Minister to decide on extra HMP Gloucester tours
EFFORTS to open up Gloucester prison for city residents to have a peek inside will go right to the top.
Many were critical last week after it emerged 500 tickets for tours of HMP Gloucester, arranged by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) during the upcoming Heritage Open Days, had already been snapped up, before being made available through Marketing Gloucester.
Dozens of people queued up at the city's Tourist Information Centre believing they could get their hands on the free passes but were left disappointed.
Gloucester MP Richard Graham met MoJ officials at the closed prison on Friday and raised the possibility of putting on more tours for locals.
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However, it will take a green light from a minister to make this happen and it's been confirmed that no extra tickets for the September 14 and 15 open days will be made available.
"I raised the possibility of additional days for tours and this is something which needs a ministerial decision, so I will be in touch the Minister this week," said Mr Graham.
"We have to recognise that there is cost in all this for the MoJ, that showing people round former prisons they're trying to dispose of is not their core business and that receiving revenue for this is not something they can do under their scope of business either.
"And there are – however much I find it infuriating – risks of someone having a bad fall and suing the Government."
He said the main purpose of his meeting was to look at the operation and planning of the Heritage Open Days.
Gloucester Civic Trust will show photos and give a talk on the prison the day after the open days, September 16, which Mr Graham is urging people who missed out to go to instead.
It's part of the trust's History Festival evening on the prison at 7pm in Blackfriars. Call 01452 503050 for ticket details.
Several people in the city will still be hoping for more however.
One Hardwicke resident, who did not want to be named, said: "I am sure I and many more Gloucester people would like to view the prison while it is still like the building that it has been used for over many, many years.
"Let's hope pressure can be brought to bear so that Gloucester folk can view the prison."
A MoJ spokesman said they had no plans to put on further tours, but a ministerial decision could overrule that.