The council has agreed to bid for Reading Prison.

Councillor Jason Brock, leader of Reading Borough Council (RBC), announced the news at the council’s Policy committee on Monday evening (November 19).

The committee discussed whether to bid for the prison, also known as Reading Gaol, in a private session due to “the commercial competitive nature of the bidding process”.

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RBC’s bid will be conditional on securing “significant” external public funds.

Cllr Brock said: “Following discussion in the closed session of tonight’s Policy Committee meeting, the council can now confirm that it intends to submit a bid to purchase the Reading Prison site.

“The disposal of the gaol site represents a once in a generation opportunity and the Council’s purchase would be the only certain mechanism to secure public access to the site and secure a cultural offer for Reading.

Reading Chronicle:

“The full details of the bid must remain confidential given the commercial and competitive nature of the bidding process, however the council’s bid would be conditional on securing significant external public funds in order to manage the risk of taking ownership of this historic property.”

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The historic Grade-II listed building in the Abbey Quarter has been put on the market by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) who reportedly intend to sell the site to the highest bidder.

The deadline to bid for the jail is noon on December 6.

Reading Chronicle:

Councillor Tony Page, deputy leader of the council, said previously that a bid would either come from the council, Theatre and Arts Reading or both.

He said: “There will be a bid going in that seeks to protect the longer term interests of the prison in terms of promoting the maximum public access and raising its profile nationally and internationally.”

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Campaigners have rallied together to try and save the prison and turn it into an arts and heritage site for the community.

A mass hug saw more than 700 people hold hands around the prison to show their support for the campaign.

The Reading Chronicle is campaigning to Save Reading Gaol!

The historic town landmark is under threat with fears it could be sold to the highest bidder.

Over the last few months we have been highlighting different articles and views in relation to the campaign in a bid to raise awareness and support.