Newport Chartist mural demo plans grow as minister stays out
7:20am Thursday 3rd October 2013 in News
AS MOMENTUM builds for Saturday’s demonstration to save the Chartist Mural, the Welsh heritage minister has decided to stay out of the discussion.
The Welsh heritage minister and Newport AM has told the Welsh Assembly the Chartist Mural is a matter for Newport council. John Griffiths was quizzed by Plaid heritage spokeswoman Bethan Jenkins in the Senedd on Tuesday.
She asked if he would "help in taking part in a discussion with this campaign group to try and see if there is a viable alternative to placement of this mural or something new that can be created instead of this mural so we can all celebrate what Chartism means for us here in Wales.”
Mr Griffiths said: “The Chartist Mural in Newport is basically a matter for the local authority. They are taking forward a city centre redevelopment. There are factors involved there that impact on whether that mural can stay in place or indeed be relocated elsewhere.
The campaign and their ‘Insurrection day’ on Saturday, have received increased attention over the past week from national media.
Peter Rawcliffe of the Save the Chartist Mural campaign, said: “We want to work with the local authority to make sure funding is provided to keep the mural.
“The council could have made it a stipulation in the contract that Queensberry Development remove and replace the mural.
“We are going to be having a few small speeches. People will be encouraged to take part in non-aggressive positive action.”
There will be bands joining the demonstrators, who after protesting in John Frost square, will march to the Civic Centre where they will hand in their petition to the council, which has almost 4,000 signatures.
Mr Rawcliffe expects at least 100 people to attend as over 300 have said they are going on the group’s Facebook page.
The Newport food festival will also be held in the town centre on Saturday.
Mr Rawcliffe said: “We support the food festival and we want positive change in Newport. It’s not going to cause a problem for the food festival.”
The Cadw heritage agency has declined to list the mural, while the council has declined to move it, saying it could cost £600,000 and could be damaged in the process.
In an earlier statement, Newport council said: “We regard Chartism as an extremely important part of history. While it will not be possible to preserve the mural in its current state, we have made a commitment to commission a Chartist memorial in the city.”
The mural is due to be demolished as part of the Friars Walk regeneration scheme, which will bring a new shopping centre to the city.
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