Welsh referendum special: So what are we voting for?

Reporter:

Rebecca Cole

VOTERS feel they have been left in the dark over whether Wales should seek to back greater law-making powers for Wales.

That is the result of a Leader poll conducted in Wrexham and Mold in the run-up to the National Assembly for Wales referendum.

We asked 100 people if they knew about the March 3 ballot and if so, which way they intended to vote.

In Wrexham 40 people knew there was a referendum but a whopping 45 per cent said they could not commit at this stage because they did not fully understand the issues at stake.

Of those who pledged to take part, 12 said they would vote “yes” and 10 pledged to vote “no”.

And in Mold, although a majority of almost two to one pledged to vote for more power, 31 per cent could not decide due to a lack of information.

Caroline Parry, 25, from Mold, admitted she did not know anything about the referendum.

She said: “I didn’t know it was happening, I don’t even know what a referendum is.”

And Alexandra Hopkins, 21, of Mold, said: “I knew it was happening but I don’t really have time to learn what it’s about, it’s quite confusing.

“I think they should explain it more.

“I do try to watch the news but they don’t give you any information, they just presume you know.”

The Electoral Commission is sending information booklets to every household in the country in a bid to explain how the referendum will work.

But some who have received the booklets say they are still at a loss as to how to vote and not enough is being done to explain the situation.

Dominika Rabcewicz, 32, of Mold, said: “I had a letter through the door but I don’t know what it’s about.

“There needs to be more information about it.”

And Leonard Johnston, 78, of Mold said: “I knew about it but I don’t think a lot of people do – it should be on TV more.

“People don’t know what it’s about.”

Despite the confusion there was a healthy interest in how the proposed changes would affect residents. Fifty people were quizzed in Wrexham and 40 said they intended to vote, compared to just 16 out of 50 in Mold.

Sally Bates, 31, a Wrexham midwife, believes the National Assembly has worked wonders on the NHS and is certain the benefits will continue if it is granted more powers. She said: “I think it would definitely be a positive thing. It’s a great idea.

“I work for the NHS and we definitely get a lot more from the Assembly than the English government.

“I believe that with greater power comes greater responsibility but the Assembly’s got to be given that power before it can really start to make a difference.”

But one major concern was that giving more power to Cardiff might heighten the perception of a North-South divide.

Raymond Brown, 78, of Wrexham, said: “Nothing’s being done for us in the north at the moment and South Wales gets everything.

“Our roads are a disaster and we only seem to be given so much money from Cardiff anyway.

“I can’t see what more powers to them will achieve for us.”

And Dylan Smith, 22, who works in Wrexham, said: “The Welsh Assembly just seems to be a bit of a token organisation at the moment.

“They’ve encouraged Welsh speaking which is good but some of their decisions have been shocking.

“I’m not very impressed by the Assembly now so I’m not sure if I want them to have more powers.”

Our poll suggests next month’s vote will be a close contest – and campaigners clearly have a lot to play for in the meantime.
 

See full story in the Leader

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