The Generation Game: Meet the grandfather and grand-daughter voted on to Bridgend Council in May’s election
Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter
As we begin to move on from months of campaigning at the 2022 local council elections in Wales, there is one pair of councillors in Bridgend who have had more reason to celebrate than most this year.
Councillors Malcolm James and Ellie Richards are a grandfather and grand-daughter duo representing Plaid Cymru in the borough, and while they may be years apart in age, and on a Labour-controlled council under Huw David, both believe they can offer a fresh take on politics that combines a mixture of experience and new ideas.
The pair who both won seats convincingly in their respective areas of Aberkenfig and Llangynwyd now look back on the day they both became members as one of the proudest of their lives, with former retail worker Ellie, 23, saying it still hasn’t properly sunk in.
She said: “When my grandfather first found out that I wanted to run for the council he just grinned and has been very supportive ever since, helping me in particular as I have started to find my feet in the role over the last few months.
“It’s an honour for me to have been voted in alongside him, and to have him here for advice with so much experience is just an amazing bonus.
“As far as we’re aware, we think we are the first grandfather and grand-daughter to do the job together in Bridgend, and to be honest when we both got voted in I just started crying.
“It was such a proud moment and is something we will never forget. We were surrounded by people at the count and were over the moon with the result. All we could both say was ‘wow’, and for me to get in on my first election alongside him after so many years felt very special.
“Of course getting elected is just the beginning of the job, and I know there’s a lot of hard work to come. I might be young but I’ve lived in Aberkenfig my whole life and I have a real passion for the area.
“I’ve always wanted to do something for the people here and I thought if I could make a difference and bring something different to the table then I should at least try.
“I want to be a big voice from our little area when it comes to Aberkenfig, but there are also other issues I want to address as well.”
Ellie added that on top of helping the residents of Aberkenfig to get the best services possible in the next five years, she is also passionate about getting younger voters engaged in politics at a local level, and hopes to inspire the next generation as much as possible.
She added: “I’m definitely eager to improve the way younger people in the area engage with politics, but it seems like a really difficult thing to do these days.
“I have some ideas though, and want to show that younger people can be a part of decision making at a local level, a fact that will hopefully make a positive impact across Bridgend in the long term.
“I would like to start running workshops that hold talks with youths and find out the sorts of things they want for the area, as well as teaching them about more general things in politics as well.
“That sort of knowledge is very important, and could really help increase things like voter turnout and general engagement with council matters in the future.”
While Ellie’s career in politics is just beginning, her 79-year-old grandfather has been a member of Bridgend council for 16 years and says this term will likely be his last.
He said: “When Ellie and I were both voted in for council it was a really special moment, and was a great achievement for both of us. She’s always been into politics and worked incredibly hard with her campaign so she thoroughly deserved it.
“I’m sure she has a very bright future, and even though we ran for different wards, in a way I think it is like handing the baton over for me as it will almost certainly be my last time.
“It is good to see some younger people coming through on the council and I hope this could be the start of a lot more youngsters like Ellie taking interest in politics, as we have to get the next generation ready to step up for a number of reasons.
“We’ve seen low numbers of voters in recent times, with the turnout in Bridgend only being around 36% at the last election, so if we’re going to improve on that I think we have to start getting the young people interested again.
“What’s going on in up Parliament at the moment is probably not helping matters, and I think that is a big reason as to why people are switching off from it.
“However, politics has such an affect on our lives, and if we don’t voice our opinions and use our vote we will never be able to make things change or improve.
“Obviously, we can only do our best, and with me I will always work hard to address the local issues for the local people in my ward.”
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