Statement from Dana Davies
We invited them to tell you a little about who they are, any political history and about their political leanings.
Hello, my name is Dana Davies and I am standing as your Welsh Labour Candidate for Ruabon Ward.
My husband Nick and I moved into our family home in Ruabon nearly 25 years ago. We have two children, Aimee and Aaron. Both Nick and I work for Manweb-Scottish Power at their local office in Pentre Bychan. I work part-time and this allows me to focus on my community and volunteering work, which is my passion and very much a part of who I am today.
My life changed in 2008 when I joined Ruabon Community Council, having been told by friends to do it and by their children to get them a decent park for Ruabon! £50,000 was secured for play equipment in Daniel’s Drive and two successful grant applications totalling £110,000 enabled the redevelopment of the playground on the Recreation Field. These projects gave me the ‘can do’ mindset that I have today, as well as the drive and determination to serve my community and get things done.
My background and experience has allowed me to support several Charities and Community Groups. I volunteered at Splash Magic Community Trust to support and improve their financial systems and move their accounting practices to an electronic system. Trusts can flourish or fold in the first few years and therefore it was extremely important that Ruabon continued to have this facility on its doorstep. Working with the brilliant Friends of Ruabon and in partnership with the Community Council, many local events are scheduled throughout the year, from Bunny Hunts to our Christmas Celebration Weekend where families and friends can enjoy quality time together. In my view it is the people that make a community and that is why relationships are extremely important to me.
For the past 5 years I have led the Labour Group as Leader of the Opposition on Wrexham Council, challenging the current Independent and Conservative Administration and holding them to account. I have successfully lobbied Welsh Government for additional funding for our area, working closely with Ken and Lesley, our Senedd Members, and continue to contribute to national policy development. I was appointed by the Council’s Director of Education as an additional Governor to a secondary school in special measure and later, a primary school. With the dedication and commitment of the Senior Leadership Teams, Governing Bodies, staff, the regional improvement consortia GwE and the Council’s Education Service, both schools came out of category last year with standards continuing to rise.
I am driven by fairness, honesty and accountability and I wholeheartedly believe that we can achieve more by working together. I do not subscribe to personality politics as this often breeds misinformation. I believe that YOU have the absolute right to truth and accuracy, which can empower you to make the informed decisions that affect you own life and well-being.
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 most concerning issue on the doorstep is the cost-of-living crisis and residents are extremely worried about how they are going to feed their families, heat their homes and keep a roof over their heads. (please see Q7 which is specific to this very real concern.) From speaking to a lot of residents, I have highlighted their main local concerns below. • Speeding and Parking – this is an issue for all parts of the Ruabon. To address this matter a whole-village approach to both issues is required and this work was progressing well prior to the pandemic. Unfortunately, the crucial meaningful consultation element of the process could not be undertaken during Covid-19 and as a result both the Speed Limit Consideration and Traffic and Parking Review came to a halt. I hope to continue with this crucial piece of work and drive forward the consultation process post-election as it forms the basis of initial works required to then attract wider investment into our village. Ruabon’s programme of on-plot parking/driveways for tenants has continued following WCBC’s change in contractors. I hope to continue this programme post-election and address those properties and areas that have more problematic issues with gradient levels and obstructions, such as street lighting columns. • Unadopted Roads – We have a few areas in Ruabon where WCBC did not initially adopt the roads following the development and building of properties and as a result, these roads have never been maintained by the Council and are becoming more dangerous for our residents, many who live in these areas have mobility needs. Whilst I recognise this long-standing issue has accumulated over decades, I hope to pursue an idea that has links to the Economic Growth Strategy that the Labour Group are developing for Wrexham, with a Community Benefit scheme that redirects wealth back into our local communities. I believe that a proactive policy change can benefit our communities and provide us with the opportunity to address this long-standing issue. This is what we do in Ruabon and we have achieved success recently in resolving the 3 houses on the High Street which are now three lovely homes in Williams Mews. This was an extreme lengthy process that was hard to pursue through the Courts but luckily in the end they ruled in our favour. • General appearance of the Village and state of the roads – The village is completely split regarding this. Some believe the village is on the up and improving and others believe there is a lot more to do. I agree with both statements and there is always to do. There is collective agreement that our roads need to be improved, and we need to ensure that Ruabon gets its full share of the funding from Wrexham Council as it is obvious that some areas are not getting their fair share of investment. Therefore, there is a greater need for transparency and accountability regarding Council decisions. I am an advocate of co-production, whereby YOU are involved in the creation of public policies and services through meaningful communication, consultation and engagement. I also recognise that this practice will be a complete culture shock for many Councillors but if we want the best services that meets public need then we need to listen to and act on your experiences.
