the shared needs of the community. This would be regularly updated and shared on (assuming you would publish it for me?) :) I would attend regular community council meetings to update them on WCBC isssues Regularly meet our local community groups Regular walk about's in the community Respond to emails etc

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?

When I worked for the council colleagues and I did some support to the people's gallery in Wrexham, these are a fantastic organisation. I have concerns over the arts hub that I would raise if I were to get into office. I would like to see our area (Dee Valley) promoted to encourage more artists to paint our beautiful countryside.

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 like to get more involved in and building on Wrexham FC excellent championing of Disability Sports and they are great ambassadors to Wales and UK.

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?

As stated above improve public transport to allow people to access town in the evening; Create an environment where events can be held at night to generate footfall Encourage a safe and vibrant economy where everyone chooses their destination for leisure.

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?

Working with agencies such as health and social services to support people; increase police and pcso patrols produce opportunities for people to log concerns without reprisals

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

Education in schools Enforcement Action Support

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 would do the role at a Full Time Councillor, without the allowance I would not be able to this role to what is expected and required of me. The Ipads are supposed to be available cut down on unwanted printing, and deal with our constituents, businesses, colleagues etc. It means we can deal more quickly and the ipads are set to guard from virus and protect the council network. We as councillors are ultimately responsible for a publicly owned body with an annual budget of over £200 million per annum. An Ipad is a tool to do the job.

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?

Plas Madoc is a fantastic facility which I used for years when under the council and is a couple of wards away. As a Social Enterprise they have managed to turn around a facility that was not seen as 'financially viable' to a sustainable community facility. From a council point of view we should view that a £50,000 per annum contribution or £100,000 per annum contribution is good value for money as we are getting a fantastic deal. Its probably our cheapest commissioned leisure service and they are achieving a lot of the council plan in terms of tackling isolation, anti social behaviour, well being outcomes, reducing obesity etc. Councils across the country (not all) for whatever reason don't seem to manage their leisure portfolio very well, Either a social enterprise model or commercial model seems the only options 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?

We are governed by the Welsh Language Measures which we should adhere to from a language equality point of view. My fear that if Welsh is going to be required for more employee posts in the future with a buoyant employment market is “how can we attract the right suitably qualified candidates that can also speak Welsh to deliver quality services to the people of Wrexham”? It is hoped this short term issue can be overcome with more young people encouraged to learn and speak Welsh in Primary and Secondary Schools?

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?

It would be a good idea to expand this as technology becomes more accessible and affordable. It may also be an idea to expand to the Councils Department Management Team meetings and Operation Management Team meetings. In future it would be good if people could interact and ask questions via an online app, etc.

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?

At 41 I hope that I am not classed as old. I think we need to embrace technology more and start listening to people. There needs to be a system that the work that councillors do can fit into the council plan and that we are accountable to the people that we represent. I think that we need to remove barrier and speak to a diverse range of people and use the council staff to help us do this. I would hope if elected everyone could come to me.

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 been going around the ward speaking to people. Helping out with shopping, giving advice, helped someone with their cv, taking people to Doctor and Dentist Appointments etc. I would also help out and support people where I could even if not elected.

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

I hope I have been able to demonstrate that I am really enthusiastic about representing you and will be a strong voice on the council which I will put all of my effort into. My mini manifesto *yes to supporting businesses *yes to affordable and reliable public transport *yes to supporting our community groups *yes to supporting our younger and older people *yes to fighting for the best deal for our communities The decision is yours and I will hopefully bump into you on my travels around Fron, Garth and Trevor.

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