Statement from Phil Wynn

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

My wife and I have lived in the Offa community for over 20 years, and my family have always lived in the Borough. I am a member of the congregation at All Saint’s church on Poyser St and I am excited for the church’s future involvement in the community it serves. A Wrexham man and life-long supporter of Wrexham AFC, Wrexham is very much in my blood.
I have the interest of the community at heart, and I am active in it. My public duties include being a school governor and Chair of Finance at Ysgol Clywedog, treasurer of the North Wales Miners Association Trust and helping to run both the Maesgwyn and Bellevue Park community centres.
As a previous member of the Lib Dems I like many became disillusioned by the parties betrayal of university students by agreeing to support the then Tory parties introduction of university fees. Since then, I have happily stood as an independent candidate in the last two elections to represent the residents of Brynyffynnon as their Community and County Councillor.

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?

The major issues I believe which will impact the residents of Brynyffynnon over the next five years are: a. Numerous developments which include the Wrexham Gateway, the A483 intersection upgrades at Ruthin Rd and Mold Rd, potentially 1500 new homes on Berse Farm Ruthin Rd, completion of the Western Gateway business park which includes Money Penny HQ and a Council built retirement village on Croesnewydd Rd. Scrutiny and necessary challenge of the relevant planning applications, as and when submitted, will be needed to ensure granted consents recognise the needs of the existing ward residents as well as the interests of the applicants. I believe with fourteen years’ experience of successfully challenging planning applications places me in a good position to serve Brynyffynnon residents. b. Community cohesion is being eroded by an ever-increasing number of residents who pay little regard for the interests of others. Sadly, appealing to the better nature of this minority just falls on deaf ears. As such I believe the Council needs to take proactive action to ensure residents take their bins off the pavement once emptied, poop-scoop after their dogs, do not flout double-yellow line restrictions or park up on pavements etc. Such action will inevitably require additional enforcement officers who work flexible hours and can issue Fixed Penalty Notices for non-compliance. I will seek to secure elected member support to deliver on this. c. Competition for on-street parking on those residential streets close to the town-centre which is generated by post-office sorting office staff and town-based staff, as well as shoppers makes it at times impossible for residents to park near their homes. I will seek the support of fellow independent councillors to secure a reduction in the annual charge for a Residents Parking Scheme (RPS) permit for a trial period, at the same time as introducing limited waiting time parking bays on Bellevue Rd, Jubilee Rd and Maesgwyn Rd. Matchday parking on the residential side-streets off Mold Rd has proved an annoyance for residents due to the inconsiderate parking by several Club fans. To address this issue, I will seek to secure a RPS paid for by Wrexham AFC as a planning condition in relation to the expansion of the Racecourse seating capacity by an expected 5,000. This arrangement I believe can be delivered at minimal cost to the Club.

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 ?

The focus needs to be on ensuring the economy swiftly recovers in a sustainable manner to ensure taxes can be raised to pay for public services provided by our NHS, central and local governments. We also need to recognise the physical and mental challenges lock-down has created for many of our residents, along with emphasising the loneliness many faces daily. I am exploring the setting up of a Luncheon Club at the Maesgwyn Community Centre and will seek to identify residents who can benefit from a Men’s Shed Project which is to be run from the Mines Rescue Station on Maesgwyn Rd. To assist the local economy Councillor’s need to maximise inward investment into the County. To achieve this outcome, I believe it is right for Wrexham to be considered for City status, acknowledging this is only one of many levers and to secure grants from both the UK and Welsh governments which will enhance the appeal of Wrexham as a place to set up business, thereby maximising local employment opportunities.

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 have carried out the duties of Lead Member for Education and that as an Executive Board member over the previous five years. We are very much on a journey of improvement as regards the delivery of education in Wrexham and my desire is to play a continued part in securing a sustainable improvement of school experience for all our children and young people. My experience as a school governor and that as Chairperson for the North Wales school I improvement service (GwE) gives me a clear insight into the challenges we face. As a critical friend for our education officers and school leaders during the previous five years has I believe earned me their respect to work with them in the delivery of a better future for all our learners.

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

The Climate Crisis planet earth is facing will ultimately destroy human, animal, and plant life as we know, if we are not prepared to change our lifestyles drastically and swiftly, with the target of a 1.5 degree increase in global temperature missed within the 2050 timescale. The consequences will be disproportionately paid for by our younger generations, including my grandchildren so there is a moral duty for us all to reflect on what we can do at an individual level to reduce our carbon footprint to a level that carbon omissions become neutral. This week I completed an APSE ran course on “Carbon Literacy for Local Authorities” so I will be reviewing my own lifestyle to see what changes can be made. Having recently given up meat for Lent this is an area I can quickly reset, especially now I understand methane produced by cattle is 28 times more destructive to our atmosphere than carbon-dioxide. It would be presumptuous of me to speak for the residents of Brynyffynnon but local politicians do urgently need to start the Climate Crisis discussion at a street level.

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?)

I would have kept enforcement in-house rather than out-sourcing to Kingdom. This work still needs to be carried out but the focus needs to be on fly-tipping and dog fouling rather than the easy targeting of those that dispose of their cigarette butts in public places. That said repeat offenders do need to be fined if they are unwilling to change their disregard for our shared public spaces.

