Monthly Archives: August 2010

Barrel-Dregs, Groundswell, LinkedIn and the Internet (112)

For those that have never heard of LinkedIn, it is the international web site for professionals, in all walks of life.

We would like to use the auspices of LinkedIn to link up between all the concerned people in the Industry, whether they are licensees, solicitors, accountants, brewers and anyone involved in the industry, who feel that their input or support will create a Groundswell of thinking people that can collectively steer the Industry back towards a career for life and long term stability.

We would like to help in some small part by giving all you thinkers a place to express your views and thoughts and in turn they can be passed on via LinkedIn to all the others with similar thoughts.

There has to be a diversification of views, otherwise we become dogmatic and biased, which we try to avoid, with serious abuse you do become too focused and it is hard not to condemn a person or company regardless.

If we can create change by constructive dialogue, that would be terrific, but I think legislation will be the only route at the end of the day, but in the interim published dialogue it will have to be.

All the articles on Barrel-Dregs are written by thinking professionals in the Industry under a nom de plume, we do edit everything, otherwise Google will put us at the bottom of the pile for some of the expletives, but the humour raises a smile and the facts make the point.

The mass of information on the site is to help people and we still need more.

The term professionals is a general term for anyone that works in the Licensed Industry in any capacity from service, to supply to running their own business and cares about the future as we do.

If you have a point or story please send it to us, our writers are steadily growing in number.

We have managed to stop some questionable activities before they have gone too far, but it is only the tip of the iceberg.

If you would like to join us, it costs nothing and is a great medium of contact, please email us at info@buyingapub.com, we will email you an invitation to LinkedIn if you are not already a member and send you all the latest articles, please pass them on to other colleagues who may enjoy them and gain some benefit or wish to join us.

Should you have a problem, we have a number of people who will give you some free advice to try to steer you in the right direction, without obligation.

We are linking with other sites to exchange articles and information to create a Groundswell of opinion.

Those readers that use Facebook, Twitter etc, please push the information out to your contacts that will derive amusement, information or help from the articles.

Individually we are fleas on the backside of an ageing dog, collectively we can be a solid voice driving the dog forward, by using a number of web sites the information gets everywhere.

The use of a Groundswell of opinion on the Internet has caused a number of major companies in the US to realise that they cannot afford to ignore the Internet’s collective voice.

The more people that participate, the more effective the argument.

Barfly

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

 

Barrel-Dregs, Pot Boy has a few words about that nice Mr Pub Expert (111)

An Institution or Organisation is only genuinely respected if it is seen to be totally open and honest and beyond suspicion. What could be more straightforward than that. Pot Boy has been sent an interesting and detailed trail of data from a fellow Tenant/Licensee concerning the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).For all their majesty and standing in the property world all is not well when it comes to dealing with the vested interests in the pub business.

To explain. It appears that the RICS have a number of specialist divisions, one of which deals with the pub/leisure industry. Guidance is issued to members of the RICS as to “best practice” in the form of Valuation Information Papers (VIP).The one that governs the pub industry is VIP2.RICS members basically have to be very careful to follow the contents of VIP2.Not doing so could lead them towards a charge of negligence. So anyone in the pub business, I am given to believe, who is an RICS member studies and follows these regulations with the utmost care.

By way of regular updating and revision, a small band of selected RICS members sits on a committee to oversee VIP2,its called the Trade Related Valuation Group (TRVG).The members of the TRVG are supposed to be drawn from a broad cross section of RICS members having specialisation in the pub world. In fact the TRVG is dominated either by Central London “big players” or the Pubcos. An inference ,some say, might be drawn that  the TRVG members tend to be big business or Corporate friendly. (Ed; perish the thought PB, wash your mouth out with soap !)

Up until about the summer of 2008 Rob May FRICS, National Rent Controller of Enterprise Inns, was the CHAIRMAN of the TRVG. Out of the blue, he relinquished his position. Martin Willis FRICS of Fleurets was his successor. Now pause there for a moment. Why stand down after so many years in control. Simple, the Chairman of the TRVG had been invited to give evidence to the Business and Enterprise Committee of Parliament in the Autumn of 2008.They were scrutinising the performance of the Pubcos under the Chairmanship of Peter Luff MP. The last thing Rob May wanted was to be exposed by the Committee members as being the ultimate fox in the hen house. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST ??? He’s not that stupid, so by adroitly stepping aside he let Martin Willis take the (not inconsiderable) flak at the Committee hearings from its Chairman and members. CLEVER ! Let someone else take the rap. If you are a survivor, and Rob May is a consummate survivor, never put your own neck outstretched on the block. You never know whose there with a sharp axe.

Another deeply concerning fact was that on the RICS website it gave the members of the TRVG and the identity of the Firm/Company who employed them. Fleurets, Colliers, Gerald Eve etc. One exception, yes you’ve guessed it, the silicon coated Rob May. He coyly described himself as “Pub Expert”. No mention that he was, and still is, employed by Enterprise Inns as National Rent Controller, who naturally gets paid to MAXIMISE their rental income. Now this begs the question, just why did the RICS sanction his Chairmanship of one of their all powerful rule setting committees, knowing that there was such an obvious conflict of interest AND then let him cover up his employer identity ?

You can just picture the scene, Rob May reports back to Stalag Enterprise and the Commisars Dick Turpin and Igor. “I have just had my Committee sanction a change in the rules that gives the tenant a fair crack of the whip. Rents won’t go up much because of it. Er, do I still have a job ??” As likely as Ann Widdicome starring in a pole dancing competition Ole Boy !!

The whole grimy business brings the RICS and more especially its rule setting function into total disrepute. How can such an awe inspiring and well established  body of property people get it so wrong. Unless of course they knew and condoned the subterfuge, some say, by bowing to big business and the wealth of fees generated to the “big players” who also just happened to be sitting on the same TRVG as Rob May. Pot Boy might easily be wrong, but to a non RICS member, the whole thing has a very distinctly unpleasant odour. In fact if PB were an RICS member I reckon I would be even more ashamed that such practices can be allowed to happen.

Finally, after all that you would think that Rob May would have the good grace to quietly stand aside from the TRVG. Not a bit of it, as of today’s date he is STILL a member of the TRVG and still (well in his mind anyway) holding just as much influence as he ever had.

Pot Boy is a little saddened as some of his good buddies are RICS members and they won’t be best pleased to get this information. Still they have no choice but to live with their respected “Institution”. Back to the cellar !

Pot Boy.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

 

POPPLESTON ALLEN, RESPONSE TO THE HOME OFFICE CONSULTATION (110)

RESPONSE TO THE HOME OFFICE CONSULTATION

REBALANCING THE LICENCING ACT

Poppleston Allen is the largest licensing law firm in the United Kingdom.  90% of the firm’s business relates to licensing law and it has made applications in every single licensing authority in England and Wales.  Some applications have also been made in Scotland.   Poppleston Allen acts as a licensing law advisor to the BBPA and advises the BII and NOCTIS.  In addition Senior Partner, Jeremy Allen, was involved in all the discussions with the DCMS over the implementation of the Licensing Act 2003.  He has since been involved in every working party set up by the DCMS to consider various amendments and improvements to the Act.

The Ministerial foreword acknowledges that the majority of licensed premises are “well run businesses, which provide a valuable service to their local community and the Government recognises the important role which pubs can play as part of the fabric of neighbourhoods and villages.  Whilst tackling the alcohol related crime is a priority for the Government, it will not be addressed at the expense of these responsible businesses”.  The foreword goes on to state that the Government believes that the Licensing Act is due for an overhaul. 

The executive survey points out that the industry as a whole contributes around £8.5bn to the Exchequer through excise duty alone and over 200,000 premises have a licence to sell alcohol.  The document goes on to cite with approval the fact that there are “numerous instances of local businesses working with the Police and others to reduce alcohol related harm whilst promoting their interests”.  It mentions:-

1)      business improvement districts and national Best Bar None award schemes;                      

2)      Birmingham’s Broad Street bid has resulted in a 60% reduction in general crime and a 28% reduction in alcohol related crime in Doncaster town centre;

3)      the Doncaster BBN Scheme, which resulted in a notable reduction in alcohol related crime in Doncaster town centre; 

4)      large reductions in violent offences being recorded in the majority of BBN premises. 

