Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Anglesey Aluminium site on prison site list

Anglesey Aluminium
Most of the plant closed in September 2009 with the loss of 400 jobs

The Anglesey Aluminium factory at Holyhead has been put forward by council leaders as one of six potential sites for a north Wales prison.

Smelting there came to an end last year with the loss of nearly 400 jobs.

The shortlist will be considered by the National Offenders Management Service, with the Prison Service saying north Wales was among "priority" areas.

It coincides with a committee of Welsh MPs saying there is an "urgent need" for a prison in north Wales.

As well as the former smelting plant site at Holyhead, the other five sites being considered as a location in north Wales are:

  • The former BP site at Rhosgoch in Anglesey.
  • The former Morfa military camp at Tywyn in Gwynedd.
  • The old Greengates farm complex near the St Asaph Business Park in Denbighshire.
  • Two sites in Wrexham - the former Firestone factory and an un-named site.

The shortlist has been submitted by leaders of the six north Wales councils, with the full backing of the North Wales Criminal Justice Board.

Location map
The six suggested sites for north Wales include two in Wrexham

Its business manager Mike Mullis said the Ministry of Justice was commissioning an independent survey company to look at nominated sites across north Wales, and the north west, before a final shortlist is drawn up.

The regional partnership board is seeking a meeting with justice minister Maria Eagle to press the case for a prison for north Wales.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Affairs Committee of MPs said looking at alternative sites in England and Wales was a "backward step".

In their report, the MPs said there was an "urgent need" for a prison in north Wales and this needed to be prioritised by the UK government.

In 2009, sites in Merthyr Tydfil, Cwmbran, Wrexham and Caernarfon were short-listed as possible prison sites, before Caernarfon was eventually chosen.

Cardiff Prison - 773 inmates
Parc Prison, Bridgend - 1,123
Prescoed Prison, Usk - 158
Swansea Prison - 386
Source: HM Prison Service, January 2010

However, plans to build a prison at the former car components plant best known as Ferodo - and later as Dynamex - were withdrawn because Justice Minister Maria Eagle said it was "not suitable for prison development".

It was estimated the site could have created 700 jobs.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Welsh Affairs committee says all four prisons in Wales are in the south of the country, and there is a lack of space for young people and women.

It says north Wales should "not be denied a prison it so badly needs because of the Ministry of Justice's policy to build facilities of a certain size only".

The committee is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to work with MPs and local authorities to identify suitable sites.

Committee chairman, Dr Hywel Francis MP, said: "The Ministry of Justice is failing to tackle the ongoing problem of the lack of prison facilities in north Wales.

"No north Welsh prisoners are in a Welsh prison and there is a shortfall of around 800 places for prisoners in north Wales.

"The announcement that a prison would be built near Caernarfon raised expectations in the area and it is very disappointing that the site was not ultimately found to be suitable."


Dr Francis said the UK government's "lack of progress is of significant concern to the committee".

He added: "New facilities would not only bring positive economic benefits to local communities but would also bring relief to the family, friends, support workers and probation officers who require improved access to prisoners.

"We urge the government to prioritise its search for a suitable prison site in north Wales."

A Prison Service spokesperson said: "The Government continues its search for sites suitable for 1,500-place prisons.

"The search is focused on our priority areas of London, north Wales, the north west and west Yorkshire. Some have been suggested by local authorities or members of the public.

"After carrying out a suitability assessment of the sites we will publish a shortlist of preferred sites later this year.

Serious offenders

"The government is committed to providing more prison places to ensure that the most dangerous, serious and persistent offenders are locked up, and plan to provide 96,000 places by 2014.

"This includes plans for new 1,500-place prisons."

Last month, Gwynedd council discussed the possibility of a prison at a former army camp at Tonfannau near Dolgellau, which it said was being "seriously considered" as a potential site.

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