$800m spent on east Christchurch not enough for frustrated residents

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/The Press

New Brighton and the Eastern Suburbs of Christchurch after the mayor, Lianne Dalziel, said the council had dropped the ball on the area.

More than half the $1.4 billion spent so far on fixing Christchurch's damaged infrastructure has been used for the eastern suburbs, but frustrated residents want authorities to do more.

They hope Mayor Lianne Dalziel's apology for letting them down will spark authorities into action.

On Saturday, Dalziel choked back tears at a Long Term Plan hearing after reading submissions from those who elected her mayor to stand up for the east.

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Residents are frustrated by the slow pace of recovery and the lack of proposed city council spending in New Brighton and surrounding suburbs.

"All I really want to do is say that I am really sorry," Dalziel said.

Figures released on Monday by the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) show it has, to date, spent around $800 million fixing the area's damaged broken roads, bridges and underground pipes.

Scirt figures show about $800m spent on the three eastern areas to date.
Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team

Scirt figures show about $800m spent on the three eastern areas to date.

More money has been pledged by the council for a new sports and recreation centre for the east and a legacy project for New Brighton, possibly salt water hot pools.

New Brighton residents feel more investment is needed because the area has suffered from decades of neglect. 

How would you fix Christchurch's eastern suburbs?

CHRISTCHURCH CITY COUNCIL/YouTube

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel makes an emotional apology to people in the east of the city who feel she has let them down

Esther Perriam, a fourth-generation Brightoner, who was active in mobilising the community to make submissions on the council's draft Long Term Plan, said salt water hot pools alone were not going to fix New Brighton. Those projects happening in combination with council and private enterprise would give the suburb a chance to prosper.

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She reeled off a list of things that could be easily fixed that would spruce the area up, including crumbling plaster on walls outside the library, a rust stain on the clocktower, and lack of drainage for the new drinking fountains in the mall.

"In Sumner, you have City Care tending to the garden beds. Here, if you go down to the public toilets, we don't even have toilet paper," Perriam said.

Rust damage on the New Brighton clock tower.
John Kirk-Anderson

Rust damage on the New Brighton clock tower.

Christchurch East MP Poto Williamssaid it was not just the council that had to step up its act in the east; the Government needed to as well.

"Let's be absolutely clear. We're not just talking about an issue of council responsibility to the eastern suburbs. We're talking about Government to the east as well. It's a two way street and and people out this way are feeling let down by both because there is so much to be done. There was so much that wasn't done prior to the earthquakes so we're starting from a very low base," Williams said.

"If we're not going to get our roads done because we've got to get through an infrastructure rebuild there are a few things they can do to help us out just to make it look nicer and tidier so we can feel proud about living out here. We have this whole tract of red zone that has been cleared recently but looks really scruffy and messy. Cera (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority) could come on board and do a lot more around the green space to make it look a lot better."

Community pride on display on New Brighton.
John Kirk-Anderson / Fairfax NZ

Community pride on display on New Brighton.

"Let's get those things done and we'll feel like somebody is actually taking care of us better," Williams said.

A Cera spokeswoman said it spent over $4 million a year million on managing and maintaining the grassed areas in the red zone. All red zone grassed areas were mown regularly, between every four or six weeks depending on weather and ground conditions. The rolling programme was designed to ensure the grass remained at a tidy, managed level but it was not a public-use space so the condition of the grass was not meant to be in a park-like standard.

New Brighton Business and Landowners Association manager Paul Zaanen said he was hopeful more money would be spent on maintaining New Brighton but what was really needed now was the "bigger picture stuff" – an over-arching plan for the suburb.

New Brighton Mall in eastern Christchurch is considered by some to be neglected by the Christchurch City Council and ...
STACY SQUIRES/ Fairfax NZ

New Brighton Mall in eastern Christchurch is considered by some to be neglected by the Christchurch City Council and left to rot.

"People want to know that there is a vision, that there is a way forward and that they're not just going to get the status quo," Zaanen said.

Promised for the east:

* $5 million from the Christchurch City Council for a legacy project for New Brighton

* $30.5 million from the Christchurch City Council for a new eastern recreation and sports centre

* $2.2 million from the Christchurch City Council to help implement the New Brighton Master Plan

Spent already:

* $800 million on fixing damaged horizontal infrastructure

 - Stuff

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