Thursday, September 29, 2011

Urban 75

Hello people - and Guineveretoo in particular, I'm the cross, annoyed guy who made people feel uncomfortable about going to 'my' pub and scared them away by blogging about how I was being bent over and financially ruined, mugged, made homeless and shafted in public by a lying cheating thieving scumbag pubco called Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company (they do not run pubs) and Royal Bank of Scotland, who actually own the freehold of the Sun and Doves.

Might you be cross if you'd invested everything you'd ever saved and all your energy and experience and knowledge and people networks to be mugged and left financially ruined? I'm 53, I've earned nothing out of the pub for the last five years, I will be bankrupt in a month. I have nothing - I'm homeless, my relationship of 16 years broken down, I cannot currently contribute to my children's upkeep and a few other things I shouldn't bleat on about that I'll leave you to imagine. I'm being open about this not to wring my hands in public - but to point out the reality of what happens when a publican is evicted. And it happens to THOUSANDS of people every year. Quietly in the background of our daily lives pub folk are being turfed out all over the UK. It's a cultural catastrophe and it's all because of a small number of overly greedy pubcos who between them employ three or four thousand people against the 150,000 who are employed by the publicans who rent their pubs and make ALL the pubcos £millions. It's not right and you lot don't know what really goes on and I want you to.

I'm interested to know exactly what else someone in my situation should have done? Just kept quiet? Just gone bankrupt without a fight? WHERE in my rent contract with the pubco did it say that every five years they would try to more than double my rent, in perpetuity? And where in my contract with the pubco did it say that they will be charging me, after the 'generous' discount they offer their tenants, DOUBLE what it cost to buy beer direct from a brewer or wholesaler?

Well, after my nervous breakdown in 2007 and before I went bankrupt I brought the people together who were needed to set up a national campaign against the beer tie and although it's not been in time to save me, the tie WILL be outlawed at some point, in years rather than never, and that seems like a good result.

You pub goers need to know what is happening to OUR pubs. The beer tie is ubiquitous in the UK, it is everywhere among pubs. The majority of pubs are tied and as the vicar says "so it's(ll) become a ghastly overpriced shithole, and every few years the landlord will move on; repeat until sold for redevelopment." you have it EXACTLY bluestreak. My prediction is that The Sun and Doves will become a Grand Union at upwards of £4 a pint and £9 for a burger. I hope it does so I can point out what a load of bollocks this statement on their website actually is: "our commitment to restoring British pubs to their rightful place at the heart of their communities"...

IN fact the pubco cancer is so prevalent in our society I consider it my funadamental DUTY to expose their appalling practices and make it known far and wide that pubcos are the prime reason for pubs being boarded up all over the country.

And here's a set of photos of us breaking down the pub so the pubco couldn't steal the fixtures and fittings as well as everything else they've taken from us over the years:

Toward the end now, for Guineveretoo particularly again given that you never did think it would work, I got seventy people interested in buying their local two years ago - but RBS and S&NPC would not entertain an offer of £930,000 and said if you can get investors for the freehold why can't you get them to put more money into your business? Because the rent and beer prices mean it always loses money maybe?

Anyway, finally for the moment at least this is what everything I've learned in the last twenty years has led me to devise for the future of pubs:

It's called The People's Pub Partnership. John Lewis have been helping me with corporate structure. It's an affiliate of the Employee Owners Association. CAMRA say they will endorse it if it is constituted on a cooperative model. The Plunkett Foundation are interested in supporting it if I can establish a means of having community investment as well as employee ownership. And THAT Guineveretoo, is just the top of an iceberg of support that I've been working on building up for this for the last two years.

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