Prison a boost to economy and bargaining chip says mayor
LOOK at the positives.
That's the message Lockyer Valley Regional Council mayor Tanya Milligan has for residents concerned by the plan to build a second prison at Gatton.
The state government announced a new $618 million men's prison facility last week, with construction planned for completion in 2023.
Cr Milligan was excited by the announcement and said the project would be a great economic stimulus for the region, particularly given the continuing drought.
"There's about 400 jobs in the construction phase and another 500 permanent jobs when it's constructed," Cr Milligan said.
The new facility is part of stage two of the Southern Queensland Correction Centre, which currently houses 300 female prisoners, and will deliver about 1000 beds for male prisoners.
Cr Milligan said she had been given assurances by the government there would also be requirments for the project to source goods and services locally.
"The minister rang me yesterday and there's a really high percentage of their procurement have to come locally," she said.
It wasn't just the facility itself that was a win for the community - the mayor said the project would be a potent bargaining chip to secure more funding for the region, and to lobby for important projects such as passenger rail and a regional hospital at Plainland.
"I will certainly be using it as a catalyst to push that passenger rail, to push that regional hospital and also to get some increased funding for both of our community centres," she said.
The responce from the community has not been as positive, with many residents taking to Facebook to voice their concerns over the project.
Cr Milligan understood their concerns, but encouraged them to look at what the positives would be.
"People can get a bit scared by stuff that they don't know, and I saw that last time," she said.
"I think that it's the bigger picture stuff - it means jobs for our community, it means that there is going to be procurement from our local community."