Pontypridd is another typical Valleys constituency that lies in the geographical heartland of the South Wales coalfield. It takes in the town of Pontypridd itself and the surrounding villages including Beddau, Hopkinstown, Llantrisant, Pontyclun, Nantgarw and Cilfynydd. The name of the town derives from “Bridge of the Earth”, a reference to the fact that the shallowness of the river Taff at this point made it an easy fording point. It covers the lower Taf and Ely valleys. This seat is very much the transition point between the traditional, struggling, post-industrial towns of the Welsh valleys and those commuter villages and new build developments that lie in the orbit of Cardiff to the south. The Royal Mint, the government owned company that produces all UK coinage, is based here in Llantrisant. Two of the University of Glamorgan`s campuses are also here, based in Pontypridd.
The town is situated about 12 north of Cardiff just off the A470, and has a rich industrial heritage. Coal was first mined in the area in 1790 and in 1795 the Glamorganshire canal, linking Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff Docks was built through the town, other significant industries in the locality at this time were nail and tin production. Collieries were also opened in Cilfynydd and Hopkinstown.
Current attractions in the area include the famous Ynysangharad Park which opened in 1923 and the Rhondda Heritage Park which offers an insight into the mining history of South Wales.
The area can boast many famous sons, most famously Sir Tom Jones, but also including opera stars Sir Geraint Evans and Stuart Burrows and in a different vein, Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell. Phil John and Neil Jenkins are just two of the many excellent Welsh rugby players the town has produced. Evan James and James James, the father and son who wrote the Welsh national anthem, “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” came from the town.
Politically the seat is a safe Labour tenure. At Westminster it has been a Labour seat since 1922, and has been held by such Labour luminaries as Brynmor John and Kim Howells. Since 2010 it has been held by Owen Smith MP, who saw the Labour majority collapse from just over 13,000 to less than 3,000 in the face of a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful challenge from the Liberal Democrats. The cutting of the Labour majority to under ten per cent result makes it a semi-marginal Labour seat. But it’s a seat that is unlikely to change hands in the next UK general election.
At the Welsh Assembly elections the seat was held from it’s creation in 1999 until 2011 by Jane Davidson, who retired from the Assembly and was replaced by Mick Antoniw who increased Labour’s majority by over 4000 votes. At the Assembly and Westminster levels, the other three main political parties in Wales usually put in a decent showing in elections, but none come close to winning.
2015 General election results
|Powell, Michael||Liberal Democrat||4,904||12.95|
|Lewis, Osian||Plaid Cymru||4,348||11.48|
|Biggs, Damien||Socialist Labour||332||0.88|
Labour majority 8,985 (23.72%) ).56% swing Conservative to Labour
Electorate 58,929 Turnout: 37,882 (64.28%)
2011 Assembly election results
|Powell, Mick||Liberal Democrat||4,170||17.87%|
|Bellin, Ioan||Plaid Cymru||3,139||10.14%|
Turnout: 23,333 (38.87%)
|Labour hold||7,694 majority|
2010 General election results
|Powell, Michael||Liberal Democrat||11,435||31.2|
|Bellin, Ioan||Plaid Cymru||2,673||7.3|
|Parsons, Simon||Socialist Labour||456||1.2|
|Watson, Donald||Christian Party||365||0.9|
Electorate 58,219 Turnout: 36,671 (62.99%)
Mick Antoniw (Labour) was elected as a Labour and Co-operative Assembly Member. He was born in Reading and moved to Wales to study law at Cardiff University in 1973, and has lived in Wales ever since. Mick speaks Ukrainian, as his father was a refugee from Ukraine after the war.
From 1977 to 1979, Mick was President of the National Union of Students (Wales). From 1981 to 1989 he was a member of South Glamorgan County Council. He is a trustee of the Bevan Foundation, a trustee of the Welsh Refugee Council, Vice President of the Brynsadler Community Trust in Pontyclun and honorary Vice President of the homeless charity Seren. He is a member of Welsh Labour Grassroots, the Co-operative Party, GMB and the Musicians Union.
In 1980 Mick qualified as a solicitor, and is a former partner with Thompsons solicitors, specialising in spinal and head injury and corporate manslaughter. He is a fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Law and member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He has lectured widely in the field of health and safety and law reform.
He is married with three adopted children and is a former foster parent.
Member of Parliament
Owen Smith (Labour) has represented Pontypridd since 2010, replacing the previous Kim Howells, who decided to step down. He is the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales. In 2006, he fought and lost Blaenau Gwent to an independent candidate.
He worked as a radio producer for 10 years, at the BBC Immediately prior to be elected, Smith worked for five years in the biotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry. In 2002 he became special Advisor for Paul Murphy who was Secretary of State for Wales and then Secretary of State Northern Ireland.
Smith is married and has three children.