Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Future is HERE, and NOW is the time to design it for ourselves

It's not complicated really. Humanity needs to wake up and demand the utopia all humans REALLY WANT but are always pushed away from by the ludicrous hubris of 'our leaders', who almost exclusively are severely emotionally damaged, immature, intellectually compromised, misogynist men imbued with a toddler's lust for grabbing all the sweeties for themselves.

They are few. We are many. The many can quickly make the few irrelevant if only we act directly, non violently, strategically, within the law, in ways that enable people to come together to collaborate... Joyously, with a vision of a different future, from the grass roots, where no one is left behind. 

The Future of Pubs could provide a route to the future of all of us.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

UPDATE on The Podcast from The Pub #AllForTheLoveOfPubs

Curating the story of the slow, dreadful, deliberate, Death of The Pub. A tragedy of the commons. 

There's me and Robert, the licensees who kick started south east London's pub revolution in December 1995 when we opened The Sun and Doves and DOGSTAR, at either end of notorious, dangerous, 'Front Line' Coldharbour Lane within a week of each other. Together, without really being aware of it, we were about to change the social dynamic of south east London forever. We met at Camberwell Magistrates' court getting our licence transfers and our eyes met across the crowds of a court waiting room that echoed with teeming offlicence and corner shop owners shouting and hollering trying to make sense out of impenetrably confusing court lists ... our paths took parallel, often exruciating, turns for much of the next decade and more as we fought off pure greed of our Great British tied pubco Rentier spiv freeholders... 

That makes us the ones who've both been through the Pubco grinder; then there's John, an investigative journalist who's written about predatory development of pubs, and Liam who spent 15 years fighting to save an Ex-Tied pubco pub in SE London and succeeded, it's now being refurbished and will reopen as a Freehold Free of Tie operated by an experienced licensee with a small pub group of his own, in a year or so. Liam has great stories to tell about the toture of the planning system, and how to make it better. 

We also have Sarah, who's a musician singer songwriter who started gigging in pubs 30 odd years ago and has seen the #GreatBritishPubcoScam consume several of her all time favourite pubs that have been demolished, converted or totally homogenised into big business pubco outlets like Fuller's managed etc.

We've got Danny, a documentary filmmaker (Micropubs the New Local) helping with technical and production support, and a few other people are offering voluntary support too... We've got a venue to do the recordings from- The Earl of Derby SE14 - hosting the Podcast from the Pub

A lot of people, 
from all walks of life, are showing interest in joining the conversation. Everywhere we go we meet people whose lives and loves have been really badly impacted by the social harm these appalling tied pubcos have done while ransacking our built environment, our sense of place, the foundations of our secular culture - from all angles. They all want to tell wonderful stories of encounters, extraordinary events, wonderful meetings of minds, friends made in pubs and how without pubs these can NEVER happen. What unites all of is our concern and LOVE for well run, proper brilliant local pubs and our desire to get them back. And we all know it can be done. 

We're as NERVOUS as can be about getting it right, we're going to start doing some trial recordings until we get comfortable with the format of presentation and order of episodes and look and sound and stuff to make sure it all comes across professionally and confidently and purposefully when we go live.


All this so far is totally shoe-leather and boot-laces and personally I'm totally broke because of what's happened to me over the past 13 years since I was evicted from The Sun and Doves when I vowed never to rest until we see the back of the pubcos and their shitty disgusting Rentier capitalism bullying business model that RUINS PEOPLE'S LIVES, erodes community everywhere and is destroying a massive significant irreplaceable vital part of British history. The Pub.


If anyone reading this has a small amount of money you'd be prepared to donate weekly / monthly, I mean anything from a quid to a million, we'd be incredibly grateful for the support. 
I'm 65 and next week I’m starting as a home delivery driver for Sainsbury's. I do need the exercise mind. 

We've invested around £500 so far in broadcast equipment, mics, website url fees and bottom line basics and so on... We need to be on top of all social media accounts, a fully working, good looking and accessible website, buying in some admin skills, and marketing support, and, really, we need to be able to pay for costs or editing and production initially rather than depending on goodwill...

