Prison minister confirms closure

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright (left) at HMP Wellingborough.
Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright (left) at HMP Wellingborough.

Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright confirmed HMP Wellingborough will close by the end of the year when he visited the prison today (Thursday, October 4).

Mr Wright visited the Millers Park prison at the request of Wellingborough MP Peter Bone.

He said it was being closed as the outdated buildings, sewage and heating system would cost £32m to revamp. But he didn’t rule out the possibility of the site being used as a prison again in the future.

Mr Wright said: “It’s important that I did see it for myself. It’s apparent to me that how passionately, not just all the people who work at the prison but the people who live in the community, feel about it. But the decision is not just about how well run it is.

“We have to think about our responsibility to tax payers to spend that money responsibly and efficiently.

“I can’t say that this prison will remain open, but we have not ruled out the possibility of it being used by the Ministry of Justice in the future.

“We will continue with the closure programme and we will think again about what to do with it.”

He added: “I can understand the concern of local businesses. We do not take this decision lightly. I understand the disappointment.”

Mr Bone said the campaign must now turn to getting a new bigger and more modern prison built on the site in the future, in place of the old outdated buildings.

He said: “I will fight for that and I think our campaign now should be that this [HMP Wellingborough] should be in the prison estate.

“He [Jeremy Wright] made it clear that he really didn’t like the old buildings. I got the impression that it would waste money to refurbish and he thinks the old part of the prison should be demolished and then a new part should be built.

“There’s no guarantee of that, but they have not ruled out the possibility. I think it’s a huge step forward.

“He made it clear there’s no plans for housing on that site, or a cemetery – that is a huge step forward.

“The new secretary of state has been in his job for a few weeks so I would presume that any decision would be made early next year.”

Campaigners from the Locals Against Wellingborough Shutting group have fought against the closure.

A campaign group member said: “No good came out of today at all.”