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Statement of Glenda Kelly
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
Originally from Liverpool, I studied Economics at Cardiff university and have lived in the Wrexham area for most of my adult life. I am now semi-retired from a long teaching career mainly in Chester and Wrexham and most recently as Head of Economics at Yale College, now Coleg Cambria. I am a director of a Higher Education consultancy company, set up by my husband and myself in 2004, to give advice and guidance to young people when choosing a higher education course. I am a keen amateur musician; I play piano and recorder and sing in 2 local choirs.
I have been a life-long Liberal/Liberal Democrat supporter. I am passionate about bringing equality of opportunity to all, irrespective of their social and economic circumstances. I feel strongly that, as a society, we need to protect and support those who are not able to support themselves and volunteers in local causes to this end.
I have a particular interest in the problems facing people in old age in our society and am very concerned about the isolation and loneliness of many people as village transport links are reduced.
I am no stranger to Rossett – having lived there and with close relatives and friends in the village, I know about many of the issues facing Rossett residents in 2017. A Community Councillor and school governor in a nearby village, I will be able to use my knowledge and experience to tackle Wrexham Council on behalf of the residents of Rossett and get things done. A relative latecomer to formal politics, I feel that I can bring a fresh approach. My pledge is to work with the community to improve the lives of all residents in Rossett.
I hope that you will give me your vote for Rossett County Councillor on 4th May.
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)
It is amazing how common these issues are to most wards! In addition, in Rossett, housing development proposals, with their attendant implications for services in the village and the local environment, are of great concern to many. Rossett has also lost its Post Office. A village like Rossett needs banking facilities at the very least.
2. Further to the above issues you have specified, at a ward level what would you do to resolve these problems if elected?
I will fiercely defend the village against inappropriate housing development, whilst making affordable housing my priority. The loss of the Post Office needs to be tackled urgently and imaginatively. Since most people shop regularly on the internet, Rossett needs banking and postal facilities. One way forward concerning banking might be to persuade some of the banks to include Rossett on their mobile banking rounds. Many villages have incorporated the Post Office into one of their retail outlets. Several of the shops in Rossett would make a fine location for a new Post Office.
3. As a councillor and as a member of the council what would be in your power, and your priority, to help local businesses?
It is important that local businesses are given the opportunity to thrive. In Rossett, village infrastructure and reasonable business rates can help to encourage local shops. Parking has always been problematic in Rossett, and I would look for opportunities to improve the situation. In Wrexham, the traditional town centre is looking neglected and unattractive because of the many empty retail units. The County Council has the means to offer incentives to local businesses in the form of reasonable rents and business rates. Any increase in commercial activity in the town would have a multiplier effect on incomes and jobs, which are sorely needed.
4. How do you think adult social care in Wrexham should be funded?
In recent years, government cuts have meant that funding for the County Council has been cut to the bone. Much of the solution to the crisis in funding for Social Care must lie in Cardiff and in Central Government. Root and branch reforms are needed to co-ordinate health and social care services and this can only be done at the level of the Welsh Assembly at the very least. A strong team of Liberal Democrat councillors would be able to exert much more pressure on the Wales Assembly than a council dominated by independent representatives.
5. What do you think is the most urgent thing, in the power of councillors, required to improve the local education system?
5. As a teacher for 35 years, education is in my blood. Schools are currently constrained by education policy and funding which is determined at a national level, often out of the control of the County Council. However, the current Cabinet Secretary for Education is the Liberal Democrat, Kirsty Williams, so we Liberal Democrats may have an advantage in trying to lobby for our schools in Wrexham. Parental choice at secondary level often seems non-existent in practice, and the method of allocating schools need to be reviewed by the County Council. As councillors and school governors we can support the head teachers and schools in our area, by being actively involved and feeding back to the County Council the immense pressures that our schools are under.
6. What do you think should be done with the Groves school building, and the site?
Coleg Cambria needs more teaching space and has used the Groves school in the past as an overspill. Negotiations with the college should be re-opened to bring the building back into educational use.
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?
