Statement of Nick Stott
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
My name is Nicholas Stott (Nick ), born in Wrexham in 1962; I moved to Herbert Jennings Avenue in 1964, and have lived in or around the Acton area ever since. I attended Acton Park Primary School and then St. David’s Comprehensive (Rhosnesni High School). Herbert Jennings was a fabulous place to grow up as we had Acton Park just outside our back gate and I have loved the park and its wildlife ever since.
After school, I became an apprentice at Brymbo Steelworks and later worked at various factories in Wrexham; I now work at JCB Transmissions. During my working life, I have obtained an HNC in Mechanical Engineering and a diploma in Health and Safety.
I have always taken an interest in politics both locally and nationally and I believe that I now have the time to commit to working with the people of Acton to make Wrexham, principally Acton, a better place to live.
My interests include: rugby, walking and cycling and since retiring from playing rugby for Wrexham I now referee most weekends. My wife and daughter are both teachers and I have a keen interest in education.
Recently my daughter was made homeless along with her 2 children and although she has lived and worked in the Wrexham area all her life she was unable to obtain a council house and was forced to take a private rental in an outlying village. I have confidence that having a strong, local compassionate and enthusiastic voice representing Acton ward at council meetings and committees we can make this area a most desirable place to live.
I promise to make myself available to all the people of Acton; to listen to and represent their concerns and to be accountable for all decisions that I am involved in.
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 has been a noticeable increase in crime throughout the Acton Community Area in recent years. Incidents of burglaries and attempted break-ins to both houses and outdoor buildings such as sheds and garages has increased which is causing residents considerable anxiety. Our local primary schools are oversubscribed and demand is increasing year on year with no effort being made by the council to increase places in these schools. Parents in the area who choose Welsh medium education for their children are having similar difficulties. The GP surgeries serving the Acton Community area are struggling to cope due to recruitment difficulties and unsuitable buildings with patients having to deal with long waits for appointments. Borras surgery in particular has suffered from cramped premises and recruitment problems for a number of years.
2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?
As a Council we should be negotiating a better model for neighbourhood policing. We have a good Community Beat Team in Acton Community but the allocation of one shared PCSO is totally inadequate.. I believe that our Joint Community Council/Senior Police meetings be resumed. We need a feasible plan to increase admission places at our local primary schools. The Twenty First Century Schools program for building new schools is designed to meet projected need not current shortfalls. We need to expand local schools and increase planned places. As for the town centre parking charges must be kept low if we are to attract shoppers
3. As a councillor and as a member of the council what would be in your power, and your priority, to help local businesses?
A highly skilled and motivated workforce is a prerequisite for a vibrant high wage local economy that will stimulate jobs and growth and benefit local businesses. To achieve this we will as need to work in partnership with Coleg Cambria, Glyndwr University and the local business community to plan a training and skills strategy for the twenty first century. The Groves site could be pivotal to this project if developed as a Hub for Skills and Lifelong Learning. In our manifesto we have pledged to work with the business community to create a Business Improvement District (BID) and develop a small business Incubator Hub to help nurture and encourage local enterprise.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
Social care funding is a huge problem throughout the UK. The public service budget cuts imposed by successive Tory governments are having a devastating effect on patient care, with low level funding for social care resulting in many instances in low level care. There is a general consensus that the only long-term solution is joint social/health care funding. A Labour led Council would uphold our manifesto pledge to improve adult social care in Wrexham.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
Wrexham has the lowest education standards of the six North Wales Councils and is ranked 19th of 22 authorities in Wales for educational attainment. Statistically we should be ranked 9th of 22 Welsh Authorities. The North Wales Regional Education Improvement Service is funded by all six North Wales Authorities including Wrexham . Standards have not improved in Wrexham since this system began, in fact the decline against the rest of Wales has continued at the same rate. We need to re-examine this regional system and discover the reasons why it does not seem to be working for Wrexham. We need to liaise with and work in partnership with our schools, governing bodies and Heads if we are to reverse the current decline. If we continue along the current trajectory we could soon be ranked 22nd of 22 authorities.
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
This iconic building is important to the people of Wrexham and should be celebrated. I am delighted that it will now be preserved and hopefully become part of a new education facility that Wrexham can be proud of. The Labour group have consistently supported saving the Groves Site and we will honour our manifesto pledge to develop the Groves site as a Hub for Skills and Lifelong learning. Also the 9 Acre field which was the Grove Park Boys playing field has covenants on it restricting its use to leisure and education. These covenants should be respected and the fields should be opened up so they are available for everyone to use in their leisure time and or used for an educational playing field
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 has not had a Local development plan for five years which has made long term planning and response to housing need very difficult. The number of new houses needed in Wrexham may have to be revised depending on the outcome of negotiations with the EU. In the current housing market young people are finding it impossible to afford to buy a home of their own and the need for social housing and affordable housing in Wrexham is acute. Local development plan would outline the number, type and location of new 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?
Littering and dog fouling is wrong, however the current contractors ( Kingdom ) are not complying with national guidelines, and are applying draconian methods against people like young mothers who drop till receipts while struggling with shopping and babies. Fines for dog fouling offences are a small fraction of prosecutions, the majority of which appear to be for discarding cigarette butts and small paper items. Dog fouling continues to be a major source of concern across Wrexham, which appears to indicate that the current enforcement system is not effective. Simpler more common sense methods are more successful.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
I don’t know enough about the Executive Board system. However if a ruling group is determined to stifle debate and doesn't respect the democratic process, the opposition must hold them to account regardless of the model that is operating, even when it is difficult to affect change.
