Red-zoners call for more time

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2012
Anton and Olwyn Weber
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

UNDER PRESSURE: Anton and Olwyn Weber with their grandson, Carlos, 9, and family dog Onyx. They were red zoned in August and have till April to settle.

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Stressed red-zone residents given less time than others to settle on their properties are appealing to the Government for a deadline extension.

About 100 Christchurch residents zoned red after an appeal in August were given eight months to settle, compared to about a year for other red-zone residents.

Some red-zone residents say they feel under pressure to accept insurance offers and do not have enough time to negotiate properly.

North New Brighton resident Olwyn Weber was red-zoned in August after appeal and has until April to settle.

She said the stress was impacting on her and her family.

"I'm not sleeping, my husband has had to go to the doctor for trouble with his heart and my autistic grandson is really scared about moving.

"I have never been so busy in my life. My memory is going and I have had so many near misses in the car.

"We need time to fight these things. A big help would be to stay in this house until we can sort this out."

Burwood resident Ngaire Jahle said they could lose $120,000 on their red-zone deal as they do not have enough time to negotiate.

She said the Government refusal to extend the deadline was "just mindless bureaucracy".

"It has put people under a lot of pressure. We have settled for whatever the insurance company offered because we know we have to be out within a reasonable time frame. It was not what our house was worth, but we feel we can build for that. It's not the best option financially, but there is a time limit," she said.

"It is unfair treatment. We just need a bit of flexibility. We just need a bit longer."

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee told Parliament yesterday that it was "unlikely" that red-zone residents would be able to stay in their homes after the deadline had lapsed.

"Given that to do that there would have to be maintenance of access and also infrastructure to those homes, it would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis but I would have to say it is unlikely," he said.

Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel said the shorter deadline meant red-zone residents would have to find temporary accommodation.

"People are crying out for a sympathetic response," she said.

"The stress of a short-term move before the new house is built is proving overwhelming for some. We also have people whose insurance companies won't pay for a second move."

Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network (WeCan) spokesman Mike Coleman said the short deadline was creating stress.

"You need time to battle with the insurance companies. They don't come up with their best offer straight away. It plays perfectly for the insurance companies."

The 97 properties red-zoned after appeal in August were given eight months to settle. Of those, 14 have already settled and moved out and 34 have signed a sale and purchase agreement, according to Cera.

The 198 Southshore properties red-zoned in May and the 511 Port Hills properties red-zoned in August were given about 12 months to settle.

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- The Press

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