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Arrogant decision by out of touch council

28 March 2007

Arrogant decision by out of touch council

An arrogant and ill-informed decision, contrary to all principles of justice and fairness.

That’s the response of the Coalition for Fair Rents to today’s Christchurch City Council decision, which refused to over-turn a 24 percent rent increase from July 1 for council housing tenants.

Coalition spokesperson Sharon Torstonson says tenants are devastated by the council’s 7-6 vote against reviewing the rents.

“The huge turn-out of 200 people, most of them tenants, was another signal to councillors of the pain and distress they were inflicting on some of the city’s most vulnerable.”

“Only one councillor, Sally Buck, was prepared to consider the welter of information provided by the Coalition which showed what the flawed and rushed decision of March 27 would actually do people they are supposed to protect.

“We’d like to thank her and the other councillors supporting the review – Chrissy Williams, Norm Withers, Bob Shearing, Yani Johanson and Helen Broughton.

“However, a narrow majority of councillors and the Mayor just were not prepared to consider the very valid case presented to re-examine the basis on which they took their original vote.

“Today’s reaffirmed rent increase of 24 percent will mean, for example, that a person on a sickness benefit will have to pay between 37 and 50 percent of their total income on rent. That breaches council’s own guideline of a maximum of 30 percent.

“As Rev. Jim McKenna, himself a pensioner tenant, told council this morning, many tenants will be forced below the breadline. He rightly noted that the increase was confirmed just three days after many grand Anzac Day speeches remembering those who risked or gave their lives to provide a decent society.

The Coalition for Fair Rents includes churches, social agencies, unions and other groups opposed to council’s increases.

Sharon Torstonson says the Coalition is now looking at a legal challenge and other options to continue the fight against the rent increases.

ENDS

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