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Defuse the pubco "time bomb"!

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted May 15, 2014
camra campaigners
Taking the pubcos to the politicos: Campaigners march on parliament. © CAMRA

CAMRA demands action on Great British Pub Scandal; delivers pubco petition to Vince Cable while campaigners descend on Westminster.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has placed renewed pressure on the UK government to save the country's pubs by yesterday (14/5/14) delivering a petition to Business Secretary Vince Cable MP calling for "vital" large pub company (pubco) reform.

According to a CAMRA press release, the petition garnered more than 30,000 signatures in just five days and surpassed the 44,000 mark prior to its delivery.

Meanwhile, "over 100 campaigners, pub-goers and licensees" gathered outside parliament "to rally behind Vince Cable's pledge to end the Great British Pub Scandal".

"It is essential," CAMRA states, "that Vince Cable sticks to his guns and makes an announcement in the next few weeks to allow action before the upcoming General Election."

camra petition
But will he listen? The petition arrives up Lunnun. © CAMRA

As CAMRA notes, "it is now well over 12 months" since the government launched its consultation on pubcos and tenants, a process that ended this past June 14.

However, "despite several assurances of action", including a recent letter from Cable to CAMRA in which he reportedly stated "we intend very soon to publish the government response to our pubs consultation and to announce the next steps", the government has so far failed to make any such announcement.

"It is absolutely vital that the government disarms the ticking time bomb threatening the nation's pubs," says CAMRA national chairman Colin Valentine.

"CAMRA is demanding the introduction of a Pubs Watchdog to rule on disputes between licensees and pubcos, plus a guest beer right and a market rent only option for tied licensees."

"These measures are essential in order to create a level playing field for licensees, ensuring those tied to the large pubcos are no worse off than those that are free of tie."

At present, tied licensees must purchase their beer and other products from their particular pubco at a rate that CAMRA says "is often at least 50% more expensive" than that of the free market.

Consequently, some 57% of tied licensees earn less than £10,000 ($16,754) per annum compared to just 25% of free of tie lessees1.

"The reforms CAMRA are seeking will enable publicans tied to the large pub companies to make a decent living and invest in their business, protecting thousands of valued pubs and creating a thriving industry," Valentine states.

"The current model is weighted far too heavily in the favour of the pub company at the expense of the licensee and it is essential the government acts now to redress the balance before thousands more people lose their livelihood."

Here, here.

Anyway, while we're all waiting for that government announcement, here's a video from May last year in which CAMRA chief executive Mike Benner talks pubcos and consultations with Jo Swinson MP, former Baby of the House and Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs.

My word, what a wanky title.

Whatever happened to real ministerial positions like Minister for War?

Honestly, I blame the parents.

The above video is embedded here on the Rake & Herald from the bisgovuk YouTube channel, which you can check out here if you so wish.

See also UK pub closures hit 28 a week, posted 3/3/14.

Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist, geographer and world traveller who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, coming an abysmal last and getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and Major League Eating speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.


1) Figures based on the findings of Pubco Licensee Survey: Report Produced for CAMRA by CGA Strategy, June 2013.

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