Statement of Damian Wynn Conde

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

Hello - my name is Damian Wynn Condé and I'm standing as a independent for the upcoming May elections in the Gwenfro ward.

I am standing as an independent because I believe that county politics should not be dominated by party lines - we should all be interested in the best outcome for those we wish to represent. There will be those who say that this can only be done by a political party - I believe this is tosh. It would be doable if political party's didn't try and score points against each other. I am not interested in party politics on a local level - it should be about what's right for the area we live in. Regardless of what your views on national politics are.

At the ripe old age of 23, I am probably not the oldest candidate in this election - I'm sure we can all agree on that. However, in 23 years what have I done? A lot of different things!

I am a professional recruiter (awarded by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation) working in the logistics industry. It's my job to make sure there is a driver able to deliver your bread, TV's, shirts, steel pipes when they are needed.

I have worked for Wrexham Council and the Welsh Assembly before moving into the private sector in both IT and recruitment roles. I have enjoyed taking my career in a direction that has allowed me to help people. In the Welsh Assembly, I was able to help people solve problems or at least attempt to advocate on behalf of people. I now am able to encourage people into employment. Nothing makes me prouder as a recruiter than knowing someone who was struggling to get employment and was near the breadline is now taking their first family holiday in years because of a placement I've managed to support.

I grew up in the Lodge, near Brymbo; the son of an electrician and a cleaner. I attended St Mary's Brymbo School, Ysgol Bryn Alyn, Yale College and finally Wrexham Glyndwr University where I studied Accounting and Finance.

I have also represented many students in our town, having been both elected as Wrexham University's Student's Guilds' Welfare Office and a Student Governor at Yale College (and supported the shadow board of Coleg Cambria)

I last stood for council in 2012 as a Liberal Democrat - since that, I've managed to do a lot of thinking about where my political leanings are. I would currently say that no political party matches my beliefs and at times the entire party system infuriates me because it can often lead to votes that are point scoring as opposed to doing what is right for the population.

My main priorities are:
Developing community spirit (something I believe has been lost in several areas)
Increasing transparency from within the council chamber
Championing local businesses
Raising the quality of "Councillor Service" to our residents
Trying to create situations to raise the aspirations of our young people
Working to future-proof the county.

I do hope that people vote for me in May.

Regardless of your natural instincts to vote I believe I am worth a consideration - if you are not sure about me and would like to ask your own questions; I'm available on Twitter (@WrexhamDamo) or via e-mail I will always try and respond within 24 hours. I believe that it is only good courtesy for at least an acknowledgement within this time frame.

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)

Aside from the 4 issues identified, in Gwenfro people are concerned that their voices and issues are heard and not acted upon. The volume of individuals who have commented on the lack of availability of litter bins is immense. Poorly maintained footpaths have also been a common theme, sadly the poor condition resulted in 1 gentleman's injury. Sadly, and most costly to residents of Gwenfro, is the criminal damage to individuals' cars one gentleman suffering over £600 of damage over 2 years to his pride and joy (his car!) due to damage by vandals.

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

Voices not being heard - many times things are done but no one knows about them. I pledge to have a documented feedback process in place to residents can be assured their concerned are documented and being acted upon as well as regular feedback notices to concerned residents. Litter bins - The obvious answer is to ask for a larger volume of these bins across the ward. Failing that - let's (as a community) look at alternatives in terms of funding or ways to reduce the issue by creating local campaigns. Local maintenance - I would look to the relevant departments within the council and request reasoning behind the massive delays in some of the local maintenance issues, the ideal situation would be local notifications once work has been completed, via a WCBC app perhaps?

