Statement of Katie Courtney
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
I am 35 years old and live in Rhostyllen with my husband and teenage daughter. Having moved to the area from Snowdonia and setting up our home and lives here I have been campaigning on issues that I hold close to my heart and have decided that the best way I can help my community and give back to the people who have made our transition here so easy is to stand for local council so that I can represent them wholeheartedly.
Standing as a candidate has given me the opportunity to learn so much more about wonderful our area and the people who live in it and it makes me even more determined to represent you in the way you deserve. I have become passionate about standing up for what is right and fair for us as residents and am fully prepared to work hard and always be honest and transparent.
I will be available to all of you in your preferred manner of communication be that email, social media, a phone call or even a good old fashioned chat face to face! I will always try to make myself available to you no matter what issues or support you may need and will take on board any ideas you may have.
I will also keep you updated with what is happening in our area and how it may affect you.
I am proud to be standing as your Plaid Cymru candidate and believe that together we can have a strong community voice that will be heard.
The people of Esclusham and Wrexham deserve someone who will work hard to represent them and to improve the quality of life for both the community and individuals. I will if elected always en-devour to be that strong voice for you,
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 recycling bins issue has been mentioned several times, the stacking boxes being broken to easily and litter on collection days is also a problem. The other big issue many people have is road safety and the speed at which cars use the main road.
2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?
Resolving issues can be successful when people have the opportunity to be involved in the decision making process. The frustration that many resident have communicated to me is that they have not had the opportunity to be listened to or be part of outcomes. I will arrange local meetings with representatives of the relevant council departments, for example highways, to allow residents to have open discussions about their concerns and be part of decision making.
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 Plaid Cymru member I support my party's commitment to extend rate relief for small businesses. We also need as a priority to address the issue of high rates and increasingly high rental charges making the town a viable centre for a greater diversity of shops which would boost the regeneration scheme and give the people the retail experience everyone now has come to expect. Wrexham has an amazing opportunity to really put itself on the map, we already have events that people come from far and wide to attend, such as WrexFest, ComicCon and Focus Wales, there are fabulous acts coming to perform in William Aston Hall and other venues and we can only grow from here if we capitalize on these successes. We need to help our local business and facilities to continue to grow these events and support others to join and share in the opportunities that they provide.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
Plaid Cymru's policy is to have health and social care budgets merged into one to improve the transition from one to the other and vice versa, funding would be provided from general taxation.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
The budget cuts need addressing as a matter of urgency. Cutting funding to our schools is leading to the loss of teachers and this is detrimental to the future of our childrens education. We need to support our schools and find a way forward that will ensure we provide each and every child with the start in life they deserve while also supporting all the staff that work so hard to provide them with a fully rounded education.
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
The whole site is to be used for educational purposes due to covenants. It has already been identified that a primary school is much needed in Wrexham and part of the site could be used for this. Since the closure of the excellent facility Ysgol Powys Special School in Gwersyllt the town would also benefit from a purpose built facility similar to this and their is enough space to accommodate this as well the other educational requirements. Our town is growing so providing primary school space should be a priority.
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?
Currently housing is in great demand and as a member of Plaid Cymru I support our manifesto call for the 2500 empty properties in the area to better effect, developing all brownfield sites before using the proposed green belt areas and playing fields currently allocated and building council houses for the first time in a generation.
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 we would be better placed to hire our own council representatives to do this work. The cost of hiring would be offset by the fines and all other returns would go straight to the council as a pose to the 11% we currently get under the third party agreement. It would also provide employment for individuals under better working conditions.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
Politically balanced. We need to allow all groups their representation. Too much is done behind closed door and there is too much power in the hands of too few.
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?
Any change to any councillors status that differs from the time of being elected should see a by-election and let the voters decide if the change is acceptable. So if I were to change my status for any reason then 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?
Perhaps the best place to start would be with the Reshaping Consultants themselves, why employ consultants, why not use our own staff. Cuts should begin at the top and not from the ground up. Lets utilize the people we have already and stop throwing money at problems and issues that we should be solving ourselves.
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
Wrexham council procurement could be better used supporting local businesses which then in turn would reinvest in our industrial areas and towns.
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 want to see our town become a bustling centre once again. We need to ensure business are able to open in the many empty spaces we have. Wrexhams appeal to both large and small businesses needs to be addressed by looking at the rates that they are paying. We want to encourage them here not price them out! We can thrive once again if we look at the successes other towns have had and learn from them.
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?
