CHRISTCHURCH HAS become a city of two halves. While for the past five years the focus of the government and the local 'movers and shakers' has been well and truly on the central city rebuild, the Eastside has largely been 'low priority'. Community facilities have not been replaced, roads remain unrepaired and are getting worse, some areas are becoming increasingly dilapidated.

Even with something as straightforward as bus shelters, the Eastside has again drawn the short straw. While new bus shelters were prioritised 'for the other side of town', Eastside residents are expected to stand in the rain at what Mayor Lianne Dalziel last week described as 'disgraceful' bus stops.

Dalziel defended her council saying it had been 'vilified' for transport decisions it didn't control and hadn't necessarily agreed with. She pointed the finger of blame at Environment Canterbury, which controls the bus network.

 But last year she was admonished by Eastside residents for ignoring the eastern suburbs. In a show of public tears, Dalziel promised to do better. But little has changed. And while the national media is interested in what is happening with the Christchurch Cathedral, it never ventures into the eastern suburbs.

Aranui High School student Bethany Walters, 17, decided she wanted to have the voices of her fellow students heard. She interviewed more than fifty students from Aranui High School, Linwood College and Mairehau High School for her short film, Eastside Youth: Our Voice.

Beth told the Christchurch Star that seventy percent of the students she interviewed said they liked living in the Eastside, but felt that the rest of the city looked down on them because of the area - and the schools - they attended.

She also said that her fellow students felt they were being kept out of the decision making loop - that their voices were not being heard. Which is not an unfamiliar complaint in the Eastside. I guess we just can't compete with convention centres...


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