Today I had a meeting with the Governor of HMP Highpoint, his project manager and the Ministry of Justice program delivery lead for accelerated prison house block delivery.
We discussed the planning application, the state of the ring road and estate roads and joint working between the prison and West Suffolk Council.
For clarity, I made it clear that I would not be sitting on the planning committee that will decide on this application so that I have the freedom to say what I like in support of residents.
I explained that whilst I am broadly supportive of the expansion plans my support is dependant on the proposed East Carpark being relocated somewhere else and the roads being sorted.
Good news, I was informed that the ring road is not considered to be part of the planning application and is to be repaired anyway and in the near future. This will improve matters for residents hugely.
It was agreed that the estate roads needed fixing. The issue seems to be how to commit funds to this project within current regulations. I have asked everyone to think this through so that the “right” outcome is achieved. I explained we all need to be positive in seeking to do the right thing.
Should this prove impossible I have a plan “B” which I will speak about another time. It might be sensible to have a public meeting with residents as plan “B” will need their cooperation. Watch this space!
The conversation about joint working was very positive. We discussed work experience for inmates, growing of tree whips and shrubs, waste, MAGU maintenance or training of prisoners to do it. I am in the process of setting up a follow on meeting with officers from West Suffolk and the Prison to scope out what can be achieved.
I had a tour of the prison and in particular where the new buildings are to be located. The site can clearly take the expansion so let’s hope the carpark and roads don’t get in the way.
I briefly reminded them that the residents were part of their defence against drugs being chucked over the fence. Eyes and ears that need to be kept on side.