Celtic Manor ruin sparks reader debate
THE row between Sir Terry Matthews and Newport City Council has sparked a heated debate among our readers.
People from Newport and beyond have written both in support and against the comments made by the multimillionaire owner - who said he would no longer invest in Newport after the council’s planning committee barred his golf course from moving a listed farm house located next to the final hole of the Ryder Cup.
Yesterday the council deputy leader, Ed Townsend joined leader Matthew Evans's support of the plan to dismantle Little Bulmore Farmhouse and rebuild it on Catsash Road, Newport.
His comments came despite his wife, Cllr Carmel Townsend, having voted against the council’s preferred option at planning committee.
Meanwhile academics debated whether the saga would have a lasting impact on Newport’s and Wales’ image.
Cllr Ed Townsend, who is deputy leader of the council, commented yesterday that his judgement was different to those planning committee and that moving the farmhouse “would have been a reasonable compromise.”
"In this case, the farmhouse would have stayed in the same valley and would be brought back into use as a house," he said.
He added that his wife Cllr Carmel Townsend is one of the members of the planning committee, and that “it is a matter for members of the planning committee to make their decision based on what they see and hear on the day.”
One academic expert said the sight of a derelict building over the 18th green could potentially have an impact as Wales tries to promote itself as a high-end tourism hotspot.
Professor Annette Pritchard, director of the Welsh Tourism Centre at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, suggested journalists from around the world could be tempted to look into why the building is still there.
She said: “It isn't a good PR move. We have got a situation where the whole of the tourism industry is courting the world’s media for the Ryder Cup. They want to present the best face of Wales.”
But another expert said that the whole matter may all be forgotten about in a few months time.
Dr Calvin Jones, a reader of economics at Cardiff Business School’s Welsh Economy Research Unit, said it would be rare for a firm to base its business decisions on a “personal spat”.
“I think its wider impact is fairly limited,” he said. “What's much more important is whether the M4 works or what the council’s attitude to inward investment is,” he said.
Readers' see both sides
MANY Argus readers have written to us via e-mail or on our forum expressing their sympathy with Sir Terry Matthew' response last week.
Veronica Brydon, of Alanbrooke, Newport: “I apologise to Sir Terry Matthews for the most stupid and irrational decision made by councillors on Newport planning.”
Richard Lockett, of Malpas, Newport, said: “Sir Terry, if it has not become too late already we need people like you who have the necessary expertise to move our council forward.”
But Phil Smith, of Beechcroft Road, Newport, extended his “warmest congratulations to the members of the planning committee”.
“What does the great man do in response? He adopts spoilt brat mode and throws his toys out of his pram,” he wrote.
Jan Preece of Wolseley Street, Newport, said: “At last some common sense and appreciation of our heritage, which is in my opinion is worth a million golf courses.”
We will feature more readers responses in a letters special in tomorrow’s Argus.