Statement of Nathan Brookfield
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
I am a local young man hoping to make a positive impact on my local area and Wrexham town.
I have lived on Borras Road for my entire life and attended Borras Park Community Primary School and Rhosnesni High School.
My dad is Wrexham through and through; he worked for Tetra Pak for many years and is now employed at JCB. My mum is a civil servant, working for the Department of Work and Pensions in the Job Centre building in Wrexham.
I am proud to have been selected as the Welsh Labour candidate for the Borras Park ward. The Wrexham Labour Party has fielded a great group of candidates. Our bold manifesto for the town will deliver the much needed positive change.
Thank you for taking the time to read my profile and my answers the questions put to me by Wrexham.com. Whatever your views going in to the local election please make sure that you get to your polling station and vote on 4th May, your vote matters.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who have already pledged their support to me, I am most grateful.
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 Borras Park Ward was has a primary school at either “end”. Traffic and speeding can create unnecessary dangers. Minimalizing both is a key for the safety of pedestrians, particularly young children in the area. The number of places in both of the primary schools is not currently meeting the demand. This needs to be addressed, wherever possible children should be attending the school most local to them. With the contracts of the two GPs in the Borras Park Surgery coming to an end, ensuring that that the important services provided to many in the ward by the surgery are protected is paramount. The community police force in the area doing a good job, but are overstretched. The safety and security of people and property within the ward needs to be assured.
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 ensure that safety of pedestrians near the primary schools is always on the agenda, under ongoing review to ensure that the most suitable, cost-effective and safe measures are in place. Primary school places are not an issue limited to the Borras Park area. Across the town this is a problem. Via consultation, long term solutions need to be sought and actioned. The solution to the resignation of the GPs in the surgery is to employ replacements. Whilst this is not as easy as it sounds, my understanding is that all services will remain as they currently are, I will fight to ensure that this is the case. With regards to the community police force, the first step is to ensure that further cuts to the Council’s budget do not have any detrimental effect on the force. It is then to establish where further public security measures can be put into place, whether this be another body on the PCSO team, CCTV or incorporation of the crime-prevention systems seen in other areas of the town.
3. As a councillor and as a member of the council what would be in your power, and your priority, to help local businesses?
As a Councillor, I will support local businesses in the area surrounding the ward. Where possible, I will push to ensure that there are not vacant commercial properties in the area that could be benefiting and providing services to the community. As a member of the council, developing the town centre will be the priority. I do think that the current Masterplan has some very positive policy that will serve the town well once we see it implemented. However, the key now is ensuring that the plan is actioned, that the area is made as attractive as possible to investors and that we actively seek the investment that will help revitalise the town, particularly the “town centre area”. Another priority for me will be to ensure that the third sector organisations that do such great work for the people of the town have sufficient funding to keep providing their services.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
The Labour Party in Wrexham proposes pooling the budgets for Health and Social care. It is just as important that there is space in the hospital for people as it is for there to be the necessary care ready for them upon discharge. This is not always the case at present and needs to be addressed. We should also be engaging with and utilising fully the not for profit organisations and social enterprises that can help in this area.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
We need to support local schools and teachers in raising the standard of education provided across Wrexham. I am grateful for the education that I have received from the local system and I want to be a part of ensuring that the people are getting the best possible education across the spectrum The oversubscription of Primary School places is a problem in the Borras Park ward and in many other areas of the Borough. The need for additional spaces needs to be addressed and is something that I will pursue if elected.
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
The vast majority of the current Groves school site has been unused for years, before and after the partial demolition. The site is in a central location and should be occupied, providing something positive for the people of Wrexham. The opportunity has not been embraced by the Council to date and this is disappointing. The Wrexham Labour Party proposes to develop the current Groves site into an Education Centre for Skills and Lifelong Learning. This will be a part of a long term plan to improve the skills and economy in the town. We will do everything we can to ensure that people of all ages in all walks of life have the facilities to develop themselves.
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?
A Local Development Plan needs to be put in place urgently. Developers should not be able to build in the town for a profit without concern for community needs. Whilst there are many factors to consider and subject to the next year or so, on top of the current plans in place approximately 4000 houses will need to be built in Wrexham between 2018 and 2028. We need to ensure that the houses are spread across the ward with social housing and affordable housing should be high on the list of priorities.
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?
