Council bosses urge Government to make decision on future of prison while a taskforce is set up to avoid huge unemployment problems (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Council bosses urge Government to make decision on future of prison while a taskforce is set up to avoid huge unemployment problems
COUNCIL bosses held talks with William Hague MP to push the Government to make a decision on the future of Northallerton Prison – while a taskforce has been set up by local business leaders to tackle unemployment before crisis hits.
Leader of Hambleton District Council Councillor Mark Robson met Mr Hague today (Friday, Oct 4) to urge him to put pressure on the Ministry of Justice to reveal plans for the prison site when it closes later this year, and outlined the authority’s regeneration plans for Northallerton.
He said £30,000 has been put aside for a major study of the area to the east of East Road, including the prison, fire station, Alverton Court and Crosby Road car park sites, and £100,000 for an economic study to drive investment into the district over 10 years.
Coun Robson said: “The loss of jobs with the closure of the prison and the Rural Payments Agency offices is a huge blow to the town but we want to look at the positives and be ready when the prison closes its doors.”
“We want to know what plans there are for the prison site – is it to be retained, mothballed or sold and what is the timescale for this?”
Mr Hague said:”This has been a useful meeting and it is vial we all work together to secure the future of Northallerton. “I will be discussing all these issue with the Justice Secretary and will keep in touch with Hambleton District Council and Northallerton Taskforce.”
The Northallerton Taskforce has been set up by groups including the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership, Job Centre Plus, local councils and businesses to implement a recovery strategy for people affected by job cuts.
The partnership will focus on ensuring those facing job losses have the skills required to move into employment; supporting those with entrepreneurial ambitions to allow them to set up their own businesses; and connecting employers looking for staff to potential employees.
David Kerfoot, chairman of the taskforce, said: “It is vital that we act now to support those at risk. RPA and the prison have provided Northallerton with an exceptionally skilled and motivated workforce that any employer would be proud to take on.”
The first taskforce event will take place at a Job Centre Plus fair on Thursday, October 17 at the town hall in Northallerton, featuring a mix of employers and skills support agencies. A second event is planned for Thursday, October 24.
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