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.
Name – Michael Cope
Party – Green Party
Ward – Llanishen
How can people get in touch with you? – Through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Llanishen and with the exception of four years at university have lived here all my life-22 years in total. I love living in Cardiff and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I’m a passionate writer and my ultimate dream is to get that first novel published. I’m an avid tennis fan, a reader of high fantasy fiction and a proud geek. Having lived in Llanishen for so long, I feel it is now time to throw my hat into the ring and run for Council myself. I joined the Green Party because of its strong history of local activism and because it is the only party to put the environment at the heart of policy making. I believe in getting more young people and members of other underrepresented groups involved in politics and support any efforts to increase engagement.
What are the biggest issues in your ward?
One of the biggest issues facing residents (and the issue which inspired me to stand for council) is the cuts which have been and are currently being made to public services in Llanishen. The running of Llanishen Leisure Centre has been outsourced and library services and social care services are under pressure. We need to start putting money back into these vital public services, which bring important long term benefits to people’s health and wellbeing and save money in the long run. One issue which has only recently started to make the news, but urgently needs more attention from policy makers is air pollution. Air pollution has potentially harmful and even life limiting effects and children are particularly vulnerable. We need a cross party effort to tackle this issue, and Green Party councillors need to be a part of it. The state of Llanishen’s shopping streets must be improved, particularly areas such as the Llangranog Road shops, which have fallen into decay and become blighted with litter. Finally, we in Llanishen are lucky to have a lot of green space. We need to make sure that our green space is not only protected from development, but properly maintained so that it can be enjoyed by us and by future generations.
What’s your favourite place in Cardiff and why?
Roath Park and the pleasure gardens hold special memories for me. I remember feeding the ducks with my parents when I was a child and playing tennis on the courts every Sunday as a teenager. In Llanishen, I love the tree lined grassy verges between Thornhill Road, Cilgerran Crescent and the bottom of Templeton Avenue. In spring, they come alive with daffodils and crocuses. I walk past them most days and they give a constant reminder of how important our green spaces are and why I’m doing what I’m doing.
What do you think should be done to improve engagement in politics?
The most important and most ambitious step would be to introduce a fully proportional voting system for Welsh Assembly and local council elections. Many people are reluctant to vote as they feel that their vote is worthless and cannot change anything. Proportional representation would mean that every vote would count, whoever it is for, and it would inspire people who rarely vote to do so often. Compulsory political education needs to be introduced into school curriculums. Young people need to be equipped with knowledge about how the Welsh political system works, as well as the critical thinking skills necessary to make an informed choice at the ballot box. The voting age should be lowered to sixteen. Politics is a two way street. If you don’t engage with the people you represent or want to represent, you have no right to their support or vote. We need to start engaging with residents in a meaningful way. It has long been Green Party policy to devolve decisions to the lowest local level possible. I would like to see Cardiff Council try this by, for example, holding meaningful public consultations on Cardiff Council budgets. If elected, I will push for them to do this. Finally, I would like to say that I disagree with compulsory voting. All it does is massage turnout figures and does not attempt to engage with the reasons why many people don’t vote. Choosing not to vote is just as much a political decision as voting, and if politicians want to see the turnout figure increase, we must show that we are worth voting for.
What’s your favourite film?
I don’t have one. I’m not much of a film fan.
If You’re Elected
What will you do to improve your ward?
If elected, I will push the council to put money back into local services and to bring Llanishen Leisure Centre back under council control. I will challenge any attempt to sell off or build upon the green spaces we are lucky to have in our ward. I will call for more resources for park maintenance and litter collection. The Love Where You Live campaign should be extended to all wards and litter collections should run at all times of the year. I will do my best to make Llanishen one of the greenest, safest wards in Cardiff. I will provide strong scrutiny of council policy to ensure that it is the best it can be. Above all, I will be a constant voice for the residents of Llanishen. As a local resident myself, the decisions the council makes about Llanishen’s services, environment, roads, businesses, and buildings affect me too. I will not forget this, nor will I forget the people who elected me. Should the council make a decision which negatively affects Llanishen or its residents, I will fight the council all the way and stand by the people who are not just fellow residents, but friends and neighbours too.
How will you communicate with residents in your ward?
I will hold regular, monthly surgeries in safe, accessible locations, with the option to hold them more frequently if demand is high. I will produce printed newsletters to update residents as to what the Green Party is doing but also use social media to reach as many people as possible. I will spend as much time as possible doing ward work and casework and will be available through email and phone. I will also regularly knock doors and canvass opinion on our progress and council policy. The Green Party prides itself on being as accessible and approachable as possible and I will carry that philosophy through to my dealings with fellow residents. The Cardiff Green Party and Wales Green Party have active Facebook and Twitter pages which can be used to reach us. I will also work with the other three Llanishen councillors to make sure that residents can see us as a group.
What issues that affect the whole city would you like to get involved in?
I would like to take an active role in solving the city’s homelessness crisis, a crisis which will only get worse if action is not taken now. I would like to work with those who are responsible for housing to make sure that more social housing is created and we can provide safe, stable homes for all people who are homeless or in crisis. As a Green Party member, the environment is close to my heart and I would become personally involved in any effort to make Cardiff as green and sustainable a city as possible. I would also like to make sure that local services and social care services are protected from budget cuts as much as possible.
What would you change about Cardiff and why?
Cardiff is a wonderful city and a great place to live. We need to be proud of it and take care of it. I would like to see Cardiff become a place of safety and support for all who live in it, a place where nobody feels like they aren’t valued or that their needs aren’t being met. I would like to see a greater emphasis on providing a city which future generations can take pride in. We need to make sure that Cardiff can withstand the challenges of the future and come out of them stronger.
Any final comments?
I hope that everyone in Llanishen votes Green on May 4th. The Green Party is a party of the future. We are forward looking. We provide a truly environmental outlook on policy and are dedicated to protecting green spaces and strengthening public services. But whatever your political opinion, I urge everyone to vote on May 4th. Cardiff Council matters, and the policies made there will impact upon all our lives. We need to make sure that the people making those policies are the right people and that they have their residents best interests at heart. Thank you for reading my answers and thanks to Jack for providing all candidates with this platform.