The call by Flaxmere ward councillors to get the Hastings District Council to extend the successful City Assist programme into the suburb is a good one.

The councillors, Jacoby Poulain and Henare O'Keefe, believe the programme, which currently sees council-paid ambassadors patrolling the CBD, would help contribute to the feel of safety and vibrancy of the community.

Obviously the move would be a cost to ratepayers, but it would be money well spent.

I am glad to see that the mayor of Hastings, Lawrence Yule, supports this move. I take his point that the fundamental role of policing is a central government function, but I don't have a major issue with council promoting measures to uplift areas in the district.


By my observations, as someone who has worked in the centre of Hastings before the City Assist scheme was introduced and since then, it has had a fairly dramatic effect on the CBD.

Sure, there still may be a few incidents here or there, but the mere presence of the ambassadors often stops negative things happening.

The way the ambassadors work with the police and shopkeepers is very good. Let's face it, Flaxmere often gets a bad rap.

There are certainly some issues that the suburb has to deal with, but they are issues that the whole community should be trying to solve. We did a story last weekend about a dedicated group of people who have set up a community patrol in Flaxmere and are the eyes and ears on the ground. I met the co-ordinator of the patrol, Bert Lincoln, and was struck by the love and passion he had for his suburb. The same goes for the two ward councillors, who live and breathe Flaxmere. There are many good things happening in the suburb, but more can be done. The City Assist programme would certainly go a long way to giving the Flaxmere community a sense of safety and security.