Shellharbour MP Anna Watson hosts public forum for residents against a jail in West Dapto

Around 300 disgruntled residents packed a function room at Dapto Leagues Club on Saturday to raise their concerns about having a jail built “in their backyards”. But the key people who could answer their queries were absent.

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson hosted the community meeting, though Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward and the Minister for Corrections David Elliot did not attend.

What ensued was more than an hour of questions fired from the audience about the viability of building a jail on West Dapto Road at Kembla Grange, with a very clear theme – the majority of residents were not opposed to a jail, but opposed to a jail at that location.

Questions over infrastructure, the affect on property values, how the flood zone will be addressed, what size the actual facility will be and how long had planning been going on without public knowledge were all raised by local residents.

“I’ve lived here for 40 years … and it will affect house prices, it will affect tourism,” said Maria Lopez.

We’re not against a prison, we’re against a prison on that site.

“Put more money into education kids and they can become worthwhile people and hard workers like the rest of us,” said school teacher Nancy.

“The State Government is committed to affordable housing – jails are quite affordable for people housed there, this is the closest they’ve got to affordable housing in the Illawarra,“said former councillor Anne Martin.

“Between the flooding issues, the environmental management areas, the residential areas right up next to it – it’s a completely inappropriate site for a prison,” said Allen. “We’re not against a prison, we’re against a prison on that site.”

At the conclusion of the meeting repeated calls from the crowd forced Ms Watson to finally give her stance on whether she was for or against the jail.

“We’re not opposed to jails, but I don't believe that the site that has been identified to build this jail is appropriate,” she stated.

Ms Watson called for as many written concerns, adamant she would present them to Premier Gladys Berejiklian this week in parliament. Those unable to attend the meeting have until May 24 to email or post their concerns to Ms Watson’s office.

FEEDBACK SESSIONS:

Corrective Services NSW will be consulting with the community regarding this potential facility with a number of information and feedback sessions:

Dapto 

  • When: Sunday 24 June 2018
  • Time:  10:30am – 1:30pm
  • Where: Dapto Plaza (in front of Dapto Mall), Princes Highway and Moombara Street

Dapto

  • When:  Monday 25 June 2018
  • Time:   11:30am – 2:30pm
  • Where: Ribbonwood Centre Foyer, 93 -100 Princes Highway

Berkeley

  • When:  Tuesday 26 June 2018
  • Time:   10am – 1pm
  • Where: Winnima Way Reserve (outside Berkeley Neighbourhood Centre), Winnima Way

Unanderra

  • When:  Tuesday 26 June 2018
  • Time:   4 pm – 7pm
  • Where: Unanderra Community Centre, Corner Princes Highway & Factory Road, Unanderra