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Straw scraps ""mega"" prison plans for Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 13:27 12 February 2010 | UPDATED: 09:36 11 August 2010

John Phillips

JACK Straw today (Friday) caved in to public demands and scrapped plans for a mega prison in Dagenham. The Justice Secretary performed the U-turn on proposals to open the 1,500-inmate category B jail dropped on residents amid a public outcry in Apri

JACK Straw today (Friday) caved in to public demands and scrapped plans for a "mega" prison in Dagenham.

The Justice Secretary performed the "U-turn" on proposals to open the 1,500-inmate category B jail "dropped" on residents amid a public outcry in April 2009.

The decision will be seen as a pre-election boon for Labour-led Barking and Dagenham Council and prominent Labour MP for Dagenham Jon Cruddas, who handed in a 15,000-signature petition against the prison at No 10 on Tuesday.

Mr Cruddas said: "This is a victory for local people. They spoke and the Government listened.

"Our campaign's not over, now we have to deliver the kind of community facilities local people deserve on this site."

The Ministry of Justice said it had abandoned plans for the jail at Beam Park West because of potential flood risks, costs and people's views.

It is looking for alternative sites in London to tackle prison overcrowding.

A spokesman said: "In the light of these considerations, the decision has been taken not to proceed with the site."

Barking and Dagenham Council is campaigning for new housing, health and community facilities and small industrial units on the 20-hectare former Ford site owned by Boris Johnson's London Development Agency.

A final decision on the future of the site is to be made by a planning inspector later this year.

Council leader Cllr Liam Smith said: "We've been opposed to a prison in Dagenham from day one, so I'm glad Jack Straw has listened to the arguments against locating a prison here and that he has recognised the strength of local opinion."

Simon Jones, prospective Tory MP for Dagenham and Rainham, said the Government had performed a "U-turn" following his own campaign against the prison.

He said: "We must continue the fight to get the economic regeneration and high skilled jobs for Dagenham."

ENDS.

300 words.


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