CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a ‘mega-prison’ east of York claim the Government has broken a promise to hold a public inquiry if such a scheme was ever proposed.

Full Sutton residents have been fighting a prolonged battle against a Ministry of Justice proposal to build a category C jail for 1,440 prisoners on land adjacent to the existing maximum-security prison in the village.

Now, through a Freedom of Information request, the villagers have discovered the minutes of a meeting held in 1979 about the original high security prison plans, which involved council officers and the Home Office.

The minutes show that a Home Office official called Mr Buttery "accepted that the original proposals were for two prisons on this site, but he said that it was highly unlikely that they would ever want to place a second prison on this land and, on confirmation of this, the land would be disposed of in the normal manner".

The minutes added: “If, however, this land was required for a second prison, the Home Office would undertake to engage in a full scale public inquiry.”

Fiona Roberts, a local resident, said: “When proposals for HMP Full Sutton were put forward in 1979, the council chose not to oppose them, despite significant local objection, on the basis that stringent conditions were applied.

“One of those conditions was a promise by the Home Office to undertake a public inquiry should the adjacent land be required for a prison in the future. That condition was accepted, Full Sutton prison was built and now the promise has been broken.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the new prison would boost the area and create well-paid jobs, adding: “We understand some local people have worries about extra traffic and will continue to work with them and the council during the planning process to address these concerns.”