Candidates prepare for by-election after councillor leaves post for £50k job with the council
Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter
A by-election for Bridgend Central is now set to go ahead on August 11, after Labour councillor Stuart Baldwin announced in May that he would not be taking up his seat.
Despite being voted in with a total of 1,112 votes at the 2022 local council elections, the Labour candidate, who was one of three successful candidates for the Bridgend Central ward, announced that he would not be taking up his new role as a councillor, due to what he described as the ‘increasingly toxic’ nature of local politics.
The local authority has since been urged to hold an internal review into the situation, as the former councillor was also appointed to a £50,000 job by officers who work in the department covered by his cabinet portfolio.
In accepting the job, it meant he had to resign from his elected position, as councillors are not allowed to be employed by the authority they are a member of.
The resignation triggered a by-election for the area, with a number of candidates once again running for the one vacant seat.
The winner will join two Independent councillors, Steven Bletsoe and Timothy Wood in the position.
In May, opposition members from Bridgend Council expressed disappointment after Mr Baldwin stepped down just days after the local council election.
Mr Baldwin cited the ‘”increasingly toxic” nature of local politics for his departure this week, where he claims he was subject to repeated harassment over his views and sexuality.
He had also accepted a new job within the council that would prohibit him from continuing his role as an elected member.
The move triggered the upcoming by-election for the vacant seat in the Bridgend Central ward, though many councillors from opposition parties say deeper investigations could be conducted in to what is described as an ’embarrassing mess’ for the Labour Party.
The updated list of candidates for the Bridgend Central election are as follows:
Thomas Joseph Dwyer – Welsh Conservative Party
Thomas Dwyer has lived in Bridgend for six years, where he now volunteers at a food-bank in Aberkenfig.
He will be running for the Conservative Party and hopes to help people with the current cost of living crisis if he is elected.
He said: “I’ve lived in Bridgend for around six years and have really enjoyed my time here, so I want to give something back to the people of the area. We have a big crisis with the cost of living at the moment so I would be eager to help as many residents as possible with that.
“I’m a normal person who’s in the same position as a lot of residents, and as prices continue to rise, I feel like I will be very approachable and understanding of the key issues they are going through. If elected, I will also do my best to scrutinise the decisions made by the council.”
Steven Easterbrook – Independent
Steven Easterbrook, 61, has lived in Bridgend his entire life where he has worked in a number of retail management positions. He will be running as an independent candidate in this month’s by-election and says it is his passion for the town that sets him apart.
He said: “I’m very passionate about Bridgend and dealing with local issues for people here which is why I have decided to run. I’ve lived in the area my whole life and honestly think its such a fantastic place that I want to represent it to the best of my ability.
“There are parts of the town that have been neglected over the last five to ten years, and I’m really eager to make a difference to those and make it a place that we can be proud of. As well as regeneration for the town I want to focus on the youth of Bridgend, in delivering facilities that can give them the opportunities to go where they want to go in life.”
A strong voice
Edward Benjamin Curran – Welsh Liberal Democrats
Edward Benjamin Curran will be running for the seat for Bridgend Central representing the Welsh Liberal Democrats. He will look to join other council members from his party such as Rodney Berman in Cardiff and Carmel Townsend of Newport.
Ceri Elizabeth Evans – Welsh Labour
Ceri Elizabeth Evans is a former teacher who has lived in Bridgend for 21 years. The mother of two will be running for the Labour Party in the ward where she aims to be a strong voice for the people who live there.
She said: “Having been inspired by my late grandfather and my brother who have both been Labour councillors, I’m fully aware of the demands of the councillor role and excited at the opportunity of serving the community of Bridgend Central.
“I’m an optimist and an advocate for equality of opportunity. Treating our whole community with respect matters to me. I live my life within traditional Labour values by supporting others to achieve their potential.
“In talking to residents in the last six months we have been able to discuss topics that will become my priorities if elected. These include regeneration of our town centre, accessible recreational facilities, reducing anti-social behaviour and school expansion in Bridgend Central.”
Paul Hopkin John – Green Party
Paul Hopkin John is the candidate representing the Green Party for the Bridgend by-election this August. He will hope to follow a string of other successful Green candidates across Wales, such as Nathan Goldup-John of Neath and Rhys Livesy of Cardiff.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.