Statement of Debbie Wallice

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

Hi, I'm Debbie Wallice and I'm proud to be standing as the next Councillor for Borras Park ward.

Borras Park is a wonderful area and I'm keen to make it even better.

I was born in Wrexham and attended Acton Infants and Junior school, from there I went to St. Davids High School. In my teenage years I developed a passion for tennis and played for Wales, I then opened my own business as a wedding planner. In 1999 I married my late husband and had 2 children; James and Jonathan, whilst they were in full time education at a local primary school, I studied for my PGCE at Liverpool Hope University which qualified me to become a full time teacher.

I also opened up a small business in the town centre in 2011, which regrettably we had to close due to the cripplingly high business rates, although my time as a business owner meant I worked closely with other small business throughout the town and developed a keen interest in the future of our town.

I live in Borras Park with my partner Andy, and two children James and Jonathan, and I work as a teaching assistant in a local school.

The reason I’m standing as a Councillor is because I have a strong interest in the local community. I’m standing as a Conservative because that’s where my politics and beliefs lie, but for me local elections aren’t about party politics it’s about what I can do for to help our community and make the ward and our town the best it can be.

We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful community, but residents I speak to believe we've gone too long without being properly heard; parts of our roads and pavements are in a terrible state, grass verges aren't maintained and often decisions are made regardless of our views locally. I believe that the Council needs some new blood and some fresh ideas.

If I'm fortunate enough to be elected as your councillor I want you to hold me accountable for every decision I make. We need strong representation here in Borras, someone to bang the drum and to get real change for the ward and to tackle the issues facing our town. I hope that you’ll all give me a chance on May the 4th so I can make the improvements we so desperately need. I strongly believe my determination and willingness to improve our community is what’s needed to see this happen.

Thank you!

Debbie Wallice

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)

At the moment the biggest local issue is the situation with Borras Park Surgery, both GPs are ending their contact with the health board (BCUHB) in September which although not exclusively in the ward it will leave a lot of people in Borras Park without a local GP service on their doorstep. Many residents in our community rely on this service. Hopefully BCUHB will find replacement Doctors to fill the void, but if the worst case scenario occurs I will fight tooth and nail to make sure BCUHB keeps Borras Park Surgery open. Further to this, other issues include the lack of services for young people. The ward doesn't have a play area in it, nor does it have a local community centre, this means many of the children who live in Borras Park have to travel to a youth club/community centre or are forced to play football on the streets etc. The speed of cars is also a huge problem in our community, especially on Norfolk Road and Jeffreys Road.

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

I took the issue of the Doctors up with Mark Isherwood AM who has written to BCUHB regarding the situation here in Borras. Hopefully BCUHB will find replacement Doctors and the service will carry on as normal. If this doesn't happen and the local service is at a risk of closing down, I am willing to fight tooth and nail to make sure it doesn't. It’s important we work closely with our AM's and BCUHB to make sure closure isn't an option. With regards to the lack of youth services I will raise this with the Council and explore all options whilst consulting the residents of Borras to discuss the possibility of building an area where our children can socialise in safety without concern of traffic. I will explore various different options of funding for this. The speed of cars on Norfolk road needs to be seriously looked at, the situation could be improved by the introduction of speed indicator devices and mobile cameras in an attempt to reduce the speed and catch the serial offenders.

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

We need to continue to work closely with the Town Centre Forum as well as Wrexham Industrial Estate Business Forum, allowing the needs of local businesses to be heard and brought forward to the right body. As an ex-trader I know that rates are an important issue, we need to stand up to the Welsh Government and fight the corner of our business owners. In addition to this parking charges need to be as low as possible to attract more shoppers. It’s important we give as much support as possible to local businesses too, whether this is a local business fair hosted by WCBC, the WAG and business owners to allow aspiring owners to make useful contacts and get a strong understanding of any Welsh Government initiatives in the form of funding and grants.

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

First of all I strongly believe we need to be working much more closely with BCUHB to ensure money is being spent in the right place, the money for this should be sourced nationally as well as locally. In 2016/17 Wrexham came in on budget with adult social care expenditure, in addition to this I do believe a stronger relationship with BCUHB is needed to ensure that all residents that need help and support get what they need when and where they need it most.

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

As someone who works in the teaching sector I’m well aware of the pressure put on teachers when their pupils are under performing. I think it’s important WCBC understand the resources that need to be put into the school system to allow pupils who are under preforming to catch up. Whether this is by increasing the staff to student ratio, or giving teachers better resources. As someone who is employed by a teaching agency I also believe we need to encourage schools to employ their staff full time, not through an agency. Doing so would not only improve the morale of the staff member, but it would also create a role whereby all the staff are committed to their students. It’s vital we give our children the education they deserve and ensure a good learning environment. 

