Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Little Britain. Public Private sector service. Infrastructure. Society. Virgin Trains.

There has been such a ridiculous furore about Corbyn #TrainGate and speculation - as with everything else the man does - he's being fingered for ineptitude, hints at lies and much more... It is PATHETIC. Mainstream news Britain manages to behave like a badly brought up spoiled brat child all the time. Truth is that British infrastructure is a shambles and a total rip off and bits and pieces of 'scandal' like this one are used to distract we the people from the reality we live with every moment of our lives: WE ARE DECADES BEHIND where we should be as a post industrial 'civilised society' in just about every measure one can think of ... Very recent Olympian successes are some of the extremely rare exceptions to the rule. And we know why that is, don't we? The proceeds of gambling (after gigantic profits taken by administrators of the gambling) have been used to fund sports.

Well. I wasn't on THAT train with Corbyn but I use the East Coast line a LOT and the scenes described are absolutely common during busy periods. THIS is a post I made on Facebook on 11 July about Virgin Trains.

Little Britain. Public Private sector service. Infrastructure. Society. Virgin Trains.

Under resourced. I'm on the east coast train from Aberdeen to London. Picked it up at Berwick-upon-Tweed. My reserved seat is in coach E where the air conditioning is broken and the carriage is unbearably hot. So I've moved voluntarily to the buffet, sorry FOODBAR, car, where there are free seats and the air is cool, in fact uncomfortably cold, and the carriage stinks of sewage, overlaid with high notes of stale male sweat BO and hints of fresh strawberries, from the lollipop the young woman in seat 55 (aisle) is sucking behind me.

This joy all after Andrea Leadsom stood down because of the abuse she received for gallantly standing for Little Britain on a ticket she said two years ago would plunge the UK into a ten year recession which she switched into being an opportunity for her children and grandchildren that Theresa May would never understand because she's a sad, barren woman without commitment to the future. And now 'we' have an unelected 'leader' to 'take back our country' from the faceless bureaucracy of Brussels which imposes laws its member states have no power to opt out of, except for when it comes to pubs and the beer tie etc... which is another story. . . And we have no one who set us up for the charade of Brexit in place to actually begin to manage the colossal workload of 'our' extraction from decades of administration and habit that embedded half the population with the belief they are, actually at heart and soul, European... And only people who wanted to stay in Europe are left 'in charge' to LEAVE

YOU could not have made it up. Sitting in this stinking privatised Virgin train where it's either too hot or too cold is just a wonderful pause for reflection of this utterly nonsensical situation that we the British (English largely) like to consider a 'Great Nation'. Let's use an analogue everyone can compare our situation to: Britain is like our pubs: reduced, broken, run down, smelly expensive and failing everywhere, failing everyone. It's unavoidable yet we just put up with it and persist in believing 'our' fetid gutter press that anything that doesn't work is the failure and fault of foreign forces abroad in Britain.

It's all so ironic it's impossible to fully grasp how we find ourselves, everyone in the UK, let down by our politics, our fellow sufferers and our corrupt, asset stripping, ordinary salt of the earth people hating cultural stupidity. We're like a parody of Vulgaria, the fictional country in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the child snatcher is as important as the ridiculous Emperor who's a buffoon incapable of running a pissup in a brewery.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Iconic Chelsea gay pub set to close after lease dispute

We ain't seen nothing yet

The avalanche of cultural crime quickening all the time. It will only stop when the remaining pubs are high footfall, branded blanded homogenised and owned by the big players who are mostly responsible for the closing and flogging off of all the others... ‪#‎GreatBritishPubcoScam‬ running amok, unhindered

Iconic Chelsea gay pub set to close after lease dispute

There isn't a pub in Britain that isn't under threat. Together we can stop this and put pubs back at the heart of their communities. All it takes is a vision, professional knowledge, capital and working together. It's NOT rocket science.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


MUST say, because it should be acknowledged: The York Press do the most joined up and comprehensive coverage of what is happening to pubs, anywhere in the country. Down in a large part to Gavin Aitchison I reckon but excellent that a regional/local press should be so on top of a subject that affects everyone in the UK while the rest of the press is basically is ignorant at the level of 'you should have used it if you didn't want to lose it' on pub closures.

