Angry cordon jumpers seek talks

Business owners angry with delays

Last updated 16:35 21/03/2011
Daniel Tobin

An angry group of central Christchurch business owners have stormed a cordon to protest the lack of access to their businesses. By Daniel Tobin

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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BREAKING NEWS: A protesting central city business owner says difficulties with the authorities could be solved with some simple dialogue.

Business owners stormed a cordon this afternoon as a protest about their treatment by earthquake authorities became heated.

About 100 CBD business owners were at the protest, which began calmly at 2pm.

Wendy Riley, who operated graphic design business Hot Pyjama Productions in Cashel Mall, said no-one had "had the balls to come out and talk'' when the protesters amassed at the cordon.

"All it would take is for someone to talk. I'm one of the lucky ones. I can't imagine what's it is like for business people who still have everything in their buildings. Celebrities can get tours around the place but the people who work and live in the city can't even find out what is going on,'' she said.

The protestors marched to the Civil Defence headquarters at the Christchurch Art Gallery, holding signs and shouting for answers about the fate of their businesses.

"Quakes didn't destroy us, council did," one protestor yelled.

Protestors called for Civil Defence national controller John Hamilton, but when he did not appear some stormed through a cordon.

A soldier, unable to stop the group, simply asked them to be careful.

Some protestors ran down streets, with police in pursuit on bicycles.

Most protestors were escorted back outside the cordon, with protestors yelling "that's criminal" when one man was wrestled to the ground by police.

The protestors then stood outside the cordon to continue their protest, with a line of police officers blocking them from going any further.

Organisers say a show of strength is needed to show the authorities access to businesses cannot wait any longer.

In an email to other business owners yesterday, organisers said a month after the earthquake "most of us are no closer to knowing the fate of our businesses''.

" Or when we will be allowed back into them to retrieve critical records, secure the premises as well as allowing independent engineering assessments.

" Those of us who have attempted dialogue with the council, civil defence or central government are simply fobbed off or given contradictory advice. When the person supposedly in charge, John Hamilton cannot answer basic questions like which buildings have been deconstructed or who authorised their deconstruction then we all need to be not just worried, but in fact fearful as to what will be left of the CBD by the time we are allowed back in.

The lack of leadership and control of the recovery effort is truly frightening.''

"What wasn't destroyed in the CBD by the earthquake, is now being destroyed by a shambolic civil defence and demolition crew anarchy.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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