NATIONAL ASSEMBLY? WHAT'S THAT THEN?; AN Echo Report Today Reveals What People in South Wales REALLY Think of the National Assembly. Here's Your Shock Verdict, Region by Region, on the People Who Represent You in Cardiff Bay

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), February 1, 2002 | Go to article overview
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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY? WHAT'S THAT THEN?; AN Echo Report Today Reveals What People in South Wales REALLY Think of the National Assembly. Here's Your Shock Verdict, Region by Region, on the People Who Represent You in Cardiff Bay


Byline: Chris Herdman, Steve Tucker, Mike Taggart, Sarah Welsh, Laura Nicklin, Kathryn Summers, Peter Collins, Wayne Nowaczyk, Abby Alford, Louise Day, Sian Harris, Jackie Bow, Wendy Horton, Jean Parry

ALMOST three years after the birth of the National Assembly, six out of 10 people in South Wales do not know who their own Assembly Member is.

An Echo survey has revealed 57.5 per cent of people polled had no idea who is representing them in Cardiff Bay.

And just 8.25 per cent of voters could tell us the names of four or more cabinet members at the assembly - people with a massive say over education, health and the economy of Wales.

But the same voters who didn't know who was representing them in Cardiff did not want to see the assembly abolished.

Nearly two-thirds told us that they wanted to keep the assembly - significantly more than the 50-50 vote in the 1997 devolution referendum.

And Rhodri Morgan's profile is high among those the Echo questioned.

More than two-thirds of voters - 68 per cent - could name Mr Morgan as the assembly's First Minister when quizzed by our reporters.

But while 100 per cent of those questioned in Mr Morgan's own constituency of Cardiff West knew he was the assembly's first minister, 70 per cent did not know that he was also their AM.

The Echo's survey also highlights major differences in attitudes within the regions of South Wales.

Voters in Cardiff, who voted "no" in the 1997 devolution referendum, are still lukewarm - at best - about the institution still taking shape in the Bay.

A majority - 44 per cent against 43 per cent - still want to see the assembly abolished.

A comment typical of Cardiff voters came from Robert Holley, of Radyr.

He said: "The assembly is another unnecessary level of bureaucracy and a waste of public money."

But in the Valleys, the assembly is proving more popular.

A resounding 75 per cent of people in the Merthyr Tydfil and Rumney, Pontypridd, Rhondda, Caerphilly and Cynon Valley constituencies said they wanted to keep Wales's first-ever directly elected national body, while 70 per cent knew who their AM was.

Paul O'Neill, from Treharris, told the Echo: "The assembly is a good idea - we've just got to give it more time to come up with the goods."

RHONDDA AND TAFF ELY FAR from perfect, but the National Assembly may be worth keeping in the long-term - that's the verdict of most people in Rhondda and Taff Ely.

Three years after its birth in Cardiff Bay, the assembly is known much better for what it gets wrong than right. Nine out of 10 people could name some disaster.

Respondents said the assembly was, variously, too busy with its own problems; squabbling over its privileges; all talk no action; making a fiasco over buildings; failing to get Westminster money to trigger Objective One spending, among other things, and too focused on Cardiff.

Few had intimate knowledge or interest in assembly affairs. As student Chris Lloyd, 24, from Llantwit Fardre said: "I wouldn't recognise one of their cabinet members if they stood up in my soup!"

Nigel Griffiths, 40, of Pontypridd said the assembly's greatest achievement was "getting established", and market trader June Roberts, 51, sagely added: "I believe in a Welsh assembly - just not this one."

CAERPHILLY THEY MAY openly grumble a lot about it, but most people in the Caerphilly constituency want to hang on in there with the National Assembly.

Of the 20 questioned, 14 emphatically said "no" when asked whether the assembly should be abolished.

Generally, their reasoning is that we have come this far and spent so much money that to cut loose now would be even more of a disaster.

Father-of-four Rhys Morris, 40, of Bedwellty Road, Aberbargoed said:

"The people of Wales deserve a voice.

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY? WHAT'S THAT THEN?; AN Echo Report Today Reveals What People in South Wales REALLY Think of the National Assembly. Here's Your Shock Verdict, Region by Region, on the People Who Represent You in Cardiff Bay
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