EDITOR'S CHAIR: Demolition latest in long line of missed opportunities for Newport

South Wales Argus: MISSED OPPORTUNITY: The demolition of the Capitol car park in Newport MISSED OPPORTUNITY: The demolition of the Capitol car park in Newport

NEWPORT had a chance to give the world a positive message on Sunday.

It had an open goal to aim at but fluffed its chance spectacularly.

The demolition of the Capitol car park via controlled explosion generated enormous interest in the city and beyond.

Our website had its second highest audience of all time during the day, and our videos of the demolition have been viewed almost 70,000 times.

We were inundated over the weekend by readers wanting to know exactly what time the 'Big Bang' was going to happen.

We've had emails and website comments from as far away as New Zealand.

Yet what could and should have been an event for the city was a damp squib.

Why? Because the city missed yet another fantastic PR opportunity.

The fact the car park was to be blown up was initially kept under wraps because of safety fears if huge crowds turned up to watch. I'll admit the Argus was complicit in keeping the secret initially until it became obvious to me that too many people knew what was about to happen for us not to report it.

Not reporting what we knew was a mistake. I made a decision that was driven by journalistic desire for an exclusive rather than what was right for our readers. I got it wrong.

Newport council got it wrong as well.

Sunday should have been the day Newport announced in spectacular style that its city centre regeneration was well and truly under way.

True, a crowd turned out but many people missed out because they either did not know it was happening or because of the lack of precise information about the time of the demolition.

Imagine what the day could have been like.

There could have been a competition among the city's schools to find a youngster to press the button to bring down the car park.

There could have been various viewing sites for the public. Tickets could have been sold with all proceeds going to charity.

There could have been full details released in advance of the precise time of the demolition, and a proper countdown before the explosives were set off.

Retailers could have been encouraged to open, and car parking made free for the day to take advantage of the footfall.

I'll admit all of the above would have had a cost attached to it and, as we all know, money is tight in the public sector. But the long-term advantages of making last Sunday a real event to remember would far outweigh any one-off outlay.

Newport has suffered one worldwide PR disaster in the last 12 months with the manner in which the Chartist mural was destroyed.

Sunday wasn't quite on that scale but it was a missed opportunity to send out a really positive message about the city.

It is a view shared by many, including people who are experts in the field. A quick glance at Twitter and other social media on Sunday showed that.

People were sharing ideas for T-shirt designs heralding the demolition as a new start for Newport.

Others are now talking about setting up a new group to promote and highlight all that is positive about the city, with a first meeting planned for this evening.

These are all good things, as is the generally positive public reaction to the Re:Newport proposals.

Harnessing that positivity and encouraging it to grow is vital.

Newport needs more forward-thinking and less conservatism. There can be no more missed opportunities.

Comments (26)

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10:18am Thu 16 Jan 14

Vox Dei says...

Please can this be the last Newport-negative Chartist-mural-relat
ed article?
Please can this be the last Newport-negative Chartist-mural-relat ed article? Vox Dei
  • Score: -7

10:20am Thu 16 Jan 14

_Bryan_ says...

It may be that the negative fallout from the removal of the mural guided Newport council's thinking processes.

Perhaps they were worried that if they announced the demolition in advance, a group of heritage enthusiasts would descend on the car park and demand that it be saved as an example of our architectural roots or some such.
It may be that the negative fallout from the removal of the mural guided Newport council's thinking processes. Perhaps they were worried that if they announced the demolition in advance, a group of heritage enthusiasts would descend on the car park and demand that it be saved as an example of our architectural roots or some such. _Bryan_
  • Score: 27

10:24am Thu 16 Jan 14

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

Vox Dei

I might argue it's a piece about the importance of positivity that happens to contain a fleeting reference in one paragraph to the mural.
Vox Dei I might argue it's a piece about the importance of positivity that happens to contain a fleeting reference in one paragraph to the mural. Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: 18

10:32am Thu 16 Jan 14

Vox Dei says...

Kevin Ward - Editor wrote:
Vox Dei

I might argue it's a piece about the importance of positivity that happens to contain a fleeting reference in one paragraph to the mural.
I agree that you are generally very pro-Newport but maybe the article headline was a bit hyperbolic?
[quote][p][bold]Kevin Ward - Editor[/bold] wrote: Vox Dei I might argue it's a piece about the importance of positivity that happens to contain a fleeting reference in one paragraph to the mural.[/p][/quote]I agree that you are generally very pro-Newport but maybe the article headline was a bit hyperbolic? Vox Dei
  • Score: -4

10:33am Thu 16 Jan 14

Vox Dei says...

_Bryan_ wrote:
It may be that the negative fallout from the removal of the mural guided Newport council's thinking processes.

