FOLLOWING last month’s local elections, it’s been all change at the top of Caerphilly’s Plaid Cymru group.

Penyrheol ward councillor Lindsay Whittle has replaced Colin Mann as the group leader, while Aber Valley’s Charlotte Bishop has replaced fellow-Aber Valley councillor John Taylor as the group’s deputy leader.

But who are they and what do they hope to achieve?

Cllr Whittle previously led the council on two occasions and has also served as a regional Senedd Member. He has also stood in nine UK General Elections and said he had been described as “the best MP Caerphilly never had”.

South Wales Argus: Credit: Caerphilly County Borough Council

Cllr Lindsay Whittle. Picture: Caerphilly County Borough Council 

At this year’s council elections, Cllr Whittle received the highest amount of votes of all the candidates standing across the borough – with 1,975 votes.

But he said the number of people participating in local politics – with just three in ten people in the county borough turning up to vote – was worrying.

“A lot of youngsters are unaware of what it means to vote, even a lot of adults don’t fully understand," he said.

“We need young people to inject some energy into politics. Just because they don’t register, doesn’t mean they’re not interested – youngsters are passionate, and we need to get them in to local politics.”

Cllr Whittle, who has been a councillor for 46 years and served as a regional Senedd Member for South Wales East, expressed his concerns about the boundary changes proposed by the Boundary Commission for Wales.

He said: “I fear Caerphilly basin will be grouped with Newport, but we don’t have any affinity to Newport – we want people to become interested in politics, so why are we changing it?

“I have been interested in politics since I was 14, I’m a geek, if you name a street in Caerphilly, I will tell you which constituency it is in, but there are some streets in Newport I have never even been to.”

Plaid Cymru retained its 18 seats in the council elections, but Cllr Whittle said: “We have got plans and we hope to get a different result in future.”

Speaking about the Welsh language, Cllr Whittle said: “If the language isn’t in your head that’s fine, but it’s in your heart. I and many others have been singing Yma o Hyd recently.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Bishop – who is a Welsh speaker – has recently been appointed deputy leader of Caerphilly’s Plaid Cymru Group – just a year after she was first elected as a councillor for Aber Valley.

South Wales Argus: Credit: Caerphilly County Borough Council

Cllr Charlotte Bishop. Picture: Caerphilly County Borough Council 

Cllr Bishop is just one of four women in the Plaid Cymru group on the council, something she said she wants to change come the next council elections in five years time.

She said: “One of the issues I believe needs addressing is ensuring an equal balance of women and men, not just in the Plaid Cymru group, but the council as a whole, along with ensuring there are people from under-represented groups.

“We do need to make it as easy as possible for more women, younger people and those from minority ethnic communities to stand.

“I’m also passionate about protecting our environment and my background is in education and social care, so I want to see what can be done in those areas.”

The mother-of-three is the secretary of the Friends of Abertridwr Park and runs the firewatch group in Abertridwr.

Additionally, she supports parents and families with challenging behaviour, in particular for parents who struggle with behaviours in their children with autism or sensory perception disorder.

Plaid Cymru are the second largest party in Caerphilly county borough and act as the opposition to the ruling Labour party.