Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pubcos fail to act decisively on reforms, from the MA

Pubcos fail to act decisively on reforms

By Ewan Turney & Paul Charity, 29-Sep-2011 Morning Advertiser

Related topics: General News

Anyone who witnessed the last Business, Innovation & Skills Committee hearing in July could see that the report was only ever heading one way.


Code of practice: now looks set to be on a statutory footing

And so it proved, with the select committee recommending a statutory code of practice backed up by a full suite of sanctions, which could take the form of naming and shaming to financial fines.

The language of the report displays the frustration of the select committee that was so evident at the last one-sided hearing where, in particular, Enterprise Inns chief executive Ted Tuppen was treated like the accused in a criminal trial.

The committee report uses strong language, describing change as “glacial” and pubcos as having “wasted” their final chance.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) comes in for stinging criticism for being “impotent” in its sanctions and “half-hearted” in its implementation of codes of practice, failing to even meet its own reform timetable. Its case was not helped, you’d have to say, by several glaring slips by chief executive Brigid Simmonds who, for example, claimed the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ benchmarking survey is in its third year, when in fact it’s year five.

The pubcos will be severely disappointed, but not surprised, by the outcome. Many on that side of the fence will feel the committee was completely unprofessional in its dealings with them and will consider the report one-sided.

But the lingering doubt remains as to whether some pubcos, and indeed some smaller family brewers, ever took the recommendations of the original Peter Luff report in 2009 seriously enough in the first place.

The success of lobbying

The success of the Fair Pint campaigners was not only based on the strength of their emotive argument, but also dogged lobbying.

The pubcos could learn a lesson as some clearly did not spend enough time actively seeking out MPs and taking them to their pubs to explain to them just what other pressures licensees face these days, aside from the tie, and how much pubcos can support their tenants.

One pubco boss did his colleagues no favours with the infamous “morons” comment that has never been forgotten.
Instead, some chose to concentrate, rightly or wrongly, on guiding their business through the choppy waters of recession and left the lobbying to the BBPA.

But it is much easier for the BBPA to be dismissed as a faceless trade organisation as it cannot bring the story of support in action to life half as well as a pubco can.

There may now be consequences for the BBPA itself. The organisation is a broad church and the large brewing members will feel aggrieved that the valid argument on beer duty has been completely sidelined by the beer tie issue. They pay a membership fee and will have seen much of the BBPA’s time taken up dealing with the beer-tie debate at the expense of the tax argument.

They may also now feel that the BBPA’s overall credibility has been tainted in political circles by this damning report.

The BBPA came about as a result of the Beer Orders and could now be ripe for a further change, and it would come as no surprise if brewers, pubcos and even family brewers decided to go their own way.

But the BBPA can’t carry the can for the failure alone. It can only do so much and some members clearly dragged their feet when it came to introducing codes of practice.

Statutory regulation in the pub industry has not got a good track record. It inevitably comes hand in hand with unintended consequences, with no better example than the Beer Orders of 1989. But what could be the possible unintended consequences of a statutory code?

If there are financial sanctions for complaints, there could be a surge in their number. While there will be legitimate complaints, could we also see the rise of the no-win no-fee ambulance-chasing culture in the pub industry? If so, you have to accept the BBPA’s point that it will increase costs.

The BBPA also claims that a statutory code could close more pubs. The logic goes that more marginal pubs would be sold off rather than supported — estate churn steps up, in other words. It’s doubtful, though, that a statutory code will have anywhere near as profound an effect on the sustainability of large estates as the market itself.

Moving the goalposts

And what of the actual Parliamentary process now? Committee chairman Adrian Bailey MP thinks a statutory code could be enacted within a year. Others think the Government may not have the appetite to press on at anywhere near this speed. The Government timetable looks pretty full at the moment too.

Some pubcos, such as Enterprise Inns, will feel they have nothing to fear from a statutory code because they already comply. City analysts certainly felt last week that the committee’s findings and recommendations would have no “incremental” effect on the share prices of the quoted companies. In other words, the market has already decided there’s not a lot of equity value in Punch and Enterprise.

One big area of contention remains the extent to which the committee has moved the goalposts in claiming all existing lessees should be offered a free-of-tie lease with an open-market rent review.

That’s what Bailey claims the committee calls for in its 2010 report. It’s not. It called for lessees to be offered a “free-of-tie option with a full rent review”. The pubcos have responded by offering a free-of-tie option with discounts available in the freetrade market — up to £170 a barrel. If the free-of-tie option with an open-market rent review is imposed it will, quite simply, cause the tenanted pubcos to implode — it would be impossible to rentalise the full level of the discounts they earn.

The select committee has been swayed again by the emotional argument. Committee member Brian Binley was the best example of this, quoting heart-breaking letters from lessees of the pubcos.

