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Town's fury at being left in dark over prison closure

Corrections staff are furious at the Government's decision to axe more than 250 jobs from three regional prisons in the North Island, saying it has come out of the blue.

Prison workers are now faced with a decision whether to uproot their families in search of similar work or look for another job in the region.

With the high security wing at Waikera Prison set to close, resulting in the loss of 148 jobs, the president of the Corrections Association says it's a slap in the face for staff.

"I'm aware there is a member of staff at Waikera who went through closure in New Plymouth and chose to relocate here, whether they'll relocate again or had enough, I don't know," Alan Whitley says.

Without any others prisons within close proximity for staff to commute, Te Awamutu Chamber of Commerce Susan Trodden says those that want to stay in the industry will likely have to move away.

Waipa District mayor Jim Mylchreest says he was left in the dark about the decision to close part of a prison that has been around for more than a century.

"Here they are with a major change and not even bothering to let us know plans are afoot," he said.

"I assume that they've done their sums and it's more efficient for them but they're not looking at New Zealand in terms of what are the benfits to try and keep employment in the regions."

The decision follows the axing of 62 positions at Waikera just 18 months ago.

Just out of Te Awamuti in Kihikihi, locals say every second person either works at the prison or has a relative locked up inside.

And unfortunately for staff who will be laid off, the opening of a large new prison in South Auckland next month is no consolation as all jobs are already filled.

Prison workers will learn their fate next month.

The mayor said the decision to close Waikeria Prison shows the Government has little regard for the regions. Source: 1 NEWS


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