WITH the General Election just over a week away, each of the candidates running for Blaenau Gwent have explained why they think you should vote for them.

Chelsea Annett – Liberal Democrats

South Wales Argus:

I want to make a change in politics due to my own personal experiences. I have spent my life in Blaenau Gwent and the South Wales Valleys - I have witnessed how dismissal and lack of investment from the two main parties has hurt my area.

For too many people in Wales, things aren't working as they should be. Investment is leaving Blaenau Gwent, and the NHS is suffering. The Liberal Democrats will invest in our area and our NHS.

Education is my priority. I attended the local comprehensive in Ebbw Vale, and Coleg Gwent - built with the help of funding from the European Union. I was able to attend university thanks to the work of Liberal Democrat Kirsty Williams in government in Cardiff Bay - introducing maintenance loans that help all students. In government nationally the Liberal Democrats are also committed to giving every adult £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives. The Liberal Democrats will demand better and invest in those who need it most.

The Liberal Democrats are winning. Earlier this year we won an historic by-election of our neighbouring constituency Brecon and Radnorshire. Tens of thousands of people have joined the Liberal Democrats over that last few months, and we have record levels of membership. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats sends a clear message to the two main parties that the public demand better.


Peredur Owen Griffiths - Plaid Cymru

South Wales Argus:

Peredur Owen Griffiths – known as Pred – is a minister's son who has lived and worked all over Wales and brings with him a wealth of experience to draw on in serving the people of Blaenau Gwent.

After graduating with a master’s degree in engineering from Sheffield University, he worked for 13 years in the financial sector. In 2015, he joined Christian Aid as regional coordinator for South Wales and legacy officer for Wales as a whole. He now works with Cytûn: Churches together in Wales.

He is also chairman of the International Choral Festival Wales, which has been welcoming choirs from all over the world here to our land of song for the last three years.

In his spare time, he is a member of Côr CF1, an internationally acclaimed choir which performs and competes in Wales and further afield - regularly winning at Eisteddfodau and BBC Choir of the Year in 2014.

Peredur’s pledges to you:

  • Peredur will fight to improve public transport links across Blaenau Gwent to enable all local people to have easier access to local areas and beyond.
  • Peredur will actively encourage new businesses to the area to maximise use of existing empty units, creating local jobs for local people.
  • Peredur will be a strong advocate for Blaenau Gwent in Westminster. He will never support any policy that makes our communities poorer. He will work tirelessly to ensure our communities are safe, clean and prosperous, where local people can live and thrive.

Laura Jones - Conservative

South Wales Argus:

The South Wales East constituency as a whole, which I represented as an Assembly Member from 2003 until 2007, is an area I know well and truly care about.

I first stood in Caerphilly for the Welsh Assembly in 2003, and was elected at the age of 23, to become AM for South Wales East.

While in the Assembly, I sat on many committees that I thought would benefit our area, and shortly after being elected I became the Welsh Conservative spokesperson for sport, culture and the Welsh language.

After taking time out to have my first son Henry, I stood in Islwyn in the 2015 General Election.

I became a County Councillor and Armed Forces Champion in 2016, as well as running my own business, and working for someone else.

Following the birth of my second son, Joey, I couldn’t sit back and watch, when I believe that this is the most important General Election for a generation.

We had a referendum on whether we want our country to leave the EU, and however you voted, it was a democratic process that must be honoured.

Having been one of the lead spokespersons for the Leave campaign in Wales 2016, I believe that Out means Out, and we must deliver on the people’s wishes to leave the European Union.

You may not have done it before, but voting Conservative is the only way that we can get Brexit done. Voting for any other party could see Jeremy Corbyn running, and ruining, our country.

Stephen Priestnall - Green Party

South Wales Argus:

I’m Stephen Priestnall, proud to be living in South East Wales and standing as Green Party candidate for Blaenau Gwent.

I have three priorities for the community: Wellbeing, Work and Welfare.

  • To make wellbeing - for people and the planet - a measure of success, not just wealth.
  • To have fulfilling valuable work made available to all those who are able to do it.
  • To see access to welfare for all those who need it - without prejudice or stigma.

How could I make that happen in Blaenau Gwent?

  1. By championing wellbeing as a measurable goal for people and their environment.
  2. By reinvigorating public transport with incentives and investment for buses to provide better access to town centres, reviving communities.
  3. Ensuring we invest in carbon-friendly restoration of social housing through ‘deep retrofit’ schemes - cheaper to run and will make more affordable homes for more people.
  4. By working with independent and public economic regeneration bodies to encourage sustainable business and fulfilling work. We would divide large buildings into more economically viable smaller units and transform business rates.
  5. By working with employers and infrastructure stakeholders to make accessibility a cornerstone of future development and employment, closing the opportunity gap for the mentally and physically disabled.
  6. Making it a mission to hear the environment talked about daily in streets, schools, town halls, colleges, workplaces, cafes and heathland. This will help to create a community desire to reinvigorate the valleys with appropriate tree planting and rewilding, encouraging new jobs through outdoor activities and tourism.


Nick Smith - Labour

South Wales Argus:

Blaenau Gwent is in my blood. I grew up in Tredegar, attended the local comprehensive and now live in Nantyglo.

I have been proud to stand up for my home borough since being elected in 2010.

However, during this time, a decade of Tory cuts and austerity have been driving our community into the ground. Families are being forced to the foodbank to feed their children, and people are struggling to pay the bills despite working long hours in tough jobs.

This is unacceptable.

With a Labour Government in both Westminster and Wales we can make the changes that will improve the lives of hard-working people.

A Labour Government will provide an additional £3.4 billion annual funding for Wales.

This will provide a real shot in the arm for the Welsh NHS, meaning more funding for services and more doctors and nurses to give patients the care they need.

Labour will introduce a £10 an hour living wage, we will ban zero hour contracts and will review the retirement ages of people in physically tough and stressful jobs.

Labour has pledged to scrap the disastrous Universal Credit system and introduce an alternative which treats people with dignity and respect.

I have campaigned hard in Parliament to secure justice for ex-mineworkers and WASPI women.

I am delighted that Labour has pledged to give ex-miners and their families 90 per cent of the share from their pension scheme and to compensate WASPI women.

We need a Labour Government to create a fairer society for all.

Richard Taylor – Brexit Party

South Wales Argus:

Richard Taylor, husband, father and self-employed businessman, will contest the constituency in the next General Election, standing against incumbent, Nick Smith.

Richard has lived and worked in and around Blaenau Gwent for the many years.

He is active with a local football club, has played club rugby in the constituency, his children are schooled in the constituency, and he is passionate about community projects, having been awarded the High Sherriff’s Award in Gwent for his community work, particularly in the area of alcohol and drug addiction.

Richard Taylor is a man who knows Blaenau Gwent and its people, because he is one of them.

Richard Taylor, Brexit Party candidate said: “I am truly honoured to be selected as the candidate for the Blaenau Gwent Constituency.

"For years, we have seen the people of Blaenau Gwent neglected and the constituency left in a never-ending circle of decline. I truly believe that it is time we let the valleys of Blaenau Gwent have a voice again.”