Monday, November 5, 2018


Last weekend saw the annual commemoration of the Chartists in Newport and across the South East. The Chartists struggle for the vote (and equal rights) was a long one, culminating initially with the Newport Rising in on 4th November 1839. The Chartist commemorations in Newport continue to go from strength to strength - with a combination of public events, marches, concerts, street theatre and an academic conference. 

The commemoration will hopefully continue to grow and develop as I t makes a real and positive contribution to Newport. We should continue to remember the Chartists here in Newport and within a wider context within Wales, the UK and Europe as part of the struggle for democracy and equal rights which is ongoing snd remains relevant  today as our democracy continues to evolve. 

1839 rather than 2018
The well organised and well attended events of the last weekend, fully supported by Newport City Council, contracts starkly with the underhand destruction of the popular Chartist mural, off John Frost Square (in Newport) on Thursday 3rd October 2013 which robbed many Newport residents of part of their personal and cultural history. 

I (personally, and no doubt many others) have fond memories of walking past the mural as children (in may case with my grandmother) and being fascinated by it. Now its gone, merely a memory, reduced to rubble on the (relative) quiet by the Labour Party in Newport, which was anxious to avoid embarrassing scenes as a demo to protest the destruction of the then proposed of the mural was in the offing.

The wining pathetic excuses bleated by Labour in Newport and their persistent refusal to engage and find a way to save the mural just about sums up the way the town of Newport has been treated over the years. Few people are against development or redevelopment but it needs to be sustainable and sympathetic to the needs of the city. The failure to work with local indigenous small businesses in and around Newport is a reality that has done great economic damage to the local economy and weakened our economy.

Gone but not forgotten
Friars Walk was welcomed, but, its struggling and it seems to have sucked the commercial live out of other parts of the town. We have to do something different, the new shopping centre, has promised much but the jurying still out on whether it will deliver much of lasting benefit, in a similar manner to the Kingsway Shopping Centre (back in the 1970's). 

Any shopping development should contain retail opportunities for small local businesses as money spent in local businesses circulates three times as long as money spent in 'UK national chains. Simply filling the development with chains means that what local money is spent will get hoovered up and vanished out of town as rapidly as possible. 

Various attempts to develop or redevelop Newport over the years, largely via the questionable vehicle of Newport Unlimited (more like 'Newport limited') have failed to deliver lasting economic growth. Local council cuts which continue to undermine local services have not helped, but, neither has a complete lack of vision and the contempt which has been demonstrated for the cities inhabitants today over the years.

If we are serious about redevelopment in Newport - then something needs to be done about the longtime empty near derelict Westgate Hotel in the heart of Newport. The former objective of the Chartists should be resurrected and redeveloped as a world class Chartists heritage centre - for both visitors to our city and the also for the rest of us.

Keywords: The Newport Rising, The Chartists, 

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