• The Press, July 20, 2013

Ex-drug baron's sexy show


James Samson
James Samson is married to Calendar Girls director Jacqui Le Prou.

A former drug baron with a rich criminal history plans to open a steakhouse in Christchurch featuring live burlesque shows.
James Samson, married to Calendar Girls director Jacqui Le Prou, and two business partners have applied to the Christchurch City Council for a liquor licence for a proposed new venue called Cotton Club & Butchery in Papanui.
Samson was named on the application by B L Group 2013, despite police earlier raising concerns about the 39-year-old's involvement with Calendar Girls in Wellington.
The strip club is now in receivership and Le Prou has withdrawn its application for a liquor licence.
Cotton Club & Butchery will be a high-class restaurant and entertainment venue showcasing jazz bands and burlesque dancers, its liquor licence application says. It plans to sell alcohol from 7am to 11pm.
The site on Harewood Rd was previously home to the controversial nightclub Club 22 and has a capacity of about 400 people. Samson is the largest shareholder of the company.
Residents in the area plan to oppose the liquor licence.
Inspector Peter Cooper said it was too early to say if police would oppose the application.
In the company's application, Samson disclosed his criminal history, which includes convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm, methamphetamine supply and manufacture, and perverting the course of justice.
It says he will take a "behind the scenes role in administration, marketing, stock management and the like" while his two business partners, Miriam Wells and Jonathan Mould, take a more hands-on approach. Neither has any criminal convictions.
Samson told The Press yesterday Cotton Club & Butchery would operate as a steakhouse and needed a liquor licence.
"I mean a steak and a beer is like bacon and eggs isn't it, they go together," he said.
"What happened in Wellington is unfortunate and it's a great shame that some in the police can't move on in life like I have."
In February, a High Court judge revoked the licence of Calendar Girls in Wellington after police raised concerns, including Samson's involvement in the club.
Samson, who spent five years in jail on methamphetamine charges, was viewed as "a highly unsuitable individual to be involved in any licensed premise," police said in a report to the District Licensing Authority.
Samson said his previous criminal activity was a thing of the past.
"I was charged and convicted a decade ago so why on earth are some cops still interested in me? Shouldn't they be focusing their resources on people that are up to mischief today?
"I've run successful bars and nightclubs before so if I'm not suitable to run a suburban steakhouse 10 years after my last scrape with the law then something's gone wrong with the system."
Margaret Howley, from the St James Avenue Residents' Association, said a burlesque club was "absolutely not what Papanui needs".
"I'm aware of the subtle differences between strip and burlesque, but the initial response from residents is that they are not impressed at all," she said.
She feared a burlesque club could "attract the wrong sort of person" to the area.
"I wouldn't be surprised if prostitutes set themselves up in the neighbouring car park."
The site is still owned by Gary Boote, whose daughter Olivia Boote managed Club 22. Club 22 closed indefinitely after the Liquor Licensing Authority last year refused to renew its licence because of non-compliance with the Sale of Liquor Act.
Objections to the Cotton Club & Butchery's liquor licence must be filed by August 7.
  • Christchurch Mail, May 9, 2012

Police, council at odds over alcohol rules 


Council staff are too busy to start work on a new alcohol policy - despite the current one being eight years out of date.
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button said council staff were "over committed" and there was "no point" doing anything until the Alcohol Law Reform Bill had been passed. 
OVER COMMITTED: Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button said council staff were too busy to start work on an alcohol policy
She was happy with the council's handling of alcohol issues since the earthquake.
"The alcohol free zones have been instituted in Riccarton, Merivale and Papanui so I think, generally, we are managing the issue around alcohol really well." 
But police say work on the policy should be a priority. 
"Any council should be starting to work on those plans now, along with Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), police, the hospitality industry and health groups, so we come out with a really good strategy to reduce liquor abuse, " police alcohol, strategy and enforcement unit head Sergeant Alastair Lawn said. 
The current policy was "too old" and had proved ineffective to control the sale of liquor and alcohol related crime in the city Sergeant Lawn said. 
Canterbury District Commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said he was disappointed about the council's approach.
He said he would raise the issue with the mayor "because there's a real opportunity here". 
UPDATE NEEDED: Canterbury Area Commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said he wants the council to review their alcohol policy.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said in Parliament last week the Alcohol Law Reform Bill would enter its third reading by the end of June. The bill would give local authorities the ability to enforce their own restrictions on liquor licensing, including control over the concentration, location and hours of sale for alcohol outlets.
Sergeant Lawn said new liquor licence applicants could be required to provide crime reduction design audits and social impact assessments.
  • Christchurch Mail, April 25, 2012

