Suffolk prison farm to be sold

THE 1,500-acre farm at Hollesley Bay open prison near Woodbridge will be sold and alternative employment will be required for some inmates.A national review of prison farms has found that they do not serve much purpose in preparing prisoners for life back into the community following the erosion of farming jobs in recent years.

THE 1,500-acre farm at Hollesley Bay open prison near Woodbridge will be sold and alternative employment will be required for some inmates.

A national review of prison farms has found that they do not serve much purpose in preparing prisoners for life back into the community following the erosion of farming jobs in recent years.

However, the salad production at the prison will continue and this will still provide other farms in the country. The dairy and arable production at the prison is affected by the national decision and will be phased out.

The Suffolk Punch stud at the prison was being offered to the Suffolk Punch Trust and would move a few yards, said Allan Douglass, estate manager at Hollesley.

Mr Douglass said the prison review had been evolving since 1996 and the prison staff and union had been informed of the impact of a change in national policy.

"The Prison Service has finished its review and have had meetings at local level. The net effect at Hollesley is a modernisation programme which will concentrate on horticulture, glasshouses and gardening, but the farm will not exist here with the Prison Service probably after 2006.

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"I think that the Prison Service recognises that the Suffolk Punches are important to Suffolk and the Suffolk Punch Trust has been offered the opportunity to purchase horses and land in the centre of the prison. The stud would just have to move a few yards and that is very good news," said Mr Douglass.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust would like to buy 500 acres of marshland and turn it into a nature reserve.

Julian Roughton, Trust director, said: "A Home Office review group are considering whether the Trust could be given an option to purchase that land without it going on the open market. They recognise the land is of environmental importance and they have decided to sell it."

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