Dr Ashley Wood: Liberal Democrats – Gabalfa

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.

Ashley Wood

Name – Dr Ashley Wood
Party – Liberal Democrats
Ward – Gabalfa
Website – cardiffld.org.uk/gabalfa
Twitter  – @TeamGabalfa
Facebook – gabalfafocusteam
How can people get in touch with you? – ashleywood007@gmail.com

About You

Tell us about yourself

I have lived in Cardiff since 2003, moving here to study Optometry at Cardiff University. I’m now a qualified Optometrist, and since completing a PhD in Vision Science in 2011, have been employed as a lecturer at the University where I teach and undertake research into Age-related macular degeneration, the most common cause of vision loss in the UK. In my spare time, I will often go for walks in the country or tend my vegetable patch and probably spend a little too much time watching DVD boxsets. I’m also a Cardiff RFC season ticket holder and try to make it to the Arms Park as often as I can.

I’ve had an interest in politics for many years with strong views on inequality in society, but it was the invasion of Iraq and the principled stance of the then leader Charles Kennedy that finally convinced me to join the Liberal Democrats. So when I moved to Mynachdy in 2008 it didn’t take long for my new local councillor, Ed Bridges, to encourage me to get involved with the work of the local Focus Team representing our community, and as they say the rest is history.

What are the biggest issues in your ward?

Through living in Mynachdy myself and the many conversations with other residents over the years I’m aware of numerous issues affecting our area including traffic, the state of our roads and pavements, anti-social behaviour and bouts of car crime to name a few. But the three biggest current issue are probably the cleanliness of our area, availability of parking and local transport links.

In the last few years the cleanliness of our area has suffered from increased fly-tipping and rubbish in our streets and lanes. I feel strongly that changes made by the current council which includes introducing charges for bulky waste collections, reducing the size of the black bins and ending of regular lane sweeping, have all combined to make the problem worse. I’m greatly concerned by their plan to close Wedal Road, leaving the north of Cardiff without a tip that will accept general waste, that will no doubt increase fly-tipping and further inconvenience residents.

Local transport links in recent years, particularly around Mynachdy, have seen loss of bus services and diversions away from local stops, leaving many residents who rely on public transport in the area feeling marooned.

Whilst demand for parking is increasing everywhere, locally this is exacerbated by the proximity to the Heath Hospital and the current parking regulations which means residents increasing struggle to find spaces on their streets, especially in the evenings.

What’s your favourite place in Cardiff and why?

I love walking and being outdoors, and we are lucky in Cardiff to have some wonderful places on our very doorstep such as Bute Park, Roath Park lake and the River Taff, but if I had to plump for a favourite it would be Fforest Fawr. In particular the views across Cardiff glimpsed through the tress on a sunny winters morning with Castell Coch in the foreground.

What do you think should be done to improve engagement in politics?

A fair electoral system is essential. I believe our current ‘first past the post’ system, with the winner takes all approach, leads many people to feel disconnected from their representatives who make decision on their behalf. Representatives in our system are too often felt to only represent those who voted for them and not the whole community, which leads to apathy and loss of faith in democracy. Proportional systems by contrast allow everyone’s vote to count, not just for those who chose the winner. I believe this will lead to a more diverse range of people elected, and make it more likely everyone in the community has a representative who shares their views and can express them when decisions are made.

To improve engagement in local government I believe in giving more power to councils and giving councils greater ability to choose what to spend money on or how they make decision. This will allow representatives greater freedom to pursue and act on the issues of importance to our communities.

These two measures I believe would make elected representatives more relevant to voter’s everyday lives and help make representatives elected more closely reflect the background and views of the people they represent.

What’s your favourite film?

Dr Strangelove.

If You’re Elected

What will you do to improve your ward?

I want to improve the cleanliness of our area by reversing Labour’s plan to close Wedal Road tip, which will make problems with fly-tipping even worse, and support the reintroduction of free bulky waste collections. I will also lobby for roads to be swept the day after bin collections, when rubbish is most likely to be on the street, not the day before as currently happens.

I want to address local parking problems by getting the council to change the parking policy through increasing the proportion of streets given to resident parking bays on streets from 50% to 75%. I will also push for more visits by traffic enforcement at times when parking is in highest demand.

I will continue to campaign for a Mynachdy & Talybont train station as part of any Cardiff Metro project and pressure Cardiff Bus to bring services back to Mynachdy. I would also like to see improvements in the cycle infrastructure, but importantly, in a way that does not adversely affect pedestrians.

How will you communicate with residents in your ward?

As part of our Focus Team I’m very proud of our record on communicating with and engaging with local residents all year round, not just at elections like other parties. I’m a regular attendee at PACT meetings and will continue to be so. We distribute a regular Focus newsletter which keeps residents up to date with local issues, our campaigns and the work of the elected representatives. We also distribute letters when planning or licensing applications are made so residents can make their views known, and we regularly knock doors to hear resident views and to discuss local issues, campaigns and petitions. We also communicate via Twitter and Facebook accounts which we use to keep residents posted on the latest news in our area and what we’ve been up to.

What issues that affect the whole city would you like to get involved in?

I would like to improve transport links across Cardiff by ensuring the Cardiff Metro is delivered effectively with better rail links, more frequent services and importantly a station at Mynachdy & Talybont. I would also like to see the council improve the cycle infrastructure in the city, with an ambitious plan that actually links up cycle routes and provides safe, purpose built lanes wherever possible.

Final Comments

What would you change about Cardiff and why?

Over the last 20 years we have seen massive investment in Cardiff Bay, which is now one of the jewels in the crown of our city, but for many residents of Cardiff particularly in the north, travelling to the Bay involves crossing the congested city centre by car or with the public transport alternatives that often require transfers. Whilst I feel strongly that the city centre remains the main hub for civic and commercial activity in the city, we need to improve links to the Bay so all residents can visit the area and make use of the amenities.

Obviously, I would also like to see a change from a Labour to a Liberal Democrat run Cardiff Council!

Any final comments?

Like my colleague Rhys Taylor, I would like to thank My Cardiff North for carrying out this survey and making it easier for people to engage with the democratic process through this informative website.