Affordable housing is needed in Wrexham. The proceeds of the sale of council houses were a missed opportunity to replace the supply of social housing. New commercial housing developments still lean heavily on the side of executive detached residences, especially outside the town centre developments. Villages like Rossett also need affordable housing, so that people are not forced to move out of the village if they wish to buy a house. In the Wrexham area there are many properties lying empty, attracting crime and antisocial behaviour. It would be cheaper to buy, renovate and rent out these properties than build from scratch and the Council would be fulfilling one of the Welsh Assembly performance indicators, that of bringing empty properties back into use.
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?
Both of these issues take up much time in Community Council debate throughout the authority. Third party provision has been introduced by the County Council to reduce costs. It has had a measure of success. Both litter and dog fouling are a form of antisocial behaviour, which has been surprisingly resistant to all measures taken to reduce them. I personally would favour a zero tolerance approach, especially to dog fouling, as this is a serious health hazard to the community. I would not go so far as naming and shaming in local shop windows, though, as has been done in some parts of the UK.
9. Do you favour the current Executive Board system or a politically balanced system? Why?
I feel that a politically balanced system would better reflect the will of the electorate and be less dominated by individuals not subject to party discipline as was the case in the previous Council,
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 am highly unlikely to change political allegiance since I have been a Liberal/Liberal Democrat supporter all my life, coming from a long line of Welsh Liberals (who emigrated to Liverpool at the start of the 20th Century!). Hypothetically speaking, I would regard a by-election as essential if a County Councillor was to change political allegiance, giving the electorate the opportunity to respond democratically to the decision of an individual Councillor.
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 would find it very difficult to identify sources of savings, after the austerity cuts which have been imposed over the past few years. At community council level, councils are joining with each other to share activities and thereby save money. I can see opportunities at County Council level for authorities to share expertise in, for example, IT and Human Resources, benefiting from economies of scale without full scale amalgamation.
12. With the 'Reshaping' programme, which specific areas would you look to grow and create revenue streams in?
To give a full answer to this question I would need to have more information and knowledge than is currently available to me. I see local government as providing a service, rather than making a profit. The principles governing revenue growth are complex and unintended consequences often derail good intentions.
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?
The Town Centre Masterplan is an exciting project. At the moment the town centre is fragmented and many parts are unattractive and scruffy. As the largest town in North Wales, Wrexham has a huge catchment in terms of shopping and leisure activities, but too many North Wales residents by-pass Wrexham in favour of places over the border. I would support all measures to encourage investment in the town centre, whether for housing, retail or cultural activities. The Council’s powers to give financial incentives are limited, but much can be done to improve the feel and accessibility of the town. The masterplan is a start but will need to be followed through by enthusiastic councillors with a ‘can-do’ approach.
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?
Liberal Democrats are committed to producing regular FOCUS leaflets to inform residents and survey opinions on local issues. I think that this is an excellent way to keep in touch with those residents who do not actively contact their County Councillor and find out what all residents are really thinking
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?
As a keen amateur musician I see a very lively arts and music scene in the town already. The street music festival, which took place in Wrexham last September, was an amazing experience and I hope that it will be repeated. The new Arts Centre, which is part of the Masterplan, will be a very great asset to Wrexham. Cultural activities bring in visitors to the town, who will also shop and use local cafés, coffee bars and restaurants, thus having a multiplier effect on incomes and jobs, which I have already mentioned.
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 must own up to not being a great fan of football, which, as a Scouser, seems an extra crime! However, I am aware of the role of Wrexham FC in uniting the town and giving a sense of pride in Wrexham. The Racecourse stadium has been used for many other events and is a valuable asset to the town. I would aim to encourage this wider range of uses for the stadium, whilst also ensuring that local residents are disrupted as little as possible.
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 night time economy of Wrexham is rather one-sided. Older residents are sometimes put off by the over enthusiastic young revellers, although I understand from my young relatives that the Club scene is Wrexham is buzzing. If Wrexham can develop a wider range of restaurants and cafés open in the evenings, the night time offer of the town will widen its appeal to other age ranges. Local police and charitable organisations such as Street Pastors do much to keep our young people safe when out in town. I have tremendous admiration for them and would do all 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?
