Over the last couple of months, the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee at the National Assembly for Wales has asked the people of Wales to decide what issues they should be investigating.
Although Assembly committees regularly involve the public in its work, and have done so using a variety of techniques (including events, focus groups, web-chats, surveys, video interviews, workshops, and crowdsourcing apps), this is the first time an Assembly committee has asked the people of Wales to decide a future committee inquiry.
How they sourced ideas
The chair of the Committee, Bethan Jenkins AM sat down with James Williams from BBC Wales to talk about the newly formed committee on Facebook live, the first time the National Assembly had ever done so. Bethan encouraged people to get in touch, and make suggestions for priority areas.
The Committee invited people to suggest ideas on Facebook, Twitter and by e-mail, and also held an event at the National Eisteddfod to continue the conversation.
What people said
A number of suggestions were received from a mix of organisations, groups and individuals, which were then grouped and presented to the Committee. The members then cross referenced this public list with the priority areas they had identified in a planning session they had held.
There was a lot of common ground between the Committee members’ priority areas and the public list, including:
- how the ambition of achieving a million Welsh speakers can be achieved
- concern at the continuing decline of local media and local news journalism
- lack of portrayal of Wales on UK broadcast networks
- the role of Radio in Wales
- the remit, funding and accountability of S4C
The Committee decided it would conduct an inquiry into the Welsh language, and committed to looking into the issues listed above in the future.
The remaining suggestions from the public list which are not listed above, were then put to a poll for the public to vote upon. The Committee agreed that it would conduct an inquiry into the one that received the most amount of support as soon as it could.
Who responded to the poll
The poll was promoted in a number of different ways. Young people in youth groups and schools, and adults through community groups, businesses and organisations took part in Outreach workshops and presentations with Assembly staff on this activity, where they completed the poll. Visitors to the Senedd in Cardiff Bay were also informed and encouraged to take part.
In addition to this work done offline, the poll was promoted online across the National Assembly’s social media channels, by members of the Committee from their personal social media accounts, and through a variety of organisations, groups and networks who helped us spread the word to their followers by sharing information on their websites, newsletters, and social media channels.
In total 2,660 people responded to the poll, 903 of those responses came through the offline activity referenced above, and the remaining 1,757 responses were received online.
Responses were received from citizens all across Wales’ 22 local authority areas. One of the concerns at the beginning of the process was the potential of receiving a low number of responses from more rural and semi-rural areas which are traditionally more likely to be digitally excluded.
Though we did see some variance across different parts of Wales, these concerns didn’t seem to manifest, as the percentage of respondents from places like Gwynedd, Powys and Anglesey (18.67% combined), was higher than the percentage of the Welsh population residing in those areas (10.58%). The highest number of responses came from Cardiff, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, accounting for 37.56% of the overall responses to the poll.
The poll received more responses from people up to the age of 18 (39.47% of the overall number of responses) than the average of the Welsh population (21.95%)
Less responses to the poll from 19-25 year olds compared to the Welsh average (5.87% compared to 9.6%)
Less responses to the poll from those aged 60 and above (10.94% of survey respondents compared to the Welsh average of 25.05%)
26 – 59 year olds made up 43.72 of the overall number of respondents to the poll compared to Welsh average of 43.33%
An almost identical number of responses from those who consider themselves to be affiliated with a religion other than Christianity (2.52% of respondents to the poll compared to 2.7% of the overall Welsh population).
11% of those that responded to the poll claimed to be associated or a member or an organisation, group, charity or school.
How people voted
11 options were available to pick from, all of which came from the original set of suggestions at the start of the process. The most popular suggestion was ‘Funding for and access to music education’, which received 19.63% of the vote, with ‘Bilingual support for deaf, hard of hearing and people with communication difficulties’ second (12.41%), and ‘Strengthening Citizen participation and access to political information’ in third (11.40%).
The Committee has agreed to launch an inquiry into ‘Funding for and access to music education’ and will also be considering the other options that were suggested and voted upon in this poll when deciding which issues it should investigate over the coming months and years.