Mike backs pub landlords
With an estimated 26 pubs are closing each week in Britain and with the large chains of pub companies stand accused of forcing ‘tied landlords’ to pay over the odds for their beer, Mike O’Brien has called for a new statutory code to support small landlords and give customers greater choice.
Picture: Mike pulling a pint in "The Green Man" in Coleshill
Labour’s man in North Warwickshire and Bedworth said,
“I call on the Government to introduce legislation to support local pubs with a statutory code to protect small landlords and ensure they are no longer exploited by the big pub companies.
“The code should include a free-of-tie option, open market rent reviews and an independent pubs adjudicator. This would give every landlord the choice to go free-of-tie. This would allow Licencees to operate in a more competitive market.”
A statutory code is being supported by a broad coalition including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) and trade unions.
As a former Government Minister who had oversight of the licensing laws and championed their reform, Mike knows the problems. He said,
“Pubs are centres of many communities in North Warwickshire, but the government’s inaction has resulted in many pubs and clubs struggling. Some have closed. For example, sadly, the Saracens Head pub in Corley where I often had a drink has closed. Many landlords work long hours and these days profits are hard to find.
“If a pub or club shuts, it hits the local economy by an average of £80,000. It costs jobs, particularly for young people. In the rural communities of Middle England as police numbers fall, libraries are closed and pubs disappear, we are losing the ties that bind us.
“We have some good local pubs and clubs in this area and we don’t want any more of them to close.
“A year ago ministers acknowledged the problem and promised action but they have done nothing so far. Labour has thrown its weight behind plans for a statutory code to be put in place, including a non-tied option for publicans.
“It’s time for the government to take real action to support small landlords otherwise our area risks losing more pubs and more jobs.”
The evidence that pubs are struggling is clear. Changing life styles, the growth of ‘preloading’ that is drinking cheap supermarket alcohol before going to the pub, the increase in VAT to 20% added to the cost of some pub products and the increase of a Machine Games Duty has all hit the pubs and clubs.
The new code for pubs would have the backing of law and would deal with:
1. The Beer Tie, whereby landlords can only buy products from their Pub Company, works for some licences but for many others it means they can only buy limited products at inflated prices. Every landlord to have the choice of whether to go free-of-tie.
2. When a new Licencee takes over a pub, or when an existing rent contract expires and is renegotiated, there should be a fully transparent and independent rent review completed by a qualified surveyor.
3. There must be a truly independent body to monitor the regulations and adjudicate in disputes between Licencees and PubCos.