Perhaps they were worried that if they announced the demolition in advance, a group of heritage enthusiasts would descend on the car park and demand that it be saved as an example of our architectural roots or some such.
You may jest, but the 20th-Century Society wanted to get the brutalist Bettws High School listed, which would have meant no new 21st-century replacement!
[quote][p][bold]_Bryan_[/bold] wrote: It may be that the negative fallout from the removal of the mural guided Newport council's thinking processes. Perhaps they were worried that if they announced the demolition in advance, a group of heritage enthusiasts would descend on the car park and demand that it be saved as an example of our architectural roots or some such.[/p][/quote]You may jest, but the 20th-Century Society wanted to get the brutalist Bettws High School listed, which would have meant no new 21st-century replacement! Vox Dei
  • Score: -5

11:37am Thu 16 Jan 14

ljbrown says...

Chances are that this will become the norm with the events budget proposed to be cut to nearly nothing - including no more Big Splash festival and severely limited opportunities for The Riverfront up ahead . A CITY without culture and events - we haven't got a hope in hell of 'regenerating'. Unfortunately all of the Council's regeneration eggs are in one basket - Friars Walk and they are not seeing the bigger picture.

It makes me sad.
Chances are that this will become the norm with the events budget proposed to be cut to nearly nothing - including no more Big Splash festival and severely limited opportunities for The Riverfront up ahead . A CITY without culture and events - we haven't got a hope in hell of 'regenerating'. Unfortunately all of the Council's regeneration eggs are in one basket - Friars Walk and they are not seeing the bigger picture. It makes me sad. ljbrown
  • Score: 7

11:43am Thu 16 Jan 14

DavidMclean says...

A great bit of editorial and one that begs the question; exactly what are they thinking up at the Civic Centre?

I'm not a fan of the Friars Walk development (as I may have mentioned previously) and certainly not of the £90 million loan nonsense, but the council most certainly are. Why do they not want to shout about it? They should be drowning out the cynics like me.

I can think of only two explanations:

1. The PR department isn't doing its job and thinking through the opportunities, or if they are, their suggestions are being rejected.

2. The council is persisting in an ugly arrogance that the people of Newport really aren't worth the effort.

I can certainly not see any positive reason why the things suggested in Kevin Ward's editorial weren't considered or delivered.

One waits in depressed anticipation of the next PR own goal from NCC...
A great bit of editorial and one that begs the question; exactly what are they thinking up at the Civic Centre? I'm not a fan of the Friars Walk development (as I may have mentioned previously) and certainly not of the £90 million loan nonsense, but the council most certainly are. Why do they not want to shout about it? They should be drowning out the cynics like me. I can think of only two explanations: 1. The PR department isn't doing its job and thinking through the opportunities, or if they are, their suggestions are being rejected. 2. The council is persisting in an ugly arrogance that the people of Newport really aren't worth the effort. I can certainly not see any positive reason why the things suggested in Kevin Ward's editorial weren't considered or delivered. One waits in depressed anticipation of the next PR own goal from NCC... DavidMclean
  • Score: 6

11:47am Thu 16 Jan 14

p stani says...

SWA ,Newport had the chance to give the world a positive message.
A message of what,they have just taken down an old car park not really something the world would be interested in really is it, come on get a grip.
SWA ,Newport had the chance to give the world a positive message. A message of what,they have just taken down an old car park not really something the world would be interested in really is it, come on get a grip. p stani
  • Score: 10

11:50am Thu 16 Jan 14

DavidMclean says...

Meanwhile, at a neighbouring council that has a much better and well developed attitude to communication...

http://youtu.be/G6Ue
rjFCLdI
Meanwhile, at a neighbouring council that has a much better and well developed attitude to communication... http://youtu.be/G6Ue rjFCLdI DavidMclean
  • Score: -10

11:53am Thu 16 Jan 14

DavidMclean says...

p stani wrote:
SWA ,Newport had the chance to give the world a positive message.
A message of what,they have just taken down an old car park not really something the world would be interested in really is it, come on get a grip.
You seem to have missed the part that the demolition was the paper's second highest audience of all time. So people most definitely WERE interested.

And as Kevin Ward says, it's not simply about an old car park coming down, it SHOULD have been sold as 'The explosive start to a bright new future for Newport'.

It's got 'obvious PR opportunity' written all over it.
[quote][p][bold]p stani[/bold] wrote: SWA ,Newport had the chance to give the world a positive message. A message of what,they have just taken down an old car park not really something the world would be interested in really is it, come on get a grip.[/p][/quote]You seem to have missed the part that the demolition was the paper's second highest audience of all time. So people most definitely WERE interested. And as Kevin Ward says, it's not simply about an old car park coming down, it SHOULD have been sold as 'The explosive start to a bright new future for Newport'. It's got 'obvious PR opportunity' written all over it. DavidMclean
  • Score: 13

11:53am Thu 16 Jan 14

ohc says...

