30 Mar 2011

Probation centre's siting a 'victory for residents'

6:15 pm on 30 March 2011

Hastings councillor Henare O'Keefe says the opening of a community probation centre on the northern outskirts of Flaxmere is a victory for residents.

In April last year, hundreds of people protested against the Corrections Department's original plan to build the centre near the suburb's main shopping centre.

Mr O'Keefe says the site of the new centre, which backs onto an orchard, is ideal, and the fact that Corrections eventually agreed to it shows the community does have a voice.

"My hope is that Corrections will take on board the mindset," he says. "Unless we include the community in every step of the process - prior, during and after - we're going to get rebuttals all over the place."

Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who opened the new centre, says it will allow the department to work more effectively with offenders.

She says having a good relationship with the community will be important. There were some fears about the centre coming to Flaxmere, she says, but "this is a community that will benefit from it".

Ms Collins says the centre will have a staff of 18, including nine probation officers.