A prison or not as the case may be

So Government has decided it does not need to build a prison in Maghull after 13 years of mucking about. It was 1997 when out of the blue the previous Government said it wanted to take the Ashworth South site, that had previously been the home of Moss Side Special Hospital, to build a prison on it. Things have gone around in circles ever since but in recent months the old buildings have been demolished, the site cleared and access roads put it so it was a big surprise to hear that the prison was not going to go ahead.

Just before the 19997 prison announcement was made, indeed only a week or so before, I was discussing with Maghull Town Council colleagues how we could launch a proposal to try to get the site used for a business park to help with employment opportunities locally. Of course that rug was well and truly pulled from under our feet but now 13 years later could it be an opportunity to revisit that plan? I certainly think it is worth a go.

Of course, we don’t know what Government intends to do with the site and that is the crucial bit of information we need to know. Also, how does this turn of events affect the new Maghull North Railway Station that we have been campaigning for? The prison was due to hand over £480,000 to help get it built and although this is only a tiny amount of what will be needed to gain the new station it was a starting point. Many questions and at present few answers but we will be pressing for information and to be consulted over what the site is to be used for in the future.

By the way it is worth remembering that the proposal to build the prison was highly unpopular locally with petitions being supported by Lib Dem Councillors. In those days Tories and Labour kept their heads down and said nothing, indeed they gave it planning permission. So after we lost the battle to stop the prison we got stuck in to trying to negotiate the best compensation deal that we could and my former colleague Cllr. Roy Connell did a huge amount of work to this end.  I wonder what Roy thinks about his hours of negotiating now this has happened?

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