New Prison Another Piece In The Jigsaw

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2000 10:18 AM
13 December 2000 Media Statement
Minister of Corrections Matt Robson says the new prison to be built just south of Auckland will be another step towards a secure, modern, regional corrections system.
“The Labour Alliance Coalition Government does not want to pour precious resources into building prisons. But prisons are a necessity to keep our neighbourhoods as safe as possible."
Announcing the shortlist of possible sites this evening, Mr Robson says the new 650-bed men’s prison is a crucial part of the Regional Prisons Programme.
The Regional Prisons Programme aims to locate inmates close to home because family involvement assists rehabilitation and reintegration.
"Families have a vital role to play in turning offenders away from a life of crime, so we need prisons which are close to families," says Mr Robson.
Community support and involvement are also crucial: "Only by building links with communities can we turn more inmates around so they don't re-offend.
"There are also economic advantages associated with building this new facility, with the prison providing 250 direct jobs. The facility will bring $20.9 million into the economy per annum."
The prison proposal will move through a full consultation process. Submissions are open until February 2 (for details, see the fact sheet).
"I urge people to make their views known through the consultation process," says Mr Robson. "We need to hear all community points of view.
"I will decide on the site in February 2001. By then there will have been extensive community consultation, as well as further technical analysis of the sites."
Mr Robson hopes that, in time, the new prison will help pave the way for the closure of Mt Eden.
"I've been pleased to see the future of Mt Eden raised again in the public domain. My stance on the prison is clear and on the record: I want to close the place down."
The proposed new south Auckland Regional Men's Prison won't have enough beds to take Mt Eden's 421 inmates. Instead it will absorb the current projected growth in the prison muster.
"But early next year my Taskforce on Prison Numbers will report back on ways to reduce prison numbers.
"We need to be smart. We need to contain those inmates who represent a risk to the community. But it is senseless to imprison those for whom the most effective treatment is community-based rehabilitative programmes."
Men's Prison Site Shortlist Fact Sheet
The Minister of Corrections, Matt Robson, has announced the shortlist of possible sites in the southern Auckland area on which to build the new 650-bed men’s prison.
The two sites have been shortlisted after a rigorous selection process.
The Hall Road site is located between the Waikato River and State Highway One, about 10km south of Meremere. The proposed North Waikato Regional Landfill is to the north of the site. This site is 130 hectares in size.
The Gregory Road site is also located between the Waikato River and State Highway One. It is about 2km south of Meremere. The Meremere Drag Raceway is located near the entrance to this site. The proposed North Waikato Regional Landfill is to the south of the site. The site is 572 hectares in size.
To get the best result from the site selection process, it is important that all community points of view are heard, so extensive consultation has begun on the sites.
People have until 2 February to make submissions on the shortlisted sites. The Department will analyse the submissions it receives as well as further detailed technical reports on the sites.
It will then recommend the site from the shortlist on which the Minister should seek a designation under the Resource Management Act. That designation would allow the new prison to be built on the site.
Submission forms are available from the Department of Corrections by phoning 0800 263 880. People can also phone that number to request an information pack on the sites as well as general information on prisons today.
To aid consultation, the Department is holding an information day and public meeting in January.
The information day will be held on Tuesday 16 January between 10am and 8pm at the Meremere Community Hall, Meremere Lane, Meremere.
The public meeting will be held in the same venue on Thursday 18 January at 7.30pm.
In addition, the Department has begun face to face briefings with the sites’ neighbours, local councillors and other interested parties.
Key reasons for shortlisting the two sites include:
These sites are within our preferred area from Huntly and north to Manukau City. This area has been chosen as part of our Regional Prisons Policy. The aim of this policy is to locate inmates close to their families/whanau and communities so as to allow them to maintain links which help reduce re-offending.
Both sites are close to State Highway One, allowing good access to the prison for services, staff and visitors.
When selecting possible sites, our minimum desirable site size was 90 hectares. Both the Hall Road (130 hectares) and Gregory Road (572 hectares) sites are well above this size.
With a site of this size, we will be able to accommodate inmates in a low-rise, modern facility with buffer zones and enough space for on-site employment initiatives.
Economic impact
Approximately 250 staff will be employed at the prison. A further 88 jobs are likely to be created in the district through the supply of goods and services to the prison. The value of staff wages and salaries has been estimated at $11.6 million a year. Another $3 million a year will be spent on goods and services in the area.
During construction, there will be an additional boost to the local economy, with increased jobs, income, expenditure and local business profit. The direct employment impact is likely to be an additional 285 jobs with additional wages and salaries of around a total of $28 million over the two year construction period.
Engineering and traffic
Both sites can provide suitable building platforms. They have acceptable access to essential services, although the Hall Road site would require the installation of additional water supply facilities.
There are no significant traffic engineering concerns, although some earth works and road construction work are likely to be required. Residents in Hall Road would notice an increase in traffic, unless alternative access was to be found. There is no residential housing along the entrance road to the Gregory Road site.

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