Guest post by Jayne Cowan
Jayne Cowan is the Conservative Party’s constituency candidate for Cardiff North.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, My Cardiff North.
In this election campaign, my team and I have delivered hundreds of thousands of leaflets across Cardiff North – from Rhiwbina, to Llandaff North, Thornhill, Llanishen, Lisvane, Pontprennau, Old St Mellons, Heath, Tongwynlais and Whitchurch.
With Labour only one seat from losing power, Cardiff North will be critical to deciding who is in government in Wales in only a few days’ time. Hopefully, all this literature has given a flavour as to the work I’ve been doing for the constituency I’ve lived in my whole life, and what I plan to do if elected as the Assembly Member for Cardiff North on May 5th.
Of all those pieces of paper, the leaflet I was proudest to deliver was one which contained a series of endorsements from local small businesses and shops. From an award-winning Whitchurch butcher – Martin Player, to Caerphilly Road’s Younger’s Fish Bar, Elizabeth of SP1 Hairdressers, or the owners of the Gateway of India, these local enterprises help make our community tick.
Cardiff North has some stunning high streets, which I will always passionately support. They are places to shop, socialise and share, and act as local hubs we must treasure. As such, we need to do more to support our bustling community spaces and help them thrive. Sadly, under Labour, high street vacancy rates in Wales are the highest in the UK – and, after 17 years with them at the helm, enough is enough.
Cardiff is reaping many benefits from the UK Government’s record of economic delivery – but Labour has failed to utilise the devolved levers at its disposal to build on that. Indeed, if every small business in Wales could employ just one extra member of staff, unemployment could be eliminated at a stroke. That’s why a Welsh Conservative administration would ensure any business with a rateable value of under £12,000 pay no rates whatsoever, with tapered support provided up to £15,000. Furthermore, by splitting the business rates multiplier, we can give all smaller businesses a fairer deal.
Keeping people on our local High Streets not only fuels local economies, but fosters a greater sense of community spirit. High streets, indeed, are about more than just shops. As part of a dedicated plan to back the Welsh high street, our manifesto contained a commitment to encourage the development of responsible night time economies. In Whitchurch, and elsewhere, we’ve seen the benefits this can have.
Underpinned by a focus on inclusive, community-led regeneration, and the development of a Welsh High Street Charter, encouraging the sharing of best practice, a renewed focus on High Street support must be a key focus for the next Welsh Government, and would have huge benefits across Cardiff North. I’m proud of our plan to do just that.
Welsh Conservatives want to lead a Welsh Government which is the most small-business friendly ever. The proposal to establish a ‘Small Business Hub’, scrutinising all Welsh Government policy for its impact on small firms, is testimony to that focus. In Cardiff North, this approach could play a pivotal role in boosting employment, supporting our proud High Streets and nurturing our local area’s proud entrepreneurial spirit – and is something I’ll continue to shout from the rooftops as polling day approaches.
By Jayne Cowan