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MP asked to push for answers on prison site's future
2:40pm Friday 4th October 2013 in News
COUNCILLORS have called for one of the country's most senior politicians to press the Government for answers on the future of a North Yorkshire prison site once it closes later this year.
Northallerton Prison will shut as part of a Ministry of Justice modernisation programme, with the loss of 135 jobs, and Hambleton District Council has urged Richmond MP and Foreign Secretary William Hague to put pressure on the Government department for answers about what may replace it.
Council leader Mark Robson met Mr Hague today to outline the authority's own regeneration plans for the town, saying £30,000 had been set aside for a new study into the area around East Road, including the prison, with £100,000 having already been spent on a new economic study.
"The project will look at the potential for the redevelopment of this whole area and we see this as a great opportunity for Northallerton, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to look at a key site in the town," he said.
"The loss of jobs with the closure of not just the prison, but the Rural Payments Agency [where 350 jobs will be relocated] is a huge blow to the town, but we want to look at the positives and be ready when the prison closes its doors for the last time to start the regeneration process."
Coun Robson said the council is also writing to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling asking whether the prison site will be kept, mothballed or sold and what the timescales will be. He also said the council wanted to know if the Ministry of Justice would work with the authority on its regeneration project.
Mr Hague said: "This has been a useful meeting and it is vital we all work together to secure the future of Northallerton.
"I will be discussing all these issues with the Justice Secretary and will keep in touch with the council and the local task force."
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