Statement of Alex Jones
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
I'm Alex Jones. I'm 32 years old and have a beautiful daughter and very tolerant wife. I have operated 3 businesses in the town centre. I'm probably best know for running The Bank Wine Bar on High Steet. 5 years ago I stood as a conservative candidate. However shortly after the election I decided that party politics wasn't for me and didn't rejoin as a member of the party.
2.5 years later I saw an advert for a vacancy on the Offa Community Council. I was co opted onto the council and ever since have been an active member. In my second year I was nominated as vice chair for the management and finance committee too. As a community councillor I was invited to join Victoria CP schools governing body, where again I have enjoyed my time so far and hope to continue when my daughter is old enough to join the school.
I suppose the last 3 years have been preparing me for this election and I have attended the local authority workshops and also researched the role so I can ensure that if elected I can hit the road running as a County Councillor for Erddig
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)
Many of the people I have met and talked to are increasingly getting annoyed over irresponsible dog owners not clearing up after their pets
2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?
As the ward is a cut through to a wonderful country park, lots of dog owners walk through the ward to gain access to the national trust land. As we know 99.9% of owners are responsible, a very small minority don't clear up after their dogs. I would like to see increased signage and also the installation of dog fouling bins at strategic places, which are monitored and regularly emptied.
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 local business man I'm all to aware of the difficulties facing business owners in the modern age. It's not as easy as waving a magic wond and the high streets will be full again, BUT we can make the town centre more attractive to shoppers in the first place. Lowering the parking charges for one will make popping into town more appealing. This hopefully will encourage more footfall which in time would encourage more retail shops. I also think that the town has lost it's indent it yet as a market town. I think we need to look at lobbying market traders and encourage more to attend by possibly extending the market from Queens Sq down Hope Street and High Street. As a child I remember the beast market and spending hours with my grandmother walking around.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
It is important that services provided meet the local needs in Wrexham, focussing on prevention which helps deliver a better outcome for the individual. This should be funded by the local authority and also by BCUHB. This form of social care should never see cuts to its budget. One day we might require this service and I would hate to think it was because of a decision I made the a perticulat service was no longer available.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
If we had a open cheaque book I would love to modernise every school in the county. All our teachers and support staff do a fantastic job but face budget constraints. And increased work loads. We need to look at the education system and ensure that the budget is being spent on teaching and on the welfare of our children. We need to make sure that money is not being wasted
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
I believe the Groves school has a covenant order allowing it to only be used for education. This being the case, then we should look to uterlising the space and building a new lower year school that combines all faiths
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?
We currently have a growing population and with targets set by the Welsh Goverment in the form of the Local development plan, we have no choice but to build more houses. We do need to attract more skilled workers to the area, which will increase our local economy and have a positive impact on Wrexham. I believe sites have already been earmarked for the Local delevopmemt plan and if the Welsh Goverment support the increased population with increase funding for, Surgeries, Policing and to extend our hospital as well as improving the general infrastructure I think it can only be a good thing. BUT it all depends on weather the support from the assembly is there!
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 can't see why we have to out source this to a company based outside of Wrexham. We need to look at employing and supporting local people. If I dropped a piece of litter accidentally, if someone informed me I dropped it I would immediately pick it up,and dispose of it correctly. These private companies are preying on the vulnerable and issuing fines for profit and to meet targets. We need to clamp down on irrisponsible littering but be more lenient on those just accendenlty dropping it.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
I don't think political agendas should impact on local issues effecting our communities. Wrexham is not a political pawn and shouldn't be used as one. The make up of the executive should represent the best for Wrexham and have a diverse selection of councillors
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 have no intentions of joining any political party
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 we need to look at the structure and that the triangle is not inverted. We need to ensure that the work force and officers are not outweighed by management. We need to protect our services and not increase the layers of management. Wrexham councils budget is an amount and not a target. We should be operating like a business. Also saying that the Goverment should not penilise us for not spending the budget and letting us take over extra onto the next years budget, so we have reserves for any unforeseen circumstances
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
We need to look at what departments can sell they're services to the private sector. Look at what Service Level Agreements we have in place and weather the councils workforce can take those on instead of outsourcing. I believe a previous council sold off equipment and 'trimmed' back a skilled workforce in favour of contracting the work out.
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?
My Vision of the town centre is a vibrant and positive. A lot of the vacant property is privately owned and has been left to ruin. The council need to pressure these big nationals and pension fund portfolio owners to 'tart up' their shops and help make a vacant shop look attractive even if empty. My idea would be to contact retailers who don't have a shop in Wrexham and ask them what criteria they have to site a new shop. If they came back with 10 criteria and Wrexham already has 6 then we should work towards the remaining 4 criteria. Also we need to improve the perception of the town. This has not been helped by the national media coverage. A lot of good things go on in our town which gets over shadowed by a minority who want to spoil it...
