Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Cardiff East – a constituency of contrasts

25 Jun 2024 9 minute read
Russell Wigley, 70, from Pentwyn said he doesn’t have many issues with where he lives but he is sceptical of the way his city has been run. Pic: Ted Peskett.

Ted Peskett Local Democracy Reporter

As Wales looks ahead to the upcoming general election, there are probably few constituencies with communities that contrast as much as Cardiff East.

In the eastern half of this re-introduced constituency, there are people who dread walking in parts of their neighbourhood because of crime and drugs.

Residents in the area, which includes some of the most poverty stricken parts of Wales, say it desperately needs more investment and a crack down on anti-social behaviour.

However, about 3km – 4km away to the west, the picture is very different.

On the whole, people in these leafier parts of Cardiff East seemed more content with their neighbourhoods, but there were some issues like traffic and NHS waiting times that were high on their list of concerns.

It also seemed that people in this side felt better represented, with residents saying they will vote to keep their area red on July 4, whereas many of those we questioned in the east said they were either undecided or would like to see a change.

“Nothing for them”

Outside an old pub once called The Newbridge Inn in Trowbridge, a resident walking by who did not wish to be named said of the rotting building: “It is an eyesore isn’t it?

“That was the community [for people], that pub there, and there is nothing for them around here now.”

The man, looking disappointed at the loose-hanging gold lettering on the side of the boarded up building, is from St Mellons, but he said there are some similar issues across both areas that he would like to see changed.

Anti-social behaviour is one of these. Nodding towards a balaclava wearing man doing wheelies on an electric bike nearby, he added: “There is a lot of that around here.”

Speaking on this year’s general election, set to take place on Thursday, July 4, the anonymous  resident said: “I will still vote Labour. I think they are the way forward.

“I think they [local politicians] are trying, but it is hard work for them and the area itself.

“They have got to do something for the people around here.”

A number of community assets have disappeared in Trowbridge over the years.

The Newbridge Inn, which had a pool team and skittles club, closed in 2022. The building doubled up as a community centre for local residents, with a kids club and bingo nights taking place in the week.

Kyle Bateman, 28, has lived in Trowbridge his whole life. Pic: Ted Peskett

Another resident, Kyle Bateman, who has lived in Trowbridge his whole life said the disappearance of these assets hasn’t gone down well in the community and added that more needs to be spent in the area to help it.

Kyle, 28, said: “A lot [of pubs] have closed in the last 10 years and it is a lot of peoples’ livelihoods at stake.

“It is the backbone of the community and a lot of people rely on the pub even if it is just the social aspect.”

Kyle said he doesn’t feel like the east of Cardiff has been very well represented.

“When we have contacted local MPs in the past about issues it has fallen on deaf ears,” he added.

This year, he said he will make a change and vote for the Liberal Democrats – a party he has never voted for before.

As well as more investment in the area, Kyle said he would like to see more opportunities for youngsters, especially in the form of apprenticeships.

There are now 32 constituencies in Wales instead of 40 following changes that saw all but one seat (Anglesey) in the country change.

Cardiff East, which once existed as the name of a constituency until it was scrapped in 1950, is largely made up of the former Cardiff Central constituency and a part of the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency.

Deprivation

Certain areas of Trowbridge were classed in the 10% most-deprived areas in the Wales according to the 2019 Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD)

Data from the 2021 Census also shows that 51.7% of people aged 16 and over in Trowbridge at that time were economically active – 6.6% below the Cardiff average at that time.

Parts of neighbouring Llanrumney were also classed as some of the city’s most deprived areas in the WIMD in 2019.

There, residents are also concerned about a lack of opportunities in the area.

Kyle Bateman, 28, has lived in Trowbridge his whole life. Pic: Ted Peskett

Wayne Strong, 59, said: “I think the kids up here need more to do. Give them some more activities and stuff, otherwise they are just going to hang around the shops.”

He said he once got in touch with his local MP about this issue, but he added that “nothing has been done about that”.

Wayne, a Labour voter in 2019 who has lived in Llanrumney for five years, said: “I am definitely changing my vote, but I haven’t really thought who.”

Another Llanrumney resident who did not wish to be named said anti-social behaviour is a major concern for her.

She said: “The only thing I would say needs to change is the drugs. It is absolutely disgusting around here.

“I have a newborn and a 17-month-old and every single time I walk [along a certain spot] it absolutely stinks of drugs.

