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County council pitches 'super' prison plan to Government

Longtown could be the site for a new ‘super’ prison housing up to 2,000 inmates.

Eddie Martin photo
Eddie Martin

Cumbria County Council believe unused parts of the munitions depot could make way for such a prison. The government is proposing to build three nationally – in London, Wales and the north – to replace outdated smaller ones.

The county council has sent paperwork pitching the idea – their official expression of interest – to the Ministry of Justice.

It has also mentioned the plan to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which owns and runs the depot.

The future of operations at the Longtown depot is under review. They may be scaled down or the site closed completely.

Council leader Eddie Martin has written to Philip Dunne, the minister in charge of the review, suggesting the MoD site be considered for the prison.

He said: “There are 260 sheds on the site because they are required. But many of them are empty so there is a great deal of space.

“What I’m suggesting is that the Ministry of Justice should consider that land. It could meet many requirements of a prison.”

Mr Martin pointed out that the site is secure, and has good transport links, and meets the requirement of being 350 acres.

He also added that a prison could bring a jobs boost to Longtown and said that, because the site is in Government hands, the Justice Ministry would not have to buy privately-owned land

The idea has been discussed with Longtown’s local representatives and the depot’s union leaders, as well as members of Carlisle City Council and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.

“This is very early days,” Mr Martin said. “Obviously there is a long way to go .”

The council returned its prison site search requirements form this week, in time for the application deadline today.

Mr Martin added that community consultation would be carried out if the idea goes further. He said he expected bids to come in from other parts of the north west, including the Liverpool and Manchester areas.

Community leaders in Longtown gave a mixed reaction to the idea.

Paul Brown, chairman of Arthuret parish council, said: “It could be a very good thing, provided there is a lot of consultation.”

Ray Bloxham, city council member for Longtown, echoed this point and added: “I appreciate what they are trying to do but there really does have to be a lot more thought put into this.”

Val Tarbitt, who represents the town on the county council, said it could bring many jobs to Longtown.

A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Justice has written to a number of local authorities requesting information. No decisions on the future site have been made.”

Have your say

This is for blueUK you already have criminals who have just been let out of prison sitting at your bus stops and train stations traveling home after serving there time behind bars and you already have the half way houses so what is the problem hmp haverigg them people look out of there windows at the prison what isn't even half a mile between them but you don't hear them complaining

Posted by Missy on 22 April 2013 at 17:13

Walking down West Walls in Carlisle, it is hard not to notice a derelict eyesore of a hotel on Victoria Viaduct which I gather cannot be converted into flats because it has no car parking. Given that we do not tend to issue convicted felons with cars, a small prison on the site might be ideal.

It is in a traditional area for a prison in that prisoners were in days gone past jailed at The Courts.

in terms of exterior appearance, some nice fetching Victorian bars on the windows would be more fetching than the current scaffolding and plywood decor.

Indeed we could make it a special prison for those yobs guilty of vandalism and anti-social behaviour. Add in some leg irons, manacles, a few of those ball and chains, set up some public stocks (Tescos could supply the out of date eggs and tomatoes) and hey presto, the County Council has a new tourist attraction for Cumbria.

Further the development would be perfectly in keeping with the aim of the current administration to take our courts and justice system back to those wonderful Dickensium times.

Posted by West Walls Walker on 22 April 2013 at 10:58

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