Owen Smith, the Labour Member of Parliament for Pontypridd, has spoken against the expansion of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency in Llantrisant.
Owen Smith met with Kevin Kidman, the DVSA’s Director of Operations and Gareth Jervis, the Head of Estates in his Pontypridd office last Friday alongside Chris Bryant MP. “Having a test centre in Llantrisant would add to the existing congestion and the close proximity of the motorway just wouldn’t be practical for learners and instructors,” Owen Smith said. “The move to Llantrisant simply appears to be a Tory cost cutting exercise that’s filtered down from Whitehall.”
In March 2016, Owen Smith MP’s wife, Liz Smith, lost the Llantrisant Town by-election to Louisa Mills. Owen Smith moved to Llantrisant with Liz Smith from Surrey, after he was elected in 2010.
The Labour Party has taken a hammering in the Llantrisant Town By-Election, even with the local MP’s wife being parachuted into the role to take on Independent candidate, Freeman Jonathan Bishop, who was expected to take the seat.
The election was won by Louisa Mills, who moved to Llantrisant from Sweden, after being educated in Carmarthen. Louisa Mills promises to build a community garden in the town.
Liz Smith critcised the campaign of Freeman Jonathan Bishop, saying that his facts were “11 years old.” Her husband and Pontypridd MP Owen Smith criticised Bishop for “bringing [his] family into it.” In fact, all Freeman Bishop did was refer to Owen Smith’s wife, who was his opponent.
Freeman Bishop said he fought the election on the facts. “I did not say anything about Owen Smith’s family – his wife was my opponent,” he said. “I used the same strategy against Liz Smith that New Labour used in 1997, 2001 and 2005, which was to make reference to my opponents’ record and past statements.
“If they did not want me to raise these then they shouldn’t have said or done them.
“My campaign was on the whole positive, with me supporting the war memorial plans, and furthering my desire for there to be a Llantrisant festival.
“If my opponents cannot take their record, or lack of, being challenged then they should ask themselves if they are being fair on the electorate who may be far less restrained in their choice of words than I have been.”
Gareth Phillips, of TechArts, who was part of Louisa Mills’s campaign team, also criticised Freeman Bishop’s approach. “[E]ven though Louisa is another candidate she is also a member of the community first and foremost,” he said. “Louisa lives in Llantrisant and went to school in the area.”
Louisa Mills won the election with over 50% of the vote, polling 320 votes. Labour’s Liz Smith gained 273 votes and Independent Jonathan Bishop received 32 votes.
The member of Parliament for Pontypridd, Owen Smith, has been outed as a supporter of greater private involvement in the NHS, only hours before his wife Liz Smith asks for the support of the people of Llantrisant in voting for her.
Prior to standing for election Owen Smith worked as a lobbyist for drugs firm Pfizer. During that time, Owen Smith called for more involvement of such private firms in the NHS. “We believe that choice is a good thing and that patients and healthcare professionals should be at the heart of developing the agenda,” he said on behalf of the firm.
In 2006 when there was a motion in Parliament calling for Pfizer to have less of a stranglehold on the NHS, Owen Smith said: “We believe (the early day motion) to be based on inaccurate information provided by wholesalers that we have not chosen to partner with.”
Asked to explain why he sought public office whilst earning a six-figure sum from Pfizer, Owen Smith said Pfizer were “extremely supportive” of him seeking to enter Parliament. Speaking about the early-day motion to reduce the involvement of Pfizer in the NHS, Owen Smith added: “We (he and Pfizer) feel that their (other wholesalers’) campaign to mobilise opposition to our proposals is entirely motivated by commercial self-interest.“
The Labour Party has been branded desperate over its attempts to smear Freeman of Llantrisant, Jonathan Bishop.
Freeman Bishop, 36, resides in Llantwit Fardre, but Labour activists have been suggesting he lives in Swansea. In fact, Swansea is where Freeman Bishop’s employer is based. “Though given you live in Swansea, I’m not surprised you know nothing about Llantrisant,” is a false statement one activist posted to Freeman Bishop’s campaigning page.
Freeman Bishop says that the smears suggest desperation in Labour’s campaign. “The Labour candidate for Llantrisant Town , Liz Smith, has only lived in the area since 2011,” he said. “I have lived in every ward I have been a councillor in, which includes Llantwit Fardre and Treforest.
“I have also lived in Tyla Garw, which is in the boundaries of the ancient borough of Llantrisant and regularly use Beddau Post Office.
“Being a Freeman of Llantrisant and having been baptised and confirmed at Llantrisant Parish Church, from a long Llantrisant ancestry, Labour know I have more local credentials, so are trying to mislead people into thinking I live in Swansea, when that is where my employer is based.”
The husband of the Labour candidate in the Llantrisant Town by-election, is a “drug pusher”, a colleague has said.
The husband of Labour candidate Liz Smith, who moved to Llantrisant from Surrey in 2011, has been called a “drug pusher” by Labour MP, Paul Flynn.
Despite being in the same party as Liz Smith and her husband Owen, Paul Flynn MP was highly critical of the Labour candidate’s husband. “The lobbyists are a curse, a cancer in the system. It’s insidious,” he said. “One of my main interests in politics is areas in which lobbyists used their wicked wiles to get access to government,” he continued. “One example is the pharmaceutical industry, who are the most greedy and deceitful organisations we have to deal with,” he concluded, adding: “I wasn’t too pleased by the fact that we had a drug pusher [in the Labour Party].”
It is unclear how many animals were tested on during Liz Smith’s husband’s time at Pfizer, where it was responsible for lobbying for Pfizer to MPs and others working within the UK Parliament.
The Labour Party has Surrey’s Liz Smith, the wife of Pontypridd MP Owen Smith, parachuted in as a candidate for Llantrisant Town to try to prevent Freeman of Llantrisant Jonathan Bishop taking the seat.
Liz Smith has only lived in Llantrisant since 2011, moving from her home in Surrey following husband Owen Smith’s election in 2010.
Owen Smith left Pontypridd in 2005 in order to promote the interests of drugs firm, Pfizer. Following losing the Blaenau Gwent by-election in 2006, he was rewarded with candidature in the Pontypridd parliamentary seat in Labour’s heartlands, which he won in 2010.
Liz Smith is taking on Freeman Jonathan Bishop, whose family connections with the town date back to the 1700s. Freeman Bishop previously served on Llantwit Fardre Community Council and Pontypridd Town Council. His grandfather, Seth Morgan, founded the Llantrisant Workingmen’s Club and former Llantrisant Town Council Chairman, Ivor Jacob, is a direct ancestor.
Freeman Jonathan Bishop says this is pure desperation by the Labour Party. “The Labour Party know I am the strongest candidate in this election and are hoping that as Liz Smith has an address in Llantrisant that she will appear more local than me,” he said. “The reality is that both my opponents have moved into the town from other localities.
“Liz Smith moved from Surrey and Louisa Mills is from Carmarthen, and both need to realise that having an address in Llantrisant does not make them more local than me, as I have a strong family history and passion for the town that they cannot match.
“I have stood in nearly a dozen elections, including for the UK Parliament, and standing in my family home town of Llantrisant is my proudest.”
The election to the ward of Llantrisant Town on Llantrisant Community Council is taking place on Thursday 10 March 2016.