Election vox-pop in Carmarthen

SOME buskers are better than others, and guitarist-singer Kris Radar fell under the first category judging by the appreciation that came his way at Carmarthen’s Guildhall Square.

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But what of the political mood music in the new constituency of Caerfyrddin, which stretches from Llandovery in the north-east to Laugharne in the south-west?

Priorities change depending on who you talk to, but the NHS cropped up most frequently in an unscientific sample of 10 voters who worked, lived or spent time in Carmarthen.

For Teresa Jones, a retired nurse from Carmarthen, listening to the needs of farmers was a no-brainer. “Why do we import so much food from abroad?” she said.

Property developer Lewis John felt planning regulations and affordable housing contributions were becoming burdensome, while Heather Gatley said one of the reasons she and her husband had moved away from the area was to seek better NHS care in England. And she had no problem with people coming to the UK and Wales to work and seek a better a life. “We need young people to come here and do stuff,” she said.

Caerfyrddin comprises more than 80% of the former Carmarthen East and Dinefwr seat – won in 2019 by Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards, although he served the latter part as an independent – and 40% of what was Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South, won last time by the Conservative Party’s Simon Hart.

It really is a diverse constituency. The former mining village of Glanamman in the east, near Black Mountain, feels a long way from the Towy estuary village of Llansteffan, while Ammanford and Llandeilo are towns with very different identities but only eight miles apart. The rural economy and agriculture are in the area’s DNA, and farmers from Carmarthenshire were prominent in protests this year against Welsh Government proposals for a new grants initiative called the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which required farmers to commit to having trees on 10% of their land and earmark another 10% as wildlife habitat. The proposals have been delayed until 2026.

Carmarthenshire remains a stronghold for the Welsh language. A total of 40% of the population are Welsh speakers, according to the 2021 census – more than twice the national average – although it was 4% down from the census a decade earlier.

Ten people answered these two questions from the Local Democracy Reporting Service:

1) Rank the following issues in order of importance: building more homes, better public transport, reducing net migration, more NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients, reducing cost of living pressures, listening to the needs of farmers more, action to tackle climate change including planting more trees, and growing the economy.

2) What motivates you the most and least when it comes to actually voting: voting for a particular party, voting for a particular candidate, what’s best for the constituency you live in, what’s best for the country, and what’s best for your own economic circumstances.

Bethan Bloomfield, 30, a trainee midwife from Carmarthen
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. Reducing cost of living pressures
2. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
3. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
4. Better public transport
5. Building more homes
6. Growing the economy
7. Listening to farmers’ needs more
8. Reducing net migration
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for the country
2. A particular candidate
3. A particular party
4. What’s best for the constituency
5. What’s best for my own economic circumstances

John Barrett, 80, retired builder from Tenby
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
2. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
3. Reducing net migration
4. Growing the economy
5. Reducing cost of living pressures
6. Listening to farmers’ needs more
7. Building more homes
8. Better public transport
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for the country
2. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
3. What’s best for the constituency
4. A particular party
5. A particular candidate

Rachel Davis, 60, of Kidwelly
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
2. Better public transport
3. Listening to farmers’ needs more
4. Growing the economy
5. Reducing net migration
6. Reducing cost of living pressures
7. Building more homes
8. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
2. What’s best for the country
3. What’s best for the constituency
4. A particular party
5. A particular candidate

Lewis John, 33, a property developer from Carmarthen
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
2. Growing the economy
3. Building more homes
4. Listening to farmers’ needs more
5. Reducing cost of living pressures
6. Better public transport
7. Reducing net migration
8. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for the country
2. What’s best for the constituency
3. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
4. A particular candidate
5. A particular party

Megan Cant, 22, owner of Baileys Dog Cafe, Hall Street, Carmarthen
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
2. Reducing cost of living pressures
3. Building more homes
4. Growing the economy
5. Listening to farmers’ needs more
6. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
7. Reducing net migration
8. Better public transport
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
2. What’s best for the constituency
3. What’s best for the country
4. A particular candidate
5. A particular party

Bahram Ahmedi, 30, owner of King’s Barbers, King Street, Carmarthen
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. Growing the economy
2. Building more homes
3. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
4. Reducing cost of living pressures
5. Listening to farmers’ needs more
6. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
7. Better public transport
8. Reducing net migration
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for the country
2. A particular candidate
3. What’s best for the constituency
4. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
5. A particular party

Jo White, 65, a volunteer at Climate Shop, King Street, Carmarthen
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
2. Reducing cost of living pressures
3. Building more homes
4. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
5. Growing the economy
6. Better public transport
7. Listening to farmers’ needs more
8. Reducing net migration
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for the country
2. A particular party
3. What’s best for the constituency
4. A particular candidate
5. What’s best for my own economic circumstances

Teresa Jones, 75, a former nurse from Carmarthen
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. Listening to farmers’ needs more
2. Reducing cost of living pressures
3. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
4. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
5. Better public transport
6. Building more homes
7. Growing the economy
8. Reducing net migration
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for the constituency
2. What’s best for the country
3. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
4. A particular candidate
5. A particular party

Mark Taylor, 69, a solicitor from Newport, Pembrokeshire
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
2. Growing the economy
3. Listening to farmers’ needs more
4. Better public transport
5. Reducing cost of living pressures
6. Building more homes
7. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
8. Reducing net migration
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. A particular candidate
2. What’s best for the constituency
3. What’s best for the country
4. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
5. A particular party

Heather Gatley, 67, a former teacher who has moved from Ferryside to Oldham
Ranking of issues in order of importance:
1. More NHS appointments and better outcomes for patients
2. Action to tackle climate change including planting more trees
3. Listening to farmers’ needs more
4. Growing the economy
5. Reducing cost of living pressures
6. Better public transport
7. Building more homes
8. Reducing net migration
Ranking of motivations that drive you to vote the way you do:
1. What’s best for the country
2. What’s best for my own economic circumstances
3. A particular party
4. What’s best for the constituency
5. A particular candidate

The candidates running for the Caerfyrddin seat are Will Beasley (Green Party), Nick Beckett (Lib Dem), Nancy Cole (Women’s Equality Party), Ann Davies (Plaid Cymru), David Mark Evans (Workers Party of Britain), Simon Anthony Hart (Conservative), Bernard Holton (Reform UK), Martha Angharad O’Neil (Labour).

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