Michael Gove to visit Harborough weeks after giving the green light to controversial super prison

Michael Gove recently approved plans for the super prisonMichael Gove recently approved plans for the super prison
Michael Gove recently approved plans for the super prison
He will be in town on Friday

The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is visiting the Harborough district.

Michael Gove will come to the area on Friday – weeks after he gave the green light to build a super prison. He will meet members of the Harborough, Oadby and Wigston Conservative Association at an undisclosed location.

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The prison plans had already been unanimously turned down by Harborough District Council last April. A public inquiry held by a government planning inspector then recommended the application by the Ministry of Justice by refused.

But Mr Gove last month gave the go-ahead to build a £300million super prison which will be around the size of 14 football pitches.

Gartree Action Group says it has six weeks to lodge an appeal.

Group spokeswoman and Lubenham Parish Council chair Diana Cook said: “We believe a statutory challenge will be the next step and much stronger if Gartree Action and all parties work together to convey to Westminster our collective opposition.

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“Their action has disenfranchised local democracy, contradicts their own Levelling Up White paper and has ruptured the trust of the local community in government.

"This is a whole new huge prison four storeys high, it will have a car park to hold 500 vehicles and with all the service vehicles this indicates the size of the operation and the impact it will have locally. All this is in addition to the existing prison which struggles to get staff.”

The group recently met with Harborough District Council leader Phil Knowles and Harborough MP Neil O’Brien who pledged to work together to support change.

Cllr Knowles said: “The decision by Mr Gove is deeply concerning. The planning committee refused the application and the inspector, having listened to a huge amount of evidence and also having visited the site supported the refusal. Yet the Secretary of State took the decision to override everything.

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“I understand that Mr Gove will be in Market Harborough for a political event. I’ve written to him directly and also asked our MP to urge Mr Gove to meet with me. There are questions that need to be put and answers required. Even at this late stage I really do feel that Mr Gove needs to explore any window of opportunity to think again.”