Today (Wednesday 12 July) Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock met with the Prisons Minister, Sam Gyimah, and senior Ministry of Justice Officials to discuss the proposed prison in Baglan, leaving them in no doubt about the opposition and concerns of the local community.
In what was a robust discussion, Kinnock repeatedly raised the concerns of the community with the Minister and his Officials. Kinnock pointed, in particular, to concerns around:
- Why the Baglan site was chosen by the government over Felindre.
- The proximity of the prison to local schools such as Ysgol Bae Baglan, St Josephs and Ysgol Newydd Gymunedol Gymraeg (once construction is complete), as well as the proximity to the Llys Y Seren care home and residential properties.
- The proposed prison being built on a greenfield site, despite Ministry of Justice criteria stating the prison should be built on a brownfield site
- The nature of the proposed consultation. Mr Kinnock pressed for the promised two day consultation meeting to take place as soon as possible, requested that the Minister himself visit the proposed site and meet with the local community as soon as possible.
- The impact of the proposed prison on the already congested Junction 41 of the M4. Kinnock relayed local concerns around the possibility of congestion at J41, particularly in the event of any emergency at the site.
Stephen Kinnock further made clear to the Minister that the purpose of the Department’s consultation on the prison must not be simply about the proposed prisons design and infrastructure, but rather that it must genuinely involve the community in decisions about the location of the proposed prison. Kinnock made clear that the concerns of the community center around the inappropriateness of the Baglan site, and expressed the local communities questions as to why the Felindre site had been rejected.
Kinnock hopes to hold further meetings and discussions with the Minister about the proposed prison, and looks forward to introducing the Minister to the local community so that he can hear the views of those who will be most impacted by this proposed prison.
Commenting on the meeting, Stephen Kinnock said:
“In a robust exchange with the Minister I raised the numerous concerns of our community about the proposed prison. I made it clear that I stand with the community in rejecting the idea of a prison on this site in Baglan.
“I made clear to the Minister that we won’t allow this prison to simply be imposed upon us. The Baglan site is inappropriate, being too close to schools, a care home and residential properties, as well as being a greenfield site.
“I also pointed out to the Minister our concerns about accessibility, the possibility of additional congestion at Junction 41 and our hopes for a far more open and inclusive consultation process going forward.
“The Minister has been left in no doubt about local opposition to this proposal, and I urged him to come to Port Talbot, to visit the site and community in Baglan, and to hear from residents precisely why this site is so inappropriate.
“I look forward to introducing the Minister to local residents so that he can hear the views of those who will be most affected by this proposed prison site.
“I hope the Minister and the Ministry of Justice will take our concerns into account, and that they will revise these proposals accordingly. Words come easily, but it is actions that matter, and so we must continue to make our voice heard. I will keep doing that in Parliament, and we must keep on doing so locally, and so I urge everyone who feels strongly about this to write to the Minister and to actively engage in the consultation process when it is launched.”