Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lazy Profiteering Capitalism Does the #GreatBritishPubcoScam Rounds

'Independent' pharmacist's letter edited by Boots senior execs

My mate Ed Gillespie posted a link to the above story on his Facebook... And his comment:

"Shameless and shameful. Do not give Boots your custom...this is simply venal, just what you'd expect from their owners KKR" -

This shitty example of complacent corporate cuntery resonates so clearly with my experience of the routine behaviour of tied pub sector 'executives' that it fired up my response:

Have no doubt about it. These behaviours are absolutely everywhere, endemic in our global consumer supply chain. That they only get exposed by mistake like this is the evidence. It's a tip of the iceberg whoever it is and whenever it crops up.  This kind of awful thing is pretty much endemic in bigger and big and giga business, everywhere on the planet.

Volkswagen get their pants pulled down over emissions? It's a sign of them all at it... Other car manufacturers fiddling emissions data? Guaranteed.  A few months later? Mazda gets rumbled.

Sepp Blatter? They're all up to backhanders and back room deals. Guaranteed.

Strauss-Kahn? It's a prick in a vein running through top end male diplomatic circles. Guaranteed.

One national utility ripping customers off? They're all doing it. Guaranteed.

The people who aren't party to the party? The honest, forthright, upstanding ones, the people who are prepared to stand on principles and expose corruption wherever it lurks? They don't get invited to the party. Guaranteed.

ExxonMobil covered up their clear knowledge that the fossil fuel industry is triggering runaway climate change since the 'seventies? They've all colluded in the cover up. Guaranteed.

One pub company exposed abusing tied tenant publican's rights to asset strip them and effectively trap them into indentured servitude? The low cost entry to bonded labour? They're all at it, everywhere, from top to bottom and getting away with it,with collusion by government and most of the organisations in the supply chain and 'independent' management of the entire tied pub sector hegemony ... Guaranteed.

This is the top end of the insane corruption and filth that world commerce and production is greased with and we're swimming in it, we're all in it together.

And it's incumbent upon everyone who's not directly swept up in the mess: WE HAVE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Government to discuss Pubs Code with British Beer and Pub Association which deems key parts "unworkable"

As reported in City AM by Francesca Washtell @fwashtell

My comment on CITY AM. AS of 11.00 Saturday 23 April it hadn't been approved.

It's understandable the British Beer and Pub Association is begging for 'transition' time to train its members '1000 colleagues' because in the last eighteen months these highly trained 'Business Development' employees have been going round the 13,000 or so tied pubs in their massive estates and telling their tied 'business partner' tenant leaseholders (publicans to the general public) that MRO (the Market Rent Only option - the legally enshrined right for publicans to become free of tie and to retail beers they source from the open market at open market price (read: real ale; craft and smaller batch beers customers actually want to drink; and the same old global brands we all know and love, at prices that don't need a mortgage advisor to arrange when buying a round) that:

a) MRO will not apply to them

b) MRO will mean their rent will double, or even treble to compensate the pubco's for loss of profits on the beer or

c) if the leaseholder tells the pubco they intend to go for MRO the pubco will give the tenant notice to quit for either:

i) taking the pub back to become part of their newly established managed pub estate

ii) intention to change of use.

There are stories among tied publican circles of pubco's coercing tenants to sign new contracts in advance of the legislation (this is called 'gaming) and many more examples of pubco's selling large numbers of pubs, hundreds, in one go and with them their sitting tenant tied publicans to property developers who won't be affected by the legislation and are then increasing the wholesale prices and reducing the number of beers the tenants can buy... and squeezing them to leave their pubs and homes to be turned into shops or housing. It is a feudal nightmare if you're a publican under one of these profiteering bully boy pseudo pub companies.

The need for legislation was first clearly identified by Select Committee in 2004 since when there's been five further Govt investigations and more market consultations in the pub sector all establishing that pubco's were profiteering by asset stripping Britain's pubs and serially churning tenants through leases then, when the pubs have been run into the ground, flogging them off for alternative use.

