Reading Prison: Renewed call for Oscar Wilde jail to be arts hub – BBC

An MP has renewed calls for a derelict jail once home to Oscar Wilde to be transformed into an arts hub.
Matt Rodda, who represents Reading East, said attempts to sell the town's former prison for development since 2013 "clearly haven't worked".
The Labour MP said the government needed to change its approach and cited the value of support from the likes of street artist Banksy for the plan.
The Ministry of Justice said it had no updates to report on the sales process.
A spokesperson for the ministry added that it could not comment further.
Mr Rodda's latest intervention came as this week marked nine years since the last prisoners left the jail, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Banksy last year pledged £10m towards the arts plan, which also received the endorsement of numerous celebrities.
Mr Rodda said: "I am calling on the Ministry of Justice to completely rethink its approach and to work with Banksy, me and Reading Borough Council to turn the jail into an arts hub.
"The Ministry has been trying to sell the jail to a developer for nearly nine years and this approach clearly hasn't worked.
"I hope that the ministry can now see this and that it will end its plan to turn the historic building into luxury flats and that it will put the interest of the community first instead."
Irish poet and playwright Wilde spent two years at the prison between 1895 and 1897 after being convicted of gross indecency – effectively for just being gay – and immortalised his time there in The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
The building has previously been described as a "Mecca" for LGBT people as a result, and celebrities including Hollywood actress Kate Winslet and Sir Kenneth Branagh added their voices to a campaign for it to be turned into a theatre venue.
The Ministry of Justice has previously rejected the plan and said it wanted to "seek [the] best value for taxpayers".
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