WITH the 2021 Senedd Election less than a week away, here the candidates for Torfaen explain why they believe you should vote for them.

Lyn Ackerman - Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales

Free Press Series: Torfaen candidate Lyn Ackerman - Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales

If elected I would focus on increasing our NHS capabilities.

Torfaen has welcomed the Grange and it is important to have the correct staffing available.

Plaid Cymru has been calling to make sure that there would be an adequate number of staff since 2016.

It became apparent during the last year that staff levels were struggling.

It’s only Plaid Cymru with a concrete plan to locally train and retain staff, including 5,000 nurses and 1,000 extra doctors throughout Wales.

The effects of Covid have been felt throughout Torfaen - not just in terms of our health, but also in our long-term job prospects.

In Torfaen, our high streets and the jobs based here have been hard-hit by multi-national companies scaling back on their presence.

So much has been spent investing in regeneration, but it is now time for people to benefit in terms of jobs.

We need to see the use of our high streets re-thought, whether that’s supporting smaller independent businesses to make use of these empty spaces, or in looking at potential for housing.

We need to make sure that our young people also have the best opportunities to learn, work and live here.

One way of making long-term employment in Torfaen is to make our area a world class visitor attraction that it can – we have some of the best visitor attractions and fantastic scenery in South Wales. I will support every opportunity to develop this.

Veronica Kathleen German - Welsh Liberal Democrats

Free Press Series: Torfaen candidate Veronica Kathleen German - Welsh Liberal Democrats

I have been campaigning in this area for over 30 years and have been a local county councillor and an Assembly Member.

However, I believe that my experience as a teacher in the area for over 20 years and living in the community is equally important, as it has given me real life experiences of this area and sits alongside my political career, providing a full understanding of what makes Torfaen tick.

I am standing for election because I believe people want a Member of the Senedd who is ambitious for Wales, who will stand up for our local people, jobs and services.

I want to see better communications within and to Torfaen, building better rail links with connected bus routes.

There is now a real chance we can get a direct train link to London from Cwmbran and Pontypool.

I will champion more homes powered by cheaper green energy to reduce bills and do our bit to save the planet.

I want to help our smaller companies grow. Local businesses need support to ensure they have a future.

Our high streets will need revitalising – places where people will want to go – not rows of closed shops and services.

Thomas George Harrison - Ukip Scrap the Assembly/Senedd

Free Press Series: Torfaen candidate Thomas George Harrison - Ukip Scrap the Assembly/Senedd

No one likes politicians.

Especially me, that’s why I’m standing for Ukip to scrap the Assembly – now the self-styled Senedd.

Cardiff Bay politicians promised the world but have delivered very little.

In fact, Wales has gone backwards in health, education and take-home pay for working people since the Senedd was established in 1999.

The Senedd costs you nearly £60 million every year.

What does Wales get in return? A failing education system and a health service in crisis. At a time when one in four of the Welsh people live in fuel poverty, Senedd Members earn three times the average salary in Wales.

Worst still, Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru have declared Wales a 'Nation of Sanctuary' for all illegal migrants.

Politicians want to ignore that 715,000 people came to Britain last year – the highest on record. I believe that charity starts at home.

In this election, 100 per cent of Ukip’s candidates have pledged to deliver a referendum to scrap the Senedd.

You now have a choice: stand up for Wales and derail the Cardiff Bay gravy train, or five more years of over-promoted, over-paid, political virtue-signalling from the Senedd.

Lynne Neagle - Labour

Free Press Series: Torfaen candidate Lynne Neagle - Labour

It was a passion for getting things done that brought me into politics when I first stood for election in Torfaen in 1999.

A lot has changed in Wales since then, but not enough to dent that passion – there is still much to do. I see that every day, both in our communities and chairing the Children, Young People and Education Committee.

Giving every child a good start in life and the best chance to succeed, no matter where they are born, has always been my top priority as a politician.

The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified these challenges, shining a light on the things we need to make better. Whether it’s pursuing opportunities to improve local services or working to secure good jobs, I will never stop fighting for the people of Torfaen.

Casework will always remain fundamental to being a good MS, and I’ll always prioritise that work.

Top of our priority list, however, must be the emotional and mental health support available for children and young people.

The next five years must be the Senedd term that puts the needs of our young people first.

Wales simply cannot afford a lost generation.

Gruff Parry - Conservative

Mr Parry did not provide a statement or picture.

Matthew Francis Ross-Francome - Freedom Alliance. No Lockdowns. No Curfews.

Free Press Series: Torfaen candidate Matthew Francis Ross-Francome - Freedom Alliance. No Lockdowns. No Curfews.

I was born in the constituency and still enjoy living in Torfaen.

After speaking with business owners, the overwhelming opinion is businesses want to remain open. If there is another lockdown many businesses will close permanently. People want to work for their mental health, earn money to pay bills, support families and to live. People should be able to choose to isolate, visit friends or family.

The lockdowns are having detrimental effect on everyone and I want people to have the freedom of choice.

I will set up regular business meetings with an aim of attracting more customers to the area. Also I would be open to ideas on how to positively support the community.

I studied Sports Science and Understanding Human Nutrition in University. I have trained and competed as a professional athlete, also worked as a Personal Trainer.

I will proudly make sure the concerns and issues we face as a constituency will be heard at the Senedd. Plus, I will do my very best in helping the local economy grow and become a safer environment.

There are 60,000 registered voters in Torfaen, only 20,000 typically vote. If the remaining 40,000 vote for myself, we will have a constituency with a growing economy.

Ian Michael Williams - Reform UK

Free Press Series: Torfaen candidate Ian Michael Williams - Reform UK

Many of you put your trust in The Brexit Party.

We delivered on that trust and now we’re asking to do the same again.

We have changed our name to Reform UK and now want to reform Wales.

Now that we have vaccines, new treatments and knowledge of who is at risk from Covid, we must use this information to manage the disease.

A targeted protection strategy is the best way to ensure a workable policy that doesn’t inflict so much damage on our communities by shutting schools and businesses.

We have a credible economic plan that includes raising the point at which people start paying tax to £20,000, which will give people more money to spend in their local economy.

Wales has 22 councils delivering similar services at a great cost to taxpayers.

We will reduce the number of councils and chief executives earning up to £180,000 by half and use savings to freeze council tax.

Devolution isn’t working, but we believe this is because of third-rate politicians.

We will reform devolution to ensure government is leaner and more decisive.

Cancelling devolution and handing power over Wales to Westminster Tories would be a huge backwards step.

Ryan Thomas Williams - Gwlad - The Welsh Independence Party

Free Press Series: Torfaen candidate Ryan Williams - Gwlad - The Welsh Independence Party

Aged 31. Ex-investment banker. Now self-employed investor.

Interests include: history and politics, sport, outdoors (camping and trekking).

Senedd needs much more fiscal control away from its 'strings attached' mother parties in London!

Push for it to be re-incorporated back into historic Sir Fynwy to gain from future investment programs, like the Free Port status.

Re-open some of the coal mines for employment, and emphasise the importance of the outdoors and sport between Blaenavon and Cwmbran.

Find statements from candidates standing for other constituencies here:

Statements from parties standing in the South Wales East region will be published next week.