In short pubco's have only had twelve years' notice that their mediaeval business practices were on watch; Two years' notice of legislation being definitely likely to be implemented; 18 months since the proposed regulations passed into law in principle and six months since the detail of written draft law was published, to get themselves ready to tell their colleagues that they can no longer shaft their thousands of tenants and get away with it with impunity.

No wonder the pubco's need another six months to begin packing their bags on bad business practice.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More on the Establishment

I've been involved in this area of Protecting Pubs for over a decade.

I'm one of many people who have been (tirelessly and selflessly though described by the multi million per year earning CEO's of the pubco's as being 'self serving with a personal agenda') been working our butts off for YEARS trying to expose the #GreatBritishPubcoScam In this time I've seen journalists and production companies take a serious interest - and have seen some of those come to publication in dilute form from the original synopsis. on at least three occasions a Panorama / Dispatches has been about to be commissioned. There has been a Sunday Times expose in the offing, a Sunday Mirror, a Financial Times, and so on... we got feedback Steve Corbettcan confirm on the FT that their editorial desk got threats of litigation within three days of our delivering a massive amount of verifiable evidence to a journalist on the churn rates of Punch Taverns pubs between 2006 and 2008.

In every instance - at some point along the line - the story gets diluted or hits buffers and doesn't get made... and there is never a reason given for why - in every instance the trail / scent just tails out and there's no further contact made with the people concerned... There is no doubt there is a conspiracy and it's rooted in the Pubco's and Family brewers being totally at ONE on this - deny abuse of the beer tie, with aggressive, litigious threat - and manipulate the narrative. It definitely happens right up to government level, BEYOND Select Committee and departmental responsibility. The evidence for this assertion lies in the complete lack of these stories coming together in a cogent properly joined up way for public consumption. OH, and in the Tories three line whip against the Market Rent Only option coming into effect via the vehicle of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015... the Tories are up to their neck in it. But then Labour obfuscated and pushed it around for years as well... the glue that is keeping  the Pubco Establishment together is ... more later

The scam is touched on in dribs and drabs in local news stories and short slots in national newspapers (usually business pages) and on television... all the massive amount of evidence there is does not get gathered up and NEVER gets joined up into the mainstream.

I've been involved in Publican and Tied Tenant led groups gathering evidence and delivering it to Government since 2004... and this is not just some insignificant disgruntled rump of pubs - this is major stuff including evidence gathered by Federation of Small Businesses, Forum for Private Business, GMB and Unite Unions and several tenant groups with between them several thousand tied publicans. Remember Tied Publicans NEVER put their head above the parapet because they live in fear of being pressurised, bullied, evicted, bankrupted by their 'business partners'... even writing these words, couching the reality this way, seems so extreme to modern sensibilities about business it seems an exaggeration - but in all honesty - anyone on the outside of the reality of the sordid goings on in the tied pub sector cannot possible rationalise the reality because it IS so extreme.

AND WHY would any of it get into the mainstream press? There are hundreds of £millions at stake in profiteering from the downfall of pubs everywhere... :

Tied Pubco's need to sell for alternative use because their revenue streams are less than the amount they HAVE to pay in debt interest - if they do not make their payments they go into default. Pubs are being used as cash flow.

Where pubco's dont' render the pubs into the outside market they become landlords directly to Tesco Coop whoever - Enterprise Inns recent business forecast announced an average rental income on their 'pubs' as supermarkets at £58K a year. The average rent on 'their' pubs that are still pubs is £36K - doesn't take a genius to figure out why they want their pub estate to go the way of NOT being pubs...

