Labor MP Clayton Barr promises new entrance to Cessnock Correctional Centre if Labor Government elected

SUPPORT: Christine Evans (Kelman), Karen Shearer (Kerlew Street), Maureen Donaldson (Stonebridge), Cessnock MP Clayton Barr, John Sharples (Mavis Street), Graham Donaldson and Fay Walker (Stonebridge) outside the current jail entrance.
SUPPORT: Christine Evans (Kelman), Karen Shearer (Kerlew Street), Maureen Donaldson (Stonebridge), Cessnock MP Clayton Barr, John Sharples (Mavis Street), Graham Donaldson and Fay Walker (Stonebridge) outside the current jail entrance.

Labor has vowed to find a new entry to Cessnock jail if it wins the state election this weekend.

Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said priority number one would be to establish a new entrance from Wine Country Drive through NSW Health land at the old Allandale Hospital, despite Corrections NSW saying it had investigated this option and ruled it out.

"Unless there are practical, clinical reasons why it can't be put there, we are going to override a department decision," he said.

"The reason isn't because of Health. Corrections themselves made a decision."

Mr Barr said while this was something he had been working on for a while, the election meant his party could have the opportunity to enact the change.

"There are two sides of politics with different views on this. The election forces you to play your hand," he said.

"There is a responsibility that if Labor is in government we hear the community's concerns and act on that."

Mr Barr said there had been 659 submissions supporting an entry/exit via Health land, but only 16 people had raised concerns about this proposal.

Cessnock Council has also twice voted to have the access moved to Health land.

"This is an incredible story about arrogance," he said. "It is completely disrespectful for the NSW Liberal-National Government to have such a massive increase in the size and numbers at this jail while at the same time refusing to work with the community on their preferred option around a new entry/exit."

Mr Barr said some of the submissions against the proposal were from people who did not live in the local area.

"We're talking about people's homes and lifestyles versus people's hobbies," he said, adding that he did not want community groups who use the site such as Cessnock Men's Shed to lose access.

Mr Barr said if there was an acceptable reason why Health land couldn't be used, Kerlew Street would be the next logical option for a new access point.

But he said the current proposal for that street would also need to be re-evaluated to see if it could be improved.

Mavis Street resident John Sharples and Stonebridge's Graham and Maureen Donaldson were very pleased with Labor's plan.

Mr Sharples said traffic streamed down his street from 5am each day when there was a change of shift.

"It goes for half to three quarters of an hour," he said.

Mr Donaldson said there had also been a number of near misses at the current entrance of the jail where cars had almost not stopped for golf carts, which have right of way.

Residents said the entrance had also attracted anti-social activity including the dumping of syringes and cigarettes.

"Closing it will mean a quieter existence," Mr Sharples said. "And it gets it off council roads."