We’ve invited all the local election candidates to complete this questionnaire so you know more about the people asking for your vote on the 4th of May. We’re also compiling a list of their websites and social media accounts so you can follow them and get in touch if you have any questions.Follow @mycardiffnorth
Name – Helen Kalliope Smith
Party – Plaid Cymru
Ward – Heath
Facebook – Plaid Cymru – Ward y Mynydd Bychan – Heath Ward
How can people get in touch with you? – email (TBC)
Tell us about yourself
I was born and bred in the Heath and, having taken early retirement, moved back to my childhood home. My parents met in Athens during the Second World War, when my father was in the Army, working as a cartographer with the Royal Engineers. When they initially met, they had no communication problems as, by fortunate coincidence, both had been very good at French whilst at secondary school! They got married on 30 December 1945 and set up home initially in Resolven, before moving to the Heath, Cardiff in the late 1940s. After completing my secondary education, I studied for my degree at Aberystwyth University, and subsequently found employment as a translator for Gwynedd Council, where I worked from 1979 until 1997, when I moved to work at Bangor University. My experience with local government has given me valuable knowledge of how local government works and about the various departments which make up a local authority – from Finance, Education and Amenities, through to Highways and Planning. Apart from politics, my interests include Music (vocal and piano), singing operatic arias, creative writing, and I also speak 6 languages: Welsh, English, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish. I have travelled, not only to Greece and other European countries, but also to South America – Uruguay and Argentina – a trip which included a stay at Trelew, Patagonia, where I spoke Welsh to some people who had never set foot in Wales. Some people know me as the Crazy Cat-lady of St Ina Rd, as I have 4 cats, two of whom have, in the passed, followed me around – a behaviour which I am keen to discourage. As I speak to my cats exclusively in Greek, I tell people that they are Greek-speaking cats.
What are the biggest issues in your ward?
The condition of roads and, in particular, pavements, many of which need to be reflagged, as the stones have become uneven in places, and therefore dangerous. I believe that a pro-active stance needs to be taken, i.e. the anticipation and prevention of accidents, rather than taking remedial action subsequently. Moreover, the optimum speed along certain roads in the area is far below 30mph, so that, ideally, the current 20mph restriction along part of Maesycoed Road should be extended to cover the side-streets. At the very least, remionder-lights should be positioned close to the business area of St Isan Road and also along Heathway, designed to flash approaching vehicles with the speed they are doing. Welsh-medium education is another issue, with demand for places at Ysgol y Mynydd Bychan far exceeding the provision.
What’s your favourite place in Cardiff and why?
Chapter would rank very high, especially for its international cinema, also other theatres and venues for entertainment; the Pineapple in Llandaff North also provides regular karaoke evenings – a must for any aspiring singer!
What do you think should be done to improve engagement in politics?
Communication with people – printed newsletters, also informing people of what councillors do and how important it is for people to participate in the democratic process. Children also need to learn about the history of the democratic process whilst at school, with special emphasis on the Chartists and also the Suffragette movement in the UK, with comparable studies of the development of this process in other countries. I believe that much hinges on what our young people are taught at school and, if elected, I would try to ensure that the curriculum helped to convince young students of the relevance of politics, at all levels, to their everyday lives.
What’s your favourite film?
The Sound of Music
If You’re Elected
What will you do to improve your ward?
Draw attention to current dangers – roads and pavements, and endeavour to slow cars down – I’ve seen many examples of speeding, in particular along St Isan Rd and Heathway. Education also merits attention; if Ysgol y Mynydd Bychan is too small to cope with current and foreseen demand, then steps need to be taken to improve matters.
How will you communicate with residents in your ward?
Primarily through printed newsletters, hopefully on a regular basis, also by attending events in the locality and saying Hello.
What issues that affect the whole city would you like to get involved in?
Education, Highways and Traffic Management, Social Care, Planning – care should be taken so as not to grant permission to build new estates which are too large, as the consequences could be very serious, not only for congestion, but also for any sudden surge in demand for public services. Any large-scale developments need to be well thought out beforehand, and not simply ushered in. I would also strive to keep local libraries open everywhere, as they are very important, especially to young people. Finances are always tight and resources always finite, therefore it is vital that funds should be prioritised so that services which people have historically taken for granted can remain and, in fact, improve.
What would you change about Cardiff and why?
Improvements to roads and pavements, also a proactive approach to the provision of Welsh-medium education in the city, with enough foresight to envisage demand. so that it can be satisfied in the very areas where demand is seen to be increasing.
Any final comments?
If elected, promise to do my very best to serve the interests of the electors and to listen to any concerns which they may bring to my notice.