Voters are heading to the polls today to choose who will run Caerphilly County Borough Council.
The choice is effectively between Labour and Plaid Cymru with each party fielding 71 and 68 candidates respectively.
A total of 73 county borough seats covering 33 electoral wards are up for grabs with a total of 201 candidates standing.
The Conservatives have 28 candidates, while UKIP is fielding 11 candidates. Other parties, such as the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, and independents make up the remaining 23 candidates.
Labour are hoping to keep control of Caerphilly after winning it from a Plaid Cymru-led administration in 2012.
It currently has 48 seats compared to Plaid’s 20. The remaining five are held by independents.
Since Caerphilly County Borough Council was formed in 1996, following the merger of Rhymney Valley District Council and Islwyn Borough Council and the abolition of Mid Glamorgan and Gwent county councils, it has never been held by the ruling political group.
In addition to the county borough council election, a separate ballot will also be taking place to elect community and town councillors.
The county borough council is a unitary authority and has responsibility for a wide range of frontline services from education, highways and refuse to social services, libraries and parks.
Town and community councils have limited powers and responsibilities and provide a link between the local community and the county borough council.
Polling ends at 10pm today with results expected at around lunchtime on Friday, May 5.
What the different parties have said
“Over the last five years, our Labour-led Caerphilly Council has faced Tory austerity cuts of £52 million from our budget – pressures the previous Plaid Cymru-controlled administration never faced. Despite these cuts, Labour has succeeded in protecting services residents value most.
“In the last council term, Labour achieved some of the lowest council tax increases in Wales; made a £210 million investment in improving thousands of council homes, benefiting tenants, our local economy and environment; increased the Social Services budget from £70 million to £80 million, protecting our most vulnerable residents; increased our Education budget from £123 million to £126 million, improving our children’s education opportunities; and earned an approval rating of 86% in a survey of Caerphilly residents.
“We’re asking Caerphilly County Borough residents to re-elect Labour on May 4, so that we can deliver more – introduce a new council house-building programme; build a new support centre for children with special needs; maintain frequency of our current waste collection service; invest in new schools, and improve existing schools; and continue to tackle dog fouling in our communities.
“Our opponents offer only vague wishlists and soundbites. Labour promises real improvements for Caerphilly’s residents. People in Caerphilly are better off with Labour.”
“You’ll have the opportunity on May 4 to give YOUR verdict and throw out a seriously out-of-touch Labour Party.
“We’ve seen public services deteriorate, council tax bills rise, the threat of concreting over our precious green fields and the senior officers’ pay scandal. This has cost nearly £5m – or £36 for every adult in the county – money that should have been spent on supporting vulnerable people, our schools or frontline services.
“We want Caerphilly to be recognised as a council that delivers good quality public services at a fair price to residents – not one that hits the UK headlines for all the wrong reasons.
“Plaid Cymru would invest in our roads and pavements, tackle the nuisance caused by litter, fly-tipping and dog mess, introduce more 20mph zones to create safer areas, deal with parking problems, tackle the affordable homes crisis and homelessness and fight for better emergency care services at Ystrad Mynach hospital.
“We’ll resist building on green fields before other land is used and ensure more empty homes are brought back into use.
“So, if like us, you believe that change is desperately needed, please vote to give your Plaid Cymru candidates a chance to make things better.
“The Welsh Conservatives are fielding 28 candidates in the Caerphilly County Borough elections – and all of them are united in their desire to see their communities thrive.
“They want the best for residents living in the constituency and have campaigned on a number of key themes.
“Chief among them is the local economy. There are already some excellent examples of small businesses doing well – but with the right investment and support, there is room for many more. More local businesses mean more local jobs.
“Tourism is also important. Welsh Conservatives would like to see the industry developed in the region. Caerphilly Castle has no shortage of visitors but once they have looked round it – where else can they go to encourage them to stay?
“Candidates have campaigned for more investment in local parks and playgrounds, making the attractive, and safe places for youngsters.
“Fly-tipping is also on the Welsh Conservative hit list. Candidates want to see more effort put into educating residents on how to dispose of large appliances – like fridges – safely and legally.
“A clamp down on dog fouling and more traffic calming measures have also featured in Welsh Conservative campaigns.
“For the party that listens and puts local people first, vote Welsh Conservatives on May 4.”
• Protect Caerphilly’s Greenfield sites from destruction by revoking and reforming the Local Development Plan
• Restructure the senior management of Caerphilly Council to reduce the number of executives and senior managers and put the savings made into frontline services
• Tackle Caerphilly’s housing crisis by prioritising local council housing for local people and ex-armed forces personnel – something we can only legally do now we are leaving the EU
• Clean up Caerphilly politics and expose secret meetings held by Labour and Plaid (which led to the Chief Executive pay scandal for example)
• Continue to fight for a 24 hour A&E at Ystrad Mynach Hospital l Improve road infrastructure to help the gridlock
• Increase car parking facilities in town centres including 30 mins free car parking in all council car parks
• Campaign to cut business rates for small local businesses and increase capacity at Caerphilly business Parks
• Tackle littering, fly tipping and dog fouling by increasing the number of community wardens”