Torfaen

DSC00079Torfaen constituency is the easternmost constituency of what is usually referred to as the old South Wales Coalfield. To the east of the constituency the terrain changes from the industrial and urban landscape most commonly associated with South Wales, to the rural, agricultural terrain of Monmouthshire. The seat is largely based around the urban new towns of Cwmbran and Pontypool, but to the north it becomes far more rural in nature as it runs to the old coaling town of Blaenavon and the moors of south Powys. To the west the seat borders the seats of Islwyn and Blaenau Gwent. To the south the seat merges into the City of Newport.

The seat is named “Tor-faen” after the old name for the river, now named the Afon Llwyd or “Grey river”, that runs through the seat from its source near Blaenavon  down past Pontypool and Cwmbran.

Politically the seat is safe Labour territory, with the party having held it comfortably in every Welsh Assembly election, and without serious challenge from other parties since the 1970’s in Westminster. The current MP is Paul Murphy who has held the seat since 1987, and it is held at Assembly level by Lynn Neagle AM who has represented the seat since its creation in 1999.

The seat has many attractions including Pontypool Park which has a shell grotto, a folly and ornamental ponds. Most famously the seat is home to the “Big Pit” coal mining museum. “Big Pit” was opened in 1880, and was so called because it was the first mine in Wales capable of accommodating 2 tramways. In 1913 the pit employed 1,300 men digging about 250,000 tons of high quality steam coal annually. In 1980 it ceased production as a working mine and was reopened as a mining museum. Big Pit is close to the other great industrial attraction at Blaenavon, the Blaenavon Ironworks, now a World Heritage Site. In 2001 the popular television programme “Time Team” came to Torfaen and unearthed part of the world’s first railway viaduct, a viaduct built in 1790 that used horse drawn drams on rails to haul coal.

2015 General election results

Party Votes Cast Percentage
Thomas-Symonds, Nick Labour 16,938  44.65
Smith, Graham Conservative 8,769 23.11
Beswick, Ken UKIP 7,203 18.99
Ackley-Green, Boyd Plaid Cymru 2,169 5.72
Willott, Alison Liberal Democrat 1,271 3.35
Cooke, Matt Green 746 1.97
Cox, John Socialist Labour 697 1.84
Griffiths, Mark Communist 144 0.38

Labour Majority 8,169 (21.53%) 1.6% swing Labour to Conservative

Electorate 61,896 Turnout: 37,937 (61.29%)

 2011 Assembly election result

Party Votes Cast Percentage
Neagle, Lynne Labour 12,011 52.19%
Haynes, Elizabeth Independent
Asghar, Natasha Conservative  7,791 33.85%
Rees, Jeff Plaid Cymru  1,626  7.07%
Harwood, Susan BNP    906  4.06%
Griffiths, Will Liberal Democrat    852  3.82%

Turnout: 22,328 (36.53%)

Labour hold 6,088 majority

 2010 General election results

Party Votes Cast Percentage
Murphy, Paul Labour 16,847  44.8
Burns, Jonathan Conservative 7,541 20
Morgan, David Liberal Democrat 6,264 16.6
ab Elis, Rhys Plaid Cymru 2,005 5.3
Noble, Jennifer BNP 1,657 4.4
Wildgust, Fred Independent 1,419 3.8
Dunn, Gareth UKIP 862 2.5
Turner-Thomas, Richard Independent 607 1.6
Clarke, Owen Green 438 1.2

Electorate 61,178 Turnout: 37,640 (61.53%)

 Assembly Member

Lynne Neagle (Labour and Co-operative) was elected an Assembly Member in 1999. She was a long-serving chair of the Labour Group in the Assembly until 2008.and currently is a member of the Children and Young People Committee and the Health And Social Care Committee. She also is on the Sub Committee on the Smoke-free Premises etc (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2012. Her political interests include health, housing, social services, Europe and the future of the valleys in south Wales. She has led high profile campaigns on issues like MMR uptake and disabled children’s services.

She is married to Huw Lewis, Assembly Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, and has two sons. Born in Merthyr Tydfil 1968 and was educated at Cyfarthfa High School, then Reading University, where she studied French and Italian.

 Prior to her election to the Assembly in 1999, Lynne held a number of posts within the voluntary sector in Wales, working for organisations such as Shelter Cymru, Mind and the CAB. She was Carers Development Officer with Voluntary Action Cardiff and also worked as a researcher for Glenys Kinnock MEP.

 Member of Parliament

Nick Thomas-Symonds (Labour) was elected to Parliament in 2015.

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