This article linked to here in York Press is by a very good friend who's also a publican, Paul Crossman. YOU should read it. Everyone should. AND if you know a publican, anywhere, tell them about The Pubs Code, and about Market Rent Only option for Tied Pub Tenants and about Paul's article. It could save their business and YOUR Local Pub:


Paul Crossman in his Punch tied pub the Swan, York

Absolutely crackingly well informed article by Paul Swan York (Crossman). It's very unusual to read commentary on the pub sector that has such accuracy and authority and this is because coverage is usually done by journalists paid by the article and much research is needed to get a grip of what is, as Paul has described so well here: essentially a simple situation where thousands of publicans (and the national communities they serve) have been systemically robbed blind by their 'pubco' freeholders... People whose business model is driven by private equity greed to extract so much profit from every last one of their pubs that they are fall into chronic dilapidation which leads to business failure and the property being unfit for purpose, suitable for alternative use. This is all done so the pubco CEO and boards of directors can pay interest on the debts they raised to buy 'their' pubs in the first place and, of course, to justify the enormous salaries and performance related bonuses they earn for reducing the size of their estates and having a business plan which is to asset strip the rest of Britain's pubs while they can.

The reason Paul writes do fluently a about the situation is that it's his subject. Tied lease pub owners HAVE to be lawyers, accountants, book keepers, model employers, cellar trained weight lifters, silver tongued raconteurs, psychologists, psychiatrists, philosophers, counsellors, purchasing and budget setting experts, brand ambassadors, sales and retail experts as well as journalists to get their message across... After all it's THEY who make ALL the money that oils the wheels of the WHOLE of the rest of the pub sector from every brewery to the school fees the pubco CEOs pay, all of the money is generated across the bar in fine pubs like the three great examples of Community Locals that Paul Crossman operates and, usually these marvellous people we call publicans are the last people who are asked anything about what's going on in the pub sector...

What Paul has described is the Great British Pubco SCAM (the #GreatBritishPubcoScam in social media parlance). It's everywhere it's working its poison on several pubs near you wherever you are in the UK and we ain't seen nothing yet. If YOU know a publican ask them if they're 'tied' and tell them about The Pubs Code and about #MRO Market Rent Only and tell them about this article...

Paul's so good on the subject because he's an absolutely exceptional licensee and publican - he's turned previously definitely failed suitable for alternative use ex tied Pubco asset stripped pubs into thriving Local Social Hubs again. He also has a fantastic tied pub... That's fantastic because he is the operator, not the pubco. He knows what he's talking about.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Emperor's New Clothes

The Great British Pubco SCAM

I was sitting in a Select Committee hearing last week and listening in turn to the accounts of 'pub industry stakeholders' and their views on the appointment of a man called Paul Newby, you may have heard about him in the national press because Newby's just left his job as senior director and still a 12% shareholder in Fleurets, Pubco estate agents of choice, to take up post as the Adjudicator of the Pubs Code, which is designed to regulate the six major pub companies who Fleurets, by Newby's own admission, earns at least a fifth of its income from, as it handles multiple hundreds of freehold and lease sales, transfers and tied lessee placements into pubco pubs across the UK every year. The appointment of this servant of the pubco's caused quite a stir because people might think he's compromised in such a role ... largely because he unavoidably is.

The Pubs Code, which came into effect on 21 July, just two days after the hearing, is the first legislation to be brought to bear on the tied pub sector since the 1989 Beer Orders which heralded the invention of non brewing pub owning companies to own tens of thousands of pubs rented out to tens of thousands of publicans under pub leases that tie them into buying beer, and often other products, through a supply chain determined by the freeholder ie the pubco's charge their tenants whatever they like for whatever beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks they choose to sell them... Typically double the price these products can be readily bought on the open, non tied, wholesale drinks market that normal people, like restaurateurs and bar owners use. Like Bookers, for example.