5)      the Government will encourage and support these schemes rather than interfere with them.  It is unfortunate that these are almost the only times that these schemes are mentioned in spite of the dramatic figures attributed to them.

The consultation is seeking our views on the implications of implementing the proposals rather than inviting views on the commitments themselves.  For the reasons stated below, we consider the Government should look again at the commitments and not solely concentrate on implementation. 

We also believe that the Government is wholly wrong to propose to implement the proposals this autumn, following a 6 week consultation; the majority of which took place during August which is  traditionally a holiday month.  The current Code of Practice points out that dealing with Government consultations should last for a minimum of 12 weeks.  It adds that allowing these 12 weeks will enhance the quality of the responses pointing out that many organisations would want to consult the people that they represent or work with before drafting a response to the Government. This takes time.  It adds that if a consultation exercise is to take place over a period when consultees are less able to respond, eg over the summer, or the policy under consideration is particularly complex, consideration should be given to the feasibility of allowing a longer period for consultation.  The Government’s proposals are far reaching and complex.  It is arguable that they are at least as complex as the Licensing Act 2003 which followed 2 or 3 years of detailed consultation.  The proposals should be set out in a new Licensing Act after proper consultation over a longer period of time, not including August.

One further matter, although the Home Office has huge experience in dealing with complex issues,  it has limited experience in dealing with the licensed trade and licensing legislation.  This is evidenced by the two matters with which they have recently been involved.  The first of these was Alcohol Disorder Zones.  The fact that no ADZs have been created since their formation in 2008 suggests a lack of understanding of the problems they were meant to deal with.  Similar difficulties arose over the preparation of the Statutory Instrument creating Mandatory Conditions.  Without going into details, it is unfortunate that the Home Office official responsible felt that he had insufficient time to consult upon a draft. This resulted in it being passed in a questionable format.  It will not surprisingly take a little time for the Home Office to become familiar with licensing law.  This is another good reason for taking a longer period of time over the consultation and having a more considered approach to revising the Licensing Act. 

Consultation Question 1: What do you think the impact would be of making relevant licensing authorities responsible authorities?

The law has only recently been amended to allow any Councillor to become an interested party under the Licensing Act.  Councillors can now make individual representations regardless of whether there had been a representation from other Responsible Authorities or interested parties.  As this is the sole reason given in the consultation document for this change, it is unnecessary.  The Government should give this recent change involving Councillors time to work to see what impact this has upon procedures.

It is appreciated that the Gambling Act allows licensing authorities to be Responsible Authorities but there is a significant difference between liquor, entertainment licensing and gambling.  There are also very few applications in respect of gambling.  The system in Scotland, whilst different, also provides for Licensing authorities to be Responsible Authorities but there doesn’t appear to have been any assessment by the Government as to whether that works on not. 

Consultation Question 2: What impact do you think reducing the burden of proof on licensing authorities will have?

 

Licensing authorities currently have to demonstrate that their actions are “necessary” for the promotion of licensing objectives in their local area.  Changing this to “beneficial” is unnecessary and could lead to problems unconnected with the premises.  It may, for example, be seen to be beneficial to impose blanket conditions on all premises within the licensing authority’s area but it may not be necessary to do so for the majority.  The introduction of unnecessary conditions causes confusion for the licensee and their staff in complying with the licence and also for others in seeking to enforce it.  The Government is seeking to remove excessive regulation but it seems to us that this will enhance it. 

Consultation Question 3: Do you have any suggestions about how the licence application process could be amended to ensure that applicants consider the impact of their licence application on the local area?

 

It should be remembered that the licensing application is not the only matter that the local authority has to consider.  In many cases there would have to be a separate application for planning permission. The local planning authority is also a responsible authority. It seems to us that applicants will be obliged to consider the impact of their licensing applications on the local area and no amendments of the law are necessary to achieve this. 

Consultation Question 4: What would the effect be of requiring Licensing authorities to accept all representations, notices and recommendations from the Police unless there is clear evidence that these are not relevant?

Implementation of this provision would effectively replace the licensing authority with the Police.  If the licensing authority is obliged, through the Police, to accept any recommendation unless it is irrelevant, there is little point in the licensing authority sitting at all except to resolve conflicts.  What would the position be if, for example, all local residents were in favour of a particular application but the Police were against it?  The Police could cite crime and disorder, which would clearly be relevant.  They might decline to produce any figures in support of their argument but presumably the licensing authority would have to accept the representation that the premises would increase the amount of crime and disorder.  Police representations on licensing matters vary hugely throughout the different Licensing Authorities around the country.  In some areas licensing maybe dealt with by a very junior police officer or a civilian.  Why should the council be obliged to accept all representations made on behalf of the Police when they may be without merit? 

The Police have concerns about overtime working.  The Chief Constable might take the view that if all licensed premises closed at a particular time then he could reduce the expenditure on overtime regardless of the benefit to the public as a whole.  If representations were made that the premises should close earlier in these circumstances, then the licensing authority would be obliged to accept the recommendation thus giving the Police total power.

There have been many occasions when detailed examination of Police evidence has shown it to be faulty.  Statistical evidence has been produced showing that a number of offences are connected with a particular premises on days when they have not been trading.  When the Police records have been examined it has been possible to prove that the premises have simply been used as a convenient reference point as they have, for example, a taxi rank outside them.  These “offences” had no connection with the premises other than a geographical one.  Similarly there have been many reports in respect of premises where disturbance or offences have taken place where people have been endeavouring to gain entry.  In other words the incident took place entirely on the street and was caused when door staff and management properly refused entry to somebody who was the worse for wear through drink. 

In many cases Police records produced to us to support their representations have consisted of the first few words of a longer incident.  Detailed examination of the evidence behind it has been able to show that on this occasion the premises have operated perfectly properly and this has been accepted by the licensing officer.   If the Government’s current proposal is accepted it may not be possible to see information of this nature and premises could be closed due simply to the use of ineffective data. 

Consultation Question 5: How can licensing authorities encourage greater community and local resident involvement?

Consultation Question 6: What would be the effect of removing the requirement for interested parties to show vicinity when making relevant representations?

 

Most Licensing authorities consult widely on their licensing policies.  It is arguable that the requirement for licensing authorities to review their policies is unnecessary and amendments could simply be made as and when they are necessary.  Consultation should always include the trade.

One of the most significant changes in licensing occurred when the law changed in 2005. Resident associations and other bodies of a similar nature wield a considerable influence over licensed premises. A number of councils now write to local residents to alert them to an individual application. No assessment into these matters appears to have been carried out by the Government. 

The use of the term “vicinity” is interpreted differently in a large number of licensing authorities.  It is a difficult concept because people within a certain distance might be unaffected by the grant of the licence, whereas others beyond that locality might be affected when, for example, customers leave the premises.  The difficulty with removing “vicinity” entirely would be that Licensing authorities could receive representations from national organisations with no particular objection to the individual licensed premises but a general objection to all licensed premises. 

Section 158 of the Gambling Act 2005 defines an interested party as someone who, in the opinion of the Licensing Authority which issues the licence, or to which the application is made, is a person who:

  1. lives sufficiently close to the premises to be likely to be affected by the authorised activities;
  2. has a business interest that might be affected by the authorised activities;
  3. represents persons who satisfy a) or b). 

 

This seems to us to catch those who have a genuine interest in commenting upon the licence or proposed licence.  The definition does not create the same difficulties with distances and area as the current understanding of vicinity does.  It allows authorities to consider the size of the premises, the nature of the premises, the distance of the premises from the person making the representation, the potential impact of the premises (number of customers, routes likely to be taken by those visiting the establishment, etc and the circumstances of the complainant, the size of the premises is obviously relevant as a large nightclub would have a different footprint from a small off licence).