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

This is constantly brought up on the doorstep, and I fully understand the passion behind all arguments. As the decision has been made to list the building as a result of direct intervention from the Minister this may greatly increase the cost of bringing the building back into use and I believe that the Minister should identify funding for this.  The building must be used for education so I will do all that I can to support this happening as quickly as possible to meet an education need and tidy up what is an eyesore property in a key location on the edge of the town centre.

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?

As the population of Wrexham increases, it’s vital we make sure our infrastructure, such as our roads, schools and hospitals, are able to serve the increase in numbers. Before the Council comes to a decision on the introduction of more houses in Wrexham, I strongly believe more consideration should be given to the towns infrastructure as well as the amount of brownfield sites. We need to ensure that new homes meet the needs of the local population, including social housing, starter homes, retirement properties and more.

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 and dog fouling is a problem in Wrexham, the latter more so in Borras. I do believe we should be using a third party to enforce a zero tolerance approach in regards to dog fouling. Litter on the other hand, I think we should review and discuss the third party operatives approach to handing out fines as well as which areas need to be targeted. Fines are sadly a necessary way of tackling the problem but we should be primarily focussed on tackling the problem not allowing a company open season to generate income with no leniency. There needs to be a balance.

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

I think that this should definitely be debated by the incoming new council and that we should find a way that makes sure that the voices of all councillors are heard on important issues. I do like aspects of the current Executive Board system as it can mean quicker decision making although I do believe a review of the number of members on the Exec Board needs to take place at the start of the next term.  The Executive Board system means all lead members should have a full understanding of key issues and problems which can be addressed correctly and effectively as a result of their portfolio.

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 firmly believe that if a councillor defects to either another political party or decides to become an independent a by-election should be called. I’m aware that many people vote for the party and not the candidate, if a by-election is not called this does pose the question of the legitimacy of the councillor. I can assure my community that if I’m fortunate enough to be elected on May the 4th I shall not be defecting to another party nor would I consider being an independent.

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?

First of all I think it’s important WCBC focuses on delivering services to an efficient standard that reflect value for money. WCBC has already made £30million of savings which have affected all areas of the local authority, but at the same time it’s vital that we avoid serious cuts to all levels as much as we can, a proportional approach needs to be taken. Many local residents are still concerned about wasteful spending in the Council and if elected I will do all that I can to make sure that precious public money is not wasted. I think that savings could be made from Lead Members' allowances and that we should look at the salaries of senior officers of the Council on top of this.

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

If I’m elected I plan on working with colleagues from all parties to see where revenue streams can be established and grown. I'd like to see a more business like approach to running the Council in exploring innovative new ways of delivering services. This could be looking at business sponsorship for events and other opportunities as well as working with community councils, third sector organisations or community groups to see what services they may like to run for themselves. Ultimately we need good quality services for the people of Wrexham and the most value for money for the rate payer. If elected I'll explore all options.

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 Wrexham town centre has the capability to have a bright future. My ultimate vision for the town is to bring it back to its former glory, similar to how it was whilst I was growing up. At the moment we don't need more units, we need to fill the empty units we have. A strategy is needed to attract key multi-nationals that will have a honey pot effect in attracting other shops and restaurants to the town. Shop fronts should be kept to a high standard and the town must be kept presentable, it must be a safe environment free of anti-social behaviour in order to attract more shoppers to local businesses. The town centre must diversify looking at appropriate changes of use through the planning system to convert some long-term empty units into business hubs, offices, restaurants or for leisure use. I believe that some small amounts of residential properties could be created from previously commercial buildings bringing properties back into use and create more footfall in the town.

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’ve set up the Borras Park News page on Facebook, this is a great way for me to keep in contact with large amounts of people in the ward, although I fully understand that a lot of residents that live in Borras Park may not have access to the internet and therefore can’t see what I’m posting, because of this, if I’m elected I will be deliver newsletters to every single household in the ward, keeping everybody up to date with any improvements to the ward, and what I have achieved during that time whilst being Councillor. I'll also hold regular surgeries and be available to visit people at home.

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 arts play an important role in Wrexhams local economy, we’ve seen many exhibitions in recent years in places such as the local library, and Un deg Un. As the decision to build the arts hub has now been finalised I’d like to see the space being used to showcase the talent Wrexham has to offer whilst working in cooperation with local schools and care homes etc. It’s my hope that the arts hub will increase footfall for the town and play an important part in filling empty shop units and adding more life and culture into the town centre.

