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By Brendon Williams
BBC News

image captionLord Elis-Thomas has been a member of the assembly since its formation in 1999

While few things are certain in elections, one thing is guaranteed in Dwyfor Meirionnydd – the constituency will have a new Senedd member.

Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas held Plaid Cymru’s seat in 2016, but left the party later that year to sit as an independent.

An assembly member since 1999, he will not be standing for re-election.

The largely rural constituency includes the Llyn Peninsula and part of the Snowdonia National Park.

Not surprisingly, farming matters in Dwyfor Meirionnydd.

image copyrightStephen Elwyn Roddick / Geograph

image captionTourism is an important industry in the area, with crowds attracted to Snowdonia

So too does tourism, with many millions of pounds generated by visitors that regularly flock to enjoy the region’s natural beauty.

The Welsh language is also high on the political agenda. According to the 2011 census, the constituency had the second highest proportion of Welsh speakers, at 65%.

Like many other constituencies, the economy and employment opportunities are important factors.

While tourist hotspots like Abersoch and Porthmadog thrive during the busy summer months, jobs can be few and far between in other areas.

That can mean travelling further afield for work – but how easy is that in rural areas where public transport options may be limited?

Dwyfor Meirionnydd covers much of Gwynedd, where second homes are also an issue, with concerns that people in some areas cannot afford to get on the housing ladder in their local areas.

Following a year in which nothing has been normal, will there be new issues and priorities for candidates and their voters?

Who are the candidates?

This year it’s a packed field, with eight candidates standing. Here are some of their views:

Charlie Evans, Welsh Conservatives

image captionCharlie Evans is the Welsh Conservatives’ candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“The main issues I think are threefold. Firstly, it’s the chronic lack of opportunity for working and young people. There’s a real sense of inevitability that if you’re young and you want to get on, you have to move out of the area.

“I want people to have that choice. I think then hospital services – we’re seeing centralisation away from Dwyfor Meirionnydd, so we’ve got to really address that problem, and then schools as well.

“We’ve got low standards in our schools, broadly speaking in Wales versus England, and a lot of schools locally are having to close down because they’re in a rural area.

“People should vote for me because I’m passionate I’m enthusiastic, I’m brimming with ideas how to improve the lives of the people of Dwyfor Meirionnydd and I want to put that into practice representing the people here in the Senedd.

“There’s a real detachment at the moment between Cardiff and Dwyfor Meirionnydd and I want to close that gap and I’ll be ever-present, really working hard for local people.”

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru

image captionMabon ap Gwynfor is the Plaid Cymru candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“There are two main issues facing us. One is the economy and the requirement for good, well-paid jobs, and the other one is housing, and ensuring that we have control of our housing and affordable housing for local people.

“The economy is the single biggest issue for voters here, because we need quality jobs, well-paid jobs and ensuring that we have the investment for the infrastructure to create those jobs.

“If I’m elected the first thing I’ll do is introduce a bill, a back-bench bill or through government, to control housing and ensure that there is housing available for local people.

“I hope people will vote for me because they realise I have a vision for this constituency and a vision for Wales to ensure that there are jobs here, there are houses here and that services are closer to the people.

“There’s always a danger of complacency. We don’t take anything for granted, that’s why we’ve been out delivering leaflets and that’s why we’ve got a strong online campaign, and when restrictions are lifted then we will be talking to people again hopefully.”

Cian Ireland, Welsh Labour

image copyrightCian Ireland

image captionCian Ireland is Welsh Labour’s candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“If I was elected, the first thing I would do is try to deal with the housing crisis in the area. What you have is people in this area on low wages competing with people with massive amounts of wealth, who are able to outcompete them in the housing market, pushing local people out.

“This needs to change – we need to put in measures as soon possible to help people in this area and deal with the housing crisis.

“One of the big issues that comes up time and time again is tourism, and the fact that local people feel they don’t benefit from tourism.

“Massive amounts of wealth are produced every single year from tourism – we’re talking in the tune of billions in the region as a whole. What we need to do is take ownership and put it in the hands of working people and communities themselves, so that the wealth can stay in the area and be democratised more.

“I support independence and I’ve been quite open about that, however I also see that we need to focus on rebuilding our communities over the next few years. From Brexit we’ve seen that, before undertaking massive constitutional changes, we need to build consensus around ideas for change.”

