People allegedly stole bills to get $200 payment for stink-hit community

About 3,300 households live with the putrid pong from the city's fire-ravaged sewage treatment plant.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

About 3,300 households live with the putrid pong from the city’s fire-ravaged sewage treatment plant.

  • Around 3,300 Bromley households living with a stench from the Christchurch fire-damaged sewage treatment plant are eligible for a $200 payment.
  • Those who want cash have to wait a few days because Prezzy card stocks are low.
  • There were reports of people stealing bills from mailboxes to illegitimately claim the money. Residents must now provide identification to obtain the money.

People are reportedly stealing bills from letterboxes in East Christchurch to illegitimately obtain $200 payments for a community struggling to live with an acrid stench.

Around 3,300 households in Bromley, Christchurch, are now eligible for a one-time payment of $200 from Christchurch City Council.

The payment is intended to help them with the extra costs of living with the acrid stench of the fire-ravaged sewage treatment plant in the town of Bromley.

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* Student Army provides stink-free laundry service to residents affected by smelly sewage treatment plant
* Work to alleviate putrid stench in east Christchurch delayed by airfreight issues
* Council allocates $1m to those suffering from sewage treatment plant pong – but only for 3,000 households

Payment requests were opened on Monday and $23,800 was distributed, according to the board.

But stocks of Prezzy cards are already so low that people are now being urged to wait until the end of the week before applying.

Christchurch City Council said it also heard reports of people stealing bills from letterboxes to “illegitimately” access the $200 payment.

Last week, the council said that to get the $200, people would only have to provide proof of their address to one of four named community organizations distributing the money.

stacy squires

The cause of the fire at a water treatment plant in Bromley, Christchurch, is still under investigation, operations manager Adam Twose said. (First published February 2022)

The council has now changed the process so people must also provide photo ID. He said it was “disappointing” to hear the reports of stolen bills.

Meanwhile, stocks of Prezzy cards — the preferred method of supplying the $200 — were already low due to high demand.

Jane Davis, the council’s chief executive of infrastructure, planning and regulatory services, said Bromley Community Centre, one of four organizations handing out the support, would have “a limited supply” of Prezzy cards on Tuesday.

Other cards were sent from Auckland and should arrive by the end of the week.

Work in progress last week at the fire-damaged processing plant in Bromley.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Work in progress last week at the fire-damaged processing plant in Bromley.

Davis said payments for the Prezzy cards were made Friday morning, but the council was unaware of the delivery timeframe.

The council did not expect there to be so many requests for Prezzy cards rather than paying the bills directly, she said.

Do you live with pong in East Christchurch? Email [email protected]

Those wanting a Prezzy card should wait until the end of the week before contacting one of the four community organizations, she said.

If people prefer the $200 to go directly to paying an electricity bill, the council said that could still be handled by one of four community organizations.

The four organizations are the Bromley Community Centre, The Loft in Eastgate Mall, the Ngā Hau E Whā marae on Pages Rd and He Waka Tapu, also on Pages Rd.

He Waka Tapu’s chief operating officer, Tanith Peterson, said requests had been coming in since early on, but they had no Prezzy cards to give away on Monday.

Households living inside the red boundary will be eligible for the Christchurch City Council payment of $200.

Google Maps/provided

Households living inside the red boundary will be eligible for the Christchurch City Council payment of $200.

“The board was trying to…give people a solution, and it’s just going a little faster than everyone thought,” she said.

He Waka Tapu was now waiting for a bulk order of cards.

Peterson said people can still request a Prezzy card and pick it up once the stock arrives again.

He Waka Tapu could also handle direct electricity bill payments or requests for firewood if that was how people preferred to get the $200, she said.

Peterson called on people to be nice to community organization staff, pointing out that they were just a distributor and not making the rules.

In a Facebook post, the Bromley Community Center said there had been an “unprecedented run” on Prezzy cards and its supply had run out.

Residents have previously criticized the $200 package, with one describing it as “silent money.”

It is available at this point only to people living in the area bordered by Buckleys Rd, Pages Rd, State Highway 74 and Linwood Ave. This is a payment per household. Others outside of this may be considered in exceptional circumstances.

About Matthew R. Dailey

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