The wisdom of Solomon is required with some of these clattering failures. Short of spending a couple of weeks with each lessee, looking hard at their business, it’s very hard to attribute blame.

Is it poor retailing standards, the payment of an excessive premium, escalating costs, unsympathetic treatment by the pubco (or a combination of all of these and more) that’s caused a problem?

Put simply, the select committee has decided that the pubcos haven’t done enough to prove they’re not part of the problem.

Editors Note: I think this is a good report, bearing in mind how restricted the writers are in what they can actually say in print, without being subjected to repercussions, by bodies who threaten litigation at the first adverse word.

The writer have my sympathy.

Robert Sayles view of Dear Old Brigid, Barrel-Dregs (201)

Pub Leases as seen by the Mistress of Understatement

Brigid Simmonds? Or Tariq Aziz in disguise?

Like many of you I listened to Adrian Bailey’s interview with Brigid Simmonds on Radio 4 last Friday.

As the CEO of the BBPA laid out her vision for the future, my mind wandered back to April 3rd 2003; a pivotal moment in the coalition’s second Gulf War with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Tariq Aziz (Iraqi propaganda minister) stood on the steps of the government building and confidently assured the assembled press that Iraqi troops were pushing coalition forces back. Simultaneous TV footage meanwhile showed British and American tanks entering the outskirts of Baghdad unopposed.

It was a definitive moment; highlighting the fact that in times of crisis, dictatorial regimes unaccustomed to external scrutiny and accountability, invariably resort to increasingly desperate measures to convince those willing to listen that all is well with the world.

For Saddam Hussein and his government this evidenced itself through the use of a highly sophisticated propaganda machine, one which ensured the populace were fed a daily diet of blatantly biased and distorted propaganda.      

The BBPA appears similarly divorced from reality, engaging in blatant self-denial, coupled with a seemingly dogged determination to ensure the industry continues down a similarly destructive path.   

The interview with Brigid Simmonds therefore, merely confirmed what the overwhelming majority have long since known. That the BBPA is an organisation whose sole raison d’être is ensuring the interests of a small privileged minority prevail.  

Consequently, the public utterances of Brigid and Tariq possess one common trait; they are the product of individuals who steadfastly refuse to either acknowledge or address the issues so obvious to all around them.  

Let me give you some examples. When asked by Adrian Bailey whether she accepted the BISC report, Brigid questioned the impartiality of the Select Committee; suggesting they’d reached conclusions prematurely, thereby making the BBPA’s submission immaterial.   

Most of I suspect, have quite rightly concluded that the Committee had long since lost patience with an industry so unequivocally opposed to external scrutiny from the outset. 

Such a view is highly understandable, given the constant foot dragging, ‘glacial’ rates of progress and ‘slippage’; all designed to obstruct rather than contribute to the process of reform.

However it was Brigid’s refusal to acknowledge the real concerns of tenants that struck me most forcibly. For example, when the subject turned to the high prices tied tenants are obliged to pay for their beer, Bridget responded in a way that would have made Tariq proud.

It seems that in return for lower “hard rents”, tenants pay “a little bit more” for their beer.

A little bit more? That must qualify as one of the greatest understatements of all time!

But Brigid didn’t stop there. She went on the reaffirm the pubco line that 265 million pounds has been given to support beleaguered publicans.

I’m sure Tariq would have enjoyed that one too! As he was only too well aware, such claims are easily made, rather more difficult to substantiate; particularly if they’re the product of some very vivid imaginations.

It’s a little peculiar, but many of us are having a great deal of difficulty in tracking down the beneficiaries of this supposed ‘support’; they appear as elusive as Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

And then of course there’s the thorny issue of rents. Cynics maintain that the overriding factor governing many rental premiums is debt repayment not turnover. 

It seems however that such a view is misplaced.

Asked whether high rental premiums were the reason for many pub closures, Bridget gave another ‘Tariq Aziz’ like response.

Rents it seems have come down by 20% in the last four years.

Whilst I’m sure that response would have put a smile on Tariq’s face it certainly didn’t put one on mine. In fact it proved to be the final straw.

“Hit her with RPI Adrian” I screamed, “for God’s sake man, hit her with RPI!”. But of course he didn’t and the moment was lost.

And what about that statutory code enforced by an adjudicator? Adrian Bailey could see the sense in such a proposal. Needless to say Brigid didn’t concur; citing inflexibility. 

You can see her point, can’t you?

After all, an industry that has become accustomed to doing pretty much what it damned well pleases over the years might regard the sight of an adjudicator sitting on its shoulder as a little “inflexible”. 

We got some additional smoke and mirrors about “reputational risk” and “low cost entry” but nothing of substance; all of which suggested a complete disregard for the perfectly valid concerns expressed by the Select Committee.

One commentator I spoke to appeared to have a rather more realistic grasp of the situation; pointing out that the government has a duty of care to act, given that they’re responsible for much of the current carnage. 

