Newport Festival Clock to return
THE much-loved Newport Festival Clock could be set to emerge from years in storage to be erected at the gateway of a city housing scheme.
Cabinet member for infrastructure Cllr Ken Critchley is considering whether to go ahead with a proposal, reported in the Argus last year, to place the time-piece at the gateway roundabout of Llanwern's Glan Llyn development.
Although the clock will tell the time, it will not open up on the hour in the way that had attracted throngs of crowds to its previous home of Newport city centre.
It is hoped the move will save £8,000 a year that is currently spent storing the item, and will provide an iconic landmark to raise the profile of the city's newest community.
Glan Llyn developers St Modwen and Persimmon have agreed to underwrite the costs of transporting and erecting the clock to a maximum of £10,000, and will manage any planning work needed.
St Modwen has expressed an interest in offering the clock a permanent home at a meeting last July, a council report said.
Labour councillor Allan Morris of Lliswerry who was based with the fire service next to the clock at the festival, said he was relieved to see that the clock had a future.
He said: "It did a superb job as a show piece for Newport at the Garden festival. It's a terrible shame but understable why it can’t be restored to its full condition."
Llanwern Tory Cllr Martyn Kellaway, whose ward covers Glan Llyn, said: "At the end of the day it’s something that's part of the future of the city, why not put it there?"
However he added he would have preferred it to be in the city centre.
Repairing clock was costly
KNOWN as "In the Nick of Time," the animated time piece was commissioned to represent Newport at the Garden Festival Wales in Ebbw Vale in 1992.
Costing £100,000, the artwork would "collapse" every hour revealing a band of angel mechanics inside sleeping. A cuckoo would emerge to chirp and wake the mechanics who would work to put the clock back together.
After the event the clock was relocated to John Frost Square, but the structure became prone to electronic and mechanical failure.
Repairing the structure became a challenge due to the way it was made. During 2008 and in preparation for initial Friars Walk scheme the clock was put in storage to the cost of £8,000 a year.
In 2011 several proposals were made for its future, including putting it up for private sale, scrapping it, keeping it in storage, restoring it and relocating it.
The cost of refurbishment was back then expected to cost £59,000 with annual maintenance costs of £21,000.
The Tory and Lib Dem cabinet decided against scrapping the clock in 2012 following public feedback, including a Facebook campaign.
Later that year under the new Labour administration proposals emerged for the clock to be erected on a roundabout on the Queensway road, near the new Glan Llyn development.
At the time Cllr Critchley said many of the parts have eroded and there was a high maintenance cost.
A decision is expected in the coming weeks.