December 9 2013 Latest news:
Friday, September 20, 2013
A campaign to stop Blundeston Prison being closed as part of cost cutting measures by the government has gathered pace this week.
The leader of the Labour group at Waveney District Council has called for the prison at Blundeston, near Lowestoft, and its 230 jobs to be saved after it was revealed at the beginning of the month the 50-year-old site would close to help save the Ministry of Justice £30m a year.
In a bid to try and halt the closure of the category C prison Tod Sullivan, the leader of the Labour opposition group, has tabled a motion to be discussed and voted on at a full council meeting of Waveney on Monday, September 30.
The motion says: “Blundeston prison is an important part of the Waveney community as a local employer and as a facility which aids in the detention and rehabilitation of prisoners.
“This council believes that the government should reconsider the decision to close Blundeston prison and are concerned at the evidence used to justify the decision, the haste with which it will close and impact upon the Waveney district.
“The council urgently requires that the government present and discuss with us the evidence which formed the basis of the decision, the considerations given to the social and economic impact within Waveney and potential for job losses.”
Mr Sullivan said: “It is clear that the decision is being made with indecent haste, little considerations for jobs and the wider economy in Waveney and without clear evidence to support the reasons behind the closure.
“I believe the council here in Waveney should send a strong message to Westminster that they need to listen to the needs of this community.
“I hope that all councillors will be able to support the motion put forward as it is a simple and clear statement in support of local workers.”
As well as the motion being proposed to try and save the prison Bob Blizzard, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, has revealed that more than 700 people have co-signed a letter he has sent to prime minister David Cameron to try ad make the ministry of justice change its mind.
He said: “The response has been fantastic. People are angry at the prospect of losing the prison. They don’t understand why Blundeston has been unfairly picked on.”
Peter Aldous, Waveney MP, has also pledged to make sure they government does all it can it to minimise the impact of the closure on prison staff and the local economy.
He said: “I am revisiting the prisons to speak again to staff and I shall do all that I can to ensure that their interests are properly looked after at this difficult time.
“It is also important to minimise any impact on the local economy and this is an issue which I am pursuing with the government.”
Blundeston prison has space for 526 prisoners and a 60-bed wing for life sentence prisoners and employs more than 100 prison officers and a further 130 staff.
It is one of four prisons to close as the government says they are too costly to run or need substantial capital investment.
By closing the prisons at Blundeston, Dorchester, Northallerton and Reading, the government says it will save the prison’s budget £30m a year.