'Bizarre' economic climate blamed for Christchurch business closures

A bizarre economic climate is being blamed as the reason why some central Christchurch businesses are having to close their doors.

At the corner of the Christchurch Arts Centre, Sarah and Martin Aspinwall, of Canterbury Cheesemongers are packing up their shop.

Ms Aspinwall said they were one of the first businesses back in the area after the 2011 earthquake.

"We had to reopen, we weren't really given a choice by our insurer... they weren't going to give us business interruption payments when we could reopen," she said

"We reopened in April 2011 to a really, really different and unusual business environment."

But Sarah Aspinwall said the local economy had still not yet recovered seven years after that devastating earthquake.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand show the number of people living in the CBD is still only two thirds of what it was before the quake - 5,800 compared with 8,300.

It was also estimated that retail spending in the area is still only 80 percent of pre-quake levels.

Ms Aspinwall said this "bizarre" economic climate had created a near impossible situation for them, with huge developments nearby not drawing in the people needed to sustain businesses such as hers.

"It got to the point when we had to renew our lease for another six years... and we didn't want to commit to that long," she said.

"The last year has been been really difficult."

Across the road from Canterbury Cheesemongers, The Villas coffee house has a notice pinned to its gate stating the business has gone into liquidation.

In a Facebook post the business owners said: "Christchurch post-earthquake has been a most challenging environment to operate in - nothing is normal, difficult decisions are made every day and the central city still has a way to go in re-establishing itself and finding its mojo again."

Economic development agency, Christchurch NZ have thrown together a campaign for the central city.

Spokesperson, Boyd Warren, said he hoped this would get residents back into the CBD.

"There is a lot of feedback that some businesses in the central city are doing well, and some are not doing well... and in the cases of those that are not doing well it is dire," he said.

"We have put together a campaign called 'explore your central city' to try and change the perceptions of residents that haven't been engaging with the central city."

The central Christchurch, councillor, Deon Swiggs agreed it was a tough climate for businesses to operate in.

But he said all residents had a part to play to fix that.

"Access has been an issue for people coming back in the city... there are a lot of people in the city who do not feel connected to our central city," he said.

"We need to do a lot more work to actually connect those people back into the central city so that there is people there who can then go into these shops and spend some money."

Sarah Aspinwall said the local economy had still not yet recovered seven years after the devastating Christchurch earthquake.
Sarah Aspinwall said the local economy had still not yet recovered seven years after the devastating Christchurch earthquake. Source: rnz.co.nz

'Exhausted' Tauranga homeowners taking council to court for 'fair' compo on failed Bella Vista development

Owners of homes in Tauranga's failed Bella Vista development say they're exhausted fighting the Tauranga City Council but will take it to court for just and fair compensation.

The 21 homeowners in the subdivision were served with eviction notices in March as the homes were deemed too dangerous to live in after issues with construction and inspections.

The residents have now rejected the council's offer to buy the homes.

Homeowner Sarsha Tyrell today told media the council offered to purchase the homes for the same price the owners paid for them up to nearly three years ago.

The offer "would, essentially, leave many of us in a situation where we would not be able to re-home ourselves in this market and strip us of an opportunity to potentially own a home again. Would you take that offer in our shoes?" she said.

"This is a situation that the council can very easily remedy. What we are asking is to be restored to the position that we would have been in had the council properly carried out the work that we trusted them to do like any of you would. 

"What we are asking for is not unreasonable. It is just and fair. If you were in our shoes would you not be asking for the same."

We are exhausted and the last thing that we wanted to do was to enter into court proceedings - Bella Vista homeowner Sarsha Tyrell

Ms Tyrell said the past four to five months have taken a toll on the homeowners financially and emotionally. 

"We are exhausted and the last thing that we wanted to do was to enter into court proceedings. 

"When the council met with us on June the 6th and made their decision to buy the properties, we finally saw a small light at the end of the tunnel. We thought that finally some normality would be restored to our lives.

"It was yet another devastating blow when we realised that the June 6 decision seemed to be nothing more than another empty promise."

Ms Tyrell said the owners "have found ourselves in a position where we must now issue court proceedings and take action against the council. It has become apparent that the council is not prepared to do what is fair and just in this situation, and therefore we have no choice but to issue proceedings and turn to the legal system for help."

The council last month said it considered the offer a fair and reasonable approach to make sure homeowners are compensated for the amounts that they have spent through this process.

It included an additional amount to reflect the emotional toll the ordeal had taken, the council said.

Resident Sarsha Tyrell says the council's offer to buy the homes for what the owners paid is not fair and just. Source: 1 NEWS


Family Court reforms to be examined by independent panel - 'Concerned that families and children are losing out'

The changes made to the family justice system in 2014 will be examined by three experts appointed to an independent panel, the Justice Minister has announced. 

Andrew Little said today former Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan and family law experts La Verne King and Chris Dellabarca will look at the changes,.

He said it comes after there was a "huge increase in the number of urgent 'without notice' applications which have to be put before a Family Court judge". 

"I am concerned that families and children are losing out as a result of not receiving adequate advice and support during this distressing time.

"A human rights approach will ensure everyone’s perspectives are considered, including survivors of family violence, and men who say they’re not being given the opportunity to do some of the parenting when relationships end," Mr Little said. 

"Talking with children who have experienced the Family Court system will also be vital for establishing how the system can work better for those who need it most."

The UN may send a special investigator to New Zealand to find out what's going on.
Source: 1 NEWS