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Labour fightfor a secondseat startswith Ernest.

Byline: By PHILLIP NIFIELD South Wales Echo

This ward really should be a banker for Labour. But for 16 years Liberal Democrat Jacqui Gasson has split the ward. Mrs Gasson won a by-election in 1988 and Labour has been unable to remove her, although they came very close five years ago.

Labour candidate Harry Ernest, a close supporter of council leader Russell Goodway, has also been an ever-present representative since 1991. He also chairs one of the council's scrutiny committees.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have hopes of winning the second seat in the ward, which has seen new housing development on the Ely Hospital, Caerau Hostel and Mary Immaculate school sites since the last council elections in 1999.

Labour's second candidate is Rev Ian Tutton while the Liberal Democrats are relying on an old-hand in former South Glamorgan councillor Roger Burley. Both Plaid and the Conservatives, who are each putting up one candidate, are unlikely to make much impact in the straight fight between the big two.

Mrs Gasson said that her early canvassing showed considerable concern with the Labour Government's stance over the Iraq war while a local issue in people's minds was council leader Russell Goodway's row with the District Auditor over councillors' allowances and members' pay.

As a member of the South Wales Police Authority, Mrs Gasson says anti-social behaviour continues to cause problems. 'I've suffered verbal abuse and rude signs when I've tried to sort out problems. We've even had problems with youngsters playing football in the streets as late as midnight or1am,' added Mrs Gasson, who chairs the Ely Police Consultive Committee.

Certainly Labour would like to rid themselves of Mrs Gasson, who has been a thorn in their sides for years.

Indeed, it was the Liberal Democrat member, who 10 years ago as a South Glamorgan councillor, was raising concerns about the city's social services provision, well ahead of the highly-critical 2002 Joint Report by the Audit Commission and Social Services Inspectorate. That report has led to a major shake-up in how social services in the city are run, which is continuing.

Rev Tutton, an industrial chaplain and an ordained baptist minister, is making his first bid to win a seat on the council. But civic service would be nothing new because he was Wales' youngest county councillor when elected in Gwent in 1981, an authority he served for eight years.

Mr Tutton echoes concerns about anti-social behaviour and said he believes the main election issue is ensuring Caerau residents are 'safe and secure' in their own homes and also getting the ward cleaned up. 'Everyone has a part to play in keeping the area clean.

'I think people in Caerau do want to have a share of what's happening elsewhere in the city. That is more likely to be delivered by Labour than someone who continually knocks the council.

'Labour is offering a very experienced councillor in Harry Ernest and myself as an energetic new boy. I accept there is a groundswell of opinion that is demanding some form of change. But I think it is more about change within Labour than from Labour because there is no doubt Labour has been good for the city.': CAERAU:Electorate: 7422 properties: 4572 (Seats: 2) RESULT 1999 Harry Ernest (Lab) Jacqui Gasson (Lib Dem) Julie Mawn (Lab)

Steven Coles (Lib Dem)

Robert Garland (Plaid)

Alan Horwood (Cons)

Wendy Rees (Cons)

% Turnout:

CANDIDATES 2004

Roger Burley (Lib Dem)

Alexander Burns (Cons)

*Harry Ernest (Lab)

Robert Garland (Plaid)

*Jacqui Gasson (Lib Dem) Ian Tutton (Lab) *Sitting members.: COUNCIL ELECTIONS:The Echo is looking at 10 key battlegrounds in next month's council elections. In the first Political & Business Editor Phillip Nifield visits Caerau
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 24, 2004
Words:617
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