“They gave the keys of the chicken shed to a couple of wolves” he told me, “now they’ve got to get them back”.

Statutory code enforced by an adjudicator?

Bring it on!



The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.


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


Author Robert Sayles

JG & Partners, latest licensing updates

If you cannot view this email, please
click here to read it online.
John Gaunt & Partners
Welcome to our September

We are pleased to let you have our September update on matters of topical

During the course of the month you should have received
“Breaking News” updates on both the fact that the  Police Reform and Social
Responsibility Act is now law, but has yet to be brought into force ( and that earlier in the month DCMS
launched a consultation, due to expire on 3 December 2011, on a proposed far
reaching deregulation of regulated entertainment ( We urge all operators to respond to this
generally encouraging consultation if only to seek to achieve some balance
against those who will undoubtedly be opposed to what is proposed.

respect of other developments, where appropriate, please click on the titles
below to view the original articles as posted to our website, during the course
of the month.

If you have any queries or indeed would wish others to be
included in the circulation of these monthly updates, please email us.


Tobacco Vending Machines –

A reminder that tobacco vending machines in England and Wales become illegal
from 1st October, 2011.  In Scotland, the ban has been deferred but there is a
need for tobacco retailers to be registered before that date.  For more details
see our article “Scotland – Have you registered to sell tobacco?

Challenge 25 is of course mandatory in Scotland from 1st October


Proposal for extending costs recovery – consultation

The Health & Safety Executive propose to extend  the range of activities
for which they recover costs so as to include where duty holders are found to be
in material breach of Health & Safety law and where costs will be recovered
from the start of the HSE intervention even if Court proceedings do not
  Previously cost recovery was limited to those cases where
Court proceedings were taken.  This could have significant costs implications
for operators.

The consultation expires 14th October, 2011.  For  more details – see link


Potential VAT Refund for Hoteliers

HMRC have recently amended the Guidance in respect of the possibility a
partial refund of VAT paid on deposits for “no show” reservations.   This
follows from a recent decision of the European Court of Justice.  If you have
letting bedrooms, this may be of interest.


Irresponsible Drinks Promotion – Prosecution

If you are confronting an Authority prosecution which has been based in part
on covert surveillance of your premises, it is very important that checks are
made to ensure that the Authorities complied with any obligations under the
‘Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000’.  In a recent case, their alleged
failure to do so proved fatal to the prosecution which, in the case in which we
were involved, was dismissed with costs.


Personal Licences under the Gambling Act 2005

The Gambling Commission appears to be requesting additional Personal Licence
Holders in certain existing gambling operations and has recently reminded
holders that they must inform and update on any personal changes etc as this is
a requirement to the Licence.


John Gaunt & Partners –

The independent “Legal 500” for 2012 has just been published and we are
pleased to note that we have retained our first tier ranking in respect of
licensing services and that all four partners are named as recommended in their
field and John Gaunt is specifically named in the elite “Leading Lawyers” list
for Yorkshire and Humberside, thanks to the feedback which the publishers will
have received from clients canvassed, and for which we are very grateful.  This
coincided with an announcement from the NUSCS of our appointment to a panel of
two to act for their members, Student Unions afiliated to the National Union of
Students throughout England, Wales and Scotland in connection with licensing and
associated advice.


Follow JGandP on Twitter
TrainingWe continue to run regular
courses for the APLH (formerly NCPLH), the SCPLH (Scottish equivalent) and the
ALP (Alcohol) – formerly the NCLP. For details of course dates and availability,
please see our website or contact Laura Mateer on

Gaunt & Partners
Omega Court
372-374 Cemetery Road

24 Hour

0114 266

Another Gem from the Pen of Robert Sayles, Barrel Dregs 200

Pub Leases, the Final Word

Got a problem with your pubco? Call the doctor!

“Hello there. I’m Doctor Frazier Crane.

If you tuned in a few weeks back then you’ll know we dedicated one of our shows to the much beleaguered publican. (Link to previous Frasier Crane blog)

I have to say we were overwhelmed with the response. It seems many of you have a whole host of grievances that you wish to share with a wider audience.

We’re continuing the theme for today’s show and are particularly keen to talk to publicans who’ve been kicked out of their pubs.

So, if you’ve found yourself out on the street with nowhere to live then give us a ring. We’d love to hear from you.”

“Ros; who’s our first caller?”

“We have Jeremy on the line. He used to run the Artful Dodger in Basingstoke.”

“Hello Jeremy. I’m listening.”

“Hi doc. I’ve recently handed back the keys on my leased pub. It just got to the point where we were losing too much. Continuing was no longer an option.”

“Was the split amicable?”

“No doc, far from it.”

“Why was that?”

“They trousered my f and f doc.”

“I’m sorry?”

“The took my fixtures and fittings! I didn’t get a penny back.”

