Ruabon eyesore – the highs and lows of politics.

Politics. I both love it and hate it.

Love it because on a good day you feel like you’ve achieved something; improved someone or a society’s lot; you can make a real difference to people’s lives; it’s a vehicle to improve things. There’s also the adrenalin rush during election campaigns, the camaraderie, and above all the honour of having people share their inner most feelings with you and trusting you.

I hate it because of things like this,

The article is about a row of houses on Ruabon High Street which have been derelict for many years. It’s been a bone of contention locally and a source of real anger.

The article says, “Community Councillors have been pushing for a solution to the problem of the properties… Cllr Dana Davies who has spearheaded the campaign…”

To be fair to Dana (Labour Councillor) I know that she’s been involved in trying to get the issue resolved over the last two years.

But the article (which is almost certainly a cut & paste from a Press Release issued by Labour) explicitly states that she “spearheaded” a “campaign”.

It’s election time and Dana is seeking re-election. The other person in the picture is also seeking election as a Labour Councillor in the neighbouring ward.

So we shouldn’t be surprised when politicians and wannabe politicians stretch a few truths.

But “spearheading a campaign”? That’s stretching it beyond breaking point.

I first stood for election in Clwyd South in 2011, and Ruabon is right at the centre of the constituency. Back then the village’s Councillor was Plaid’s Barrie Price, before his untimely passing in September 2011. Dana won the by-election.

Barrie was a real gentleman. A kinder, more generous soul you couldn’t find anywhere. I got on well with Barrie and enjoyed his company. He was a true champion of Ruabon, and took pride in the village. He took it upon himself to arrange fresh flowers on the High Street, and would ensure that the Council came immediately to tackle any unsightly problems. Barrie loved Ruabon, and indeed Ruabon loved Barrie.

I remember walking the High Street with him in 2010 and he mentioned the derelict houses. He talked about how he was trying to get the issue sorted, and how difficult it was because the company who owned the houses were based overseas. Sadly he couldn’t see the fruits of his labour on this issue.

Five years later I was once again walking along Ruabon High Street and was wondering what could be done. People in the village were complaining about them and the fact that no-one was doing anything. I knew that the Community Council had raised the issue several times but to no avail. However they persisted with the issue.

Having asked around a few ideas came forward. I went on Facebook to share one idea, and it immediately went viral.

We shared the idea with our email contacts.

Whether or not a CPO would be successful was not the most important point, the fact was that it was putting the issue back in the public eye.and forcing the issue back on the political agenda locally. People far and wide showed support and offered assistance to get the matter resolved.

We created a petition and gathered over 700 names. Cllr Arfon Jones and I took the petition to the Guildhall in Wrexham.

We researched the background of the company who owned the houses, and contacted numerous legal bodies to find out what could be done. We communicated everything back to the council in order to help them resolve the issue once and for all, and also communicated with local residents.

A lot of work was done.

Not long after we were told that the Council were quietly confident that the issue would soon be resolved. If a certain amount of time had passed before anyone lay claim on the property then the property would fall into Crown hands and then to public ownership. The Council were carrying out their research, and it was best to let sleeping dogs lie in order for the time to lapse.

We were in regular contact with officials, but couldn’t say anything publicly.

This was a campaign. This is how to run a campaign. Identify the problem; find a solution; get people on board; convince those that have the ability to do something about it to go and do something about it; keep applying the pressure; keep people informed (as much as you can); get a result.

During all of this we heard nothing from Dana. Again, to re-iterate, I know that she did make some queries. But to claim that she “spearheaded a campaign” is – well, laughable.

I’m aware that this could start to sound petty, and churlish. Honestly, the important thing here is that something is at last being done about the problem. That’s great news, and personally I’m chuffed to bits at the outcome – which is part of the reason why I love politics.

Politicians are renowned for taking credit for all of the good things and denying responsibility for all of the bad things. I’m sorry to say that this is a perfect example. The Labour leader. Jeremy Corbyn, claims he wants to do politics differently. If he’s sincere, he had better have a word with those practising at the coal face.

If someone deserves credit for sorting the Ruabon eyesore out, then it’s Barrie Price, for raising the issue in the first place and for working so hard to get it sorted while he was with us.

Barrie, you’d be proud of your village again. I’ll raise a glass to you tonight, Barrie.