WREXHAM will be the home of a new 2,000 inmate ‘super prison’ – the biggest jail anywhere in Britain.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced the prison will be built on the former Firestone site in Wrexham, with work set to begin as early as next summer.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) says the £250 million prison, which will be fully operational by late 2017, will provide 1,000 jobs and millions of pounds worth of construction opportunities.
The prison will be a category C closed prison – for inmates who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who are unlikely to try to escape.
Leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Neil Rogers, said the council is working with the MoJ to ensure local people are prioritised for the “sustainable” jobs created.
He said between 600 and 700 jobs would be kept for local people and that between £20 million to £25 million would be brought to the local economy as a result of the huge development.
Cllr Rogers also confirmed the MoJ would carry out an initial public consultation with the people who live and work in the Wrexham Industrial Estate area, due to start some time in the next 10 days.
Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said: “This is a massive boost to the Welsh economy and a significant addition to the prison estate.
“It will also allow offenders from the region to be held closer to their homes, which we know helps prevent reoffending.”
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said the prison would address the problem of relatives of prisoners from North Wales having to travel “great distances” over the border to visit them in jail.
He said: “The current arrangements whereby prisoners from North Wales have to serve their sentences in England are far from ideal.
“Not only does this mean the relevant Welsh language provision is not in place for prisoners for whom Welsh is their first language, but their families have to travel great distances to visit them. This is not conducive to effective rehabilitation.”
In June the MoJ announced plans to build a new prison in North Wales. Initially there were three options, two sites on the Wrexham Industrial Estate and one site in Denbighshire.
Last week the owner of the rival Wrexham Industrial Estate Kingsmoor Park site ruled themselves out of the running and yesterday the former Firestone site was officially unveiled as the chosen site.
Wrexham MP Ian Lucas welcomed the possible employment boost, but said the development will also require infrastructure improvements to transport and broadband connections as part of the package.
He said: “For this development to be truly sustainable we need to help equip Wrexham with new roads, better rail links and improved skills, and I hope the minister will meet me as soon as possible to help secure the best possible result for our local economy.”