Plaid Cymru has claimed the forthcoming local elections is the nationalist party’s first “realistic chance” of carrying out a programme of government in Cardiff.
The party, which currently holds six seats, is fielding its highest ever number of candidates in the Welsh capital by contesting 70 of the 75 seats.
For the past four years the group has run Cardiff council as a minority partner in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Launching the Plaid Cymru manifesto yesterday for the May 3 poll, group leader Neil McEvoy admitted it was a “surprise” the group found itself as part of the ruling administration in 2008.
But he said the party now had a realistic chance of “competing” in 21 seats – including in Fairwater, Riverside, Ely, Grangetown, Llanrumney and Creigiau.
“It’s the first time that across the city the people can vote for us with a programme in mind,” Coun McEvoy said.
“Even though we have implemented a programme that we are proud of, last time they voted for us never expecting us to have that opportunity (in administration).
“But this time we are being taken much more seriously. With the huge growth in membership and candidates we can look people in the face and say that we can deliver this programme or part of this programme.”
Job creation, economic development, investment in schools, increased provision for Welsh medium education, introducing “litter police” and boosting sustainable transport are among their pledges.
The party – which says it is a “new alternative for Cardiff” – also wants to make St David’s Day a paid public holiday for Cardiff council workers and encourage other employers to let staff have the day off.
As previously reported, the group wants to charter a plane from New York to Cardiff for next year’s St David’s Day to demonstrate to US businesses the investment opportunities in the city.
But Coun McEvoy conceded Plaid could only implement the pledges in its manifesto as part of a coalition. He was reluctant, however, to say which parties the group was prepared to work with.
“On May 4 we’ll see how the cards fall – but it’s probably not worth (Conservative group leader) David Walker picking up the phone,” Coun McEvoy said.
The group is targeting Ely in particular – a traditional Labour strong hold – with Peter and Lynda Sullivan of campaign group Ely Garden Villagers standing as their candidates.
Coun McEvoy claimed 170 “Plaid Cymru” placards had already been erected in the front gardens of homes across the west Cardiff estate – with some mysteriously going missing.
Plaid Cymru Cardiff group’s key pledges for 2012 election:
Economy, Jobs & Transport
*Fly in US business people for St David’s Day and showing them local investment opportunities.
*Help finance advertising and publicity campaigns for city centre arcades, Central Market and Riverside Market.
*Lobby Welsh Government to bring forward plans to revive Cardiff Airport.
*Launch a “much larger and improved” bicycle hire scheme.
*Make Cardiff the top authority in Wales for spending per pupil.
*Investigate demand for Welsh medium education, particularly in Grangetown.
*Create a dedicated sixth-form college to teach modern languages.
*Launch a Good Neighbour Scheme that residents are expected to live up to.
*Help first time home buyers get access to a 95% loan for a mortgage.
*Launch company to train apprentices and develop brownfield spaces and rundown houses.
*Hire “litter police” to hand-out on-the-spot £75 fines to litterbugs and fly-tippers.
*Identify new allotment land and explore grow-your-own schemes.