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 post-pandemic recovery plan needs to work for the whole county, businesses, people and children. Our manifesto promises to deliver a local Economic Growth Strategy bespoke to needs of Wrexham. I have heard much about the need for Wrexham to secure local supply chains but in all honesty the recovery is reliant on much bigger influences than only supply chains. It’s about resilience where there is risk and local economic security where there is instability and hardship. We know that locally owned and socially minded enterprises are more likely to employ, buy and invest locally, thus recirculating wealth and surplus on a local level. As a Council, we can look to increase our public sector insourcing and support the third sector to expand worker ownership, co-operatives, community ownership as well as local private ownership models, thus ensuring wealth is redistributed at a local level rather than flowing out of county as profits to shareholders. A Labour led Council will influence the conditions to improve employment opportunities within the county. This can be done in a variety of ways such as promoting recruitment from lower income areas, apprentice schemes, building progression routes for employees and attracting high-quality well-paid jobs. We will work with our big employers and institutions as anchors to stimulate the local economy. Adapting our procurement processes can support our anchor institutions to create dense local supply chains and ecosystems of local enterprises, SME’s and social third sector enterprises, which can mean greater economic, social and environmental benefits can be achieved. We also need a common approach to public land and assets as collaboration and partnership working in this area can not only help create a good local economy but also ensure responsible environmental oversight and advance social justice. For our local economy to thrive and better support everyone we also need a sustainable local public transport system for the whole county, an ambitious council house build, a green county that supports our well-being and attracts ethical inward investment, as well as a better supported and connected education system, which is totally inclusive and enables everyone to maximise their potential. I hope to speak more to these points as I go through the questions. By creating the conditions, exploring all the opportunities, maximising growth and funding streams, together we can secure Wrexham’s future.
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 am currently Leader of the Labour Group and I am democratically elected into that position by the members. All positions from committee members through to Chairs and Vice Chairs of committees are democratically elected at our May’s Annual General Meeting. If Labour held positions on the Executive Board, which we do not a present, those appointments would follow the same democratic procedure, which is enshrined in our Standing Orders. A robust process of C.V.’s and skill matching are undertaking to ensure the most qualified person is appointed to the role. We undertake a programme of upskilling and mentoring members to expand their current knowledge, become effective Councillors and good decision-makers. I will be proud to serve in whatever capacity the Labour Group considers most appropriate.
4. What do the words climate emergency mean to you and your ward?
Climate emergency is here, and the challenges are very real. In the last 100 years the global temperature has increased by 1-degree Celsius, global sea levels have been on a straight-line upward trajectory for the past 25/30 years and the Artic Sea Ice has approximately halved in the last 40 years. The result for us is more extreme weather and we are feeling the impact of this in our own communities. High winds damaging property and leaving us without electricity, heavy rainfall resulting in homes being flooded, trees being uprooted and causing a danger to life and property, streets and roads flooded, and the list goes on. The information is out there, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; a United Nations body for assessing the science and who create assessment and impact reports every 5-7years. To limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world needs to slash their current emissions by half by 2030 and that means Wrexham Council need to progressively move forward a Climate Action Plan that not only supports behaviour and lifestyle changes but also includes structural change across our County. The Council’s current Decarbonisation Plan is very inward looking and only looks to tweak the Council’s transactional and property pollutants and emissions. As a Council we need to encourage a greater use of renewable energy sources, move to a sustainable local transport system, review our local planning guidance to support greener homes that adopt clean energy usage and demonstrate smart design that enhances our environment and promotes active travel. The Council need to work with communities to develop a county-wide strategic plan, a Climate Action Plan, that identifies key strategic sites, includes bringing electric vehicle charging points to homes and ensures we are in the best position to draw down national infrastructure funding and private investment for medium and large-scale projects. Ruabon Community Council have 6years ago secured investment and changed all our community street lights to LED and installed PV solar panels on our community buildings. Wrexham desperately needs a progressive plan to meet its carbon reduction commitments by 2030 and the new Council must deliver on this, we need to secure Wrexham’s future.