End users of the pubs - in succession: ie: betting shop chains, Sainsbury's; Tesco; Coop Food; McDonalds; Lidl, Aldi etc - interspersed by hundreds of small time (big to you and me) petty developers rendering pubs into residential / shops / other alternative retail use everywhere - there is a LOT of money to be made out of these units

And around the country there are hundreds of people interested in buying pubs to turn them into houses for themselves>

WHY would ANY of the above want what is happening to stop? They are all profiting hugely from the demise of pubs.

The Coop and CAMRA BOTH are at the forefront of the Government's OFFICIAL Pubs' Preserving measures through promoting ACV status and the saving of pubs via the mechanism of the Localism Act and the Community Shares scheme - Locality, Social Investment Business, Power to Change, Big Potential and other smaller granting initiatives have been set up to fund these areas with tax payer / Big Lottery money - such as with the £3.6 million just announced to support these programmes.

These schemes are not even worthy. They get more column inches than the whole of the rest of the pub sector put together - that's an area of economic activity involving at the moment fewer than 60 pubs nationally against a sector that has around 40,000 units overall and several £billion turnover against perhaps £30 million a year with a projected expansion in the community pubs' sphere to maybe (maybe) 140 pubs by 2018. Does that make sense? At ALL?

To help save 80 pubs over two years - it is a statistically, data wise - completely insignificant intervention in the market. Plunkett Foundation already has OVER 100 communities showing interest NOW at this moment in trying to save their pubs market evidence proves that like clockwork in the next 2 years another 3,000 pubs will be sold for alternative use out of the tied pub sector... to pay interest instalments (NOT capital) on the debts the pubco's raised to buy the pubs in the first place...

The figures, the sums tell the truth, it is ALL about money and NOTHING to do with the desire among communities to see their local pubs preserved and thriving, generating social capital and community well being... Quite simply the press and mainstream media aren't allowed to report it.

Though Coop and CAMRA are at the forefront of saving pubs they both are complicit, COOP and CAMRA in the #Scam - and it is all about money for them too... I'll go into the reasons for their being involved later if anyone is interested. I have to go and see a man about a pub right now...

There can be no doubt whatsoever that CAMRA HQ is an absolutely structural part of the problem.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Establishment

Friends who know about my work campaigning against the #Pubcos, the Elephant in the room of British pub failures, the unacknowledged invisible white collar cultural crimewave that's closing pubs and destroying community all over the UK... Bear with me... Our government held a Select Committee inquiry into the relationship between Pubco's and their Tenants in 2004. The outcome was unequivocal, Pubco's were abusing tenants and MUST change their behaviour or be legislated against.

It's now twelve years later and at least TEN THOUSAND pubs have closed, forever since then.

There's been four more Select Committees, and loads more evidence and every time the Pubco's have been proved to have done NOTHING to change their behaviour except to lie more, obfuscate more, tell government WE lessees, publicans and members of the public - the consumers - and the government are the ones to blame for the pubco's failure to change their habits and keep on abusing tenants by overcharging them on rent and beer supply...

The pubco's tell government WE are to blame because WE keep on going to pubs less and less and it's OUR fault pubs are closing because we go to Starbucks or stay at home and play games on telly.

Nothing about their continual bullying, scamming cheating and double charging their tenants everywhere from Land's End to John O'Groats. No. They are disingenuous thieving lying scum.

After LOSING a historic vote in parliament on 18 November 2014 where democracy prevailed and the majority of MPs in the House of Commons voted to bring legislation in to regulate the Pubco's... government conceded defeat, accepted the three line whip they placed on all their MPs to vote against the law coming into effect, and announced an 18 month period of consultation to give the Pubco's an opportunity to pack their bags before the law makes them gradually stop shafting tenants, closing pubs and killing British culture, traditions, heritage and sense of place.

The law is due to change in June. The law is to be ruled over by a Pubs Code Adjudicator whose job is to make sure that the Pubco's behave and that disputes between Pubco's and their Tenants are conducted fairly and equitably...

