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The devolution debate - a tale of two cities ten years on

Welsh Assembly Government

The devolution debate - a tale of two cities ten years on

Newport and Cardiff. Two cities in south-east Wales with very different make-ups, socially, demographically and politically.

Both cities will shortly be visited by the All Wales Convention, the organisation established to gauge people’s opinions on whether the National Assembly for Wales should be granted more law-making powers.

In the 1997 referendum, the cities were united in their rejection of devolution.  62.5 per cent of Newport residents voted no, with 55.6 per cent of Cardiff resident voting likewise.  Now, a decade of devolution later, the challenge for the All Wales Convention will be to assess how the land lies on the question of more devolved powers for the National Assembly.

On Thursday June 18th from 6.30-8.30pm a discussion group event will take place at The Newport Centre, when members of the public will be able to have their say in the devolution debate. The following week, on Tuesday June 23rd from 9am-5pm, the Convention’s roadshow will be shopping for more opinions on devolution from members of the public at Cardiff’s Capitol Shopping Centre. Following that, on Thursday June 25th from 6.30-8.30pm the All Wales Convention will hold the final public event in its tour of Wales.  Over 100 people are expected to attend this question time event at City Hall, Cardiff.  Both events are free and open to members of the public.  

Crystallising public opinion the length and breadth of Wales in the current public consultation will not be an easy task.  The Chair of the All Wales Convention, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, and his Executive Committee will have their work cut out in judging the mood of the people of Wales correctly.  Sir Emyr is a career diplomat, having served as UK Permanent Representative on the North Atlantic Council, followed by a four-year posting as UK Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, so it bodes well.  But even his diplomatic skills will surely be challenged at times and the task should not be underestimated.

Sir Emyr said:

I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience of hearing the views and opinions of people all over Wales.  It’s what I set out to do and I’ve been greatly encouraged by the welcome my team and I have received.  But there’s much more to do of course.  Politics is relevant to each and every one of us, whether we like it or not.  It affects the way we go about our daily lives and I want people to realise that what they say will influence what happens in Wales.

I’m looking forward to the All Wales Convention visiting Newport and Cardiff and, given the two cities’ past devolution attitudes, I expect both events to be lively and engaging.  A decade on, it will be very interesting to find out what local residents now think about devolution and whether it’s been a good or bad thing for them.

Councillor Matthew Evans, Leader of Newport City Council, said:

It is vitally important that the public’s views are taken into consideration when planning for the future of our country. It will be very interesting to hear the comments of local people after 10 years of the Assembly, and we are pleased to be hosting such an event.

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We would like to thank everybody who took the time to contribute to the debate through our online forum.