"A traditional south Wales Valleys heartland seat for Labour, held since 1979 at Westminster by Sir Ray Powell. At the 1997 General Election, he had majority of 24,447 over the Conservatives, who polled 3,716. The Liberal Democrats came third with 3,510, and Plaid Cymru came fourth with 2,679. Economically, the seat, which contains the town of Maesteg, has the familiar valleys profile of unemployment and social problems in the wake of the decline of the coal industry, problems which have been partly offset by the advent of newer manufacturing industries. It forms part of the Bridgend local authority whose electors voted Yes in the 1997 devolution referendum, by a majority of 4,460. The local Bridgend unitary authority is firmly controlled by Labour, who have 39 of the 48 seats, the remainder being shared between the Independents, on 3, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on 2 each, and Plaid Cymru and Independent Labour, on 1 each."