Aldous questions Prisons Minister about closure of Blundeston prison

Waveney MP Peter Aldous has further questioned the Prisons Minister about the closure of HMP Blundeston. Mr Aldous first raised the issue in a letter to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling on 9th September in which he expressed his disappointment about the decision to close the prison.

In Oral Questions to the Prisons Minister, Jeremy Wright MP, in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Aldous called for the publication of the evaluation report for Blundeston on which the Government’ss decision to close the prison was based. In particular, Aldous asked for confirmation that recent building improvements and the work done by staff to make the prison a high-performing, well-run and cost-effective prison were all fully taken into account.

Continuing to pursue the issue on behalf those affected by the closure, Mr Aldous has written a further letter to Jeremy Wright outlining concerns raised at a meeting arranged by Blundeston Parish Council at Blundeston Village Hall last Saturday. It focuses on the implications for the local community and seeks clarification on the following:-

  • Confirmation that the evaluation was thorough and exhausted all other possible options.
  • Assurances that the necessary security measures will be in place to ensure against trespassing and vandalism once the prison has closed.
  • The future use of the prison site and whether other Government departments could be interested.
  • An update on the progress of the redeployment process.
  • A review of the procedures in place to announce closures of this kind.

In the letter Aldous reiterated the importance that the evaluation process on which such decisions are made is fully transparent.

Commenting today Peter said:

“The meeting with the Parish Council was extremely helpful in enabling me to listen to residents’ concerns and relay them onto Government so as to ensure that all practical steps are taken to address these; I shall continue to do this over the coming weeks.”

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): The wrong decision to close HMP Blundeston in my constituency was taken after a detailed evaluation of every establishment across the prison estate. Please can the Minister publish the evaluation report for Blundeston and confirm that it took full account of both the building improvements that have taken place in the past two years and the work done by staff in that period to make Blundeston a high-performing, well-run and cost-effective prison?

Jeremy Wright: As my hon. Friend would expect, I cannot agree that the wrong decision was taken, but I can reassure him that we carried out a full and proper assessment of what was going on not only at Blundeston, but across the estate. The reason I cannot publish that is, as he will immediately understand, that it is a comparative analysis and so would cause considerable consternation among prisons that did not quite make the cut. However, we will do everything we can to ensure that those currently employed at Blundeston are properly looked after, and we will work with him in any way we can to address the future use of the site. He and I have spoken about this matter many times, and I am sure that those who work at the site and have him as their representative will be very grateful for his interest.

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