The General Election campaign got under way in Penarth today with the Conservative candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth – Bill Rees – meeting local residents in Windsor Road .
Posing with him for pictures on the pavements of Penarth in the brilliant afternoon sunshine were his wife and their two toddler children Jesse and Mirabelle.They were accompanied by the Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns – who will be defending his Vale of Glamorgan parliamentary seat in the June 8th election – and Craig Williams who is hoping to retain the marginal seat of Cardiff North which he won for the Conservatives in 2015.
Bill Rees is endeavouring not only to meet as many local residents as he can, but also to chat with members of Penarth’s thriving local business community . Today’s visit is the first of many he is planning to make to Penarth in the course of the month-long campaign.
Mr Rees says that, if elected, he will make achieving a “resolution” of the difficulties of Penarth Pier Pavilion one of his top priorities – and is keeping a close eye on developments. He said that when public bodies put public money into such projects they should always negotiate “commercial levers” as part of the deal . In the case of the Penarth Pier Pavilion, he said, that just hadn’t been done. “At the end of the day” – Mr Rees said “it [ the Pavilion] just can’t go on the way it is”.
Cardiff South and Penarth is the largest constituencies in the country with an electorate [i.e. people registered to vote] approaching 80,000. It sprawls northwards from Penarth towards the Rumney area where Mr Rees was campaigning yesterday.
On the doorsteps of Rumney and Cardiff South, Bill Rees said several voters had told him that although they had voted Labour all their lives – they were not going to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party [i.e. Stephen Doughty] on June 8th .Mr Rees believes the result could be close and the contest will go “right down the wire” : “Every vote will count” – he says .
So far Mr Rees – a Centrica PLC business executive by profession who contested Merthyr in the 2015 election – is the only Welsh-speaking candidate in the contest but nominations don’t close until May 11th.
Colleague Craig Williams said the latest opinion polls seemed to indicate that Bill Rees will have a stronger chance of being elected for Cardiff South and Penarth than he (Craig Williams) had had when fighting the Cardiff North seat -(which he won) – in 2015.