As staff at HMP Wellingborough now prepare for its closure later in the year by I am informed no longer taking in new prisoner’s and in fact starting to move existing prisoners on to other establishments there is understandably a high level of cynicism over the announcement that there will be a debate on the issue in parliament once the MP’s return in September.
If experience of the closure of HMP Ashwell is anything to go by other prisons will have already started to plan on what equipment and materials they can ‘liberate’ from HMP Wellingborough to be utilised in other establishments who themselves have faced drastic cuts in funding over the past 2 years, equipment and materials that would have to be replaced at great expense if the Government changes their mind in September.
Staff of course who work for the Prison Service will be offered the opportunity to be employed within an hours travelling of Wellingborough, the problem being that this applies only to the 240 prison service public sector staff.
Where the greatest concern remains is for those who are employed by the other providers such as the education staff who are contracted to Milton Keynes College, or Care UK to provide health services as well as those who provide the other essential services that enable a prion to operate effectively and efficiently, who will now face redundancy through no fault of their own.
The closure of Wellingborough prison has already been well documented and widely discussed and of course it is right for the local Conservative MP to ask for a debate in parliament.
But to what end?
The way the Government has treated the people who work in HMP Wellingborough by making the announcement on the last day of parliament before they broke up for the summer recess without consultation with the staff is bad enough, but to also make the announcement without informing or discussing it with the local MP is deplorable.
Already questions are being asked whether it was because they hold one of their own MP’s in such low regard or is it spite aimed at Wellingborough for being so efficient that they were not economically viable to transfer to the private sector, or revenge on an MP for being an outspoken critic of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition Government.
Whatever the reason, and no-one for a minute believes it is only to save £10 million, (£5 million of which would remain as salaries for those who are reassigned within the prison service), the debate in parliament is nothing more than for show which will undoubtedly be portrayed in Wellingborough and District as a success for the Conservative MP but will make no difference to a decision already taken.
If ever there was a question of why people should be cynical about the whole nature and way that modern-day Conservatives operate then the closure of HMP Wellingborough will be held up as a beacon of their attitude and contempt for the public.