Editor

Do you really think that anyone outside Newport gives a you know what about the Chartist matter?

The damage for Newport was done with the documentary on bouncers

Concentrate on removing that image
Editor Do you really think that anyone outside Newport gives a you know what about the Chartist matter? The damage for Newport was done with the documentary on bouncers Concentrate on removing that image ohc
  • Score: 10

11:56am Thu 16 Jan 14

DavidMclean says...

ohc wrote:
Editor

Do you really think that anyone outside Newport gives a you know what about the Chartist matter?

The damage for Newport was done with the documentary on bouncers

Concentrate on removing that image
Who says anything about people outside Newport? This is about people INSIDE Newport.

Agree on the Bouncers documentary though. And it's certainly an image of Newport that nobody seems to be bothering to tackle.
[quote][p][bold]ohc[/bold] wrote: Editor Do you really think that anyone outside Newport gives a you know what about the Chartist matter? The damage for Newport was done with the documentary on bouncers Concentrate on removing that image[/p][/quote]Who says anything about people outside Newport? This is about people INSIDE Newport. Agree on the Bouncers documentary though. And it's certainly an image of Newport that nobody seems to be bothering to tackle. DavidMclean
  • Score: 11

12:00pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Thomas O'Malley says...

I attended on the day and at the time I did think more of a show could have been made of it. However, there was good coverage by the Argus and national news and plenty of people got to know about it, worked out the demolition time and made the effort to go along early on a cold Sunday morning. A bigger event would have given a platform to the moaners about the cost of organising it. The important thing was to get the job done so on balance I think the approach was right.
I attended on the day and at the time I did think more of a show could have been made of it. However, there was good coverage by the Argus and national news and plenty of people got to know about it, worked out the demolition time and made the effort to go along early on a cold Sunday morning. A bigger event would have given a platform to the moaners about the cost of organising it. The important thing was to get the job done so on balance I think the approach was right. Thomas O'Malley
  • Score: 8

12:21pm Thu 16 Jan 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

I was one of the lucky ones who got there to see it - arrived about a minute before they sounded the siren. A feat made possible by the release in the Argus, so I'm not complaining.

I do feel though that this was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something different and spectacular, and no effort was made by the council to promote the event to the widest possible audience and with enough notice. It's a shame that a lot of people missed it. My daughter thought it was awesome.

I also feel that in days gone by, the minimum any town or city would have done would be to roll the Mayor out in order to at least make some pretext of engaging with the public, instead of being so aloof all the time.
I was one of the lucky ones who got there to see it - arrived about a minute before they sounded the siren. A feat made possible by the release in the Argus, so I'm not complaining. I do feel though that this was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something different and spectacular, and no effort was made by the council to promote the event to the widest possible audience and with enough notice. It's a shame that a lot of people missed it. My daughter thought it was awesome. I also feel that in days gone by, the minimum any town or city would have done would be to roll the Mayor out in order to at least make some pretext of engaging with the public, instead of being so aloof all the time. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 8

12:32pm Thu 16 Jan 14

portman says...

I have to agree with Kevin on this one!the bang was awesome on its own.
I have to agree with Kevin on this one!the bang was awesome on its own. portman
  • Score: -1

2:17pm Thu 16 Jan 14

NakedDancer says...

DavidMclean wrote:
ohc wrote: Editor Do you really think that anyone outside Newport gives a you know what about the Chartist matter? The damage for Newport was done with the documentary on bouncers Concentrate on removing that image
Who says anything about people outside Newport? This is about people INSIDE Newport. Agree on the Bouncers documentary though. And it's certainly an image of Newport that nobody seems to be bothering to tackle.
Not that bothered about the Bouncers documentary. Aside from attracting a small audience, the people I spoke to inside and outside Newport realise its car crash TV quickly forgotten that could have been shot in any town centre late on a Saturday night with the worst bits selected for viewing. The only surprise was the totally unprofessional security company.

I do agree though some zero tolerance policing is required in the centre. I saw a guy openly p****** at the Wave 11am Monday morning. I've also been approached by chav beggars in the evening, sometimes in groups, which is unsettling at best.
[quote][p][bold]DavidMclean[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]ohc[/bold] wrote: Editor Do you really think that anyone outside Newport gives a you know what about the Chartist matter? The damage for Newport was done with the documentary on bouncers Concentrate on removing that image[/p][/quote]Who says anything about people outside Newport? This is about people INSIDE Newport. Agree on the Bouncers documentary though. And it's certainly an image of Newport that nobody seems to be bothering to tackle.[/p][/quote]Not that bothered about the Bouncers documentary. Aside from attracting a small audience, the people I spoke to inside and outside Newport realise its car crash TV quickly forgotten that could have been shot in any town centre late on a Saturday night with the worst bits selected for viewing. The only surprise was the totally unprofessional security company. I do agree though some zero tolerance policing is required in the centre. I saw a guy openly p****** at the Wave 11am Monday morning. I've also been approached by chav beggars in the evening, sometimes in groups, which is unsettling at best. NakedDancer
  • Score: 8

2:26pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Ian MacKinlay says...

