Aberavon MP, Stephen Kinnock and Assembly Member, David Rees, wrote to Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah following the announcement on 22nd March of a new prison to be sited in Port Talbot, requesting information about the location and greater detail of the proposed prison.
To their dismay the Prisons Minister failed to respond to their letter at all until Mr Kinnock raised the question in Parliament with the Secretary of State for Wales, Alan Cairns. Mr Kinnock’s questioning appeared to shake Mr Gyimah into action, because that very same day he sent what appeared to be a hastily drafted letter to both Mr Kinnock and Mr Rees.
Mr Gyimah’s letter completely failed to address any of the substantive concerns and questions raised, and Mr Kinnock and Mr Rees have therefore responded with further calls for clarification.
Commenting on the exchange, Mr Kinnock said:
“We first heard about these proposals on 22 March, the very next day I wrote to Mr Gyimah with a range of questions. From what the reasons for selecting Baglan Ind park was, if any other sites were considered, and more.
“Having not received a reply for over a month, I raised the matter in Parliament. This prompted Mr Gyimah to write his letter, in which he claimed he wasanswering my questions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr Gyimah’s letter is full of empty platitudes, and I am deeply disappointed by the lack of respect that he has shown to the people of my constituency, and to the Baglan community in particular.
“I have therefore written, yet again, to Mr Gyimah reiterating my concerns about the proposed site and making it crystal clear that I do not support the proposed location for this prison. I have also repeated my insistence that he come to Port Talbot to meet with our community and to hear our concerns.
“Let us hope that it doesn’t take another month for Mr Gyimah to reply to my letter, and let us also hope that the indifference that has been shown so far is not a sign of things to come.”
Mr Rees, Assembly Member for Aberavon said:
“The failure of the Westminster government to provide any clarity to important questions that local people deserve to have answered is astounding. The two letters we received, which were almost identical, only show the lack of interest in people’s concerns and the total lack of respect that this Minister has given to local people and their communities. This is not good enough and I have also sent a second letter asking him to answer the questions, provide the detail people deserve and explain his decision.
“I have raised the matter of the location with the First Minister at the National Assembly today and I will continue to press for more information from the Welsh Government which provides detail and not empty rhetoric.
“This is not how the Westminster Government should treat people.”