Statement of Paul Roberts

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

I’m Paul Roberts and I am looking to become your next Councillor for the Erddig ward.
I have lived in Wrexham all my life and have worked in Wrexham based International Companies in Management and Finance for over twenty five years as well as being a small local business owner. I support numerous Charitable bodies and been involved in fundraising in the local community for many years. From a young age I have always been passionate about the history and heritage of Wrexham and had the good fortune of living in Wrexham when it was a thriving market town.

I am so disappointed with the current state of affairs that is due to changes undertaken over several decades that currently has Wrexham town centre divided between Eagles Meadow development and King Street bus station which highlights two extremes of the town. Wrexham has so much to offer Erddig Hall is on the doorstep as well as so many other areas of outstanding natural beauty which we don’t actively raise sufficient awareness of I felt obligated to stand as your candidate to bring about the changes that are needed in Wrexham due to these circumstances. By looking to attract further inward investment and industry Wrexham can promote and enhance its status so it will be known as the capital of North Wales and make Wrexham a town that we are proud of.

I canvassed in the Erddig ward for both the General Election 2015 and the Welsh Assembly Election 2016 on behalf of the Conservative Party and I felt a deep connection with the residents and this is why I put myself forward for the seat. Due to recent developments regarding the forthcoming General election irrespective of the outcome of the Borough Council election result I will soon look forward to seeing all of you again as I will be canvassing for the General election so residents that have raised concerns with me which I am currently reviewing on their behalf will get feedback sooner rather than later.

Politically I represent the Conservative Party but I’m aware that local residents may prefer to vote for the person that will do the best job to support their local concerns rather than someone who solely follows party affiliations. I am that candidate and I intend putting local resident interests first and have no issue with working with cross party collaboration so as to get the best results for you the people of Erddig.

I would ask you to seriously consider voting for me to represent Erddig ward on your behalf by giving me your support in the forthcoming election at the ballot box on May 4th 2017.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any concerns by either phone or email.


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)

Residents have raised two main issues with me. Dog fouling is a big concern especially as regards the potential health risk to small children from faeces. Another contentious issue is the level of litter in the surrounding area.

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

Ideally, I would work with WCBC with a view to installing more bins as well as referring to the enforcement team to patrol the area. The majority of dog owners like myself are responsible and collect any mess for disposal in bins; however, a small minority need educating in this area whether by verbal communication or enforcement purposes.

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

With my experience both at management level and also as a business owner I am able to empathise with the local business community. High business rates and the level of rate relief for local business need investigating. One area that I would like to be reviewed is the start-up support for micro-businesses and to create a business partnership with educational establishments and develop a business hub in the centre of the town. I would like to see WCBC working with schools and local businesses to support these ideas. Small business Saturday and local festivals prove to be attractive but there needs to be a calendar of festivals throughout the year finishing with the Xmas market which ideally should cover High Street by restricting vehicles access.

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

Adult social care needs to be a mix of local funding via WCBC and Welsh assembly funding. Ultimately the care of the adult population needs to be integrated with the strategic and operational dynamics of the local health board BCUHB. Central Government has proposed an extra funding to social care which is a welcome addition to support and bolster services which may provide the local health board extra capacity to facilitate the needs of residents and look to a sustainable solution for continuing care into the future. Green paper consultation is currently being undertaken.

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

Local Schools are managed regionally by GWE and should report regularly to WCBC and be accountable. School Governing Bodies should have greater autonomy and control which should encourage Governors to adopt a more enhanced role and challenge in a proactive way. Educational targets and attainment need to be measurable against a benchmark of KPI’s tied into providing welfare for the child at the highest possible level and providing the best value achievable within budgetary constraints. Staff retention and support are paramount to a successful attainment within the educational system so supply systems need to facilitate this need.

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

There is an educational covenant attached to the premises and this has been a feature that points to enabling an educational facility for future generations but costs need to be managed and viable to achieve the best fit for all stakeholders after it attained listing status and is protected by legislation.

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?

There is a constant demand for new housing figures based on LDP of 8500 homes by 2028 due to an increasing demographic of an aging population. Brownfield sites should be used for necessary new developments. However, in Wrexham, there are many properties which are empty or falling into disrepair and I intend to identify such houses in Erddig ensuring enforcement improvement notices are implemented if applicable.

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?

My main concern is the data being generated currently which highlights a large concentration of fines within relatively few areas. I would look to ascertain what level of enforcement is currently undertaken and look to move enforcement teams to areas outside of Wrexham town centre and have a more balanced approach to enforcement. I have no concern about the level of fines for dog fouling but would suggest a more tolerant approach to litter fines depending on circumstances. One area of interest would be introducing Street Wardens for cleaning financed by the Community Councils as this would create a more targeted approach.