“How could they possibly justify that?”

“Loss of earnings they said. The only reason I had to leave is because they got greedy and kept hiking the rent. But the thing is doc; they weren’t content with just keeping my f and f. My partner wanted more.”

“How come?”

“They argued inadequate compensation for loss of earnings. You see we carried out a refurb about five years ago. The BDM reckoned that based on depreciation of 20% per annum my f and f is now worth buggar all. Of course that didn’t stop him selling it on to the new tenant for a tidy profit!”

“So how did your retail partner address this particular issue?”

“They pocketed my deposit as well, 12,500 quid! The only thing I’ve got left is the shirt on my back, although not for too much longer it seems. The pubco called me this morning; my BDM is popping in later today to pick that up as well.”

“Did they hit you for dilapidations?”

“Not yet. I’m still waiting to hear from them on that. To be honest doc, I’ve heard some real horror stories. Do you think I have cause for concern?”

“Well stay on the line Jeremy because that’s exactly what our next caller wants to talk about.”

“Ros, who do we have on the line?”

“Brian. He used to run the Fagin Arms in Aldershot.”

“Hello Brian. I’m listening.”

“I got evicted from my pub six weeks ago doc. The pubco have just clobbered me with dilaps.”

“Did they inflate the costs?”

“Inflate the costs? I should say so. Two thousand five hundred quid for a toilet seat! Does that sound inflated enough for you?”

“Yes, it does seem a tad high I must admit.”

“But that’s not all doc. I went back to the pub when it reopened and guess what? There’s still no toilet seat. They didn’t replace it.”

“Are you suggesting that the pubco made no effort to carry out the work and were merely content to pocket the cash?”

“That’s exactly what I’m suggesting doc.”

“If you’re right then it’s not a bad little earner, is it? Makes you wonder if there’s anything else they’re charging for but not actually delivering?”

“Who’s our next caller Ros?”

“A lady called Brigid. She seems very keen to talk about government taxation.”

“Well she might be, unfortunately for her I’m not. Do we have anybody else on the line?”

“Yes, Sally. She used to run the Uriah Heep, a pub in Nottingham.”

“Hello Sally; I’m listening.”

“Hi doc. I left my pub in 2006 after assigning my lease to another tenant.”

“Sounds to me like you got out just in time.”

“That’s what I thought, but apparently not.”

“What’s your problem?”

“The pubco have just taken the pub back from the guy I assigned it to.”

“How could that possibly be of relevance to you?”

“Well they’re saying there’s a clause in my lease which makes me responsible. The pubco are now trying to get possession of my house to compensate them for loss of revenue.”

“They can’t do that, can they?”

“They seem to think they can. They’re sending an agent around to value the property tomorrow morning. I’m facing the prospect of being made homeless doc. All because the pubcos squeezed every last penny out of my successor; secure in the knowledge that if he went under they could come after me. That can’t be right, can it doc?”

“You’re right Sally, it most certainly isn’t. Is it any wonder so many tenants conclude pubcos are morally bankrupt when they are subjected to treatment such as this? Many have to contend with losing their business and in many instances their home, a highly traumatic experience I’m sure you’ll agree.

In contrast, it would appear as though the churn can be quite a lucrative little earner for the pubcos.

After all they get the keep the fixtures and fittings which they then sell on for a tidy profit. On top of that they retain deposits.

Not content with this, they then hit departing tenants with a grossly inflated dilaps bill for work which they don’t actually carry out.

Then, once they’ve exhausted that particular resource, they go after the tenant who assigned the lease seeking additional compensation.

All this would appear to explain why pubcos aren’t too concerned when pubs are churned. After all, why bother trying to retain tenants when there are such rich pickings to be made by kicking them out onto the street?

Is it not a sad state of affairs that a once noble industry has been reduced to this?

How much more heartache and misery will tenants be forced to endure before pubcos are compelled to treat them as genuine partners, not something more akin to inhabitants of a Dickensian workhouse?

What I find particularly sad is that those with a vested interest in perpetuating this obscene business model continue to turn a blind eye to many of the unsavoury practices that go on behind the scenes.

It is a fact that the genuine concerns of publicans continue to be met with a wall of silence by many of the supposed leaders of this industry.

Do they not understand that their failure to speak out merely condones such actions, making them as guilty as the perpetrators in the eyes of many?

Is it not time someone had the courage and conviction to take a stand, to make it clear to certain pubcos that such appalling behaviour is completely unacceptable in a supposed civilised society?

We can but hope. Well until next time, this is Frasier Crane wishing you good mental health, wherever you may be.”

Author Robert Sayles

The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. They are written by concerned professionals in the industry who feel that these issues should be raised to ensure that all licensees are made fully aware of many hidden pitfalls.

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

BISC Report, Real Common Sense emerges, one enforceable COP for the Industry.