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

Health is a devolved matter in Wales, which is overseen and funded by our Welsh Government. In north Wales our Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has struggled in so many aspects to deliver the health service we need and pay for. I believe the time has arrived by which all six Local Authorities need to secure our government’s commitment to review the size of our regions Health Board, to see if it needs to be split sub-regionally so it becomes better accountable to all, at the same time as being easier to manage.

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

We are fortunate that WCBC have a proactive Benefits Support Team who work with residents to claim benefits they are entitled to. This team’s capacity will need to be reviewed to ensure we can assist those residents who will present over the next year with difficulties to pay for their basic needs because of the cost-of-living crisis. The ruling coalition have increased the annual grant the Council contribute to Wrexham’s Citizens Advice Bureau for 2022/23 which will increase their capacity to help Wrexham residents who present to them for advice. As an Offa Community Councillor, I have supported our Council’s stance to pay for a part-time Benefits advisor to work from the Parciau Community Centre. As one of the lowest household rates charging Authority in Wales and England it is important that we ensure any future rate increases are minimised whilst balancing our books.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

Back in December 2019 Estyn (Education and Training Inspectorate for Wales) passed judgement that Wrexham’s Education Services were a “Cause of Significant Concern”, as an immediate response the ruling Coalition increased the Education department’s annual budget by £500,000 to address the underlying concerns of Estyn, which have existed for some time. If additional funding is required moving forward, then that will be made available. Back in April 2020 we were swift to appoint a new Chief Officer for Education, who previously was a head-teacher at a Wrexham secondary school and is well respected in the field of education in Wales, having successfully led on improving Education and Children Services in Denbighshire. Whilst the pandemic has affected our ability to deliver against our Estyn Post Inspection Action Plan, I am confident that come the Autumn when Estyn return to carry-out their review of our changes in working practices they will recognise the journey of improvement we are on and the closer working relationship that has been established between the Council’s education officers and the Heads of our Primary and Secondary schools. The Chief officer’s focus has been to reset minds that we are not about chasing head-line achievement stats, we are about ensuring all Wrexham learners experience a safe and challenging learning experience which best prepares them for adult life. We need to recognise many of our learners are disadvantaged both socially and emotionally, so all our staff have benefited from “Trauma Informed” training. This reset means we are no longer focused on activity but on the outcomes that activity delivers for our learners. The additional resources provided have been prudently focused by our Chief Officer on increasing senior officer capacity to lead on the Inclusion agenda for pupils who have Additional Learning Needs and Behaviour issues. We have recruited an officer to lead on Secondary School engagement, who has previously worked in a Secondary school. We are also developing our capacity to work intensely with Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils to carry out the intervention work needed to give these learners the chance to better settle into their main-stream school setting. It has been recognised that the curriculum needs to be tailored to engage with pupils who are disengaged in their learning. This is a piece of work which is being developed, as it is crucial that all our children and young people are best prepared by their school for their adult life. Back in 2017 as Lead Member for Education I was able to outline to elected members our ambitions to deliver our second phase of our 21st century school infrastructure improvement plan. Since then, we have seen work carried out on the amalgamation of Borras primary and infants’ schools on one site, with the vacated infants building ear-marked for conversion into a Welsh medium primary school to serve the Acton locality. We have also commenced work on the amalgamation of Ysgol y Hafod in Johnstown. If planning consent is granted to build a new primary school on the Nine Acre Chester Road site, then I will be pleased to see St Mary’s Catholic primary school relocated. There are plans to deliver a new primary school in Brymbo, an extension to Ysgol Hooson in Rhos and a flag-ship new building to house St Christopher’s special school. I must mention the sterling work of our officers in securing additional funding to extend Ysgol Bro Alun in Gwersyllt, Barker’s Lane primary school, an extension of Ysgol Cynddelw in Glyn Ceiriog and a new sixth-form block at the Maelor Secondary school in Penley. I could say much more but I hope I have reassured the residents of Brynyffynnon and the County that we are very much focused on delivering better outcomes for all our learners, which in turn will add to the prosperity of the County as we develop the future generations of Lifelong Learners.

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?

As an Independent candidate my priority is to serve the interests of the residents of Brynyffynnon and the County, not the interests of a political party. As such my dream ticket for the people of Wrexham would be to see Independents, Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat elected members using their collective expertise and commitment to better everyone’s life here in the Borough of Wrexham. This coalition would seek to maximise the good-will towards Wrexham of both our Welsh and UK governments, as they collectively hold the purse strings for the bulk of public finance. The residents of Brynyffynnon have voted me in as their independent representative in the 2012 and 2017 local elections, as such political party activists who wish to discredit my choice not to stand as a representative of a political party ought to be respectful of the democratic decision taken by Brynyffynnon voters. No one on the street has ever challenged my previous decision to affiliate with other like-minded independent candidates so this is a non-issue in my mind.

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 leafleted all 1800 plus Brynyffynnon households early on in the election timetable, pointing out the process by which 16- and 17-year-olds needed to register to vote before the April deadline. I am grateful that our government are taking a lead on promoting to 16- and 17-year-olds their rights and duties to take part in our democratic system. The effectiveness of such engagement has however been severely hampered by the pandemic and the disruption thereby created for this to be discussed in our schools. Hopefully with the successful roll out of the Covid vaccination programme the return of normality will allow for greater engagement of politicians and young voters in a school setting in the run up to the next election.

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