Slammer under hammer
by Maria Shahid Tue 10 November 2015, 4:45 pm
Reading Prison is to be the first to be sold off under Michael Gove MP’s £1 billion “new for old” prison reform programme it has been announced.
Reading Borough Council has been looking for the government to give a firm timetable over the sale of the prison, which has been closed since late 2013, and had set up a petition to press for action on the building’s future, which had received 700 signatures.
Deputy leader of the council, Tony Page, had written to Gove twice to record his council’s views on the absence of a timeframe for disposal of the site. Page had commented to Reading:UK magazine, published in October, that: “We had hoped that rapid decommissioning would be followed by swift development. Instead the inaction is disgraceful – the government spends at least £25,000 per month on mothballing the buildings”.
Gove’s announcement has the backing of the chancellor, George Osborne, and will involve the closure of a number of older prisons, with their sites to be sold off. The money made on the sale of the sites is to be used to construct nine newer prisons with a total capacity of 10,000.