Brulines Shows Sales In Closed Pub

11 Oct 2012

A “big brother” remote monitoring system based in Stockton on Tees recorded the sale of 60 pints of draught beer on 7th May 2012 in The Old White Horse tied pub in Bingley, West Yorkshire on the day the pub was closing down and had no draught beer to sell.

Kevin Roberts, the tied tenant of The Old White Horse, was forced to close the pub and give back the keys after pubco Enterprise Inns refused to fix an economic rent for this pub that had suffered a loss in trade.

Enterprise Inns is now seeking £37,800 from the tied tenant which includes court fees of £10,000 arising from action over the remote monitoring records that recorded the non-sale of 60 pints and rent arrears arising from their refusal to fix an economic rent due to the same records.

Enterprise Inns have given Kevin Roberts until 12 October to pay this sum. They are threatening to take him to court to seek to bankrupt him as he is unable to pay these sums. This is the latest in a long line of legal harassment of a tied tenant unable to pay an uneconomic rent.

GMB, the union for tied tenants, has studied the case and consider that the figure is unjustified and grossly unfair. GMB tied pub tenants branch has written to Ted Tuppen, Managing Director of Enterprise Inns, demanding an explanation for the legal persecution of the licensee of this West Yorkshire pub.

Kevin Roberts took on The Old White Horse in Bingley, West Yorkshire on a rent of £28,000 in Oct 2005 which through RPI had risen to £37,000 in 2010. This huge rent plus the sky high wholesale prices charged was too high and the pub struggled. In 2009, for example, David Morgan of Morgan and Clarke undertook an assessment of the business and said the correct rent was about £15,000.

In March 2010 Kevin Roberts was unable to sustain the rent of £37,000 rent and got into arrears and was put on cash with order whilst he repaid the debt.

The Bradford and Bingley headquarters moved from Bingley in 2010 and this led to trade in the town nose-diving. Kevin Roberts applied for a Code of Practice rent review which he assumed would be a formality. He was stunned to find that he was turned down due to discrepancies in his actual sales and the record of sales from the remote monitoring system.

There was a court hearing in 2010 to deal with rent arrears and fines levied using the remote monitoring records during which £10,000 court fees were incurred. Kevin Roberts was ordered by the court to pay £650 per week towards his on-going rent while the other matters in contention were resolved.

Dave Mountford, Secretary GMB Matlock branch with tied tenant members said, “Unable to financially survive, Kevin handed back the keys on the 7th May 2012. He had no draught sales on his last night and which was witnessed by many customers. Yet the remote monitoring system recorded 60 pint draught dispense for that night alone which shows how reliable this monitoring system is. Enterprise Inns now seek to bankrupt Kevin for £37,800. This sum includes fees of £10,000 from their court action over records from the remote monitoring system and arrears continued to build after they refused to fix an uneconomic rent using the same records as an excuse. This refusal was in breach of their own Code of Practice. This forced Kevin into a position whereby failure was inevitable.

This demand for £37,800 is just the next step in a long line of legal harassment on a business asked to pay an uneconomic rent. Rather than agree an economic rent to get the pub on its feet Enterprise Inns sent round a debt recovery service supported by two West Yorkshire police officers to recover arrears. This was while Kevin was paying the on-going rent ordered by the court. Enterprise also ignored the Court order to give notice 48 hours before visits to the pub Enterprise Inns continued to turn up unannounced to undertake cellar checks.

Unfortunately this is typical of the sort of behaviour this appalling company inflicts on tied tenants. These pubcos care little about the individual and even less about the pub and community it serves. That Enterprise Inns is now leasing the Old White Horse for £18,000 rent shows how unjust this threat of court action is. That is why GMB is writing to Ted Tuppin about this case”.

Contact: Dave Mountford 07794 021212