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Southern Response claimants 'cautiously optimistic'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Two weeks.

That’s the timeframe within which Southern Response CEO Peter Rose has committed to resolve claims handed to him yesterday, that are resolvable.

More than 200 people protested outside the Southern Response and Arrow International offices in Christchurch from 7am this morning, led by prominent Cantabrian and SR claimant Steve Gurney.

"We are cautiously optimistic hearing what Peter Rose said to the gathered group yesterday," he says. "Mr Rose seemed to understand what the root causes of the huge dissatisfaction amongst his customers relate to and we are hopeful that what he comes back with for each of those who handed a one page information sheet over about their cases will be better than any Christmas present they could ever get," he says.

Supporter Ali Jones agrees.

"No claim is unresolvable," she says. "If Southern Response is suggesting that almost three years on that there are "impossible claims", then we need to understand what those claims are and why they are "unresolvable"? Do they mean they are unresolvable because foundation solutions are still too expensive and they will just keep people waiting until a cheaper option comes along? Our policies don’t allow for years and years of delaying until it suits SR to settle claims, our policies do allow for settlements which we are entitled to, now - or even last year," she says. "However to have the undertaking from the head of Southern Response that these claims will be looked at individually by his team, with an aim to resolve them before Christmas is very pleasing," she says.

Gurney and Jones feel claimants will also be buoyed by the promise made by Mr Rose to repair and rebuild as per the building act, as many have been concerned that this is not happening.

"A number of SR claimants have expressed concern that repairs are being completed with MBIE guidelines being followed," says Jones. "However, the relevant Ministry of Building Innovation and Employment (MBIE) document called ‘Guidance: Repairing and rebuilding houses affected by the Canterbury earthquakes’ makes it clear that "While MBIE has taken care in preparing this document, it is only a guide and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which that information relates, according to the circumstances of the particular case". So a promise from Peter Rose that SR will repair and build as per the building act is significant," she says.

Steve Gurney adds that he was pleased to hear Mr Rose say in a media interview following the protest that Southern Response is looking at changing their policy around the transparency related to costings of repairs, rebuilds and settlements.

He told TV3’s Campbell Live last night, "As a result of the input I received (today) we’re reviewing whether we provide further detail to them." He did try and explain the lack of transparency by adding, "Our main concern is Quantity Surveyors, picking us off and basically highballing everything that we’ve calculated."

Gurney says "SR is providing people with a full and final sum for rebuilds, repairs and settlements, and not providing a breakdown outlining what the final figures relate to. We must be able to clearly see the figures and understand what they are for," he says. "This was one of the key issues that saw my claim stall for two years so it is pleasing to hear Mr Rose will be revisiting this with view to changing it."

Finally, Jones and Gurney are very pleased with the commitment from Mr Rose to take a look at issues around the "Jack and Pack" repair of foundations after a claimant told the SR CEO that this has not been proven as an effective repair methodology. He was informed that MBIE confirmed at a public meeting on November 6 that "Jack and Pack" has not been tested for repairs on a seismically active area and is not approved or certified by any regulatory authority.

"We need this confirmed as soon as possible and Mr Rose committed to look at the information the claimant is emailing him," says Steve Gurney.

Protesters agreed to return with their supporters, to the Southern Response offices on December 16th when CEO Peter Rose would respond to each of the claims he received from customers yesterday.

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