Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fair Pint: “We’re seeing changes that will really help pubs”

Thanks to those who are supportive of Fair Pint’s position. Please take advantage of the Lobby Day on 20 May


Fair Pint has no need to place 'plants' on any public forum because there's no benefit to us in doing this. Is there? The only ambiguity there can be about Fair Pint members' postings is that 'we' tend not to sign off our posts with 'Fair Pint' which may, with hindsight, be an oversight because we might appear to be ‘plants’. The regular Fair Pint posters are me, Steve Corbett, Karl Harrison, Brian Jacobs, Simon Clarke, David Law and David Morgan. We do of course talk to each other often but we do not actively discuss progress on forum posting or try to have strategies for how our posts are delivered as a group. We post as individuals while understanding that the aims of our campaign are inextricably linked to our individual experiences of the tie which brought us together in the first place. What I'm trying to say is that we post as ourselves - not behind pseudonyms - and trust each other to represent the views of Fair Pint without restriction.


It should be evident that Fair Pint was set up as a campaign group, not a membership organisation. The urgent need for a membership organisation that accurately represents individual licensees has been understood from the outset but has been way outside our remit or our resources to manage effectively even if we thought from day one that building a membership was a necessity. If we had the level of funding received by BBPA, for example, we would likely be a membership organisation by now with a constitution and means of providing support and guidance to Fair Pint members. As it is we remain a campaign with an eye on the above and have been looking at ways of establishing a truly independent voice for individual licensees to represent the whole trade. Anyone reading this will understand what an enormous task this represents - and it would be irresponsible for Fair Pint to imply that it could support licensees in any way effectively before the resources and necessary infrastructure were in place.

Therefore Fair Pint’s ‘membership’ is, by limitation of circumstances, more evidence of support than an active body. 1000 signatories and rising is quite an achievement considering we have not done active recruitment other than through discussion threads in the on line forums here and on MA. We do not have a membership secretary or a marketing department or anyone to stuff envelopes or handle mass emails for general business other than for political purposes. What funds we have put in from among ourselves have been directed at lobbying to get factual evidence across to government effectively. As far as I’m aware donations which come in through the Fair Pint website have not been allocated anywhere. We have never said we represent the majority or even a specific percentage of individual licensees across the UK. But we are certainly REPRESENTATIVE of a huge number of licensees. How could we NOT be? We are individual tied licensees whose experience of pubco behaviour is repeated with uncanny similarity across all tied estates.

Logic extrapolates that, if it's happened to us and the people we know between us then it must have happened to just about everyone else in the tied pub sector too. How could it not? The entire sector applies the same conditions, wholesale price structures, lease terms and unsustainable and rising rent obligations. This alone says that thousands of licensees are working in intolerable circumstances. The answers for what is wrong in the tied pub sector are in the math. Unless you are significantly over trading your pub your margins do not give you the return you deserve for your investment, work, and endeavour. And when you over trade, you can make a lot of money and may not ‘feel the pinch’ but your landlord is certainly making FAR more than they should on the back of your flair and extraordinary skills because your GPs are much lower than they should be.


Pubco behaviour, when compared with even basic standards of business practise widely expected, and demanded, of other blue chip companies, is completely unacceptable morally and insupportable from any commercial standpoint. The business ‘model’ they use is totally unsustainable. Quite simply there is no possible standpoint from which pubco supporters can justify the way pubcos routinely behave toward licensees unless that position is occupied by a feudal land baron or a colonial plantation owner.

J Mark Dodds. Fair Pint.

No comments:

Post a Comment