TORFAEN borders Monmouthshire and runs from Cwmbran in the south, encompassing Pontypool, Abersychan and Blaenavon, bordering Ebbw Vale at its northernmost point.

Among notable landmarks in the area are the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, as well as the town of Blaenavon itself, which is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site for its strong industrial history.

The area is also notable for the Cwmbran Shopping Centre, which for years was the premier shopping destination in Gwent, only recently being rivalled by Newport’s Friars Walk.

Lynne Neagle was elected as Torfaen’s Labour AM when the Assembly was set up in 1999 and has since retained her seat with a comfortable majority.

Among the most prominent issues facing the area are plans to start opencast mining at Varteg Hill, which have been in process for years, but are strongly opposed by many residents as well as Ms Neagle.

Torfaen County Borough Council also decided earlier this year to close Victoria Primary School and Abersychan Brynteg Nursery School from the end of the 2016-2017 academic year – a decision which has proven deeply unpopular with parents, teachers and children.

The area’s education services were also placed into special measures in February 2013 after they were found to be “unsatisfactory” by watchdog Estyn. But this was lifted in January this year after the organisation found the services had “made significant progress”.

As with the majority of the rest of Gwent – with the exception of Monmouthshire – unemployment is higher than average at 3.4 per cent, in comparison with 2.5 per cent nationally.

Pay is also slightly lower than the national average of £530 a week at £490. But house prices are also almost £75,000 cheaper than the national average, with properties costing on average £117,250.

But child poverty is also higher than average at 23.5 per cent, in comparison with 18.2 per cent nationally.

Torfaen also has a higher than average number of older people. People aged 65 and older make up 17.6 per cent of the population in Torfaen, in comparison with the national average of 17 per cent.

There were 1,600 registered businesses in the constituency when the most recent study was carried out in 2014, putting it roughly on par with elsewhere in Gwent, with the exception of Monmouthshire, which has significantly more.


Susan Boucher (Ukip Wales)

South Wales Argus:

I decided to stand for Torfaen in this election because I believe that we are poorly represented and believe it takes someone from Torfaen to fight for its future and the future of the people of this valley. I am passionate about Wales, its traditions, language and culture.

I am also a rugby fan and love to join friends watching the Six Nations championship and if possible actually going to the Millennium Stadium to watch the games.

I have worked in local government for 32 years and began as the post girl in Gwent Fire Brigade, a school support officer in Gwent and then Torfaen after local government reorganisation.

I moved to Monmouthshire County Council in 2000 and now work as a HR Adviser.

The growth of UKIP and the strength of their policies have inspired me to once again believe that a political party can make Britain Great again.

I will work hard to bring growth and prosperity back to Torfaen.

I am not a career politician, but someone who is willing to do what it takes to make a difference.

Steven Jenkins (Wales Green Party)

South Wales Argus:

My name is Steven Jenkins.

I am Torfaen's Green Party Candidate for the Assembly elections.

As a carer I have directly been affected by austerity and I see the damage it is causing across Wales.

I stand for a better Torfaen.

We have seen our NHS struggle to cope.

Front line staff are having to do so much more with so much less.

I will campaign for proper funding so the people of Torfaen can receive the healthcare they deserve.

In particular an emphasis on mental health care.

I strongly oppose the open cast mine in Varteg.

Torfaen is a green, beautiful space and must be kept that way.

People are more concerned with immigration and not realising the real reason wages are low, employment opportunities are scarce and rents are going up, is because the current establishment refuse to upset big corporations.

We need to give small businesses a chance to thrive.

Education in Torfaen was in special measures until January.

Children will continue to struggle when a lack of money ensures worries for their wellbeing Torfaen needs change.

It needs something different, and I hope I get the chance to bring that.

Matthew Jones (Plaid Cymru)

South Wales Argus:

I've met countless people over the last few months, all of them, no matter what their views, all feel that now is the time for change.

