So we asked what you wanted to know about the candidates for the General Election in Roath, and what they think about local issues. Here are the questions we put to them, and their answers. We asked them to answer in 140 words or less, as a nod to Twitter.
We believe in democracy by the ballot box here at RoathCardiff so we hope you’ll not only vote to have your say, but respect all the candidates’ positions. We have chosen to display the answers to questions in a random order, and those candidates we haven’t heard from aren’t included. We tried to obtain the contact details for the Independent candidate, but they weren’t available. We did not recieve a response from the UKIP candidate. Both are still welcome to submit responses. #RoathVotes
Here we go:
- What do you see as the three most important issues in Roath?
Richard Hopkin (Conservative)
Rubbish and street collections are a big concern. We can see from other local authorities the problems caused by reducing black bag collections from one to two weeks – the fact that Cardiff’s Labour Council thinks every four weeks is a good idea is staggering.
People complain to me on the doorstep about how out of touch Cardiff Labour council is. Cardiff Labour Council needs to up its game and live within its means. Funding to enable Welsh local authorities to freeze or limit council tax increases (like in England) has been made available to Wales, but Cardiff Labour Council has still chosen to impose huge increases in council tax on local residents.
At the same time they are undertaking a costly re-organisation involving inappropriately generous payoffs to senior staff, and threatening to close our libraries.
Martin Pollard (Plaid)
One key issue in Roath – and throughout Cardiff – is the supply of decent, well-paid jobs. I visited a local food bank recently and saw how low wages and benefit cuts are forcing many to rely on emergency support. Things could be improved by implementing Plaid Cymru’s plan to create 50,000 jobs across Wales, and increasing the minimum wage to the living wage level.
Another of my priorities is to build bridges between Roath’s student population and settled residents. This is partly an issue of managing waste (see below) but it’s also about fostering mutual respect. I’d like to establish a permanent forum for this purpose.
A related issue is the cost and quality of housing in Roath. We need to ensure that landlords respect tenants’ rights, and make it easier for developers to convert derelict properties into new, good quality housing.
Jo Stevens (Labour)
Shortage of affordable housing. Labour will build a million new homes and legislate for longer tenancies (3 years) for tenants who want them, with predictable rents, providing affordability, stability and security. We’ll stop letting agents charging rip-off fees.
Tackling crime. We’ll protect frontline policing following the UK government’s drastic cuts. We’ll scrap Police and Crime Commissioners giving local communities a greater say over local policing through devolution of police planning and priorities to Wales and integrating them with other emergency services.
The blight of letting agency boards. Following our “Ban the Boards” campaign in Roath and Cathays, led by me and our Labour AM and Councillor team, we’ve just secured new powers for Cardiff Council so that letting agents will need permission to put up boards with time limits for how long they can stay up. We’ve delivered what residents wanted.
Chris von Ruhland (Green)
Traffic congestion, parking and housing; we need a railway station at the bottom of Crwys Road and affordable social housing
Steve Williams (TUSC)
Roath like so many other constituencies throughout the UK is still suffering from the economic crash in 2008, and this government has done very little to help the ordinary people of Roath recover from this economic disaster. That global economic crisis was caused by toxic loans being sold back and forth between various banks, leading to each bank not trusting each other and correspondingly not lending to each other causing the economic crisis. It was therefore the bankers and the banks which caused this crisis, but it has been ordinary people in places like Roath who have suffered under this government with the youth having to put up with zero hour contracts or unemployment. Therefore we need a change of government that will make the bankers pay for this crisis and not the people.
Jenny Willott (Liberal Democrats)
In the last few years, every single time I’ve spoken to residents in Roath they’ve complained about rubbish. Our streets are filthy, with split bags and food waste all over the pavements. The Labour Council has cut street sweepers and is proposing to reduce bin collections, which will only make it worse. There is also a shortage of school places in much of Roath as Marlborough Primary is heavily oversubscribed and Albany and Roath Park primaries are both full. With a new school opening in September hopefully this won’t be a problem for much longer. Finally, Roath has a wonderful mix of local shops, cafés and businesses, many of which are independent, run by local residents. It’s part of what makes it a wonderful place to live and we need to support them both as individuals and politically.
