Gardening in red zone angers business owners

9:32 pm on 2 June 2011

Some business owners in Christchurch's red zone are angry the city council's gardeners have been allowed in to tend plots.

Photographs taken by a business owner who is not allowed into his own premises have been given to the media. They show at least four gardeners, wearing hard hats, working on a plot on the corner of High and Tuam Streets, which is inside the cordon.

Antony Gough, who owns several central city buildings, says it's ridiculous that workers are allowed into the red zone to tend to gardens that the public is unlikely to use for some time, while business owners are battling to stay afloat without access to their premises.

Christchurch Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button says business owners going into buildings in the zone are at greater risk than the maintenance workers, who are only working outside and not within drop zones of damaged high-rise buildings.

Mrs Button says the gardeners are also cutting grass on the riverbanks, which is important so that the city centre doesn't become overgrown.

The Ellerslie International Flower Show judge, Rachel Vogan, of Christchurch, says she appreciates the business sector's frustrations. But she says it's vital gardens are maintained, to help the central city appear attractive when it's reopened.