WRAP media release - 22 December 2019
State Government is attempting to stifle Westbury
At the Minister’s public meeting on the 16th of December a large number of our community showed up to voice their views on the State Government’s announcement on 30 September 2019 that it intends to plant a prison on our doorstep, without prior consultation.
It has been suggested that there were some in support of the prison at the Minister’s meeting who did not have the opportunity to voice their opinion. We urge these people to take up their concerns with the Minister and her advisers who facilitated the meeting. The meeting format was something about which WRAP had no notice and absolutely no control.
If this prison goes ahead, it will dramatically and irrevocably change Westbury and indeed the entire Meander Valley for current and future generations. Everyone in the valley needs to think deeply on the message that this will send to the rest of the State and to tourists who increasingly make greater and greater contributions to the economy in this area.
In mid-November we submitted a petition to the Council and the Minister’s Department with 700 signatures on it of those in Westbury who are opposed to this prison. We then submitted a survey conducted with the assistance of an independent academic which indicated that approximately 82% of people in Westbury are opposed to this prison.
This is why the State Government has recently changed tack. The Minister has indicated that her Department now intends to seek the views of the wider Meander Valley community about whether Westbury should be burdened with this prison. In taking this course, the Government hopes that the region will isolate one of its towns.
This is starting to cause great rifts in our community. These are rifts which may never heal.
The State Government and others who are complicit in the Government’s proposal appear determined to stifle our voice by labelling us as a rabble-rousing, irrational minority.
Two former Mayors have now been rolled out to help them spread this message. One of them is responsible for placing the current Council in its awful predicament, so his purported empathy for those in the firing line is nothing short of breathtaking.
We will not roll over here in Westbury. We will continue to advocate passionately for all of the voiceless and vulnerable people in our community, many of whom are elderly and feel powerless to do anything about this. It is simply unacceptable to us that the State Government and those with no skin in the game are dismissing the community’s fears as unfounded and irrational.
We hold valid concerns about a lack of rigour and probity involved in the identification of the so called “preferred site”. We believe that over the coming months more information will come to light to show that we were right to hold reasonable concerns over this.
All we in Westbury have asked for is a fair, democratic and non-secretive process which takes into account the views of the community who will be most affected by this. What you are seeing here is a community that is reacting to being completely trampled upon by its elected representatives.
President, WRAP Inc