Voters go to the polls this Thursday to decide who will replace Kirsty Williams as the Senedd representative for Brecon and Radnorshire.

Ms Williams, a Liberal Democrat, decided to step down at this election, meaning a new figure will be representing the county after next Thursday's election.

We have put three questions to each of the candidates standing in the election. 

James Evans, Conservative

County Times: Radnorshire election - James Evans

  • What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing Powys?

I have lived in Brecon and Radnorshire all my life and am proud to call it my home. I want to represent this great Constituency at the Senedd to make a difference to everyone’s lives, bringing new energy and a strong voice.

I believe the biggest challenge facing Powys is our recovery out of this pandemic. It has been a devastating year for many residents and businesses. We need to focus on rebuilding, creating a strong rural economy, supporting businesses to create jobs and giving individuals opportunities to start up businesses, or expand existing businesses. We need to spend local, keep the Powys pound within our communities.

  • If you could make one change on your first day as an elected member, what would it be?

The biggest single change I would like to make it to business rates. This needs reform and Welsh Conservatives have pledged to remove rates for small businesses. This would be a massive help to our smaller retail units on the High Streets. I also want to improve healthcare locally, bringing in more diagnostic and treatment to our community hospitals so that patients can be seen locally and in a timely manner. The Welsh Conservatives will tackle the waiting lists and delays to treatment that started long before Covid hit us.

  • What is the single most beneficial thing you or your party has done for Powys in the last decade?

The single most beneficial thing my Party has done for Powys is undoubtedly buying the Covid vaccines. Many criticised the UK Government for their strategy but this has allowed us to re-open, to get going again. The immense hard work put in by the local Health Board, staff and volunteers throughout Powys to administer the vaccines so quickly has been amazing.

The purchase of vaccines show how much stronger we are together, as a United Kingdom. Talk of independence is an unwanted distraction from the real work ahead of us. We need action now, not constitutional chaos.

Grenville Ham, Plaid Cymru

County Times:

  • What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing Powys?

Our biggest issue right now is recovering from the last twelve months. But we mustn’t race to get back to the way things were. I think our economic recovery needs to be built around supporting and strengthening our locally owned businesses. Our vision has to be to create a county with a much more resilient local economy and better prospects for our young people. We can’t slowly become a region of retirees and second homes; we have to ensure that our young people no longer leave in search of jobs and homes they can afford.

  • If you could make one change on your first day as an elected member, what would it be?

Currently 70,000 children in Wales, living below the poverty line, have no assurance that they will receive a free school meal. That’s simply unacceptable, and it needs to be the first thing that’s sorted. Plaid Cymru is committed to providing free, healthy and locally sourced school meals to all children in Primary by the end of the next Senedd term. We wouldn’t be able to deliver that to everyone from the outset, but on day one, ensuring that as a minimum no child is going hungry, would be the best possible start to a term in office.

  • What is the single most beneficial thing you or your party has done for Powys in the last decade?

I’ve spent the past decade setting up local companies that have gone on to win a number of business and innovation awards, and because they are run as not-for-profit (with us reinvesting money back into the community) it’s fair to say that it’s my most beneficial action. I’ve designed and built about 40 hydroelectric schemes in Powys, providing secure income to farmers and community groups, and it’s fair to say that without me this probably wouldn’t have happened. They will outlast me too, so it’s good to know that I will have left a legacy for future generations!

Sam Holwill, GwladCounty Times: Radnorshire election - Sam Holwill

  • What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing Powys?

I think I will have to go with the obvious answer: the post-Covid world and how businesses in Powys can recover from the pandemic. We all know the problems that these businesses face, and I believe that a flat tax rate and a citizens’ income will help to fix this problem. In the short-term, I would want to create a ‘Brand Cymru’, with the aim of prioritising businesses who are located in Wales, and this would particularly benefit agriculture which is a major part of the economy and indeed the lifestyle in this corner of the world.

  • If you could make one change on your first day as an elected member, what would it be?

One of the issues that I care about the most is transport, and especially the north-south connections within Wales. If I could make one change it would be to start the creation of a ‘Powys Spine Road’ along the A470 and the A483, as these roads are currently the main way from the south of the country to the north, yet they are slow, twisting and not up to standard. I have witnessed first-hand the improvements that the Newtown bypass has made, so we should do the same thing across Brecon & Radnorshire.

  • What is the single most beneficial thing you or your party has done for Powys in the last decade?

Gwlad is a new party and this is our first ever Senedd election, and I am only 18, so unfortunately we have not achieved anything in the past decade, though hopefully that will change in the future!