Residents resume fight to stop suburban nightclub 

- new application lodged


Residents are gearing up for another battle as the owners of Papanui's Club 22 press ahead with plans to re-open.
The directors of Papanui Car Park Limited have lodged another liquor licence application for the troubled Papanui nightclub after being knocked back last month.
The club closed in March after owner Olivia Boote had her application for a liquor licence turned down due to inexperience in the industry.
Ms Boote re-applied on March 30 with three others, including her father Gary Boote and former bar manager Surya Venkataia, under the name of Papanui Car Park Limited.
The new application seeks to extend the opening hours with a closing time of 3am on Fridays and Saturdays and increase the capacity of the venue from 270 to 412 people.
Mr Boote said the company was providing the city's young people with an outlet for earthquake stress.
"We have to remember we have had an earthquake and young people are under stress as well."
But residents and police oppose the move, saying the Harewood Rd club had created chaos for its neighbours since opening in April 2011.
Resident Alan Taylor says the club attracts huge numbers of young people who use the residential streets and front yards to "pre-load" on their own alcohol before they join the large queues to get in.
Residents had given up complaining about noise and disorderly behaviour as efforts to control it had been fruitless.
OPPOSED: Harewood Road resident Alan Taylor is objecting to Club 22
"I have spent $10,000 on a large fence to stop people coming and (defecating) in my front yard, " Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor said the club was operating under a resource consent granted to the owners of the previous business, the Papanui Tavern, in 1995 under specific conditions.
"I believe they have gone through a change of use - so the authorities have a responsibility to review the previous decision."
Club 22 had attracted controversy since opening, with Boote originally planning to charge men $22 admission while women would have to pay only $5.
In August, the bar was forced to shut early because of fights. Police arrested two people for minor disorder offences.
  • Nor'West News, Jun 23, 2010
Call for St James residents to form association
Chris Tobin
RESIDENTS in St James Avenue, Papanui, are organising themselves into what they hope will be a residents' association.
Mike Hurrell and well known city lawyer Nigel Hampton made impassioned pleas to the Shirley-Papanui Community Board last week to gain approval to form the organisation.
The residents have taken the step after becoming concerned the Christchurch City Council might remove many of the historic oak trees in the avenue as part of a street renewal programme.
The trees were planted by returned servicemen after VE Day.
A 2006 council report recommended that 48 of the 60 trees should be removed due to their age, structural decline and disease.
Mr Hurrell spoke of his family's strong attachment to the area, the heritage value of the trees in St James Avenue and of St James Park as well as St Paul's Anglican Church and its cemetery.
"These are important to us as a family and the community and important for greater Christchurch," Mr Hurrell said.
Mr Hampton said strong support for the formation of the association "speaks to the desecration and violation of those memorial oaks".
"We see ourselves as interested parties in helping maintain and protecting areas around St James Avenue."
Mr Hampton referred to many historical people buried in St James cemetery quite apart from the famous war hero Charles Upham. He described the area as "a hidden gem".
The board has asked council staff to report back regarding the possibility of a residents' association being formed and revoked an earlier decision concerning the boundaries of the South Papanui Residents' Association.