- One of the biggest issues for our followers is rubbish and waste. What do you propose for alleviating the problem of rubbish on our streets?
Cardiff Council needs to recognise Roath and Cathays as a special case, given the population density and high number of shared households. Many traditional terraced houses have been converted to suit 5, 6 or more student residents, and simply providing more bins is not an adequate solution. The council needs to reconsider monthly black bin collections for Roath and Cathays specifically, and to consider options such as larger communal bins in high-density streets.
Many residents tell me that they used to see street sweepers regularly, but this never happens now. We need to spend more on street cleaning, as well as awareness-raising about separating waste and bin collection dates. This is difficult when there is reduced funding for the council, so I’d urge people to vote against the London parties supporting austerity, which ultimately means poorer services for our community.
I have been running a campaign to clean up Cardiff as the mess on our streets is just awful. When the Lib Dems ran Cardiff Council we prioritised keeping our streets clean, but when Labour took control they scrapped much of what we did, and it shows. I think we need to do the following: firstly, bring back community street sweepers; secondly we need tougher enforcement on those who put out rubbish on the wrong day; thirdly we must bring back regular street cleaning, including immediately after bins have been collected; fourthly we should scrap the fee for collecting bulky waste, which has led to an increase in fly-tipping; and finally more regular spraying to kill weeds, which block gutters and make the area look neglected. If this was all done I think it would make a huge difference.
Most residents and businesses in Roath take personal responsibility and don’t litter or leave rubbish out or fly tip. A minority of residents and businesses don’t though and that’s the behaviour that needs to change.
With the savage cuts in funding to Wales and to Cardiff from the UK government, our Council waste management is incredibly stretched. You can’t maintain the levels of service with £50m annual cuts to our Council budget.
It’s people who create litter, not the Council. Better education, more rigorous enforcement and tough penalties are the answer and we as changing the behaviour of a minority of people so they take as much pride in our environment as we do.
Reducing rubbish on the streets requires more, segregated waste bins and for us all to take some responsibility for disposing of our waste
The problem of rubbish in our streets is also clearly down to both the Labour party in power in Cardiff council implementing austerity but also directly from the spending cuts from the Westminster coalition government. Austerity (spending cuts) is not inevitable and is in fact an ideology a choice, and instead of implementing spending cuts on important council services such as the refuse department we should be investing in these services. This is why TUSC opposes all cuts to council jobs, services, pay and conditions. We reject the claim that ‘some cuts’ are necessary to our services or that the national debt is a reason for austerity. Therefore saving our services from cuts will eventually improve the cleanliness of our streets.
There is plenty of funding available –Cardiff Labour council simply need to decide to use it to meet the needs of local residents, not their pet projects. Addressing the problem of rubbish and waste just needs political will, and a focus on practical delivery of good sensible local services for the local residents who pay for it.
Cardiff Labour Council should think again about their plans, prioritise spending on rubbish collections and drop the idea of monthly collections. They should also drop their wasteful plans to replace everyone’s bins which will in itself cost £2 million. We all need to be conscious of the need to recycle more, but hectoring people or using compulsion by reducing the size of their bins isn’t going to help.
- Many of our readers are parents of young children. What are your proposals for free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds?
Parenting and looking after our young children is one of the most important jobs we can do as individuals, but as well as that governments and local councils should make sure that all services should be saved from cuts. In March of this year the Joseph Rowntree Foundation argued that “UK austerity measures impact more acutely on disadvantaged groups and communities. Cuts to public services and complex ongoing changes to welfare provision are making daily existence in some communities increasingly challenging”. When we allow cuts to continue we put vulnerable groups like children at risk and a provision such as ‘childcare for 3 and 4 year olds’ should be maintained. Because families whether working or unemployed need free childcare to help with day-to-day family finances as childcare is one of the biggest family expenses.
I want all parents who choose to work to be supported to do so. At the moment, it can be very challenging for parents in Wales, where there is insufficient council provision and the cost of nursery care is increasing 3 times faster than the UK average.
Plaid Cymru will therefore introduce an optional extra year of free, full-time, school-based education for 3-4 year olds, delivered by teachers. We will also aim to provide flexible and affordable childcare, particularly in deprived areas, through the Welsh language and for children with disabilities.
