Continued push to transform Reading jail into arts hub

Activists have been pushing for Reading Prison to be sold to the council or a bidder within the town to convert it into an arts and culture hub since 2019.

The Save Reading Gaol campaign was formed amid news that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) government department would sell the prison building.

Reading Borough Council’s bid to buy the building was rebuffed by the MoJ in 2021.

Matt Rodda, the Labour MP for Reading East, has continued to press the issue in a meeting with Damian Hinds, the prisons minister and Conservative MP for East Hampshire.

Mr Rodda said: “I met the Prisons Minister to discuss the future of the gaol and I urged him to consider the council’s bid for the historic building so that the gaol could be turned into an arts and heritage hub.

“However, the Minister, Damian Hinds MP, told me that the Government still wants to sell the gaol to its preferred bidder, which is believed to be a commercial developer.

“I am continuing to press the Government on this issue.”

READ MORE: Call for Reading Prison to be sold to community on anniversary of inmates leaving

The meeting took place on Wednesday, July 12.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has asked Steve Reed, the shadow justice secretary whether a future Labour government would sell the Prison to the council.

Mr Reed is the Labour MP for Croydon North.

The Save Reading Gaol campaign has received support from Sir Alok Sharma, the Conservative MP for Reading West.

The idea to convert the Gaol into an arts hub was first seeded in 2016, when it was temporarily turned into an arts gallery.

Reading Chronicle | Town Centre