GMB And Labour On Pub Closures

22 Oct 2012

GMB branch secretary, David Mountford and GMB officer David Castledine will meet Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield and Labour’s Shadow Minister for Small Business on 2nd November to step up the campaign for the statutory code on pubco leases called for last year by Business, Innovation & Skills Committee (BISC). This follows reports that consumer minister Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire, considers that the self-regulatory Industry Framework Code is working properly so no further involvement is needed by Government.

The Government failed to implement a statutory code after it agreed with British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) that this self- regulatory Industry Framework Code (IFC) should be introduced instead. As part of the IFC a Pub Independent Conciliation Advisory Service (PICAS) was set up to deal with disputes about matters other than rents between pubcos and tenants.

Toby Perkins MP is also a member of the All Parliamentary Save The Pub Group. The meeting will take place on Friday 2nd November at his constituency office in Chesterfield. See notes to editors for his position on the BISC call for a statutory code.

Dave Mountford, GMB branch secretary of the Matlock branch, said “Consumer minister Jo Swinson says that the self- regulatory Industry Framework Code in place is working properly so no further involvement is needs by Government. GMB and tied tenants profoundly disagree that this is the case.  With Toby Perkins, MP Labour’s Shadow Minister for Small Business we will discuss ways of stepping up the campaign for a statutory code. GMB want a manifesto pledge to make this an issue at the next general election for pub tenants and pub customers. (See notes to editors for Labour Party) manifesto commitments in 2010.

The underlying issue of pubs being priced out of the market is not being tackled at all. Sky high rent that have pushed the price of a pint £1 above the level justified by inflation and changes in taxation. That is why sales of beer in the “on trade” are down nearly 40% on the peak levels in 2002. The additional revenue ends up in offshore tax havens paying faceless pubco bondholders. I will raise how the Industry Framework Code and PICAS are working.  Apart from the absurd claims that this Code is legally binding I will point to the yawning gaps in it and seek support for a Code drawn up by the tenants.
Rodger Vickers from Punch Taverns chairs PICAS to deal with disputes about matters other than rents between pubcos and tenants. Appointing Rodger Vickers was the equivalent of the FA appointing Sir Alex Ferguson to referee a game between Manchester United and Liverpool. The bias is that blatant. PICAS operates alongside another toothless body PIRRS (Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme) where Vickers has also been an advisor since 2009 and will have the same dismal record as PIRRS.”

Contact Dave Mountford 07794 021 212 or Pat Hardy 07809 182 386 or Martin Allen 07966 327 962
Notes to Editors

1 Toby Perkins MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Small Business, said on 12 Jan 2012:

“Pubs are closing at a rate of around 25 a week and despite promises the Tories made in opposition, the Government has failed to take the action needed to help publicans and stop pub closures, and is refusing to introduce a statutory code to protect pub tenants or take steps to ensure that a non-tied option is offered by pub companies to tenants.

“Pubs play a vital role in communities across Britain in villages, towns and cities. They also contribute hugely to the Government’s tax revenues and employ hundreds of thousands of people, including many young people who are currently finding job hunting so difficult.

“Despite their promises, the Tory led Government has refused to take action needed to give pubs the best chance of fighting their way through the recession. We are calling on ministers to implement our action plan in full and to work with the BIS Select Committee to bring forward a statutory code and a non-tied option for publicans.”

Statement made 12th January 2012
2 Labour Party Manifesto on pubs at 2010 general election
The local pub and social club are also hubs of community life. Too many pubs have closed that could have been sustained by local people. We will support pubs that have a viable future with a new fund for community ownership in 2010-11. Councils must take full account of the importance of pubs to the local community when assessing proposals that change their use, and we will make it more difficult to demolish pubs. Restrictive covenants applied by pub companies to property sales will be curbed and flexibility for pubs to provide related services promoted, making it easier to have live entertainment without a licence. A non-tie option should be available for pub tenants; we will act if the industry fails to make progress on this.