Anti-prison campaigners from Community Action on Prison Expansion (CAPE) are targeting Kier Construction with “New Year, No Kier” campaign. Kier is being targeted as the company contracted to build the mega-prison HMP Five Wells in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, the most advanced of the new mega-prisons announced in the Prison Estate Transformation Programme in 2016. Kier Construction was awarded a staggering 253 million for the project.
On 5 January 2021, Corporate Watch UK is due to release a scathing report documenting the many failings of the inhumane Kier construction and their subsidiaries. Grassroots campaigners have launched “New Year, No Kier” coinciding with this release. They refuse to stop mobilizing until the shut-down of the already failing company.
As activist Dave explains, “Anti-prison activists have been resisting the violence that the construction industry propagates for years, and in 2021, Kier will be our first target – one construction company out of the many more which are next in line to face opposition from our movement. Kier Construction rang in the new year with a target on its back. We are pledging that 2021 will be the year Kier finally collapses, after years of fledging financials, rapidly depreciating share prices and massive debts.”
Kier was plagued by massive debt long before the Covid- 19 pandemic hit. In a final push to balance their books, over the past year and a half Kier Group has been trying to sell subsidiary Kier Living. They have still not closed a sale, despite having spent 30 million pounds in their attempts thus far. This attempted sale marks Kier’s turn back to largely focusing on its construction service. It is being met with an activist movement building specifically against their construction services.
Kier has faced a decade of critiques and controversy. Systemic safety failings led to the death of the father of three, Aidan Gallagher working for a subsidiary of the company in 2017. Alongside prison building, they have been involved in projects that entail bioscience animal abuse, military infrastructure, gentrification and building ecologically dangerous projects like the high-speed railway called HS2. Their controversial work sets them up for a growing movement that will continue to oppose them.
CAPE is a network of grassroots groups employing a diversity of tactics to oppose prison expansion in England, Wales and Scotland. The group rejects the myths that prisons, surveillance and policing can solve social and economic problems. They seek alternatives that keep our communities safe and achieve real social justice.
CAPE members have been previously involved in successful opposition to building a prison in Port Talbot, South Wales, as well as ongoing opposition to mega-prison development in Full Sutton, Yorkshire, HMP Five Wells, in Wellingborough, HMP Glen Parva in Leicester, and the proposed new development in Buckinghamshire.