Shrewsbury prison is to close, the Ministry of Justice announced today as it unveiled plans to build a “super-prison”.
The Dana is one of six prisons in England being shut on April 1.
Prisons at Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston and Shepton Mallet will also close, while jails at Chelmsford, Hull and Isle of Wight will see the number of their prisoners cut.
Some 2,600 offenders are held at the affected prisons.
Staff were told the bombshell news at 10am – the same time as it was announced nationally.
It was greeted with dismay by union leaders and politicians, who described the closure as a ‘huge blow’ for Shropshire and Mid Wales.
As part of a radical overhaul the Government today unveiled plans to build a new ‘super-prison’ holding more than 2,000 inmates. The new jail would be Britain’s largest and could be built in London, the North West or North Wales. The shake-up is part of a drive to scrap ageing prisons and cut costs by £63 million a year.
Shrewsbury prison, which was built in 1877, employs 207 members of staff looking after more than 300 inmates.
Sofia Kannas, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, said prisoners were to be transferred to other sites across the country by the end of March.
It was today unclear how many staff will lose their jobs but bosses say they are trying to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Staff will be invited to apply for a voluntary redundancy scheme.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed Shrewsbury, as well as prisons at Bullwood Hall, Canterbury, Gloucester, Kingston and Shepton Mallet, will close. Chelmsford, Hull and Isle of Wight will see some accommodation reduced.
Mr Grayling said: “We have to bring down the cost of our prison system, much of which is old and expensive. But I never want the courts to be in a position where they cannot send a criminal to prison because there is no place available. ”
Shrewsbury Town Council leader Peter Nutting said today: “It will be a big blow to the town as it is a major employer.”
The Category C prison was revealed to be the second most overcrowded in England and Wales last summer.