Pub Codes of Practice

The Chairman of the BISC, to the relief of thousands of people in the Industry, has seen through the Smoke and Mirrors put up by a number of Pub Co’s and Bodies in the industry and concluded that there should now be one COP for the Industry enforceable by legislation.

The BBPA and the  BII failed the Industry miserably with their policy of a separate COP for each company, most prepared by Legal Eagles to ensure that individual corporate interests prevailed, many with scant consideration of the people who would be affected most.

In the days when I used to talk to Neil Robertson, I discussed and insisted that there should be one COP for the Industry that was fair to both sides, he was adamant that he would ask for individual submissions by companies and I naively assumed that he would in due course create one COP with the best of all submitted COP’s content that was a fair and balanced document, which the industry desperately needs, sadly “No” and we have the present mess, he has a lot to answer for.

The Industry has shown that corporate money and influence has totally failed to accept the previous BISC recommendations to self regulate and the abuses have continued unabated.

The enforcement of the COP’s has been woolly and half baked, the BII’s administration of the same has raised many adverse comments to say the least, Neil Robertson openly declined to Police the Industry after the last BISC, which would have made the BII in to a major player once again, instead of a body that most consider too close to the less desirable Pub Co’s rather than a members organisation and possibly being very dependent on corporate finance to survive.

The big question is that Robertson’s decision was not his own, the people in the BII who advise him should now fall on their swords, starting with the Chairman and vice Chairman and other Pub Co  supporters and advisers at the top, to be replaced by people with balanced views and a real grasp of the failures of the Industry.

The BII by it’s record cannot administer the new COP for the above reasons, this means that a totally unbiased body is needed, that is untouchable by corporate influence, it has to be totally fair to both sides, in fact there should not be two sides, we should all work together in an ideal world.

Disputes should be settled by discussion, not costly legal battles, the majority of people in the Industry know the difference between right and wrong, but many companies have been infected with costly legal threats and intimidation to achieve their ends.

The RICS have finally repaired the damage to their Valuation Guidelines, rental settlements are running, from our information at 6-8% of turnover, depending on the level of tie when a RICS member is involved.

If a suitable body can be found or created to administer the COP fairly and effectively, we might just turn the clock back to making the Industry a career for life once again, for all involved, we can but hope, the major players will have to do a lot of blood letting, before they regain serious credibility by the majority of licensees and people that work in the Industry.






Freedom to Choose Newsletter, as always an interesting view on smokers Worldwide

September Newsletter

Posted: 11 Sep 2011 02:00 AM PDT

Chairman’s Message
Busy time folks! The date for the 2011 AGM has been set as Saturday, 15th October starting at 2.00pm. There is a forum post entitled 2011 f2c AGM in the members’ section for more details.  Please add your name if attending.

If you fancy a night out in Leicester there are plenty of reasonably priced hotels available.

May I remind people that this is the time for you to promote yourselves if you think you can contribute at executive level. Please send all nominations to Pete J who will be overseeing the electoral procedures once again – Thanks Pete.

Our political aspirant Dave Atherton returned to ‘radiomanchesteronline’ this month and gave a sterling display of facts, figures and  general knowledge – even finding that an anti tobacco advocate amazed himself by agreeing with Dave -TWICE! Well done Dave.

We have a fantastic chance to be heard in Parliament as there is an e-petition that needs our earnest attentions  Government rules indicate 100,000 signatures needed. Please sign the e-petition and then send on to seven (yes 7) others asking them to do likewise. By the ‘power of 7’ we can soon reach our target – though I know our MPs would like us to well exceed 100,000 if possible.

Remember the great success of the Lincoln Music Festival? A venue  has been found and three dates pencilled in for more of these to be held in April, June and August next year. You will not want to miss these, folks!

Phil Johnson

Smokers – You are not Alone!

Your television is even more lethal than your cigarettes!

Something must be done about all the fat people!

Alcohol prices must rise to save Scotland!

Localism Bill and Outdoor Bans: Confusion Reigns
The coalition government’s Localism Bill, which aims to devolve power down from national to local government level, means different things to different people.

Now lighting up in a park is to be illegal might be an attention-grabbing headline but it is wide of the mark according to local government minister Bob Neill who says:

We are giving councils a general power of competence – But it does not permit the introduction of new regulation on the broader public.

Writing in the BMJ,  Richard Vize answers:

The localism bill includes a “power of general competence” allowing councils to act in the interests of their communities… until it is tested in the courts it is unclear whether the localism bill really does give councils the power to impose more restrictions.
Vize claims that ASH is pushing for the ‘voluntary’ approach, presumably because overwhelming public support for this next logical step is demonstrably lacking. However, its tobacco control alliance partner Smokefree North West, in the shape of directorAndrea Crossland, is popping up all over the place, “helping local councils to use legislation to introduce enforceable bans.”

