Bridgend Election Predictions 2012 – Part Two

(Pic: © Copyright Jaggery and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.)

 

Following on from part one yesterday, for this second half, I’m concentrating on wards in the Bridgend constituency – covering the southern half of the borough, including: Porthcawl, Bridgend town itself and the Pyle area.

Incumbent councillors are in italics.

Brackla –4 seats

Pat Hacking, Terry Hacking (Con)
Michael Quick (Ind)
Charlotte Berrow (Lib Dem)
Craig Jones,
David Sage, John Spanswick, Hailey Townsend (Lab)
Daniel Thomas, Nick Thomas (Plaid)

Brackla is effectively a town within a town, and the most populated ward in the borough. It’s a diverse ward, with some of the county’s wealthiest areas alongside some of the poorest. However, its rapid growth over the last 30 years has resulted, by and large, in a dearth of community facilities.

Labour are confident, putting up four candidates. I don’t think it’ll be a clean sweep. David Sage and John Spanswick will comfortably retain their seats, so should one of the Hacking’s. But where will the fourth go? I’ll play it safe and say 3 Labour, 1 Conservative – single Labour gain.

Bryntirion, Laleston & Merthyr Mawr – 2 seats

Ian Spiller (Con)
Kathy Lewis (Green)
Cheryl Green
, Wayne Morgan (Lib Dem)
Andrew Breading, Pamela Davies (Lab)

A large ward, covering the densely populated, upmarket Broadlands estate, the village of Laleston and the ancient village of Merthyr Mawr. It also includes the far edge of Bridgend town “proper” (Bryntirion), mostly ex-local authority housing. There’s been some controversy in Broadlands over changes to catchment area of Maes-yr-Haul Primary, which is severely oversubscribed.

This could deal a death blow to Bridgend Liberal Democrats. Cheryl Green is a former Bridgend Council leader, and both herself and Wayne Morgan are significant local Lib Dems, in one of the borough’s few “Lib Dem strongholds”. I think one of them will hang on, but it’s going to be a skin of their teeth job. Labour to gain one seat – 1 Labour 1 Lib Dem.

Cefn Glas– 1 seat

Barbara Parish (Con)
Tony Berrow (Lib Dem)
Cleone Westwood
(Lab)

Mostly ex-local authority housing to the north west of Bridgend town centre. Comfortable Labour hold.

Coity– 1 seat

Andy Chyba (Green)
Ella Dodd
(Ind)
Olivia Byrne (Lab)
Briony Davies (Lib Dem)

A picturesque village to the north-east of Bridgend, famous for its castle and Parc Prison. It tries to maintain a sense of “separateness” despite the encroaching of the Parc Derwen development and Brackla. Independent hold.

Cornelly – 2 seats

Megan Butcher, Jeff Tildsley (Ind)
Richard Granville, Diane Spanswick (Lab)

The Marlas estate in North Cornelly is a Communities First area in the far-west of the borough, roughly halfway between Bridgend and Port Talbot. Includes the rural Mawdlam and Kenfig villages as well as South Cornelly.

Jeff Tildsley is one of the major “civic figures” in Bridgend, having been Mayor. Both independent candidates had good majorities in 2008, but I feel one of them will probably fall to a Labour comeback. 1 Labour 1 Independent – Labour gain one seat from Independent.

Coychurch Lower– 1 seat

Kay Rowlands (Con)
Peter Evans
, Elaine Venables (Ind)
John Udraufski (Lab)

Includes the village of Coychurch, Bridgend Industrial Estate and Waterton to the south west of Bridgend town itself. Likely to become a more populated, but massively split, ward in the future.

An interesting one. Peter Evans had a solid majority in 2008, but could the vote be split allowing someone else to come through? Too close to call.

Litchard– 1 seat

Alan Wathan (Con)
Cherie Jones (Lab)

This is a fairly wealthy, 1950s/60s suburb to the north of Bridgend. An independent councillor, Don Brett, is standing down. I’ll go for notional Conservative gain from Independent.

