Authority accused of keeping deadline details quiet

9:40 pm on 24 May 2013

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee is defending the way Christchurch red zone residents are being told about possible extensions to deadlines for owners to leave their damaged homes.

No official announcement has been made about the extensions.

At present, owners on flat land in Canterbury who have accepted the Government's offer to buy their property have until the end of July this year to leave.

However, homeowners at workshops in Christchurch this week were told that some may be eligible for an extension if they fit certain criteria, which are not yet known.

Some red zone residents who were not at the workshops say they are angry because they have not been told about the possibility of an extension.

But Mr Brownlee says the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) is dealing with it in the right way and homeowners who haven't given a date when they expect to leave are being contacted and their situations assessed.

"I'm quite unapologetic for the way we're going about this. We're dealing with people individually and I know that there is a huge desire to kick the guts out of this by the various media, but I'm unworried about that.

"I'm really most concerned about getting us as good an opportunity for people to resettle as possible."

The minister says authority representatives will speak to homeowners who might struggle to meet the deadline.

"The numbers that we're talking about are very, very low. The CERA staff progressively make contact generally about two months out from the settlement dates to try and work through with people exactly what their situation might be."

But Avondale Residents Association vice-president Adrienne Lingard says she had not heard of the offer before this and believes the authority has kept it quiet to discourage people from applying.

Ms Lingard says homeowners in the worst-hit areas aren't getting enough information from the authority and this has been a problem for the last 18 months.