Fourth paragraph from the end:

"Others are now talking about setting up a new group to promote and highlight all that is positive about the city, with a first meeting planned for this evening. "

I think it would be a good idea if the Argus told us where this event is being held, and at what time , tonight.

Hmm . .
Fourth paragraph from the end: "Others are now talking about setting up a new group to promote and highlight all that is positive about the city, with a first meeting planned for this evening. " I think it would be a good idea if the Argus told us where this event is being held, and at what time , tonight. Hmm . . Ian MacKinlay
  • Score: 8

3:05pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

Ian

It's the first meeting of a group calling itself Newport Rises and takes place at the Ivy Bush pub from 7.30pm.
Ian It's the first meeting of a group calling itself Newport Rises and takes place at the Ivy Bush pub from 7.30pm. Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: 3

3:30pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Kievskya says...

Good editorial!! What do you expect when you look at those people who are Councillors. Many cannot read or write beyond their own names, they are useless and self absorbed no bodies with no vision, no education and no sense. If they had more than one brain cell between them they would have seen the awesome potential in this and many other events. Huge salaries and expenses NO BRAINS
Good editorial!! What do you expect when you look at those people who are Councillors. Many cannot read or write beyond their own names, they are useless and self absorbed no bodies with no vision, no education and no sense. If they had more than one brain cell between them they would have seen the awesome potential in this and many other events. Huge salaries and expenses NO BRAINS Kievskya
  • Score: -5

5:16pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Bobevans says...

Gosh. Even the Argus has stopped supporting Newport Council
Gosh. Even the Argus has stopped supporting Newport Council Bobevans
  • Score: -6

6:41pm Thu 16 Jan 14

paddyparry says...

I was just sorry that only the car park was demolished and not several other parts of Newport. Knock it all down and start again.
I was just sorry that only the car park was demolished and not several other parts of Newport. Knock it all down and start again. paddyparry
  • Score: -9

7:05pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Ian MacKinlay says...

Bobevans wrote:
Gosh. Even the Argus has stopped supporting Newport Council
Yes, I noticed that too.
[quote][p][bold]Bobevans[/bold] wrote: Gosh. Even the Argus has stopped supporting Newport Council[/p][/quote]Yes, I noticed that too. Ian MacKinlay
  • Score: -2

7:20pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Vox Dei says...

paddyparry wrote:
I was just sorry that only the car park was demolished and not several other parts of Newport. Knock it all down and start again.
That joke wore thin years ago...
[quote][p][bold]paddyparry[/bold] wrote: I was just sorry that only the car park was demolished and not several other parts of Newport. Knock it all down and start again.[/p][/quote]That joke wore thin years ago... Vox Dei
  • Score: 6

7:58pm Thu 16 Jan 14

cath 872 says...

Missed opportunities indeed! I was one of the many who braved the freezing temperatures to witness the demolition on Sunday. I remember saying to my son that somebody could have made a killing that morning by selling hot beverages and bacon rolls....I wish it had been me!
Missed opportunities indeed! I was one of the many who braved the freezing temperatures to witness the demolition on Sunday. I remember saying to my son that somebody could have made a killing that morning by selling hot beverages and bacon rolls....I wish it had been me! cath 872
  • Score: 2

12:59am Fri 17 Jan 14

cymruamblyth says...

Vox Dei wrote:
paddyparry wrote:
I was just sorry that only the car park was demolished and not several other parts of Newport. Knock it all down and start again.
That joke wore thin years ago...
Yawn - not sure who's the biggest Hypocrite you with your anti Chartist-mural rants or the pedantic losers who would spend 3 days trawling this forum for your posts just so they could make a smarmy comment and give you a thumbs down!

So you no longer think the Chartist-mural is a eyesore?
[quote][p][bold]Vox Dei[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]paddyparry[/bold] wrote: I was just sorry that only the car park was demolished and not several other parts of Newport. Knock it all down and start again.[/p][/quote]That joke wore thin years ago...[/p][/quote]Yawn - not sure who's the biggest Hypocrite you with your anti Chartist-mural rants or the pedantic losers who would spend 3 days trawling this forum for your posts just so they could make a smarmy comment and give you a thumbs down! So you no longer think the Chartist-mural is a eyesore? cymruamblyth
  • Score: -3

11:40am Fri 17 Jan 14

Bobevans says...

Another blow to Newport as the Welsh Open snooker tournament is to leave Newport Centre with Cardiff being the favoured location
Another blow to Newport as the Welsh Open snooker tournament is to leave Newport Centre with Cardiff being the favoured location Bobevans
  • Score: -2

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