Tied pub tenants from across the country held a demonstration opposite Parliament as they launched a new campaign to review the Pub Code. As part of the event, tenants and campaigners met Conservative and Labour MPs to seek support.
Campaigner Dave Mountford said: “The legislation that was supposed to offer tenants the opportunity to improve their financial situation, by severing the tied agreement with their pub owning businesses (POBs), has clearly failed to achieve its key principle of ‘fair and lawful dealing’. Similarly, the notion that ‘tied tenants shall be no worse off than the free of tie’ has not come to fruition either.”
After nearly two years of legislation, only a handful of consent awards have been granted, and campaigners believe that the pub owning businesses are doing everything in their power to block the re-balance of risk and reward the Pubs Code was supposed to achieve.
Shadow Business Minister, Gill Furniss MP, who met campaigners during the demonstration, said: “I was pleased to join pub campaigners calling for an urgent review of the Pubs Code. Unfortunately, the code has failed in its fundamental objective, which was to create a level playing field for all pub tenants.
“Instead, we have seen bigger corporate chains exploiting loopholes in the code, all to the detriment of smaller local pubs. The code is not fit for purpose and the government must urgently review it.”
The new campaign is being supported by the Forum of Private Business (FPB), and managing director, Ian Cass, said: “Local pubs are vital for communities. Brewing and pubs are a key part of our culture. Just look at each soap opera — the pub plays a central role in them all.”
Tied tenant and campaigner Gary Murphy, who has been attempting to utilise the market rent only (MRO) option for two years, met his MP, Theresa Villiers, along with fellow campaigner Dave Mountford.
Gary said: “Ms Villiers promised to write to Greg Clarke and raise the issue with him. We hope this marks the start of a real change in the industry.”
The campaign has also garnered support from Ross McWilliams, a councillor in Theresa May’s constituency, who met constituents Martin Hayes and Jenny Baish, who have been attempting to go MRO for nearly two years.
Dave Mountford thanked those who took the time to support the event, which highlighted the “complete and abject failure of the legislation of which so much was expected”.
Since the campaign launch, Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee has decided to hold an evidence session reviewing the operation and performance of the code and the adjudicator.