While health bodies and the odd council halfwit are relishing the Localism Bill as a means to express their personal authoritarian tendencies, the general response from councilsseems to be that outdoor bans are ‘pie in the sky’  and ‘a step too far’.

Nevertheless, there is a danger that councils will adopt the ‘voluntary’ approach in order to appease the health lobby.  Signs will appear in public parks asking smokers to ‘protect the children’ by not smoking and the majority of smokers will obey.  As Councillor Bill Wearing explains:

Once it becomes socially unacceptable, it becomes a lot easier to bring in laws.
P&O Baccy Mini-Cruise!

Bookings can now be made for P&O’s 2-for-1 mini-cruise offer.

Hull to Zeebrugge: October 15th – 17th

See Nothing 2 Declare for details on this fabulous money-saving offer!

Philip Morris Int vs. University of Stirling

As reported in last month’s newsletter, the University of Stirling has been ordered by the Scottish Information Commissioner to answer a Freedom of Information request made by Philip Morris International. The tobacco company has asked for details of the University’s research into young smokers and their perceptions of cigarette packaging.

Decision 142/2011 concluded:

The Commissioner therefore requires the University of Stirling to respond to Philip Morris International’s request for information in terms of Part 1 of FOISA, other than in terms of section 14(1) by 5 September 2011.

That date has come and gone with still no response from the academics, who are now saying that processing the information for PMI would cost too much money.

The tobacco companies are understandably upset at the possibility of losing their trade-mark rights and have made a number of FoI requests around the issue.

The Cost of Giving Up
Latest NHS figures reveal that the number of smokers in England remains stubbornly fixed at around 21%, despite the £84.3 million bill for smoking cessation services in the last financial year. This sum does not include the cost of prescribed NRT and medication, which would boost the total outlay to about £148 million.

Health spokesmen are keen to stress that record numbers of smokers are signing up to the NHS stop-smoking scheme, but tight-lipped on long-term abstinence that may be as low as 6%.  This means that, of the 788,000 who signed up for NRT last year, more than 740,000 will have relapsed by now.

While some local journalists are beginning to question this kind of expense, others write jubilantly of even costlier schemes such as Cumbria’s plan to award 4-week ‘quitters’ with high street vouchers.

The vouchers-for-quitters scheme was pioneered in Dundee in 2009. Despite ‘mixed results’, NHS Tayside, which has spent £4.5 million on tobacco control in the last five years, is intent on rolling its grant money across the country.  Its latest launch took place at Arbroath’s annual Sea Fest.  The £12.50p vouchers are means tested, giving an estimated target group in Arbroath of 4,700 economically deprived smokers.  In the (two day) event, only30 signed up.

At least Scotland can boast that its lavish tobacco control spending is moving things in the right direction – this past year has seen smoking rates plunge by 0.2%.

Government E-Petitions

Besides the Anthony-Worrall Thomson petition mentioned in the Chairman’s Report (above), there are six other petitions to relax or amend the smoking ban.

And, a splendid suggestion from David Walker:

Stop Government Funding of ASH

Why not sign them all?

It’s all in the genes

Two new studies out this month both confirm that our choice of parent  has more influence on health than our choice of life-style.

The first, from a study of Ashkenazi Jews, who are known to be exceptionally long-lived, shows that life-style factors make little, if any, difference to life-expectancy.

And the second, from Sweden, looked at several thousand adopted children and found that coronary heart disease is inherited from parents and not the result of living in unhealthy homes.  It is not possible to ‘catch’ coronary heart disease from adoptive parents, even if they both suffer from it.

The Pub Trade

Results of a Jones Lang LaSalle publican’s survey add weight to the findings of CRConsulting, reported last month that urban, wet-led pubs are suffering the brunt of pub closures.  While the national average has settled to around 25 losses per week, this figure is closer to 40 in the north-east of the country. However, the picture is almost as grim in urban pockets down south. Londonist has published a collection of photographs of closed London pubs, many of them in that category described by Fleurets as ‘bottom end properties’.

CamRA’s dismissal of the publicans’ survey comes via their North East regional director whose statement, “The majority of pubs that close are not those that sell real ale,”implies that only the discerning real-ale quaffer would choose to drink in social surroundings.

Elsewhere, Admiral pubs are closing eight ‘once-thriving water holes’ in North Staffordshire while, in Wales, auctioneers fail to shift all but one urban pub on their books and the Northamptonshire town of Kettering has, like many others, lost a significant number of town centre pubs.

A second survey, commissioned by CamRA, finds that fewer young adults are visiting the pub than they were five years ago, a decline that CamRA intends to reverse with the lureof shove ha’penny and weak beer.

Restrictive Covenants.
As part of its commitment to the Great British pub, the Government has launched a review of restrictive covenants, a legal clause that can be used to prevent community pubs reopening as public houses following a sale.

