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What will it take to make Denbighshire vote in Assembly election?

Published date: 10 July 2014 |
Published by: Shane Brennan
Read more articles by Shane Brennan


 

PEOPLE in Denbighshire are the  least likely to vote in the next Assembly election compared to other counties in North Wales.
 
A recent poll by BBC/ICM to mark the fifteenth anniversary of devolution showed that only 28 per cent of respondents in the county said they were certain to vote in the 2016 election.
 
This was the lowest number recorded in North Wales.
 
Turnout at Assembly elections across Wales is usually about 40 per cent.
 
The Welsh Assembly was set up in 1999 and Wales has had Labour run governments since then.
 
The Welsh Government has responsibility for a wide range of matters that affect, Denbighshire peoples day to day lives.
 
These include the health care system, education and agriculture.
 
Denbighshire also had the highest number of people in North Wales who felt that the Assembly had made no difference to how Wales was governed.
 
Fifty four per cent of Denbighshire respondents said that the Assembly had made no difference, compared with just 34 per cent of respondents in neighbouring Gwynedd.
 
The news of lack of interest in Denbighshire was met with dismay by Assembly politicians in the region.
 
North Wales AM, Llyr Gruffydd, said: “There’s a general problem with people feeling cynical about politics that isn’t confined to Denbighshire. 
 
“The main London parties are increasingly interchangeable in terms of their make-up and policies and people are rightly cynical about the broken political system in Westminster.
 
“Plaid Cymru’s challenge, as a party that offers an alternative to that broken politics, is to get that message over effectively to the voters of Denbighshire. That’s why we’ll be knocking doors in the area over the summer months asking voters what are the issues affecting them.”
 
Aled Roberts who represents North Wales for the Liberal Democrats felt that the problems lay with the Welsh government.
 
He said: “If the figures in Denbighshire remain low I am certain that one of the reasons will be a feeling that the Welsh Government concentrates too much on the needs of South Wales and Cardiff in particular. We need a Government in Cardiff Bay that looks after the whole of Wales – if more attention was paid to our need for better transport links, better internet access and better outcomes for whole towns such as Rhyl and not just selected areas, then more people would vote in an Assembly election”.
 
The AM, who represents Clwyd West in Cardiff, Darren Millar felt that thera had been signs that people were becoming more engaged with the Welsh assembly.
 
He said: “In my experience voters across the county are taking an increasing interest in the Assembly due to improving awareness of where the responsibilities for key public services such as health and education actually rest.
 
“Campaigns to protect the future of local schools and hospitals have made people in Denbighshire much more aware of the fact that Ministers in Cardiff, not London, are the individuals responsible for key decisions on these matters.”
 
The Free Press went on the streets of Ruthin to ask people if they voted in Welsh elections and what they thought of the Assembly.
 
Jessica Gould, 21, from Ruthin said: “No I haven’t because I lived in England at the time of the last election. 
 
“I will vote in the next one though because I want to take responsibility in choosing somebody who I think is the best for the job.”
 
Bethan Peters, 39, from Ruthin said: “Yes I vote in them but do we have the calibre of people to elect? 
 
“I do think that it is important particularly for women. I would even run myself if I had the time and I think they should also lower the voting age.”
 
Rachel Lewington, aged 41, Ruthin said: “Yes of course I vote because people have fought for the right to vote for centuries and I have been involved in politics so I think it is important.”
 
Kieran Smith, 16, from Ruthin, will be able to cast his vote for the first time in 2016.
 
He said: “No I won’t be voting in it. I’m not really sure what it is I’m not really into politics. I don’t think politics can make any difference to my life.” 
 
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