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 think it’s important the council does wholeheartedly support and back the club. I’d like to see a closer relationship between both parties whereby the Council can work with Wrexham AFC to maximise any opportunities and attract support and grant applications from the Welsh Government and others.

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 plays an important role for many business in Wrexham, I’d like to see WCBC continue to support the Town Centre Forum and Nightsafe, in addition to facilitating initiatives such as the wellbeing centre in the refurbished Brook Street toilets funded by WCBC and its partners. Wrexham has always attracted good numbers for a night out from far and wide, and this helps many businesses from the pubs and the clubs to restaurants, takeaways and taxis. It must always be a safe environment and I applaud the work of the Street Pastors and other voluntary groups that help in so many ways, I'll do everything that I can to support them.

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?

It goes without saying that ASB should be tackled in anyway that proves to be effective. PSPOs do play a very significant role in preventing further behaviour in that area although they tend to be more reactionary and don’t have a long term effect unless people are getting the help that they need from drug and alcohol agencies. For the time being I strongly believe we need to see more patrols around the town centre, especially in hotspots like the bus station.  The issues will only really be solved by getting substance abusers the help that they need, this is not an easy process but it should be as big a focus as tackling the supply of drugs and legal highs.

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

As recent news has highlighted this is not a problem exclusive to Wrexham, with areas such as Manchester seeing the use of similar psychoactive substances, nonetheless it is a huge concern and one that must be tackled head on. The selling of NPS is illegal but frustratingly they can still be easily accessed and consumed meaning enforcement is difficult to control. With heroin and cocaine becoming too expensive to obtain it’s vital our education system keeps up, making younger generations aware of the effects of NPSs as well as the wider effects it has on places such as Wrexham.

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 have made my position on this matter clear throughout my election campaign. I fully understand the need to go “paperless” creating a more sustainable approach to Council meetings. But I fail to understand why a top of the range iPad would be more efficient then a normal Android tablet. However as the decision has been made I have promised my community that if elected I will pay for my own equipment, including an iPad. I have also made clear that I won’t claim a single penny of expenses.

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?

Primarily the funding should be sourced directly from the Council however in the case of Plas Madoc as a trust I was pleased to hear the Welsh Government has supported them financially on top of the WCBC grants. On a local level the work done to protect Plas Madoc Leisure Centre has been valiant. It’s now been taken over locally in accordance to the principles of Together in Wrexham, whilst being supported financially by the Council.

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 is a beautiful language to be able to speak, we need to be ensuring that there is strong support for the Welsh language and cultural heritage starting at primary school and being carried right the way through to secondary school.

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 strongly agree with the webcasting of all meetings where the public have a right to attend, this not only improves the transparency of the Council but means people can engage with local issues and understand the systems behind the decision making. In regards to involving the public more I would like to see more consultations much like the Annual Budget review consultation and the Wrexham We Want consultation, this would mean the Council can get a full understanding of what their constituents wants, especially on the more controversial decisions.

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?

As someone who has two children, I’d love to see more young people become more engaged in politics, especially at a local level. The key to representing a more diverse viewpoint is to understand what the problems and concerns of that demographic are. If elected I’ll achieve this by holding public meetings/surgeries, allowing me to listen to the people I represent whilst engaging all sections of the community at the same time.

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 worked closely with residents to organise the ‘Borras Park Street Clean’ which was a great way to build up community spirit, whilst cleaning our community at the same time. I’ll continue to support local business whether I get elected or not. I also run the Borras Park News page on Facebook, it’s a great way to connect with other residents and business in Borras, as well as keeping you up to date with any events going on our community. This is something I’m committed to and will carry on running the page whether I’m elected or not. 

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

The people of Borras Park feel like they’re not being heard, it’s time for a new face with fresh ideas. Party politics plays no part at a Local Government level. For me being your councillor isn't about politics, it’s about you and what I can do for you. I want to represent every single resident to the best of my abilities letting you hold me accountable every step of the way.  All your issues matter to me, whether it’s the state of our roads and pavements, fighting to make sure Borras Park surgery remains open, or maintaining grass verges, every issue counts and every issue deserves to be heard. I’m keen to get stuck in and get these jobs done. My enthusiasm for our local community and our town will see this happen. Wrexham Council needs some new blood and a big shake up. The people of Borras need someone to bang the drum and make sure we are being listened to. I’d be extremely grateful if you would give me the chance to represent you on May the 4th. Thank you, Debbie Wallice

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