WREXHAM has been named as one of four potential sites announced for a new prison in Wales.
Prisons Minister David Hanson, MP for Delyn in Flintshire, revealed the former 108-acre Firestone factory in Wrexham and the former 27-acre Dynamex factory in Caernarfon have been earmarked as possible sites for an 800-capacity jail.
Two plots in South Wales – Cwmbran and Merthyr Tydfil – are also in the running.
Mike Mullis, business manager of the North Wales Criminal Justice Board, said: “We have been campaigning for 18 months for a prison in North Wales and we see this as a very positive step.
“There is a need for a prison in North Wales because all our prisoners have to go to England and we believe it’s vital to have a local prison to help reduce reoffending by working with prisoners in their own communities.”
He added: “With all the prison places in England, it is very difficult for first language Welsh speakers to get any education or training in their own language.”
Mr Mullis added an 800-capacity prison could have provision for 600 male prisoners with 200 places for females and young offenders in their own wings.
But Wrexham MP Ian Lucas said he will not support the proposal for a prison on the former Firestone site.
“This is the wrong site for a North Wales prison.”
He believes it is too far from the main court centre at Caernarfon, current transport links are poor and the site is on an industrial estate away from the town centre.
“Thirdly, we should be attracting industry to Wrexham’s Industrial Estate.
“Fourthly, there are other parts of Wales with far higher unemployment rates than Wrexham that would benefit from public investment of this nature”, he said.
Any plans would have to go through the planning process and a public consultation has been launched, which will run until October 31 after which a final decision will be made.