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?)
As a Council we have four statutory departments, legal democratic services, finance, social services and education. In this last Council term two of those departments were deemed to be a cause of serious concern by their regulatory bodies. Those being Education and Social Services. The Health and Safety Executive called the Council into Court where serious compliance concerns were raised regarding breeches to regulations and legislation. The Council are working through an action plan now to address those issues. For the past 11 years the Council have had no Local Development Plan in place, which means there is no strategy for planning and development in place across our county. With no plan bespoke to Wrexham County, developers can easily appeal any planning decision and the Planning Inspector for Wales can only look to National Policy to determine the case. All the above are failures that sit with our political decision makers (Independents/Conservatives), the Executive Board Lead Members, who develop the policy, and collectively, decide the strategic direction of the Council. To address these issues there needs to be a culture change within the political leadership of the Council. Staff and service users regularly identify shortfalls and some failings within service provision before they reach a crisis point. The co-production model I shared in question one will provide a forum to improve services prior to them becoming a cause of concerns and develop that culture change that the Council desperately needs.
6. Local health pressures are well documented, from delayed ambulances to issues in the hospital. How can the council help resolve those problems?
We need to improve primary care as access to GP services are a major issue in some parts of the county. The lack of GP provision at a local level means less and less people are registered with a GP and therefore when they fall ill or need medical intervention they naturally head to A&E at the Maelor. This puts significant pressure on a health service that is already in huge demand. For some time now we have felt the effects at local level of nationally contracted GP’s retiring from the service. Ruabon experienced this only a few years ago, however we were quick to act and,working with the Health Board, we were able to move the local GP provision into a model of permanent GP’s and permanent Advanced Nursing Practitioners that are salaried and managed by our Health Board, thus ensuring we maintain a Doctors Surgery in Ruabon. To reduce the demand in A&E, we need to increase provision and services at a local level so that everybody across our county are registered with a GP Practice. That should be the goal! Local primary care provision needs to be supported by Health Centre Hubs whereby GP and Advance Nursing Practitioners are surrounded by a multi-discipline workforce that can provide care in the community for cardiology, child and adolescence, mental health, our elderly and frail, etc and working with our Community Agents and Third Sector to deliver that much needed well-being help and support. We also need a programme of succession planning to build resilience for the future. We cannot tackle the local health pressures without addressing the UK-wide crisis in social care with the mass exodus of carers from this sector. As a Council we need to ensure our social care provision meets the needs of the client and that care packages are assessed and implemented in a timely manner. To do this we need insource the provision and take it out of the private profit-driven sector, investing in a resilient workforce by providing training and support as well as job security and improved terms and conditions. The Council need to grow and enhance their social care workforce as a matter of urgency by offering an alternative to low morale, burnout, understaffing, uncompetitive wages and a lack of career progression currently experienced in the private sector. I completely support Welsh Government’s ambition to bring health and social care services together so that they are designed and delivered around the needs and preferences of individuals. These next 5 years will determine how Wrexham Council meets this challenge and if a broader and deeper partnership with Health and Welsh Government can be formed and maintained to deliver this significant and much needed structural change.