As well as increasing children’s attainment, our approach will be particularly beneficial for women, who bear the majority of childcare responsibilities. We will contribute to reducing the gender inequalities that have resulted from the Coalition government’s policies over the last 5 years.
We will help working families by doubling early years and childcare provision for working parents of three and four year old children with an extra 10 hours a week of free childcare. This will be paid for with an increase in the bank levy.
We recognise the vital importance of stable families for children, particularly in their very early years. We will prioritise early years intervention to give children and parents the best start in family life. We are expanding the Flying Start scheme so that 36,000 children (25% of those aged under 4) benefit from it.
Introduce a free and universal early education and childcare service integrated into, and run by local authorities.
As the mother of two children, aged two and four, I feel very strongly about childcare! Lib Dems want to increase free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds to 20 hours a week. We also want to extend this to all 2 year olds, and to babies of working parents from 9 months, at the end of paid parental leave. But it’s really important the system is more flexible. Under Labour in Cardiff, you only get free hours in your nearest primary school, as 2 1/2 hours a day five days a week, which is little use to working parents. Personally, I think you should get free hours at whichever nursery you want, as in England, so working parents would get 20 hours off their childcare bill, which would save families a lot of money.
Parents need strong, well-funded childcare provision so they can go out and work and so that work pays. That’s why we have committed the next Conservative government to fund 30 hours of free childcare for all working parents of 3- and 4-year olds, worth £5,000 to each family.
We’ve already extended the universal entitlement so that all parents can access free childcare for 15 hours a week; as can over a quarter of a million 2-year-olds from low-income families.
To help families make their money go that bit further, from autumn 2015 tax-free childcare will be available to nearly 2 million households. Under the scheme, for every 80p parents pay for childcare costs, the Government will top up an extra 20p.
- There is a thriving small business community in Roath. What would you do to support small and creative businesses in the area?
The small independent shops and businesses are one of the things that make Roath unique, and we need to do all we can to support them. In Government, the Lib Dems introduced the Employer’s Allowance, which is a tax cut for small businesses and has made a difference to 1 million businesses already. We’ve also doubled Small Business Rate Relief to save small businesses and shops up to £1,500 a year. But we all personally have a role in supporting the shops, cafés and other businesses in the area, and I do my best to shop locally and eat in the fabulous cafés and restaurants in Roath (which isn’t a hardship!) and I’ve always found I can get everything I need from books to presents and clothes to food in Roath.
Increase small business access to finance by investing £2 billion in a network of community banks
Small businesses are the backbone of our local and national economy. Labour will address the rising costs for small businesses and strengthen the rules on late payments by creditors. Small businesses will be first in line for tax cuts. Already this year, the Welsh Labour Government has extended the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme, which I know from speaking with local businesses has made a huge difference to over three quarters of Welsh businesses, allowing them to offer more local employment.
Labour will reform the banking system, establishing a British Investment Bank to improve access to finance for small and medium sized businesses. This will work closely with institutions established by the Welsh Labour Government to ensure that firms have the finance they need.
We will set up a UK Small Business Administration to ensure that government contracts are accessible and regulations are designed with small firms in mind. It will work closely with small business support services here. [140?]
I love Roath’s energy and creativity, and I’d do everything possible to encourage the area’s unique buzz. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and Plaid Cymru will create a business development bank to support them. We’ll also increase business rates relief, meaning that 70,000 small and medium sized businesses will pay no rates.
Many people in Roath are committed to ethical, sustainable practices, and we’ll establish a Green Skills College to develop the skills needed to make our economy more environmentally friendly and build green businesses.
It’s also important to support cycling and public transport within Cardiff, in order to relieve congestion and encourage use of local businesses. The long-term plan for a South Wales Metro could include light rail services for Roath and Cathays – but this will require the Welsh Government to use its borrowing powers wisely.
We would cut tax for small business with an exemption from business rates for those with a rateable value of £12,000 and tapered relief for those up to £15,000.
Welsh Labour has refused to cut business rates to a viable level, giving little inspiration or support to small businesses. Ed Miliband refuses to rule out increases in national insurance – the “jobs tax” – which will add costs for small businesses and damage employment.