We're determined to make the podcast reach as many people as possible, all over the UK and the world where we KNOW these stories have to be told and they will be received with interest everywhere they're heard... 
#AllForTheLoveOfPubs is going to be where everyone who LOVE pubs are invited to come and contribute to a growing national conversation about The Future of Pubs and the solution to the pubs crisis. 


We'll tell the truth, honest, well informed, fact checked and verified. And there is a LOT of truth to tell. LOTS of people we've been talking to are saying #GreatBritishPubcoScam is very like the Post Office Scandal. Unbelievable, simple, shocking, scandalous, nasty, malevolent, greedy, 
horrific, cruel, bullying abuse of corporate power over individuals who have no voice and are completely ignored. The conversations will be tough, the stories uplifting, sad, joyous, emotional, depressing, but all rounded up with passion, love, and full of hope for the future of pubs because we all really know at heart that we can make great change happen if only we have a common cause we can, all of us, together can rally around.

Since the #CrookedHouse in Himley, and the inspiring way real people's outrage has welled up into an amazing online community of support for making sure it's reborn we reckon the palpable wave of pent up anger there is about the private equity ram raid on OUR pubs - everywehere - has at last been spilling out across the country. It's very encouraging to see people getting so vocal in their concerns about OUR PUBS.

The message below is from a German friend who's figured out from afar more about why British Pubs are on death's door and how the hedge funded blight of the #GreatBritishPubcoScam is responsible for much of the devastation than do millions of people here. 

"Well in times like these with huge parts of the UK public been fucked by the government the whole pub story is a great analogy for the ordinary man suffering. So it should attract large audiences."


☝☝☝ This ☝☝☝ link is where to donate to The People's Pub Partnership Donorbox is our means of collecting money. It was set up for PPP ahead of a community share issue which was headed off when the owners of a pub got permission for full change of use when their appeal to overturn the unanimous rejection of their application at planning committee was granted in full by the Planning Inspectorate. An all too common shocking turn of injustice. The hundreds of objectors included licensees of other local pubs who argued that this pub was a vital asset, an integral part of the local area's vibrant social scene, essential to its continuing success. Anyway that charade will be one of our episodes and is another experience of the egregious lack of protecton for Britain's pubs that lay behind the reasoning for starting up the podcast: Outrageous planning decisions like this one HAVE to be made totally unacceptable and a lot of that is dependent on planners and people who love pubs eveywhere fully understanding what is going on in plain sight all around us.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

When is a Pub MORE THAN A PUB?


Craft Union, one of the various pub 'brands' the egregious zombie pub company Stonegate Inns devised to game its reprehensible business practices around the Pubs Code 2016 regulations [which I helped bring into place with years of dedicated voluntary work] using the More Than A Pub trope for its own marketing.

Irony abounds in the pub sector
Just occurred to me: Many people in this group may not know, but this is common knowledge to those of us who work professionally in the pub sector, understand the true value of pubs to their communities, and have a decent overview of the different kind of activities various different kinds of pub companies get up to right across the country as the pubs crisis continues to accelerate unabated by anyone but plucky members of communities who fear losing THEIR Local Pub forever, who then get together with other local people to mobilise as everyone here in Community Pubs Network have done.

ALL pubs represented in this NETWORK, with rare exception, were run into the ground by one of the big tied pub sector pubcos. Stonegate [Enterprise Inns], Admiral Taverns, Marston's, Greene King, Punch Taverns, and Star Pubs & Bars [Scottish & Newcastle/Heineken] all of them fully paid up members of the British Beer and Pub Association.

These 'pub companies' are all private equity driven vehicles designed to extract the maximum amount of profit possible out of thousands of individual tied lease tenants. They do this simply by charging tenants profiteering rent and wholesale supply prices which in effect controls the nature of each publican's supposedly entrepreneurial pub business.

So: Tied tenants don't invest in the bricks and mortar of 'their' pubs, simply because they don't make enough profit because their pubco freeholder takes it all. So tied pubs have been chronically starved of investment for decades... THIS private equity greed is what created The Pubs Crisis. This private equity greed is what makes OUR pubs all over Britain unfit for purpose, and this is what stresses hundreds, and hundreds, of Local communities all over the country into fearing the permanent loss of THEIR LOCAL.

