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Embassy of Poor gives up on Christchurch City

Embassy of Poor gives up on Christchurch City Council

The Poor Peoples Embassy has told the Christchurch City Council that it has given up on it and that its representative won't be attending any more public council meetings.

Embassy representative Ewen Coker said that when the council agreed a year ago to set up a task force on poverty he was excited. But since then the task force had met only twice and not once with a poor person despite a third of the city living in poverty. He said he is now despondent about the lack of commitment by council.

"To have a rich-only task force on poverty is like having a male-only one for improving the lot of women," Ewen Coker told the community services committee of the council yesterday. "It'd probably conclude that women will be happier with a new broom."

Mr Coker asked the council to put into practice its own Community Policy of "empowering and enabling those who are deprived of power and resources." He said he was not asking for money but for the council to change its attitude of the poor and be more democratic by working with people.

"Economic apartheid" had been developing in Christchurch over the last 15 years, said Mr Coker. The poor had become slaves to the politician's whim, while the city had witnessed the rise of walled subdivisions and surveillance cameras. "You make a rod for your own back when you create economic apartheid," he told councillors.

Community services chairman Carole Anderton said the council was doing all it could to help the poor but it was not central government and could do only so much.

Poor Peoples Embassy

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