Authorities should require written evidence that a person “represents” someone who would be an interested party.

Consultation Question 7: Are there any unintended consequences of designating health bodies as a responsible authority?

Consultation Question 8: What are the implications in including the prevention of health harm as a licensing objective?

These two proposals are in reality connected.  There is little point in designating health bodies as a Responsible Authority unless there is also a prevention of health harm licensing objective.  We understand the experience of this in Scotland has not been particularly favourable.  We also believe that the creation of a new licensing objective now would make life very difficult for the 200,000 or so premises that have already got a licence based upon the existing four licensing objectives. 

Will the condition be retrospectively applied to every single licensed premises?  In our view that would be unfair.  If it only applied to new licences or when a variation is applied for, this would be unfair to the new applicant and would restrict applications by existing licensees leading to a lack of improvement within the sector. 

If the health authority has a particular concern in general terms based upon one of the existing licensing objectives then it can put that information in the public area and it can be taken up by other authorities or interested parties.  If a local heath authority has a particular concern based upon their own proximity to the premises then they are entitled to raise this in any event. 

 

Consultation Question 9: What would be the effect of making community groups interested parties under the Licensing Act, and which groups should be included?

We have no particular views on community groups and believe that they can generally be involved in the licensing process at present.  It seems to us that any community group should be allowed to participate provided they have a legitimate interest.   Licensing authorities where appropriate could inform them of the application.  The problem with prescribing them is that some might be excluded for no reason other than the fact that they do not appear on the Government’s list.

Consultation Question 10: What would be the effect of making the default position for the magistrates’ court to remit the appeal back to the licensing authority to hear?

There seems little point in restricting the appeal process in this way. Has the government carried out any assessment of the number of appeals there have been since the fee was increased?

We are concerned with the statement at 5.18 that the Government is considering options to tighten the appeals process so that fewer appeals are heard in court, ensuring that where possible the power for determining licensing decisions remains with the licensing authority throughout.  This is stated as the reason for the default position of remitting the case back to the licensing authority.  The Government is therefore proposing (and consulting only) on the implementation of the proposals rather than inviting views on the commitments themselves.  One cannot therefore consider this question alone.

If all the Government’s proposals were implemented then the licensing authority could have easily brought, for example, the review itself.  It could determine it by removing the licence and not having to show that their actions in doing so were “necessary”.  Alternatively the Police could recommend a reduction in the hours of the licensed premises with no opportunity to examine the evidence they would produce.  In these circumstances is it seriously suggested that the reasons for the refusal to renew, or to cut back the hours, should not be properly considered in any other tribunal?  This would clearly be open to abuse. 

Counsellors could be elected upon the basis that they will promote a particular scheme on the high street.  The only problem is that two licensed premises have been there for centuries and because of their position they render the scheme difficult to complete.  In those circumstances the Counsellors could be elected to the Licensing Committee, review the licences and remove them from the premises.  If the proposal at question 11 was then implemented the premises would then be unable to trade in the period before the appeal was heard. In those circumstances economic factors could force them to sell their premises.  It would clearly be possible to challenge such a decision in the courts.  On the other hand, owners of the licence of particular premises may not be able to afford to take this action.

It seems to us that it is important that Magistrates should be encouraged to deal with the appeal fairly and to hear the evidence in support of the council’s decision.  They can then come to a decision of their own based upon the evidence.  Only in this way will there be any independent ruling on the evidence.  It should not be forgotten that the council also has a significant number of premises themselves and for this reason cannot be wholly impartial.

It is also important to recognise the fact that the Magistrates are generally lay people who are ruling upon the facts, rather than law.   

This proposal, together with a number of others, also appears to be contrary to the current legislation on human rights. This is particularly true when the impact of the various proposals is taken together.

Consultation Question 11: What would be the effect of amending the legislation so that the decision of the licensing authority applies as soon as the premise licence holder receives the determination?

We have already dealt with some of our concerns in respect of this proposal.  Any closure of licensed premises, for however short a period of time, can cause considerable problems for the business and the staff involved. Huge losses may occur and prove irrecoverable. This is particularly true if publicity from a licensing hearing has been adverse and the premises are subsequently allowed to reopen.  Premises must be permitted to continue to trade in these circumstances.  This period also gives an opportunity for any new measures that have been put in place to be monitored.

If the premises have been conducted particularly badly then existing powers of closure can be used to deal with these problems. If there is, or is likely to be, disorder or noise nuisance then the premises can be closed under s161 of the Licensing Act 2003. If conditions are being breached then s19 & 20 of the Criminal Justice & Police Act 2001 can be used to close the premises. If there is a drugs problem then there are powers of closure under the Criminal Justice & Immigration Act 2008. There is also the power for an expedited review in the event that problems of crime at the premises are particularly serious.

The period between the licensing authority hearing the case and the eventual appeal is a useful time for negotiations to take place.  During this period agreements are frequently reached which enables the licence to remain in existence, either with additional conditions or with changes to the personnel or company owning it. 

If the licensing authority had imposed a 3 month closure, it is unlikely that the appeal would be listed prior to the end of this period.  This would remove any possibility of an effective appeal against the decision.

Consultation Question 12: What is the likely impact of extending the flexibility of Early Morning Restriction Orders to reflect the needs of the local areas?

There was little or no discussion or consultation over the previous Government’s decision to enable local authorities to restrict the sale of alcohol between 3am and 6am.  Examination of the Crime and Security Act 2010 shows the effects of rushing through this particular amendment.  It is not clear, within the Act, what distinction a local authority could implement when fixing upon a restrictive time.  In other words would it be possible to distinguish discotheques from bars?  The debate indicated that hotels could be considered separately.  We are not convinced that the legal provisions enable this to be done.  It does seem clear that the licensing authority will not be able to distinguish between premises which trade properly causing no difficulties at all and others which have problems.  The proposal therefore is effectively a sledgehammer approach without allowing the licensing authority any particular discretion.  We do not therefore feel that the Crime and Security Act should be amended to allow this power to be used.  This is particularly so when an Early Morning Restriction Order (EMRO) is created on the basis that it is “beneficial” rather than “necessary”. 

The use of EMRO’s could also result in significant differences between premises in adjacent communities.  If one licensing authority adopted a tough line and imposed 12 midnight restrictions on all bars and nightclubs, this could lead to a significant proportion of people travelling to a neighbouring licensing authority that had not made the same restrictions.  Implementation of the proposal could also lead to a considerable amount of unlicensed drinking based upon products bought from supermarkets and consumed in people’s houses. 

Consultation Question 13: Do you have any concerns about repealing Alcohol Disorder Zones again?

No local authority has sought to implement an ADZ since June 2008 and on that basis this piece of legislation should be repealed.

Consultation Question 14: What are the consequences of removing the evidential requirement of Cumulative Impact Policies?

We do not consider 129 Cumulative Impact Policies a particularly low number.  In Nottingham, for example, there would be no need to make a fresh CIP as the whole of the city centre licensed area is covered by the existing one. 

It should be remembered that CIPs are not specifically dealt with in the Licensing Act.  They are a creature of the Guidance.  It seems to us that there must be a link to the licensing objectives.  If there wasn’t such a link, then a Cumulative Impact Policy could simply be set up in an area where there were very few licensed premises.  It has not been our experience that licensing authorities need to receive representations from a Responsible Authority as suggested in the consultation paper.  The Guidance simply states that this is a matter that licensing authorities can consider when developing their licensing policy statements. 

The Guidance refers to areas where the number, type and identity of premises selling alcohol are unusual and serious problems of nuisance and disorder may be arising.  The evidential basis described at paragraph 13.26 talks about crime and disorder reduction partnerships having collated information which demonstrates cumulative impact as part of their general role on anti‑social behaviour; crime prevention strategies may have identified cumulative impact as a local problem; or Environmental Health Officers may be able to demonstrate concentration of valid complaints relating to noise disturbance.  Reference is then made to open meetings where local residents and business people can discuss the licensing objectives.  It is fair to say that the Guidance does require the licensing authority to consult widely but it is difficult to see how a policy of this nature could be justified in any other way.  It is difficult to understand the point being made in 6.09 of the consultation as the licensing authority is not constrained as suggested. 

