By Jeff Hampton
Christchurch inner-city businesses say they’re suffering a slow death because of council inaction, following the earthquake eight weeks ago.
They’re losing customers to suburban malls because of uncleared rubble, lack of parking and blocked roads and footpaths.
Café owner Rob Gould does his own tidying up and says he wants the council to do the same.
Outside his café it is like a bomb site. Since the quake, footpaths are fenced off, there is little parking and, to cap it off, the council is extended a tram track.
“Customers think we’re still shut because we’ve got barriers outside and obviously we’re not. It’s what I call a perfect storm – everything that could go wrong has,” said Mr Gould.
He has 17 staff, but says his business is under threat, unless the council removes barriers and supports a marketing drive to get customers back into the city.
Round the corner, bookseller Rhys Pasley supports Mr Gould’s call for more action.
He says he has seen a lot of fluro-jacketed people doing nothing, and can’t believe footpaths are still blocked two months after the quake.
“A lot of business owners are saying it would have been better to have been wiped out by the quake, than to have survived,” says Mr Pasley.
“That’s pretty much the way I feel at the moment. I wake up every morning wondering what’s going to be next and I’m sick of it.”
Richard Edinburgh’s business takings have been cut in half since the quake and he is struggling to pay rent.
The barber says the inner city will die unless the council starts promoting it and making access easier.
“It’s so different to the malls. You go to one mall you’ve been to them all. We’re different, we’re a set of individuals and we want to stay that way,” says Mr Edinburgh.
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button says he door is open.
“They can come and see me,” she says. “I’m very happy to go to a meeting with them…. I’m happy to go and talk to them about what the council can do.”
The businesses are also keen for help from the Canterbury Earthquake Fund, but at the moment the $19 million in there is being used for individuals suffering hardship, rather than small businesses who are seeing their livelihoods with wither before their eyes.
source: newshub archive