“I dread walking by there with my kids… because it is disgusting.

“Not one of them has got any respect knowing there is a kid in the pram.”

When asked about her local politicians, the mother of two said her local Labour councillors, Cllr Keith Jones and Cllr Lee Bridgeman, were good at listening to her concerns when she needed help.

However, she expects more to be done following the elections, adding: “There needs to be a youth club around here. Even if it is a [place] just to have a game of pool.”

On anti-social behaviour, she said: “If someone is willing to have the balls to stand up to them, then I would be willing to vote for them.

“It is just beyond around here.”

Labour’s Jo Stevens, who represented Cardiff Central, will be running for the Cardiff East seat.

Other candidates include:

  • Beatrice Brandon (Conservatives)
  • Cadewyn Eleri Skelley (Plaid Cymru)
  • Rodney Berman (Liberal Democrats)
  • Lee Canning (Reform UK)
  • Sam Coats (Green Party)
  • John Aaron Williams (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

Along Wellfield Road in the west of the constituency, Chris Badham, who has lived in Plasnewydd for about 20 years, stopped to talk about what she wants to see happen in the next election.

She said she is going to vote for Jo Stevens on July 4.

“She is an excellent MP and I am sorry I didn’t vote for her last time,” said Chris, 74.

“Generally, she is very good. She looks after her constituency… she is actually quite feisty and she is going to stick up for herself as well as the rest of us.”

Concerns

Improving hospital treatment waiting times was a high-ranking concern for Chris, who said she has experienced some of the issues at the NHS first hand this year.

She added: “Once I was there and it took 13 hours to find me a bed… I was very well cared for, but on my discharge day I was told to be ready for 12pm… and nothing happened.

“I was five hours sitting there… I could have walked away and someone from A and E waiting could have got a bed.

“It is just the way things are at the moment.”

Daniel Pearce, who lives in Llanedeyrn but was in Plasnewydd and Penylan for the day, said he will also be giving Labour’s Jo Steven’s his vote when he goes to the polls.

The retired chartered surveyor said he has lived in his neighbourhood in Llanedeyrn for 45 years now and can’t think of many things he’d like to see change there apart from the reopening of Pentwyn Leisure Centre.

“The area is a nice area now. There is nothing to complain about really,” said Daniel, 72.

Ian Breen from Pentwyn said something similar when he stopped to give his thoughts on a bustling Wellfield Road.

Standing outside one of the many restaurants and cafés that have characterised the area’s regeneration, Ian said: “It’s nice. We like the area that we are in.”

However, traffic was a concern of his when talking about Cardiff more generally.

Ian said: “The Brynglas tunnel [on the M4] doesn’t seem to help with accidents and things like that.”

“Middle of the road”

Commenting further on traffic in and around the city, he added: “It doesn’t encourage businesses to come and be in South Wales if you haven’t got good road networks.

“It is not great at all.

“I can be driving along there at 10am and you can still get traffic.”

Another resident of Pentwyn, Russell Wigley, said he doesn’t have any major concerns about where he lives, calling his estate “quite middle of the road”.

However, he was more sceptical about the Labour party, adding that the way he feels the city has been run has affected his view.

Russell, 70, said: “I don’t know [how I will vote] to be honest. I haven’t got any faith in the Labour council.”

Both of the constituencies that made up Cardiff East were Labour holds in the last general election, and by some way as well.

In Cardiff South and Penarth, the party secured a majority of 12,700 votes – 54.1% of the electorate.

In Cardiff Central, Jo Stevens won by a majority of 17,100. This amounted to 61.2% of the vote and was followed by the Conservatives share of 20.1%.

Only time will tell how people in Cardiff East will vote, but the differences between either side of the new constituency and peoples’ concerns there will play a key part.


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.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Kleissner
Andrew Kleissner
19 days ago

Just so you know, there is to be an Election Hustings “Question Time” for the constituency tomorrow evening (Wednesday). It will be held at St Philip Evans RC Primary School CF23 9NX in Llanedeyrn and starts at 7 for 7.30pm. All welcome!

Last edited 19 days ago by Andrew Kleissner
Andrew Kleissner
Andrew Kleissner
19 days ago

Just so you know, there is to be an Election Hustings “Question Time” for the constituency tomorrow evening (Wednesday). It will be held at St Philip Evans RC Primary School CF23 9NX in Llanedeyrn and starts at 7 for 7.30pm. All welcome!

ezgif.com-animated-gif-maker

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.