It is also important to remember that paragraph 13.31 of the current Guidance states that a special policy should be reviewed regularly to assess whether it is needed any longer or needs expanding.

Consultation Question 15: Do you agree that the late night levy should be limited to recovery of these additional costs?  Do you think that local authorities should be given some discretion as to how much they can charge under the levy?

 

If a Late Night Levy is to be imposed then we do believe that the amount should be determined by the Local Authority concerned.  We also firmly believe that the money should be paid to that Local Authority who should be accountable for the use to which it is put.  It is vitally important that the levy is used for the purpose for which it has been introduced and does not simply fall into the general pot for use by Local Government.  For this reason, it is important to allow the Local Authority some discretion upon the amount although there should be an upper limit on what they can charge.

Consultation Question 16: Do you think it would be advantageous to offer such reductions for the late night levy?

 

It is vital that the Local Authority reduces the amount being paid by premises that are involved in Best Bar None schemes, Purple Flag Areas or Business Improvement Districts.  This gives an additional incentive for premises to trade responsibly. As the Consultation points out at 2.07, et seq, huge reductions in crime have been observed in places where these schemes are in operation.

Consultation Question 17: Do you agree that the additional costs of these services should be funded from the late night levy?

It seems to us that if a Late Night Levy is imposed, it should be spent in partnership with the authorities and with the trade.  Decisions on the way it is expended should be kept very much in the open.  One can envisage, for example, that most businesses might be content with the levy paying for taxi marshalling but unhappy with it being used for street cleaning. Arguably taxi marshalling is a special feature for late premises whereas street cleaning is something that should be dealt with by the Local Authority out of its normal expenditure.

Consultation Question 18: Do you believe that giving more autonomy to local authorities regarding closing times would be advantageous to cutting alcohol related crime?

There are significant difficulties involved in introducing any of the measures proposed.  Staggered closing times and zoning can be particularly unfair for the premises obliged to close at the earlier hour.  The commercial effect may be that these premises will lose a significant proportion of their trade. It should be remembered that investments were made in premises of this nature under the current Licensing Law and reductions in hours can obviously cause significant commercial problems. It must also be remembered that there are well over 250 different Local Authority areas in England and Wales.  Many of these are in close proximity to one another.  If one town fixes earlier closing times people who live there may move to the neighbouring town to enjoy later hours. Their subsequent return to their own homes may cause the very problems that the local Licensing Authority is claiming to prevent.

It is also essential to consider the off trade. Whilst they may also suffer similar restrictions upon their sale of intoxicating liquor, there is little doubt that people consume significant quantities of alcohol purchased earlier in their or other people’s homes. They could cause considerable problems with drinking in town centres in an unsupervised environment.

Consultation Question 19: What would be the consequences of amending the legislation relating to TEN so that:

 

a.    all the Responsible Authorities can object to a TEN on all of the Licensing Objectives?

b.    the Police (and other Responsible Authorities) have five working days to a TEN?

c.    the notification period for a TEN is increased and is longer for those venues already holding a Premises Licence?

d.    Licensing Authorities have the discretion to apply existing licensing conditions applied to a TEN?

 

 

Consultation Question 20: What would be the consequences of:

a.    reducing the number of TENs that can be applied for by a Personal Licence Holder to 12 per year?

b.    restricting the number of TENs that can be applied for in the same vicinity (eg a field)?

 

The proposals in Chapter 7 do not appear to have been properly thought through and are confusing.  With regard to the 48 hour period the Police have to object to a TEN, we believe that this is too short and we supported the previous Government’s proposals to extend this to two working days. We do not believe that this period of time would cause the Police any particular problems.  As this comes into force in October, it seems to us that the Government would be well advised to await the outcome of this change to see whether there are any problems.

The previous Government’s Consultation on this also proposed that a shorter application period could be allowed for a TEN provided that the Police were happy. This has happened on an informal basis in a number of areas but quite properly a number of Licensing Authorities felt that this was not in compliance with the law.

Prior to the Licensing Act 2003, notice periods for extensions were very much shorter and did not appear to cause any problems. The current proposals do cause significant problems.  If, for example, a TEN has been obtained well in advance for alcohol or entertainment at an outdoor festival, it is impossible at short notice to change the date.  A fresh application would have to be made and there may not be time to have it granted. Sometimes organisations simply forget to apply for a TEN or one party assumes that the other is doing so. There have been no objections and the events has always been properly run in the past.  Why in those circumstances, provided that the Police are happy, can’t the TEN be granted?

The Government’s proposal to apply existing licensing conditions is unnecessary.  In many cases a TEN is used by premises to get round the restrictions imposed on the licence. If the Police are quite content then why should this be a problem? On the Government’s proposal it would be necessary to make an application for a new licence to cover this type of event.

Why should the Responsible Authorities have a right to object under the licensing law objectives.  We are not aware that TENs generally have caused problems.  On the same basis we are not aware of problems with occasional licences or special order of exemptions under the old law.  These latter extensions were unrestricted in terms of the number that could be applied for.  If a problem does occur then there are significant powers that the Licensing Authority has to deal with on review. It is worth remembering that reviews can be applied for by just about everybody and if they can make out their case then it is unlikely that further problems are going to occur with TENs.

For all these reasons, it seems totally unnecessary to increase the total time needed for a TEN.  To suggest that premises such as a pub would have to provide longer periods of notice than a village community event seems utterly ridiculous. The pub will be run by one or more personal licence holders and there will be a Designated Premises Supervisor. If anything they should be required to give a shorter period of notice than some individual applying for a community event with no experience or knowledge of selling alcohol.

There also seems no justification in restricting the number of TENs that a personal licence holder can apply for. It must be remembered that prior to this Act, there were no restrictions at all and no harm was caused.  We would suggest that the Government leaves TENs alone beyond changing the law to allow them to be granted on shorter notice where the Police are content that this is appropriate.

Consultation Question 21: Do you think 168 hours (7 days) is a suitable minimum for the period of voluntary closure that can be flexibly applied by police for persistently selling?

The voluntary closure for 48 hours under the current legislation appears to be working fairly well.  It is difficult to see why this needs extending to a minimum period of 7 days.  The Government has already cut down the number of sales to under 18 year olds within 3 months from 3 to 2.  48 hour closure at a time suggested by the police is a significant penalty upon a business and doesn’t need to be increased.  In addition the proposal makes no mention of the size of the premises.  There is clearly a difference between a small bar or off licence and a large supermarket or nightclub.  Many more people attend the latter premises and there is a greater possibility for staff to make the occasional mistake. 

Although the Government cites at 8.04 that a survey of children showed that about half of pupils that had ever drunk say that they do buy alcohol, it may be less than that as they may be protecting the adults who passed it to them. 

There is a significant problem with underage people drinking alcohol and very little is done to prevent it.  A client of ours reported to the Police that he had a 13 year girl at the door of his premises, who was clearly very much under the influence of drink and was holding a vodka bottle in her hand.  He was advised that the Police could not do anything as they had had numerous other reports of similar matters that night.  Simply penalising licensed premises in this way will not solve the problem of children drinking.

We believe that where licensed premises are found to be selling to underage people, then the most important step would be to provide proper training for all staff and a system set up to record where sales have been refused to those who are underage.  It would be relatively simply to devise a straightforward and short training course for staff.  Scotland insists that staff selling alcohol should have this training prior to doing so.  Once the Police are satisfied that the training has been carried out the premises can be permitted to reopen.  We believe this would be much better than determining a lower and upper limit for a period of voluntary closure. 

Consultation Question 23: What do you think the impact will be of making licence reviews automatic for those found to be persistently selling alcohol to children?

We cannot see the need for an automatic review.  It seems to us that discretion should remain with the authorities particularly if, for example, the premises have taken appropriate steps since the underage sale was made.

