Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock has expressed his disappointment after Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah MP turned down the invitation to attend a public meeting on the proposed prison in Port Talbot.
In the first questions in Parliament after the summer recess, Mr Kinnock said, ‘The Minister’s plans to build a prison on the Baglan industrial park in my constituency are causing a huge amount of concern and disquiet with the community. Could I urge the Minister to come to the public meeting that I have organised on the 20th of September to explain the position to the community?’
Mr Gyimah’s responded with, ‘The Honourable Member is aware that Ministers do not attend public consultation events around obtaining planning permission for new prisons. He is also aware that the site in Port Talbot was proposed along with a number of other sites by the Welsh Government who continue to support us in redeveloping the site for the purpose of the new prison. I have received his representations on behalf of his constituents, he is very diligent and persistent, and also we had a meeting on this on 12th July. Obviously, subject to the two day consultation, which is more than would normally ordinarily happen, I will be willing to engage with him further on what can be done to ameliorate the concerns of his constituents.’
After the exchange, Mr Kinnock said, ‘The Minister’s response is disappointing, he side-stepped the question by referring to the planning consultation events, but his response was a clear no to the public meeting. He has said he will engage meaningfully with the local community, but has turned down this opportunity to hear the concerns of local residents and to answer their questions. Words are easy, but as the Minister is proving, actions are much harder.
‘My invite to him was also extended to his officials and I hope he will consider sending an official to the meeting.’