  • The Press MAINLANDER C12 Saturday, June 5, 2010
Curb Council's chainsaw plan 
Mike Yardley
The Garden City's abiding affection for its tree-lined streets and canopied suburbs is legendary. In the 1980s, Fisher Ave residents famously chained themselves to the trees to save them from the axe. More recently, the well-heeled locals of Fendalton's Wroxton Tce successfully repelled the council's chainsaw. But the latest battleground, St. James Ave, is steeped in botanical and cultural heritage. And it's an unbridled disgrace that the street's trees have been treated with such cavalier disregard. Following World War II, 15 streets in Papanui were designated as War Memorial Avenues and unemployed returned servicemen were gainfully employed planting them with trees. St James Ave, home to 21 pairs of oak trees, was selected on the basis that it lost all of its young men on the battlefield. On Tuesday, those glorious oak trees turned 65 years old. And every Anzac Day, the Papanui RSA's Dawn Service Parade begins from under the storied oaks. It is reprehensible that city council staff have failed to recognise how historic, how revered and how significant these trees are, as they set about undertaking a kerb and channel renewal of the avenue. Council staff propose taking the axe to these trees, as that would make the street rebuild decidedly easier. But the proud and pro-active residents of the avenue have risen up to demand that the trees take paramount concern. They have independent reports from tree surgeons, the legal prowess of Nigel Hampton QC and the political clout of local MP Gerry Brownlee all on their side. The council staff should be forced to work in with the residents – not against them – to reach an amicable solution, and avoid a knock-down, drag-it-out battle.
  • Nor'West News, May 12, 2010
Don't jump gun, says Palmer
Robin Raymond
St James Avenue residents have jumped to wrong conclusions over a planned street renewal for the road according to Shirley Papanui Community Board chair, Yvonne Palmer.
The residents are worried that the Christchurch City Council might remove many of the oak trees on the street to make way for new drains to be laid as part of a street renewal project.
The trees were planted shortly after the end of World War II as a living memorial to the war.
St James Avenue residents' spokeswoman Margaret Howley said 55 residents had unanimously voted that they would rather keep the trees than have the street renewal.
At the same meeting residents also voted to establish a residents' association to represent the residents over the renewal and other issues.
However, Mrs Palmer said the residents were acting without all the information.
She said the council had made no decision regarding the trees and residents should wait until the end of the month when council staff and board members would he holding a consultation with them.
"I don't know why there's a belief that we're going to take out the trees; that's not right. Until the council staff present the options we simply don't know," she said.
Mrs Palmer said Mrs Howley was wrong in thinking there was unanimous support for the trees and said some residents did want the trees removed but, "there are some trees that will be there forever".
Mrs Howley said the residents were concerned by a 2006 report in which a council tree officer recommended 48 of the 60 trees should be removed because of "over maturity, structural decline and disease".
She said an independent arborist was assessing the trees on the residents' behalf.
  • The Press, May 14, 2010 (Letters)
Plan to save trees
It would be terrible to see the oak trees cut down in St James Ave, only because the council has no ideas other than applying the axe.
So why not build the new kerb and channel in front of the trees and build car bays and exits for the dwellings in between the trees, slightly on an angle to let rainwater run into the kerb.
The Garden City's mandate should be to keep its parks (some trees recently felled in St James Park were never replaced) and streets green.
Trees a nuisance
Whenever I hear of the city council removing beloved trees, I roll my eyes.
Outside our house is a large, council-owned tree. It is far too big for the kerb space, its roots damage the footpath, it drops large seed pods and, worst of all, it has long, hard spikes that are a menace, particularly to anyone with bare feet (rumour has it an earlier resident got blood poisoning from a spike). Now, it seems, its roots are blocking the drains.
A councillor and a council employee inspected the tree and recommended it be replaced. However, that recommendation needed approval from a committee, who presumably didn't agree, and the tree stayed.
So if St James Street residents want to save their trees, just complain to the council that they are a nuisance.

  • Christchurch Mail, May 12, 2010
  Save Trees: White ribbons have been tied around the war memorial oaks on St James Avenue, Papanui. 
Memorial oaks diseased? Prove it, demand residents 
Residents are joining together in a battle to save 60-year-old oak trees on St James Ave in Papanui. A new residents association has been formed to save the 48 oaks from removal, after Christchurch City Council arborists deemed them diseased. 