5,000 owners of small businesses across the UK recently backed Conservative plans to help small businesses by lowering taxes, reducing red tape, simplifying employment law and getting banks lending.
We also need to invest in transport links and bus services for local people, not cut them back. Again, Cardiff Labour Council have their priorities all wrong.
The Welsh economy like so many others in the post-industrialised communities throughout the UK were decimated by the collapse of their industries. Since the decline of industries like coal, the docks and the steel industry, these communities have worked hard to transform themselves. However the jobs that have replaced these old industries have overwhelmingly been in the public sector and small businesses have benefited by sub-contracting and working for the public sector organisations such as in schools, universities, government and the public sector workers themselves. It is therefore vital to the success of the economy and hence the success of some small businesses that we protect the public services and public sector workers wages. Public sector workers with good wages spend that money locally, hence we defend local economies by defending public sector workers.
- Why do you think people in Roath should vote for you to represent them?
I’ve lived and worked in Cardiff all my adult life, bringing up my family, being grounded in our community. I’ll bring my track record, experience and skills as a lawyer and successful businesswoman for over 26 years, to provide effective representation for everyone in Roath.
If you elect me to represent you, I will be your full time MP and won’t take on second jobs or paid directorships.
I’ll be an independently minded representative and a strong voice for you in Westminster, working with my Labour colleagues in the Council and the Welsh Assembly to ensure your voice is heard and acted upon.
I will be a hard working, visible and accessible MP, engaging with local residents in every corner of the constituency all year round.
The people of Roath should vote for TUSC because we are not from the Westminster political establishment. We are trade unionists, from working class backgrounds who understand your problems because they are our problems. I will make sure that we deliver on our keys pledges. We will end cuts and austerity, we will repeal the anti-trade union laws, we will help these trade unionists fight for a £10 minimum wage and an end to zero hour contracts, we will start a mass council house building programme, scrap student tuition fees and renationalise the railways, utilities and the banks. A vote for TUSC, and therefore a vote for me is a vote for socialism, it’s a vote for old labour values and a vote for a fairer society that will look after the vulnerable in our society.
I’ve lived locally in Roath for many years, at the heart of the constituency, and use the local shops and cafés, library and parks. As the MP over the last ten years, I’ve helped thousands of people, working on both individual cases and broader campaigns, like restoring services to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary and ensuring we protect libraries and play centres. Nationally, I’ve worked on issues like increasing childcare support, bringing more resources into local schools and ensuring we have enough nurses in our hospital wards. I’ve been a Business Minister and Women’s Minister, working on consumer issues and employment rights, as well as trying to reduce the pay gap between men and women.
The choice is between competence under the Conservatives – or chaos, more borrowing and higher taxes under a Labour minority government propped up by the SNP. Make no mistake: the SNP will do Wales no favours.
While there is still work to be done, the last Conservative-led government has delivered a strong economy. 1,000 jobs are being created every day, we have record employment, record low inflation, low interest rates and the strongest growth rate of any developed Western nation. We have invested in Wales with the electrification of the Valleys lines and the main line to London, and delivered £1.3 billion of extra funding for Wales.
I will fight tirelessly for Roath, Cardiff and Wales. I will build on this success, to deliver a strong economy creating more jobs, better wages and strong public services for all our people.
I’ve spent many happy days in Roath since moving to Cardiff in 1995. I will champion Roath’s fantastic shops and restaurants, its artists, and its mix of settled communities, students and people of many nationalities and cultures.
More broadly, I’m standing for Plaid Cymru because we’re the only elected party in Wales opposing the austerity cuts that have damaged our communities. Instead of cutting services, we will invest in Wales’ infrastructure; and we’ll oppose spending £100 billion on Trident nuclear weapons while our NHS and schools struggle.
Compared to Scotland, Wales is under-funded by £1.2bn: I’ll fight for those funds, which are enough to build 30 secondary schools every year or employ 50,000 nurses.
A vote for me, and for Plaid Cymru, is a vote for a strong, self-confident Wales whose voice is heard properly in Westminster.
I lived in Roath for over 10 years; it’s one of my favourite parts of the city and I want to see it thrive.