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 elected I will maintain contact within the ward by issuing newsletter updates. Regularly being visible, holding resident meetings, attend already established resisdents meeetings and mainiatning an active roll in the community council. of course I will be available on the phone to deal with any pressing issues a member of the ward may have
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 embrace the arts and as a musician I enjoy listening to many different genres of music, both live and recorded. I do think a arts hub, offering many different types of art and a provision to make art is a good idea which will embrace many talented people that Wrexham has to offer. However, it must be run properly and not solely rely on funding to operate. We can't go back in time, the arts hub is being built and we need to make sure we utilise all of it. We also have a great music scene within the late night economy and also in recent years have had some great acts at Glyndwr and the Racecourse. These events and concerts bring many people into our town and help grow our economy.
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?
A councillors role is to represent the people who put them in the position of councillor. So, if a supporter of the club wanted my help or advice to benefit the club I would of course offer what help I could. Just don't ask me what the off side rule is
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 suppose I should start by declaring an interest in this matter. The night time economy employee 100's of people and attracts 1000's of people. The perception of the night time economy isn't always great but I can ensure you that the licensees, police and local authority work closely to make a night out in Wrexham a safe, enjoyable and fun night. It's come a long way since the recordings of 'Booze Britain' and alike. We do need to look at street lighting around the town centre at night. This needs improving, so members of the public feel safe walking through and whilst using ATM's.
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?
Anti social behaviour needs a multi agency approach, with each agency taking responsibility where required. We all know that the cuts in funding by both Cardiff and Westminster have but tight constraints on our frontline services, mainly police and health. I think the council needs to be putting more pressure on the governments to help tackle the ASB.
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
The solution is for some legislation to be passed to make them illegal to posses and be under the influence. Currently the law states it's only illegal to provide and sell. While we are waiting for such legislation, towns like ours across the country are suffering.
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'm filling this questionnaire in on my own iPad. I intend to carry on using my own iPad and also paying for my own parking and petrol and what ever else I need to pay for to get back and too and fulfill my role as a councillor. I find it very petty that current councillors (not all of them) think it's acceptable to claim £1.35 mileage when attending a civic ceremony
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?
We live in an age where health and well being is a major issue in modern day living. We should be doing our very up most to help provide such services like leisure centres to our communities. Not everyone can afford the monthly membership fees to private health facilities. I think we need to look at a joint funding by both the private and the public sector, very much like a subsidy Which will help engage with those who can't afford the private memberships
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 should be proud of our heritage. I unfortunately don't speak Welsh but I have picked up the basics. Lots of people I know can speak Welsh and I am very envious of this. I hope my daughter can learn to speak Welsh when she goes to school. It's at the early intervention stage I think is important to learn any language. We need ensure that ALL Wrexham schools have all the tools and resources to help teach the Welsh language. Many adult classes are being held across the county and the council need to support and advertise these.
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 is my answer! As I've said previously. We are representatives of the community and the community should be kept informed of what's going on in the public domain. I think we need to look at better engagement with the communities of Wrexham. Carry out surveys, not just online but out on the streets. Engage with a broad cross section of people who's lives or circumstances maybe affected by what's being discussed at that committee meeting
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?
Well I'm 32 and I'm looking to replace a gentleman who has a wealth of knowledge in the council. However it's time for some new ideas and some forward thinking to push Wrexham forward. Every councillor is not elected to only represent they're view but the view of the community they represent. You are mearley a representative of the ward that elects you. I hope that by having a strong voice, forward thinking and a different look which includes a knowledge of business, I will get elected to help guide Wrexham through the times ahead
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 been a community councillor representing the Erddig ward for a few years now. I'm one of 2 nominees that attend the community council meetings and one of 2 nominees that have have also put our names forward to continue to sit on the community council. I would like to think that this shows my continued commitment to the ward weather I get elected or not.
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
If you think it's time for a change and that you want someone who will represent the community with no hidden agenda or political view then a 'X' in my box would be the best option. I'm a strong character with a strong voice who wants to make changes for the better to wrexham. Can I also take this opportunity to thank those of you who have already pledged your support. Thank you
Social & Web links
The above is a ward map screenshot taken from the OS Map - if you click the map itself it will show a slightly bigger version.
If you click here it will open this map on the OS website itself, allowing more options to zoom and move around.
Where is my polling station?
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OTHER CANDIDATES FOR Erddig
- Welsh Labour
- Welsh Liberal Democrats
- Welsh Conservative Party