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

I believe all residents have a duty to encourage local businesses - Councillors more so. Councillors should: 1) Champion local businesses - encourage their successes and spread the word that some of the best products, labour and services in the UK are sourced from Wrexham. 2) Campaign with other local authorities & local businesses to seek a decreasing of the Non-Domestic Rates (NDRs or Business Rates to you and me!). NDR's are crippling local businesses and start ups. 3) Let's not be greedy - whilst in an ideal world everybody would pay full price for everything, we need to be realistic and make sure our buildings are being utilised. Creating a bit of life in the town. (create more favourable leasing / financing arrangements for rent / lease of council owned commercial property)

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

I don't have much of a knowledge on Adult Social Care funding - this will be an area I will be developing my knowledge on over time. Though I Welsh Government should invest in more independently run, private sector care facilities across the county / region. I support local caring where possible but we need to make the Adult Social Care services have both quality and cost-effectiveness. It truly is sad that cost should come into providing a good standard of living for those requiring the service, but sadly it does have to be paid for somewhere. I believe however that there should be increased regulation on care homes in order to increase quality of care. I believe working as a region is crucial for a whole raft of adult social care services including mental health and learning difficulties / Special Education Needs.

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

Reach out to local businesses to increase work experience placements, preparing our young people for the world of work with practical, real-world experience. I believe we need to work with employers to make the best use of this time to provide quality to our young people. Quality of education should be guided by experienced educators. It is within the power of Councillors to engage long term plans in order to raise aspirations in young people, creating a generation that are hungry for improvement and development. From my time working with youths, I think that a lot of potential is squandered at an early age due to a lack of direction and motivation because quality "end goals" were hard to identify.

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

The Groves holds a special place in the heart of many residents across the county. I believe if it is cost effective to retain education facilities on the site, then that should be a preferred course of action. What I do not want to see, is a building that hold so many wonderful memories for residents age without grace - partially due to anti-social behaviour near the site. So, whilst we have the site listed (whether you agree or disagree with the idea), I'd argue for movement in refurbishing the site and bringing it back into the fold. Active use of the site will no doubt lower anti-social behaviour of the site and it will ease the growing demand on other schools in the area.

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?

The population is getting bigger, houses need to be built. I look at housing in today's market and it brings a sense of dread and despair. I believe Wrexham Council should be engaging redevelopment of brownfield sites in order to create a supply of AFFORDABLE ( please note the capitals!) housing. Affordable to you and me. In terms of particular sites - without a review of current brownfield sites, I wouldn't want to give specifics. Who the housing would be targeted at? I believe we require low cost housing to take the edge off of demand and also increased supplies of council houses capable of housing the various sizes of families and other individuals requiring the support of a council house.

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 that there should be discretion when applying the law to littering. Ideally, we want to change attitudes in a positive manor as opposed to the raft of financial penalties enforced. House holds do not have a lot of money, we only have to look at the usage of food-banks within the county to know this. At a time when people are financially vulnerable I do not believe in oppressive fines - though I believe with time we can revisit the penalties. It is understandable how some residents see the nature of the fines as a revenue stream as opposed to a good spirited operation to change attitudes in my opinion.

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

I prefer a politically balanced system. That being said, I believe both systems can work equally well; it depends on the councillors themselves, both in governance and in opposition. I believe if you have a quality opposition, then having an executive board system can be positive. It allows for a clear plan of action and those in governance to be held to account when required. However, if the makeup of a council is marked with a few strong councillors across different groupings it can mean in a politically balanced system that there is stronger debate with quality outcomes. However, I imagine the volume of action would decrease somewhat.

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?

This is a messy question I'm afraid and asks all sorts of spin offs such as "Should you call a by-election if as an independent, you choose to side with a political party based grouping" or "If a councillor wishes to leave an independent grouping in order to join a different independent group should you call an election". I believe if a councillor can show support for their decision to change grouping (with a petition of X % of the eligible voters in their ward) then I believe we could avoid by elections. However, should the councillor be unable to produce a petition within a calendar month with the required signatures, a by-election should be triggered. This potentially limits the cost of multiple by elections and still ensures that a councillor has support for the decision to switch groupings.

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?

A difficult question for those candidates who have never held office before. I believe a reduction in agency workers could provide some savings - many companies in the private sector choose a casual staffing model for increased demand. This will not always be an appropriate measure to take however. Are their current contracts in place that could be renegotiated reducing costs or better fitting the requirements of the County? Without delving into the details of each department it would be hard to make a decision on this.

