THE chairman of the Friends of Newport Museum and Art Gallery has hit out at Newport City Council over its proposed closure.

Richard Frame said the group is "alarmed" that the local authority is considering closing the museum next year.

"This institution, established more than 125 years ago, has survived two World Wars and a number of previous recessions, and it plays a vital role in the cultural life of the city," he said.

"It possesses collections of national and international importance and of incalculable local value, and has told the story of their city to many thousands of Newport people, as well as attracting visitors from further afield. 

"The council is currently working hard and taking financial risks to facilitate the Friars Walk redevelopment so it seems short-sighted to close a building which attracts large numbers of people to the city centre: when the previous major redevelopment took place in the 1960s, the old museum and central library building was demolished but new accommodation was provided in the heart of the new area. 

He also said he understood the financial position facing the council, but 'in the light of its duty and responsibility as custodian of the collections for future generations of Newportonians, we hope and trust that every possible avenue will be explored in the attempt to maintain a viable museum and gallery service in the city'.

"To that end we are seeking an urgent meeting with councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport City Council, to discuss the situation further," he added.

"What we are seeking is a phased and sensible approach to the management of the heritage of Newport."