Gethin Jones, Welsh Labour

County Times: Radnorshire election - Gethin Jones

  • What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing Powys?

Tackling climate breakdown should be a priority everywhere. Flooding incidents are getting more frequent and extreme. Housing and homelessness are crucial issues as well. Both are costly problems and devastate lives, which I've witnessed personally. Welsh Labour will build low-carbon social housing and, in some cases, restrict rents to Housing Benefit levels. The Senedd was the first Parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency and our past achievements and new policies to combat it make me proud of my party. However, the top priority right now is recovery after Covid in our NHS, schools and economy.

  • If you could make one change on your first day as an elected member, what would it be?

I will do all I can to get policing and justice devolved to Wales and the implementation of the recommendations of the Thomas Commission. As a civilian clerk in the prison service who works on violence reduction and suicide prevention, I've seen first-hand what austerity from the UK government has meant for vulnerable people in Wales. We should be deciding about justice matters here, starting right now.

  • What is the single most beneficial thing you or your party has done for Powys in the last decade?

Powys has had a higher than average uplift in funding from the Welsh Government, recognising how difficult it is for local authorities to provide services in rural areas. Llandrindod Wells hospital was upgraded and there has been a lot of funding of enterprises and the infrastructure they need to help with job creation. My favourite example of this is when the Welsh Labour Government gave a grant to a hydrogen fuelled car-building company to bring it over from England to Wales. It's has grown and now employs many local people in exactly the kind of green tech needed going forward.

Karen Laurie-Parry, Independent

County Times:

  • What do you consider being the biggest issue facing Powys County Council ?

People and Finance

Having sufficient monies from Welsh Government to fulfill its purpose to provide Public Services to meet the needs of All the People and Businesses Financial Management and Accountability to the Public. Far too many "lessons to be learnt" as being the outcomes of Audit trails, whereas the Public and most county councillors want to review the audited figures.

Need for the HOWPS joint venture Public Limited Company to be reviewed.

A new Bullying, Intimidation and Harrassment Reporting Procedural Policy to be formulated discussing and in agreement with All Staff and County Councillors, together with Setting Up a Designated External Support Officer.

  • If you could make one change on your first day, as an elected Welsh Assembly member, what would it be?

As we reflect on all the challenges and heartache endured by NHS & Care Workers, during this Covid pandemic period in our lives, Karen would be wanting to give recognition, support with the much needed pay rise which they all so deserve.

  • What is the single most beneficial thing you or your party has done for Powys in the last decade?

I am not representing a party, but for Karen it has to be her work with the Welsh Assembly, Powys County Council and the residents of Erwood Community Council area, in ensuring that the Erwood Pitstop (A470 Toilets ) are kept open 24/7 and managed now my the Erwood Pitstop Trust. For Karen tourism is essential to the economy of Powys and the public having access to a public toilet is important when planning a route of travel or place to visit.

This facility is embedded as a stop-off on many who regularly travel from North Wales to South Wales and those from further afield and also now provides part time work for an Attendant.

The work of the Erwood Pitstop Trust has encouraged other Tourist Hotspots such as Llangorse Lake to follow the same initiative and hopefully others too, will do so.

Claire Mills, Abolish The Welsh Assembly

County Times:

  • What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing Powys?

I do not think there is one single issue that you could pin point. Continued increases of council tax is a concern to many equally to many others education in Powys is also on the top of many families agendas. NHS provision is also a concern with lack of local dentists and A and E departments. Infrastructure is of concern to the more rural areas of the county for example.

  • If you could make one change on your first day as an elected member, what would it be?

If it was a local issue I would put a freeze on Council Tax but on a National level I would call for a referendum with the option to end devolution.

  • What is the single most beneficial thing you or your party has done for Powys in the last decade?

Abolish is a new Party. However, as a County Councillor I have consistently opposed increases in Council Tax rises as the people of Powys do not deserve this and many struggle with the high rates.

William Powell, Liberal Democrat

County Times: Radnorshire election - Bill Powell

  • What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing Powys?

The biggest challenge faced by communities across Brecon and Radnorshire, from Knighton to Llanwrtyd Wells and from Rhayader to Builth Wells is to support the post lockdown recovery. As your Welsh Liberal Democrat representative, I will fight the corner of rural businesses, our high street shops and our farms.

We are committed to scrapping business rates and to promoting targeted support for the businesses and key workers, who have kept us going during Covid-19.

We will also put additional resource into addressing the mental health crisis that is another legacy of the Covid-19 Lockdown. The isolation and anxiety that it has brought to so many in our communities here in Powys means that our 24/7 mental health support plan is urgently required.

