WITH the General Election just three weeks away, voters in Caerphilly are making up their minds about who they will pick to represent them for the next five years. Ian Craig take a look at the constituency.

THE Parliamentary constituency of Caerphilly has been staunchly Labour for almost a century, apart from a brief two-year period in 1981 when then-MP Ednyfed Davies defected to the Social Democratic Party.

But he did not stand in Caerphilly in 1983, when the seat was won back for Labour by Ron Davies, who represented the constituency until 2001, when he left Parliament to be replaced by Wayne David.

Although Mr David has hung onto his seat at every election since, he has seen his majority cut each time, with a total fall of 12.7 per cent. He is running again this year and faces competition from the Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats, Ukip and the Wales Green Party.

The boundaries of Caerphilly stretch from the town itself and Machen in the south, as well as Ystrad Mynach, Nelson, Pengam and Bargoed. It borders Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney in the north and Islwyn and Newport West in the east, along with Cardiff North at its southernmost point and Pontypridd and Cynon Valley in the west.

Labour’s Hefin David has served the constituency in the Senedd since last May.

In last year’s referendum, the county borough voted to leave the European Union with 57.63 per cent backing Brexit.

As with much of Gwent, Caerphilly suffered from the closure of the coal mining industry in the latter half of the 20th century.

Today 3.7 per cent of people in the area are unemployed, above the national average of 2.6 per cent, while 24 per cent of children, almost one in four, are considered to be living in poverty. Meanwhile 9.5 per cent of residents are claiming disability benefits, in comparison with the national average of 6.2 per cent.

Wages are also lower than average, with the average worker in Caerphilly earning £480 a week, £50 less than the national average.

But house prices are also significantly cheaper than the national average of £215,000, with the typical home in the area costing £133,000.

The town is home to the Lansbury Park Estate, widely considered to be the most deprived estate in Wales.

Probably the most recognisable landmark in the area is the 13th century Caerphilly Castle, which stands in the town centre and is the second largest castle in Britain. Although ruined, a large portion of the castle still remains, and has been used as a filming location for Doctor Who multiple times.

The castle plays hosts to a popular annual food fair, The Big Cheese, named for the world-famous cheese named after the town, every summer, with visitors numbering in the tens of thousands.

Caerphilly is also the birthplace of legendary comedian Tommy Cooper, and a statue honouring his memory stands in the Twyn area of the town.

In 1912, distress signals from the Titanic were first received in Blackwood by amateur wireless enthusiast Arthur Moore.

Other notable people from the town are world-champion boxer Joe Calzaghe, who was born in Newbridge.

AT A GLANCE – CAERPHILLY

Population: 66,615

Number of these aged 65 or older: 12,858 (19.3 per cent)

Average weekly pay: £480

(UK average £530)

Average house price: £133,000

(UK average £215,000)

Number of people on disability benefits: 5,270 (9.5 per cent)

(UK average 6.2 per cent)

Unemployment: 1,515 (3.7 per cent)

(UK average 2.6 per cent)

Child poverty: 24 per cent

(UK average 20 per cent)

Number of businesses: 1,990

YOUR CANDIDATES

Andrew Creak (Green)

David Kay (Lib Dem)

Wayne David (Labour)

Jane Pratt (Con)

Lindsay Geoffrey Whittle (Plaid)

Liz Wilks (Ukip)