Highlands and Islands MSP, Edward Mountain has called out the SNP Government for delaying the construction of new Inverness prison for a decade.
The delays have seen the estimated construction costs more than double from £52 million in 2011 to £110 million in 2021.
Edward Mountain MSP, who is campaigning for a new prison for the Highlands, raised the issue with the SNP’s Justice Secretary in the Scottish Parliament.
Edward Mountain MSP asked: “when the new HMP Inverness will be completed.”
The Cabinet Secretary replied: “A site has been purchased on the east side of Inverness, early procurement activity is underway, tendering process is due to begin this spring and we expect enabling construction work to start this Autumn. Our new infrastructure investment plan for Scotland published on the 4 February sets out that the operational date for HMP Highland is estimated to be for February 2024.”
Edward Mountain MSP then asked: “In 2011, the prison was due to cost £52 million; 2016, it had gone to £66 million and in 2021, it’s risen to £110 million. You promised the delivery of the prison before the last election and you promised it again in 2018, sounds like you are promising it now. What promise will you give that can be believed that it will be completed by 2024?”
The Cabinet Secretary said: “I know Edward Mountain has done his best to cast doubt on the building of a new prison for Inverness, despite his deliberate mischief, Presiding Officer, the naysayer has been proven wrong. Once again I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has confirmed its intention to fund and build HMP Highland. It’s inclusion in the Scottish Government infrastructure investment plan is testament to our commitment.”
Following portfolio questions, Edward Mountain MSP commented:
“Highlanders have seen false dawns before when it comes to SNP promises about a new prison.
The SNP Government continue to play politics with the new prison. They promised to construct it 2011, 2016 and are promising it again before this year’s election too.
However, our dedicated prison staff at HMP Inverness have waited ten years to work in a modern facility but not a brick has been laid by this SNP Government yet.
There is little the Justice Secretary said today that gives me confidence that the new prison will not be delayed again.
The fact HMP Highland is in the infrastructure investment pipeline for 2021-2026 is testament to nothing. It was in the previous pipeline for 2016-2021 too and the SNP Government refused to fund the project.”