Anti social behaviour is not a simple issue and thus does not have one simple solution. PSPOs can help to protect local residents from frightening, threatening and unpleasant activities, but they must be supported by agencies tackling the causes of the behaviour. I would look to helping agencies such as CAIS to tackle the increasing drugs problem in the town. We must be aware that this is not just a problem being experienced by Wrexham, despite the opinions of the national press. Homelessness and lack of support for families with difficulties are main contributors to this problem.
19. New Psychoactive Substances are a recent well documented problem in and around town, what do you think is the solution?
Much of my response to the last question is relevant here. I have experienced drug induced emergencies in Wrexham at first hand. Detox and rehabilitation are lengthy processes and the average person will detox several times before being successful. Some people never get free of their problem. The growth in the use of new psychoactive substances is frightening. There is no quick fix to this problem. Somehow, resources will need to be found to provide treatment and care, including accommodation, to the rising number of, mainly young, people who are affected.
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?
The job of a County Councillor is a highly responsible and time-consuming one and, as such, needs to be remunerated appropriately in order to attract younger, able candidates. IT is an integral part of our society, let alone County Council business and so equipping Councillors with iPads would seem a reasonable thing to do. Teachers are often given help to obtain IT equipment. Personally, I already have an iPad – it comes in very handy when I contact my son and grandchildren in Canada! I would therefore not need to be supplied with one by the Council.
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?
My children and I spent many happy times at Plas Madoc, and I was sad to see it threatened with closure. Wrexham has a very enlightened policy towards leisure activities and I am pleased to see that access to them is made easier for families, especially at holiday times. Plas Madoc is a very special case, being surrounded by a residential area with specific needs. The physical and mental health effects of exercise are well known and I would place responsibility for providing and running such amenities on the shoulders of the local authority. In economics terms, public amenities such as Plas Madoc have a wide range of external benefits to the whole community and therefore need to be subsidised by local Government.
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 am totally in favour of encouraging the growth of use of the Welsh language. A country’s identity and culture is totally dependent on keeping its language alive and I fully endorse the support and emphasis that has been given to this in recent years. It has made a difference. As with all things, however, public spending must be done with attention to effective use of funds so I would not write a blank cheque to Welsh Language development. As a teacher in the authority I was obliged to learn Welsh and use it, albeit falteringly, in the course of my job. I am able to speak enough Welsh to greet people but that’s as far as it goes. My Welsh pronunciation, however, is excellent – this comes from years as a chorister with Cantorion Rhos. Improving my Welsh is certainly on my to do list.
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 am in favour of transparent and open government, subject to legal, data protection and personal privacy provisos. Webcasting all meetings would certainly improve accountability, although I cannot imagine that it would become prime time watching for most people. Regular webcast Question Times might encourage more residents to take an interest. Anything which results in greater public participation in the process of Local Government is desirable.
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?
I only fit into one of the above categories, so I guess that I do represent a more diverse viewpoint. I think it is essential to engage the interest of young people in all levels of government. Much can be done to involve young people through citizenship education, with activities such as mock elections and simulation budget exercises, and the council chamber could even be used to give authenticity to these activities. I would support a reduction in the voting age to 16, so that the interest generated by schools can encourage young people to get involved in local politics. Some young people are very switched on politically, but the majority are totally apathetic currently. If their interest can be attracted, young people will go on to represent themselves.
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 am in constant touch with a wide range of people in Rossett ward. Recently I have been canvassing local opinion on issues and concerns affecting the village. If elected, I would produce a FOCUS leaflet of information for local residents at least three times a year. Each leaflet would also contain a brief survey on local issues to encourage feedback from the residents of Rossett on the issues that most concern them.
In a few hundred characters to wrap this up, why should people vote for you?
I feel that Wrexham Council needs a fresh approach and some new blood to re-energise local government in our town. Wrexham has much potential but many problems. I would work hard to ensure that, for the residents of my ward, the town would become a pleasanter and more enjoyable place to visit. I would use my experience and knowledge to support and defend the interests of the people of Rossett and enable their voices to be heard and acted upon. I hope that electors will choose me as their new County Councillor, but, most of all, I want electors to use their votes on 4th May, whatever the outcome for me personally.
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.
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OTHER CANDIDATES FOR Rossett
- Welsh Conservative Party