Jeremy Corbyn: 'It's so important Holloway Prison site doesn't become luxury flats'
PUBLISHED: 14:47 12 May 2016 | UPDATED: 17:44 12 May 2016
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has already pressured new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to push for affordable housing once the Holloway Prison site is demolished.
The Islington North MP was speaking to the Gazette this afternoon at an event celebrating the refurbishment of St George’s Care Home, in Camden Road: a stone’s throw from the women’s jail.
At midday on Saturday, affordable housing campaigners will march on the Parkhurst Road prison to demand it is replaced by council housing and community facilities.
My Corbyn, who hopes to attend the march, said: “I have already raised with Sadiq Khan the question of building appropriate housing there. The Holloway Prison site is a massive opportunity to get a good quality development that meets the needs of people in this borough.
“It’s quite early days yet, but my impression is that the Ministry of Justice want to sell quickly.
“It’s so important this doesn’t become expensive luxury flats. I am proud to represent this community and I am constantly very, very upset about the levels of bad quality housing some people are forced to live in. We can do a lot with this site.”
Last week, inmates began their move to Downview Prison in Surrey, and Mr Corbyn added: “On one level, I will be sorry to see it go. I have always had a good relationship with the prison and its staff.
“It’s a historic place with the suffragettes and Ruth Ellis [the last woman to be executed in the UK, in 1955]. I’m keen that the prison records are kept as they are an important part of penal history, and I hope the new library that is being built next door will recognise this too.”
‘Why don’t you build a garden?’
St George’s Care Home, run by mental health charity Richmond Fellowship, provides 24-hour supported accommodation for people with mental health problems.
The recent £200,000 refurbishment has seen a new outdoor terrace and garden, improved bedrooms with en-suites, new kitchen and two overhauled rooms for arts and games.
Mr Corbyn said of the work: “I have been the MP for this area for a very long time and I have known this building for all of that time. The refurbished rooms are a lot bigger than they used to be and I like the little touches, like toothpaste and shampoo in bowls. It does so much to offer a sense of security.
“I remember being here a couple of years ago and there was a big car park out back. I raised the point that it wasn’t really needed - wouldn’t it be better to make it into a garden? That’s what they have done and I’m glad.”
He also said better understanding of mental health problems is needed: “If somebody has broken their leg, the treatment they receive is very obvious. Likewise, in most cases, for cancer. But mental health is something very different because there is less understanding. If people aren’t prepared to discuss this, the consequences are quite severe.”