7. What will you do on a local level to help support people in your ward affected by the cost of living crisis?
In order to tackle the cost-of-living crisis there needs to be a recognition and acceptance of the problem. We have the persistent problem of low pay combined with an erosion of the welfare state. Before the pandemic hit, real incomes for the lowest-income households were no higher than in 2001-02 as a result of over a decade of sustained welfare cuts and many households suffering in-work poverty, with living standards already declining. Every basic need has increased in cost, food, energy, transport, housing, with substantial hikes in some key sectors as well as national taxation increases reducing earnings. Pensions have not kept pace with living standards and therefore our older generation are experiencing real financial difficulties. We have a housing sector that promotes wealth growth for those who own property portfolios but a society that needs rents to stay low to ensure that housing, a basic need, is affordable to them. Regardless of what anyone tells you housing cannot, at the same time, be affordable to the renter and profitable for the landlord. There is increased demand for affordable homes but not enough supply, we have approximately 2000 people on council housing waiting lists, with other social landlords in the county also holding their own waiting lists. Through policy and local planning guidance, the Council can do more to meet the affordable housing need and our manifesto addresses both the social housing demand for greener affordable homes as well as the need for greater control of standards in the private housing sector. A route to mitigate the effects of fuel poverty is a home that is well insulated, has PV solar investment as well as air/heat source pumps. Better advice and support services are needed at a local level to ensure people are properly supported and aware of their entitlements. It is shocking that millions of pounds go unclaimed each year in pension credits, housing benefit, income support and employments and support allowance. The Council needs to work more flexibly and in collaboration with local charities and community groups who are supporting our most vulnerable through this crisis, ensuring key services are resourced and available as demand and needs soar. Working with Coleg Cambria and Glyndwr University to support those trapped in low paid insecure jobs to seize opportunities within a rebuilt and renewed local economic and social infrastructure. Crucially, political decision makers need to develop key policies that mitigate the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis and not worsen the situation.
8. How would you improve the local education system?
We need to give our young people the best possible start in life, no exception! Secondary Education in Wrexham has been turbulent and there have been many contributing factors. If the basics are not there, then outcomes are limited. The Council did not know their schools, there was no collegiate approach to school improvement and raising standards, some schools did not know their pupils and the authorities involved were mostly working independently of each other. Strategic and political leadership were missing in action. We have fantastic teachers and staff in our schools and brilliant volunteers on our governing bodies, but they need a package of support and training to effectively carry out their roles and responsibilities. I have championed this with the regional improvement consortia GwE and with the training department for Governing Bodies. Crucial appointments have been made within Education at Wrexham Council. ESTYN have provided reassurance in their most recent report that the new leadership and changes to ways of working are having a positive impact, following their 2019 determination that Education Services in Wrexham were a cause of significant concern. In my role as a member of the Education Scrutiny Committee and school governor, I am aware of the areas that require further improvement and will continue to support and effectively challenge across every forum. Education is a passion of mine and I will stand up for a better supported and connected education service which is totally inclusive, serves the needs of all our children and enables everyone to maximise their potential. The Council needs to continue the culture of continuous improvement in our education provision and service, regardless of whether our schools are deemed by ESTYN to be good or excellent. Lifelong learning is all about us continuing to improve our learning and understanding.
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 am a Labour Party member and have been for many years. The electorate will be aware that our local manifesto is bespoke to Wrexham and has been developed in consultation and engagement with many Wrexham County residents. There are 6 ambitious policy pledges as well as 6 ‘more and better’ service provision improvements to take Wrexham forward and secure a better future for everyone. Welsh Labour have put forward 30 candidates for this election. Our hope is to secure enough votes in the challenged wards to become a Labour run Council. For an outright majority there is a need to secure 29 or more elected Councillors. Welsh Labour are the only Party to put forward sufficient candidates to make this a reality. The beauty of our democratic process is that the electorate determines the final political configuration of our Council. If the people of Wrexham County are unhappy with the present Independent Parties/Conservative Council Administration, it is in the hands of the people to make that change. Casting your vote gives you a voice and the power to affect change. I would ask that you vote Welsh Labour wherever you see that opportunity on the ballot paper, so that we can act and deliver for you during this next 5-year term.
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 ?
It is fantastic that 16–17-year-olds now can vote and as a direct consequence better policy is being developed through direct consultation with our young people and youth groups. Young people are acutely aware of local issues, are passionate about environmental issues and climate change but are extremely worried about their prospects such as education leading to secure employment, getting on the housing ladder and they believe mental health support and intervention should be a national priority. Welsh Labour have locally and nationally engaged with this voter group and have encouraged voter registration and explained the process of voting. Prior to the closing date for voter registration, I was actively speaking to and encouraging our young people to register to vote. I have responded with a lot of detail to the great questions posed by Wrexham.com. In doing so, I wanted to provide you with assurance that I recognise and understand the issues facing us as a Council and county, that we have a local and bespoke Manifesto for Wrexham and, with your support, we are committed to actioning this. I hope that I have provided you with reasons to Vote Welsh Labour on May 5th. Thank you for listening / Diolch am wrando Dana
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OTHER CANDIDATES FOR Ruabon
- Not Stated
- Welsh Conservative Party
- Plaid Cymru
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