Statement of Joanna Kinch

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

Hello, I'm Joanna Kinch.  If you want a local girl with the experience of working within both public and private organisations; with the energy to drive positive changes for your community, then vote for me.

Growing up I attended St Mary’s & St Joseph’s Schools here in Wrexham.  Whilst at school I worked as a waitress in Llangollen, then as a Counter Clerk in Town Hill Post Office. Later, I was a PA for a giftware business in Acrefair, where amongst other things I exhibited at trade fairs around the country and was involved in exporting to America. In 1990 I returned to education at NEWI before leaving Wrexham to attend Plymouth University.

Following graduation, I lived as a tenant in a council flat within Plymouth and subsequently as a private tenant.  Whilst in Plymouth, I had a variety roles, including PA to the Head of Heritage & Leisure within Plymouth City Council before moving to a large national telecoms firm where I was involved in the legal side of getting services through the streets and pavements to serve the local community.  My final role in Plymouth before returning to Wrexham was a Procurement Coordinator at Devonport Royal Dockyard where I was responsible for procurement on multi-million pound defence projects.

10 years ago I returned to Wrexham with my husband Ralph, who is my Agent. I work as a private landlord and self-employed property developer, seeking to improve the properties and housing stock I manage for the benefit of tenants.  

Having lived in the heart of Offa for 10 years I have relevant experience as part of the Neighbourhood Watch team, and am a regular contributor to Resident Association campaigns.  I also take a keen interest in matters of local concern that come to my attention and take action where I can.

I am a committed Christian and member of Bradley Road Baptist Church, it is my desire to see positive changes in the community.  I look forward to helping make Offa a safer, cleaner and more appealing place to live, work and visit.  

This is the first time I am standing as a candidate in the UK. As an Independent I don’t see the Local Elections as a political matter as it’s more about getting work done and delivering the best for my Ward and Wrexham as a whole. However, it is a documented fact that I am a paid-up member of the Welsh Conservatives until summer this year. I joined the party in an attempt to be able to vote on the choice of our next Prime Minister following the resignation of David Cameron. I have only ever attended one party event locally, and wont be attending again. I could not stand for the party as I would not be willing to tow the party line on many issues. My political allegiance is moulded by my Christian beliefs and belief in what is best for the ward, town and country. I therefore voted out in the referendum and conservative in the general election as there were no other viable offers available at the time.

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 three big issues in the Ward. The first is the proliferation of HMOs. We have a huge proportion of the total number of HMOs in the Wrexham Borough and this has produced its own difficulties. It continues to have a significant negative impact on the ward. The second issue is the irresponsible property owners with unsafe and unfinished building sites in Pen Y Bryn on the way into town. The final big issue is St Marys School. The traffic to and from the school is a blight on the residents, causes congestion and unsustainable for the area. The new accommodation which will hopefully regenerate the area will unfortunately contribute to the problems this causes.

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

Issue 1. I would seek to work with our MP, AM and Planning Inspectorate to more effectively monitor and regulate HMOs in the private rented sector. As well as this, I would encourage Wrexham Council to copy the practices of other Councils who have been successful in putting limits on HMOs in certain areas and worked to reduce to HMOs to being them back into use as family houses. Issue 2. Regarding the unsafe and unfinished building sites, I would strongly encourage Wrexham Council to use powers within its grasp to force irresponsible developers to make their sites safe and visibly acceptable. I would also seek to negotiate with the developers a feasible work schedule to completion. Issue 3. St Mary's School I would want to work with the leadership and stakeholders of St Marys School to agree a viable alternative location in the long term and better working practices in the medium term.

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

The answer to this questions depends entirely on which committee I am on and what local businesses think they need.

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

Where care cannot be afforded by the individual, then it is clearly the responsibility of the wider community to assist. Whether this is done through general taxation or local taxation is a difficult point. Clearly the funding needs to be joined up with the NHS and other voluntary or charitable organisations providing services. Since the NHS is centrally funded, there is a strong case this should be too. However, it does need to have local accountability and management.

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

Bringing the buildings up to a decent working and decorative standard.

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

I think that Grove school site should be expanded with the addition of intelligently designed and architectural sympathetic buildings so that it can house St Josephs School. The vacant St Josephs School site could then accommodate St Mary's School. The land that St Mary's School currently stands on would then be available for more town centre accommodation of varying types.

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?

