|Bleanau Gwent Labour party, which suffered a crushing defeat at the last general electon when it introudced an all-female list of candidates and was beaten by Independent Peter Law, says it will be a hundred per cent in charge this weekend as the process to select a local Parliamentary by-election candidate restarts. The by-election comes after Mr Law's death last week.
Party members will meet potential candidates, nominate through their branches, draw up their own shortlist and then finally select their candidate on Monday evening. The process puts Blaenau Gwent Labour a hundred percent in charge.
Blaenau Gwent Labour Assembly candidate and local council leader John Hopkins said:
"Blaenau Gwent Labour will be a hundred percent in charge of selecting our candidate for the Parliamentary by-election. I insisted that the process was conducted in this way because I thought it was crucial to rebuild trust with the people of Blaenau Gwent.
"Whoever our Parliamentary candidate is, the choice will lie with Blaenau Gwent Labour and no-one else. I have secured this commitment from the Labour Party because I thought it was essential that it was local Labour Party members who made the decisions on their candidate.
"The Labour Party has learned its lesson. It is time for Blaenau Gwent and the Labour Party to move on. It is vitally important that this selection is conducted in a fully open and accountable way with local members in charge.
"They will select the person they believe will be best placed to campaign for important local issues, such as tackling crime, creating jobs and campaigning for local post offices."
LIB DEM CANDIDATES
Welsh Liberal Democrat members in Blaenau Gwent have chosen their candidates for the Blaenau Gwent double by-election. The party has made a quick selection in order to get off to a flying start in a seat where they came second in 2003.
At a meeting of the local party last night, Abertillery councillor Steve Bard was selected to fight for the Assembly seat, and Amy Kitcher will contest the parliamentary seat.
Steve Bard said: âThe people of Blaenau Gwent have made a clear break in their relationship with Labour. After almost 100 years of Labour rule, this community suffers some of the worst health and deprivation in Europe. This area needs a strong voice, and if people are looking for an alternative to Labour, an alternative with real strength in both the Assembly and Westminster, then they know that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are the real alternative.â
Amy Kitcher added: âBlaenau Gwent needs a strong voice to stand up for our area in the Assembly and Westminster. Labour has taken our area for granted for too long. Steve and I will be campaigning to protect local services like the Blaenau Gwent out of hours GP service and the Aberbeeg community hospital which are currently under threat, and the local Post Office network, which has already been culled by Labour, but is under further threat from the withdrawal of Card Accounts. We will also be pressing Labour to explain the huge delays to the long awaited Ebbw Vale passenger rail link.â
Jenny Randerson AM, chair of the Welsh Liberal Democrat campaigns committee said: âI am pleased that we have been able to move quickly to select our candidates for this double by-election. Both Amy and Steve have a strong record of campaigning and I believe both would give a strong voice to this community.
Steve Bard, 45, is a Blaenau Gwent County Councillor for the Abertillery Ward. He was the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate for Blaenau Gwent in 2003 when he was second to Peter Law. Steve has lived in the Abertillery area since in 1971 and works as a teacher. He attended Six Bells and Bryngwyn primary schools then Roseheyworth and Nantyglo comprehensives. He later went to Salford College and on to Bath College where he gained his teaching certificate. He has a masters degree in education from the Open University. Steve has been a member of Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir since 1976. In 1991 he became the assistant musical director and then musical director.
Amy Kitcher, 25, is a Lib Dem campaigner who is active throughout South East, and a rising star within the party. She worked in the retail trade before taking up her current job as Assistant Regional Manager for South Wales East AM Mike German, a job which involves taking up and seeking to solve issues and problems raised by residents across South Wales East. Amy grew up in, and still lives in, Merthyr, and read Modern Languages at Aston University, before studying for an MA in Contemporary War and Peace Studies from the University of Sussex.
Blaenau Gwent Constituency Councillors: Labour 31; Independent 8; Welsh Lib Dem 3; Plaid 0; Conservative 0 .Welsh Lib Dems were second in 2003 and 3rd behind Peter Law and Maggie Jones in 2005.