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

Let's build on what we have - a strong employment base that requires fostering to achieve it's potential. I believe council owned property should be fully stocked with businesses inside of them as well as a short list of businesses waiting to enter the area. I believe the council could have been called greedy in the way it has handled some negotiations in the past - perhaps taking the odd short term cost-price lease, encouraging some local growth may be an answer in developing revenue streams from local businesses and the benefits they have to the area. Are their opportunities to sell WCBC's skills to the private sector? Could WCBC develop a bonds type of system, increasing investment in to the council in return a reduction in council tax or some other reward. Utilising this money as start up capital for commercial ventures.

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?

Job 1; lets change the negative media we've received recently. Job 2; empty shops be gone! We need to work with owners to ensure commercial premises' are filled. Especially on the high street. People do not want to come to a town when a lot of a traditional high street is missing. I would like to see some more public space being dedicated to children, portion of the Llwyn Isaf including some activities for young people and utilise the band-stand for some of our local talented individuals. We need to advertise Bellvue park more, many visitors to our town wouldn't have a clue about the area but I'm sure would love to spend their lunch time there with their families, a blanket and a picnic. My role in this? To tell every person that will listen ( and even those that won't) that Wrexham is a fun, exciting place to be where you can shop, eat, have fun, listen to music and bask in the warm summer sun. On top of this, work with interested parties in trailing ideas to engage the public.

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'm sure every candidate on this list will come out with the same ideas: Hold public meetings and meet & greets Have a social media platform or two available for residents to contact them on Be available via phone or email to ensure contact. I'd also want to work with our local media on projects such as periodical columns/articles ( to ensure our public is informed on issues from an 'inside' perspective). Webcasts utilising streaming services, facebook live and others to make sure the public have faith that they are not being 'fobbed off'. I think far too many people involved in politics at all levels are nervous they will say something that will cause damage to them or their careers - my view is that we are all human and all have a past. Politics shouldn't be made of robots, but real people like you and me.

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 believe projects like un-deg-un were a fantastic additional to Wrexham's cultural offerings. Working with projects like Focus Wales and the North Wales Comic-Con has drawn in thousands of people to our town who normally wouldn't come here. The knock on effect of this cultural tourism is astounding and we must ensure that every support is given to projects of this magnitude in order to keep new generations of cultural tourists exploring our town in years to come.

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 believe more could have been done by the public sector to support our historic club and it is a shame that more wasn't done. As a potential councillor, I can not change the world but I can facilitate and support credible opportunities to promote the club as well as make as large a success out of the visiting fans as possible in order to generate financial success for the club over the longer term.

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?

Swift action to deal with complaints at establishments across the area as well as events to invite tourism into the area. The out-door cinema was a fantastic idea and should be re-engaged in the future. I'm more than happy to work with any establishment with a credible idea seeking support to generate tourism to the area, be it night time or not. We must continue to work with North Wales police in order to maintain a grip on the Night Time Economy. From personal experience I can say that a night out now is far safer than it was 5 or more years ago, that being said, there is less people out too.

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?

Continued work with PSCO's and the wider North Wales Police is imperative to tacking anti-social behaviour. I believe there is no quick fix. The road to fixing the issue is long and involves creating a sense of pride and ownership in those committing anti-social behaviour in the town. Engaging as many local stakeholders in key parts of the town and individuals' wards is imperative to creating these community bonds.

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

I do believe that legislation needs to be introduced to regulate the manufacture of the (currently) legal psychoactive substances. Further action needs to be taken in order to fight supply of the illegal psychoactive substances and this is down to North Wales Police, the North Wales Councils and members of the public to come forward and supply information in order to tackle this wider problem. Working with members of the public effected by incidents involving 'legal highs' should be taken, assessing why the incidents were created. Is it the substances changing behaviour or pre-existing behaviours amplified by substances. Using this information to assess feasibility of development projects in key areas to improve aspirations.

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?

