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Gloucester prison to close - as 200 staff face job losses

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 11, 2013

  • Gloucester Prison to close

  • "past its sell- by-date": Inside the prison.

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GLOUCESTER Prison will close its doors for the final time at the end of March – with its 200 staff now facing redundancy.

After 222 years serving the city, the Ministry of Justice said it costs too much to run and hasn't ruled out compulsory redundancies among the 200 staff.

It is one of six jails which will close, along with parts of three others, to save £63million a year.

Instead, a new prison for more 2,000 inmates is planned for London, the north west or north Wales. Another four new mini-prisons will hold 1,260.

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By the end of the financial year – March 2013 – all staff and up to 321 inmates will be gone. The sudden announcement did not surprise many in the city, after a series of critical inspection reports.

"Change sooner or later was inevitable," said Gloucester MP Richard Graham. "This gives us clarity. We can now get on with considering how the site can be best used to provide jobs and benefit the regeneration of the city centre."

Already it's been suggested the property, part of which is Grade II Listed, could be converted for use as flats or offices, but there is more immediate concern for jobs. An MoJ spokesman could not rule out compulsory redundancies.

"We do everything we possibly can to avoid compulsory redundancies by redeploying staff and using the voluntary early departure scheme," he said.

Mr Graham said he will work with Governor Chantel King, who was not available to comment yesterday, to meet staff next week.

Prisoners will be sent to other jails.

Gloucestershire Probation Trust boss John Bensted was surprised at the speed of the closure and said: "This is sad news for all staff at HMP Gloucester and for the city and county as a whole. We have a very strong team of probation staff in HMP Gloucester and have established very close working relationships with the governor and many of her staff. It is also disappointing as we were looking forward to working with the Governor to develop it as a community prison."

An ex-con, who did not wish to be identified, said he was glad it would close.

"We need prisons," said the man, who spent eight months on remand. "But when they are in that state, they are not doing anyone a favour, prisoners nor staff."

Retired Citizen crime reporter Dennis Apperly, who visited it many times during his career, welcomed the news too.

"It is well past its sell-by-date. It has a grim history of overcrowding and quite unacceptable living conditions. The place for a prison is not in a city centre."

The Government said the cost of holding a prisoner in an older prison is often more than double than in a new one.

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  • L804XDG  |  January 12 2013, 4:03PM

    NibNobs Fair point! :)

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  • CTFCScout  |  January 11 2013, 8:54PM

    If the jail is to be flattened, then Gloucester City should look at this land and the car park behind it as a site for a future stadium. Right next to the City Centre and The Docks - could easily get a 15,000 stadium built there. Okay, the Police Station, Magistrates Courts and a few other buildings might have to be demolished - but they can always be re-housed elsewhere (Docks maybe?) The Waterfront Arena - Home of Gloucester City Football Club. I copyrighted it, and will not sell for less than a pint of Gloucester Docks Ale!

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  • NibNobs  |  January 11 2013, 7:42PM

    L804XDG, You have forgotton to add on: 1. The housing benefit (landlord's rent paid by local council) 2. The council tax benefit (council tax fully paid by local council) 3. Income support/ESA 4. Free prescriptions etc. It all adds up to a lot more than you stated.

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  • L804XDG  |  January 11 2013, 5:55PM

    At the same time Honda announce 800 job cuts in Swindon for April, so were now 1000 people more on the dole! Looks like the ALLEGED deficit reduction gone wrong.... Standard dole rate £56.25 Standard dole rate for 1000 people for 1 week £56250 Standard dole rate for 1000 people for 4 weeks £225000 standard dole rate for 1000 people for 52 weeks £2925000 need I say more

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  • jeno2011  |  January 11 2013, 5:32PM

    Super-prisons will be a breeding ground for crime and alienate younger prisoners who are located many miles from home who can't get visits. When these people are released onto the streets you better stay off them.

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  • NibNobs  |  January 11 2013, 3:20PM

    Studley1975, Relocated to other prisons - yeah right.... Tell me would you want to drive over an hour each way commuting to get to Bristol, Bath or Worcester for a 5.45am start every day? Even if Shepton Mallet and Shrewsbury weren't closing they are over an hour and a half to drive to/back at night. There WILL be redundancies.

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  • zalapompadoo  |  January 11 2013, 3:18PM

    this is all wrong ,a ex prisoner was interviewed on tv last night he admitted Gloucester prison helped him get his life in order, what will happen to these people and as for US style super prisons do these stupid idiots in power realise this is the UK not the US, as for the staff what will they do there is so little work around problem id the toffs that run this country dont understand REAL people have to live .

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  • gloslad27  |  January 11 2013, 3:12PM

    People need to stop being so negative. No matter what they put here you will always moan. If you don`t like the shops etc in Gloucester then move somewhere else there are worst places in the UK. They will not have free parking in the City Centre because it wont be used by shoppers it will be used by office workers then the shoppers will moan. If you want free parking let the council increase their slice of your council TAX as they DON`T get enough as it is. That way they can afford to have some free car parks.

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  • DG9999  |  January 11 2013, 1:45PM

    Studley1975----------Read the article- compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out -which, because Shepton Mallet and Shrewsbury are also closing that jobs for Prison Officers in the area will be at a premium- which means job losses. Furthermore it has been also announced that further closures will be made next year.

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  • gingertrish  |  January 11 2013, 12:19PM

    I will repeat what I said on yesterdays article, that they are better off turning the prison into a museum / art gallery / theatre / arts centre. The gate entrance would be a good focal point, they can convert some of the cells into small art / display areas. Knock down the surrounding wall, create a parking area for the centre which is controlled by token/ticket so its free for those that visit and not used by those working in the local area. Just look at the Arnolfini, Tobacco Factory or Colston Hall in Bristol for inspiration, or even the Littledean Jail museum (as a basic) So the Prison won't be a modern, up to date building like these, but alot could be done to make it different and draw visitors in that only come to the Cathedral. Make the walk between Cathedral and Prison inviting and it would bring in alot more visitors.

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