Elvis impersonators drawn into row over Residential Women’s Centre – insidetime & insideinformation

Plans to house female offenders in a Welsh seaside resort have hit opposition – due to the possible impact on Elvis Presley impersonators.

A seafront hotel in the town of Porthcawl is one of three sites in south Wales shortlisted by the Ministry of Justice for its first Residential Women’s Centre aimed at keeping women out of prison.

However, local opponents claim the spot would be unsuitable, while the loss of the hotel would hurt the town’s economy including its annual Elvis Festival.

Huw David, leader of Bridgend County Borough Council, said: “Establishing a residential centre for offenders at the Atlantic Hotel would risk jeopardising our ongoing efforts to attract further multi-million pound investment as part of our Porthcawl Regeneration Strategy. There is no doubt that the loss of the hotel would affect high-profile events that have been helping to put Porthcawl on the map, such as the world-famous Elvis Festival or the succession of Seniors Open golf tournaments that the town has hosted.”

Every year around 100 Elvis impersonators gather to perform at the festival, drawing 40,000 fans from around the world. The Atlantic Hotel is a 19-bedroom, two-star hotel and restaurant in a three-storey detached building overlooking the ocean. Sandy beaches and a popular amusement park are a short walk away. The family-run hotel was put up for sale in 2019 due to the owner’s retirement, with a guide price of £1.8 million.

The other two sites on this month’s shortlist for the Residential Women’s Centre are Sunnyside House, part of a £23 million “wellness village” development in Bridgend, and Willow House, a former nursing home in Newport. Both are also opposed by local campaigners.

The Residential Women’s Centre will house up to 12 women at a time, with space for children to stay. It will be staffed around the clock by the National Probation Service. Residents will be offered rehabilitation and support, and will be free to come and go.

The Government hopes that judges or magistrates will sentence women to live at the centre for a period as an alternative to custody. The Ministry of Justice has said it intends to build at least five of the centres across England and Wales, but so far funding has only been committed for the first, in Wales, where there are no women’s prisons.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The Centre will help tackle the causes of low-level offenders’ behaviour, reduce reoffending and ultimately keep the public safe. We are engaging with local authorities and communities before we make a decision on the site location and no formal planning applications have been submitted.

“By hosting the residential women’s centre, the community is supporting their local women to turn their lives around whilst enabling them to stay close to their family, and in many cases their children, which are known to be key to reducing reoffending.”

Article source: https://insidetime.org/elvis-impersonators-drawn-into-row-over-residential-womens-centre/