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

I prefer the build of the Executive Board as during the last two Borough elections a Conservative Councillor has attained a position on the Board. This was quite interesting as initially, the Council was a Labour Party lead council but obviously best fit can be a cross- party affiliation as residents can have the best person for the job in a Lead Member role. Skills and expertise are a pre- requisite for a Lead Member position regardless of political standing.

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?

If I change political allegiance which is unlikely I would consider enabling a by – election but I would hold a surgery for my electors to make the final decision as I would be representing them rather than a 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?

One area that has concerned me is the actual cost of outside Consultancy undertaken on behalf of Wrexham Council. Obviously there will always be a requirement for specialised knowledge to support the Council but there must be a balanced approach between cost and rationalisation but savings can be made by reducing excessive spends in this area.

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

This is an extremely divisive area but I would be looking at attracting more sponsorship whether it be on advertising boards or roundabouts in the locality. Glyndwr University and the Racecourse are attracting great performing artists and as tourism is a key factor in localised growth Wrexham needs to position itself as the gateway to North Wales with a view of generating hospitality and retail market opportunities.

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?

Moving forward Wrexham can look to position itself as a Business Hub centre in North Wales. Glyndwr University and Coleg Cambria are thriving as an academic initiative and attract students both locally and internationally. We need to look at promoting a more cosmopolitan ambience within the town centre and encourage new small business owners to set up in the town centre.

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?

From the outset, I have promoted my vision of using local surgery’s to encourage residents to attend and speak to me if there are any issues that they wish to raise with me. I will attend home visits that are mutually convenient for residents to discuss any issues. I am contactable via email or phone for the electors and will arrange a newsletter to be delivered locally covering relevant topics.

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?

Wrexham is looking to appeal to the wider population and has excellent venues such as Glyndwr University and attracts national artists as well as looking to be inclusive in a multicultural community. I will be looking to integrate local communities to provide an annual festival representing all relevant cultures to promote local Arts and crafts. Un Deg Un is actively promoting an arts scene and Saith Seren promotes the Welsh music scene and Welsh Language and these bodies need support and encouragement. I would be looking to support all bodies via Grant funding and look to introduce a model that fits within the Tourism arena within Wrexham council.

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?

Being an avid Wrexham supporter I feel that the supporters have done a remarkable job saving the club. I intend to support the club in association with the supporters trust, our local member of parliament and assembly member and a cross party of Councillors with a view to improving the facilities. One potential method to fund refurbishment would be to apply for grants via the Welsh Assembly Government.

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 feel that the most important criteria is that Wrexham town centre continues to thrive and we need to attract people so that revenue streams increase. Street lighting in the vicinity needs to be reviewed to ensure that revellers can move around assured of their personal safety.

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 is having a detrimental effect in Wrexham in general as it has attracted both local and national media attention in a negative way. Residents need to feel safe in their surroundings and all partners such as the Police, Council and other agencies should look to adopt a more cohesive and functional role in this area.

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

The first point I would mention is that the current problem is a national problem and one for the Police authorities and legislative bodies to review on an expedient basis. We need a multi- partnership approach whether from a criminality approach to looking at methods of negating the supply to the customers. An educational approach to this problem also needs to be integrated into the format.

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?

Residents in Erddig that I spoke to on the doorstep will be aware that I am against Councillor allowances being increased and I would provide necessary equipment for my Councillor duties.

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?

A mix of Council support and Community interaction has provided a great outcome to retaining Splash for the local community. Nowadays health of residents is paramount and the Council needs to be actively involved with both Schools and Industry to promote the availability and functional potential of hosting events at the Leisure Centre.

22. What actions would you take, or support, as a councillor to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?

Support of the Welsh Language is paramount due to the heritage and culture in Wrexham. Opportunities should be available for residents of all ages to learn to speak Welsh and I feel that a balanced approach is the best fit for everyone.

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 support all meetings for webcasting except for circumstances that may have a potential legal implication. Meetings need to be transparent but managed appropriately when in the public domain.

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 regards diversity my approach is that I represent every resident in Erddig. My duty is to my electorate to look to ensure that their issues become my issues and are resolved as soon as possible. With my knowledge and skills background, I look forward to engaging with the community.

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?

Over the last 3 year's I have been canvassing solely in Erddig for both the General Election and Welsh Assembly Election. During the last few month's I have personally spoken to many residents in the Erddig ward and logged any issues for review. If elected or not you will be seeing me again shortly on your doorstep as canvassing for the General Election will be in full swing.

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

People should vote for the best person to do a job irrespective of their political standing. Your Council representative needs to able to make some decisions on your behalf and also on behalf of all Wrexham residents. This person needs to be strong reasonable adaptable and above all approachable. That person is me and that is why I would ask for your support. Thank you for reading my statement, Paul.

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