Llangewydd & Brynhyfred – 1 seat

Malcolm Francis (Lab)
Eric Hughes (Lib Dem)
Adam Lloyd (NF)

Another urban ward in the west of Bridgend. Straightforward Labour gain from Liberal Democrats.

Morfa – 2 seats

Trish Evans (Green)
Peter Foley, Roger Marsh (Ind)
Hayden Morgan, Neela Farr (Lab)
Sara Thomas, Tim Thomas (Plaid)

This ward includes Bridgend town centre and the Communities First Wildmill estate, which has seen mild levels of investment in recent years. It’s the closest thing to an ethnically diverse part of the borough, being home to many Eastern European migrants and those who work at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

Rehabilitation centres in the ward, anti-social behaviour in Wildmill and the town centre, playgrounds, street parking and 20+ year struggle against housing development on an infilled railway embankment between Morfa and Brackla are perennial local election issues.

Plaid have two hard-working candidates who’ve been highly visible for some considerable time. The Greens are standing here for the first time. The Lib Dems have given up, and Peter Foley is a local stalwart. In my opinion, it’s a three way fight between Independents, Labour and Plaid for the two seats. Too close to call.

Newcastle– 2 seats

Mervyn Lewis, David Unwin (Con)
Christina Rees, David White (Lab)

An ancient part of town, including the castle which overlooks Bridgend town centre. Some leafy streets and large houses. Popular with retirees. Includes the “civic core” of Bridgend.

Labour to gain a seat from the Conservatives, but this is Tory territory. Both councillors have large majorities so I wouldn’t take that as a given.

Newton– 1 seat

Ken Watts (Con)
Richard Weaver (Lab)
Marian Davies (Plaid)

Small village to the east of Porthcawl, could probably be considered a suburb now. Includes St Clare’s School – Bridgend’s only independent school.

Conservative hold.

Nottage– 1 seat

Chris Smart (Con)
Paul Winstanley (Lab)
Norah Clark
(Lib Dem)

Similar to Newtown but to the east of Porthcawl. Includes lots of retirees and suburban housing.Too close to call, I think it’s a three-way fight here.

Oldcastle– 2 seats

Clare Lewis, Matthew Voisey (Con)
Bob Burns
, Diane Burns (Ind)
Edith Hughes
, Gareth Phillips (Lab)
Tom Green, Abi Hicks (Lib Dem)
David Bolton (Plaid)

Another urban Bridgend ward, covering the south of the town. Includes some of Bridgend’s swankiest areas, in particular the Merthyr Mawr road area, but also densely populated terraced streets popular with young families.

A very extensive list of candidates for the two seats. Again it’s good to see Plaid standing, but I don’t think it’s going to change much – however much I’d like to see it. Labour and Independent hold.

Pendre– 1 seat

Richard Young (Lab)
Anita Davies (Lib Dem)
Nigel Howe (Plaid)

Mostly former local authority housing and bungalows. Home to the Princess of Wales Hospital. Parking seems to be a major problem in the area. A genuinely “nice” part of Bridgend town.

It’s also Carwyn Jones’ old stomping ground. The sitting Lib Dem councillor, Mike Simmonds, has stood down. I’d expect to see Labour gain this seat from the Lib Dems quite comfortably. Once again, it’s good to see Plaid standing here.

Penyfai– 1 seat

Altaf Hussein (Con)
Meryl Wilkins
(Ind)
David Lewis (Lab)

A small village to the north west of Bridgend town centre, that’s just about able to maintain an identity for itself. Lots of suburban houses and dormer bungalows here. Home to Glanrhyd Hospital. As mentioned recently, issues relating to a replacement for the crumbling village school have bubbled for the best part of a decade, with little to show for it (so far).

Independent hold.

Porthcawl East Central– 1 seat

Brian Jones (Ind)
Alana Davies
(Lab)
Alan Roberts (Plaid)

The eastern half of Porthcawl town, including some ex, and current, local authority housing areas. Will be a major focal point for regeneration. Includes Trecco Bay (I think). Alana Davis had a prominent role in Bridgend’s cabinet. Comfortable Labour hold.

