Why we had to destroy Chartist mural - Newport council
9:15am Wednesday 16th October 2013 in News
NEWPORT council defended its decision to destroy the city’s Chartist Mural by releasing a detailed breakdown of the enormous cost to remove it.
After almost two weeks of stonewalling inquiries about the controversial demolition, the council gave the Argus the full engineers’ report (see below) detailing the minimum £625,000 expenditure needed to move the mural.
Strategic director Sheila Davies said this amount could have spiralled to more than £1 million and endangered the Friars Walk development’s timetable agreed with its flagship store Debenhams
And there was also no guarantee the mural could be saved when removed.
Ms Davies said the agreement in place with Debenhams is for the store to be trading by either by Christmas 2015 or Spring 2016. Had the council been forced to remove and save the mural, she said, the extra time this would have taken, combined with the two years of demolition and build work for Friars Walk, could have put this back, meaning Debenhams could walk away.
With Topshop and Next coming on board on the back of Debenhams, Ms Davies said: “If Debenhams walk away, it’s finished.”
Ms Davies refused to reveal who made the decision when the demolition would take place and who was aware of when it would happen, saying she was “not prepared to have any staff vilified” for following political decisions and that workmen at the site were being threatened which was “beyond the pale”.
When asked why the public was not informed before the demolition took place, Ms Davies said: “The focus of our attention is making sure any physical or operational obstacles are well and truly cleared so Friars Walk could go ahead.”
The council commissioned Mann Williams consulting civil and structural engineers to compile the report which gave the cost as £625,981 plus VAT – which would be met by the council as there was no agreement in place with developers to deal with the mural.
Ms Davies said she and council chief executive Will Godfrey met campaigners and gave them the chance to come back with a costings plan but had no response.
READ THE FULL ENGINEER'S REPORT ON MOVING THE NEWPORT CHARTIST MURAL:
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