Christchurch council taken to task for unsafe streets
A young Dallington family facing financial ruin say it is unfair to demand they pay full rates on their red-zoned home when their neighbourhood is broken and neglected.
Richard Clark says the state of disrepair his and neighbouring streets are in is disgraceful. Despite this, Christchurch City Council expects property owners in the area to pay full rates.
Berms are overgrown and riddled with weeds, footpaths are cracked and potholed, and roads are broken. Debris from fallen fences litters footpaths and rubbish is piled up around abandoned homes.
"Would you want your family living in these conditions?" Clark asked Christchurch City councillors at last week's earthquake forum.
"I understand that you are not going to completely repair or resurface roads and footpaths but at the very least you should be doing temporary repairs so it is safe for people to walk and drive around."
Before the quakes, Clark said, he had received a letter from the council instructing him to trim his hedge because it was hanging too far over the footpath.
Overhanging trees now made many footpaths impassable and many sections were so overgrown they were a fire hazard. However, neither the council nor the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority was doing anything to rectify the problem.
"There are still a lot of young families living in the area but you can't walk anywhere without falling down a hole or walking into something," said Clark, who pays more than $2000 a year in rates on his Halberg St property.
The disrepair outside his door is the last straw for Clark, who has been dealt a double blow by the quakes.
Before the quakes he and his partner bought a section where they planned to build their dream home. But that section, too, has been red-zoned and the Government's offer on the land is only for half of its rateable value. They pay full rates on that property too.
The couple borrowed heavily from the bank to buy the land and are now facing financial ruin. They have to move out of their home by April next year, but have nowhere to go because they cannot afford a new section nor can they afford to pay the exorbitant rents some landlords in Christchurch are charging.
"What is there for me in Christchurch to stay for?" Clark said.
"The government in Christchurch has let me down."
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker told Clark he had great sympathy for his plight and the city council would look at the concerns he had raised.