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?
This is a subject very close to my heart. If you get elected with the help of a party and then you choose to become independent of that party you should then resign from the council and trigger an election. In the mean time you should also stop taking the member's allowance until the electorate decides who should represent them. So in short, if I do become your elected representative and I did resign from the Welsh Labour Group on the council I would immediately stop receiving the member’s allowance and resign from the council triggering 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?
We appear to be reshaping front line service at speed by outsourcing and shedding staff but seem to be less motivated to make similar changes at higher levels. At a time of prolonged and increasing cuts to public service budgets by the Westminster Government, the current structure of twenty two separate authorities in Wales is becoming unsustainable. Local authorities will need to deliver services differently in future and regionalisation could be one way.
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
There needs to be a step change in senior staffing structures in Wales. We cannot afford twenty-two Senior Staffing Structures. Regional collaboration should begin with reshaping senior executive positions. Each region could have one chief executive and one senior team with front line staff working at area level. The combination of a regional overview and a pooling of skills would increase opportunities for creating revenue streams and produce economies of scale.
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 Labour manifesto sets out a clear vision for the successful regeneration of the Town Centre. We will consult the public on a comprehensive strategy for the town centre to increase footfall, improve public safety and regenerate the town. We will work in partnership with the Town Centre Forum and the business community to create a more vibrant town and evening economy. We will ensure our town centre is well kept, attractive and a desirable place to visit.
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?
If I was to be elected as your representative I would attend and contribute to any meetings in the area to which I was invited. I would hold regular surgeries for residents to discuss their issues. I will also be able to be contacted through email, phone, Twitter and in person. I have a huge amount of energy and will make it my mission to find out the issues within the ward and hold the departments responsible accountable
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 Business Plan for the Arts Hub is repeatedly challenged by Labour Councillors. It is reliant on 10 years revenue funding of £120K and we believe it will also need between £80-£200K in subsidies from the Council each year for the next 10 years. The Council have yet to find a Trust to run this facility and consequently it will be difficult to access external Arts funding. We could well see vital Council services cut to fund this on-going project. Many small-scale community arts projects could be funded for a fraction of the price of this Facility.
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?
The work of the Wrexham Supporters’ Trust has been critical in securing the future of the Club and has saved it from continual asset stripping by a succession of owners. The Labour group believe Wrexham Council can play its part by developing a positive working relationship with the Trust to support their work and the future viability of 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?
The Night Time economy brings both benefits and social and residential issues and the balance has to be right. It is essential that there is a working partnership between the Council, Businesses and the Town Centre Forum in order to avoid increased antisocial behaviour and crime. It is important to balance the competing needs of the Night Time Economy, the residents and the public sector.
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?
There are considerable difficulties in the areas where the two PSPOs are in place. These problems are complex and inter-related and it is highly unlikely that they will be solved by this single initiative. There needs to be an inter-agency approach, which will tackle prevention of antisocial behaviour rather than just intervention and prosecution
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
These substances pose a serious risk particularly for young people who take them. They are not regulated or tested and their long-term physical and psychological effects are unknown. Prevention is the best option and multi-agency working would be a possible way forward.
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?
Councillor’s Allowances ( Pay ) in my opinion are too high and if elected I will donate 20% of the allowance to charity. The iPads should either be replaced with an equivalent Android device or if that is not possible should not be renewed. I will not claim for any additional allowance. There are 10 members of the Executive Board who all receive additional allowances on top of the one given to all councillors this number should be reduced from 10 to 8 as recommended by the Welsh Labour Group. As a final though on this subject Guildhall parking passes should be paid for by members of the council there is a cost to supplying them why should the electors cover this cost.
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 funding and running of leisure facilities should be an integral part of the Health improvement agenda. In cases where Community based Trusts or Social Enterprises are taking over council services, they should be supported during their start-up phase. The Council should be looking at longer term saving but the priority should be the continuation of the service.
22. What actions would you take, or support, as a councillor to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
Welsh medium education is very successful and popular in Wrexham but as in the English primary sector, demand for school places exceeds supply. There is also a shortage of Welsh speaking school staff at all levels. We need a joined up approach to Welsh medium primary school demand. Adult courses for learning Welsh are very popular and should be encouraged by employers as a valuable workplace skill.
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 believe that Webcasting of all meetings is goal and would greatly enhance accountability. However serious investment will be required to ensure the success of this and I would support its introduction as a priority
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?
The council is made up of as said above by older males, this is unacceptable in this day and age and there needs to be from a more diverse cross section. If I am elected I would happily pass on all the lessons I have learnt during this campaign to anyone who is interested irrespective of gender or age. I will also try to persuade the other members of the council to alter the times of meetings and extend the Guildhall opening times which might encourage more diversity in member representation
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?
If I am elected as your representative I will work hard to ensure that your voice is heard by all levels. I am passionate about the area and will work hard to make it slowly evolve in line with the needs of the 21st century whilst not changing the feel of Acton.
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
The people of Acton feel like they’re not being heard, it’s time for fresh ideas. I have lived in or around Acton my whole life and it is massively important to me. I have integrity and a lot of energy that I will use to make your views heard. All of your issues matter to me whether it is the state of the roads, pavements or street lights I will fight to put these right. Wrexham Council need regeneration and representatives who will fight for their corner. I will be on hand and available to help you with your issues I would be very grateful if you choose to let me represent you at the local election. Thank you Nick Stott
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