Crunch prison talks
John Phillips JON Cruddas was due to hold talks with Justice Secretary Jack Straw yesterday (Wednesday) to discuss the Dagenham prison plans before an internet consultation launches next week. The Labour MP for Dagenham said the talks would give Mr Straw the chance to
JON Cruddas was due to hold talks with Justice Secretary Jack Straw yesterday (Wednesday) to discuss the Dagenham prison plans before an internet consultation launches next week.
The Labour MP for Dagenham said the talks would give Mr Straw the chance to explain why plans to build the 1,500-inmate Category B jail at Beam Reach, off New Road, by 2013, were announced without proper consultation in April.
The Commons meeting came as Mr Cruddas prepared to launch a prison consultation website made by a firm who helped President Obama to the White House.
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The news came after it emerged a "longlist" of 76 possible sites for Titan prisons - later rejected in favour of smaller 1,500-inmate jails - published in May 2008, had not included Dagenham.
The Ministry of Justice said the Dagenham site had been identified last autumn with the London Development Agency, apparently supporting Mr Cruddas's belief the plans were the result of a "backstage deal".
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Mr Cruddas said: "They announced it without telling us. Hopefully by the weekend, the internet and e-petitions will be built and the site will go live early next week."
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We intend to follow the normal planning route in which the views of the local community would be fully and carefully considered.