Page last updated at 05:59 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 06:59 UK

Conflicting views on Senedd power

Public meeting in Cwmbran (Picture from All Wales Convention)
About 50 people were at the meeting. (Picture from All Wales Convention)

Complaints that public services have worsened since devolution have been heard at a public session examining the case for more Welsh assembly powers.

All Wales Convention members in Cwmbran, Torfaen, were also told that some think the assembly is a waste of money and should not have more powers.

But the session heard too from people who said there were compelling arguments for extra Senedd muscle.

About 50 people attended the public meeting.

It was one of a series the convention is hosting across Wales to gauge the mood of the country before any decision to hold a possible referendum on full law-making powers.

Sir Emyr Jones-Parry, chair of the convention, said: "We are not arguing for or against any particular standpoint with regard to the assembly powers... everyone's view is valid."

Also on the panel were businesswoman Dr Janet Wademan, Torfaen councillor Fred Wildgust and Richard Morgan, of the Torfaen devolution discussion group.

Public meeting in Cwmbran (picture from All Wales Convention)
We would not have this debate without the assembly - we would have nothing without the assembly
Luke Lewis, student (Picture from All Wales Convention)

In a straw poll, the audience was asked whether the assembly had been a waste of money.

Audience members pressed their electronic keypads and 59% said yes, 30% said no and 11% didn't know.

The audience at Cwmbran stadium was also asked whether public services had got worse since the assembly was created, and 65% said yes.

From the audience Dave Williams said: "I feel that I've been let down. We've had the assembly forced on us and I feel like a second-class citizen."

Charles Ashton asked if there should also be a debate about whether Wales should have the assembly.

Sir Emyr said: "It's a fair question but not within my remit. I'm not a politician."

Important views

But audience member Vian Roberts said there were compelling arguments in favour of full law making powers.

"What are the arguments in favour of NOT getting the powers?" he asked.

Mr Wildgust responded from the panel: "Probably because the assembly doesn't have the expertise."

Luke Lewis, a student, said: "We would not have this debate without the assembly - we would have nothing without the assembly."

Voting on their electronic keypads at the end of the debate, 64% of the audience said they would leave the assembly's powers as they are.

Sir Emyr said afterwards: "I enjoyed it tremendously, it's very important to hear all views."

The All Wales Convention is due to report back at the end of 2009.



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