£1m construction skills project inside new Wellingborough prison approved

The new prison which is being funded by the Ministry of Justice will be built on the site of the former prison (pictured).
The new prison which is being funded by the Ministry of Justice will be built on the site of the former prison (pictured).

A new construction skills scheme which will provide training to hundreds of Northamptonshire people has been given the go-ahead.

Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet this week approved the £1m scheme which will operate from the new prison being built at Wellingborough.

The authority stepped forward to manage the build of the project of the modular building after Kier said it could no longer run it. Kier will still undertake the build.

Cllr Ian Morris, who is cabinet member for environment and public protection, said: “We are often criticised for not collaborating or coming up with schemes that help with everyone. The list of people we have collaborated with on this scheme has been immense. It is quite an undertaking and it is of no cost to ourselves. It is a £1m grant to provide construction skills training and should support 800 people and deliver jobs.

“This is a big win for us.”

Courses would be aimed at the unemployed, ex-offenders, ex-military and people at risk of redundancy, with training in a range of areas.

The £1m funding from the Department for Education includes the cost of the modular building, training costs and project management. There will be £60,000 towards the cost of a project manager. The Ministry of Justice is building the new prison which will be on the site of the former jail house which was closed down six years ago.

At the meeting cabinet members Cllr Andy Mercer and Cllr Sandra Naden Horley backed the scheme but insisted that if the costs overrun then the cash-strapped council does not have to pick up the bill.

Cllr Mercer said: “Since we are going to be the accountable body can we be sure that if there are overruns we won’t be stiffed like with Northampton Academy.”

The cost of the Northampton International Academy, which opened in September in the former Royal Mail sorting office in Barrack Road, overran by £11m and the authority is in discussions with the Department for Education about who will pick up the final cost.