KEY campaigners in the save Reading gaol campaign met last week to discuss and plan the gaol hug as the petition to save the site reached 6,000 signatures.

MP Matt Rodda met with key figures involved with the campaign on Friday (September 20) where they planned how to best support the gaol hug movement taking place in October.

READ MORE: Group hug at Gaol organised to save asset.

At the meeting was Richard Bennett from Reading Civic Society, lead councillor for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, Karen Rowland, and Sally Swift from Theatre and Arts Reading (TAR).

He said: “It’s really great, there’s a lot of enthusiasm and ambition for what we can do with this site."

Mr Rodda explained it was also an opportunity to update his colleagues on the progress he had made with the justice secretary.

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He had managed to speak with the justice secretary who agreed to have another meeting to discuss the future of the gaol further.

He explained: "He’s interested in what we are proposing which is that there’s a trust set up to allow the site to be sold from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to a local trust which would be supported by the council. "TAR would be involved in that potentially – details to be agreed by the council and TAR really.

"But he’s interested in that and so he’s asked me to meet his minister who deals with prisons and to bring the council, myself and TAR to that meeting so we can work out some of the details.”

Mr Rodda revealed that 6,000 people have signed the petition to save the gaol.

He said: "We have now got 6,000 people who have signed the petition, which is an amazing, incredible turnout.

"We didn’t expect anything like that.

"We had a stretching target of 3,000 a few months ago and we have gone way beyond that so we are really pleased and very grateful to all the people who have signed it themselves then asked friends or relatives to sign it.

"The one thing I would say is just the more the merrier.

"The more we can get the better because every single signature adds up, it all counts.

"It’s effectively incredible pressure on the government to do the right thing and we hope they will now listen because of the huge amount of public support in Reading and Berkshire.”