Race against time for Newport artwork clock

Newport Clock
Image caption The Newport Clock was an artwork that opened, paraded model figures and blew steam on the hour at its location in John Frost Square

An unusual city clock that has been in storage since its proposed home was scuppered by the recession is facing a race against time.

The arch-shaped Newport Clock was packed away in 2008 ahead of a planned development of the city centre.

The work was scrapped in 2009, leaving the clock homeless, while its storage costs taxpayers £8,000 a year.

Newport council is considering whether to scrap it, repair and install it to a new location, or sell it on.

The clock, called "in the Nick of Time", cost £100,000 to create to represent the city at the 1992 Garden Festival in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent.

From the garden festival it was moved to John Frost Square in Newport, where it became a visitor attraction because of the way it opened on the hour, blew steam and paraded model figures.

Economic downturn

By the time it was dismantled in 2008 the clock's mechanisms had begun to fail.

Plans to give it a new home near a proposed 100m (328ft) tall tower as part of the multi-million pound Modus retail regeneration scheme came to nothing.

Developer Modus went into administration in 2009 and the clock has remained in storage since, at a cost to council taxpayers of £153 per week.

The city's street scene overview and scrutiny forum is currently finding out more details about the choices now available.

Keeping it in storage is not considered a viable option, while selling it as scrap would save the local authority the annual storage costs, but would only bring in a "nominal income".

It would, however, raise the chances of the clock being saved.

The restoration bill is an estimated £59,000, made up of £31,000 to bring it back to working order plus around £28,000 to re-site it.

However, it has been suggested a restored clock would not be suitable for the city centre following the latest redevelopment proposals.

'Loved object'

Michael Francis, from Newport Civic Society, said: "We have to face that it's going to be moved anyway.

"It had become quite a loved object in the square and a feature of the city but even if it's restored it would not stay in the square.

"If it's going to cost an extensive amount of money, and it could be a costly item, I think we might have better things to spend our money on."

The scrutiny forum is expected to make its recommendations in the new year.

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