After 17 years of Labour in the Assembly, and 17 years of an out of reach AM living in Cardiff, now more than ever, is our chance for change.

We deserve better.

Plaid Cymru has the answers to Torfaen's problems: We have a plan to secure our schools, keeping them in our communities and giving teachers more time to teach.

For our long awaited Cwmbran hospital, we will ensure that we have enough doctors and nurses. (An extra 5,000 nurses and 1,000 doctors in Wales) With unemployment at a high, I will secure more apprenticeships and help people to work.

Ambulance waiting times in Torfaen are shocking, it's only Plaid that can secure our NHS.

Food bank usage is still high, but Plaid Cymru will cut the cost of living by reducing council tax.

Plaid Cymru has plans to help improve all our lives.

So if you're sick of Labour, now is the time to vote for an AM and a party committed to you.

Let's put Torfaen back on the map, vote Plaid Cymru.

Lynne Neagle (Welsh Labour)

South Wales Argus:

I’m running to be re-elected as your Labour Assembly Member for Torfaen on May 5.

It’s been an honour to represent you over the past 17 years, and I’m asking for your support so I can keep fighting for the things that matter to you.

My local pledges include: - Delivering the Specialist Critical Care Centre in Cwmbran, a huge capital investment in the Welsh Labour Government's 2016-17 budget which I’ve campaigned tirelessly for, on schedule and boosting local jobs.

- Support education - campaigning for an Additional Learning Needs Bill.

- Continue working with unions and management to support local companies, safeguard jobs and boost employment – like I've done with Arvin Meritor.

- Continue working with Varteg residents to find alternatives to opencast mining It’s now more vital than ever that we return a Welsh Labour Government to stand up for our people and public services against the threat of further Westminster cuts.

I don’t want what’s happening to the NHS, social care or education in England happening here.

I'll be campaigning hard until May 5, where my team and I hope to speak with as many Torfaen residents as possible to listen to their views, ideas and concerns.

Graham Smith (Welsh Conservatives)

South Wales Argus:

Living in New Inn, born at the Royal Gwent, and educated at Caerleon Comprehensive, my heart very much belongs to this part of the world.

Employed as an engineer in the rail industry, and having previously worked in aerospace, I would love to bring this experience to the Assembly, representing the area I love.

I’ve previously stood for the Assembly in 2007, and am proud to have been elected as a New Inn Councillor in 2008, re-elected in 2012.

As a dedicated community campaigner, I also serve on Pontypool Community Council.

I’m passionate about local people getting a fairer deal, and making our community a better place.

Enhanced employment opportunities are so important to this area, and a strong partnership between the Welsh and UK Governments are vital in delivering that.

Speaking to local residents across Torfaen, I know the state of our NHS, and educational services, are the big issues of this election.

From ending Labour’s NHS cuts, to empowering teachers, Torfaen deserves a new approach.

If I become the next AM for Torfaen, I want to see our area benefit from real change after 17 years of falling behind the rest of the UK.

With Labour clinging onto power by one seat, that change is in sight.

Alison Willott (Welsh Liberal Democrats)

South Wales Argus:

Most political parties promise a strong economy with more services, better education, lots of doctors and nurses, and better transport.

That costs.

You can’t have better services without the money to pay for them when, quite rightly, the people providing those services deserve to be paid their living wage.

I am especially proud of my party’s concentration on the treatment of mental health.

However, my personal emphasis is on the need to tackle environmental issues.

Unless world governments everywhere together attack the problem of climate change, our children’s generation is going to be facing challenges that will make our present difficulties seem light by comparison.

We need to reduce our use of oil and gas by building carbon-neutral houses, by bringing in energy conservation measures, by investing in different forms of renewable energies, by encouraging local communities to develop local electricity generating projects, by reducing transport needs by meeting local needs from local resources.

Of course we utterly oppose spending over £1 billion on the ‘Black Route’ M4 route.

Other climate challenges - we need to concentrate on proofing our hills and mountains against the risk of floods, and make sure our precious wildlife