MPs lining up to voice support for this review include: Sajid Javid [Bromsgrove]; Greg Barker [Bexhill and Battle]; John Howell [Thame]; Karl McCartney [Lincoln]; Alistair Burt [North East Bedfordshire] and Rory Stewart [Penrith and the Border].  Removing restrictive covenants, it is claimed, will allow ordinary people to buy and manage their local – perhaps inspired by the sight of their elected MP playing barman for an evening.

With the advent last month of Punch Tavern’s demerger, here is the Pubco Story in pictures.

The Credit Crunch of October 2008 undoubtedly hastened a decline that was already well underway. Nevertheless, we still see too many reports that paint only the second half of the picture.

Members’ Survey

Very many thanks to everyone who took took the time to complete  last month’s Member’s Survey.

The overall response rate out of all paid-up members was a very respectable 53%.  The answers are now being analysed and we aim to publish the results in good time for October’s Annual General Meeting.

Well done everyone for your thoughtful and interesting comments!
News from Scotland
A new scheme that hopes to tempt smokers back to the Mecca Bingo hall in Leith, Edinburgh has been given the go-ahead by planners. Hand-held devices will enable players to participate without ever having to leave the ‘comfort’ of their new £60,000 smoking ‘shelter’.

Mecca’s compromise did not meet with universal approval:

I cannot agree that we should allow something that is purely exploiting a loophole from something we have previously discouraged

said Labour Councillor-cum-taxi driver Eric Barry.

Scottish taxpayers could find themselves in receipt of a £16,000,000 bill if Mahmood Qadri’s legal test case is successful. The non-smoking paedophile claims he suffered ‘mental anguish’ when forced to share a prison cell with smokers and is seeking £10,000 in compensation.

For these and other Scottish and international news stories

Freedom-2-Choose (Scotland)

Targeting Women

Pressure on expectant mothers continues with another three academic findings last month.  Smoking in pregnancy will turn your baby into an asthmatic junkie with hearing difficulties, apparently.

A new review of studies that examine heart disease in smokers finds that the habit affects women more than men. The ‘shocking’ discovery that women smokers are at a 25% higher risk than their male counterparts received national media attention, reflecting a newemphasis on targeting women smokers.

Ellen Mason of the British Heart Foundation gives the game away:

This is very timely research as tobacco companies are increasingly targeting women with slim brands and slick packaging. Introducing plain packaging would help to increase the effectiveness of health warnings and reduce the attractiveness and appeal of tobacco products.

Can she mean these?

A Round-up of International News

Plans to introduce ugly new picture warnings on all packets of cigarettes are being contested by a consortium of five tobacco manufacturers.  RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard Tobacco, Commonwealth Brands, Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco claim that the warnings would violate their constitutional rights to free speech. 

The lawsuit says:

Never before in the United States have producers of a lawful product been required to use their own packaging and advertising to convey an emotionally-charged government message urging adult consumers to shun their products.

Despite research from the University of Missouri showing that too much of a bad thing is a bad thing, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) want to see the new warnings in use by September 2012.

While yet another health-driven survey reassuringly claims that “smoke-free laws are good for business,” around 500 bar owners have clubbed together to form Protect Private Property Rights in Michigan. The group is lobbying for amendments to their sixteen-month old ban, which they say has negatively impacted on all aspects of the trade.  The PPPRM has banned all junior lawmakers from their bars from the 1st of this month.

The good news is that the lawmakers are beginning to listen.  Democrat Douglas Geiss said:

It’s my belief if we don’t come up with something to help out these businesses, they’ll be going belly-up, along with these vacant buildings and everything that goes along with that.

Elsewhere, the war between free and smokefree rumbles on.  Albeny, NY is to suffer a ban on railway platforms, but the residents of San Marcos, Texas will be free to enjoy a smoke and a beer in comfort for the foreseeable future.  Lawmakers at all levels are coming under constant pressure from anti-smoking lobbyists to impose or extend bans.  It is encouraging to see more of them pause to consider all sides before pressing the vote button.

Last word to Audrey Silk, leader of New York Citizens Lobbying Against Citizen Harrassment (NY CLASH), interviewed by the Village Blogs.  In answer to the question:  Do you see this as a kind of civil rights struggle?  Audrey says:

Oh absolutely it’s a civil rights struggle. This is bigotry. It’s not about health anymore. They lie about secondhand smoke. I agree that smoking is risky. I accept that it’s a risky choice. But now leave me alone! It’s a legal product.



Australian anti-smokers moved a step closer to forcing all cigarettes into generic drab-and-ghastly packaging. The Bill was approved last month by The Lower House, and is planned to come into effect next July.

A last-minute appeal for the release of a health department legal document, which might have helped their case, was denied to British American Tobacco Australia.  BATA isdetermined to fight what they see as a breach of their trading rights under the Australian Constitution, and to press for billions of dollars in compensation should the plain packaging law become a reality.

