Landlord's new bar upsets publicans

NOT HAPPY: Richard and Carol Hansen, publicans at the West Melton pub, are miffed by their landlord leasing space for a pop-up bar on the same site.
NOT HAPPY: Richard and Carol Hansen, publicans at the West Melton pub, are miffed by their landlord leasing space for a pop-up bar on the same site.

A well-known Christchurch demolition boss is at the centre of a dispute in West Melton, allegedly pressuring a local couple's business.

Southern Demolition and Salvage owner Alan Edge bought the West Melton Tavern in 2012 with his brother, Neil, and a friend.

Publicans Carol Jones-Hansen and Richard Hansen believe Edge has since been trying to drive them out of business.

They claim there have been disputes about rent increases, the future of the business, supply contracts and the timing of major renovations since his purchase.

On Saturday, the former Carlton Corner pop-up pub arrived on the site next to the tavern.

Edge confirmed he had leased a section of his land to Richard Arnott, who would manage the proposed new bar.

Hansen believes their landlord is "essentially going into competition with us".

Edge denied the claims saying, "some people are just trying to make me look bad".

The Hansens took over the pub in 2007 and have eight years left on their lease.

The pop-up venue - hired from Hamilton-based company Wade Group - has not yet been granted resource consent.

Edge denied trying to force the couple out of business, saying he wanted to "enhance the area".

"I'm not going into competition with them. I'm offering people another bar."

He hoped the new venue would open in about a month and would start out as a cafe. A liquor licence would follow, he said.

There were also plans for a pizza caravan and a motel on the site. "Myself and the other owners want to put a lot of money into it because of the growth in that area."

Edge said he raised the rent of the pub in line with market value but felt his tenants were reluctant to allow him to carry out renovations. "I bet they're talking about me wanting to take over and drive them broke . . . that's probably their line but I'm telling you that's not how it is."

Hansen-Jones agreed the tavern was outdated and shabby and "would love to see it done up".

Edge had told them the pub would have to close for more than a month while work was carried out, she said.

The pair accepted the new bar would probably go ahead.

"If [the new bar] opens while we're closed . . . we'll be done for," Hansen said.

Edge said yesterday contractors would start earthquake repairs next week. He denied telling the couple their business would have to close for major work.

Jones-Hansen said the "constant stress and worry" had affected her health.

Selwyn District Council Liquor licensing inspector Helene Faass confirmed a liquor licence application would be made under Arnott's name.

Arnott, a former chief executive of Touch New Zealand, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud for his part in a $2 million poker machine scam and was convicted and discharged in 2009.

Faass expected Arnott's liquor licence application to attract "several objections".

"I expect there will be objections regarding density . . . and having two pubs together," she said.

Arnott said he would manage the cafe and hoped to apply for a restaurant liquor licence, rather than a tavern licence.

He had worked in bars but running a cafe "will be a first for me", he said.

The focus would be on food because options in West Melton were limited. "There's a garage and there's the tavern and that's it . . . those two businesses alone can't cater for this whole area."

Selwyn District councillor Mark Alexander said there had been "community discussion" about the new pub but people were "more interested in the process than whether it's a good or bad thing".

The Press