Welsh campaigners complain: “We have lost our voice”

People with severe mental illness and their carers from across Wales protested against obstruction of public access to Assembly Members and Ministers at the new Senedd building yesterday.

The campaigners, consisting of clients and carers from Welsh Mental Health Charity Hafal, are concerned that AMs can go to their offices and the debating chamber without coming into contact with the public.

Richard Timm, a client of Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “It’s unacceptable. AMs can now come and go without meeting the public. But we’re the ones they are supposed to serve. When I last came to the Assembly I talked to my local AM and I raised the issues that effect people like me in Wales. Now we have lost that opportunity. It’s as if the layout inside the Senedd has been designed to keep the public out.”

Bill Walden-Jones, Chief-Executive of Hafal, stated: “Members of Hafal felt it was important to tackle this issue early in the Senedd’s life before it becomes an accepted situation in Welsh politics. We are not complaining at the building which is a fine symbol of Wales’ new democracy, but unfortunately the current designation of space for public access does not offer accessibility, openness and fairness to the public and campaigning bodies. The Assembly needs to address this by providing better access to AMs at the Senedd as soon as possible. We would therefore appeal to the Presiding Officer to work with the House Committee to revamp the access arrangements”

For more information about Hafal, go to: www.hafal.org