Hain `Blinkered' over Youth Training Centre

Article excerpt

A TOWN'S mayor yesterday accused local MP and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain of being ``blinkered'' because of his backing for a controversial secure training centre for up to 100 young offenders in the area. ``He should be there to represent the views of his electorate - and the vast majority of local people are opposed to this scheme,'' protested Glynneath's mayor David Pugh.

``I am very disappointed by his blinkered attitude: he will not be swayed at all.'' Mr Hain spelled out why the centre should be built on the restored Aberpergwm tip site in a personal letter to people living in the Neath Valley. He said, ``It is a huge investment which many other valley communities in South Wales would welcome. ``No other project with this scale of permanent jobs (up to 300) is in prospect on this site.

``These jobs will be available for generations to come.'' He said at least 250 of the jobs would be recruited from Glynneath, Cwmgwrach, Resolven and neighbouring communities but pointed out that there was no reason why all the posts (ranging from teachers and training officers to care assistants and caterers) could not be filled locally if there were people willing and able to do them.

The Minister said the centre would not be a conventional prison but a place where youngsters who were a menace to communities could be retrained and rehabilitated.

``The evidence shows that just imprisoning such youngsters does not work: they become even more criminalised in adult prisons and therefore more dangerous,'' he said.

``So staff in the secure training centre will work to install self discipline, social skills and training in new work skills, equipping them to get jobs in the future.

``There are currently about 230 such young offenders across South Wales with nowhere to go and therefore a menace to all of us. …