Consultation Question 24:  For the purpose of this Consultation we are interested in expert views on the following:

 

a.    simple and effective ways of justifying the “cost” of alcohol?

b.    effective ways to enforce a ban on below cost selling and their costs?

c.    the feasibility of using the Mandatory Code of Practice to set a licence condition that no sale can be below cost without defining cost?

 

We found this an extremely difficult question to answer. A number of Licensing Authorities have expressed concern and some appear to be imposing minimum prices.  It does seem true that cheap alcohol purchased from off licensed premises can cause significant problems for the on trade.  On the other hand this may be a small percentage of total alcohol purchased from supermarkets and other off licences. We can see that there could be considerable difficulties in imposing a minimum price.

 

 Consultation Number 25: Would you be in favour of increasing licensed fees based on full cost recovery, and what impact would this have?

 

It is worth remembering that the Elson Report in 2006 also concluded that a significant sum should be returned by the Government to Local Authorities.  We presume that this slightly embarrassing proposal was the reason why there was no increase in fees for licensees.  Whilst we believe that it would be reasonable to increase licence fees, we believe they should be restricted to a reasonable amount.

Consultation Question 26: Are you in favour of automatically revoking the premise licence if annual fees have not been paid?

Prior to the Licensing Act 2003 this was effectively the position.  There was however a period of time when the licence could be recovered in the same format as before if the fee was paid.  If the Government proceeds with the automatic revocation of a premises licence, we think it is important to build in such a period of time. 

We are also concerned that there is no central system adopted by licensing authorities for reminding licensees of the fee.  Many companies are unable to pay fees without an invoice.  In other cases licensing authorities do not send the request for fees to the premises licence holder.  Sending it to the premises maybe ineffective due to a temporary period of closure.  We believe there should be a central procedure prescribed for licensing authorities to demand payment of the fee.  We also believe that all licensing authorities should have to set up direct debit procedures so that premise licence holders can more easily pay the fee. 

Consultation Question 27: Have the first set of mandatory conditions that came into force in April 2010 had a positive impact on preventing alcohol related crime?

 

As we have previously stated, we do not feel that the Mandatory Conditions are well worded and in many cases are unnecessary.  For example, it seems ludicrous to us  that every single premises in the country has to have a condition effectively preventing people from drinking a yard of ale where somebody else assists.  It would be much better to have introduced this condition for any particular premises that were providing this service and where problems were perceived.  Additionally  the conditions could have been better worded and for this reason we think that they should be repealed.

 

Consultation Question 28: Would you support the repeal of any or all of the mandatory conditions (this includes those already in force and those remaining two conditions coming into force in October 2010)?

See above

Consultation Question 29: Would you support measures to deregulate the Licensing Act, and what sections of the Act in your view could be removed or simplified?

1.    Previous research has shown that individuals find out about licensing applications mainly through notices on the premises or being told that an application has been made. Virtually nobody sees the advertisement in the newspaper.  This is an additional expense for holders of licences and achieves nothing.

2.    Improving the statutory forms – These are unnecessarily complicated and could be simplified. 

3.    Requirement for triennial reviews of local Licensing Policies – This is an unnecessary requirement when Local Authorities have, in the intervening period, made changes.  We can see the need for Licensing Authorities to keep their policies under review but not if they have  already updated them.

4.    Need for a slip rule – Where mistakes are made in following the correct procedure  there is no mention in the Licensing Act or any of the other Statutory Instruments of a slip rule. We believe that one should be introduced so that if a mistake is made then it can be put right without having to start the application over again.  The slip rule requires the discretion of the Licensing Authority. If no harm has been done then there seems to be little point in the application being commenced again.  Many Local Authorities do operate under this principle but it is questionable whether it is currently lawful.

5   The previously consulted upon question of licences lapsing in seven days following death etc..

Barrel-Dregs, Pot Boy and the improvements Scam (110)

It seems more and more Tenants are not just blandly accepting the soft spoken words of their “Partners” in business. No more so in some recent cases that have been fully documented to Pot Boy, concerning Tenants alteration works. As PB has been told on many an occasion by the Professionals that gather for the six o’clock swill, you can do your pub a great favour by either altering it, or adding to it. If you are doing the work yourself at your expense, the Lease usually requires you to get permission or “consent”. Nearly ALWAYS from your friendly Pubco, and more than a few dodgy Brewery Estates Departments, don’t tell you that the “consent” you require will need to be in writing.

Time after time, you will get the verbal approval of the BRM, maybe even the ARM or Regional Director. You will have served the necessary Planning Notices on the Freeholder (assuming you needed consent) and all is tickety boo. Well, actually NO ! What your so called Partners have not told you, either accidentally or as often as not, deliberately, is that without the License to Alter, as the paperwork is known, the works will not be disregarded at rent review. OK so there is no required obligation to have to tell the tenant, but it’s a pretty low trick just to allow the (often expensive) work to be done, then INCLUDE the benefit of the work, and the expense, in the next rent review. Very few are handled correctly, the vast majority are not.

Another crummy trick against the tenant, is that you are not told that it is perfectly legal to seek a Retrospective Licence to Alter (RLTA), even if it is many years after the works have been done, often by a predecessor in Title, ie, not the current tenant. PB knows of several RLTAs that referred to work done in the mid 1990s under Inntrepreneur, Unique and Laurel leases that are only now being put back properly on track with very reluctant Pubcos accepting an application for a RLTA. So, now you have the proper paperwork, everybody should be on course to have a fair understanding of the rent review disregard for the work. Er, NOT A CHANCE ! 

Enter stage left, the ultimate Pubco/Brewery stitch up as has been explained in great detail to an amazed Pot Boy. Here goes !!

All modern rent review disregard clauses state that it is…

 “the effect of such works of a structural nature undertaken by the tenant at the tenants expense, and with landlord’s approval, shall be disregarded for the purposes of rent review”.

Note that there is no mention of the word “COST”. So what do the devious and crafty freeholders do, they tell you that it is “established industry practice” to have a vague guess at the cost of the works and allow for simple interest on the guesswork. CUNNING PLAN to echo Baldrick ! So why should there be any great difference. PB has been given the maths which echo a real case history. It’s quite an eye opener to be sure.

Huge brick surfaced hard standing area for five cars at the rear of a South London pub with dropped curb to the road. Tenant builds a new brick wall at the pavement edge, reroutes an internal corridor, opens up a new door from the corridor onto the now enclosed hard standing, creates new Gents and Ladies lavatories, rips up the hard standing surface and creates a huge trade garden. Result. The trade nearly DOUBLES from £275K up to £510K.After two years, at rent review time, the Pubco rent the tenant on the vastly increased trade having made an allowance in the Profits test Valuation of £1800,being  an estimate/guess of the cost of the works at £20K,and applying 9% interest. They wanted £60K as rent from the existing £32K,would you Adam and Eve it !!

Now, it obviously would never suit the Pubco to actually play with a straight bat and consider “the effect” of the works on the business being conducted in the property. Dear heavens no !! If they did have a heavy medicinal dose of conscience, the rent would never ever be projected up to £60K,and would probably not see much if any increase over the existing level of £32K.Don’t forget that the barrelage has also rocketed and as the pub is fully tied, massive increase on wet rent. Pubco ignores that little piece of data. Wonder why ??

Sneaky thing this “cost” route, and all the time even the RICS guys who are heavily involved with the Pubcos, will tell you that “it is established industry practice”. As an example, PB understands that if you asked the likes of William Cuthbert of Fleurets or the Darlin’ of the Pubcos, David Gooderham of AG & G, they will confirm that “established practice”. No wonder the Pubcos beat a well trodden path to their doors. Tenants beware !!

What is the legal position in all of this murk ? PBs take via the legal mates of City Pot Boy (two are QCs) is that there is a distinct PREFERENCE in legal circles to disregard the effect on the business being carried out as the primary method. Only if that is not practical, can the cost route be taken, BUT using todays costs, not when the work was done. Also big expense should be costed by an expert specialist in the kind of construction concerned, never given an airy fairy guess (always low) by the Pubco surveyor. Finally, the cost allowance in the calculations must be on a capital and interest repayment basis, sort of like a term loan.

