“I read in the Christchurch Press today (20 March 2013) “Red Zone Rebellion Fizzles”. Well I should like to remind the Christchurch Press not to ‘sell the hide before the bear has been shot’. Just to bring some perspective to this article, “Resigned red zoners take the money and run” by Charlie Gates here is a letter written by a group of red zoners who have far from ‘taken the money and run’. In the event that the red zoning should be declared unconstitutional at some time in the future there will be nothing to stop those already ‘settled’ reopening this issue“. Sarah Miles
From: Brooklands Stayers Group, 15th March 2013
To: Dear Mr Sutton & Mr Brownlee,
In response to your letter dated 13 November 2012, I and many others left in the Brooklands community would like to bring to your attention why it is not possible for us to accept the Crown offer. We also write to remind you of the stress and suffering this anti-democratic and unjust process is inflicting on our community members. We have asked some very basic questions for almost two years now, and still your answers are that ‘We don’t know yet,’ or ‘We can’t give this to you under the Official Information Act.’ We believe this is unfair and unacceptable as, in your words, we need to “Make sure [we] get all the information [we] need to make [our] decision on the Crown offer; ask CERA, go to a lawyer”. As you well know, lawyers know little about the legality of any of our situations as there is no case history as yet, and CERA will not communicate with us.
Some of the questions we have asked include:
1. Why has the pre-existing risk of flooding in Brooklands been used as reasons for its ‘red-zoning’ it, when cabinet Papers state ‘Pre-existing risk of damage from flooding and tsunami are not included in the criteria’?
2. Why have you told us that it would not be cost effective to repair Brooklands, when in fact it is costing 57.771 million dollars to Red Zone us, and would only cost between 25 – 40 million dollars to remediate?
3. Why were the people of Brooklands denied the choice of being able to stay or go?
4. Where in the CERA Act 2011 does it say that the recovery of the people affected by the Canterbury earthquakes will be a game of ‘Winners and Losers’? What is your intention now that you have created many ‘Losers’ and must begin to face the problem of what you are going to do with us?
5. Why was a system – which allows insurance companies to deem our homes a hypothetical ‘repair’, despite them being entirely lost to their owners who have replacement policies, thus allowing them to pay only a fraction of the appropriate compensation – ever created and considered the best way to enable recovery? For us, words cannot describe the stress, pain and feelings of anger and betrayal caused by the National government and CERA through this blatantly unfair system.
6. Similarly, how is the offer, for half the RV value, to vacant land owners considered fair or reasonable? What is your advice to land owners who are being effectively forced to sign away their land that is, in most cases, TC2 and irreplaceable, signing away half of their equity in doing so?
7. What will happen when people do not accept the government offers, choosing instead to remain in Brooklands?
8. Do you believe it is acceptable, 18 months after red-zoning our community, to still respond to many of our questions with ‘We don’t know?’ How do you anticipate people can make one of the, if not the, biggest decisions of their life-time based on this response?
As we have brought to your attention in the past Mr Brownlee, you have, ironically, acted outside of the CERA Act 2011 by not “enabling community participation in the planning of the recovery of the affected communities”. Not one person in Brooklands has been allowed to participate in this, and we have long been seeing the escalating and many consequences of this. We are tired of this ‘Winners and Losers’ game. We ask you one more time to help us regain some equity, quality of life and faith in our government.
1. Stop the insurance companies only paying out repair money for our houses on red-zoned land.
2. Pay the RV for vacant land.
3. Tell us what is going to happen to our red-zoned land, and that it is possible for us to stay in Brooklands if we want to, without fear of land confiscation?
4. Tell us the real reasons Brooklands has been Red Zoned.
5. Stop employing bullying tactics, underlying threats, and vague, ambiguous, suggestive or loaded comments. Rather, communicate in a mature, transparent and precise manner.
Please be advised, again, that until you can resolve all of the above, it will be impossible for us to accept the Crown offer. Mr John Key stood in Brooklands and told us ‘No one would lose their equity,’ but they have, and we are. Mr Brownlee, we demand fairness, we need our lives back, and we need to retain our right to choose where we live and to choose what we do with our properties; we also need to retain the equity we have in greatest investments, our homes! Mr Mike Shatford has assured us that all our questions will be answered before the offer expiry date, which is 31 March 2013, this promise he gave to us over a year ago. Your organisation [CERA] has left us in the dark for almost two years and now it is time for some answers, surely! We now give you until the 22nd of March 2013 to on honour your agreement Mr Shatford. The RED ZONE was created by you [CERA], and not by the earthquakes. Damage caused by the Earthquakes to us was minimal compared to the damage that you all in CERA and the government have done to our lives. SHAME ON YOU ALL.