Bridgend’s experience suggests that Port Talbot has nothing to fear from plans to build a prison at Baglan, says Carwyn Jones.
Facing questions at the National Assembly, the First Minister assured Aberavon AM David Rees that from his experience as the AM for Bridgend, where Parc Prison is located, he need have no fears that the building of a prison in his area will have a negative impact.
Mr Jones said the new prison will create 500 local jobs and generate £11 million in revenue for the local economy.
He told Mr Rees: “Could I reassure my colleague that, as somebody who has a prison in his constituency, and who was the ward councillor when the prison was being built, there were concerns at the time, no question about it, but that those concerns were never realised?
“We didn’t lose investment. In fact, a brand new housing estate is being built almost up to the prison perimeter at the moment, and those houses are being sold.
“Whereas people will inevitably have concerns about something new in the area, what we know not just from Bridgend, but from elsewhere in Wales, is that prisons do generate jobs and ultimately, of course, they don’t have a negative effect on the local economy or town.
“I speak as somebody with a prison in my constituency. It had no detrimental effect at all on the immediate area, or indeed on the town of Bridgend, or indeed on investment.”
Mr Jones said that another modern prison is needed in south Wales and that there’s no getting away from that.
He added: “Of course, it’s hugely important to work with local people and businesses in order to reassure them, based on what I’ve seen with my own eyes in Bridgend.
“I remember what happened in 1995-96, when Parc Prison was built, people did have a lot of questions, and those questions were dealt with by way of a public consultation.
“And, of course, we see ourselves 20 years on – not without teething troubles, I have to say, when the prison was opened—but, 20 years on, the prison is accepted as part of the community and has created hundreds of jobs.”
Report by Michael Prosser