Berwyn prison wing name angers Bala, Gwynedd residents

Bala wing
Image caption The decision to call the wing after the town of Bala has caused anger among some

A decision to name a wing at the UK's newest prison after a Gwynedd town has sparked anger among its residents.

HMP Berwyn opened in Wrexham at the end of February, and will eventually hold 2,100 prisoners.

However, the move to call the first wing there Bala has left some in the town fuming and a petition has been started to change it.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the name was chosen by prison staff.

Bala town council said it had not been consulted about the name, which is on display at the reception desk with a sign reading: "Welcome Croeso i Bala" - and includes a picture of the lake, Llyn Tegid.

"Naming it Berwyn was quite odd in the first place but calling the wing that has already been opened 'Bala' sits very uncomfortably with me," councillor Dilwyn Morgan said.

"As a former pupil at Ysgol y Berwyn, Y Bala, it was heartbreaking to see it called HM Prison Berwyn in the first place," Llinos Jones-Williams, who started the petition, said.

"But to name a wing after our town is a disgrace that's even more hurtful. And to rub more salt into the wound, it has a large sign in the reception area with 'Welcome to Bala' and a lovely photo of the lake.

"We were not informed of this until the building opened, and to my knowledge, no one was consulted to see if we, local Bala people, were happy with the decision."

Image copyright Nick Dann/Twitter
Image caption The entrance to Berwyn visitors centre

She told the local weekly newspaper Y Cyfnod she wants a meeting with the local MP Liz Saville Roberts to discuss the matter.

The Rev Huw Dylan Jones from nearby Llangwm added: "There was no reason to call it Berwyn Prison in the first place because it has no connection with the Berwyn mountains. And to then call a wing Bala is disrespectful and an insult to the town.

"Names associated with Wrexham are better suited to the place."

An MoJ spokeswoman said: "HMP Berwyn serves men from the whole of north Wales and the name was chosen to reflect the culture of the area.

"The name 'Berwyn' was chosen following public consultation, while individual names were chosen by prison staff, many of whom have strong connections to the north Wales area."

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