Good job PB has such clear advice. Never quite realised how murky the waters were with rent review. What you need is crystal clear clarity, bit like the class beers coming from my cellar.

Pot Boy.

Editors Note: Well, well what a tangled web some folk weave. Information has reached the Editor that the RICS working party into the new RICS regulations is due to report soon (September 2010 ? according to the information in the Morning Advertiser) and areas of Pot Boys concerns are apparently being considered in the findings.  Lets’ hope that “established practice or the Norm” are replaced by clearly defined calculations based on fact and not fiction and some serious honesty comes back into the equation.

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Barrel-Dregs, Pot Boy has a crack at Pub Agents??? (109)

Pot Boy had the great pleasure the other night of entertaining to dinner three of his oldest and dearest mates. All from time to time have been Licensees, two are still involved in the Agency side of the business. Their prompting, not PBs, brought into the open the age old stitch up that all to often occurs when selling your biggest single asset, your pub. Duck terrine, rib of best beef, caramel cheesecake and stinking bishop followed by two bottles of PBs Croft ‘ 70 allowed for a mellow and reflective consideration as to how the “Agency” really works.

Start with the current crop of Selling Agents, and they are thinning by the day. To survive you have to have properties to sell. That is they realistically HAVE TO SELL. But you have to secure the instruction first to have the chance to get the sale. Key to the sale is both the price and the selling Agents “image”. Do you get real and tell the poor sap that his supply tied leasehold pub is worth naff all, or go along with his aspirations and agree with his pie in the sky idea of values. Option one, you will not get the instruction. Option two, agree with his insane perception of market value, get the instruction and follow the next few (totally legal) but below the belt, nasty tricks.

Insist on a six months sole agency, because the Firm and its image is really, really going to invest in the sale (total lie No 1). Insist on an upfront marketing “contribution” of £1000 to secure perception of the full backing of “our many offices”. (Lie No 2, as 30% goes instantly to the bonehead that has made the instruction as commission). We will vet every one of the nationally based applicants list of potential purchasers (lie No 3, as most purchasers are locally based) and insure total confidentiality (lie No 4, They will tell anyone who asks as do they give a damn, no way, the six month sole agency is so worded that there is no escape).

Asking price ? Oldest trick in the book. You agree with the vendor. Take the pub on to flatter his/her ego at the price they want. Leave the pub on the back burner for four months because you knew from the start that there was not a hope in hell of a sale, so why lift a finger after popping in a couple of adverts. Leave the poor idiots to sweat, after all you have got their £1000 for goodness sake ! Make a few “contact” phone calls as to “confidential” viewers having a look but finding something cheaper. Then tell them with a heavy heart, that the very best the market will produce is 50% less than they wanted. Take the best offer we can produce, after all the market is still falling, sorry not our fault, last Government dropped us all in the economic guano and all that. Sale goes through and then the selling bill drops into the lap of the Solicitor, based on ,wait for it, not a percentage of the sale price but a fixed minimum fee that actually represents 25% of what the place sold for. Stitched up, you bet.

There is a better way. Its called realism. Accept that pub prices are falling through the floor. Leaseholds, especially supply tied, out of Greater London are rarely worth more than Inventory value plus a little bit more. Never pay up front marketing fees, no matter how big the selling agent is held out to be. Look on the “Expert Agent “as a total prat (he more than likely is !!).Never accept his “opinion” unless you have cross referenced it with at least three other agents ideas of value.

Finally, remember that there are NO LEGAL REGULATIONS at all that govern the setting up and activity of Estate Agents and especially Licensed Property Agents. For goodness sake, there is no legal requirement that they even have to read and write. TRUE !! The Agent that handles you biggest single asset, by law, is not required to be able to even be able to write his own name. Letters after their names. COBBLERS. For example, the oft used FAVLP. You really are stitched with this one aimed particularly at the pub owner. Agency expertise, no guarantee at all.

It stands for Fellow of the Association of Valuers of Licensed Property. Do you have to sit an entrance exam, er NO. Do you have to be able to qualify by recognised industry standards, er NO. Is there a regular updating of standards to track the latest legislation or your Agency performance, er NO. Must you be a member of a recognised property profession, er NO.(Having said that there are a number of AVLP members that are also RICS qualified). Can some of them do inventory valuations (a large number do this one specialisation but that has nothing to do with flogging pubs). Are they truly experts at the disposal of Licensed Property, er, NOT REALLY. Will they fight the Tenants corner concerning Dilapidations schedules linked to the sale, er, RARELY, as they are more than likely to be being paid by the Pubcos in a load of other jobs and are s..t scared of losing that particular gravy train. How do you become a member. Well, NO GENUINE RULES here, you just get elected because you are “recognised” as having experience in “the trade”. The only mild assurance of qualification by letters is, I suppose, the RICS, but that alone does not guarantee any real Agency knowledge. Basically its down to length of experience backed by success and genuine insight into the Pub market.

If you are selling the one asset you own, seek out a reliable and, dare PB say it, honest Agent who won’t flatter your ego, but will be straight with you. You may not like the realistic market awareness, but listen and reflect. Don’t part with up front fees. Only a complete idiot does that in the expectation of, well, not a lot.

That Croft ‘ 7’0 was marvellous. Once its goes, its gone, but the gracious company more that justified its appreciation.

Pot Boy.

Note:-Pot Boy’s comments sadly, are very right, the Chairman of one commercial property agents in a liquid moment told me that providing in depth knowledge and training for pubs increased the time span that people stayed in pubs, which he was against, the shorter the time span the quicker the pubs came back on the market and the churn produced greater profits. I have tried for years to get agents to encourage would be licensees to be fully informed, none would recommend anything other than the minimum or the very basic information.

Barfly

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

 

Barrel-Dregs, a skirmish into Devon Comparables???? (106)

A skirmish into Devon Comparables

Pot Boy recently took a couple of days R & R, drove south west and sat in on a Devon mates negotiations with his BRM. All was sweetness and light (how are the kids, Missus looks a million dollars etc ) until we started deep probing the way the rent had been calculated, all based on “potential”. That was the business my mate had created, as a disco specialist, and would you Adam and Eve it, the future rise in the market. Now PB has major contempt for gormless BRMs who are either failed Tenants or have never been in the trade themselves. Come to think of it neither have the major Pub Co bosses, but more of that another time. Anyway ,aside from the total bo….ks we were hearing, it became sadly evident that the BRM had no room to negotiate one single thing. NOT ONE !! He was totally on message and the mantra didn’t change.

The scandal, repeated over and over again, is that your only Pub Co contact is the BRM. The warm cuddly “Partner” in your business. Agreed there are one or two exceptions, but by and large, they come out of the same nasty little factory that makes BRM clones. They are quite incapable of deviating from their Masters Voice, unless it is pre planned. You know the trick, rent £40K, they say a rise up to £47K, but then eventually relent back to £42K, which they planned for in the first place and would have even settled for a nil increase. The big con being that the rent should have been £32K or even less !! The script is set out for them. No deviation at any price.

So anyway, we heard that the reasonably competent tenant could compile CDs of terrific disco combinations with the greatest of ease. No, it didn’t make a scrap of difference that my mate even sells his compilations as they are so sought after and spends all of his spare time in the massive music library that he has created over the years. Goodwill ?…totally ignored. The fact that the pub actually does have the best disco in town and is rammed every Friday and Saturday till its 2am closing time was brushed aside as being what any pro active tenant would do. At that point PBs mate had to leave the room to calm down and have a ciggy under the (heated and lit) smoking shelter that he built at megga expense himself at the side of the large decked area that he also built at the rear of the pub.

