Council defers quake advice decision

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 11:42 19/12/2013

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The Christchurch City Council has again deferred making a decision on whether it will fund an advisory service to help people locked in disputes with their insurers.

The Residential Advisory Service (RAS) was set up in May in response to a letter the previous council wrote to Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee in July 2012 asking for an insurance tribunal and advocacy service to be set up in Christchurch.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has led the development of the service and has operational responsibility for it.

It is not an advocacy service as originally requested by the council.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC), and the Insurance Council of New Zealand (IANZ) are also parties to the service.

They want the council to sign up too and provide 23.5 per cent of the costs ($207,000) of running the RAS for the next 12 months.

The council's new earthquake recovery committee, involving all councillors, was due to consider the issue at its inaugural meeting last month but ran out of time and deferred it to the full council to consider this month.

But at this morning's council meeting - the last of the year - Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she was going to again defer the issue.

Acknowledging another deferral would be frustrating for some, Dalziel said she had recently met with respresentatives from EQC, IANZ and Cera to discuss the service and how it was working.

Cera had commissioned Deloittes to do a formal evaluation of the service and Dalziel wanted to wait until the results of that were available before considering whether the council should commit funds to it.

She had also asked Cera, EQC and insurers to provide more information about the nature of the problems people were experiencing.

''If we are looking to support people who are having their settlements held up, we need to understand what those hold-ups are,'' Dalziel said.

The matter will now be considered by the council at its first scheduled meeting in the new year.

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