CAMPAIGNERS against a decision to convert Newport’s historic Mansion House into a registry office held a silent protest against plans to install an external spiral fire escape.

Residents of Stow Park Circle staged the demonstration at Wednesday’s planning meeting holding up poster’s with the slogan “Save the Circle - this is a conservation area” when councillors discussed the proposals.

Designs for a contemporary white fire escape were originally put forward but the council’s conservation officer suggested a black cast iron balustrade staircase would be more appropriate for the historic building.

Residents previously submitted a petition of six names objecting to the original plans but one resident who spoke at the meeting said that although the designs had been substantially changed, residents did not object to the updated design.

Gaer councillor Debbie Wilcox said plans for a fire escape should have been included in the original plans for the conversion of the building and said although residents and councillors accepted the new design they were not happy about it.

She added a report to the council’s overview and scrutiny forum for resources also suggested the need for a disabled lift, which would change the internal architecture of the building.

Voting against the application, councillor John Richards said: “This should have been included in the original application. We were led to believe that the building would be modernised sympathetically without major changes to the inside or outside and now we are being told there is need for a lift. We are being taken for a ride.”

Supporting the application Cllr John Fortey said: “This is a good scheme, we need to support it. We want a registry office in Newport and this is it.”

The application was passed with six votes in favour and two against.