STRICT exercise and work regimes could be introduced into prisons following the lead set by Colchester's military prison.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove visited the Military Corrective Training Centre and said he was impressed by the work ethic expected of detainees.

He said practices he had seen could be copied by prisons across the country.

Mr Gove said: "I was incredibly impressed and there are lessons which can be learnt.

"Everyone who is in there is kept busy.

"One of the big problems in prisons is prisoners are often idle and spend their days watching day time TV.

"Everyone at the MCTC has to do physical training, education and work.

"Another advantage of the MCTC is the automony of the commanding officer who has more control over rewards and punishments on the detainees than an ordinary prison governor.

"There is a lot we can learn and look to."

Gazette: David Cameron

MICHAEL Gove said Cabinet meeting were "professional and civilised" despite the conflicting views between leading Conservatives over European Union.

Mr Gove has been a close ally of Prime Minister David Cameron.

But he admitted Mr Cameron had said he was "disappointed he was not on the same side" over the issue.

Mr Gove is a leading figure in the campaign to leave Europe while Mr Cameron hopes the country will vote to stay in the EU in the forthcoming referendum.

There appears to be conflict within Conservative ranks with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith described the divisions as acrimonious.

But Mr Gove said: "Mr Cameron was not surprised by my decision to back the Leave campaign.

"I have had concerns about the direction of the EU for some time.

"I can't imagine another issue I would disagree with the Prime Minister on.

"This should not take away from the fact every day we would as a cohesive team to improve the country.

"Cabinet meetings are professional and civilised and are focussed and effective as they have always been.

"Inevitably when you have an issue like Europe, people will set down passionately what they think is the best of Britain.

"I think it would be better to leave the EU and take back control of our laws, our borders and I think the £50 million a day we pay to Europe could be better spent in this country.

"I accept there are good friends who have different views."

Gazette: Colchester Town Hall - difficult decisions for those in charge. Picture: STEVE BRADING (50810-d)

Colchester Council A CONSERVATIVE-controlled council would have more influence in Westminster, Mr Gove said.

Colchester Council is due to go to the polls in May and, following boundary changes, candidates will fight for 51 seats across 17 wards.

The council is currently ruled by an alliance between the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independent.

Mr Gove met Conservative councillors during his visit to Colchester.

He said: "We have already seen the effect of having a new, energetic young MP representing Colchester in Westminster.

"If the council is Conservative too, it can only make it stronger for Colchester.

"Colchester is growing dramatically and needs investment in its infrastructure.

"A Conservative council will be able to make that case and will always get a sympathetic hearing.

"Times change and sometimes teams need to change.

"I think Colchester would be better served with a cohesive team rather than a coalition."

*panel MP Mr Gove praised former Colchester Lib Dem MP but welcomed the town's new Conservative representative.

He said: "Sir Bob Russell was an incredibly nice guy who served his town as a good Colchester MP.

"Will Quince is an energetic, hard-working and respected MP who is doing good things for Colchester."


Justice Secretary Michael Gove disputed closing county courts would penalise the most needy.

A number of courts have already closed and Colchester's county court is due to close in October.

But Mr Gove said many courts, including Colchester's, had been underused and pop-up courts could be set up in alternative buildings.

And he said more focus was being put on preventing problems at source including support of Citizens' Advice.

Mr Gove added he had increased the level of Legal Aid funding since he had become Justice Secretary.

When asked if it was an acceptance the cuts to Legal Aid funding had been too severe, he said: "It was an acknowledgement the way the shoe was fitted needed to be changed."



MR Gove, who was a journalist before becoming a politician, praised the role of local newspapers and he urged councils and community and business leaders to support them.

"One of the great things about Britain is its vibrant media.

"It is hard to think of anything as effective as a local newspaper in relating relevant information.

"Newspapers are vital for scrutinising issues, investigating people with power and providing a platform for public debate.

"I would encourage councils and people with power to recognise if newspapers wither and die the community they are there to serve will lose something very valuable."