Melling (not Maghull) – New Unit for Ashworth Hospital?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/plan-new-60m-medium-secure-11985386

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

The plan to move the Scott facility in St. Helens to the Ashworth site has been around for quite a while now, indeed I recall that plans to sell off part of the grounds/parkland that surround Ashworth Hospital for the building of new housing were meant to help pay for the new facility. Is that still the case?

My previous posting of January 2015, with a number of important questions, refers – see the link to that posting below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/01/24/maghull-scott-clinic-closure-points-to-the-service-being-run-from-maghull-in-the-future/

It should also be noted (again) that the land between Ashworth Hospital and the soon to be closing Kennet Prison is actually in Melling not Maghull.

Melling – When is a shock not a shock at all? – Closure of Kennet Prison

Recent Liverpool Echo and Aintree & Maghull Champion newspaper stories refer:-

If you lived in Melling or Maghull when this prison was originally foisted on the community you may recall that that undertakings were given back then (2006/2007) that it would only be a temporary prison and that the land had only been leased for 10 years. This information is no state secret and was readily available back then and it’s less than 10 years ago that it all happened.

Yes the government of the day has since changed twice since 2007 first to the Coalition and more recently to a Tory one but as far as I can see all the present Tory Government has done is to carry out the undertaking made by Labour when they opened the prison, nothing more, nothing less.

So where is the shock? Surely the shock would have been if the Tories had decided to extend the lease or even make the prison permanent, would it not?

As for our MP who seems to want to scrutinise the present Government’s decision to close the prison, what is there to scrutinise? We are told it is overcrowded and unsuitable for a prison due to its layout etc. Yes, the unsuitability of the buildings seems to me to be correct. As for the overcrowding, it either has too many prisoners in it or it does not. If there are too many then that is clearly unacceptable.

So what does the MP want to scrutinise? Does he think it is suitable to be a permanent prison or at least to be kept open for a longer period? Does he think that the overcrowding needs to be investigated? Does he feel that the undertaking of the last Labour Government was wrong and that the present Tory Government should not have stuck to those undertakings? It would help if he was clearer as to what shocked him about the recent announcement and what he feels needs to be scrutinised because at present there has been no shock and things have proceeded as they were seemingly meant to.

Is this story just a reflection of the 24/7 news environment we seem to live in these days where even ordinary run of the mill stories are ‘bigged up’ and put before us by the media on the basis that we can’t recall what happened last week so will be shocked by information that is no shock at all?

My letter to the Champion newspaper which followed up the Liverpool Echo and Champion ‘shock’ stories is below:-

Dear Sir,

The closure of Melling’s Kennet Prison is far from the massive shock that local Labour MP Bill Esterson seems to believe.

It is of course a huge concern for the prison employees and as a trade unionist I share their worries but let’s not forget that Kennet was only ever intended to be a temporary Prison. Indeed, it was the last Labour Government that told us it would be temporary when they opened it nearly 10 years ago via a short-term lease from Merseycare NHS Trust. Mr Esterson may not recall this however as he was a councillor in Medway, Kent back then.

As for Mr Esterson’s over the top claim that the closure ‘undermines the safety and security of our country’ this really does stretch the imagination too far.

But underneath the MP’s political hyperbole Kennet has indeed had a positive effect on its local community because it has for example assisted with Maghull in Bloom’s work. So as it is wound down lets remember it for its positive contribution.

The reality is though that what has happened is the present Government has carried out the pledge of the last Labour Government i.e. that the prison would be only temporary – where is the shock in that Mr. Esterson? Don’t you want the Tory Government to honour the Labour Government commitment? Do you feel that the Labour pledge was wrong?

Yours sincerely

Cllr. Tony Robertson

Lydiate Parish Councillor

Melling’s HMP Kennet to close

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mersey-prison-hmp-kennet-closed-11388579

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

This may not be the surprise announcement from Government that some may think that it is because the land on which the ‘temporary’ prison sits was only leased for 10 years from Merseycare NHS Trust.

It was a surprise though to read that the Echo still thinks the prison is in Maghull when it is actually in Melling. It was also a surprise back in 2006/07 when it was opened without so much as a by your leave by the last Labour Government in response to a prison population crisis at the time.

I have posted about the prison a number of times over recent years – here’s one of those postings:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2011/11/01/kennet-prison-good-progress-in-preparing-offenders-for-life-outside-of-prison/

During the period whilst the prison was a category ‘D’ it did some excellent work with Maghull in Bloom and we were sad when it reverted to a category ‘C’ meaning that offenders were no longer able to assist with environmental work for Maghull in Bloom.

But I suppose that as Kennet was only ever meant to be a temporary prison then the fact that the 10 year lease is not to be renewed can hardly be the shock announcement which our MP seems to think it is. Does Mr. Esterson not realise that Kennet Prison was ‘sold’ to the local community by his own party in Government as being only a temporary prison facility?

Mental Health – Always the poor relation but recovery rates in Sefton are very poor indeed

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpools-depression-recovery-rate-below-10132227

nhs-logo

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

Very worrying stats generally but South Sefton seems to be rock bottom on Merseyside for recovery from mental illness. Glad to say the Lib Dems have been pushing hard for mental health to be given the same recognition and funding levels within the NHS and indeed within Government policy as physical health.

Maghull – Scott Clinic Closure points to the service being run from Maghull in the future

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/rainhills-scott-clinic-close-after-8434035

The Liverpool Echo has this story on its web site – see link above.

Should this proposed move be a concern for Maghull and Melling residents? What are the risks to those communities? How did the Scott Clinic fit in with the Rainhill community? Have risk assessments associated with the Maghull and Melling communities been done? What do Maghull Neighbourhood Police think? Has Sefton Council been consulted, if so how did it respond? Have Melling Parish Council and Maghull Town Council been contacted by the NHS? What are the residents living close to the Ashworth site going to be told and when. Are those same residents going to be able to present their views and concerns, should they have any, before any final decisions are made?

There may well be many more questions before we can properly assess whether this is a credible move for the Maghull and Melling communities or not.