"Pub For Let": the Black Swan Belford, Northumberland., originally uploaded by a shadow of my future self.
I'm visiting my parents in Northumberland at half term (NOW) and the subject of how useless Marston's is as a pubco came up YET AGAIN.
I was reminded of the solid stupidity of the way they 'run' their pubs locally by my mother saying that the Percy Arms in Chatton is still closed, since before Christmas, and the Black Swan in Belford, is still under a management company not doing any food - they are both in prime positions in their villages; the first is the ONLY pub in the village and the second is right on the village square opposite THE BUS STOP.
To reiterate: the Percy Arms has been closed for months and the Black Swan is trading with a management company. Both pubs used to be REALLY busy pubs before they were bought by pubco lala land and were thought of proudly by people who live in the area.
It reminded me of previous incredulity I've had about this situation so I looked for correspondence with Marston's and found this email which I sent to their shining glinting polished rapier like management team on 14 May 2010:
Dear Marston's Business Opportunities Team
I am one of the founders of the Fair Pint Campaign. I know Northumberland quite well having been brought up there. I am curious to know what on earth your regional management do with their spare time? Grouse shooting? Scrabble? Scratching each other's backs? They certainly do not seem to get to grips with the property their company advertises as 'business opportunities'.
The expectations your company has laid out for ingoing tenants for the Black Swan in Belford are ludicrous. Without investment that pub will just fail and fail and fail as it has done again and again for the last ten years.
You should spend something on the Percy Arms at Chatton as well, even though you've got it let to a competent operator (the quality of staff and food there is high) , expecting them to catch up on the years of neglect since your company bought the freehold is an insult to them.
What does it take for you lot to learn from your experience of serially failed pubs? Do you just always blame the tenant?
I look forward to someone from your company trying to explain your position.
Please pass my regards to Ralph Findlay.
J Mark Dodds
I sent a copy of this note to one of my fair pint mates, Steve Corbett, here are his thoughts at the time: "I don't think you used the word 'twat' enough - but other than that it should still prompt a nil response."
He was right of course. They didn't answer and the pubs are totally on their arse now.
Marston's are Twats.