Labour MP claims Baglan super-prison plan ‘on hold’

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Stephen Kinnock

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Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said prisons minister Rory Stewart told him the plans for a prison in Baglan were on hold

Plans for a controversial super-prison in Port Talbot have been put on hold, a Labour MP has claimed.

Stephen Kinnock said prisons minister Rory Stewart had told him he had taken note of the strength of opposition to open a prison at Baglan Moors.

His comments came after the Ministry of Justice said it remained committed to the proposal.

The ministry said it was sticking to its statement after the MP shared the account of his meeting on Friday.

Its comes after the Welsh Government said it would not support plans to open any new prisons in Wales unless “meaningful” talks were held with the UK government.

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It emerged last year that the UK government was planning a new Category C prison for up to 1,600 prisoners on undeveloped land in Baglan Moors.

The planned site, which is in an enterprise zone on land owned by the Welsh Government, has been criticised for being too close to schools and residential properties.

Labour ministers have faced pressure not to sell the land to the UK government – the Welsh Government’s stance means it is unlikely the Baglan plan will get Welsh Government support unless concerns are addressed.

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Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock said he and campaigners met with minister Mr Stewart last week.

He said: “The minister made it clear that he had listened carefully to the concerns and arguments that we had been making for some time, and had therefore decided to place further plans for the construction of a prison in Baglan on hold.

“He also made it clear that the MoJ remains committed to building a new prison in South Wales, and it was agreed that we would work with him and the Welsh Government to identify a viable alternative site or sites.”

He said he hoped it was “just a case of crossed wires inside the department”.

In a statement released earlier on Friday public services minister Alun Davies said: “I am concerned that without a meaningful an in-depth discussion with the UK government, we will continue to see increasing demand on Welsh public services and poorer outcomes for people in the criminal justice system in Wales.”

He added: “Until we have considered this in more detail and had more detailed discussions with the UK government, I do not believe it is in the interests either of the Welsh Government or people in Wales, to see further prison development in Wales.”

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The site on Baglan Moors is located in an enterprise zone

In response, a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spokeswoman said: “We remain committed to building a prison in Port Talbot, and continue to engage with local communities, businesses and other stakeholders.”

BBC Wales asked the Ministry of Justice to respond to Mr Kinnock’s comments, but it said its statement remained the same.

Mr Kinnock had welcomed the Welsh Government’s stance, as did Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Sayed, who said she believed the Baglan Moors prison would not now go ahead.

She said: “We’ve been pressing for the Welsh Government to see the light on this, and it looks like they now have, albeit after a year of mixed messages and indecision. I’m sure that the local campaign in Port Talbot against a new prison, has certainly gone a long way to influence the Welsh Government as well.”

Nearly 9,000 people signed a petition against the proposals last year.

Officials at the Welsh Government had put forward 20 potential sites for a new prison but the list was whittled down to three before the land on the Baglan Industrial Park site was chosen.

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