Wrexham MP and council leader at odds on prison bid

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

AN argument has broken out between two politicians over Wrexham’s bid to become the location for a new prison.

While the town’s Labour MP, Ian Lucas, who is opposed to the idea, says the people should be asked for their view before any project goes ahead, council leader Aled Roberts has criticised Mr Lucas for not backing a scheme which could create almost 1,000 jobs.

Mr Lucas is seeking answers from the Government over its commitment to the prison building programme, which is in limbo until the new coalition makes up its mind on whether to go ahead with it.

He has also called for the council to carry out consultation locally on the issue.

“I remain committed to the view that the best way to bring jobs to the area is for the council to re-focus its efforts on to attracting high-skilled manufacturing companies to our industrial estate,” he said.

“The council remains committed to its prison proposal and has recently sent out a series of documents to various bodies and individuals, which it claims focus on the latest ‘research, consultation and key developments’.

“There is a brief reference to the council talking to some businesses on the industrial estate about whether they have a role to play if a prison is built here, but otherwise it appears no substantial consultation is taking place.

But Cllr Roberts, a Liberal Democrat, said: “We have already written to the Prisons Minister prior to Mr Lucas’ intervention to seek clarification with regard to the new Government’s stance.

“It would be interesting to know what public consultation Mr Lucas carried out before making public his opposition to this scheme, given that he issues a Press release a few days after the last Labour Government ditched its proposal for Caernarfon.”

He added: “The council’s economic development department continues to seek to attract manufacturing jobs to the area and the council has committed resources to support existing manufacturing jobs.

““The council’s bid for the prison would attract nearly 1,000 jobs to the area.

“It is disappointing that the town’s MP feels unable to support our attempt which has the overwhelming support of industrialists.”

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