As the author of the feature letter from Kerrie Butler (The Examiner, January 8) says, informed opinions are best.
Regrettably, if you put Kerrie's opinions under the microscope it soon becomes apparent that they do not live up to her own standards.
In Kerrie's view, Westbury "Holds nothing to promote it other than an old church and a yearly show" and should really only be known for its greasy food. From Kerrie's comments, it's not apparent that she has ever actually spent time in Westbury, other than perhaps driving through.
Her comments would have people believe that, unlike its sister towns in the Meander Valley, Westbury has no beautiful heritage buildings or other attractions.
No town common with wallabies and platypuses, and no natural swimming holes.
Her version of Westbury omits to mention Westbury's art galleries and elegant open gardens.
The impressive steam-engine museum (Pearns) is the largest collection of steam engines in the southern hemisphere.
The nationally famous wood carvings by Ellen Norah Payne are nothing of note.
The Westbury Maze and collectables shops are just not there.
There is no second church (let alone a third). No main street lined with character cottages. Definitely not Australia's oldest Village Green with its postcard beauty.
No unique St Pat's Day Festival, linked to Westbury's Irish rebel history, famous in Ireland and throughout the world.
No Anzac Day parades with bands and pipers. No 70-year-strong cricket club, no football team or other sporting culture.
No budding café scene spearheaded by the wonderful Green Door, Hub Café and Verde.
The food at Pizza House and the local takeaway McCulloch's, the town's social epicentre, is not at all delicious or good value.
Nor is the Sunday roast served up at the recently renovated R.J.s Westbury Hotel, or the wonderful home-made meals served to community groups at the ever-hospitable Westbury RSL.
New businesses are apparently not attracted to Westbury. There's definitely no new ice-cream business in town. Nor is there a whiskey distillery on the near horizon.
The fact that a new IGA complex has been recently built in Westbury at a cost of approximately $5 million is not a sign that there is growing confidence in Westbury's economic future.
With respect, Kerrie's opinions on Westbury do not pass the pub test. And her view is not one that is shared by countless visitors and the growing number of people investing in Westbury and its future.
More importantly, by dissing Westbury this way, Kerrie (who happens to live in Deloraine) sets our towns against each other and fuels divisiveness.
This all plays into the hands of the state government because they want the Meander Valley and in particular Deloraine, to sacrifice Westbury to this prison.
In their focus on Westbury, many people have failed to consider what the prison might also mean for Deloraine and the wider Meander Valley.
A prison of the size and nature of the Northern Regional Prison will completely dwarf the Ashley Youth Detention Centre in its magnitude and social impact. There is also no guarantee at all that, once built, it will not be further expanded. It stands to completely overtake Risdon as the largest correctional centre in Tasmania.
The prison will be clearly visible from the Bass Highway, particularly when lit up brightly at night. Two detention centres along this section of the highway tourist route are hardly going to act as incentives for those travelling past to pull in off the highway to pay a visit to Westbury or Deloraine, and nearby areas of the Meander Valley.
The needs of the prison will create extra strain on already stretched emergency services such as ambulances, hospitals and police. The closest services of this type are in Deloraine. Is everyone in Deloraine comfortable with the likely dilution of these services arising from the need to share them with the prison?
The infrastructure in Westbury will be completely and utterly inadequate to accommodate those who choose to relocate to be closer to the prison.
Nearby Deloraine will offer great appeal, having a Woolworths, a hospital, a high school, government services and a much wider range of additional amenities. Will Deloraine's amenities stretch to cover the increase in population that Deloraine will undoubtedly experience if this prison goes ahead?
The focus on Westbury and suggesting it deserves to have this prison by casting it as a place that only serves greasy food is a complete red herring. It is a diversion which Kerrie is more than happy to propagate, for reasons which we can only ponder.
Deloraine, do not be diverted.
Everyone in the Meander Valley will be impacted by the Northern Regional Prison and any future expansion of it.
For sure, the impact will be felt mostly in Westbury. But don't let the wool be pulled over your eyes. Deloraine and wider Meander Valley will be far from immune.
- Linda Poulton is the President of WRAP Inc (Westbury Region Against the Prison).