Porthcawl West Central – 1 seat

Rosemary Deere (Con)
Sean Aspey (Ind)
Jessica Davies (Lab)

Densely populated part of Porthcawl, including the town centre. Sean Aspey is another former Lib Dem standing as an independent. It’s really not looking too good for them, is it? Conservative hold.

Pyle – 3 seats

Melissa Humphreys, Carol Turner (Con)
Allan Jones (Ind)
Luke Ellis, Clive James, Pauline James (Lab)
David Williams (Lib Dem)

Large village to the north of Cornelly ward, and generally similar. There were three Labour councillors. The names might’ve changed but it’ll stay three Labour councillors. Luke Ellis is likely to be Carwyn Jones’s long-term “successor”vis-a-vis Ross Thomas in Maesteg.

Rest Bay– 1 seat

Caroline Vaughan (Con)
Gerald Davies
(Lib Dem)

Suburban part of western Porthcawl, including the famous Royal Porthcawl golf club. This is apparently the only ward without a Labour candidate, and a consistent Lib Dem stronghold. A rare Lib Dem hold.

Bridgend Council Elections 2012 Overall Predictions

Labour                   34
Independent          7
Conservatives        5
Lib Dems                2
Plaid Cymru            1
Too close to call     5

There’s 54 seats on the council, so 28 seats are required for a majority. Labour already had 27, and have probably already crossed the line by defections from other parties or notional gains. So I predict – with some confidence – that Labour are going to take overall control of Bridgend quite comfortably. “No shit, Sherlock.”

The Tories have always had a small, but prominent, base in the Bridgend constituency so they should hold up OK.

Many independents will lose seats through simply retiring or election dynamics – for example more candidates standing than expected. Bridgend does have some very good independent councillors, but it’s not a Pembrokeshire, Anglesey or Carmarthenshire situation here.

Leanne can relax. The real story in Bridgend won’t be how Plaid do. Bridgend isn’t a hotbed of nationalism, and if I’m completely honest, their current seat is likely to be a close call. Plaid could increase their share of the vote and community councillors to offset this somewhat. I think Plaid are going to run a few established councillors close though, with the outside chance of an upset or two. They’re decades away from being a “major player” akin to Plaid in NPT, RCT or Caerphilly but are building a strong base in the county.

I think, like the rest of Wales, it’ll be the performance of the Lib Dems under most scrutiny. They’ll say different, but there’s a very real possibility they could be wiped out in Bridgend. They once ran the council in coalition, and held 13 seats. That fell to 6 in 2008 and I think they’ll be delighted if they can hang on to 3 or 4 of them this time around. Ouch.

Owen

  • Anonymous

    “They're decades away from being a “major player” akin to Plaid in NPT, RCT or Caerphilly but are building a strong base in the county.”

    Do you think the lack of Welsh-medium education in the area has stunted the development of the Plaid vote in Bridgend? Why is the Plaid vote so weak in some areas with a high Welsh-born population such as Merthyr and Bridgend but strong in RCT and Caerphilly?

    I know Bridgend isn't exactly typical your typical south Wales town, it feels a bit like a working-class West Midlands town sandwiched between the Valleys and Vale of Glamorgan. There seems to be a lot of Eastern Europeans and south-east English living there.

  • Thanks for the comment, Anon.

    Plaid came within around 150 votes of second place in the 1999 Assembly election in Bridgend – albeit off the back of a low turnout – that would be unthinkable now. I just don't think they've had the infrastructure in place, or the focus from the national party, to push on. However it appears as though that's changed, but they'll need to be patient. I don't remember seeing as many Plaid candidates or canvassers before this year.

    The northern half of the county is solid Labour – its one of their safest Assembly and Westminster seats. That doesn't mean it'll always be that way, but it's a simple fact of life. That's probably the same case in Merthyr too.

