Monday, January 21, 2013

The Cry of The Universal Publican

Dear MP of any constuency Please send this to Vince, who remains un-conned Vince.

House of Commons


Dear [MP’s NAME] 
Urgent request for you to support me, and all publicans
in the upcoming Pub Industry Statutory Code of Practice
I am your constituent, a publican and tenant of [NAME OF PUB]. I am asking you to help me and thousands of hard working responsible licensees like me, to persuade Vince Cable to include an essential 'free of tie option' for all tied pub tenants in the Code of Practice; and so create a fair and free pub market for everyone in Britain.

For years successive governments have been seriously concerned that legislation brought into the pub sector with the 1989 Beer Orders inadvertently damaged the pub industry against all intentions. In the last decade four Select Committee enquiries looking at the relationship between pubco's and their tenants have each found that pubco's abuse their position of power through manipulation of the Beer Tie. Each inquiry has recommended that, unless the pubco's could show they substantially change their unacceptable behaviour through self regulation, a statutory code of conduct would be imposed...

On 9 January Mr Cable announced six week's of consultation before government applies final statutory legislation to the relationship between tied pub companies and their tenants. When Mr Cable explained why government decided on this course of action he said he was “disappointed” that self-regulation had not worked and: "Last year we gave the pubco's one last chance to change their behaviour but it is clear that the self-regulatory approach was not enough”. Recently Mr Cable announced: “I haven’t come to a final view on that (free of tie option). It is a perfectly good question with strong arguments … and I want the consultation to provide us with the answer”

My tied lease with [Name of Freeholder] obliges me to buy all my beer from my their list which costs me around double the price I would buy it for on the open market. Separate to this my rent is higher than other comparable pubs that are free of tie in our area.
This iniquetous situation affects the majority of publicans - around twenty eight thousand pubs are owned by pubco's and brewers and are let through the Beer Tie. Because our freeholders take far more of our pub's profit through rent and beer prices than we do, our pubs are struggling to stay in business while our freeholders continue to make £millions, and all over Britain our pubs, vital historical, cultural and community assets, are closing in ever greater numbers, damaging society.

Mr Cable also told the House: “There is some real hardship in the pubs sector... some of this is due to pubco's exploiting and squeezing their tenants” and he wants the statutory code “to enshrine the principle that 'tied lessees should be no worse off than those free of tie'”. This will only be be achieved if the code includes an option for all tied tenants to become free of tie at the same time as having an open market rent review. This would reset the balance of risk and reward between pubco's and their tenants and create a fairer and freer pub market for everyone.

Please help me, and thousands of tied lessees like me, persuade Mr Cable that the new Pub Industry Statutory Code of Practice must include an option for all tenants and lessees to opt out of their tied agreements. This one inclusion will then allow us to buy beer on the open market at rates which allow thousands of our businesses to survive the economic crisis.

Your support in this once in a generation moment is so important not just to me, but to struggling pubs and publicans everywhere. 

Please encourage ask Mr Cable to do the right thing and give tied publicans a much needed opportunity to operate their businesses while having a fair chance of making a living.

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