When the All Wales Convention came to north Wales
The All Wales Convention recently held a series of public events to engage people in the big debate on the future direction of the National Assembly. Nearly 40 people attended the discussion forum in Llandudno, around 70 turned up for the question time event in Newborough on Anglesey and more than 260 completed questionnaires about the Assembly at Bangor’s Deiniol Shopping Centre road show.
Anyone who missed out but wants to have their say can do so by participating in the Convention’s newly launched online forum.
The All Wales Convention, chaired by Sir Emyr Jones Parry, is a totally independent and impartial body. It was established to analyse the arguments for, and against, extra powers and in turn raise awareness, stimulate debate and encourage engagement amongst the people of Wales of the nationwide consultation, which runs until August 2009. The Convention’s findings will be presented by the end of the year.
Three local people speak of their opinions on the National Assembly for Wales, its successes and failures, and give their take on the devolution debate.
Crispin Jones, 46, from Abergele
Crispin is very supportive of the National Assembly for Wales. He looks at the big picture. He doesn’t see the National Assembly and Westminster governments being any different to the political set-up in the United States. He can see the advantages of effective regional representation along with a strong central parliament. He doesn’t see them to be at odds with one another at all.
I whole-heartedly support the idea of a referendum. I attended the public discussion event at Llandudno last week and, to my surprise, found the experience quite stimulating. I’m glad I spoke up. I think the future of Wales should be decided by the people of Wales.
Personally speaking, I’ve seen the benefits of devolution. Our local hospital in Abergele was saved from closure by the National Assembly and the local community will benefit directly from that. I also appreciate the recent move by the Health Minister to make four life-prolonging cancer drugs available on the NHS to patients in Wales, although they hadn’t been officially approved by NIHCE. It was a bold move, made possible under devolved powers.
Tim Hall, 33, from Felinheli
Tim is director for sailing in Wales and, as you’d expect, sport features highly on his agenda, both personally and professionally. He believes that sport is reasonably well funded in Wales and in the UK, but with room for improvement. Tim freely admits that he’s not sure about his position in respect of the devolution debate. But he is interested in finding out more so that he can make an informed decision.
I can see both sides of the argument, the pros and the cons. I want to do some research first and find out what other people are saying. I’m happy sitting on the fence for the moment.
Dewi Williams, 72, from Anglsey.
Best to take things slowly, step by step, with regard to more law-making powers for the National Assembly for Wales, according to Dewi:
It’s important to encourage a good discussion and for that to happen you need a good cross-section of people. It’s essential to give people the opportunity to speak their minds, especially where the National Assembly and its future is concerned.
I’d be happy to see more law-making powers happening on a gradual basis. That way there’s less chance for things to go awry and that would just be music to the ears of those who are set against devolution. It would give them an excuse to complain and to condemn the work of the Assembly and I wouldn’t want that to happen. So, slowly does it!