Sheen letter on Newport mural

Actor Michael Sheen has written a full-page open letter in the South Wales Argus, in which he says the demolition of the city's Chartist Mural was 'absurd and tragic.'

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Council 'will consider' Michael Sheen's ideas

Newport City Council has responded to an open letter by actor Michael Sheen, criticising it for demolishing the city's Chartist Mural.

The council says the decision to remove the mural was made last year.

It says Sheen's letter is "interesting" and "contains some practical suggestions which the council will consider."

His ideas include looking into the possibility of students from art schools and design courses working on a new commemoration of the Chartist uprising of 1839.

The Hollywood star, who was born in Newport and grew up in Port Talbot, took out a full-page advert in the South Wales Argus to write about the 'absurd and tragic' decision to demolish the mural.

The mural’s future has been on public record since March 2012, when a planning decision and separate public consultation confirmed that the mural would have to be demolished and the preferred option as a result of the consultation was for it to be reproduced on tiles.

More recently, as Cadw did not list the mural and Newport City Council did not have £625,000 to remove and preserve it, we understand that these decisions have been difficult to accept for Newport residents both near and far.

The council found Mr Sheen’s letter very interesting. It is forward-thinking and contains some practical suggestions which the council will consider.

We also echo Mr Sheen’s call to “focus on how we can celebrate the past, connect it to the present and look hopefully to the future”.

We are currently asking all members of the public to give us their views on a new commemoration of the Chartists details of which are on the council’s website.

– Newport City Council spokesperson

Michael Sheen open letter criticises mural demolition

The South Wales Argus has published an open letter from Welsh actor Michael Sheen to the people of Newport, criticising the local council for demolishing the Chartist Mural in the city centre.

Michael Sheen has taken out a full page advert in the South Wales Argus to write about the mural. Credit: PA

The Hollywood star was born in Newport, and brought up in Port Talbot.

The mural, which depicts the 1839 Chartist uprising to free political prisoners, was pulled down two weeks ago to make space for a new shopping centre, amid protests from local people.

Sheen writes: "the vicious irony of something created to celebrate those who risked much for the good of all, being wiped out without consulting the people themselves, and under the auspices of a Labour-led City Council serving the needs of profit above all else, is both absurd as well as tragic."

The demolition of the Chartist Mural has been hugely controversial in Newport. Credit: Viewer's picture

He also says: "That so little was done, or was able to be done, by us, in order to stop this from happening, brings shame to us all."

The actor urges people to spread the word about the Chartists, and has some suggestions on how a new mural could be created.

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