Council clarifies position on proposed centre for women offenders

Bridgend County Borough Council has confirmed the current planning status surrounding a proposed Wales Residential Women’s Centre which UK Government wants to build in South Wales,

Two of the proposed sites currently under consideration for the new centre are Sunnyside House in Bridgend town centre and the Atlantic Hotel in Porthcawl.

Following comments made on social media after agents working on behalf of the Ministry Of Justice sent a letter to residents living near the proposed sites, the council has clarified that no planning applications have yet been submitted.

The Leader, Cllr Huw David said: “I can reassure residents that the proposal has not yet reached the planning stage.

“The Ministry of Justice has indicated that it intends to submit applications for a change of use at both locations, but this has not yet taken place, and the letters which have been issued are premature in that respect.

“Once applications have been received, they will be duly processed and determined based upon their own merits, and in accordance with all appropriate planning procedures.”

The centre, which is intended to keep Welsh female offenders closer to home while providing intensive rehabilitative support as part of a community sentence, would include residential accommodation and an integrated support hub.

Cllr David continued: “While I understand and support the rationale for establishing such a centre within South Wales, I still maintain that Bridgend County Borough is absolutely the wrong place for it to be located.

“We are already home to South Wales’ largest prison, the only youth offending institute in Wales and the only medium security facility for people with complex mental health needs in Wales.

“Despite this, the area has yet to be provided with the level of additional resource or funding that is ultimately necessary for delivering the kind of essential support associated with such facilities.

“The range of care and support that the council and its partners have to provide for inmates at the prison alone is already huge.

“The additional introduction of the Wales Residential Women’s Centre into the county borough would only serve to amplify this, and would place further considerable strain upon the council after it has already been forced to cut more than £60m from vital services over the last 10 years.

“The proposals also have severe implications for our ongoing efforts to attract further multi-million pound investment as part of our Porthcawl Regeneration Strategy, the area’s ability to provide service accommodation as part of the visitor economy, the ongoing development of an all-new £23m wellness village and sheltered accommodation and more.

“The addition of the centre would have a significant additional impact upon our existing safeguarding responsibilities, and would result in further strain upon services.

“Furthermore, there will be implications for existing services, primary and secondary care services and community safety and policing.

“I do not support the notion that sites within Bridgend County Borough should be considered, not when we already have more than our fair share of such facilities located here, and especially not at the Atlantic Hotel in Porthcawl or Sunnyside House in Bridgend.

“My own opposition to these proposals is a matter of record – Bridgend County Borough should not become the focus of these plans. I urge the UK Government to listen to the people of Bridgend and Porthcawl, who are united in their opposition, and to scrap these plans now.”