Finally, we Welsh Liberal Democrats were instrumental in Powys County Council declaring a Climate Emergency last year. We will create a £1 billion fund to boost green jobs across Wales, to Put Recovery First.

  • If you could make one change on your first day as an elected member, what would it be?

If I could make a single change on day one as Senedd Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, it would be to strengthen further the protection of rural schools. Kirsty Williams acted swiftly in 2016 to defend our rural schools and to challenge the urban centric, 'one size fits all' approach previously taken by Welsh Labour in Cardiff Bay.

I am currently working with parents and school communities in Dolau, Llanbedr and Cradoc, where our Conservative/Independent run council has decided to ride roughshod over the wishes of local people in taking forward closure plans.

Just as I worked with Kirsty and others in our community to see off previous 'mad cap' closure plans, cooked up at County Hall, which threatened my old school at Gwernyfed, by means of a successful legal challenge, I will fight tooth and nail to protect local schools, which provide quality education for our young people.

  • What is the single most beneficial thing you or your party has done for Powys in the last decade?

Our single greatest achievement in the past 10 years was the Safe Nursing Standards Act, which Kirsty Williams took forward as a Private Members Bill in 2015/16, with my active support as her Senedd colleague in Cardiff Bay.

It enshrined in law higher ratios of nursing care in our Welsh NHS and was delivered in close consultation with the Royal College of Nursing and other Trade Unions and which attracted cross party support in the Senedd.

This provided the bedrock of additional staffing in our Welsh NHS, which has risen so magnificently to the challenge of Covid-19, as I know from my own personal experience in ICU and Rehab. If elected, I will seek to get these standards extended to Mental Health provision and to Children's Wards. In all we do, we will Put Recovery First.

In addition, the candidates for the Green Party and Reform Party were submitted a separate set of questions by the Local Democracy Service.

Emily Durrant, the Green Party

County Times:

  • Why do you feel you are able to represent the residents of Brecon and Radnorshire in the Senedd?
  • What will your priorities be, if you are elected?
  • What are your thoughts on a Welsh Independecnce referendum?

“As a local, working single mum of two young children, I understand the
pressures faced by people living in Brecon and Radnorshire.

“When I was elected as County Councillor in 2017, people told me their main concerns were speeding, lack of local facilities and the need for alternative
transport options.

“Since getting elected, I have overseen three traffic/speed road schemes; founded a community shop and café; and helped found  which is developing a car-free, ‘greenway’ between the towns.

“This solid track record in office shows what Greens can do for Brecon & Radnorshire.

“I also know how important access to good education is to keep rural
communities alive.

“I would fight for more local resources like Black Mountains College, a new university based in Talgarth I helped to establish.

“Unlike most candidates, I would be free to represent local views without worrying about party lines.

"Wales Green Party believes communities come first; decisions should be made by listening to local people. There is no party whip. Making sure that rural voices are heard loud and clear in Cardiff.

“We have spent way too long being treated like an afterthought. Rural communities deserve better.

“I want the best for the people of Wales.

“The current devolution arrangement significantly limits our choices; politicians in Westminster, far removed from Wales, have enormous power.

“Of 650 MPs just 32 will represent Wales – (once changes to the constituency boundaries are made).

“A referendum at the right time will let the people of Wales decide. I will be campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote.”

John Muir, Reform

County Times:

“The test of a political class is how it performs in a crisis.

“The performance of the Tory/Lib Dem/Labour axis during the covid crisis, the biggest public health fiasco in our history, has been contemptible if not criminal.

“Figures recently published in the County Times show that from March 2020 to March 2021 the covid infection fatality rate in Powys was 0.15 per cent of the population and in Wales 0.22 per cent.

“Common sense tells us our common good is destroyed by the force of lockdowns, ineffective against a virus because a virus is a force of nature.

“Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you, said Benjamin Franklin.

“Millions of Brits are tired of being forced to live like sheep in Britain’s one-party state of machine politics.

“Life is a drama of the material and the spiritual.

“Which means, if I were to become an MS, I would remind people that if we allow the ruling class to coerce the working class into eliminating risk, essential to the human soul, it will destroy both the imagination of the young and the inspiration of the elderly.

“So, if living is only for dying in the Con/Lib/Lab Axis’s bio-security state… then ‘’There’s something rotten in the state of Britain’.

“Only Reform UK will save this sceptred isle from a fractured future of woke militancy, a future beholden to a Carrie Antoinette sufficiently emboldened to declare, When the electric lights go out, let them eat cake by candlelight.’’