Wingecarribee Shire Mayor, Councillor Ken Halstead today expressed extreme disappointment at the decision of the State Government to close Berrima Gaol.
The historic Berrima Gaol was built by convicts between 1836–39 and has been used since that time for various classification of inmates; the most recent period being for women prisoners, who in some cases have their children fostered in the local Highlands community.
Councillor Halstead said the closure of the gaol would have a devastating effect on the local community, in particular the loss of jobs for residents and the economic spin-off to the business community.
“In the coming days the General Manager and I will be requesting an urgent meeting with the Member for Goulburn, the Member for Kiama and the NSW Minister for Justice seeking a reconsideration of the decision, as we believe the closure will have serious ramifications across the entire Shire,” the Mayor said.
“We’ll be requesting that these local members take our concerns directly to Premier O’Farrell, who I understand is a politician that listens to the wider constituency. We will be asking that he rethink this decision to close the door on what is a very important industry for the Southern Highlands.”
“Whilst we have very real concerns that the closure of the prison will have an adverse impact on the local economy, our immediate concerns are for the employees of the facility and we’ll subsequently be seeking guarantees that they will be offered positions elsewhere,” the Mayor added.