A weekly newspaper campaign to save a local prison from the axe after 140 years has achieved success after officials agreed it would remain open.
The Lincolnshire Echo launched its bid to save Lincoln Prison last month after learning that the building could be used to house illegal immigrants awaiting deportation.
The paper feared its closure would mean the loss of around 500 jobs, with 750 prisoners sent to sites outside the county, and it started a petition on the Downing Street website which gained wide-ranging support.
A local law firm also showed its backing by paying for a wraparound advert with the Echo, pictured below, but the Ministry of Justice has now confirmed the prison will remain as it is for the foreseeable future.
Editor Steven Fletcher said: “It seemed the future of Lincoln was already decided – but the public got together behind our campaign.
“Hopefully the news from the Ministry of Justice has secured people’s livelihoods and is great news for this city.
“Had the prison closed, hundreds of people would have lost their jobs. Not just prison officers, but those people who carry out vital work in businesses which support Lincoln Prison.
“Families would have had long, long journeys to see their loved ones who were being held on remand or serving sentences. And the local economy would have been around £11m a year worse off.
“Yes, campaigning to keep a prison open might seem unusual, but it was the right issue to campaign on in Lincolnshire and I’m delighted we have been successful.”
The decision to keep the prison open came after a delegation from Lincolnshire, led by Lincoln MP Karl McCartney, held a meeting with Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright and civil servants last week in a bid to safeguard its future.
City of Lincoln Council leader Ric Metcalfe praised the Echo for its campaign.
He said: “Keeping the facility in Lincoln is a positive move for families who visit the prison, along with the wider economy of the city and beyond.
“Great credit must go to the Lincolnshire Echo for the tremendously successful campaign it has run in recent weeks, urging the Ministry of Justice to keep the prison in the city.”