PLANS for a new super-prison that could spell the creation of 1,000 jobs have been backed in Wrexham.
Last week the Ministry of Justice announced plans to close six prisons in England, with three more partially to shut down, in a bid to bring down the cost of the prison system.
A feasibility study on a jail housing 2,000 inmates in either London, the North West or North Wales is to begin, and the former Firestone rubber factory on Wrexham Industrial Estate could be on the shortlist.
The Wrexham Business Professionals group say it would bring much-needed social and economic benefits to the region.
Chartered accountant Simon Griffiths, from Guy Walmsley Ltd, said: “We believe the site on Wrexham Industrial Estate would be the ideal location, especially since the opening of the new link road which has improved its accessibility.
“This is a huge prize, the like of which we will probably never see again in North Wales because there won’t be any other 1,000-job establishments created here.
“The spin-offs for the local economy would be huge with opportunities to provide goods and food, which could benefit farming as well as sub-contracted services.
“The proposed new round of prison building is designed for many decades in the future and if we miss this bus then it won’t come round again for a very long time.”
Welsh Secretary David Jones MP said he would press the case for building a prison in North Wales with his cabinet colleague the justice secretary.
The Clwyd West MP said: “A prison in North Wales would create economic opportunities and secure new jobs.
“I also know how important a prison in North Wales would be to families and professional advisers of prisoners.”
Councillor Keith Gregory, who represents the Smithfield ward on Wrexham Council, has also expressed his support.
He said: “It’s not like we’re going to have criminals running around the streets of Wrexham, it will be out of the way.
“There are lots of businesses going bust, so if it will bring jobs to Wrexham then I’m all for it.”
Prisoners from North Wales are currently scattered around 25 different prisons in the UK.
It is estimated the prison itself would employ 480 people and support services and suppliers would take on another 560 people in the wider region.
The super-prison programme is part of a drive to build new capacity to replace older, more expensive-to-run prisons and save £63 million a year.
The location of the prison would relate to demand, aim to support courts and the rehabilitation of prisoners and make it easier for families to visit.
About 2,600 offenders are held at the prisons earmarked for closure, including Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston, and Shrewsbury. Chelmsford, Hull and Isle of Wight will be scaled down.