It's been going on for decades since the 1989 Beer Orders opened up the pub property market from being one kind of monopoly to transition to another, more aggressive form of financialised monopolistic practice, and the ONLY people doing anything about it are Locals who care about their pub for all the right reasons but who know next to nothing about owning and operating complex mixed retail public house businesses out of unfit for purpose run down broken commercial property that needs comprehensive retrofit and refurbishment to make it fit for 21st century purpose.

It's not a pub market we have in the UK, it's a RIGGED microcosm of disaster capitalism

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Use it or Lose it trope

Another holding post for a subject that needs to be put to rest. 

The Use It or Lose It trope

While I get the 'use it or lose it' trope, partly because it's used so often, it's not a true reflection of what's needed for #SavingBritainsPubs

This is because by the time people have to start saying use it lose it the pub's already too far gone to survive as a functional trading business.

Pubs fail, as all businesses do, when people stop using them... The question is WHY do people stop using pubs? Pubcos - backed the cabal of private equity Big Business they're a part of, including the British Beer and Pub Association - say the British public have changed our habits and don't go to pubs the way we used to - we don't use pubs as often as before - so therefore demand for pubs has fallen - and continues to decline as 'the market proves' and the only response to this reality is that 'we have to face the difficult reality' that many pubs have to close forever, and must be sold for alternative use, 

This is disingenuous diversion from the fact that people - WE - stop going to pubs when they're run down and become unfit for purpose of being public houses because they haven't been invested in for DECADES. So it's correct: We don't go to pubs the way we used to but it's NOT because we don't WANT to go to pubs - it's because we stop using pubs when they aren't good enough.

Use it or lose it puts the blame for business failure on the customer.

The fact is it's the responsibility of the people running the business, that's publicans on the front line and in the case of tens of thousands of pubs, the freeholders who control the rent and supply prices. It's THEIR job to make pubs work professionally and properly and they DON'T.

And the reason for that is the #GreatBritishPubcoScam 

Getting everyone in Britain and across the world who admire and LOVE good, well run pubs, is essential to overturning the conventional ownereship and operational model for The Pub as Britain's unique secular social construct.

And this issue is a central part of the podcast #AllForTheLoveOfpubs @ForTheLoveOfPubs @AllForTheLoveOfPubs we're working on it now (February 2024) 

Monday, February 05, 2024

Did I post this when it was published back in 2021? Link in title

New bid to scale up the community pub model

What's happening to pubs in 2024 is damaging British society. As with everything else in this tragically broken society we've been watching crumble in disbelief, in plain sight, all around us, we've been lamenting 'the pubs' crisis' and 'the perfect storm for pubs', for decades. We need to take action. But how? Start with pubs.

The difference between pubs and everything else is that we can do something about pubs. What's happened to pubs in the last four decades is a case study in disaster capitalism. The pubs crisis is driven by aggressive, corrupt, financialised Rentier captalism. Commonly called unfettered greed.

The difference between the pubs' crisis and the rest of society though; while it seems we're impotent to do anything to arrest the disastrous shenanigans of governments serving as sycophantic, obedient acolytes to hedge and private equity deities, aides to relentless exploitation of the state, pubs are a different matter. The pub sector is now so broken it's vulnerable to transformation with a radical paradigm shifting ownership and operational model that will bring The Pub into the commons, for the benefit of the people, and future generations, in perpetuity, at scale. Oh, and at the same time we can kick start a National Trust for Pubs. 

Some background on laying the foundations for the future of pubs: Of the people, by the people, for the people.

Since the Beer Orders of 1989 35 years of concentrated, insatiable greed of hedge funded private equity ownership of OUR pub sector has ripped the heart and guts out of Britain's unique secular social construct, The Pub, at scale. People in the know call it the Great British Pubco Scam.

What has been a lamentable pubs' crisis people have perennially wrung their hands, bleated and done nothing about for decades, has now become genuinely existential.