The Bill will now pass to the Senate, which is expected to approve the measures.


Tobacco houses are facing multiple lawsuits in Canada, where it was recently decided that they alone must carry the burden of compensating ‘victims of smoking’ for their health problems.  This is despite the fact that the Canadian government played a part in determining policies around the manufacture and marketing of cigarettes.


Having come late to the FCTC* table, Russia is determined to make up for lost time by enacting virtually every anti-tobacco measure ever devised and in record time.

Ambitions include:

  • Massive tax hikes
  • Bans in and around public transport systems
  • Bans in all public places, including shared areas in private housing blocks
  • Outlawing tobacco sales from small shops and a display ban in larger outlets.
  • No more tobacco advertising or sponsorship

Health workers call the measures ‘absolutely positive’, but talk wistfully of graphic warnings on packs and the pressing need to ‘denormalise’ the 44 million smokers of Russia.

*FCTC = Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. A global treaty signed by all countries except the USA and Indonesia.

Elsewhere, GERMANY is discovering that higher taxes equals lower tax revenue.

FRANCE is beefing up its anti-smoking laws, including an outdoor ban at the ‘Plage Lumiere’ beach in Provence.

NEW ZEALAND is shocked to discover that its State Super(annuation) Fund holds shares in Evil Tobacco,  while JAPAN is hoping that the money raised by selling off part of their investment in Japan Tobacco will help to pay for repairing the damage caused by March’s tsunami and earthquake.

CHINA is honouring its FCTC obligations by increasing the size of written warnings on cigarette packs – from 2mm to 4mm.

And Finally..
After last month’s example of extreme anti-smoking pettiness, comes the tale of Dawn Lemm.  The pub landlady lost £285 in fines and costs for displaying non-regulation No Smoking signs
Damned if they do; damned if they don’t: an environmentally-friendly tobacco company comes under fire from The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Epilepsy is added to the growing list of problems alleged to be caused by Champix.

Labour MP Natascha Engel regrets voting ‘yes’ to the smoking ban. Heaven may be rejoicing over this particular sinner’s repentance, but the rest of us will wait to see how actively penitant Ms Engel is before breaking out the champagne.
We are told, ad nauseum, that smoking has ‘no benefits’.  All the more surprising, then, to read that moves are afoot to add tobacco to the list of performance-enhancing substances banned from sport.
A thumbs-up to business and technology writer Tim Worstall who, prompted by Chris Snowdon, casts his eye over Heart Attack Miracles and finds them wanting.  Tim says:

Cherry picking your data this way is given the technical term
“lying through your teeth”
c/o John H Baker 22 Glastonbury House, Priestfields, Middlesbrough, Cleveland TS3 0LF
Tel/Fax 0845 643 9469

Freedom2choose (Scotland):
c/o The Dalmeny Bar, 297 Leith Walk,
Edinburgh EH6 8SA
Tel 0845 643 9552

Restaurant/Bistro Check List on Takeover Day

Restaurant/Bistro Check List on Takeover Day  

 These Check Lists are aimed at covering all licensed catering businesses, but with different titles for the search engines and individual specific business types.

This Checklist covers a large area of Taking over a Business. As no two situations are the same, only the basic position is outlined. The answers do not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law, nor do they constitute legal advice by the author. The information provided is only a snapshot: it does not create a contractual relationship nor does it form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.

This Check List is made on the assumption that anyone taking a freehold, lease or a tenancy will have been fully briefed by their Solicitor on their responsibilities within the constraints of the lease and the lists are for guidance and assistance in the taking over of a normal licensed or catering business.

In addition always use a Lawyer specialising in Commercial Property, it can be a minefield.

Please note, access to these lists is totally free if you would like to subscribe (No Charge) on, they are free to be read for your guidance and aimed to help you get through a time of considerable pressure and demand. If you subscribe you may download this information if you need to.

Please click on (More) for links to regulations.

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  2. Always go for completion at the beginning of the month, helps cash flow. Clickk READ ON for the latest Check List


Allergens have been identified as a possible source for problems Read More

Scores on the Doors an essential for all businesses involving Food Hygiene, Read More

Credit and cash Flow  More

Energy Performance Certificates and  M.E.E.S.

FAQ’s  on running a Business More

Questions you need to ask the Landlord, they also cover Tied Leases More

Note:- Everyone buying a commercial property, especially a lease should have a Schedule of Condition, to validate the state of condition PRIOR to the handover date. If there are outstanding wants of repair or decoration, then either the Landlord or the previous Lessee is responsible, if it is left until a later date, no action can be taken without documentary proof agreed with the Landlord or his Agent. We have not listed disabled facilities, but it may arise in certain circumstances, they should have been covered in the survey or legal enquiries.

If you find anything that you consider should also be listed, please email us at , we appreciate your input, if it will help others.

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