Cunliffe 'heartbroken' for Christchurch

Labour leader urges action on land issues

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 13:32 07/03/2014
David and Simon Cunliffe Lyttelton
Kirk Hargreaves

POST FLOODING: Labour leader David Cunliffe and his media director Simon Cunliffe visited Lyttelton this morning to hear from the community about flood damage first hand.

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Labour leader David Cunliffe is urging the Christchurch City Council and the Government to stop ''passing the buck'' and nut out long-term solutions to flooding and land issues across the city. 

Cunliffe and Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson met community leaders in Lyttelton this morning to hear about the response to this week's flooding. 

The port township was among the hardest hit areas this week. Landslips forced several road closures, fragile infrastructure has been further damaged, houses were flooded and now oil is spilling into the harbour from a damaged tank.

Cunliffe and a handful of residents discussed issues facing the community privately before the leader said he was ''both heartbroken and impressed by the situation and the response''.

''I'm heartbroken because Lyttelton and Canterbury didn't need another disaster coming on the heels of those two major earthquakes... and this has been gut-wrenching to see homes destabilised, roads undermined, slips and retaining walls washed away.''

He said while the ''authorities are passing the buck between each other'' the community had been generating its own response to the earthquakes and now to the floods. 

''I think there's a real question going forward beyond the floods... about what the long-term picture is around the interface between Cera and the council.''

He said by law Cera would cease to exist in April 2016 but it was naive to think it would be a case of ''pushing a button and expecting all the functions to be picked up overnight by somebody else''.

''It is now urgent that there is proper forward planning about the transition post-quake and who will pick up those responsibilities,'' he said.

''If the Government wants to extend [Cera's responsibilities] they need to make a case as to why that would be superior to the normal responsibilities of local and central Government... extending it would be an admission that the Canterbury earthquake  recovery programme is well behind schedule.''

Dyson said Lyttelton was still waiting for the outcome of the council-commissioned GNS report on land movement in the area. 

She said there was ''significant challenges'' in the area and people needed more information to be able to move on. 

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