Fears over future of Newport's historic ship
9:25am Thursday 14th February 2013 in News
THE future of the Newport Ship is uncertain after a city council report suggested that it could be disposed of or handed to another organisation.
The proposals for the ship emerged in a report to the scrutiny committee for community, planning and development on possible future savings to be discussed at cabinet next Monday.
It outlines cuts in the budget of the ship of £290,000 between 2013/14 and 2015/16. It says conservation will be complete by October 2014, and in 2015/16 “the conserved timber will need to be disposed of or stored by another museum/ responsible body.
“There may be an opportunity for earlier savings if a lease arrangement can be arranged with a third-party organisation to take over and the project be relocated to a smaller space,” the report says, adding there are discussions with the Welsh Government or national organisations about the project.
Ship enthusiasts yesterday called on the authority to clarify what its statement means.
Tory councillor Charles Ferris, who is a patron of the Friends of the Newport Ship, said: “Are they talking about disposal of the project or the entire disposal of it? That puts us back to the good old days when they wanted to concrete over it.”
Cabinet member for leisure Debbie Wilcox told the Argus meetings are planned with national organisations to discuss the much-loved find.
She said one planned meeting had to be cancelled because of the snow.
“We haven’t given that a lot of time and thought because we’ve got other pressing issues,” she said.
“It’s a national project with national significance. We will try to come out with the best possible outcome for this.”
A Newport council spokeswoman said: “All options for the future storage and display of the Newport Ship are being considered.”
Upheaval for Newport Centre
NEWPORT central library and city museum could be moved into Newport Centre.
The scrutiny report also proposed the “relocation and transformation of central library and central museum”
into a “reconfigured sports hall” and central rooms that are under-utilised.
The proposal could make £700,000 of savings in 2014/15. Asked by the Argus whether the plan would affect events at the centre, a spokeswoman said the authority is exploring all opportunities to make best use of its buildings in the context of having to make significant savings.
Opposition councillor David Fouweather said: “There’s no way they cannot have worked out the consequences.
To tell me they haven’t worked anything out is beyond belief.”
ARGUS COMMENT: Ship must stay here
NEWPORT’S beloved medieval ship has spent the past decade being painstakingly conserved by a team of dedicated workers.
Now though it appears questions are being raised over what will happen to this fantastic archaeological find.
A city council report suggests the restored timbers could be “disposed of or handed to another museum or responsible body in 2015/16.”
Such a bald statement is bound to lead to many questions.
It may well be that it means there will be a Welsh Government-backed new home for the ship, or some national organisation or other taking over responsibility.
All well and good.
But the trouble is that although this little bit of information is now in the public domain, nobody is prepared to expand on it.
The result is real concern among the many supporters of the ship about its future.
It must be remembered that the discovery of the ship in the banks of the River Usk created a huge buzz around Newport and attracted interest from across the world. It was right that it was saved.
Such opportunities for cities to boast something unique do not come along very often.
What is needed now is a clear plan for its future so we can all be assured that the ship will be on display for future generations and that this treasure will stay in Newport.