Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party
A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch team to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level. Christchurch Labour MPs
5 December 2011
Christchurch Earthquake bulletin edition 155
A regular bulletin started by the Labour Party’s Christchurch team to keep people in their electorates and media informed about what is happening at grass roots level.
We are continuing to run into problems with zoning as demonstrated by the following examples.
• A small group facing the Brooklands red zone decision featured on television last night. This group has no sense of where it is heading. They each got the go-ahead to build after the February quake, which means they do not qualify for the government’s ‘voluntary offer’ that is being made to every other insured residential home owner in the red zone. They are insured residential homeowners but they weren’t insured (and covered by EQC) on February 22. That is because their homes were built after the quake. No-one told them they couldn’t build. In fact one of the families got city council building consent three months after the quake. CERA’s response is to say that it has been a little caught out by the situation. The statement to ONE News says it is “working quickly to collate these different scenarios and find the best way to ensure there is a positive solution for the homeowners involved.” The irony of Amy and Tim Lepper getting consent six days before the February quake and being told they could then continue proves that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. We advised the Minister about their case in October last year, before they even started to build their house, making the point that their situation was similar to another case brought to his attention, although in this case they hadn’t started building. This meant that the land was uninsured unlike the other case where there was builder’s insurance. This couple have always insured their property and therefore they have had EQC cover all their adult lives. But they fell through the gaps of the current arrangements and we are hoping the Minister will find a way to assist these people who are not “chancing their arm” or being irresponsible in any way” We have raised these cases with CERA and the Minister’s office and are confident that a solution will be found, but this was avoidable. The government should have known that the Council had consented the building of these homes and should have adjusted the offer to cater for them instead of leaving them in limbo.
• The owners of 3700 homes still in the white zone feel as if their lives are on hold. Home repairs cannot proceed so many people are living in rental properties, using up their insurance money, and often travelling long distances to take their children to school. Some families are still not able to proceed with basic repairs. It might be a risk to spend money on a house repair before it is green zoned, but insurers and the government will be paying out massive amounts on alternative accommodation while these decisions are not yet made.
• CERA is continuing to hold community meetings – which are always welcome – even if the communications about them often remain clumsy. One was held on Friday night for orange zone residents in Retreat Rd, Avonside. Local elected representatives were not alerted nor were people in adjoining orange-zoned Cowlishaw/Patten St, although they attended without issue. There were no announcements at the meeting, although residents were told that this part of Avonside has been the most complex of all the areas affected by the earthquake. Among the CERA staff attending was chief geotech engineer Dr Jan Kupec, who is very good at conveying the issues in language people understand. It seems the geotech work has been completed and the decision process now rests with Cabinet to determine the issues of cost and timeliness. Given last month’s announcements, where 6340 properties were zoned green and none red, the signals do seem to be weighting to a majority of green-zoned announcements. CERA is trying to improve communications. It has signalled willingness to communities like Avonside to have more meetings and to give people affected the best possible processes when decisions are ready to be announced. It appears the rezoning announcement may come just before Christmas, which will mean little capacity to give people counselling and support. But delaying announcements another month is not likely to be welcome either.