'A beacon of democracy for the world': Goldie Lookin Chain rapper says Newport should not fear losing its Chartist mural

Council says £600,000 cost of moving artwork not financially viable as it faces destruction to make way for £100m shopping centre

A leading member of the Welsh comedy rap collective Goldie Lookin Chain, who doubles up as a Newport councillor, has said the city may lose its famous Chartist mural but never its status as “a beacon of democracy for the world”.

Rhys Hutchings, elected as a Labour representative to St Julian’s ward last year, told The Independent on Wednesday that Newport should not fear losing the 1970s work after the public artwork was denied listed status by Wales’s heritage body, Cadw.

The 35m (115ft) mural, a mosaic of 200,000 pieces of tile and glass, was created in a walkway off John Frost Square by artist Kenneth Budd in 1978. As reported on Tuesday, it now faces destruction to make way for a £100m shopping centre.

The rapper, who is known in the band as Zardoz, P Xain and Dwain Xain Zedong and who grew up in Newport suburb of Allt-yr-Yn, has taken “a few days off” council duties as the GLC are currently on a UK tour.

He formed the collective in 2000 and their hits, peppered with frequent references to their hometown, include "Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do", which reached number three in the UK charts.

Speaking from the group’s tour bus on its way to The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth for Wednesday night’s gig, he said: “It’s not really about the mural, son. It’s about the Chartists. Big up the Chartists. There is so much else in the city about Chartism that you can talk about.

“Just mention the Westgate Hotel to someone who knows about Chartism and see what they tell you. Somebody put a teddy bear on the roof of the hotel, by the way. There are many, many symbols in the Newport that are a fantastic way for people to start speaking about Chartism and what it means to Newport and to the wider world.

“We’re a beacon of democracy – if you can get that message across that’ll be superb.”

The Westgate Hotel was attacked by Chartists during the ‘Newport Rising’ of 1839 when up to 5,000 supporters marched with intent on liberating fellow Chartists who were reported to have been taken prisoner in the building. The group eventually retreated with dozens of people killed and many more wounded. It is this fatal confrontation that the city’s mural depicts.

Newport city council said their hands were tied by Cadw’s decision and that an attempt to relocate the mural would cost £600,000 and was therefore not financially viable.

A spokesperson for Cadw said on Tuesday: “The Chartist Mural in Newport has not been awarded listing status principally because it fell short of the criteria to be listed at the national level on grounds of its special architectural interest.  The quality of building to which the mosaic is attached is poor and the underpass itself has no intrinsic design merits. It was also felt that there was no specific association between the location of the mural and the Chartist uprising.”

Mr Hutchings, who’s also a governor of St Julian’s primary school, claimed that he hadn't made too much of his public profile during his 2012 campaign which saw him elected with 971 votes after a recount.

He told the NME at the time: “Me and the guys I was running alongside all put out leaflets with brief descriptions of us all and on that was a bit about being in popular hip-hop band Goldie Lookin Chain. A couple of people recognised me, but I genuinely think the last thing people expected was a member of Goldie Lookin Chain to knock on their door and say ‘Hi, what are your local issues?’ It’d be a bit like Sting turning up at your front door.”

A spokesman for Save Newport Art said: “Next year is the 175th anniversary of the Newport Rising. Destroying the Chartist Mural isn't a fitting celebration.”

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home