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We'll take more prisoners, says Lockyer Valley mayor

CALL TO EXPAND: Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones wants the prison precinct expanded from its current 300 prisoners to a capacity of 1600.
CALL TO EXPAND: Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones wants the prison precinct expanded from its current 300 prisoners to a capacity of 1600. Kerry Oneill

LOCKYER Valley Mayor Steve Jones is calling on the State Government to expand the capacity of the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre precinct north of Gatton five-fold in the coming State Budget.

The Mayor wants Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie to fulfil the original plans for the site and expand from its population of 300 to 1600.

Mr Jones said expanding the prison would bring more construction and operational jobs to the region.

The prison, run by private contractors Serco, has been hit by claims of over-crowding in the past year.

Cr Jones said expansion was part of original negotiations with the Beattie and Bligh state governments.

"There is certainly room to move to expand the current 300-bed facility, and it was always flagged that this would be a 1600-1700 prisoner precinct in the future," he said.

"The pad is there ready to go; the infrastructure like water, sewer and roads are there ready to go; and I hope the State Government gives it strong consideration in this Budget, as well as future budgets, for the full expansion."

Mr Bleijie said he wouldn't discuss the budget contents but was happy to discuss proposals with the council.

"It is not appropriate to speculate on what's in the budget but I'm happy to discuss any suggestions Steve has," he said.

"Prison numbers are managed on a state-wide basis and fluctuate over time for a variety of reasons, and some prisoners sharing rooms is standard practice across the world."

Cr Jones said the existing prison had brought huge benefits to the region, and growing the prison would expand on them.

"The benefits the Lockyer Valley received during construction of the current facility were enormous and the ongoing operation and employment opportunities now provided by Serco are tremendous," he said.

"There are 200 staff employed by Serco, many of whom are local residents, and the extra staff that would be required to operate a facility with more than 1500 prisoners would be of huge benefit to the Lockyer Valley.

"We were also able to negotiate part State Government funding for state-of-the-art community facilities such as the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre .... as part of the original prison deal.

"All of the scaremongering and 'white elephant' claims that went on with the construction of the facility are long gone.

"I hope the State Government gives strong consideration to allocating funds for the expansion of the Southern Queensland Correctional Precinct in their 2014/15 State Budget."

Topics:  jarrod bleijie, mayor steve jones, serco, southern queensland correctional centre



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