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North Wales Prison
The details were formally announced the following day and when this prison opens in 2017 it will be publically run and the NEC welcomes this.
Conference mandates over the years asked the NEC to find an alternative to privatisation and to attempt to convince the government of the day that there was an alternative to contracting out. The NEC, past and present, has been relatively successful in the approach and has secured public sector jobs. Sadly, in bids, our employer has lost Birmingham and Northumberland to the private sector.
I have stated on many occasions that the POA does not blame G4S or indeed Sodexo for the predicament we find ourselves in, as generally, we have reasonable industrial relations with both firms but it will not stop us in our campaigns to have them returned to the public sector.
Governments of all persuasions are guilty of contracting out public services and we will continue to demonstrate that the public sector is the best value for money for the taxpayer, and provides the best service as well. This is a good result on the new prison but I will not get carried away that the challenges that this Union faces from so-called ‘competition’ and the markets has gone away it hasn’t. Whoever wins the General Election may return to a position of wholesale privatisation and we will have to meet that challenge head on just as we have done in the past.
HM Prison Service will run the prison in Wrexham with 34 percent of services outsourced to the private and voluntary sectors, including facilities management, resettlement services and the industrial workshop complex. That is not a position that we accept as we do not believe that any services should be contracted out.
The prison in Wrexham will be the largest in England and Wales and will provide 2,106 male category C places with a small remand function. It is envisaged that prisoners will start to arrive in the first house block early in 2017. That seems a long time away but it will be upon the service in a blink of an eye. So I urge NOMS management to be proactive and engage with this Union now to ensure the smooth opening of the prison. We must learn lessons from the past of new builds opening and avoid any problems by ensuring the correct mix of experience is available. The POA has the expertise and experience to negotiate with you to ensure a smooth opening. This will only be achieved by engaging with us now rather than later.
POA General Secretary