In the latest development in her campaign to ensure that no prison is ever built in West Lancashire, local MP Rosie Cooper has received further assurances from Justice Secretary Jack Straw confirming that the site in Scarisbrick ‘did not meet the specific requirements’ for a prison.
After further concerns were raised by local residents and Councillors at a Parish Council meeting in Scarisbrick, Rosie wrote to Jack Straw and raised a Parliamentary question on the issue, asking how his department was made aware of the potential site, which location in Scarisbrick was identified, when the decision to designate the site as a potential location was made and by whom.
Jack Straw confirmed that site search agents from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) were commissioned to seek out potential sites in early 2008. The site identified in Scarisbrick was a ‘200 acre golf course at Southport Road’. In his answer, the Secretary of State for Justice said:
“This site was identified on 13th May 2008 by our site search agents but was considered unsuitable by them, an assessment that was subsequently endorsed by NOMS on 16th May 2008. The reason for this was that a golf course in a rural location did not meet the specific requirement for a site close to an urban conurbation with good transport links… it was rejected at a very early stage of the assessment process.”
In his written response to Rosie, the Justice Secretary went further, saying that “The new prisons will be based in the areas of greatest strategic need. It has not yet been decided in which areas the new prisons will be located, but we have no plans to build a new prison in Scarisbrick.”
“I’m pleased to get this further clarification from Jack Straw that Scarisbrick is not suitable for a prison given its rural location. Local residents were concerned that the area may be included in a future search for new sites but I believe this information rules that out."
“In addition to all of the other commitments I have received it is clear that Scarisbrick is not considered as a suitable site for any size of prison, I hope that this further reassurance will put residents’ minds to rest.”