Wales online: Contractor selected to build super prison in North Wales
Contractor selected to build super prison in North Wales
- By Alicia Melville-Smith
Lend Lease has been selected to build the Wrexham prison the Ministry of Justice announced this morning
Lend Lease has been selected to build the new super-prison in North Wales, the Ministry of Justice announced this morning.
The project is now expected to cost £212m – less than the £250m originally estimated.
The construction contract won by Lend Lease, which has global headquarters in Australia, is £151m plus VAT.
The MoJ stated: “The proposals include approximately £50m to be spent with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), £30m to be spent with local businesses and 50% of the entire workforce to be recruited from the local area, including around 100 apprenticeships.
“Lend Lease has also proposed to offer practical help to local schools and dedicate time to meeting local needs with a Community Engagement Manager employed.”
Conservative prisons minister Jeremy Wright described how much of investment is likely to reach local businesses.
Speaking shortly before the announcement, he said: “We have an overall budget we’ve set for the project of £250m. We think in fact it will come in below that, which is the first piece of good news.
“And £151m is what we say is the value of the construction contact – that’s the contract that we will be awarding and announcing today. Now, of that £151m, about £50m will be going to small and medium-sized enterprises, which again is good news – we’re very keen within the department and within Government to make sure that SMEs have their slice of the cake…
“[We] estimate that when the thing is built and it’s up and running it will bring about 1,000 jobs to the area and we think about £23m extra every year in terms of additional benefits to the local economy. So this is a really good news story for the North Wales local economy and for Wrexham.”
Describing a “speed-dating” technique adopted to help local businesses win work, he said: “We’d got to the point by round about January where we’d narrowed it down to about four potential main contractors… And, actually in January what we did – and this is quite innovative, I think – we had what you might describe as a speed-dating event for all four of those main contractors to come to a central location, very near to the site in Wrexham and to meet with potential subcontractors…
“We had 250 companies come to that event with the four potential main contractors. We could have had 100 more if we’d had the space, so there was very good uptake for that.”
He added: “It’s a new way of doing things to try and make sure that main contractors are talking to SMEs and local companies at the very start of the process before they’ve even put in their own bid.”
Addressing concerns that the facility will resemble a US-style “Titan” prison, he said: “Well, it isn’t, and the first thing to say of course is there hasn’t been a prison in North Wales before so we think there is a real benefit, actually, to particularly prisoners’ families who at the moment may have to travel a long way if they live in the North Wales area to visit their loved ones in prison. They will now have to travel much less far of course and we expect to see a real benefit not just to people who live in North Wales but also to people living in the northwest of England.”
He continued: “What we’ve seen very clearly is that very small older prisons are very much more expensive to run. The best way to do this is get the economies of scale that a larger institution gives you, but also to make sure that you are not dealing with one big monolithic warehouse with 2,100 people in – I think that’s the fear here, that we’re going to be constructing one big building with 2,000 people in it.
“That’s not what it’s going to look like and if you’ve seen any of the pictures that we’ve already produced to show an artist’s impression if you like of what it will be like, that’s not what you’re seeing. You’re seeing a number of different accommodation blocks, each of which will be subdivided within themselves, so each accommodation block will be much smaller but you’ve got the space on site to put very substantial work facilities.
“And that’s very important because we want prisoners to be working during the day. We want them to be doing it first of all to make sure they are gainfully occupied but second of all to make sure they are gaining the skills and qualifications we would like them to have to give them the best chance of going straight when they come out and staying out of trouble.
“So having the space on site to deliver all kinds of training and vocational education is hugely important and you need a big site to do that.”
Aled Roberts, Welsh Lib Dem North Wales AM said: “Ever since I was Leader of Wrexham council I have been pushing hard for a prison to be built in North Wales. Today’s announcement means that this will now be delivered by the Coalition Government.
“It was imperative that the prison also provided an economic benefit for the whole region. I am very pleased therefore that £30m will be spent with local businesses, half of the entire workforce will be recruited from the area and 100 apprenticeships will be created locally. This will provide a much needed boost to the local community here in north Wales.
“Our region needs a prison as it’s simply not right that families from North Wales have had to travel such long distances to visit family members. The emotional and financial strain put on these families is simply unacceptable.”
Welsh Secretary and Conservative Clwyd West MP David Jones said: “The new prison in Wrexham will bring a huge boost to the regional economy in North Wales. During the local supplier event in January we saw the high quality products and services on offer from local businesses vying to be a part of this important development.
“I was delighted to see so many companies expressing such a strong interest in playing their part in the construction of the prison. It was a clear demonstration that Wales has some of the very best suppliers in the UK and I look forward to seeing them benefitting directly from today’s significant announcement.”