Still no decision on future of Wellingborough Prison

Residents have complained about the state of the former Wellingborough Prison site
Residents have complained about the state of the former Wellingborough Prison site
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The future of a former prison site remains uncertain more than a year after its closure.

Wellingborough Prison closed in December 2012, with the loss of almost 600 prison places but saving £10m per year.

Residents have complained about the state of the former Wellingborough Prison site

Residents have complained about the state of the former Wellingborough Prison site

Nearly 18 months on, residents say the area has been abandoned and are calling for an end to the uncertainty over its future.

Richard Garvie, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Wellingborough and Rushden, met Millers Park residents to hear their concerns, including the site being overgrown and skips overflowing with rubbish.

He said: “A lot of these residents feel completely let down by the system, they were promised that the prison would not be allowed to close and then they were told that it would not be allowed to stand and go to ruin.

“What I want to see is regular communication from the prison service to local residents, regular maintenance and housekeeping of the site by the prison service and a real effort from all involved to ensure that people living here are looked after.

“Ultimately, we all want to see the prison re-opened as there is a real capacity issue with the prison service, but if this Government are going to sell off the site, local residents and the wider community should have a greater say in what is going to happen.”

Wellingborough and Rushden MP Peter Bone has been campaigning for the prison to be re-opened, and says it makes sense to re-open it rather than build new prisons in a bid to create extra prison places.

Mr Bone said: “The only thing we can do is keep putting pressure on the minister to make a decision, but I want him to make the right decision. I don’t want to force him to make the wrong decision.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The former Wellingborough Prison site has been secured and is protected by security staff at all times.

“We are currently considering future uses for the site – no final decisions have yet been made.”

The ministry started investigations into whether the site could be used for housing earlier this year, with a screening opinion request saying the site could deliver about 300 homes.

Millers Park resident Sarah Gee said: “Prison security is good with patrols every day, but no-one takes responsibility for the grounds, it’s all overgrown.

“The majority of people on Millers Park would like the prison re-opened as there would be more jobs for the area and there were no problems with it in the 10 years I’ve been here.

“It’s a worry what they could build on it.”