We were told of other pubs in the general area that were “comparable” and had been happy to settle at rents that proved beyond doubt that the rent increase that was proposed for my mate was both reasonable and lower than really could have been justified if they had pushed !! Things got nasty when PB gently asked if the list accounted for closed pubs or those on Tenancy at Will (TAW). A deep silence ensued with a brick wall appearing out of the murk. No, we would not be told about any TAWs, that is if they even existed, and such information was confidential to the Pub Co. Closed pubs, well, not relevant as they were being sold. Here fantasy land took over. As the closed ones were being sold, that would mean that their trade would now be available for the remaining pubs. Have the lunatics taken over the asylum or what !! The discussion broke up at that point with meaningless phrases like “I am duty bound to revisit and reconfirm the Company’s offering…we expect to achieve a robust return on our investment….Tenants always assess rent on what they can achieve…(and best of all) we have to reflect the low cost of entry to the trade”. To PBs mind, the biggest load of twaddle this side of the Atlantic. PATHETIC !! This is what happened in the next few days.

PB and his mate took the time to go see the five pubs that were the “comparables”. All within easy driving distance. Pub 1,The Tenants daughter was behind the bar and said she would call for her dad who was upstairs. He asked who it was and when he heard who was asking, we overheard him tell his daughter that he was forbidden by the BRM to divulge anything as my mate “was stirring things up”. The daughter was really embarrassed and confided that the new and better discounts were probably behind it all !

Pub 2 was much the same. The only difference was the Tenant saw us coming and suddenly disappeared. His wife said he was too busy to talk. Pub 3 was incensed that “her private business” was being used against my mate, the figures were wrong anyway as her trade was nothing like as high as the barrelage records indicated. She promptly rang the BRM and gave him an ear full. Pub 4 revealed that he was on a massive discounting scheme and that was the only reason he agreed the rent. Pub 5 turned out to be run by a Management Company that had taken over three months ago after the last Tenant did a runner. (TAW ?). All in all, the “comparables” proved nothing.

The next meeting with the BRM two weeks later got nowhere. The specific questions were…Why should I pay for my own potential/goodwill…SILENCE. Are the Company going to recognise that I should have a basic living wage…SILENCE. You are going to allow for the effect on my business of the smoking shelter and the decking that I built and paid for…SILENCE. Can I have some discounts, like PUB 1..SILENCE.Your Pub Co is out to screw me…SILENCE. Can we do a deal on the rent proposal…SILENCE. The BRM then said the Company’s offer was on the table, take it or leave it, or go to Arbitration and spend thousands and thousands, and the Company never loses. Or you could go for the PIRRS scheme which is so much cheaper and quicker (PB-highly doubtful.. more another time),but the result is kept secret from the rest of the world.

There is another meeting scheduled for sometime in the future. No date fixed. Good break in the West Country, didn’t see the Prime Minister on his hols (he was further west),pity about the so called negotiations.

Pot Boy is going to do some research on the questions that went unanswered. PB freely admits that he needs unbiased and accurate professional input on the technical stuff and will report back in later postings.

Must go as my little darlings, the pipes, need their cleaning as sure as night follows day.

Cheers,

Pot Boy.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

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Barrel Dregs, joining up the Mucky Dots???? (82)

To Pot Boy, its called joining up the mucky dots.

There is a cosy relationship in our industry which is under so much pressure, it’s known as Mutual Institutional Support (MIS).

To explain the linking of these mucky dots lets put some of the industry players in perspective.

First you have the Property Companies that own pubs and have mutilated the industry, they are called Pubcos.

Blindingly self evident,but they don’t make beer or indeed any of the products that pubs sell, they just act as the middle men under the Supply Tie regulations.

Perfectly legal and they will tell you they are honourable men, looking after their “Partners” both as Lease holders and their Bondholders, Banks and Shareholders.

Then you have the British Beer and Pub Association, BBPA.

These are the freeholders,the Pubcos and Brewers who represent “the industry”.

Well thats blatent cobblers for a start.

They only represent the owners of our pubs, NOT the tenants.

So its a pretty one sided voice with loads of money behind it and a specific Freeholder agenda.

The BBPA never slags off any of its members, and certainly not its prominent Pubco members, Oh dear me no !

The members of the BBPA see themselves as honourable men ensuring (they will tell you) the continuing strength of our industry by battling for lower booze tax (no chance), minimum pricing (even less chance..read European Law), less legislation (not a prayer) and they produce loads of statistics and are quoted by one and all as “authoritative”.

Next up is the British Institute of Innkeeping or BII.

This organisation was set up to represent its licensee members and stand up against their oppressors in times of stress and raise professional standards, slight question mark over whose standards, licensees or Pub Co’s?????

But hang on a minute, thats not how its been shaping up.

Not one bit.

To keep itself solvent the BII has had to cuddle up very closely to the Pubcos for essential financial support especially underpinning the many training schemes it runs.

Being so cash strapped (a few head office staff have been lined up for the chop recently according to that learned publication  The Publican), the one thing they dare not do is kick a Pub Co in the nuts over anything.

Least not over breaches of their BII approved Codes of Practice.

How many BII members have seen and given their seal of approval to their Landlords Code of Practice, the majority only see it after it is approved and published, surely these wordy documents should be published in the Trade Press so that all tenants and lessees can view, seek advice and comment, with the comments sent to the BII adjudicators for consideration, the aim of the Select Committee is to make the Industry Fair and Transparent.

The BII are losing members rapidly, their responsibility is to inform members and seek their opinions on vital issues not rubber stamp important documents that would now appear to be heavily weighted towards the Landlords.

When did a transgressing Pubco ever get stripped of its accreditation for persistant COP breaches.

NEVER.

BUT, the Pubcos absolutely need the BII to give them street cred, a gloss of fragrant respectability and don’t overlook the link to the BBPA via the Pubcos.

The BII has by its existence and size elevated itself into a position of industry pre eminence.

Second big BUT, the BII are with very few exceptions, basically a bunch of well meaning bush baptist, barrack room lawyer style amateurs and time servers presenting the honest scrubbed face of respectability to the Licensed Trade.

Then we have Parliament, in the shape of the BISC report March 2010.

The then Chairman of the BISC, Peter Luff did a clinically excellent job of open heart surgery on the industry and came up with the conclusion that it did not like one bit, the working practices of the Pubcos.

Next big BUT, the BISC report is not law, but a series of recommendations of things they would like to see happen. (No upwards only rent reviews, loosening of the Supply Tie, no machine ties, etc)

If their hopes for a better industry are not achieved by next June 2011, then by jingo,the Committee will get very cross, oh yes they will, and tell the offenders to stand on the naughty step.

They could start to begin to think of consulting in the framing draft, LEGISLATION.

The one thing that will terrify a Pub Co with any nasty secrets to hide.

SO THERE !

But of course if the industry is well on the way to appropriate self regulation, well that’s alright then !

BUT Parliament needs the reassurance that everything is properly on track.

Do we see mucky dots beginning to link up ?

The Pubcos and some of the other members of the BBPA (Batemans, Marstons, Shepard Neame, etc) are now repositioning themselves as the good guys in the light of the BISC report with new revolutionary leases and tenancy agreements.

They desperately need independent credibility and here is where the mucky dots link.

The BISC report identified the BII as probably the only organisation that would be independent (Oh really!) of the industry players, and appointed them as the policemen of the industry.

To Pot Boy they are no more than LAUGHING POLICEMEN because they simply cannot cut loose from the patronage of the Pubcos or for that matter the BBPA.

Never kick the man with the cash, not never, not ever !

Unsporting and not the British way.

The BII has an Accreditation Board that jolly seriously vets applicant Pubco and Brewer Codes of Practice (COP).

Any such applicant that gets through the rigours and choppy waters of the Board is then of Approved Status.

The fox is then well and truely in the chicken coop and now on an industry pedestal.

WHY, because the Laughing Policeman has put them there.

Do the well meaning members of the BII Board have any depth of professional experience (NO), Accountants or Chartered Surveyors (NO), Solicitors or Barristers (NO), Parliamentarians (NO).

Their well meaning applicants, surprise, surprise (for they are honourable men), definitely do use all the afore mentioned in carefully framing their COP applications.

