Work begins on multi-million Wrexham super prison

Published date: 14 November 2014 | Published by: Iwan Berry

CONSTRUCTION work has finally got under way on a £212m prison on Wrexham Industrial Estate.

A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spokesman yesterday confirmed work had started on the building on the former Firestone site.

“The prison will be the first in North Wales and will allow adult male offenders from the region to be held closer to their home areas, which we know is an important factor in reducing re-offending,” the spokesman said.

“Once operational, it is estimated the prison will create about 1,000 jobs and boost the local economy by around £23m per year.”

With an expected operational start date of 2017, the prison will be the largest in England and Wales and will house 2,100 Category C male offenders.

Plans for the prison, which is being built by contractor Lend Lease, were approved by Wrexham Council’s planning committee on November 3.

Councillors voiced concerns about the prison plans when put forward in October, with commitee chairman Cllr Michael Morris criticising a lack of detail but by the November meeting members were satisfied their concerns had been addressed, allowing work to go ahead.

Cllr Ray Squires, chairman of Abenbury Community Council – one of the communities to be affected by the arrival of the prison – said concessions over the prison’s construction would not have been won had campaigners not fought hard.

He said: “We know it’s coming, but if we hand’t fought against it, I don’t think we would have got the concessions we did.

“They’ve agreed to plant extra trees and boundaries in to screen the prison and they’ve agreed to put extra car parking in, and we know there’s going to be a bus service.

“We knew it was inevitable. You can’t fight the government.

“But if we hadn’t fought it all the while, they wouldn’t have given us what we’ve got.”
Wrexham Council’s lead member for economic regeneration, former council leader
Neil Rogers, said: “We cannot underestimate what benefits the new prison will bring to our county and the knock-on effects it will have on businesses throughout North Wales.

“We have already seen massive interest from businesses throughout the area via our supplier engagement events and we believe these benefits will be worth around a fifth of the total contract value, some £30m spent on local businesses.

“There will be around 100 apprenticeships, recruited locally where possible, and around 500 days of work placement schemes increasing each year during construction. Everyone involved in this project is to be congratulated on the hard work that has gone into this.”

Chirk councillor Ian Roberts, a former Mayor of Wrexham, also believes the planned development will create a large number of jobs and provide long-term financial security for the entire region.

“I think this development will prove to be hugely beneficial in financial terms for the entire area.

“We’re talking about the creation of 1,000 jobs at the prison itself, on top of all of the construction workers who will be needed to complete the massive building work on the prison.

“The allied service jobs which will be affiliated to the prison will surely thrive on the basis of this development too.

“I am aware of the strong opposition to this development from those who say the prison is not wanted, and that its huge size will encroach on the town.

“However, I believe the benefits of the project by far outweigh the negative aspects and that ultimately it will bring long-term prosperity.”