Pressure group demands Newport Chartist Mural report
A PRESSURE group has demanded to see a report that found it would cost at least £600,000 to move the Chartist Mural.
On Tuesday Newport council said it couldn’t preserve the artwork, saying re-locating or leaving it place would jeopardize Friars Walk.
But the 20th Century Society wants to see work by consultants Mann Williams for the council, to see why they thought it would cost £600,000 to move it.
The society also wants to know if an assessment was made of retaining the wall with the mural, and why it wasn't integrated into the original development.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Cadw would not list the mural, despite the society's request to do so.
Catherine Croft, director of the society, said: "It is extremely disappointing that this superb mural will be thrown in the bin to make way for the new shopping centre.
"It’s a great shame that it wasn't integrated into the initial redevelopment scheme.”
The society said it was surprised Cadw had emphasised the building to which the mural is fixed and its context in its decision – saying murals were listed independently elsewhere.
A letter from Cadw to the society about the issue says removing the mural from brick work could place “considerable tension on individual mosaic pieces”.
It said that the council thought it almost impossible to find an alternative location that could take the weight of the panels.
But the Save Our Chartist Mural campaign told followers on to Facebook that this “flies in the face” of a reassurance from senior council officer Sheila Davies that there were two sites that could accommodate the mural if the relocation was deemed feasible.
However, it is understood that Ms Davies had identified locations where the mural could be place if could be successfully divided – but the consultants work did not support that idea because of the risk of damaging the mural.
A Newport council spokeswoman said officers have been advised that the old capital car park is structurally unsafe and should be demolished as soon as possible, and that demolition cannot take place without putting the integrity of the Chartist Mural at risk.
Specialist studies on the mural “could not guarantee that the mural could be removed safely and in a condition to reassemble elsewhere in the city,” she said.
She said the council would begin a consultation exercise shortly on an alternative celebration of Chartism, which the council would like in a more accessible location: “This may take the form of a new mural or a different form of celebration.
“The council recognises and appreciates the strong feelings relating to the mural but our responsibilities regarding the safety of the public and our desire to celebrate the history of the city must be balanced,” she added.
AM's call to save artwork
A NATIONAL Assembly member has called for the mural to be saved in a letter to Newport council chief executive Will Godfrey.
Bethan Jenkins, Plaid’s Assembly shadow minister for heritage, wrote that the council should “listen to local people and campaigners who are against the demolition of the Chartist Mural in Newport.”
“Surely there can be a way to save this important mural and push ahead with the new retail plans?”
She added: “The Chartists play a vital and important role in our heritage as Welsh people, and I believe that by demolishing this mural, it will send a very negative message about their legacy and importance to Newport and to Wales.”
Meanwhile BBC News and Story of Wales presenter Huw Edwards said on Twitter that the Chartist mural “marks an event of truly national importance.”
However he said it wasn’t his place to say whether it should be preserved.
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