Fierce competition for seats in diverse city centre ward
IT is arguably Swansea's most diverse ward, with a large population and many nationalities living side by side.
Castle ward comprises Swansea city centre, Brynmelin, Dyfatty, Greenhill, the Maritime Quarter, and parts of Mount Pleasant, Sandfields and Waun Wen.
It is full of life, with a population of just under 12,000 — according to the 2001 Census — but has its own challenges.
The ward is a Communities First area — a Welsh Government scheme focusing on the most deprived areas throughout Wales.
The ward has four seats and three incumbent Labour councillors - Swansea Labour group leader David Phillips, Erika Kirchner and Alan Lloyd, who is standing down after 46 years council service.
The other ward seat had been held by the late Labour member Barbara Hynes for around two decades. She died last September.
There are 20 candidates battling it out for the four seats, with the Green Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition represented, as well as Labour, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, Conservatives and Independents@Swansea.
The Tories are represented by candidates including Paul Morris who wants business rates for small businesses in the city centre abolished, Sonya Morris who is looking to cut the number of councillors to reduce costs, Natasha Tomaszewski who wants to cut the cost of parking to help local business and Steve Gallagher who wants to use his background in policing to deal with the crime and public order issues.
Retired mathematics and computer science teacher Allan Jeffery is one of four Liberal Democrat candidates hoping for election to support local apprentices and improve safety at the Oxford Street and Beach Street junction.
Lib Dem Castle ward candidates also include project officer Gareth Jones who recently spoke for Mount Pleasant residents against a proposed fuel depot in the Stanley Terrace car park, language tutor Tanya May who is pushing for residents' parking on Llangyfelach Street and mum of two Vicky Lewis who is campaigning for the green space in the Sandfields to be open for children to play in.
Retired senior fire officer Phil Crayford is standing as an independent looking to raise living standards, safety, education, social well-being, behaviour, cleanliness for the advantage of all.
The Green Party is fielding candidates including Tai Chi instructor Steve Clegg and renewable energy consultant Ross Walters.
The party is fighting for improved community involvement in decision-making, increased use of renewable energy in public buildings and reducing fuel poverty by increasing funding for energy efficiency improvements to local homes.
Plaid Cymru is putting forward candidates including Patrick Powell who is looking to fight for more affordable housing to deal with homelessness, Harri Roberts who wants to work with small businesses helping develop their businesses and create jobs, Damian Paul Martin is hoping to improve transport to and from major employers so non-drivers can get easier employment and Gez Couch who believes commercial premises should not be left empty.
Martin White is representing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and is a longstanding Swansea anti-cuts and NHS campaigner and a Socialist Party member.
Sybil Crouch, Fiona Gordon, Erika Kirchner and David Phillips will be representing Labour in the Castle ward.
Mr Phillips said: "Only by voting Labour is it possible to bring some leadership, vision and principles back to Swansea Council."