Last week Anna Soubry the Minister for Big Brewers and even bigger Pubco's announced the appointment of the newly created post of Pubs Code Adjudicator would be taken up by a man who has been for twenty five years, ever since the Beer Orders that created the Pubco's in the first place, an employee of Britain's biggest 'Leisure Sector Surveyors and Licensed Property Agents',  Fleurets, a chartered surveyor and most recently Director of the company who's worked for all the biggest Pubco's as a matter of course in his career.

Read this

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Protect Pubs

Protect Pubs has set out to enable people to come together to Protect Pubs. It's not rocket science, The Pubco's and Family brewers are closing pubs or homogenising them... The only people who can stop the rot are the people who use pubs and love them...  In a pub in York on Saturday night 12 March 2013 They gave an informal seminar about Protecting Pubs.

Graeme Wilson.
Paul Crossman Paul Swan York
and Nick Love

have been doing in York is brilliant, joined up and very much based in evidence of the pub sector and pub market at ground level. Their work and action has directly informed York planning authority and changed the way pubs are handled when asset stripping freeholders are about to scam the system and sell them off for alternative use... to pay interest on the loans they raised to buy them in the first place.

These guys KNOW what is going on and have not allowed the York local authority to be swamped by lies and misrepresentation spun and published by the Pubco establishment on a daily basis, coordinated via their own press offices then disseminated and hogwashed by their national trade body, the British Beer and Pubs Association.

The stories the pubco's spin to support the fact that ALL the pubco's are selling off hundreds of pubs for alternative use, every year (why we have 12,000 fewer pubs now than we did a decade ago) I've listed below... (paradoxically pubco's preen in their company statements about how successful they are at SELLING OFF PUBS ie: reducing the size of their estate to reduce their debt burden, which in any normal business practice is regarded as a sure sign of business failure).

According the pubco's the reasons they are failing at being Pub Companies are many and complex and out of their hands; the market is shrinking because:

People (that is US, the general public) are not using pubs the way they used to. And this is because:
  • Changing demographics (people prefer coffee (and tea) now)
  • Competition from supermarkets undercutting them with cheap booze
  • Competition of Home Entertainment
  • Competition of Social Media
  • Red Tape
  • Expensive business rates
  • Issues of Faith and Religion (seriously)
  • Living wage
  • Publicans not being entrepreneurial enough - not evolving their 'offer'
  • Publicans not moving with the times and not being food led (which is the way the Pubco Establishment says the market is going)
  • Beer Duty
YOU will notice that NONE of the reasons has anything to do with the pubco's. Pubco's NEVER take responsibility for the failure of their business... They never mention their impact in the pub sector. They NEVER tell the FACTS which are:

1) Tied Pub Rents are higher than free of tie rents
2) Tied Publicans have to buy their beer from their pubco at prices that generally are around DOUBLE the open market price
3) the majority of pubs in Britain are Tied Pubs - this means more pubs than any other type - free of tie, managed, owner owned, themed whatever, are tied pubs selling expensive beer, and they are run down because their publicans don't earn enough profit to invest back into their businesses.

So. The REAL reasons people don't go to pubs as much now as they used to is largely because:

Beer is RIDICULOUSLY expensive

AND: Most pubs are run down, knackered and not fit for purpose - the toilets stink, the carpets are threadbare the upholstery ripped and the bartenders are depressed

The MAIN reason BEER is expensive and MOST PUBS are run down and it's served by depressed publicans is:

The Beer Tie

And what Greg Mulholland and Gareth Epps and others like US have been doing has been setting out the stage for change.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory - if you haven't been, you should go there

If you haven't been, you should go there and have a look round. It's FUN!


Saturday, March 12, 2016


From Southwark News 
My comment

It's happening everywhere - when a pub's not about to be demolished or converted into something like a Co-operative Local Store they are being rolled over into bland carbon copy 'traditional pub' pastiche places that are busy but which ironically absolutely no one, really, really wants to go to...

