Thursday, April 30, 2009

Adam Withrington: Isn’t this a Fair point? – Part 2

29 April, 2009

Referring to 'reality' with regard to pubco activities is meaningless. Excusing pubco behaviour on grounds of reality being a bland commercial process is not a valid position to take. It absolves pubcos of any levels of corporate social responsibility which are more or less demanded in other industries. i.e. pubco strives to maximise income by any method available to them, irrespective of fact that the consequences lead to licensees working and living in penury with no way out.

Their is no check and balance in this industry. There is no evidence to support the general assertion that free rents are hugely more than tied rents. The only free rents I know of in my area are either lower than my own tied rent, or on par - for businesses better placed than my own in terms of footfall. Without wanting to suggest that free traders have no troubles of their own in the current financial climate; They all buy their beer for about half the price I pay for mine and this makes their business 'reality' a bit different to mine.

One tragedy of the ossification of pubcos into the national pub estate has been their appallingly divisive influence on the trade. As the arguments against pubcos gain traction we see free traders now railing against tied tenants' moaning about their difficulties. How CAN this trade be expected to have a unified voice? There is no unity because ALL the power and influence sits in the hands of a few and is manipulated to their benefit to the detriment of all parts that are not the few.

Talk about 'reality' to people in Zimbabwe; Afghanistan; Iraq. Zimbabwe's perhaps the best analogy for the tied pub trade. It is dominated by a ruling tiny minority which comprehensively abuses the majority for its own ends and blames everyone and anyone else for the conditions it has forced upon the people it professes to serve in democracy. The world looks on and sees the inequity but does nothing practical to stop it.

No one believes the 'reality' of Zimbabwe makes what happens there 'right'. Just because pubcos behave the way they do in business here does not make that 'reality' 'right' either.

Pubcos have hidden behind 'contracts willingly signed' for decades while implementing those contracts in way which they KNOW force people into penury and business failure. But that's business reality and therefore no problem? As if people should EXPECT to be completely ripped off when getting into business with a 'willing partner'...

It's the stories that DON'T get published which damn the pubcos and one has to ask the question: WHY do they not get into print?

Adam Withrington, with respect, when it comes to understanding the politics of the pub business it's clear that members of Fair Pint have a much closer and more comprehensive knowledge of political 'reality' than you do. We have all learned the politics of the pub business first as operators and latterly as instigators of much needed change. The main movers of the steering group are all operators and non of us has benefited financially in any way for the hundreds of hours we each have devoted to a campaign seeking, demanding, long overdue commercial fairness in this trade.

It was our very understanding of the politics of the pub business which led us to engage the services of a professional advisor in Connect PA. How Fair Pint came to engage Connect and how much we pay them is for Fair Pint and Connect PA to know for the time being. What I will say though is that the figures being bandied about are ridiculously overblown speculation and somehow bizarrely used to imply dark nefarious motives behind Fair Pint's message; Paradoxically weird isn't it? People are now questioning Fair Pint's agenda because Fair Pint has made headway by being professional in its approach to the monumental task of taking on some of the most powerful, least accountable and opaque corporate bodies in the UK? This isn't tuck shop banter here Adam, this is POLITICS. And the questioning voices of politicians demanding to know more about the depths of the pubco business are cross party. When anyone gets to know the 'reality' of this murky trade they are sickened to the stomach at the behaviour of pubcos while people like you, who should know better, are in complete denial about what is 'really' going on with tied pubs up and down the country every day.

Everyone in this business who has a public voice seems to think that licensees should be shambolic and disorganised when they try to have a voice and demand their rights and fight for fairness. Even the trade press which, if it wishes to be taken seriously as having any independence, should be doing some investigative stuff instead of printing opinion, bluster, rumour and gossip as if it were well researched and balanced reporting. It's all so blinkered, patronising and deeply rooted it defies belief.

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