Labour hopes for upset

April 18, 1997

With more than 3,000 students and academics on the voting roll, and the Conservatives defending a majority of 2,969 over Labour at the last election, it is easy to see why the Association of University Teachers selected Cardiff North as one of its 16 target seats.

The bulk of the city's students are to be found in neighbouring Cardiff Central, where Labour's John Owen Jones hopes to convert a 1992 gain into a big win this time. But the University of Wales Medical School ensures an academic presence in Cardiff North, and a rapid growth in the student population in the past five years underpins opposition party hopes of ejecting junior Welsh office minister Gwilym Jones, formerly leader of Cardiff City Council, from a traditionally Conservative seat.

All hope to win votes on student concerns. Labour's Julie Morgan said: "Labour is committed to providing quality education at university, with a package where loans can be repaid over a much longer period, on more favourable terms than at present."

The Liberal Democrats are fielding a student, Robyn Rowland, a postgraduate applied economist at the University of Wales, Cardiff, who emphasises the penny-on-income-tax pledge but adds that primary school class sizes are the priority. "The Liberal Democrats are committed to maintaining the quality of teaching and research, but have not yet made a commitment to give significant additional funding to universities," he said.

And while Plaid Cymru won only 916 votes last time out, it may yet make the running on a less traditional student concern - crime. Car thefts, cycle thefts and burglaries have been a particular worry. Plaid's Colin Palfrey appears to have all the expertise anyone might demand as a magistrate and member of the Bench Liaison Committee, the Magistrates Court Committee Selection Panel and the Gwent Probation Committee.

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