Monday, 17 October 2011

Protesters demand to know fate of homes (comments enabled)

More than 100 protesters have vented their anger at the Government for the lack of information on the fate of their earthquake-damaged land.

Yesterday, protesters from around the city attended a rally at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens aimed at lobbying the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority for more information on the fate of homes in the orange and white zones.

Owners of about 9000 homes in the orange zone and thousands more in the white zone have been waiting for months to learn whether their damaged land will be repaired or abandoned.

Supporters carried placards calling for clarity and transparency from the Government and Cera.

Rally organiser Darla Hutt, of Spencerville, said the protesters wanted their voices to be heard. "They haven't been heard, pretty much, since day one," she said.

"Out here in Spencerville and Brooklands, we've been waiting for 13 months now. If they can't tell us what's going on, we want to know why."

Labour's earthquake recovery spokesman, Clayton Cosgrove, and Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel spoke at the rally. Cosgrove said orange and white-zone residents were sick of having a "moving line", and called on Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to be "honest".

"Don't set timelines, and don't say things that are going to cause stress, ratchet up expectation and make promises that you have no intention of keeping," he said.

"The clear message we've got from communities is, `Give it to us, warts and all'."

Hutt said Brownlee, Cera chief executive Roger Sutton and the city's National MPs declined to attend the rally.

The group had planned to march to the Arts Centre after being told it did not have Christchurch City Council approval to hold the event, but, despite a police presence, the protest continued at the gardens without incident.

A spokesman for Brownlee said the Government's view was that orange zones were the top priority.

"We said [last week] Cera would give everyone in the orange zone an update within two weeks, so that means that there will be some form of an update by the end of this week."

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