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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cosgrove: Memorial walk 'grotesque'

Cosgrove: Memorial walk 'grotesque'

Last updated 11:46 11/03/2011
A proposed public walk-through of the devastated Christchurch city centre has been labelled "grotesque" and has raised concerns priority earthquake response work might be passed over.

Much of the city's central business district has been cordoned off since the deadly February 22 quake, blocking general access to some of the most damaged sites.

Planning was understood to be under way for a guided public walk-through on March 18, the day set down for the earthquake memorial service and provincial holiday.

Christchurch-based Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said if attention was going to be diverted from getting relief to quake victims the idea should be scrapped.

"The advice we've received is there is an enormous amount of resource, which may or may not include army, police, search and rescue etcetera, basically to secure a route, act as quasi-tour guides and be diverted away from critical activity," Mr Cosgrove told NZPA.

"This is a resource issue. We can't get portaloos to people, our resources are stretched to the limit, and if it is the case that we're going to take further resource to act as tour guides I think the powers that be ... need to think again."

Mr Cosgrove said senior Civil Defence officials shared his view.

"Their priorities are very clear, it's life and limb and all the other things they have to do. Wasting a lot of time trying to pick through or secure or tidy up a route to allow people to walk through."

The taste of a walk-through had also been questioned, Mr Cosgrove said.

"A number of people have said to me they find the walk-through past places where people have died slightly grotesque," he said.

"There are some rubber necks, and there will be some tourists, but the vast majority ... will want to pay their respects."

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