'Worst site in Christchurch for a liquor store'

Paul McMahon hopes three bottle shops in Wainoni and Linwood will not be allowed to reopen. Photo...
Paul McMahon hopes three bottle shops in Wainoni and Linwood will not be allowed to reopen. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Exploitation of migrant workers in Christchurch liquor stores by an Indian business mogul could yet have a positive outcome for one of the city’s most deprived areas.

Community Action on Youth and Drugs want the applications to re-open three bottle shops in Wainoni and Linwood rejected, arguing Harjit Singh’s indiscretions offered an opportune moment to make alcohol less accessible to vulnerable communities.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to radically reduce the supply of cheap booze into a deprived community," said Paul McMahon, senior project worker with CAYAD.

Nekita Enterprises was stripped of five off-licences in September by the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority after the Christchurch City Council and police submitted the company was unsuitable to operate liquor stores.

A move to cancel the licences followed Singh and Nekita being fined $125,000 by the Employment Relations Authority last year for paying bottle store staff less than the minimum wage and failing to maintain employment records.

The Wainoni Bottle Store on Pages Rd.  Photo: Geoff Sloan
The Wainoni Bottle Store on Pages Rd. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Singh started to sell off his bottle shop empire after being fined by the ERA.

But the city council is considering three applications relating to premises on the McKenzies Hotel and Backpackers site at 51 Pages Rd, Wainoni Liquor at 169 Pages Rd, and Woodham Road Liquor Store at 191 Woodham Rd.

Napier-based Big Barrel Enterprises Ltd is seeking to take over the Pages Rd outlets; Satya Enterprises plans to run the Woodham Rd liquor store under the Bottle-O brand.

Inderjit Singh is listed on the Satya Enterprises' application - in 2018 the company and Singh were fined $3000 each for employing an unlawful Indian immigrant for three-and-half years.

They were convicted in the district court after an investigation by Immigration New Zealand.

The bottle store on the corner of Woodham Rd and Gloucester St. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The bottle store on the corner of Woodham Rd and Gloucester St. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The window to oppose the Big Barrel Enterprises Ltd applications closed last Monday.

The objection period for the Satya Enterprises application closed on Wednesday.

CAYAD was among the objectors, with McMahon anticipating several organisations and individuals will want to be heard when a hearing is held by the Christchurch District Licensing Committee next year.

McMahon was adamant the three stores in CAYAD’s vicinity should remain closed, or be converted into a more community-friendly businesses.

"The more supply you have, the more demand you have and the more harm you have," he said.

McMahon described the 169 Pages Rd location as "the worst site in Christchurch for a liquor store".

"It’s in the heart of the most deprived area in Christchurch."

He said the area had improved since the bottle shops were shuttered.

"There’s been a decline in litter and vandalism.

"Every day there would be people drinking in the (Woodham Park) rotunda.

"They’d leave litter and chunder. They’re gone now because the (Woodham Rd) store is closed."

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