South East Wales

Newport Chartist mural: Council chief's apology for no removal warning

A digger close to the mural
Image caption Diggers pulled down the mural at the start of the month

The chief executive of Newport council has apologised for not telling councillors in advance when a Chartist mural would be demolished.

In a letter, Will Godfrey said he knew the removal of the mosaic in a subway off John Frost Square was "imminent" the day before the removal.

The 1978 35m (115ft) artwork depicting the 1839 uprising was pulled down to make way for a £100m shopping centre.

Mr Godfrey said he tried to safeguard the public.

Newport council said it would cost £600,000 to save and move the mural.

The diggers moved in Thursday 3 October, a fortnight after Welsh heritage body Cadw declined to list the mosaic.

Mr Godfrey said he and council leader Bob Bright knew of the decision.

Local media

"On reflection, as an officer group we should have informed all councillors that the demolition of the mural was imminent," he said.

"I apologise for this shortcoming but our focus was upon ensuring that the demolition could proceed with as little danger as possible to the public.

"The decision was not informed by any planned demonstration on 5 October, notification of which was in the public domain but of which the council was not formally notified."

Mr Godfrey said he had attempted to contact local media to alert them.

"The process was not underhand or undemocratic as has been suggested in some parts of the media," he said.

More than 200 campaigners protested at the site at the weekend after failing to have the mural preserved.

Mr Godfrey said the council should now focus on what will replace the mosaic.

"Officers have advised the appropriate cabinet member that consultation should commence as soon as possible," he said.

"It is suggested that one of the options should be to commission a replica of the original mural."

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