    The southern half, including Bridgend itself, is as you say, more typical of the West Midlands. I wouldn't say it's as “working class” anymore, if anything the town has gentrified over the last 20 years or so, more due to executives etc. moving to the big housing estates like Brackla and Broadlands. Retail and economic studies have shown that most familes more “comfortable/well-off” than the town centre would suggest. That's a solid blue collar Tory vote that's been lost to Labour (and in 2004/2008 the Lib Dems), if anything.

    There's no other part of the Valleys area that has this sort of “split” really, except perhaps Rhondda Cynon Taf.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I got the impression that Bridgend is much better off than its general appearance/town centre/media coverage would suggest. There seems to be a lot of potential there but I get the feeling that town won't grow and develop as strongly as the Llantrisant/Talbot Green/Pontyclun conurbation will do over the next 15-20 years.

  • I'd generally agree with that assessment, Anon.

    Bridgend (town) is probably reaching the limits of expansion. There are outline proposals for another big urban expansion to the north west of the town, but I think that there's no chance of that happening for a good 15-20 years. The population must be comfortably pushing 50,000+ now, probably 70,000+ if you include Pencoed and the Sarn area. Yet if you go to the town centre you wouldn't realise it.

    If the Talbot Green town centre project fulfills it's potential then Bridgend will have to up its game significantly to compete. I think it partly comes down to how much “overspill” there'll be from Cardiff if they confine development to brownfield sites. If they, or the Welsh Government, do adopt a “city region” approach then the likes of Talbot Green and Bridgend would be in line for further developments I'd expect.

  • Anonymous

    You appear to have forgotten that since Porthcawl was bundled in with Bridgend in 1974, this potentially lucrative seaside resort has been starved of investment to provide for the rest of the county borough. Many residents were fed up with getting nothing in return for the highest community taxes in the region and this led to the formation of 'Porthcawl First', a Facebook group who fought a successful campaign against complacency from both Labour and Conservatives. All four independent candidates finished way out in front of their wards, East and West Central both returning independent county borough councillors. Labour seriously underestimated the depth of resentment against Bridgend and its cabinet minister Alana Davies, paid the price for her party's apathy.

  • I'm cleaning the egg off my “wrongy wrongy” face, Anon 😉

    Not living in Porthcawl, I was making general assumptions based on what was happening across the county and indeed across Wales. I can probably be forgiven for that, it wasn't any sort of slight against Independents. Barring the Conservatives poor performance I wasn't that far off in terms of sheer councillor numbers.

    The Porthcawl results were a real barnstormer for the independents, rare interesting results in what were fairly dull ones county-wide. Before the elections I did mention that the Porthcawl “regeneration” scheme is one of the areas where Bridgend Council has failed. I did notice that she wasn't getting particularly good press in the Gazette. Were there any other local factors in Alana's “decapitation”?

    I hope that Porthcawl First can hold the incoming Labour administration to account, they are probably best posititoned to be a “thorn in their side”. Judging by the local election results, I'm sure they have the backing of a significant chunk of Porthcawl too. Best of luck to them.

  • Anonymous

    I found your predictions for the results interesting but you failed to give recognition to the strength of the 4 brackla labour candidates who are now all cllrs. Brackla labour has been out in strength for over a year talking to the residents which is more than can be said for the other candidates. Plaid stood as paper candidates only and the liberal democrats also confessed to only standing as a paper candidate. As for the conservatives they opted to pay a newsagent to deliver their election material. At least I saw the labour candidates around and they knocked my door.

    In response to the independent that took the seat of Alana Davies the first AGM of the council was today and cllr Jones was not present at the meeting. This does not bode well for the constituents that he is meant to be representing. That is how good this independent is at representing residents by not turning up to the first meeting.

  • Anon – I did mention that the Brackla result was an “excellent result” for Labour in my follow up to this post.

    Personally, I'd expect any person I elect to have as close to 100% attendance record as possible, but I imagine being a councillor is more than “just turning up”. Being available and actually doing something for their ward is more important over the five years, not just the first few weeks.