Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

New prison 'to be worth millions'

Ferodo site currently
The prison will be built on the site of an old car components factory

A decision to site a new Welsh prison in Gwynedd is being welcomed as one of the largest investment projects in the region for a decade.

The jail on the former Ferodo brake factory near Caernarfon will be able to hold 1,000 inmates, and is estimated to be worth millions to the economy.

The location was chosen over sites in Merthyr Tydfil, Cwmbran and Wrexham.

North Wales' chief constable, Richard Brunstrom, described the decision as a "vote of confidence" in north Wales.

"I think it is just fabulous news - it's been a long journey," said Mr Brunstrom.

"It's fabulous news for the economy, it's fabulous news for our society, it's fabulous news for our languages. I think it is a really powerful investment in north Wales."

The new prison will help address a shortfall in Wales of 1,300 inmate places, 800 of them from north Wales.

It will make the region a safer place to live because it will help reduce re-offending - and fewer crimes means fewer victims
Carol Moore, north Wales' chief probation officer

Currently, all prisoners from north Wales must serve their sentences in jails outside the region, often in Liverpool and Warrington.

The Probation Service said this placed inmates' families under strain, and also had a negative impact on prisoners who were Welsh speakers.

Welcoming the announcement, the chief probation officer for north Wales, Carol Moore added: "We will now be able to link them up with services in the community so that all the right work is going on to enable them to resettle and live crime free lives.

"It will make the region a safer place to live because it will help reduce re-offending - and fewer crimes means fewer victims."

Work

Research by the North Wales Criminal Justice Board estimates that the prison will generate up to 850 jobs in the construction phase alone.

The board also believes it will see nearly 500 permanent jobs on the site, and a further 560 in the surrounding areas.

Prison protest
Hundreds of people protested against a possible site in Cwmbran

In total, the board said that was worth 17m a year to the region's economy.

Other estimates put its annual value as being between 8m to 10m.

The announcement by Prisons Minister and Delyn MP, David Hanson, was made at the justice board's annual conference in Llandudno on Thursday.

It followed a four-month consultation across Wales on potential locations.

The decision was greeted with jubilation in Torfaen, where there had been a vocal campaign against placing the jail on the site of a former police college at Cwmbran.

There had also been concerns raised locally about building a facility on the site of a former rubber factory in Wrexham.

In Merthyr, the announcement was met with disappointment after a string of recent job losses in the area.

'Pressure'

The choice of Caernarfon has been welcomed by Gwynedd council and MPs and AMs in the area.

But the acclaim is not universal.

Gwynedd councillor Roy Owen said he was concerned about the pressures the facility could place on the nearby town.

"They will have to bring people from outside here. There will be people looking for council properties, and at the moment there are 3,500 people awaiting a council property," said Mr Owen.

The Ministry of Justice said it was now moving forward with negotiations with the site's owners, and intends submitting an outline planning application for the prison "shortly".



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SEE ALSO
Location shortlist for new jail
06 Aug 08 |  North West Wales
'Vigorous debate' call on prison
21 Feb 08 |  North West Wales

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