Statement from Paul Rogers
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
I'm Paul, I am the current Councillor for Brymbo and I have lived in the village nearly all of my life. I went to St Mary's Primary School and Ysgol Bryn Alyn before going on to 6th form and studying law at Aberystwyth University.
My family have lived in the community for generations and many members worked at Brymbo Steelworks.
Since I have been Councillor the area has seen substantial changes.
When I was first elected our open spaces and parks were in need of investment, there was a lack of play and youth provision and the road links between Brymbo and Tanyfron were poor. During my time in the role I've worked with the community to make these a priority, improving play areas and securing funding for a skatepark. The Community Council now funds play and youth provision in both Brymbo and Tanyfron. There is a new road crossing the former Steelworks site which has made a huge difference to our area.
As a Councillor I feel you should listen and make the people's priorities your own. You should be accessible, be involved in the community, a member of the Community Council and be prepared to put the work in. I feel I have more than demonstrated this throughout this term.
Recent examples include fundraising to keep St Mary's Church open, holding clean up events, installing public access defibrillators as well as organising the village Christmas lights and switch on event.
I am proud of the community I represent. There have been a lot of positive changes through working together and if re-elected I will continue to work with residents on the issues which matter to them to improve our communities together.
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?
Residents will have different priorities however in no particular order the following issues are regularly being raised on the doorstep by residents It will come as no surprise that the first issue I will talk about is the redevelopment of the former Steelworks site. I've been working closely with Council officers and the landowner to make sure that we get the next phase right for the community. It is important that we don't settle for second best. This includes making sure that the proposed health facility, retail and school are located in the right place, that there is sufficient parking and road safety considerations as part of the development. Similarly it is important that the development of the heritage area becomes a fitting legacy to Brymbo Steelworks for not only the community but the former Steelworkers and their families which is why I have been pushing for important safeguards. These are needed to ensure that the redevelopment is properly project managed, to ensure it is maintained to a high standard and does not remain an eyesore. As lottery and public funding is involved it is understandable that the community are concerned about how and where the money is being spent. If re-elected I will press for openness and transparency around this project. The next issue is access to GP services. The award of three GP practises by the Health Board to Community Care Collaborative and centralisation at Hillcrest was a mistake. When it failed the Health Board were forced to take back over the practises and unpick the mess which was created. Politicians in Cardiff did nothing despite local Councillors raising concerns. Following extensive talks with the Healh Board I have my support to an application to open a new branch surgery in Brymbo. The application has been granted and it is hoped that Bryn Darland Surgery will take over the Offa Street Clinic in the near future. If re-elected I will continue to work with the Health Board and Bryn Darland to make this happen. The third issue is the Council's Local Development Plan and the potential for a gypsy and traveller site at Coedyfelin Road in Brymbo. I have said previously that the site is unsuitable due to highway safety and land contamination reasons. Unlike my opponent I've been involved in this since the beginning, attended every meeting and if re-elected I will continue to challenge the site selection process and fight these proposals.
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 ?
Wrexham like many parts of the country has suffered a reduction in retailers prior to the pandemic. As we emerge from this Wrexham needs investment to create a vibrant Centre. This could mean bringing empty buildings back into use, creating housing opportunities above retail units and organising events to create additional footfall. There are huge opportunities on the back of the potential redevelopment of the Racecourse and Wrexham Gateway project and the Council should maximise the benefits of this. The Council should also continue to work with Councils across North Wales and the North West to improve transport links and maximise access to job 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?
If re-elected as Councillor for Brymbo and Tanyfron then the ward will be my priority. I am passionate about the community and improving it for the better. I don't do it for the money, I receive a basic allowance and don't claim any expenses. For me if you are elected you need to be first and foremost a member of the Community Council, you need to be committed and you need to be flexible. This means putting the job of Councillor before other work commitments.
4. What do the words climate emergency mean to you and your ward?
The impact of climate change is something we now hear about daily. Brymbo had a rich industrial past and we have seen the benefit of remediation of the contamination around this area with the creation of new green spaces on the former Brymbo Steelworks and also the mining areas in the Vron. There's still much to be done and opportunities from renewable energy to grasp. I would like to see the installation of electric car charging points in key locations for use by the public.
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 strongly believe that had it not been for the pandemic that the administration would have been able to have progress a number of key projects which unfortunately stalled. I wouldn't say there's anything that stands out that the administration should have done differently. I think the Council has done very well in attracting significant sums of investment to the County such as the Levelling Up Fund bid for the World Heritage site. The benefits of this hard work will be seen over the next 5 years.
6. Local health pressures are well documented, from delayed ambulances to issues in the hospital. How can the council help resolve those problems?
Brymbo deserves its own GP surgery and over the past term I have worked with the Health Board on the issue of access to GP appointments in our area. This strong working relationship has resulted in the approval of a new branch surgery and works are now underway at Offa Street Clinic which will allow it to be used again. A number of residents would like to see a new healthcare facility. Now we have a new branch with GPs set to open, discussions are underway as to what that might look like. By sorting out primary care it is hoped that pressures at the Maelor Hospital will ease. That is why I have made this a priority for our area and if re-elected I will ensure these plans are seen through.
7. What will you do on a local level to help support people in your ward affected by the cost of living crisis?
In my role I regularly receive queries from residents on a range of issues including benefits and energy efficiency measures. I have extensive experience in signposting individuals to relevant organisations for advice and support on a range of issues. Recently during the pandemic I helped vulnerable residents who were in need of priority food delivery slots from supermarkets and also supported residents working with local food banks. I am also pleased the Community Council agreed to my request to continue to fund play and youth provision which helps support local children and young people in Brymbo and Tanyfron throughout the year.
8. How would you improve the local education system?
Continued investment in improving our school buildings at both primary and secondary level to ensure that our teachers and support staff can support pupils in a modern environment with the resources they need. Brymbo Ward has two good schools, St Mary's in Brymbo and Ysgol Tanyfron. Plans are in place and funding is secured for a replacement for St Mary's and if re-elected I look forward to working with residents on the issues as to how the school can be designed to benefit the wider community outside of school opening hours. Ysgol Tanyfron has seen investment over recent years however is split over two sites which raises a number of issues. If re-elected I will make this and improving parking outside the school a key priority.
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?
For the people not the party. I am currently a member of the Independent Group which leads the Council. As a member of the largest group I have been able to stand up for what my community and influence decisions. During my time on the Council I have always put people before party. The suggestion that being a member of a political party makes you more accountable is untrue. Councillors should he accountable to the electorate and not the party. It is about being on their side, being their voice and working together to bring positive change to our community. I have friends in all political parties and have worked in coalition with the Conservatives, Labour and Plaid since I was elected. It is my view that at this level it should not be about party politics but who is best for the job and to represent the whole of the community. Being County Councillor should not be about looking after specific interests. If I am re-elected I will represent everyone irrespective of their political views.
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 ?
Since I was elected I have made it a priority to improve facilities and provide services for children and young people. Brymbo Community Council have supported this effort and over third of our annual funding goes towards play and youth services and maintaining open spaces. During the pandemic the Community Council purchased a converted shipping container which has been installed at Cheshire View as a youth and play hub. As restrictions have eased it is now being used by youth workers two nights a week. If re-elected I would like to replicate this in Tanyfron. I work closely with the trained youth workers to understand the issues which matter to young people and see how we can address them. Our young people deserve the best and as a Councillor I want to encourage aspiration through education and job opportunities. I'm proud of my record of investment in our future generations and it is rewarding to receive their positive feedback.
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