North Wales has been selected as a preferred location for a new ‘super prison’ by the Ministry of Justice.
Two Wrexham industrial estate locations had been submitted for the Ministry of Justice to consider as potential prison sites and it is likely Wrexham will be the final location chosen.
Wrexham Council had submitted the proposal involving the privately-owned Kingmoor Park, and Welsh Government-owned Firestone site. The Firestone site, located opposite Bridgeway East in the Pentre Maelor area, has been touted as a potential site for a number of years and previously divided opinion on whether it should be put forward.
Earlier this year we reported how the Councillors briefing document was using out of date figures, you can read more here.
This afternoon Wrexham Council gave further details of the prison that appears highly likely to be placed in Wrexham.
Council Leader Neil Rogers was keen to stress that even if Wrexham is formally chosen as the site it is far from being a final decision, saying “All will still be subject to the planning process and consultations, and if, emphasis if, it has to go though the due process so I do not wish people to think it is a done deal’.
The prison is due to be a Category C. This means its is not an ‘open’ prison, and houses prisoners who are deemed as not being trusted in open conditions but who are unlikely to make a determined escape attempt. Wrexham.com asked specifically if there will be any ‘open’ element to the prison and was told definitively no, however the rehabilitation elements of any prison could see activity outside the walls.
“There has been support across the region, the government and Westminster. Our Chief Executive, myself and our Deputy Leader are delighted, and if we can secure this prison it will be a boost to our economy and provide sustainable jobs for many many years.”
The gathered press were told that the development could create 1200 to 1500 jobs during the construction and running of the prison, with 450-500 jobs on an ongoing basis. This figure was queried as the MOJ’s figures placed this at around 1000.
Countering concern that jobs may not be local Cllr Rogers asked “Would I want to be travelling 40-50 miles a day to work? Hopefully jobs will go to local people”. He went on to give an example of an agreement made during the development of Eagles Meadow that people would be employed from the LL postcode and hinted a similar agreement could be possible.
On our forums the reputational issue of a prison was raised, so we asked Cllr Rogers if he thought this was a problem, he said didn’t think so ” It hasn’t stopped investment in Durham, Cardiff or York” giving examples where Category A prisons exist rather than the planned Category C prison in Wrexham.
“It hasn’t stopped students attending Durham University, and investment in Cardiff. I dont’ believe it has detracted investment from any of these cities”.
“As we said when we opened the new industry estate link road, that the network we have of the M53 to A483 will be the start for better things for Wrexham. We cannot stand still and let things pass.”
“When I left school there were employment opportunities, Brymbo Steelworks and several pits. Shotton Steelworks was down the road. We cannot stand still, we need to go out there and attract business to Wrexham. I believe by opening that link road it is has enhanced Wrexham geographically and also it will assist family member who wish to visit any prison there”.
Cllr Rogers also mentioned that it is possible rail and bus infrastructure could be improved if a prison goes ahead.
The timetable is not short term, with the Council saying “The process will likely take several years before the first person is taken into the prison.”
You can catch up on the debate on the ‘Super Prison’ on our forums by clicking here.