FURTHER hope has been expressed that a jobs boost would be felt directly in the region thanks to Wrexham’s new ‘super prison’.
The controversial development on the old Firestone site at Pentre Maelor is expected to generate around 1,000 jobs.
Wrexham was the preferred site for the £250m prison, potentially housing more than 2,000 inmates.
Mark Read, director of estates for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), told the Leader he anticipated a “significant proportion” of the new jobs at the prison would be go to people from Wrexham and the surrounding area.
He said “We’d expect this type of development to give significant economic growth in the area.
“Our analysis shows around 1,000 permanent jobs at the end of this process.”
As revealed in the Leader on Friday, the prison will be built to category B standards, fuelling fears more dangerous prisoners would be housed there than in the anticipated category C prison.
Mr Read said the prison would be built to a high build specification but it was anticipated it would be for “predominantly” category C prisoners.
A category B prison is for prisoners for whom the highest level of security is not necessary, but whose escape “must be made very difficult”.
Category C prisoners cannot be trusted in open conditions but are unlikely to escape.
Mr Read made his comments at a public consultation on the prison at Redwither Tower on Wrexham Industrial Estate, as MoJ representatives met with Wrexham residents and discussed the plans on show.
He said the consultation had seen “a lot of questions” asked about the planned development.
The £250m prison has divided opinion, with optimism expressed about new jobs but also concerns raised, mainly from nearby residents, about potential negative impacts due to the proximity of the prison.
Mr Read said that, during the consultation event he met with people who lived near the site and had appreciated the chance to speak to them in person, hearing their views and any concerns they held.
“I’ve found the people who have come to be engaging and very reasonable,” he said.
“We consider it important to speak to members of the public and hear their views, both positive and negative.
“This is the very start of the process. It has been very positive to speak to people.
There have been a lot of questions asked.
“Planning is the next stage and we consider the consultation here to be crucial.”
Mr Read said it is not unusual for concerns to be expressed about the creation of a prison and he hoped being able to speak directly to people would help allay many of the fears expressed.
He gave assurances that issues raised by members of the public were being noted and would be looked at before any planning application is submitted.