$300,000 for quake recovery advocates

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 09:23 14/09/2012

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Christchurch City councillors have voted to spend $300,000 on employing advocates who can help community boards fast-track their earthquake recovery efforts.

Councillors yesterday voted 11 to 1 with one abstention, to employ four advocates to work with community boards to help them come up with solutions to the quake issues affecting their communities.

The decision was made in response to community boards' concerns that they did not have enough resources to address problems arising in their communities and were struggling to make progress.

'There is a need to do something different and better to deal with the issues that have been raised," Cr Yani Johanson said.

'It is important that these are people who are able to cut through tape and get things done in our organisation."

Cr Aaron Keown and Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button said it was the role of elected members to advocate for their communities, so there was no need to spend $300,000 on employing advocates.

'I know this is not a popular view . . . but I just don't agree with it. We are in an environment where every dollar matters," Button said. Keown said that for the money the council was proposing to spend on advocates it could provide free parking at Christchurch Hospital or install more tsunami warning signs in coastal areas.

'It is the role of elected members to be earthquake co-ordinators within our wards. I don't see the need for these advocates," he said.

Their amendment to stop the new positions being approved was lost 11 to 2.

Cr Tim Carter said community boards had a vital role to play in the recovery and rebuild of the city, but to be effective they needed to be effectively resourced.

Cr Peter Beck said he supported the appointment of extra staff to help the community boards because all the evidence suggested that successful recoveries after disasters were community-driven.

'The concern within our local communities is that they have not been heard, engaged or involved.

"We can change that," he said.

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