The current Council decided to contract a third party to be responsible for fining people for dropping litter in the town. In a recent article on Wrexham.com it was detailed that “In the first six months of the pilot scheme more than 3,200 fines were issued, worth £263,475. In comparison, only 43 fines were issued by the council in 2015-2016”. Whist we want our town to be clean and tidy, some of the reported scenarios in which people have been fined for dropping litter are ludicrous. We need to deal with litter and dog fouling, but these should not be used as streams of income exploited from local people’s pockets. The third party contracted to issue the fines should be following the national guidance on the issues (as the police and council’s own enforcement team do), not fining people for dropping something without even giving them the chance to pick it up. The contract between the Council and the third party needs to be amended in order that the sensible approach is adopted.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
The Executive Board system allows for decision to be made more quickly, if utilised properly I believe it is the best system. The system can be seen to be working very well in other Welsh Local Authorities. In order for the system to be utilised fully, there needs to be proactive debate. The views of the people and all councillors need to be taken into account. The Lead Member on all issue needs to ensure that this is the case on all issues.
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 political allegiance. In the event of a Councillor defecting from a political party during their term, a by-election is the logical next step in the interests of the constituents who voted for that person as a candidate representing that party. There should be no alternative in the Councillor’s mind to 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?
I think I share the views of many people in that there needs to be serious consideration given to whether the contracted third parties and consultants engaged by the council are entirely necessary. We need to engage the talent that exists on the council, the third sector and community councils to make the most of the great people and organisations at our fingertips and also deepen savings. I am also of the opinion that some of the senior salaries on the council are excessive and would call for these to be reviewed.
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
The Wrexham Labour Party put an Alternative Budget to the council in February. The reduction of Executive Board members, leasing of iPads, councillors paying for car parking and the introduction of a Street Work Permit Scheme are some of proposals for generating revenue. The council have already made many cuts. Increasing and creating revenue streams is potentially much better for the town
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 Masterplan is aspirational and we all hope that over the next decade Wrexham town centre will improve. In terms of attracting business, particularly larger companies, we need to ensure that there is demand. Via clear consultation with the public, we can create evidence of gaps in our town centre market and show the retailers that there is demand for their goods and services. Too often premises have been occupied by retailers to only then disappear within a short period of time – this not good for our town centre economy from an inward or outward perspective. I will work hard with Lesley Griffiths AM to ensure that the voice of Wrexham is heard loud and clear in Cardiff after such mute voices of the Tory- Independent ruled council. My future vision for Wrexham is for the town to truly shine as the hub of North Wales
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 regular surgeries to hear the concerns of the people in the ward. I will be a visible presence in the ward and consult the people on the issues pertaining to the ward and the town as a whole. I will publish regular newsletters, keeping the residents of Borras Park informed.
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 am of the view that the Arts Hub plan has not been managed correctly. The amount of money that will provided by the council over the next ten years is excessive when considering the cuts that have been implemented in other areas. If elected, I will support the movement of the plan in to a Trust with a view to attracting external funding. I think that events like FOCUS Wales and WreXfest are great for the town. I am excited for this year’s festivals. I think that more events should be staged in the town showcasing local talent. However, the council need to ensure that their priorities are correct and if elected I will voice this viewpoint strongly.
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 club is close to my heart. For many years during my childhood I had a season ticket and would be at the Racecourse every other week with my dad, inspiring a passion for football and our local team. I continue to go and watch the team home and away when I can, I have a good feeling about next season! The fan owned model is great and gives the club the security that it needs after the events of recent years. The money raised in the takeover clearly demonstrated how much the club means to our community. I believe that a strong relationship between the trust and the council is extremely important and if elected I would look to improve this relationship. I believe that Wrexham council should support the Welsh Assembly Government in an open and transparent review of the Wrexham Village situation. Firstly, it needs to be confirmed what (if any) options are available to the club to pursue. Like many, I feel as though the club has been cheated.
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?
Whilst studying at Coleg Cambria I was employed in a bar in the town centre. The nightlife in the town offers a great way for young people to earn an income and learn valuable social and business skills. There is also a somewhat surprising amount of opportunity for progression. I believe that it is for the businesses to ensure that they are meeting the demands of the people. The safety of those out in the town should be the council’s priority. By listening and engaging with the town centre forum, local police force and the great volunteers that can be seen around the town at weekends, we can do our best to ensure this. The Wrexham Labour Party proposes introducing a Business Improvement District to Wrexham town centre. Obviously this would require consultation with the businesses in the town centre, but I believe this could have a very positive effect of the safety and appearance of the night time economy which would in turn serve to improve services and footfall.