Some of the double speak would make the Al Capone embarrassed.

A bit of BII posturing , tinkering and consultative referral goes on with the COP application, but basically the BII rolls over and gets its tummy tickled.

Trebles all round to the applicants.

Give ’em a gold star !

So we come back to where we started, joining up the mucky dots with the creation of Mutual Institutional Support (MIS), and Pot Boys piece the other day exposing Marstons STASI clauses in their new tenant friendly Base Lease.

You see the The Laughing Policeman underwrites Marstons COP and by implication this lease and its STASI clauses.

Marstons are members of the BBPA who will now in turn take the BII tacit approval of Marstons new lease as the green light for similar STASI clauses to be infused in other new BBPA members leases, (which included RPI linking,upwards only rent reviews,machine tie,and full supply tie).

Parliament won’t object to this MIS because the Laughing Policeman was effectively created by the BISC Report and the BII are honourable men are they not ?

The industry is being overseen in a fit and proper manner.Ha Ha Ha,Ho Ho Ho,Hee Hee Hee !!

Ultimately MIS is not going to see the members of the BBPA suffer one jot.

The dwindling number of members of the BII and the Tenants at large will be the soft touch, because the Laughing Policeman is so firmly sitting in both camps that to get out of either would be a self destruction job.

The senior paid staff of the BII would not want to destroy John McNamara’s legacy or make themslves unemployed now would they.

Simple.

The circle is complete and the key is quietly turning in the lock.

Job done !

All this mucky dot joining has given Pot Boy a raging thirst.

First couple of pints out of a new barrel of TT Landlord.

Absolute nectar !

Cheers or commiserations,

Pot Boy.

Note:-

This Barrel-Dregs has been delayed because certain of us had reservations about connecting the dots, recent correspondence to one of our writers has removed any doubts whatsoever.

Barfly

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

 

Barrel-Dregs, Pot Boy, Legal Eagles and that nice Mr Dick Turpin (103)

Pot Boy toddled into City Boy’s favourite watering hole the Swan Tavern (PB 95) to be confronted by some friendly Lawyers. As they were buying (my favourite Pride) in profusion PB listened with gob smacked amazement at as duplicitous a tale of double dealing as he has ever heard from Dick Turpin’s merry mob. Full copy documents are now lodged with PB from the equally dumfounded Legal Eagles. The tale started as follows.

One of the Lawyers was sent a Memorandum of Agreement and a Deed of Variation (DOV) concerning a recent rent review and significant rent reduction on an Enterprise pub of a long standing Client.

His instruction……cast an eye before I sign as I have been told….

“There really is no need to consult anyone, just paperwork”. What started the smell rising was the Client remembered in the BISC hearings before Parliament, that Dick Turpin had faithfully promised that any Enterprise Inns tenant could have a DOV at a cost of £500 to confirm the much trumpeted Code of Practice promise that rents could go up and down. Well that’s what happened with the review, the rent dropped 30%. What seemed odd was that here was a DOV …but for free. Curious !!

PB’s legal friend delved further and the smell got unbearable. Why send out a DOV with a simple Memorandum of Agreement, which is all that is need to record the rent review. Ah Ha, just look what was innocently lurking in the DOV clause 2 (A) and here I quote…

“The rent payable under the Lease was reduced with effect from  the xx day f xxxxxx 2010 to the sum of £xx,xxx per year but shall otherwise continue to be both payable and subject to review on the dates and in the manner set out in the Lease(as varied by this Deed).”

Guess what the Lease has an upwards only rent review clause !! Then we have Clause 4 (A), which again I quote verbatim…

“The Landlord and the Tenant agree that the terms and conditions of the Lease not varied by this Deed shall continue to have full force and effect and shall continue to bind the parties as if the same had been repeated and set out in full in this Deed.”

Then section 5 the usual “Before executing this deed “….stuff is laid out which totally binds the parties. So what do 2 (A) and 4 (A) really mean ?? Basically that Enterprise have been hit where it hurts, ie; in the wallet, as rents are tanking at a rate of knots. Signing the DOV ,in the Lawyers view, would mean the Tenant reaffirmed the upwards only rent review clause at the next rent review and by signing the DOV, let Enterprise totally off the hook. Like, Bye By Code of Practice promises for upwards and downwards rent reviews. If the likes of Tuppen/Townsend/May were being as lovey dovey as they make out they would have used the free of charge DOV to CONFIRM that rents could go DOWN in the future.NO CHANCE !! How shallow can you get by ripping up the Code of Practice heartland promise by the DEVIOUS BACKDOOR.

PB’s advice is very simple. DO NOT SIGN THE DEED OF VARIATION. The Rent Review Memorandum records exactly what was agreed, and if you want to spend £500 on a separate DOV to record what Tuppen /Townsend faithfully promised, then so much the better. Enterprise, you should be ASHAMED of yourselves. Caught with your drawers on the floor this time !! Heaven knows how many have slipped through the net on the devious pretext of “its only paperwork, no need to consult a solicitor”. BE WARNED, BE VERY WARNED. You heard it from Pot Boy first.

Good listening to sound legal advice, specially when they are in a generous mood. Must try the ESB next, would be rude to refuse !!

Pot Boy.

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsiblity for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

 

Barrel-Dregs, an idea from the World Cup England failure (102)

Having decided that the World Football Cup, was a total disaster, certainly as far as England was concerned.

My learned colleagues and I thought we should take a leaf out of this disaster, well not totally, but we thought that a certain aspect from football would be a useful addition to Barrel-Dregs.

Any manager or representative of any Pub Co or organization that features, obviously, anonymously in Barrel-Dregs will receive a Barrel-Dregs, Yellow Card after the first article, should they receive a second, they will receive a red card and a whisper in their MD’s ear.

It does get a bit difficult if the MD is the offender and I can think of several.

Not that any of us expect it to make a blind bit of difference, but rather like local people with a speed camera, it does make drivers slow down.

To protect the innocent, the card will not be issued immediately, but some little time afterwards, which hopefully will raise doubt and concern in the individuals activities.

The card will be possibly sent or emailed to the individual or his Company Headquarters to be displayed in a place of prominence???

This is a bit of fun and we feel that some award should be given to these people for their dubious efforts, because without their actions and comments we would have nothing to write about.

Pot Boy and his Pals will have a field day.

If you feel that this would be a useful addition to Barrel-Dregs, please let us know.

Barfly

“This site  is a privately funded website and growing in readership every day. To achieve a wider recognition the Editor would welcome cross referencing back to Barrel Dregs postings through other Blog or Websites. Information about our industry has so much greater power if more people are kept informed. Many thanks if you would be good enough to do this”.

You no longer need to go to www.buyingapub.com just click on “Barrel Dregs” on Google, unfortunately the ones appearing under Google are early articles, go through to the site, click on Barrel Dregs under Categories and you will get all the latest .

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsiblity for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

Alliance Online Catering Equipment – suppliers of Pub and Bar Equipment to the UK trade.

Barrel-Dregs, Enterprise have finally made the Mirror UK, Blog Site (100)

This is taken from the Daily Mirror Blog Site

For many people, pulling pints in their own pub is “the dream”.

But Beverley Ryan’s dream, in her words, has gone “pear-shaped”.

She’s one of Britain’s 30,000 “tied” pub tenants who work long and hard, mostly for a pittance.

Read the whole story via this link.

http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2010/08/working-all-the-hours-for-none.html

This site  is a privately funded website and growing in readership every day. To achieve a wider recognition the Editor would welcome cross referencing back to Barrel Dregs postings through other Blog or Websites. Information about our industry has so much greater power if more people are kept informed. Many thanks if you would be good enough to do this”.

You no longer need to go to www.buyingapub.com just click on “Barrel Dregs” on Google, unfortunately the ones appearing under Google are early articles, go through to the site, click on Barrel Dregs under Categories and you will get all the latest .

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsiblity for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made.

Alliance Online Catering Equipment – suppliers of Pub and Bar Equipment to the UK trade.