Preparations for a kerb and channel upgrade on the avenue have residents worried the trees will come down sooner rather than later. 
Residents' spokeswoman Margaret Howley said 55 local residents attended a meeting at the Papanui RSA earlier this month, where there was unanimous support for retaining the trees. 
"If city council arborists have their way there would be only 12 remaining trees left," Mrs Howley said. 
"These trees were planted on June 1, 1945, less than a month after victory in Europe on May 8, 1945 and before VJ Day in August 1945. 
"This information comes from council street tree records." 
Residents have been offered the services of an independent tree surgeon who will assess the health of the avenue trees, she said. 
"This will be an independent, honest report into the health of these trees as a means of comparison with council."
Papanui Heritage Group member Janet Tillman attended the meeting, and expressed support for retaining the oaks. 
"Janet is related to Harry Tillman who was instrumental in the planting of Papanui's memorial streets," Mrs Howley said. 
Shirley Papanui city councillor Ngaire Button said city council arborists needed to establish firm proof that the trees were diseased beyond recovery before any decision was made. 
"I get the idea, residents would rather have the trees than a new kerb and channel.
"That's how strongly they feel about it," Mrs Button said.   
  • The Press, May 8, 2010 (Letters) 
Residents angry  The council has played spin the bottle again, and this time it has landed on St James Ave, Papanui. We moved into this street seven months ago, taken with its stunning avenue of oak trees, and heard with disbelief the 65-year-old trees were to be cut down to do new kerb and channel. This defies logic. The trees are very healthy, and to say they've got to go is mind-blowing. It takes only three minutes to fell a 65-year-old oak tree. St James Ave residents are angry.
  • The Press, May 4, 2010
Residents fight to save historic trees
Residents of a Christchurch street that may lose some of its historic trees have formed a group to fight for them.
Fifty-five residents of St James Ave, Papanui, met on Sunday and formed a residents' association.
The Christchurch City Council plans streetscape works, which may involve the removal of several 65-year-old trees planted to commemorate soldiers who died in World War II.
Association spokeswoman Margaret Howley said the meeting heard from an experienced tree surgeon about how the trees could be maintained. The meeting agreed that the trees should stay.
Council staff will hold a workshop with residents late this month.     
  • CTV 29 April, 2010 
Street Renewal on the Cards for St James  St James Avenue is well known for its trees, but with a renewal planned for the street some are wondering what will happen to the grand old oaks. Jessica Horne reports…    
  • Nor'West News, April 28, 2010 
St James Ave project  A street renewal project for St James Avenue, Papanui, is back on the books after being deferred four years ago because of funding implications. The Christchurch City Council is now seeking input from local residents to help develop proposed plans. A workshop will be held late next month to consider draft options with residents.
  • Christchurch Mail, April 28, 2010
Meeting on oak trees
A public meeting to discuss options for the future of the St James Ave memorial oak trees in Papanui will be held late May.
The Christchurch City Council is seeking local residents views on the pros and cons of design options for a street renewal project on the avenue.
Scheduled for construction in the 2011/12 financial year, residents fear the kerb and channel upgrades may see the loss of some or all of the mature oaks.
The city council originally investigated this project in 2006, but deferred the project due to funding limitations. Preliminary, investigations into traffic counts, speed surveys, arborist reports, drainage assessments and parking surveys have been carried out and several design options drafted for discussion. 
Council staff will be holding a workshop in late May to explore these draft options alongside residents and will present background information that explains why and how this project surfaced.
Following the workshop, council staff will compile the results and draft a preferred option that will be circulated to residents and other affected parties for their feedback.  
  • The Press, Apr 27, 2010
Historic trees
Fears that trees planted in a Christchurch street in memory of fallen soldiers could be cut down have been allayed for now. St James Ave, Papanui, residents were upset that oaks planted after World War II faced the chop for new kerb and channel work. Resident Margaret Howley said the Christchurch City Council had claimed that most of the 35 trees were diseased and should be cut down. Council staff would hold a workshop with residents late next month, a council spokeswoman said.    
  • Christchurch Mail, April 21, 2010 
‘Save trees and the memories’ Locals fear oaks will be lost
By Bernadette Cooney
Papanui resident Margaret Howley says she will chain herself to a tree in protest  against the felling of oaks along St James Ave.
Mrs Howley said if the trees were removed to make way for new kerb and channel, a huge part of post-war remembrance to Christchurch's war dead would be lost forever.
“If these are felled and replaced with younger trees they would stand lower than a war veteran's stoop” she said.
Plans to upgrade the- flood-prone avenue would more than likely include the removal of diseased trees – but residents fear it could escalate until they are all gone.
“St James Park rose garden is where the ANZAC parade to the Papanui RSA leaves from each April 25, and that just would not be the same without these oaks planted in memory of our soldiers,” Mrs Howley said.
Clutching a fist full of her family’s war medals, Mrs Howley vowed to do all it took to save the oaks, including chaining herself to them.
She said she had successfully campaigned to save trees in Riccarton before.
"Good amenity horticulture can soften urban environments and are proven to lessen social dysfunction. I think these oaks should be given a chance to regain their health before any talk on their removal," Mrs Howley said.
"They need soaking in water and nutrients, lawn covered and protected from vehicles parking on them. Then let's see how they go before we fell them."
Shirley Papanui Community Board chairwoman Yvonne Palmer said as much as she also admired the St James oaks, trees were always an emotive issue but a rational decision had to be made eventually if council was to balance ratepayers' desire for. better drainage with a. historical feature.
"At the end of the day,, if diseased trees need removal to better the function of the street, then that’s an unfortunate but necessary consequence," she said.
Papanui RSA president B J Clark said if there was a genuine requirement for some trees to go then he would understand but he hoped council would replace them.
City arborists were beginning public consultation this week and a public meeting is planned soon to discuss options. 
Oak hearts: May Thompson, left, and Margaret Howley want the remembrance oaks on St James Ave, Papanui, saved from Christchurch City Council removal to make way for new kerb and channel.