7 Jul 2009

GMB publicans members will press on with the industrial, political and organising campaign to end beer tie to secure a decent living for publicans.

The mediation process was originally initiated by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), representing the Pubcos. This was in the wake of the House of Commons Business and Enterprise Select Committee report which called for an urgent investigation by the competition commission into the leased pub sector and elements of the tie. Their report revealed that two thirds of publicans earned less that £16,000 per year and that there was a total disparity of power between the Pubco and their tenants.

One meeting has already been held on setting up this mediation process. It was attended by the BBPA, BII, Camra, Fair Pint, Federation of Small Businesses, “Justice for Licensees”, Marston’s, Punch Taverns, Society of Independent Brewers and Unite. Maitland Walker Solicitors have been asked to facilitate the mediation process. One proposal is to ask Jeremy Phillips, barrister of Francis Taylor Building to act as mediator. See note 1 below on his declaration of interest.

There are 25,000 publicans tied to the main property companies ( the pubcos) that own the pub buildings. These property companies are loaded down with £20billions of debts. They are charging publicans up to 80p per pint more that they can buy beer on the wholesale markets simply to pay interest charges. Pubs are going out of business at record rates

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said “GMB will not be taking part in this sham mediation exercise.  It is part of a paper chase, to be conducted “by suits”, to hoodwink and sidetrack desperate publicans. For GMB the Pubcos are part of the problem not the solution. They have spent years closing pubs and raking in profits when they should have been working with publicans. Now they want publicans to help them clean up their mess.

This mediation been set up and paid for by the very property companies that were found to be exploiting their publicans by the House of Commons Select Committee. It purpose is to head off the much needed Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation called for by the Select Committee and promised by the Prime Minister at GMB Congress last month.

GMB publicans members will press on with the industrial, political and organizing campaign to end beer tie to secure decent living for publicans.

GMB will continue to organise the town meetings to set up local branches of publicans to end the disparity in power between the tenants and Pubcos. GMB will set up and deliver legal advice to tenants facing unjustified charges from Pubcos and resist these. GMB will contest evictions of tenants loosing their homes and jobs at the same time. GMB will step up lobbying in Westminster and Brussels to get the Competition Authorities to act to end abuse by the Pubcos.”

Contact: Maria Ludkin 07956 632657 or Martin Smith 07974 251722 or Trevor Finch 01246 234383 or Tim Roache 0845 377 7777

Notes to Editors
I make this Declaration in anticipation of mediation into all or some of the issues raised by the Seventh Report of the Business & Enterprise Select Committee and in respect of which I may play a role as a mediator.
I am a qualified solicitor (non practising), having previously been a partner in Cartwrights (1982 – 84), Holt Phillips (1984 – 1994), Eversheds (1994 – 2001) and Osborne Clarke (2001 – 2004). Since 2004 I have been a self employed barrister of the Inner Temple. As such I am a member of the Attorney General’s Panel of Prosecuting Counsel for the Western Circuit, the Constitutional and Administrative Law Bar Association (ALBA), the Planning & Environment Bar Association (PEBA) & the Compulsory Purchase Association (CPA). I also continue to be a member of the Advisory Group concerning the Licensing Act 2003, formed by the Department of Culture Media & Sport in about 2001. In 2007 I was accredited as a Mediator by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). I am also a member of The Reform club.
I have been involved as a lawyer in a wide range of cases concerning the pub trade since 1980 and in that time have acted for many breweries, pub companies, tenants and representative organisations. As a consequence I am acquainted with many of the parties who have already indicated an interest in the proposed mediation.
I confirm that I am not presently retained by, or acting for, any of the parties, either in respect of the proposed mediation or otherwise; nor do I have a personal relationship with any of them, other than in the way of the usual business acquaintance.
My fees for the period 22 May to 18 June 2009 were underwritten by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers. Those subsequently incurred will form part of the cost of any mediation, should it proceed.