Bridges hears neighbours' anger
An impassioned plea for help from young mother Elyse McGregor who is opposing the proposed Corrections Department halfway house in Abbott Street was well received at a community political meeting in Gisborne yesterday.
Anger and frustration directed to National leader Simon Bridges and East Coast MP Anne Tolley was met with applause from the 150 to 200-strong audience.
“We are a community in Te Hapara surrounded by families with children who play in the street daily. There are elderly in care in homes less than 100 metres from this house. It is not OK,” said Mrs McGregor.
“A Corrections Department officer has stated he cannot confirm anyone will be safe. This is not OK.”
Parents and elderly in the area were scared of being beaten, abused or raped.
“We are so scared — our children cannot walk to school, which is only 1600 metres away.”
She knew the ex-prisoners had to go somewhere but for the community it would mean daily fear. They had been told there would be three ex-prisoners in the house, rotating every three months.
“They are sex offenders, paedophiles, people who have committed robbery, assault and drug offences. This is only 600 metres from two schools and an early childhood centre.
Neighbours of the house had their house on the market and had it revalued recently. It had dropped by $80,000.
She had written to Mrs Tolley and had not heard back, she said.
“What as an MP are you going to do for us. We work f****** hard for our homes and we don’t deserve this.”
Mr Bridges encouraged her to “fight all the way.”
“I get it you are angry. I do not have a neat and perfect answer. I acknowledge the offenders who get out need to go somewhere but it needs to be somewhere where everyone can feel safe.
“The Government has plans to reduce the numbers in prison by half. We will see much more of this.”
Mrs Tolley said she would do what she could. She had replied to Mrs McGregor’s letter, she said.
“We look forward to seeing that reply,” said Mrs McGregor.