Minister backtracks on reopening Parramatta Gaol

PARRAMATTA jail will not reopen after Corrections Minister David Elliott withdrew his proposal. Picture: Bob Barker Parramatta jail is to remain closed.

The State Government was considering reopening the colonial site to lift pressure from the state’s overcrowded prisons.

Mr Elliott told The Parramatta Advertiser he decided against reopening the jail, which closed in 2011.

“I can’t reconcile myself spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars reopening the jail, with all the development happening in the area such as the Powerhouse, the light rail, Westmead and … in the CBD,” he said.

It is estimated a refurbishment of the colonial site would cost more than $10 million.

Parramatta state Liberal MP Geoff Lee called it a “big win” for the community.

“Despite the prison overcrowding concerns, it would place a serious impediment on the North Parramatta heritage precinct,” Mr Lee said.

To deal with prisoner numbers, the government has announced it will close Long Bay jail and build a mega jail in Wollondilly in southwest Sydney, to hold up to 5000 prisoners.

North Parramatta Residents Action Group president Suzette Meade said instead of alleviating dangerous overcrowding in prisons, the government was putting prison officers lives at risk by packing prisoners into cells for another three-plus years until the proposed new mega jail was constructed.

“The Fleet St heritage precinct was in no danger from the short-term reopening of the historic Parramatta jail,” Ms Meade said.

“What was under threat was this government’s grubby money grabbing real estate deal to flog off public land,” she said

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