December 9, 2009

North East Wales says YES

There is a very interesting report in the Wrexham Leader - it seems that even in this area which is generally considered to be the most devosceptic in Wales, there is strong support for more powers. I have reprinted the article in full here:

SPECIAL REPORT - Should the Welsh Assembly be given law-making powers?
Published date: 09 December 2009 Published by: Rhian Waller, Robert Doman and Holly Evans

THIS week Wales gained a new leader. Carwyn Jones is our new First Minister and will inherit a stacked in-tray from Rhodri Morgan.
One of the most pressing issues forcing its way to the top of his to-do list is likely to be the question of increased powers for the Assembly.The recent All-Wales Convention report recommended further devolution more quickly and is likely to fuel calls for the Assembly to move closer to the level of autonomy enjoyed by the Scottish Parliament.The Leader, working with our sister newspapers across North and Mid Wales, set out to create a snapshot of the region’s opinion on the issue.With the results in, we look at what they say about the Assembly’s impact on us over the past decade and what the future may have in store.

The Leader conducted fieldwork and telephone polling across two days at the end of November.
We drew on a combination of face-to-face questioning and calls to residents across each area in a bid to ensure as representative a sample as possible.
Respondents were asked the single question: Do you support more law-making powers for the Welsh Assembly?
Then they were given the opportunity to discuss their answer and reasons with our reporters. Here are our findings:

THERE was strong support for more powers in Wrexham.Angela Patricks, 37, was among the 21 respondents who backed the plan, and said: “Yes, Wales should be completely away from the government in Westminster, they're only making things worse"Among the 13 residents who said ‘no’ was Arthur Jones, 78, who said: “We don’t need any more changes to the system, it’s fine how it is. I voted against it n 1999.”“I don’t think that anything north of Aberystwyth exists for the Welsh Assembly government,” said Brian Evans, reflecting a view expressed frequently by poll respondents in Flintshire and Wrexham.In Wrexham 16 people said they were undecided.

THE county is traditionally one of the most sceptical about the Assembly, having voted against devolution in 1999. This time the results were fairly evenly split.Of the 50 people we canvassed both face to face and by telephone polling in the county, 19 backed more powers now with several citing specific examples where the Assembly had proved its worth to them.Debbie O’Neill said: “The Welsh Assembly Government have been good to me as an individual. I was made redundant last year and the Welsh Assembly offered me financial support.“I have since retrained and got another job so devolution has worked for me.”And Colin Hughes agreed, adding: “I wasn’t originally a fan of devolution, but when you start looking at what's happening in Scotland – it’s working quite well there with more powers, so why not here?”There were some strong views among the 16 Flintshire residents who gave the idea the thumbs-down.Laura Howard from Mold said: “Wales doesn’t need to make its own laws. Britain is only a small island, not like America where they have different state laws.” Of those polled in Flintshire, 15 people said they were undecided either saying they didn’t care or didn’t know enough about the Assembly.

IN Denbigh, Ruthin, Corwen and the surrounding area, as well as Bala, people were much more clearly in favour of a more powerful Assembly.The area is covered by our sister newspaper the Denbighshire Free Press and our interviewers there found a groundswell of support for the convention's report.Huw Jones from Corwen said: “We’re wasting time and it would be best if Wales had more of a voice in Europe and skipped Westminster altogether.“Think of the money we could save on MPs! And when you look at the bigger picture, there are all these small Eastern European countries joining in and finding a voice with the European Union so why shouldn’t we have a share of the cake as well?”Evan Dobson of Bala, over the border in Gwynedd, agreed. He said: “This could help promote the identity of the Welsh Assembly in the eyes of the population.”

THERE was even more resounding support for increased powers in Rhyl, where of 30 people questioned a massive 22 said ‘yes’.Opinions were more mixed in Colwyn Bay with a third of people voting against, while in Llandudno there was another big ‘yes’ vote.
Residents of the popular seaside resort were in favour of more powers by a 19 to five.

OUR research in the area of Mid Wales covered by the County Times found the highest support of all for the convention’s recommendations, together with a clear sense that the Assembly has a higher profile in this part of Wales.
Whereas elsewhere a significant number of people were undecided or did not care about the issue, in Welshpool, Newtown and the surrounding communities people were much more likely to have a definite view.Typically unequivocal was Dave Cox of Welshpool, who said: “It’s Wales and we should be governed by the Welsh.”Isobel Tibbott of Llangynog said: “Being Welsh I would say yes. I would like to see us have a referendum on full devolution.”A cautionary note was sounded by Phillip Trow of Middletown, who said: “I think it should have some more but not full power across the board because it would cost a lot more in taxes.”The County Times also conducted an online poll of its readers – not included in the results – but which broadly supported the view our fieldwork found – 63 per cent supported more powers while 27 per cent said ‘no’.

WE presented your views to politicians both at Cardiff and Westminster to gauge the initial reaction to the figures.Delyn AM Sandy Mewies said: “I think the results of your poll reflect the changing attitudes of the electorate towards the National Assembly.“We deal with so many things that affect every day life. People are seeing the positive impact devolution is having in Wales, for example the way the Welsh Assembly Government has introduced innovative schemes to help people worst affected by the economic downturn, the ground-breaking learn-through-play Foundation Phase in schools, free prescriptions for all, free bus travel for the over 60s, and more front-line staff in the national health service than ever before.
"It is initiatives like these that are making a real difference to the lives of people in Wales and why more voters are now supportive of the idea that the Assembly should have more powers.”Denbighshire Cllr Raymond Bartley said: “I don’t think it should be any different to Scotland. From a citizens point of view it is very important for the Aassembly to have more powers.”Delyn MP David Hanson said: “Any changes to the current system would have to have the consent of the people of Wales and I would very much welcome my constituents' views on this.”

THE bottom line is that the people we questioned across the region were, on the whole, supportive of a stronger Assembly.
But there was a marked divide in the margin by which ‘yes’ votes won in each county or area, from the strong support in Powys and coastal Denbighshire to the more divided opinions we encountered in Wrexham and Flintshire. Ensuring the North East’s support for the Assembly does not wane is likely to be one of Carwyn Jones's toughest challenges.
YES - 55%NO - 25.2%UNDECIDED - 19.6%


Evan Owen - Snowdonia said...

Are these normal people?

Unknown said...

Are you??