The first of the new super prisons is already being built in Wrexham
Former Argent partner Tony Giddings has revealed he is acting as a development adviser on the government’s “super prisons” programme.
Chancellor George Osborne announced a £1.3bn programme to modernise the prison estate in last year’s spending review, including plans to build nine prisons, with five opening during this parliament.
In an exclusive interview with Building published this week, Giddings said he understood the £1.3bn of funding was ring-fenced and highly unlikely to be threatened by recent political and economic turbulence.
Yesterday Theresa May appointed Liz Truss as justice secretary, who will be responsible for rolling out super prisons as part of her new brief. She replaces Michael Gove, who was sacked from the government.
In his interview with Building, Giddings admitted the prisons programme timetable was “challenging”, with sites still to be acquired, but he said the aim was to be on site with at least some by the end of the year.
Giddings said he was hoping to instil the Argent ethos of “more collaboration” with construction suppliers into the government’s approach to procuring prisons.
He said while the government is “very open to try and finds ways of bettering their processes,” the requirements of OJEU - which may or may not change following Brexit - require sticking to certain procedures for the time being.
The first of the new super prisons - which are designed to hold more than 2,000 inmates - is already being built in Wrexham and is due to open next year, while existing prisons in Stocken and Rye Hill are set to be expanded.
The new or extended prisons will replace several Victorian-built ones, including the women’s prison in Holloway due to shut this summer, with these earmarked for sale for housing. Merseyside’s Kennet prison is also set to close by next July.