What struck me listening to the submissions, first of publicans who suffer from tied leases and their customers complaining about the price of tied beer they sell followed by the CEOs of Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns talking on the same subject; Mr Paul Newby the man some people call 'the pubco's placeman' or 'the Pubco's Code Adjudicator' and it was fascinating to contrast the two sides different grasp of the British Pub Sector.

The tenants very clearly had a firm grasp of the whole market and were able to talk with confidence and authority, showing a lively grasp of all aspects of the pub sector from micro pubs to giga brewers, local ales to global brands and commenting on the likely perspective of the owners/operators of pubs from small wet led boozers to chains of food and drink destination venues and how Newby's appointment would sit with them.

The CEOs, each of whom is taking home the best part of half a million quid each year plus pension scheme top ups that would buy the campaigners' pubs and leave spare cash enough to buy another pub... were by contrast almost 'humble' as Rupert Murdoch would say in such a situation and at pains to express their determination that justice be done for the tenants whose hard work and business acumen they so admire because without them they wouldn't be driving their Porsches and sending their kids to the right schools... or drinking Big Toscana Rossos in Lunigiana out of season.

The first guys in the seat earn a pittance and work behind the bar and in the kitchen and have a command and fluency of the subject that makes the CEOs with their teams of lawyers, surveyors, suits and dresses backing them all the way, look like rank amateurs by contrast.

It was an interesting couple of hours. It's here if you care to have a look

And the interesting thing, really, is that while the CEOs tell everyone how much they care about pubs, and the people and places they serve, we know they don't mean it, we know they're flogging off as many pubs as they can, that their asset stripping is changing the face of Britain forever, paying their gargantuan bonuses and reducing the size of their estates by over a thousand pubs a year, and we all watch the proceedings as if there's a point to it all... They say they care, everyone else knows they don't, the CEOs know they don't care and the publicans know they don't, and we all know that Newby should never have been offered the job; the Pubs Code is ten years too late, at least, and the pubco's will run rings around it yet we sit there discussing the degree by which he should not have been appointed, knowing that everything that's thrown up at this Select Committee will do nothing to change the situation except, possibly, to make a few important people feel awkward for a while and a lot of insignificant tenants miserable for years.

Emperors New clothes

The Great British Pubco Scam - as #MRO Takes Hold another take on what's taken hold already.

On a drive through Sussex, as with any other part of the UK, it's impossible to miss the scars on our landscape that are the cultural ravages of the‪ #‎GreatBritishPubcoScam‬

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Image 1 The Coach House Inn, Cowfield, Sussex
Images 2 and 3 the former Cooperative foodstore, Cowfold.
Image 4 the new Cooperative foodstore, Cowfold (ex Coach House, Enterprise Inns) photographed from the old foodstore site.
Image 5 is The Ship Inn 'Oh No It's NOT, it's the Coop Foodstore' at Cuckfield just up the road from Cowfold.
Image 6 Campaigners trying to save the Ship from the Coop This is a link to the article image 7 is grabbed HERE
Image 7 screengrab of listing page for Pegasus Group, planning consultants to the Pubco's. their website url is: - I get 'not authorized to view this page' when I try it. Perhaps just a glitch on their site... 

On the same trip through some of the most gorgeous best of British rural idyll we came across the Coop Foodstore at Cuckfield too, the site of the former Ship Inn. Right next door, literally next door, to the original independent shop which, one must imagine, is now under severe threat from the competition of the coop...

Congratulations due to Enterprise Inns, Pegasus Group, and Cooperative Food... for rendering excellent community pubs into excellent alternative community use that no one wants...

There is a lot more to be said about this shenanigan but I am weary. 
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Friday, July 15, 2016

And, you know what John?

