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RESIDENTS in Newport have launched a petition over a ‘bonkers’ plan for a women’s rehabilitation centre in the Gaer.

So far, the petition launched by Vince Marenghi has received 66 signatures against the Ministry of Justice proposal for Willow House at Stow Park Circle.

The petition, which was launched three days ago by Mr Marenghi, says “Gaer residents do not want an intensive rehabilitation centre for women who are serving a community sentence placed in the heart of our Gaer community”.

Residents in the surrounding area were notified of a change of use application for the site to a rehabilitation centre via letter.

The letter says the centre will “keep Welsh women close to home while providing intense rehabilitative support as part of a community sentence”.

The letter goes on:

“It will provide a safe, secure, homely environment with shared communal spaces and accommodation suitable for mothers with dependent children, providing an opportunity for women to access a wide range of support within their local community to rebuild their lives.

“Hosting a women’s rehabilitation centre is an opportunity for Welsh local communities to help vulnerable women stay closer to those who love and support them whilst making positive changes in their lives.”

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporter Service, Mr Marenghi said:

“Whoever even considered placing an open prison in this location is simply bonkers as this would only add further psychological harm to women who are already experiencing mental health issues, not rehabilitate them in any form.”

Mr Marenghi believes there are suitable alternative buildings away from residential areas.

He said: “We all want what’s best for the women offenders especially those suffering from mental health issues sustained from violent abuse and most importantly, to keep them here in Wales.”

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.”

To view the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/newport-city-council-say-no-to-a-womens-centre-in-stow-park-circle-the-gaer/c?source_location=petition_show

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