Being accessible, whether by phone, email or on social media and always responding promptly. I want to be seen in our community and create and nurture relationships with people. Going that bit further and being a powerful advocate for all but in particular the most vulnerable. Newsletters would keep everyone in the loop about what is happening in our area.
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?
This County is full of history and we should exploit that further, I am constantly learning about my home and all it has seen! Wrexham should be the location for a 'Welsh Football Museum' this is the home of Welsh football. We should develop more around coal, iron. steel and lead and find locations to display the heritage that made this town and its villages. We have places like UndegUn & the Wrexham Independant Gallery which are amazing spaces. Wrexham is full of exciting artists and we need to ensure they are seen this vibrant part of our community is supported.
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 was pleased when the trust have taken over the running of the Racecourse and all the income goes back into the club. The Kop should be re developed to bring it up to international standards and that some of the money for that should come from the Sports Council and Welsh Government. The new Welsh Football Museum should be part of the Kop development.
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 would encourage close communication between local businesses, the council, police and any other agencies to promote a safe, friendly environment for all nighttime activities. We need to keep encouraging more festivals and act to come to Wrexham and ensure people know they will be safe. We need our business to be able to afford to keep running so that we continue to grow as a destination town and not hinder them and bury them in legislation and fees.
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 don't think the PSPO has addressed the problem of anti social behaviour, all it has done is push the problem elsewhere from the town centre into Rhosddu. If I am elected one of the first things I will be asking for is an evaluation of the PSPO and whether it has delivered on what it was supposed to. Prevention is always better than cure and we need to work together with other resources to solve these issues rather than continuing to move them around.
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
There is no doubt that NPS or what used to be called Legal Highs are a massive problem at the moment and as with all problematic drug use it is a public health problem and the Area Planning Board should use their considerable budget and expertise to address the problem The initiative to meet the users at Trinity Church to understand the underlying causes of the drug use is a step in the right direction and is to be welcomed.
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?
It is Plaid Cymru policy not to support the issue of iPads to Councillors as it is possible to access the council emails etc remotely on our own computers at home. We will also not be accepting any increase in our member's allowance.
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 disposal of Plas Madoc was a public relationship disaster and it should have been retained and all credit to those who are now running it and campaigned to save it. Plas Madoc is a valuable asset and well liked by users. I would certainly question the financial value for money over a 3rd party running our Wrexham facilities and bring Plas Madoc leisure centre back under the umbrella of the council by continued funding of the current community co-operative
22. What actions would you take, or support, as a councillor to encourage Welsh language use growth? Or, if you are against this, why?
As a first language Welsh speaker I support the government's efforts to increase the number of speakers and the law that ensures that those who seek to receive public services through the medium of Welsh are not treated less favourably. Welsh-medium schools are over subscribed and more places are required urgently which shows greatly the increased demand for the Welsh language in our town. We need to actively promote the Welsh language and as language begins at home we should encourage families to learn together and not exclude the parents.
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?
All meetings should be broadcast. We need open and transparent representation. The public should be made aware of the decisions being made on their behalf.
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?
Plaid Cymru in Wrexham are as diverse as they have ever been, we have 7 women standing in this election and our candidate in Whitegates Iolanda is a Portuguese national. As a party we are always inclusive and I believe this gives us a broader outlook on the challenges and outlooks people face.
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 will always want to become more involved in our ward regardless of winning or not this is the beginning of my journey here in Esclusham and I am looking forward to being a member of our community for many many years.
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
We need change. We need to move forwards. We can't keep doing the same things and hoping that our situations will improve. I will work hard to represent you in the way I would wish to be represented. I want to be your representative to make sure we get the results we truly deserve. We live in an amazing area and we should be proud of it. My family and I have made our home here in your community and I want to help us to continue to grow and prosper and help all members of our ward feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they have someone wholeheartedly on their side. I will always listen to your views and no problem will ever be trivial to be if it is important to you. I hope to be the change that Wrexham needs and for that I need your faith and votes!
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?
You can pop your postcode into this helpful website WhereDoIVote.co.uk and it will draw you a map!
How do I vote?
Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 4th May.
If you don't have your poll card, you can go to the polling station and give them your name and address. You don't need any other form of ID.
Give your name and address to the staff inside the polling station when you arrive. You don’t have to take your poll card with you.
You’ll be given a ballot paper containing a list of the people, parties or the options you can vote for.
- Take your ballot paper into a polling booth.
- Follow the instructions on the notices in the polling booth and on the top of the ballot paper to vote.
- Put it in the ballot box.