Thanks John Friary two pubs I owned both were victims of the #GreatBritishPubcoScam

The Sun and Doves at the hands of Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company (aka Heineken, aka Star Pubs & Bars)

The Pacific at the hands of Enterprise Inns aka Unique Pub Company.

And, you know what John? (I'm sure you do BTW) Since I shut Pacific and handed back the keys in 1999 I've learned that when you're in a position of weakness and you tell people the truth, they ignore you, belittle you and treat you as if you are a liar.

And, you know what John? Pacific shut in 1999 with the pubco having given me promises of financial, legal and material support, having lied to me about licensing conditions, lies without which I'd never have even signed the lease, lied about terms of my future tenure and all manner of other stuff and, my habit taken a filthy no hope utter shit hole boozer with dogs on string as the most frequent customers, a key meter for its electrical supply, extensive, rotting private accommodation without even a hot water boiler or central heating and turned it through two weeks of intensive refurbishment into South East London's buzziest, busiest most exciting, slightly more civilised, slightly more responsible, slightly artier, slightly safer and more sophisticated version of Brixton's 'Dog Star' they simply more than doubled the rent. Incidentally the Dog Star was Punch and I knew the lessee there, and what happened to him at the hands of Punch... just another of the hundreds of lessees I know who have been totally rolled over by the spivs of the Great British Pubco Scam...

And, you know what John? Then, through sixteen years' experience of similar lies and skulduggery at the hands of another pubco, whose staff literally were interchangeable with all the other pubco's doing exactly the same shafting of tenants all over the UK, I learned that the whole construction of the beer tie and its endemic abuse is a scam. And I set up a blog in 2004 called 'they got me over a barrel' and in time began to call what happened to me and literally THOUSANDS of other Licensees across the UK, every year, year in, year out, the #GreatBritishPubcoScam...

And, you know what John? I became determined to do whatever it takes to end that scam, the endemic, cynical, deliberate and intended extraction of all tenant profit for the benefit of the pubco, forgetting pubs, publicans and the people and places they've sustainably served through previous generations... And in the last twenty years I've met hundreds of these tenants, I've met dozens of politicians, I've worked alongside extraordinary other Licensees towards our common goal of wanting to see fairness and freedom in the tied pub sector and what has been consistent all the way through is an attitude among the people we meet in our campaigns, MPs, ministers, 'Pubs Ministers', pub sector pundits, journalists, beer bloggers and business correspondents, people who want to know WHY pubs are failing everywhere, all the time, without respite, people to whom we simply explain what's happening in great detail, with clear evidence and verified, unshakeable sources of facts and figures about the national cultural crimewave that's ripping through communities from John O'Groats to Land's End leaving them bereft and grieving for social glue that's been stolen forever by greedy men in dark blue suits... And all through this experience, for twenty years I keep being told by all these people who we've proven to that it really is the #GreatBritishPubcoScam

And, you know what John? You know that 'they' say? They say: 'Hear what you're saying and though it does look like that, I/we don't think you're reading this right. Are you sure you're being objective? You see, it doesn't make sense... It has to be wrong, it can't be on the scale you're describing surely, what you're describing is not representative of the whole, no company in it's right mind would behave like that, because what you describe simply isn't sustainable, is it? Why would they do that? I think some of what you're saying is true but overall it's to do with changing habits, externalities, market forces, competition from new business models, like Starbucks and the high street, micro pubs and so on... '

And, you know what John? Answer all of their cautions, prove they've fallen for the pub sector scam stories and they look at you, glaze over and switch off.

And, you know what John? They don't believe the truth from the little people while totally accepting the lies of the Big People. It makes me sick.

And, you know what John? It's the #GreatBritishPubcoScam that continues to prevail against evidence, reality, common sense and decency.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

I can tell you a story about the pub sector.

I'm sick of telling stories about the pub sector. Mind you. Knowing and understanding the pub sector is the only thing that could have prepared me for the circus that has dropped out the back of Cameron's charabanc as Theresa's Big Top came to town...

