Election 2015 Wales

Lowering voting age on agenda at youth debate

Members of six parties took part in the debate
Image caption Members of six parties took part in the debate

Lowering the voting age, encouraging Welsh students to stay in Wales and changing the culture of politics dominated a BBC election debate geared around young people.

The Wales Report's Young People's Debate was presented by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens and saw politicians from six parties face an audience of 16 to 25-year-olds in Llandudno, Conwy county.

Unlike the other TV debates, there were no big clashes between the politicians and there was complete consensus on some issues.

The panel consisted of Andrew Atkinson for the Conservatives, Labour's Calum Higgins, Liberal Democrat Cadan ap Tomos, Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth, Katy Beddoe for the Green Party and Nigel Williams for UKIP.

Five questions were asked during the debate with issues ranging from the economy to the environment and the image of politics.

Image caption The debate in Llandudno was chaired by BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens

One of the questions where the panel seemed to be in agreement was over the issue of lowering the voting age to 16.

Andrew Atkinson admitted there were more people in the Conservative party opposed to changing the current limit.

But he said he was "fairly relaxed" about the idea and said the most important thing was to get more young people interested in politics.

Liberal Democrat Cadan ap Tomos said the subject needed to be talked about more widely in schools, while Labour's Calum Higgins agreed the number of young people turning out to vote needed to increase.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, for Plaid, looked to Scotland and said it was unfair to let people aged under 18 have a say in the future of their country and then tell them they cannot vote in a general election.

The Green Party's Katy Beddoe said there needed to be a specific forum in Wales for young people to talk about politics and said it was a shame grants to organisations, such as Wales' youth assembly Funky Dragon, had been cut.

Nigel Williams said there was "no harm" in letting 16 and 17-year-olds vote but UKIP had no policy on the matter.

What did the audience members make of the debate?

Llinos Evans, 16, said it was great to see some of the politicians saying different things to their leaders during the debate and said her opinion had changed about certain parties.

Lowri Griffiths, 21, said she would have liked to have seen the panel talk more about young people in work instead of focusing so much on students.

Sean Synnuck, 18, said the panel were more connected to the issues that affected the audience than their party leaders and the majority made a favourable impression on him.

The Wales Report: Young People's Debate is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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