I think there should be more social housing, but it should be means tested. In addition there should be more affordable housing for the older end of the population. One site is the St Mary's School land which could lend itself to a gated community for older people giving easy access to town centre facilities. Another site is the current old WDA land on Brook Street/ St Giles Way. There is also the vacant BHS/T J Hughes site and the never built on part of Henblas Street. This area could lend itself to a mixture of monitored housing for people with difficulties as well as mixed use apartments with useful facilities on the ground floor. I'm not sure what your term volume means, but I don't agree with building on swathes of our green fields.

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 believe that the only way to deal with this is by a third party. I have seen first hand the attempts of Wrexham Council operatives and a third party certainly has a better result; however a third party should not go for the easy targets and people should be aware of the law. The law should enforced, but the details in particular with regard to dog fouling need to be crystal clear. I believe there should be leniency on first offenders, however in order for this to work there should be a Dog Licencing and DNA testing. To support these measures, the Council should introduce dog waste digester bins on the streets and in parks.

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

I am in favour of an Executive Board in principle, but think the powers should be limited to less than they are at present so that the decisions made are representative of the elected members and therefore the people.

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 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?

Off the top of my head I don't know, however the way in which the council has put options to the public in recent years has been positive.

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

If there was proper enforcement on highways issues, the council could earn a lot of money without trying, particularly with regard to double yellow lines.

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?

Cleaned up and joined up. We need to get the basics right before we start fluffing about on the periphery. Some of the answers to the question are noted above in the questions already answered.

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?

To ensure I am in touch with voters in the ward I will be available through a variety of social media links, as well as more formal methods and in person. I may, if elected and accommodation available have a weekly or fortnightly surgery. As I live and work in the ward I am out and about every day and therefore it is not easy for me to lose touch with voters.

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?

We already have the new Arts Hub in build which would not have been my choice of location or imagination. However since it is started I will support this where I can. Empty shop windows/ buildings are good opportunity for displaying local work, however this does need to be curated well and dealt with in a professional manner.

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 do not honestly believe that Glyndwr or the Football Club need me to champion them, they can champion themselves far better than I ever could.

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?

I believe some of the night time economy has a detrimental effect on the daytime economy and emergency services through self-inflicted problems. I therefore believe it is not unreasonable to ask them to contribute more to such things as street cleaning and police costs.

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?

I approve of the PSPO, however due to the lack of police presence, through no fault of there own, the PSPOs are not enforced as they should be. Anti-social behaviour if tackled early should be minimised and starts at the school gate.

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

The solution is to bring in a law to make them illegal and the supply of them illegal. People who are substance abusers often go on to use harder and more damaging substances. The real answer is to get to the root of the matter through rehabilitation services, education in school and at home. People need to be made aware of the dangers.

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 should do a professional job. In view of the amount of hours they should put in, the wage is acceptable. IPads can improve councillor efficiency and therefore providing they are used for work, the investment is worthwhile. Allowances for every Councillor should be published on an annual basis and monitored by an independent watchdog to ensure they are minimised and not being abused.

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?

I think it's better managed by a private organisation who specialise in such things and should provide heavily subsidised activities or membership on a means tested basis.

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 it is up to the Welsh speaking community to support it if they so wish. Since it is not even the second language of Wrexham, then I do not believe resources given by the tax payers should be used to promote it. I am not against the use of Welsh, it is a lovely language to listen to in verse and song, however the Welsh speaking community are well able to champion their language further.

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 would be happy to see the webcasting system rolled out to cover all meetings as long as it does not inhibit the camera shy. The local authority should make it their business to ensure that everything the public can have a say on is easily accessible and notify to the stakeholder well before cut-off time.

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 various social media links should be more accessible to the younger generation, as well as this I am female and under fifty so therefore I represent a minority amongst the candidate standing.

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 involved in fighting Planning Applications and Planning Appeals for HMOs in various parts of the Ward. I have also been fighting with Wrexham Council and HSE to rectify the unsafe and unsightly notorious building site on Pen Y Bryn. As well as this I am involved in Neighbourhood Watch for my locality and take a keen interest in goings on within the ward. As a Christian, I regularly pray for the well being and welfare of people in my Ward. If I don't win, this will not change.

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

I am a local girl with the experience of working within both public and private organisations; with the energy and determination to drive positive changes for the Offa community. I look forward to helping make Offa a cleaner, safer and more appealing place to work, live and visit.

Social & Web links

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