"A safe south Wales Valleys Labour seat, which has been held at Westminster by Kim Howells since a 1989 by-election caused by the death of the previous long-term Labour member, Brynmor John. Plaid Cymru challenged strongly at that by-election, cutting Labourís majority to 10,794, but they slipped back to third place in 1992 and to fourth in 1997, when Dr Howells had a majority of 23,129 over the Liberal Democrats, who polled 6,161. The Conservatives were third with 5,910 and Plaid were fourth with 2,977. The seat is centred on Pontypridd, which is a commercial centre surrounded by former mining communities. It also increasingly acts as a dormitory area for Cardiff and has a substantial student population due to the presence of the University of Glamorgan. Although the seat is predominantly English-speaking, around a quarter of the areaís schoolchildren attend Welsh-medium schools. The seat forms part of the Rhondda Cynon Taff local authority, which voted Yes in the 1997 devolution referendum by 14,839 votes. The council is in strong Labour control, with Labour holding 55 of the seats. However, Plaid Cymru have been a strong presence in the area, and they controlled the former Taff-Ely district council before it was absorbed into Rhondda Cynon Taff when local government was reorganised. Plaid remain the next-largest group on Rhondda Cynon Taff, with 14 councillors, while the Independents have 4 and the Residents' Association 1."