On May the 4th, the people of Splott will go to the polls to select their Councillors for the next four years. In the build-up to the elections, Inksplott will run a series of interviews with candidates. Next up is Zara England, a candidate for the Liberal Democrats.
Inksplott: Hello! Thank you for being interviewed for Inksplott. Please tell us who you are and which party you represent.
Zara: Hello Inksplott! My name is Zara England and I’m standing in the local council elections on the 4th May 2017 for the Liberal Democrats.
Inksplott: Why did you become a member of that party and for how long have you been a member?
Zara: I’m not normally political but a Community Campaigner. I joined the Liberal Democrats in January 2017 because, having sized up the organisation of other parties out there, I feel the Lib Dems are the best party to represent people at a local level in Splott.
Right now in Splott we need help as we have possible funding cuts looming and I feel the Lib Dems can help us protect our projects and facilities from closure and they are the one party who will involve the community more in consultation processes in the future.
Inksplott: Can you tell us a bit about you and Splott? Do you live here? How long have you lived here? Why did you move here?
Zara: I was born in Splott and I live here as a single parent to a baby boy. I am the fourth generation of an original Splott Road family who have lived in Splott for over 100 years; my son is now the fifth generation. I’m descended from the Oldfield family who owned a greengrocers on Carlisle Street, one of the first ever businesses in Splott.
My great grandmother and grandmother before me owned my home and I have seen a decline in facilities and cleanliness in the area. I feel I need to take a stand now to try to help my community. Splott is a fantastic community with amazing people and we deserve the old Splott back, with clean and tidy streets and investment into our facilities. When I refer to Splott I mean the whole of Splott, Tremorfa and Pengam Green. This is all old Splott to me in my heart and I hope calling it this does not offend anyone.
Inksplott: Please list your top three ‘successes in Splott’.
Zara: Now this is a controversial topic love it or hate it but my number one success was wheelie bins for Splott. I campaigned and petitioned for wheelie bins a few years back with a table outside my home on Splott road because seagulls were ripping open our bin bags and keeping us awake in the early hours of the morning on our roofs. I handed in the petition to city hall through a kind Lib Dem Councillor for Adamsdown who I did not know at the time. The petition was raised during a cabinet meeting and a few weeks later wheelie bins were announced.
My second success in the last year has been filming and reporting the illegal motorbikes and trail bikes terrorising residents in Splott, leading to the Police making an arrest. In recent months this has meant a decline in these dangerous occurrences, making it safer for everyone especially our children and elderly crossing roads. Now I want to see more CCTV cameras for Splott and will continue to film and campaign for cameras until we achieve this.
My third success in Splott has been getting the Splott Road pavements swept with roadsweepers just before Christmas. The council has only 4 road sweepers citywide according to the council waste team. They sent our roadsweeper from Splott to Lisvane around 5 years ago in case anyone else was wondering why we never see them these days (I did challenge this through a labour Councillor some years ago but nothing came of it). If we get to run the council, we will bring in more road sweepers which would make a big difference to the cleanliness of our streets in Splott, Tremorfa and Pengam Green; it’s another reason why I chose to stand for election with the Lib Dems.
Inksplott: Please list the three things that you wish you could have done but they didn’t quite happen and why.
Zara: There are 3 things I wish I could have done but sadly they didn’t happen.
I wish I could have saved the old Splott pool. I was actively part of that campaign and petitioned and marched and am very sad to see that we lost our historic pool building – it’s such a shame and the new hub does not replace what we have lost in both the STAR and old Splott pool.
I wish I could have kept our road sweeper permanently in Splott like it used to be but I didn’t find out about it having been taken to Lisvane until nearly a year after it had happened but if elected, I will continue to make the case we should have one permanently in Splott.
Most importantly I wish I could have saved the STAR from closure. I petitioned with the help of the Lib Dems and their candidate Bablin Molik a few years ago for the STAR Centre to stay open. We stood outside my home and on the streets of Splott with a petition in the baking August heat whilst I was heavily pregnant; some of you might remember meeting me doing this. Now they have shut the STAR and its standing empty. But the fight for the STAR is not over. It’s not demolished yet. Maybe a change in council leadership can enable us to turn this around and open consultation again to find another way to keep this building. This building holds our only public toilet on our high street Splott Road and our local businesses have lost trade, our children have lost their sports hall and disabled people have lost their physio therapy sessions.
If any Cardiff businessmen have any ideas of how we can save our precious STAR centre from demolition in 2018 and still keep it for our community usage I would love to hear from you. The building could make an excellent children’s activity centre as it is vast in size.
Inksplott: Please list your top five commitments to Splott if you are to be elected. What are you going to do for us?
Zara: My top 5 commitments to Splott and its residents if elected are:
(1) Be honest and open you are my neighbours and friends. My family has lived alongside you for generations and I want to make sure you are kept in the loop.
(2) I promise to involve you the community in consultation I take part in. I will actively seek your ideas and thoughts.
(3) I will campaign for a street sweeper to be kept solely for Splott, Tremorfa and Pengam Green.
(4) I will engage with local businesses and seek their thoughts and opinions; one thing local businesses are telling me is that they have been let down by this council and some of its policies and lack of consultation.
(5) I will campaign to save Communities First for Splott from the Welsh Labour Government’s cuts. Its projects are the heart of our community and it shouldn’t be at threat of funding cuts. On that note my baby son goes everywhere with me in Splott so these projects mean a lot to me too.
Inksplott: Please tell us why people should vote for you.
Zara: Why vote for me: if elected, your vote for me will gain you a councillor who has Splott in her heart and who will never give up on Splott.
Inksplott: How can the people of Splott get in touch with you and tell you what they would like?
Zara: I’m happy to give out my personal email address to all Splott, Tremorfa and Pengam Green residents; my emails go directly through to my phone so you can be sure of a response. I will hold regular surgeries and make time to meet you when you need me. Like I say I’m not political but if you have Splott problems you feel I can help you with please get in touch.
Inksplott: Please tell us a funny story about Splott.
My funny story about Splott is a personal one. 37 years ago, aged 4, my mother sent me to a party in Splott in what is now Splott children’s centre. They had a disco organised and I got there rather late to see that all the children had green hair. They had been spray painting their hair with green dye before I had arrived. Now from this I thought, aged 4, that all the local children had green hair and at the time the Oompa Lumpas with green hair from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were very popular! My mother had dropped me off but had to be called to collect me early as I was convinced the Oompa Lumpas had taken over Splott!
Inksplott: This is your free space to tell us anything you like. Off you go!
Zara: So on the 4th May 2017 I shall be standing for local Councillor as part of a team of three enthusiastic and hard-working Lib Dem candidates. It would be an honour if you voted for us and gave us a chance to represent you.
Even if you don’t normally vote for my party nationally or have never voted before, you have an opportunity here to get open, honest representation on the council with a team who have Splott in their heads and hearts, and you know will put you first.
Inksplott: Thank you Zara. Good luck in the election.
For more information about local councillor elections, click here