Community backlash sees government move new prison out of town
By Nick Clark
18 June 2020
The state government has dumped its controversial site for the $270 million Northern Regional Prison following a strong campaign against it by the people of Westbury.
A new site on Birralee Rd, a bush block 5.2km from the Westbury post office, was announced by Premier Peter Gutwein and Attorney-General Elise Archer on Thursday.
The previous site pursued by the government was 2.1 km from the post office.
The Westbury siting prompted the formation of an anti-prison lobby group, Westbury Residents Against the Prison (WRAP) and a number of rallies were held.
WRAP president Linda Poulton is yet to respond about the new site saying the group would have to meet to decide its position.
Mr Gutwein said the government had listened carefully to the Westbury community.
"We heard the concerns that were being raised," he said.
"Do I think there will be 100 per cent support for this, probably not.
"Do I think it will satisfy the vast majority in the Meander Valley municipality, yes I do."
Mr Gutwein denied that political considerations in Lyons, where the Liberals hold three of the five House of Assembly seats, influenced the decision.
He said that the new site was identified after he met Westbury residents in February.
Ms Archer said a Social and Economic Impact Study on the project found it would support more than 1000 jobs and deliver a $500 million economic boost to the region.
A key part of the SEIS was a telephone survey and a mail-out survey of 8000 Meander Valley municipality residents.
"A clear theme reiterated by the community was that building the prison at a site further away from the town of Westbury would be preferable," Ms Archer said.
She said the SEIS mail-out survey had found residents "largely very favourable".
But a phone survey of 333 people in the 7303 postcode area was "in the main critical".