NEWPORT - it's like being in a family.

Those of us who live and work here can criticise it, we can point out its failings. But if you are a London-based paper with a history of sneering at things and think you can have the temerity to sneer at one of our crown jewels, you can think again.

Daily Mail writer Christopher Wilson last week dubbed Tredegar House "a ghostly, depressingly ugly pile near Newport in south Wales" in a piece about a biography of the life of Viscount Tredegar.

Well, ghostly is about the only accurate word in that sentence.

Tredegar House is, of course, IN Newport. It is also far from 'depressingly ugly' or a 'pile'.

But then, what evidence do we have that Mr Wilson - who is not the author of the biography, that is William Cross - ever set foot in Tredegar House?

How much easier it always is to write glib, catty little put-downs about a place when you haven't actually got to visit it, talk to local people or stand up and be counted in your opinion.

Actually, I'm heartily sick of peple who know little or nothing about this city rubbishing it.

We all know the city centre is in crisis and that there is a lot of hard work to be done, and residents are, understandably, a little cynical about the way forward after past disappointments.

But this is a city with a great history, a great spirit and great people.

So while Mr Wilson might sneer at our "pile", we think it beautiful, impressive and worth conserving as a key part of our heritage.

If you don't like that heritage, move on and find something you do like. I am sure we'll all struggle along without you.



MORE tough news on the economic front today with a new survey of household spending power for May.

The average UK household had £157 per week of discretionary income - funds left after essentials like taxes, food, bills, transport, clothing and housing costs - in May, down £1 or 0.5% on a year earlier, supermarket Asda's Income Tracker showed.

That remains below the £165 peak seen in early 2010, as higher gas, electricity and water bills heap further pressure on cash-strapped consumers.

And disposable income fell despite an increase in the personal tax allowance - the part of earnings on which no tax is paid - to £9,440 in the current tax year from £8,105 a year earlier.

Asda chief executive Andy Clarke said: "The reality of three years of near continuous decline in disposable income means families don't feel any better off."

And consumer confidence is king when it comes to dragging ourselves out of the financial mire.


SO many column inches this week about the Nigella Lawson/Charles Saatchi fall-out. Would we intervene? Should she divorce him?

How can an affluent, educated woman put up with that? That question interests me - do those who ask it believe violent men only inhabit the homes of the so-called lower classes?

The thing I keep thinking is that across the country, there are women who are being grabbed round the throat, punched in the face, kicked in the ribs and worse and we know nothing about it.

Because they are not celebrities followed around by paparazzi photographers. Because what is happening to them is often happening behind closed doors, after abusive partners have managed to sever their relationships with families and friends.

So while, like everyone else, I might have an opinion about Nigella's situation (no man who grabs you round the throat in public or private deserves house room or a moment's more thought), let's all be less obsessive about Nigella and more alert to the signals around us that people we know might be going through a similar kind of ordeal.

We need to let them know they are not alone. That they can talk about it. And when they are ready to do something about it, they have support.