Statement from Kath Grives

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

Hello, my name is Kath Grives, I am mum to 2 daughters and nana to 4 grandchildren. I was born and bred in Wrexham, I live in Marchwiel with my husband but have previously lived in both the Offa Ward and Queensway Ward.
I have worked for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service for almost 30 years and have seen many changes, most important for me was the change from only operational and business fire safety to the addition of community fire safety. Through the inclusion of the community based initiatives I have had the pleasure to work with other agencies such as NHS. I was seconded from the Fire Service to the NHS for a month to help with the roll-out of vaccinations for the NHS staff and I also volunteered for the trails of the Novovax vaccination.
Within my Fire Service role I have been involved with helping the homeless, I have both organised and participated in environmental action days, I was involved at the inception of Fire Awareness Child Education, Phoenix courses for young people and I work alongside the Arson Reduction Team.
I moved from being a staunch Labour supporter like my father when they no longer stood for the values I expected from them, I didn't vote for a while until I realised that Plaid Cymru now held all of those values. Then I realised that it was not just a party for Welsh Language speakers but for all the people living in Wales who want a brighter future for this country. My husband is from Lancashire and he votes for Plaid Cymru for the same reason.
The Independent/Tory alliance is not working for our benefit so we need to have a stronger voice in Wrexham and we have the team who can make the difference.

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?

When talking on doorsteps with residents most of the conversations have turned to Housing, Roads and Footpaths and Anti Social Behaviour. Housing - From one resident who has a problem with overcrowding in their local authority home and another resident whose children have left home and would like to downsize to a bungalow, it is apparent that in future the correct type of housing is built in Wrexham. There are over 600 empty local authority homes which need to be made available as soon as possible. Roads and footpaths - One resident brought to my attention that heavy rain brings sewage bubbling from a crack in the road and another resident with a dangerous pavement outside her house was told that 'if they fixed hers they would have to fix everyone's!' This is not good enough especially when the Council have resurfaced their own car park. Anti Social Behaviour - There is ASB in almost all areas. Since 2010 our council have dropped down to 165th out of the 173 councils in Wales in spending on youth services which means a -33% spending. I don't think that this is acceptable, our young people deserve more than they have been given in the past 10 years, it is their future and also ours. Labour slogans like 'Taking Wrexham forward' should not mean leaving others behind.

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 as a town and as a county needs financial investment and the procurement policy should be to spend our money locally. We need to clean up the town to attract more shoppers and free parking available for visitors and workers in the town centre. Buying locally also means that those businesses can spend locally, employ locally and further improve the town centre. Most of our money is being spent by the council outside the local area, I would like to see this change to be invested in local businesses and shops our towns and villages.

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 concentrating on getting elected at the moment but I would apply myself to any of the roles in which I am needed.

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

Whether you worry about climate emergency or not there are changes that need to be addressed immediately and changes that we can all make to improve our own area. Development without first developing the infrastructure of our county has led to many problems, more houses being built in Wrexham means more pressure on our infrastructure including our sewage system. It is an old system which needs replacing which is a massive undertaking but urgently needed. When there is heavy rain, which is becoming more frequent, sewage and waste is purposely being released into our rivers and waterways, for example data from Dwr Cymru for 2020 states that raw sewage from Five Fords was released into the water course 40 times over a total period of 393 hours. Kings Mills was 20 times over 40 hours. There are many other areas in Wrexham where this regularly occurs. Wrexham councils policy of allowing building without thought or proper planning has consequences to our health. Wrexham has great recycling facilities on the Industrial Estate but not all people in the ward have access to transport to get there, Environmental Action days as in the past would provide skips and give information on future ways to prevent littering and waste.

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?)

City status was a disgrace and not a democratic way to decide how our taxes are spent, not one person I have spoken with in the ward wants city status and not one person wanted their council tax to rise by 4%, yet that was what was voted for by your local councillor. A councillors job is to represent the ward and not decide in a group not only to go ahead with the city status bid but to deny any democratic debate. Transparency into costs is necessary and all facts available to some should be made available to all who need to make a decision on how to vote. There are groups of Independents who align themselves with other parties, the majority in Wrexham council decision making party are Tory/Independent, I would like the voters to be advised of which party their 'Independent' candidate will align with.

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

The problems at the hospital are many. The cuts to services such as health have been happening for many years and have arrived at a point which is extremely urgent. We need to attract more GP's, anyone who uses Hillcrest surgery as I do will only be too aware of the problems. At one point there were no doctors and appointments could only be given when a locum doctor would turn up. At one point Hillcrest also served two other practices. The Covid 19 crisis has left us with waiting lists for procedures which will take years to clear. The staff at the hospital all should all have the recognition they deserve, while most of us were working or staying at home, they were risking their lives every day, the same for other essential workers. As a first step the increase of GP's would reduce the A&E waiting room patients which would reduce the ambulances waiting time which has a knock on effect. Social care in Wrexham needs to be strengthened which could also contribute to taking the strain off the Health Service.

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

I would definitely not have voted for 4% rise in Council tax or waste money on projects which we do not need or want or maybe will not even occur. The free school meal policy which Plaid Cymru have implemented will help families with primary school children but much more is needed. Most of us are have been given different challenges through no fault of our own and there is no 'cure all' so we need to be able to give the information which will direct individuals to the type of support that will help them. There are charities and voluntary organisations in the area who can provide support and advice for those affected by the cost of living crisis, I would promote these within my ward and make these apparent to any who need them.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

First step would be to ask the teachers/parents or carers/children themselves if there is anything we can do to improve our children's education and work from there. There will be a lot of catching up for some pupils following the working from home and extra support in the classrooms would be a huge step forward. Plaid Cymru have implemented a policy to provide free school meals to all primary school children in Wales which will roll out over the next 5 years which will also have an effect on any families struggling with economic pressure.

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 will be a part of Plaid Cymru and proud to represent our values to make Wrexham the best town it can be for it's residents, workers and visitors. Wrexham's Plaid Cymru candidates have a vast range of experience, qualifications and various skill sets having worked in Education, Social Care, NHS, Fire Service, Financial and many other services and are able to put these into use in the various roles. We also have the two youngest candidates for Plaid Cymru who can offer a personal take on the needs and aspirations of young people in Wrexham.

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 ?

Engage with them on the doorstep and give information on how to access council records of how parties vote in relation to what their personal concerns may be. Educate them on what the council can do for them and how their choices can empower them and can affect their lives. I cannot speak for every 16-17 year old but the biggest issue I have come across is lack of local jobs when leaving education.

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