Cynon Valley is another of the constituencies that covers the historic Welsh coalfield. The seat is located on the northern edge of the area, and runs from the high ground of Glamorgan overlooking the Brecon Beacons National Park, down towards the heartlands of the coalfield near Pontypridd. The main towns in the constituency are Aberdare and Mountain Ash, and villages in the seat include Penderyn in the north to Ynysybwl and Cilfynydd in the south.
As with the other coalfield seats, Cynon Valley is a safe Labour seat, the seat and its predecessor having been held by the party at Westminster since 1922. Since the current MP, Ann Clwyd won the seat at a By-election in 1984 caused by the death of the previous MP, Ioan Evans, the Labour majority has slipped considerably, falling from a high of 21,571 in 1987 to 9,617 in 2010, falling turnout may have been a factor in this decline. In the same period, Plaid Cymru have advanced steadily overtaking the Conservatives to become the main opposition to Labour in the seat. Ann Clwyd was the first woman to sit as MP for a Welsh valley seat.
At an Assembly level the seat has been held by Labour’s Christine Chapman since its creation in 1999. Plaid Cymru came close to taking the seat in 1999, losing to Labour by a mere 677 votes, but since then the Labour hold has tightened with Chapman’s 2011 majority being 6,515 over Plaid.
The seat is probably most famous as being the location of the last deep mine in South Wales; Tower Colliery. The mine was closed by British Coal in 1994, and Ann Clwyd staged a sit down in the mine with others to protest against its closure. In 1995 however the mine was reopened after a successful workers buy out lead by the local NUM representative Tyrone O’Sullivan. The mine continued to produce coal until January 2008 when it was finally closed.
Like many other seats in the former coalfield, Cynon Valley is reinventing itself a tourism and heritage area. Dare Valley Country Park has been developed on former mining land, and the scenic waterfalls in the Vale Of Neath, which just touch on the northern fringe of the seat are being promoted. The constituency also contains the world famous Penderyn whiskey distillery, which exports its products all over the world. The seat also contains the grave in Llanwonno of the legendary runner Griffiths Morgan, also known as Guto Nyth Bran. Bran died in 1737 after his girlfriend gave him a over hearty slap on the back as congratulations for winning a 12 mile race from Newport to Bedwas. The “Nos Galan” run held in Mountain Ash every New Years Eve is run in memory of Bran.
2015 General election results
|Griffiths, Cerith||Plaid Cymru||5,126||16.82|
|Jones, Angharad||Liberal Democrat||830||2.72|
|Beggs, Chris||Socialist Labour||533||1.75|
Labour Majority 9,406 (30.87%) 0.66 swing Labour to Plaid Cymru
Electorate 51,421 Turnout: 30,472 (589.26%)
2011 Assembly election results
|Trystan, Dafydd||Plaid Cymru||5,111||27.24%|
|Walton, Ian||Liberal Democrat||492||2.62%|
Turnout: 18,760 (35.98%)
|Labour hold||6,515 majority|
2010 General election results
|Davies, Dafydd Trystan||Plaid Cymru||6,064||20.3|
|Thacker, Lee||Liberal Democrat||4,120||13.8|
Electorate 50,656 Turnout: 29,876 (58.98%)
Christine Chapman (Labour) was elected an Assembly Member in 1999, but has announced that she is stepping down in 2016. She is from the Rhondda and went nto Aberystwyth University where she read history and classics then an MScEcon and MPhil from Cardiff University. She also holds a diploma in Careers Guidance from South Bank Polytechnic.
Her professional career has been in the field of education. She has worked for the careers service and for two education business partnerships, and has worked as both a youth worker and a secondary school teacher.
She was a Councillor in RCT before becoming an Assembly Member. She chairs the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee of the Assembly. Her previous roles have included chairing the Objective One Programme Monitoring Committee, being Deputy Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, and Finance, Local Government and Public Services, and Chair of the Petitions Committee. And also represents the Welsh Assembly on the Committee of the Regions, and is Chair of the Assembly’s Women and Democracy Group.
Member of Parliament
Ann Clwyd (Labour) has represented the constituency since 1984 but has announced that she is retiring at the next general election. Originally from Flintshire she graduated from Bangor University and after a spell at teaching became a journalist working for BBC Wales and was Welsh correspondent for the Guardian and Observer between 1964-79. From 1979 to 1984 was MEP for Mid and West Wales until she was elected to Parliament in a by election in May 1984 becoming the first woman to represent a Welsh Valleys constituency
She is currently Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group and the All Party Parliamentary Iraq Group. She is Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coalfield Communities, and Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cambodia.
She has been outspoken in her criticism of the way the NHS dealt with her late husband and was asked by David Cameron to look into how the English NHS was dealing with patients.