Council fails to deliver prison leaver employment project in district which receives millions in rates from two prisons

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A council project to help prison leavers into employment has collapsed due to a failure to find a delivery agent for the scheme.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC), which is home to Maghaberry and Hydebank prisons, is said to receive “millions” in rates from the two institutions.

The local authority, has now decided to reallocate £32k of Department for Economy money for the back to work programme, as no management company has been found during its tendering process.

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Lisburn South councillor, Alan Givan (DUP) said: “I recently spoke with the director of NI prisons, (Ronnie Armour) and I gave great thanks from the bottom of my heart for the millions of pounds of rates paid into this council from these prisons.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters at Lagan Valley IslandLisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters at Lagan Valley Island
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters at Lagan Valley Island

“It would be good sense to work closer with the justice system on this.

“We could help a lot of young men who have had a bad start in life, many for matters that were not their fault, now with a criminal record for the rest of their lives.”

The timing of the funds was criticised in the chamber with the money for the April 2022- March 2023 programme arriving in November of last year.The tendering process for delivery agents closed in January 2023.

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Downshire West Alderman, Jim Dillon (UUP) said: “When is the department going to wise up?

“This scheme funding is brought to the council close to the holiday period and by the time anyone is back to do something about it, it is too late.

“Quite frankly it makes my head bulge about those so called civil servants.”