A HISTORIC Newport landmark should be restored to its original use, say community leaders.

The Westgate Hotel in Commercial Street still bears the scars of the Chartist uprising in 1839, one of the most important events in the city's past.

But its many rooms now lie empty and the building is a target for vandals.

Concerned Councillor David Fouweather said: "They are building all these new hotels in the city centre when we have this wonderful building which is being left to go to rack and ruin."

He was delighted the council was taking steps to protect the Westgate but added they needed to keep a close eye on it.

Patrick Drewett, secretary of Stow Hill-based Accent Newport Trust, is working on a potential project to create murals on the boarded up windows and front of the building.

"But the best option would be to open it up as a hotel again. The community would like to see it returned to its former state and got back into use again."

Mr Drewett also put forward another suggestion for the future use of the Westgate.

"If it can't be turned back into a hotel it would nice to have a Chartist Citizenship Centre where the focus could be on the Chartist story and it could be used to promote citizenship issues today."

Council leader Bob Bright said: "The Westgate Hotel is in the hands of private owners which means we have limited powers to act however I can assure people that we will be doing everything in our powers to encourage the owners to preserve this historic building and bring forward proposals for future use."

A spokeswoman for the hotel's owners, Marston's Pub Company said it was currently in talks with the local planning office and conservation office to discuss the building's future.