AS the Pubs Code was being finally scrutinised yesterday... As THIS committee room 9 final OK before ministerial sign off of the Pubs Code meeting happened at 2.30pm (I arrived late for this because I had a sudden pub opportunity to chase up) yesterday 13 July, ANOTHER meeting concerning pubs was gathering pace to take place immediately after Anna Soubry finished here... , completely unannounced or broadcast to anyone on the PUB stakeholder side of the pub sector - as I say, I arrived late and went through security at St Stephen's entrance at 2.55pm I bumped into Andy Slee (ex big man Punch Taverns) who was ahead of me on the conveyor belt... 'Andy! How you doing? You here on Pub Business?' 'Well, yes I am Mark, and what are you here for?' 'Final reading of the Pubs Code. Are you going up to Committee Room 9?' 'er, No. I'm here for something else'... hmmmm

Anyway. I arrived just as the meeting in this video ended and the whole was passed without objection for signing off officially by The Minister next Tuesday and coming into law by the end of July. (See you next Tuesday anyone?)

Anyway. Cut a long story short. I went down to the Strangers Bar with Simon Clarke and Tom Burke and we had some pints of fine ale (NOT subsidised beer by the way) on the terrace and discussed ten years of campaigning. As we were about to leave we were joined, unexpectedly, by:

Andrew Griffiths the right honourable Member for Marston's, Punch and Molson Coors, oops sorry, MP for Burton and Uttoxeter, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group APPBG
Tim Page and Jonathan Mail, CEO and Marketing comms and policy director or something amorphous at Campaign for Real Ale CAMRA
Kate Nicholls, CEO Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers ALMR
Andy Slee ex Punch Taverns external affairs now 'independent put trade consultant'
Nick Stafford Commercial Director Society of Independent Brewers SIBA
John Longden CEO Pub is the Hub PitH
Mike Clist, MD British Institute of Innkeepers BII

and a couple of others who got by me without me being able to clock them (about fifteen in total) so by omission they MUST have been the British Beer and Pub Association... BBPA the Pubco's and Big Brewers' trade propaganda poodle followed onto the terrace a few minutes later by none other than

Anna Soubry

Now WHAT were they all meeting up together to talk about? It wasn't the small talk Kate Nichols and John Longden and Mike Clist told me they were talking about... (Andrew Griffiths, Tim Page and Jonathan Mail pointedly avoided us)

I cannot convey how surprised they all were to see Simon Clarke and me... (none were shocked by Tom because none of them has met him before) 'OH! HOW ARE YOU? What a nice surprise to see YOU here!"


Friday, July 08, 2016



For starters Ian Hislop has something to say

Everything unfurling in front of us is akin to a big top being set up by boy scouts who've never erected anything more sophisticated than a sheet over a washing line, to house a circus of aspirational slapstick clowns performing vaguely thought through acts they haven't worked out the punchlines for, unrehearsed, in the round without a compere. It is, literally, unbelievable. Like a parade of naked Emperors... And we're ALL just letting it happen.

Half the country is frozen, depressed and aghast in utter disbelief, feeling they're living out a nightmare that somehow they'll wake up from to find it never really happened; the other half are in super excited, rapturous junkie mode, full of high expectations that once the show's out of backstage pranks and into the ring it's going to be a rip-roaring thigh slapping, world beating success.

DREAM ON EVERYONE. WE'VE BEEN HAD> a few rich toffs from the 1% have royally shafted EVERYONE in the 99% who actually matter.

MORE THAN FOUR MILLION people made history immediately after the irrational vote and signed a petition for a 2nd referendum... David Cameron said to the millions of outraged people "the decision must be respected. We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations." and resigned all responsibility for putting Britain in the mess, immediately.

IF YOU voted to STAY don't be one of the audience at this ridiculous pantomime TAKE PART and pledge a small amount to ‪#‎BrexitJustice‬ HERE: just over three hundred people have pledged almost £10K between them. If a small fraction of us who signed the 4 million 2nd referendum petition pledge a fiver - fifty quid each we'd break £100K in a matter of days...