The only pragmatic solution that will ever match the scale of this social crisis of community and Sense of Place is a national people powered movement specifically designed and professionally project managed for the purpose of #SavingBritainsPubs We need a People's Pub Partnership to bring pubs into the commons and create a National Trust for Pubs.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

We need to talk about Wetherspoons


This needs developing... I'm parking it here for a while as a reminder we have to talk about JDW

As a retail format JDW lacks imagination, rather like its founder Tim Martin, it's formulaic, dull and boring. Something like the Morrisons of branded chain pub companies. BUT to be fair, huge numbers of people who can't afford to go to The Pub generally can afford to go to JD Wetherspoon, and the chain is an important/significant part of the British pub sector. The figure for average weekly sales of food at JDW pubs is over £16K and there's more than 800 JDW around the country. Nationally that's around £13 Million a week. That's a significant amount of meeting demand across a part of the population for whom access to decent ale houses and good fellowship are out of reach. Besides that JDW are as good as the management and the Barge has a good manager in Cesare Kimbirima. Food is generally good here within the confines of a centrally planned and mass distributed ingredients menu, and the beer is always well kept. And it is affordable to most people who otherwise simply cannot afford to socialise. There's nothing imaginative about the Brockley Barge outside of the standard JDW format BUT it's ALWAYS friendly, it's always safe and sometimes the atmosphere absolutely jumps with the joy of people coming out to congregate. I could split hairs about the way things are done at JDW, the whole chain COULD be MUCH better than it is if it were not infused from top to bottom with the character of its founder but there's no other pubco doing anything consistently as well that I know of. When it comes to the Barge as my local I absolutely love it. Consider myself lucky. Without the Barge Brockley would be diminished

Sunday, December 03, 2023

ALL FOR THE LOVE OF PUBS #AllForTheLoveOfPubs Podcast

FaceBook Twitter Instagram YouTube
I'm J Mark Dodds, ex publican at The Sun and Doves in Camberwell SE5 and owner of this blog 'They Got Me Over A Barrel' which I began in 2004 when it had become clear to me that my 'Tied Lease agreement' with Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises was in fact a contract to indentured servitude I'd likely never get out of without losing my shirt. In 2006 I co founded the Fair Pint Campaign to demand UKGovplc end the Beer Tie; this led to the Pubs Code coming into dodgy effect in 2016. I'm a passionate pub sector disruptor committed to making this place much fairer, and talking about everything GOOD about pubs that rarely gets mentioned in the public domain.

In early 2024 I'm starting #AllForTheLoveOfPubs a long overdue podcast and YouTube channel to open up and shine light into the darkness of the British pub sector. I'm inviting people from all over the pub and beer landscape to come and talk about their experiences and reminsicenses. No holds barred. Together we'll quickly get to the bottom of the Pubs Crisis and what's behind the collapse of our unique cultural institution and most valuable secular social construct: The British Pub. Why is it when everyone LOVES a GREAT pub that we find ourselves living through a permanent, rolling, perennial 'perfect storm for pubs' as the British Beer and Pub Association seems to like handwringing about.

The podcast's mission is to reposition the undervalued Public House in the consciousness of people everywhere to its rightful place at the heart of British community and good fellowship across the entire social world: Re-booting, re-connecting, re-establishing The Pub, the world's original social network, as the contemporary bricks and mortar face to face place to meet and place to be.
Curating the national conversation on everything, underwritten by authority of a professional publican, at the bar and in the lounge: It could be called the pubcast of podcasts but will stick with THE Podcast from The Pub.

The recordings will happen a truly good, new Local: The Earl of Derby, recently revived by Parched Pubs, London, to be a proper pub that's fit for 21st century purpose. 

Like how vital Good Pubs are to Good Communities, and valuing them for what they really are: Britain's essential, unique, irreplaceable, secular social construct.
I'll be inviting people from all over the pub and beer landscape from John O'Groats to Lands' End to talk about everything public house, Good Fellowship and what the future holds for pubs in crisis - what WE can do to change this, together: Positive, upbeat, honest, factual, open, transparent and hard hitting, emotional, inclusive, diverse, friendly and evidence based...

Getting to the bottom of the Pubs Crisis and how the #GreatBritishPubcoScam is a microcosm of much bigger problems in society, and how we can go about quickly piecing together the solution for #SavingBritainsPubs
All For the Love of Pubs will be THE place we come to talk about pubs and what can be done to change everything. Conversations will be tough as well as FUN

  CHEERS. See you all in the new year