Work on the new Wrexham prison site has already pumped more than £19 million into the local economy and is on course to create 1,000 jobs when completed, it emerged today.
Details of the multi-million boost were confirmed as Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb and Prisons Minster Andrew Selous toured the facility which is being built at the former Firestone Factory site on Wrexham Industrial estate.
The Chancellor George Osborne and the Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove announced today that nine new prisons will open in England and Wales as part of our reforms to close outdated, inefficient Victorian prisons and save £80 million annually.
The two Ministers met employees from some of the businesses working on site and heard how around £50 million will be spent with companies involved in construction – the majority of that with local firms.
During their hour-long tour, Mr Crabb and Mr Selous also saw the planned learning academy, a classroom area where prisoners will learn skills to give them a better chance of finding work after release. Wrexham Prison is being designed with a “rehabilitative culture” at its heart, which ranges from specialist training of staff to education, employment and recreation.
It also emerged today that half of all labour for the site will be recruited locally, together with 100 apprenticeships and 500 work placement days per year. The prison will also work with nearby schools to offer help with career assemblies and CV and interview preparation.
Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb said:
This is an exciting time for North Wales which has a fast growing economy based on a dynamic mix of major exporters and a thriving small business sector .
Public sector projects like Wrexham prison demonstrate how the region is in prime position to make multi million pound investments work. Wrexham Prison is providing contracts for regional businesses and jobs for local people.
The Prisons Minister and Secretary of State were shown how work is progressing on two house blocks as well as the sports hall and support building.
Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said:
Our current prison estate is overcrowded, out of date and needs reform. We must act to reduce re-offending, cut crime and make our streets safer. Without this, there will be more reoffending, more crime, more victims and the public will be less safe.
This new prison at Wrexham will allow us to transfer offenders from ageing and ineffective buildings into new accommodation which offers far better opportunities to develop the work, education and life skills needed for effective rehabilitation.
This site will also give a huge boost to the local economy and it is encouraging to see first-hand how far construction is progressing and the opportunities already available for local people and businesses.
The significant contribution which Wrexham Prison will make to North Wales underlies the Government’s determination to rebalance the economy away from its traditional reliance on London and the South East. The Northern Powerhouse - which is progressively linking major cities across the north - is set to benefit the area with a new wave of investment and jobs
The first block of the prison is expected to open in February 2017 and will house 2,106 inmates. It is due to be fully operational by late 2017.