Ex-Archbishop to join Newport Chartist commission
7:15am Thursday 13th February 2014 in News
THE former Archbishop of Canterbury and the presiding officer of the National Assembly are to join a new Chartist commission to find a replacement for the Chartist Mural.
Dr Rowan Williams and Newport West AM Dame Rosemary Butler will join Patrick Drewett on the new commission, which will also co-ordinate the 175th anniversary of the Chartist Rising.
Newport council said all three had accepted invitations to form the independent body.
Newport-born Hollywood actor Michael Sheen will advise the commission, with one member saying he hopes that the Frost/Nixon star will take part in the anniversary events.
However it appears he will not serve as a founder trustee as previously announced.
On November 4 1839 thousands of Chartists led by former Newport mayor, John Frost, marched to the Westgate Hotel where fellow chartists were being kept imprisoned.
Soldiers opened fire on the protestors, killing 22 chartists.
The Chartist movement called for reforms to the political system, demanding the vote for every man aged 21 or older.
Mr Drewett, chairman of the Chartist anniversary committee and a retired former deputy head-teacher, said he was delighted and honoured to have been asked to serve on the commission.
He said the commission, which hasn’t yet met, will look at a range of options for the replacement of the mural, decide on their feasibility and determine the best one.
“Personally speaking I think it’s important that the general public have a say in the options,” he said.
Many events are already planned for this year’s anniversary, including a convention at the university, and Mr Drewett said he hoped Michael Sheen will join in.
“I look forward to speaking to him again soon to see how he will take part,” he said, adding: “I am sure he will be.”
Cllr Bob Bright, leader of the council, said: “I very much welcome the news that three individuals who really care about Newport and Chartism have accepted invitations to be members of the independent Chartist commission.”
The council is keen, he explained, to make 2014 a “celebration of Chartism” and will support the commission in its work.
He said that 2014 was a pivotal year for Newport, with the redevelopment of the city centre “and the opportunity to celebrate the contribution and sacrifice made by the Chartists 175 years ago which shaped the democratic freedoms we enjoy today.”
The council said its hoped the first meeting of the commission will take place in the near future.