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Break-ins and water damage reported at historic Westgate Hotel

The Westgate Hotel in Newport (Pic: LDRS)

BREAK-INS and water damage have been reported at the historic Westgate Hotel in Newport city centre.

The hotel was at the centre of one of the city’s most famous events, the 1839 Newport Rising, when protesters seeking greater voting rights were fired upon from the building by soldiers inside.

For years the privately-owned Westgate stood empty and unused, until 2019, when a heritage group of local volunteers was given permission to carry out work inside the hotel and use it as an arts and performance space. It also served as a makeshift headquarters for a grassroots effort to donate clothes to Ukrainian refugees at the outbreak of war in 2022.

But in the autumn of 2023 the volunteers working inside the hotel announced they had been ejected from the premises – and a council debate on the future of the Westgate descended into party political squabbling, rather than any constructive solutions.

Now, Newport City Council is pursuing immediate enforcement action to protect the Westgate from ongoing problems with trespassers.

A council report reveals the former hotel has been “broken into on a number of occasions” and had to be “secured” by the local authority, working with the emergency services.

There was also evidence of “fires that had been started” at the site, and other structural problems were identified.

These include “significant water ingress” and “ceiling failure” in places, blocked gutters, and plants like buddleia growing in the stonework, which could “destabilise” the structure.

Inside the Westgate Hotel (Pic: Newport City Council)
Inside the Westgate Hotel (Pic: Newport City Council)
Inside the Westgate Hotel (Pic: Newport City Council)
Inside the Westgate Hotel (Pic: Newport City Council)

Council planning officers have urged the local authority to consider issuing an urgent works notice on the Westgate to make it “wind- and weather-proof and safe from collapse”, and to “prevent vandalism or theft”.

If the works are not completed, the council has powers to step in and ensure the repairs are done. It can then recover any costs from the owner.

Newport City Council’s planning committee will consider the officers’ request at a meeting on Wednesday January 10.

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