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Wednesday, September 20, 2006 

Scum-watch: A victory for the newspaper, a blow to consultation.

As Obsolete noted yesterday, the government's seemingly decided that Connaught barracks is a swell place to dump a load of "bad lags", in the Sun's parlance. The Sun is predictably claiming victory for their campaign, but strangely it finds nowhere in its article to actually ask the local population what they think about an ex-barracks being turned into a prison without them even being consulted about it. The Guardian, however, did:

The barracks, still surrounded by high fences and coils of barbed wire, sit next to a large housing estate, where residents yesterday also expressed unhappiness at the fact that they have not been consulted.

"I wouldn't feel too happy if it were to become a prison," said Roy Clayton, 46, a former soldier who bought his house on the estate from the Ministry of Defence. "I am concerned about the security aspect - there are a lot of young families here. I don't think the government has really thought it through." He said he would be consulting the local residents' committee, "but the problem is, this has all come through the back door. It's not being openly discussed by the local government or the national government."

"I'm not too pleased about all this," said Melanie Maxlow, 27, another resident of the estate. "It would literally be on our doorstep. I would worry a lot about the security, especially as it is supposed to be an open prison."

Still, who cares about a bunch of bumptious little not in my backyarders? We're talking about bad lags needing to be locked up or else they'll go free! Then again, how would Rebekah Wade or "GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON" like to have a prison opposite where they live? An insight into the average mind of the Sun editor, faced with a criminal or an ex-criminal in their midst comes from the case of Iorworth Hoare, the convicted rapist who won the lottery while in prison. He made the mistake of moving to a Newcastle estate where the Scottish Sun's editor lived. The result? Hoare's exact location was printed on the front page of the newspaper. The editor said:

This is terrifying news. This has always been an estate where people felt safe. It’s the sort of place where children can walk the streets in safety.

Which may well be how some near Connaught barracks might now be feeling. The Sun however, is enthusiastic:

Officials raised hell when The Sun first suggested this idea a few weeks ago. Today it is seen as plain common sense.

It’s only a start. But at least inmates will be locked up — instead of being freed early from overcrowded prisons, a threat to all law-abiding citizens.

Remember, the Sun is the common sense voice of the people, the paper that dares to break the tyranny of political correctness and shout for the average common man in the street. Except it seems when those people get in the way of one of their law 'n' order campaigns.

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As a resident of Dover I am appalled at the proposal to turn the barracks into a Cat D (open) prison. The site is close to 7 schools including the MoD open school (King of Yorks), a housing estate, MoD housing for 100 Gurkhas and their families and Dover Castle. The site also contains a listed historical building - Fort Burgoyne, which the prison service will struggle to maintain.
The lack of consultation and the total disregard for local people and the planning process beggar belief.

Thanks for the comment. The casual arrogance of both the government and the Sun is indeed breathtaking.

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