Friday, March 02, 2012

Posted on John Harris's blog:

In response to

Do you fear for the future of your local pub?

February 29th, 2012

Hi John

The subject interests me; I am an ex tied pub lessee of The Sun and Doves, in Camberwell, London SE5 and one of the founder members of the Fair Pint Campaign. I was evicted from the pub by Scottish & Newcastle Pub Company in September 2012, 16 years into a 20 year tied lease, because I was unable to pay a debt of £150K back rent and legal fees from my 2005 rent review which took several years to resolve beyond due date through arbitration and high court. I was made bankrupt in October and have been homeless since. I'm not destitute as I'm fortunate enough to have good friends and parents who are supporting me.

It's interesting to see so much comment stirred up by your pub piece in the Guardian and particularly interesting to note how much of the comment is very poorly informed about most aspects of what is happening to pubs as the industry implodes after decades of chronic underinvestment and widespread neglect of its bricks and mortar by its essentially absent landlords.

One of the great difficulties with getting to the bottom of what is wrong in the pub industry is that there are many very different types of pub and tenure across the sector, and as many versions and interpretations of the 'facts' as there are pub goers and pub haters and this is all mixed up with lashings of lay expertise thrown in by real ale enthusiasts and expert commentators on communities, tradition and heritage... It's this complexity that enables the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), and the brewers and pubcos who pay for this organisation to be the de facto 'official' mouthpiece of the pub sector and all things pub and beer while their real agenda is to keep public and political gaze averted from its members' complicity in the failure of pubs through ubiquitous, endemic abuse of the beer tie.

"The BBPA is the leading organisation representing the UK beer and pub sector. Our members account for 98% of beer brewed in the UK and own more than half of Britain's 54,000 pubs."

The BBPA's members own the pubs and take all the profit out of the sector but the majority of their pubs are not run by them but by tied publicans - pub lease holders – who as a condition of their lease must buy beer through their landlord's wholesale supply chain; at double the price they would pay for it if they could go to open market, while being forced to pay rents that are higher than comparable among their Free House competition.

It is this situation that led to tied publicans not earning enough profit to be able to invest back into their business, which has led to decades of chronic underinvestment, which has led to pub businesses being financially weak and unable to respond to the demands of the contemporary market while serving over priced beer in threadbare surroundings...

There is much to be done to arrest the decline of the pub sector and the damage this is wreaking on communities across the UK and to the livelihoods of thousands of individual tied pub lessees. In the absence of any official body representing the interests of lessees and counterbalance the misrepresentation postulated by BBPA tenants are beginning to turn to each other through social media such as Facebook groups and are slowly getting the measure of what needs to be done to stay in business when your landlord is trying to kill the golden goose.

Licensees Supporting Licensees:

Over A Barrel:

If anyone reads this is interested to join these groups get in touch with me through Facebook or Twitter: or!/JMarkDodds

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