Hundreds at Newport Chartist mural 'memorial' protest
Hundreds of people turned out today for a ‘memorial’ protest against Newport Council’s demolition of the Chartist mural on Thursday.
Demonstrators called for any remaining pieces of the mural to be given to campaigners, with 'Save Our Mural' leader Peter Rowcliffe saying professional artists were willing to create a new piece of art with them.
Some campaigners wore black as if they were attending a funeral and a minute of silence was observed after the speeches were over.
Throughout the afternoon protesters laid flowers on the fence erected around where the mural used to be, while some hung up their socks after Peter Rowcliffe said he wanted to “sock” it to Newport Council and show them what he thought of their policies.
During the speech there were calls for Bob Bright, leader of the council, to resign and for the council to make public who made the decision to demolish the mural.
People gathered in the square from around 11.30am before Peter Rowcliffe began speaking at noon. He was followed by Pippa Bartolotti, leader of the Wales Green Party, and then live music.
Mr Rowcliffe urged the crowd: “Tell councillors, “I will not elect you again if you continue to fail me.
“It’s not over. There are things we can do. About the mural – we’ve got pieces and we have asked the council to let us have the rubble so people who are skilled and qualified in renovation can actually put something together as a memorial.”
Pippa Bartolotti described the demolition as putting “shopping before the people.”
Charles Ferris, councillor for Allt-Yr-Yn, said: “I believe we councillors have been misled. For years we were told the mural was stuck to the structural wall of the car park. A strong amount of it could have been saved I’m sure, and not for the price of £600,000. I think that’s a ridiculous figure.”
A march was due to take place on Stow Hill this afternoon before a petition against the mural demolition with more than 4,000 signatures was delivered.
It was due to be delivered before the demolition of the 35-metre mural as part of the £100 million Friar’s Walk shopping development but the demolition took place two days before the planned protest.
The mural was created from tile and glass in 1978 by Kenneth Budd. His daughter Charlotte Bloxham said: “I remember the Chartist from the very first pencil line to the last piece of mosaic. It was one of my favourite murals. There is very little of my father’s work left now, all gone because of renovations. He was a very gifted person and it is sad that his work could not be preserved for people to enjoy.”
Newport council said the mural had to be removed as part of “essential pre-demolition work that had to be carried out before the major contract begins at the end of October.”
The spokeswoman said the mural was integrally linked to the car park wall and would have been a danger to the public if left in place.
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