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Sunnyside House no longer on list of possible locations for offenders centre

Bridgend, South Wales UK

Bridgend County Borough Council has received confirmation that Sunnyside House in Bridgend town centre is no longer being considered as a potential site for a women’s offender centre.

The Ministry of Justice has informed the council that it is still seeking to establish the Wales Residential Women’s Centre somewhere in the South Wales region.

It follows a series of discussions between Bridgend County Borough Council and the HM Prison and Probation Service in Wales and Public Protection Group, during which the local authority has consistently argued that from within a planning context, Bridgend County Borough is not a suitable location for the proposed new centre.

The ministry had recently discounted the Atlantic Hotel in Porthcawl as another potential location.

Removing the Bridgend County Borough sites from this process is absolutely the right thing to do. I am pleased that the UK Government have at last discounted Sunnyside as a potential site, but it should never have been shortlisted in the first place. Our representations have consistently been framed within a rational planning context, and thanks are also due to the residents who made their views about these half-baked plans very clear. We fully understand and support the rationale for establishing such a centre within South Wales, but I continue to maintain that Bridgend County Borough is absolutely the wrong place for it to be located.

Despite not receiving the kind of essential support that is associated with such facilities, we are already home to South Wales’ largest prison, Wales’ only youth offending institute, and medium-security facilities for people with complex mental health needs. We provide a wide range of care and support for inmates at the prison, and deal with high-risk safeguarding matters in relation to HMP Parc, Tŷ Liddiard and the Caswell Clinic. Introducing a Wales Residential Women’s Centre into the county borough would have only intensified this at a time when the council has already been forced to cut more than £60m from important services.

We also argued that placing the centre opposite an all-new £23m wellness village and sheltered accommodation would not benefit vulnerable residents, would place further considerable pressure upon the services that are already in place, and would impact upon primary and secondary care services, community safety, policing and more. Thankfully, the Ministry of Justice has responded positively to our concerns, and I am grateful to them for ensuring that we could argue our case.

Council Leader Huw David

Councillor Nicole Burnett, Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help, added: “This is good news as Wales is still going to benefit from the development of a Residential Women’s Centre, but it is going to be sourced in a far more appropriate location.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported our efforts to convince the ministry not to proceed with Sunnyside House and the Atlantic Hotel as potential sites for their plans.

“What we need now is further confirmation that the Ministry of Justice has recognised the planning context and all of the arguments that have been placed before it, and that Bridgend County Borough has been ruled out entirely from future plans as a potential location for the centre.”