Pay and allowances - I believe it is right for Councillors to draw some form of pay for the time they put in to the role. Perhaps it would be prudent to tighten the rules of dismissal of councillors by the Council due to lack of activity or presence within meetings. Whilst the pay is set by an independent body I would leave it to their discretion. I would say that I am aware of many individuals who would dedicate all their time to council duties if it paid above minimum wage. That being said I'm aware that many members of the public are conscious of paying elected officials more. The current situation limits the breadth of people who find it feasible to stand as well as the time they can dedicate to the role. iPads - I'm all for tools for councillors to assist in their roles - ultimately it is also a cost saving device (vs. paper). Should they have been renewed? My answer "could they not have waited an extra year?"

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?

Difficult - I accept that many people enjoy using the Plas Madoc Leisure Centre - myself being one of them. That being said, we must understand that there is not an unlimited pot of money hiding around. I believe facilities like this should always seek to make a profit ( in order to ensure longevity) but that doesn't mean that the public sector can't support with grants or favourable rate-loans for example. I believe Splash magic ( in spite of it's financial difficulties) did the true Wrexham thing and got people involved in the project - volunteers, students, the public, local businesses - we all came together and made a change. I wish everyone involved in Splash Magic the utmost success in keeping the centre open.

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 want to premise this answer by saying that as a youth, I genuinely didn't like learning the language - and worked harder to not learn it than to accept it. As I've developed, I've appreciated some of the cultural importance of the language. Whilst I do not foresee it being the main language of business in Wales - I think that the county should embrace it's cultural heritage in this regard. As far as encouraging Welsh language, I'd support measures that developed more public spectacles in Welsh - we all love the St David's Day parade but we should have more opportunities like this to publicly display our "Welsh-ness". What I do not want to see, is a preference of welsh-speakers over non-welsh speakers within the Council's recruitment process. The council should look at the private sector's recruitment processes in terms of finding the right candidates for the job and where Welsh language skills are lacking, train these candidates - increasing the volume of welsh speakers.

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 - all meetings should be broadcast using the webcasting system. How can you really hold your representatives to account if it's hard to prove what is said? Full webcasting will develop our Councillors' to be mindful of the statements they make, take ownership of their comments and actions and ultimately be reminded that they can not hide behind poorly attended meetings. Encouraging the public to engage is difficult, I think it's been made more so by the decision to move all council meetings to day time meetings. I understand that there are costs involved, but we shouldn't be asking our residents to potentially miss work in order to raise a point or observe proceedings. In my opinion, the cost of our democracy is worth more than the the cost of evening meetings. I think for many, the Guildhall is a faceless building. We need to invite individuals in to it's walls in order to show them what important work goes on there.

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?

Firstly, hello first time voters - you've been given the power to change the town - use it. As for my diverse background - I represent a portion of our younger voting public. At the ripe old age of 23 I've managed to represent my peers both as a College Governor at Yale (and briefly as a Shadow Governor for the developing Coleg Cambria) and through Glyndwr University Student Guild as a Welfare Officer. I also represent a portion of the disabled population. Myself having been 'diagnosed' with an array of Special Education Needs including Dyslexia, Dyspraxia (DCD), Autism and several others. Whilst I personally don't feel disabled - I do feel differently-abled. Whilst I was born white and male; I can choose to be a good listener and I'd like to believe I am empathetic. This is as close as I can be to understanding many of issues of a diverse population. I have several years of being in positions where understanding the issues of those I represent is incredibly important.

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'd like to think I do things slightly differently - my concern has always been more aimed at people. I'm very regularly dropping in on some of the older residents' of the ward and ensuring that if there's anything that can be done - it is. Yes there is more to be done - but first we must strengthen our sense of community.

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

I'm a hard working, dynamic individual who is not afraid of change who has spent my life so far trying to support people and would like the chance to do this further as a Councillor. I believe introducing as much diversity in the council as possible is only a good thing. Wrexham, please ensure you are registered to vote to cast your approval over the candidates you want to be steering Wrexham into difficult times. People of Gwenfro, please vote for Damian Wynn Conde - In dependant on 'star wars day', May the 4th.

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