The Half Moon, Herne Hill is under threat... of homogenisation by Plc corporates with no vision, creativity or concern for authenticity, community culture, British traditions or local sense of place.
Money is the lowest possible common denominator when fabulous pubs like this come onto the market, once in a Blue Moon. Huge opportunity here that Dulwich Estates could have capitalised on when planning the shape of their estate years ago... it's ALL about money, and falling off logs. The Half Moon has a rich history as a great Local with a great live performance venue integral to its being... This can easily be sustained and enhanced now, especially as there will be investment involved. But no. Let's just do Sunday Roasts, oh, and Fuller's unique Pie & Ale concept... Like all the other Fuller's managed pubs. What a RUBBISH COP OUT!
When you know the pub sector well what's happening to the Half Moon Herne Hill is not astonishing in the least. Between its freeholder the Dulwich Estate and its desire to see maximum possible income for longest possible time into the future from its long-paid-for bricks and mortar it's to be expected they will lease to a branded bland corporate that will turn the pub into Just-Another-Homogenised-Food-and-Drink-Dispense-Unit indistinguishable from all the major competition. There is nothing genuine here about retaining, sustaining and promoting authenticity, tradition, heritage, sense of place, nothing of integrity. It is ALL about money. Fuller's retains a vestigial romantic glow of being a 'Family Brewer' but that's just a hogwash notion. When it comes to pubs Fuller's is just another predatory Plc - like all the others.
The community has mobilised to try to prevent the almost inevitable from happening to the Half Moon - Locals should be lobbying the Dulwich Estate HARD but they will most likely remain deaf to any pleading no matter how well presented... Dulwich Estate has become as bland and beaurocratic as most large fat lazy organisations do. Unimaginative, lacking creative thought or vision... Focused on a fat bank balance rather than on the things it was set up to sustain.
Protect Pubs was set up by people concerned by this type of completely unnecessary erosion and valueless homogenisation of British culture to begin to stem the tide of banality and bland in the pub sector. If you're concerned about the Half Moon and the countless other pubs that are falling prey to this everywhere in the UK you should join Protect Pubs and add your voice and opinions, skills, energy and experience to our growing numbers. Protect Pubs will quickly become THE voice in Britain for Pubs' Protection... it has no political affiliations, no axe to grind with anyone other than the faceless people and organisations that place Britain's future at threat by threatening the future of British Pubs ... in cases like these Protect Pubs will be uncompromising
Join US!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Of course Earth is the best planet. But aren’t you a bit curious about NASA's missions to Mars?

Er. Yes. But not for the reasons you think WE might be.

Been reading about NASA's planned mission to Mars.

This post here is generated from my comment made on article below on the NASA Climate website which asks the question: But aren't you a bit curious about NASA's mission to Mars?

Yes, I'm very curious.

Couple of things - In principle I agree with everything you're casting out as reasons for humans to have curiosity in visiting other planets. But; What I'm REALLY curious about is WHY resources are invested into an essentially hostile planet rather than into working on overcoming similar environmental challenges that are numerous on Earth? Does 'doing it for Mars' mean there's a conceptually different impetus for us there than rather for inventing new technologies for alien environments that may have benefit to us on Earth? What is the pay off for doing it the other planet way instead of looking to say, restlessly search for means of creating comfortable habitats for Humans at the bottom of the Marianas Trench or say in the middle of the Atacama desert? Then I find myself being curious about these issues:

Do the NASA planned missions to Mars include return of the travellers or are they one way missions?

Can you please clarify, because I am befuddled:

NASA is preparing for a manned missions to Mars
SpaceX is preparing for a manned mission to Mars
Virgin Galactic is preparing for a manned mission to Mars

Is this impression I have correct?
Is anyone else planning a manned mission to Mars?

Why are Humans not focusing our incredible resources on ensuring our safe future on THIS planet when there is no other habitable planet anywhere within reach of Earth?