Statement from Bobbi Cockcroft

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

I am an active and avid volunteer within the town and I have spent over two years building and maintaining relationships with existing business owners and various volunteer networks across the county. Since then I have been able to maintain a good working relationship with various members of Wrexham Council, including those on the current Executive Board, and have been able to assist the Council in numerous ways with the reopening of the Town Centre. As well as these key partnerships, I am also on the board of directors for a local CIC Art Gallery,.

Prior to this, I was a student at Glyndwr University, and was studying History. I have taken a break in my studies to pursue a role as County Councillor for the new Acton and Maesydre ward.
I grew up in Maesydre, and after living in other areas of Wrecsam whilst I raised my young family, I made the decision to move back to the area I grew up in, enabling me to be closer to my children's school and in a more accessible location for work and volunteering opportunities.

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 biggest source of contention amongst a large proportion of residents at the moment is the proposed redevelopment of 9 Acre Field. It is undeniable that St Mary's primary school is in dire need of better resources, however, is 9 Acre Field the best location for this? I'm committed to working alongside Cllr Becca Martin and local residents to save the land, and find a suitable location for the primary school to relocate and expand. Over the last few months, whilst talking to residents, it has become apparent that there are several issues that residents would like to see tackled. One issue that appears to run concurrent between both wards is speeding. I'll be looking to work alongside the community council and NWP to identify 'hotspots', and find long term resolutions where needed. Finally, litter and dog fouling. Despite the fantastic work carried out by both the volunteers at Wrexham Litter Pickers and WCBC Streetscene to keep our community tidy, I feel that we need to be looking at the cause of persistent littering and tackling it at it's core.

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 ?

We need to seriously reassess Council spending. Like many of my colleagues have highlighted, Procurement is currently draining 79% of the councils budget directly out of Wrecsam. Housing, again, is another issue frequently mentioned by my fellow candidates. We need not only cost effective social and private housing, but to scrutinise and assess just how much money is lost to private tender and substandard housing repairs - pay cheap and pay twice? No thank you! Lets look into ways to decrease overall spending whilst genuinely improving the quality of living for Wrecsam residents.

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?

Having worked extensively in the town centre during the last two and a half years, I feel passionately about its Economy and Regeneration. I am quick thinking, innovative, and have a real passion for change whilst honoring the vast and magnificent history that our whole borough is steeped in. We need progressive change, true scrutiny, and lead members who are invested in the town and the views and concerns of its people.

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

I think the words Climate Emergency encompass much more than just my ward. This is a global issue, and shouldn't be minimised. WCBC declared a climate emergency in 2019, though rather ironically over 70% of the councils carbon emissions are a direct result of outsourcing our procurement. If we are to be innovative leaders in reducing emissions and play our part in saving the planet, the Council needs to be taking this seriously. Cohesive working across multiple departments is key; for example Housing Development and Transport and Environment. We need to be supporting local businesses in a multifaceted way via procurement, business development and Town Centre infrastructure to encourage businesses and shoppers to shop local, stay local, and use local.

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?)

Quite simply, I'd have listened. I'd have listened to the views of the residents of Wrecsam, I'd have listened to the business owners who are working tirelessly day-in and day-out to bring footfall into town, and I'd have listened to fellow Councillors - not just those who form my party or Executive Board members. I'd have ensured that everyone had the right to be heard, and taken their points into fair consideration to ensure that all actions were made in the best interest of Wrecsam and it's constituents.

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

Despite the NHS being a wide and diverse service that WCBC cannot influence alone, Plaid Cymru is committed to doing their utmost to ease pressures on a local level. Plaid are keen to shaking up the way social care is delivered in our area, we need to create smoother and quicker transitions for those leaving hospital and returning to their home; thus reducing 'bed blocking' issues, freeing up saught after hospital spaces for those needing urgent care and operations. The rise in average life expectancy means our loved ones are living longer - it is imperative that we have the infrastructure in place to ensure that everyone, from our newborns to our elders, have access to the quality of care they deserve.

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

The cost of living crisis is very real, and we are only at the beginning. Since early 2020, before the pandemic, I have worked with numerous voluntary organisations, community groups, and social enterprises. I have seen first hand how austerity, the pandemic, and most recently the hike in energy prices have affected everyday people. As an individual I have a firsthand knowledge of organisations that are able to help ease the immediate burdens of things such as food, household items, and children and baby supplies. For those with longer term concerns I have contacts with organisations who offer practical help and advice with issues such as housing, debt management, and budgeting skills. Plaid Cymru recently ran a 'Cost-of-Living Crisis Surgery' with assistance from Citizens Advice and Shelter, and will continue to assist residents with information made available to us. On a national scale, Plaid have pledged free school meals to ALL school children regardless of a families circumstances; a child's right to education should not be compromised by familial circumstances.

8. How would you improve the local education system?

As a parent of three school aged children, one in Secondary education, and two in Primary and Early Years, I have been quite aware for some time that there are flaws in the way our current education system is managed. We need to improve ways in which Secondary Schools are managed, reducing both the amount and frequency they are put under 'special measures'. We need to be making sure such instances are both brief and non-repeat. Funding, in my opinion, should also be assessed frequently. We need to ensure all the teachers across the borough are adequately supported, and money is a barrier to education. Teaching, and all other school staff should be on a fair wage proportionate to the position they hold. Provisions for SENCO staff and SEN pupils needs drastic and rapid change. As an adult with ADHD I have first hand experience how the majority of schooling is heavily weighted in favour of non SEN pupils. All pupils are future adults, and it is our responsibility to ensure that education is truly accessible and inclusive.

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?

Yes, Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales. I am dedicated to Plaid and proud to be amongst twenty four accountable, hard working and dedicated candidates; twenty four individuals who complement each others work ethic effortlessly and progressively. We look forward to shaking up the Council and working hard for our respective wards.

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 ?

The most frequent complaint I have heard from young voters, or prospective voters, is not feeling truly represented within our current ruling administration. Currently only eleven of fifty two Councillors are women - I am proud to be one of sixteen female candidates standing for Plaid Cymru in Wrecsam. Of our twenty four candidates, seven of us are under 35, and this has been positively noted when speaking to people, both online and in person. During the pandemic I felt an increasing sense of under-representation on our current Executive Board, both in age and gender, which was why I felt it was important to stand as a candidate. I have always lived my life by example, and instead of complaining I pledged to change things. Excitingly, we have two fantastic candidates under 20. I am inspired by their passion and the way they have connected to their audiences every single day.

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