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 PSPOs in place were necessary. They will not solve the root causes of the problems and will not stop them from happening in the future. I believe that in most cases, there is a reason that people are sleeping rough or intoxicating themselves beyond self-control on a daily basis that can be addressed. We need a plan in place to ensure that the support services are in place and that these people are directed to these services. The only way to do this is to listen to those causing the anti-social behaviour, along with those in the third sector and healthcare industry and ensure that we are providing what is required.
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
Ideally, I think that a UK-wide campaign is necessary on these substances. The problem is not exclusive to Wrexham. Social media and public concern has highlighted the problem in Wrexham which can be seen as positive, as there is a definite eagerness to address it. It can be seen from the media that places like Manchester are also suffering from the effects of these substances. Perhaps I am being optimistic in suggesting a UK-Wide campaign, but this is something that I would lobby our council to support or even spearhead if elected. At minimum, a regional approach across North Wales is required; Wrexham can no longer be seen as a centre for taking these substances. Education and research from medical experts and health professionals needs to be obtained and publicised. This should then be included in the PHSE framework in secondary schools.
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 represent the people that elected them and should lead by example. As I have mentioned previously, councillors should pay for parking in the town centre like everybody else. The iPads should be leased to councillors to add a revenue stream. Senior salaries should reflect the period of austerity and be paid at the lowest level and the Executive Board should be reduced from 10 to 8 senior salary portfolio holders.
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 Plas Madoc Leisure Centre was losing around half a million pounds per year under the council In situations like this one, where council services are being taken over by Community based Trusts or Social Enterprises, the council need to be supporting the services in their start up period to ensure that the service is maintained. It is certainly not a solution to abolish services provided to the people of the town to save money, the priority should be the continuation of the services. However, with the current financial strains the options need to be explored, I believe that there will almost always be a solution in situations like the one in Plas Madoc and I am glad for the people in the area that the Leisure Centre remains open.
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 Welsh language is a key part of our heritage. Whilst the language is not as prevalent in Wrexham as many other parts of the country, it is important that children in primary and secondary school are taught at least the basics. Just as important is the option for children to be taught in Welsh-speaking schools, the council need to ensure that there are sufficient spaces at primary and secondary school level and this is something that I would support. I do not think that Wrexham will ever be a majority Welsh speaking town, in some ways this is unfortunate. However, ensuring that children have knowledge of the language and the options are there for children and adults alike to learn the language up to fluency is something that I would stand for.
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?
Yes, I think that all of the Council meetings should be broadcast for transparency. This is another example of a service outsourced to a third party by the Council. A review of the provisions and financing of this approach is necessary. I think that the Council should also engage with the public more via the internet. In the modern day, the majority of the population use the internet often and are connected via social media. It is often said that young people feel disconnected with politics, whether it be on a local or nationwide scale and I would like to see this change in Wrexham. Facilities for creating and signing petitions, voting on issues and consulting on matters should be offered directly by the Council and I think that the internet is the best way to engage people in this and hear the views of the people.
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?
My understanding is that I am younger than the vast majority of candidates running across the Borough. Many people that I have spoken to are glad to see a young person standing. I have a large network of friends across the town from sporting, employment and social avenues. If elected, I will do all that I can to represent the voice of young people in Wrexham.
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?
Whilst I have been delivering leaflets and speaking to people in the ward recently, I have not been as engaged with my community as would have liked to have been recently. Since leaving college, I have been getting to grips with full time employment whilst studying for and sitting exams in my spare time as part of my apprenticeship. With my apprenticeship finishing at the end of April, I feel as though this is the right time for me to fully engage with my local community and becoming a councillor is the best way to do this. I have the opportunity to represent the people in the Borras Park ward, fight for their interests and help improve our town.
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
I will be visible, committed and do the best I can for the people in the ward. I am a passionate person and my local area and town mean a lot to me. I think that I can represent a fresh perspective on issues facing Wrexham. I am eager to be a voice for our community on the council and truly believe that I have the skills to do so. I will listen to what the people have to say and act on it. It is time for change in Wrexham and you can help me make that happen. Vote for me on 4th May. Thank you. Nathan Brookfield
Social & Web links
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