Married couple both standing in the same ward as candidates in Caerphilly
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
A married couple who met through their shared interest of local politics are both standing in the same ward in the upcoming Caerphilly County Borough Council elections.
Llanbradach candidates Adam and Rhydian Birkinshaw-Bird met whilst working on Labour councillor Lisa Phipps’ initial campaign to become a county borough councillor for Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen in 2015.
The pair currently live in Llanbradach, where Rhydian has lived since he was born and Adam moved to in 2020 – after living in Bedwas with his adoptive mother since he was five-years-old.
Both have been Labour members since a young age, Rhydian joined the party when he was 15-years-old.
Rhydian, now 26, said his interest in politics began when his welsh language school, Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, ran a mock general election.
Adam’s interest in politics was piqued when he was volunteering with Bedwas Workmen’s Hall and as a result of working closely with local councillors.
The pair got married in October, 2020, during Caerphilly’s local lockdown – all within the rules at the time – at Penallta House, and they had their honeymoon in Bryn Meadows Golf Hotel and Spa in Ystrad Mynach.
The couple said they have had a positive reception in the ward and have not personally experienced any negativity related to their sexuality.
Both spend their evenings canvassing and leafletting around Llanbradach, which currently has two Plaid Cymru ward councillors – Colin Mann, leader of the council’s Plaid Cymru group, and Rob Gough.
Rhydian said: “When we work together we work well – we’re good at developing each others ideas.” Adam added: “We bounce ideas off each other all the time.”
Adam, 28, previously worked as Bedwas, Trethomas, and Machen Community Council’s Youth Officer between 2016 and 2017.
When asked how to get more young people involved and interested in local politics, Adam said: “Councillors should be going in to schools and attend things such as St. John’s clubs and speak to young people and teach them what local politics is. They should be taught what the lower levels of politics are, and why they matter.
“Some councillors aren’t going to see the changes they are bringing in – young people are, so they need to be aware.”
Rhydian said: “Work needs to be done to re-brand local government as a place where real change happens and good for our community gets done.”
Rhydian, who volunteers with St John’s ambulance said if he was elected his main goal would be to create opportunities for people.
He added: “There are no scouts or cadets clubs in the area, I want to get these clubs to the village. I got involved with St John’s through joining Badgers when I was younger.
“These clubs and local events have a domino effect and people take part in our community. They encourage that community spirit and people appreciate what’s on their doorstep more.”
Adam said if he was elected environmental issues would be particularly important to him. He added: “I would want the area to have green bus stops that attract bees and promote being eco friendly.”
Council elections are taking part across Caerphilly County Borough and Wales as a whole on Thursday, May 5.
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