COUNCIL leaders and public service officials welcomed the possibility of building a new prison in North Wales.
The North Wales Regional Leadership Board, which represents six North Wales County Councils, the Police and Crime Commissioner, North Wales Police, North Wales Fire and Rescue and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, approved of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s recent announcement that North Wales could be the site of a new 2,000-inmate prison.
Denbighshire Council Leader, Cllr Hugh Evans, said: “It is great news that we are on the shortlist of regions to be considered for a new prison.
“The Board has been lobbying for a prison in North Wales for over 5 years.
“I believe our efforts have put us in contention for a substantial investment in our region that could create over a thousand jobs and provide a major £50m per annum boost to the economy of North Wales.”
The Greengates site in St Asaph has been identified as a possible location for a new prison in the past.
St Asaph councillor Bill Cowie said: “As far as I’m concerned St Asaph ticks all the boxes.”
The leadership board agreed that the proposed prison would serve North Wales and parts of England.
North Wales Police will outline the benefits a prison would have to community safety thanks to reduced re-offending the in region.
Gwynedd Council Leader, Cllr Dyfed Edwards, said: “There is a strong public service efficiency argument for a prison in North Wales.
“We need the investment and the jobs but we also need to have a prison where the Welsh Language Act applies so that Welsh culture can be recognised in the prison system.
“A prison in North Wales will be closer to home. Better access for family and professional support workers to prisoners from North Wales will result in reduced re-offending and safer communities on offender release.”
Board representitives are due to meet with Ministry of Justice officials to confirm the timescale and specification for building the new prison.