Last chance to have your say on plans for a new £300 million jail near Gartree Prison

The deadline for your views is Monday August 2

Friday, 30th July 2021, 12:04 pm
The site of the proposed £300 million jail.

People across Harborough have just three days to make their voice heard on a huge new £300 million jail set to be built next to Gartree Prison.

You can register your views and thoughts and send your comments on the proposed high-security jail to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) until Monday (August 2).

Officials at the MoJ will then study and review public feedback before deciding whether to submit a planning application on the bombshell move to Harborough District Council.

The final deadline for having your say on the fast-developing, high-profile issue is looming as MoJ bosses behind the 1,700-inmate prison are being urged to listen to local people.

Speaking as the key Government department launched a wide-ranging public consultation, Cllr Phil Knowles told the Harborough Mail: “It’s extremely important that everyone who will be affected by this planned new prison makes sure that they are being heard.

“This is a huge blueprint – and it will have a massive impact on the whole of Harborough district.

“We are being told it will create 600-700 jobs – and that’s to be welcomed.

“But we have to look very carefully at how this enormous new jail will impact on our local infrastructure.

“Local roads are going to get much busier,” said Cllr Knowles, who leads Harborough council’s Liberal Democrat group.

“Have we got enough hospitals, medical centres, dentists and schools to cater for the new influx of people coming into Harborough?

“And what about new houses?

“Will we need hundreds more houses to accommodate new workers flooding into this part of our district?

“We’ve already got thousands more people moving into Market Harborough over the next few years as new estate after new estate is built.

“We’re also hearing rumours that the current Gartree Prison is to be expanded as well.

“We are in danger of an entire triangle of our patch between Foxton, Lubenham and the A6 being turned into one vast prison complex.

“I will take a lot of convincing that building this massive new jail next to Gartree is the right thing to do,” said Cllr Knowles.

“And I suspect that a lot of people who live here in and around Market Harborough will think the same.

“I want to see the full proposals from the Ministry of Justice, all of the details and small print, so we know exactly what they are planning to do.

“It is critical that the Ministry of Justice listens to the people of Harborough.

“This can’t be allowed to become just a box-ticking exercise, paying lip service to residents.

“People’s feedback is crucial.

“Our constituents have got to be taken into account and their views respected and acted on.”

The new initiative is set to create up to 700 jobs and plough about £75 million into the local economy if it’s backed by Harborough council, the district’s planning authority.

The mooted new penal establishment would be a Category B training prison, locking up long-term and high-security convicts.

It will be built over the next four years if it goes ahead.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “The new prison proposal is part of the MoJ’s New Prison Programme.

“The prison would be the greenest prison built so far and follow a new design that helps aid rehabilitation of offenders, helping make our communities safer.”

She added: “The new prison would also create over 600 permanent jobs in the local area once operational and hundreds of local jobs during construction.

“We want to hear the views of the local community before we consider submitting a planning application.”

The current high-security Gartree Prison is starting to show its age as it dates back to 1965 – and it houses about 630 prisoners.

The Ministry of Justice has told people how they can tell them exactly what they think of their high-impact initiative.

“The Ministry of Justice is seeking the views of residents and businesses on proposed plans for a new prison near Market Harborough.

“Having reviewed a number of sites across the country, we believe that land next to HMP Gartree, near Market Harborough would be an appropriate location for a new prison,” says the MoJ.

“Before we progress with these proposals, we want to engage with you and your local community to ensure your views are considered and to share with you the benefits that a potential new prison will bring to Harborough, such as: creating new and local employment opportunities; offering apprenticeships; upskilling people in construction; and spending locally and with social enterprises.”

You can send the MoJ your views on the proposed new Gartree jail by clicking the online survey link here: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/proposed-new-prison-in-market-harborough/consultation/intro/