Statement from Natasha Borton

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

I’m Natasha Borton, I’m 29 and I live in New Broughton with my 3-year old son, who goes to Caego Day Nursery. I grew-up in Wrexham and came back after being away at university to work in the community. Over the last 5 years I’ve worked for AVOW, supporting hundreds of charities, projects and campaigns across Wrexham County, from organising Holocaust Memorial Day events, to supporting the community response during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A lot of people will recognise me for my work in the arts, providing opportunities for artists from the community and the arts within the community. I lead on numerous community projects like Pride Wrexham for LGBTQIA+ awareness, Voicebox Wxm a performing arts community and North Wales Creatives Network, which works for more transparency and inclusion for North Wales.

Plaid Cymru have a track record of listening to and championing local voices to decision-makers. I’ve been a member of Plaid Cymru for several years because their policies put the needs of communities first. Initiatives like free school meals make a massive difference in people’s lives, and they look at the big picture. They are the only party I believe have a vision for the future of Wrexham and Wales that includes everyone.

I chose to stand for 5th May 2022 because I want to make sure that every resident feels listened-to in decisions that effect our lives. As a local girl, it’s important to me that I show my son how to put the work-in for the community we deserve.

Questions & Answers

1. What are the three biggest issues for your ward, how do you think they need to be resolved, and what will you do to achieve it?

1.Losing our community. In the last few years New Broughton lost the community centre, next we will lose the horses field to another housing development. I see a community that wants to thrive being destroyed by the current administration. 2.Roads and transport. The roads around New Broughton are in desperate need of repair. This is the biggest issue I’ve been getting on the doorstep, from older residents falling on corroded pavements, and cars ruined by pot holes. This needs a permanent solution. 3. Youth activities. We need to create a space where young people don’t age out of our communities and give them stimulating activities that discourage anti-social behaviour. Youth services across the county have been stripped bare, and we need to take a proactive approach to protect services that are essential for future generations.

2. What do you think needs to be done to help Wrexham recover from the pandemic and what hands-on-role can you play as a councillor ?

I worked with AVOW throughout the pandemic and helped recruit nearly 1000 volunteers, connect hundreds of services to each other. This experienced proved to me that, if supported the community has all the resources it needs. That’s the role I would like to play as councillor. I’d like to empower the community to make decisions, take initiatives and make lasting change for itself. Ultimately, that will have the largest impact on our local areas. This would include more accountability and transparency at a decision-making level, reducing barriers to inclusion for every member of our communities, and being active in the local area to know what the problems are and how we can address them together.

3. As a councillor you may have the chance to take on further roles eg. Lead Member, Audit, Scrutiny. What appeals to you and what skills do you bring to that role?

I’m passionate about making politics relatable. I think a lot of people are disillusioned and feel powerless. I’d like to find the stories within the policy that have an impact on people’s everyday lives. In Audit or Scrutiny, for example, it isn’t just looking at policies as they are, but seeing if the system itself works for the community it serves and making the decisions if it doesn’t. I’d bring to the council my lived experiences of domestic abuse, homelessness, LGBTQIA+ issues and my life as a single mother in New Broughton to make sure that those who often feel powerless are given a voice in decision-making spaces.

4. What do the words climate emergency mean to you and your ward?

I think this is the one issue that scares me the most, both in my ward and across Wales. Last winter we saw flooding in New Broughton at an unprecedented level, and I’m concerned about how this affects the area if we do not tackle the issues. We also have areas of natural beauty like Moss Valley which need to be protected for future generations and the wildlife that sustains us. When I see new housing developments proposed with no thought to sustainability, it makes me question who is responsible for the damage to our area and how we hold them accountable. In the ward, I see great initiatives like litter picking, planters and sharing resources like duck eggs. I’d like to support the community to do more of this, as well as find opportunities for ecologically diverse areas, like wildflower meadows, bug hotels and recycling bins in public spaces.

5. What is the biggest thing you would have done differently from the ruling administration over the last 5 years? (Or, if you were part of the Administration - what would you have done differently?)

Transparency and accountability is the most frustrating issue over the last 5 years. Services like Your Voice Wrexham have great potential but only if the voice of the community is listened to. As councillors their main duty is to represent the communities who elected them, I think it is disrespectful to think that a councillor knows better than anyone else’s lived experiences in our community. If I was part of the administration, I’d be accountable to my community, with clear communication around decision-making.

6. Local health pressures are well documented, from delayed ambulances to issues in the hospital. How can the council help resolve those problems?

My son was born 3 months premature, and we spent 3 months in hospital with him. During that time, the care we received was amazing and solidified my admiration for the NHS and local services. However, through my work with local services I know the problems that they are facing, gaps in services that are being filled or supported by charities to fundraise or even deliver services. To me, the council is in the perfect position to support multi-sector networks and encourage services across health and social care to work together for the benefit of the community. Similarly, the council can raise awareness of services that take pressure away from main services such as pharmacies minor treatments and mental health services like Parabl. I would like to see a council, and health and social care services that work less independently and in collaboration to meet the complex needs of the community.

7. What will you do on a local level to help support people in your ward affected by the cost of living crisis?

There is no doubt that the cost-of-living crisis will have a terrible effect across the ward. Short term, I want to make sure that all residents know what support they are entitled to. From potential benefits to fuel support, food bank referrals or emotional support, there are charities and community groups locally who are doing work on the ground to help already. Raising awareness of their work will allow households to make informed decisions. Long term, as a council we need to look at how services are run and what practical support we can offer to residents including freezing council tax. As a County Borough, we can feedback to larger organisations about the effects of the cost-of-living crisis to influence policy and decision-making at a national and international level.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

I’m a mother to a young son about to start 18 years in the education system, as well as learning locally myself for 18 years. Additionally, I worked in secondary schools and additional education across the county for 3 years. What I have seen is outdated systems, increased paperwork and over-worked school staff trying their best to provide for our children. Locally, Ysgol Penrhyn is building a sensory garden to provide nurturing spaces for our children and having to do this through donations and volunteering. I would want to make sure as a councillor that I find ways to take additional stress and strain of our school staff, to allow them to do the job they trained for. As well as making sure that we have enough school places from Primary to 6th form to support the ambition of our young people.

9. When the public view the Full Council meeting in June, do you envision you could be part of a Party, Group or coalition, and if so, specifically who and why?

I would be a proud member of the Plaid Cymru group. The candidates in this group and sitting councillors are amongst the most passionate and down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. They are such an asset to Wrexham, it’d be a privilege to sit alongside them.

10. This is a noteworthy election with 16 and 17 year olds now able to vote, what have you done to engage this new electorate and what do you think is the biggest issue for them locally ?

I work encouraging young people into social action, and to give them the opportunity to have a say in their future is ground-breaking for Wales and our future. I have shared resources to encourage young voters, as well as supported campaigns to increase awareness since it was introduced.I think the biggest issue for young people locally is access to opportunities. Often young people ‘ age out’ of opportunities from 16, 18 and 25. It should not be necessary for talented, passionate young people to move out of the area to access national and international opportunities, particularly with organisations locally like Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr University. I think it’s more important than ever to help young people break the glass ceiling in North East Wales and allow our local communities to thrive sustainably.

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