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Highland Conservative MSP Edward Mountain claims victory in fight to push the Scottish Government to give green light to work on new Inverness Prison

By Scott Maclennan

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Artist's impressions of the new HMP Highland.
Artist's impressions of the new HMP Highland.

The contract to start work on a new Inverness Prison is set to be awarded this month.

MSP Edward Mountain has long pressed the government for action, and wrote to justice secretary Keith Brown asking which company would be designing and building the new jail, estimated to cost up to £110 million.

In a written response the interim chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), Teresa Medhurst, told him: “Tender evaluation for the pre-construction services award element of the HMP Highland project is under way and SPS anticipates the initial contract award will be made during September 2021.”

A formal announcement is yet to be made by the Scottish Government but, if the timetable mentioned by Ms Medhurst remains in place, it will be the most decisive step towards construction yet.

It comes as the SPS has applied to Highland Council for approval of matters specified in conditions when the local authority originally granted planning permission for the prison to be built in 2017.

Mr Mountain said: “It’s been a long time coming, but I am delighted that the contract to design and build the new HMP Highland will be awarded this month.

“Frankly, the SNP have worked at a snail’s pace this last decade to deliver the new prison while our hard working prison staff continue to work in a Victorian building that is no longer fit for purpose.

“I believe it is a vindication of my campaign to fast-track the new prison that significant steps are being made to deliver the facility by 2024 and not 2026, as the cabinet secretary mistakenly stated recently.”

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