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We need to back local pubs

Butt & OysterIn January 2013, Vince Cable, the business secretary, announced that the relationship between pub companies (PubCos)and publicans would be defined in law, and an independent adjudicator appointed to examine unfair practices.

The Financial Times reported Mr Cable speech at the time, where the minister said:

There is some real hardship in the pubs sector . . . some of this is due to pubcos exploiting and squeezing their tenants by unfair practices and a focus on short-term profits.” He said he wanted the statutory code to enshrine the principle that tied licensees should be no worse off than independents. The code will apply to pubcos with more than 500 tied leases, following evidence that smaller pubcos have behaved more responsibly towards publicans than the bigger operators.”

But yesterday, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs voted AGAINST a Labour Opposition Day Motion, calling for Pubco regulation to be introduced in this year’s Queen’s Speech; this latest vote suggests they have no intention of legislating to protect local pubs.

An estimated 26 pubs are closing each week in Britain and the large chains of PubCos have been accused of giving landlords a raw deal, with many paying over the odds for their alcoholic products. In May 2013 a number of organizations formed the “Fair Deal for Your Local campaign”, Guild of Master Victuallers, Campaign for Real Ale , Federation of Small Businesses, Forum of Private Businesses, Fair Pint Campaign, Licensees Supporting Licensees, Justice for Licensees, Save the Pub Group and Licensees Unite. The GMB trade union joined the organisation in July 2013, and Steve Kemp, GMB political officer, said: “GMB is delighted to join the Fair Deal for Your Local campaign; GMB want MPs to support the option which will give tied pub tenants the ability to buy products from the open market and pay a fair market rent for the building.

Pub campaigners are asking that a legally enforceable 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, allowing licencees to operate in a more competitive market.

Thriving pub businesses are vital hubs for communities and are valued strongly by local people. Pub closures costs jobs, especially for young people, and hits the local economy by an average of £80,000 each time a pub shuts. In small towns and villages it also takes away an important focus for bringing people together.

We need to back our local pubs. That’s why, it’s time for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to take real action to support small landlords otherwise we all risk losing more pubs, and more jobs.

This article first appeared at Socialist Unity

Image Credit: Pub sign by Oatsy 40


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