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Goalposts have moved on prison plans; LETTERS.

I AM sure Alwyn Gruffydd of Llais Gwynedd did not deliberately intend to misrepresent my views on a North Wales Prison in his recent letter (Daily Post April 19) and will therefore allow me to set the record straight.

The campaign for a North Wales Prison has been long fought and the basic principle of ensuring a modern prison in the region for those who are currently held elsewhere well established.

Such a prison is crucial to ensure full Welsh language rights for prisoners and to assist with better contact with families. It is these basic principles that have been supported by all North Wales councils, whatever the final location of a new prison.

Readers will know that I and others lobbied hard to bring such a new prison to Caernarfon. The then Justice Minister David Hanson MP was fully supportive of our bid to build the 800 capacity prison on the old Ferodo site. Unfortunately, a change in Minister resulted in the decision being reversed.

The new Coalition Government at Westminster has recently announced its criteria for new prison build in the UK. Following much work by the six Council Leaders, North Wales is on the UK Government's shortlist for consideration.

However, the goalposts have changed considerably and the proposed new prison will bear little resemblance to the previous Caernarfon project agreed with David Hanson. The Ministry of Justice is now seeking sites that will cater for a minimum of 2,000 prisoners and serve not only prisoners from North Wales but also the North West of England and the West Midlands.

This is not the vision originally supported by Gwynedd and the need for such numbers and associated infrastructure makes a suitable site in the county challenging. But the basic principle of a prison in North Wales for North Wales prisoners remains.

I supported and campaigned for a new prison in Caernarfon for social, linguistic and economic reasons. Alwyn Gruffydd opposed this bid when he was a member of the Gwynedd Council Board in the previous council. I am glad to note that he has now dramatically changed his mind. He is welcome to contact me should he be aware of an appropriate site in Gwynedd that meets the Ministry of Justice criteria and has not yet been considered.

Councillor Dyfed Edwards Plaid Cymru Leader, Gwynedd Council
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 24, 2013
Words:389
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