Christchurch earthquake cordon breach 'essential'

Last updated 05:00 17/03/2011

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Frustrated business owners have been forced to breach the inner-city cordon and sneak out essential items for survival.

Christchurch property owner Antony Gough said he had no choice but to sneak past the cordon, raid his damaged buildings and pull out critical equipment.

Gough, who owns 12 buildings within the cordon, said he had been on many "party raids" for computers and servers since the quake.

The equipment was broken down and taken out in parts in people's pockets.

"It is shameful that we have to go to these sorts of extremes to get life back into these businesses," he said.

One of Gough's Hereford St buildings was demolished without his permission.

The Central City Business Association chairman said he was declaring war against the "cowboys that are pulling the fabric out of the city".

"It is anarchy from the top down," he said. "They have taken lethal blows to the business community, and we are rising to fight back. I have no fear of them. The gloves are off and we are after them for blood."

Gough believed buildings that could be saved were being demolished by careless officials.

He said his demolished building, which housed the Vivace Espresso Bar and Fortuna Books, was destroyed because it was the same colour as its badly damaged neighbouring building. "They were different buildings but, unfortunately, I painted them the same colour, and it was a cream day that day. Every building that was cream in Hereford St was demolished."

Gough was not warned before the demolition. Neither was the business owner given a chance to salvage anything.

"They had expensive imported coffee machines in there we easily could have saved. They didn't even call me. The person who flattened my building needs to be fired," Gough said.

The destroyed building had been attached to Shands Emporium and had left a gaping hole in the heritage building.

Gough wants to secure and protect his buildings.

He said it was criminal to allow politicians and the Prime Minister to walk through the cordon area but deny access to property owners. "There are buildings that desperately need propping and there is an overzealousness to keep us out of there to supposedly protect the public, but there is no public in there ... so what exactly are they protecting?"

Gough, who owns Oxford Tce buildings, said many were damaged and needed to be secured. He fears they will be unsalvageable by the time he gains access.

"My rights have been taken away from me. They are saying we can't go in there, but I am sorry, I say that is b........"

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Gough believed Christchurch was living under a dictatorship.

"They could line their bulldozers up and level the city tomorrow, and they are within their right to do it," he said. "We can't challenge anything because they are protected by the national state of emergency. We can't sue them. They have total dictatorship status."

"I will not go away and I will demand answers," he said, also asking compassion.

- The Press

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