Steve Churchman, Welsh Liberal Democrats

image captionSteve Churchman is the Welsh Liberal Democrats’ candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“I’m standing in this election because I want to remind the Welsh government that Wales goes further than Merthyr.

“This part of the world has been neglected for far too long. We need to see investment in infrastructure. We need to see investment in broadband to create opportunities for businesses to flourish – to put a bit of wealth back into people’s pockets here in Gwynedd.

“I think the single most important issue is recovery following the Covid pandemic. We’re now seeing businesses starting to open up. We need to see a recovery programme put in place for businesses, for education, for healthcare. All of these have suffered during the pandemic.

“The first thing I would do if I was elected would be to seek a plan of recovery from the Welsh government, that helps businesses, not just to come out from the pandemic but to thrive into the future. It’s no good if we have businesses that have had support all the way through the pandemic, only to find all support ceases and the businesses fail.”

Louise Hughes, Reform UK

image captionLouise Hughes is the Reform UK candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“I don’t think there’s one particular single issue but to me one of the most important issues is lack of meaningful employment, and housing, the lack of affordable housing for local people.

“The first thing I would do is try and tackle the second homes issue which is a huge problem here in Gwynedd. Putting up the council tax 100% or even 300% is not the answer to the question. We need to have proper discussions down at the assembly, and sort it out.

“Why should people vote for me? I’m a local woman. I’ve got 12 or 13 years as a county councillor. I know my communities, and I’ve got fire in my belly. I really care.”

Peter Read, Propel

image copyrightPeter Read

image captionPeter Read is the Propel candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“I think the local people have had enough to be honest and they want a fresh approach to everything, and we seem to be going round in circles with the parties we’ve already got.”

“There are loads of issues – housing, employment, tourism. Housing is definitely the single most important issue in the constituency, and planning needs to be relaxed in a certain way so that young people can get on the ladder.

“I think people should vote for me because whatever affects them affects me. I’m a father of two boys, I’m a husband, and whatever is best for you is best for me as well.

“People have had enough of the same promises… all these big promises and nothing coming out of it. We want action. Words are cheap.”

Michelle Murray, Freedom Alliance

image copyrightMichelle Murray

image captionMichelle Murray is the Freedom Alliance candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“I myself am extremely concerned with the effects of the enforced lockdowns on everybody’s health. Not to mention the very limited access the people of Dwyfor Meirionydd have had with their general practitioners and local hospitals this past 13 months.

“A large number of the population in Gwynedd were left with virtually no access to health services. The knock-on effect of this will be devastating for large numbers of people I am sure for many years to come.

“With the waiting lists for other operations not related to Covid 19 growing by the day it is a huge consequence we must now deal with in a human and compassionate way.

“With the vaccine passport in discussion I feel our governments are going too far to restrict our freedoms of choice and our basic human rights.

“I feel it only right to stand for the right to speak freely without censorship and the absolute right for every man woman and child to make their own free and uncoerced medical choices ultimately without discrimination.”

Glyn Daniels, Llais Gwynedd

image copyrightGlyn Daniels

image captionGlyn Daniels is the Llais Gwynedd candidate for Dwyfor Meirionnydd

“Due to their heroic work in the face of Covid 19, I will call for a minimum 10% wage increase for nurses. I will insist that carers are on the same terms as NHS staff.

“I will advocate for the full use of local community hospitals for the benefit of patients and their families. The closure of Ffestiniog Memorial Hospital was an insult to the good people of the town and this wrong needs to be made right.

“As there’s been a housing crisis in Dwyfor Meirionnydd for 50 years and more, and little has been done in response, I will campaign for housing acts that reflect our need for safe, affordable and comfortable housing for all.

“I will argue for giving priority to local people and for stopping second home owners from turning their houses into businesses to avoid paying council tax.

“I am fed up of hearing the empty promises of the big political parties from one election to the next. Give a small local party party with a big and different vision a go this time. You won’t regret it. It is time for change.”

WALES ELECTION: THE BASICS

What’s happening? On 6 May, people will vote to elect 60 Members of the Senedd (MSs). The party that can command the support of a majority of MSs will form the Welsh government. Find out more here.

What powers does the Senedd have? MSs pass laws on aspects of life in Wales such as health, education and transport – and have some tax powers.

Who can vote? Anyone who lives in Wales, is registered to vote and aged 16 or over on 6 May is eligible. You can register to vote online.

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