By Stephanie Weaver
Plans for Wellingborough’s new prison could be submitted within a matter of weeks.
Leader of Wellingborough Council Martin Griffiths was delighted with Thursday’s announcement by the Ministry of Justice that a new category C prison will be built on the site of the mothballed prison.
He is looking forward to the jobs it will create, both in construction and when the prison opens, as well as the predicted £80 million boost to the local economy.
Cllr Griffiths said: “Sam Gyimah (prisons minister) said that it would be completed and built within this Parliament.
“Obviously that is subject to planning, but we understand that the plans will be submitted within weeks as opposed to months, which will be late November or early December.”
He said the feedback so far has been very positive from fellow councillors, constituents and people living near the site in Millers Park, and he added: “Common sense has prevailed.
“Why would you want to start afresh elsewhere and upset a whole lot of people in an area where they don’t want it?
“We are 25 minutes from the A1 and 15 minutes from the M1 so geographically, it couldn’t be in a better area.”
While waiting for further details about the new prison, Cllr Griffiths said he is hoping that the new site will be state-of-the-art and have all the latest technology, including drone security.
But he says he has been assured that local firms will be involved in its construction, just as they were with the newly opened crematorium in Wellingborough.
Cllr Griffiths said: “They assured us that the local workforce and local apprentices would be used with the scheme so it ticks all the right boxes about using and boosting the local economy.
“They have said there will be an £80 million boost for the local economy in Wellingborough.”
With the planning application due to be submitted soon, it is hoped that approval is granted by Wellingborough Council’s planning committee and the new prison is up and running by 2020.
Cllr Griffiths said: “It’s very exciting, it’s all action from here on in.”
Speaking in the House of Commons on the day of the announcement, MP for Wellingborough and Rushden Peter Bone said: “I have been banging on about Wellingborough prison almost as much as I have been banging on about Europe, so I should like to tell the Secretary of State how much I welcome today’s announcement that it will re-open.
“I particularly want to thank Lynn Holcombe and the other local residents who have done such a good job in keeping the campaign going for such a long time.
“I must apologise to my honourable friends the members for Reigate (Crispin Blunt), for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) and for East Surrey (Mr Gyimah), and to the Attorney General.
“Over the years, I have badgered, bought them cups of tea and been a real pain.
“This will be a wonderful prison and it will be welcomed by the people of Wellingborough.”