Monthly Archives: February 2012

ALMR, Championing Pubs & Bars, have your say.

Championing Pubs & Bars


29th February – immediate

MPs and the media urged to change their outlook & celebrate modern pubs and bars

New industry campaign highlights industry positives to politicians and the media


A major new campaign launches today urging MPs and the media to look afresh at modern pubs and bars and recognise their hugely positive impact – creating thousands of jobs and uniting communities.


The ‘I’ve Changed My Outlook’ campaign, launched by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the leading national trade body for pubs and bars, is seeking to rebalance the debate – away from, at times, a relentless focus on pub closures and 24-hour drinking and towards celebrating how dynamic and diverse modern licensed hospitality businesses are.


It will do this by allowing those who run, work in and visit pubs and bars to speak directly to political audiences and share their experiences. A dedicated campaign website – – features short video clips that people have uploaded from their cameras or mobile phones telling us why they like working in the industry or spending time in our outlets. Contributors are asked for their postcode so we can send a link to their video to their constituency MP.


Nick Bish, ALMR Chief Executive, said:


“We are hugely excited to be launching this industry-wide initiative to change perceptions of our industry. We all know there is strong political support for pubs in the community, but this has failed to translate into an overall supportive policy and regulatory framework.


“We aim to change that by providing politicians with a first-hand account of the positive experience of people who own, work in and visit modern pubs and bars every day.Far too often in recent years the narrative around the pub industry has been negative, with issues such as binge-drinking and pub closures dominating. But The Outlook Campaign will bring a fresh perspective by highlighting the positives in the sector, such as entrepreneurship, job creation, education and community support.”


Launched with endorsements from across the industry, the campaign is also supported by leading key opinion formers. Companies who have already pledged their support and loaded their own video messages include M&B Chief Executive Bob Ivell, former BII CEO Neil Robertson and Steve Richards, CEO of Novus and ALMR Chairman.


Keith Knowles, Managing Director, Beds & Bars said:


“Sociable, welcoming, friendly people are at the heart of my business. I’m proud that they consider my company a place which can foster great friendships and build lasting careers. The politicians and the press currently don’t do justice to their stories or the experience that of thousands of my customers receive every day from a business that meets and exceeds their needs based in the heart of the communities in which they live and I along with others in my industry are calling for this to change.”


Sue Allen, Commercial Director, Daniel Thwaites PLC said:


“As a brewer with outlets across the North West we’re delighted to signpost this initiative allowing our staff and customers an opportunity to tell their stories and fully supportive of the ALMR’s efforts to have them heard by those in power!”


John Longden, CEO Pub is the Hub said:


“We very much welcome the launch of this important new initiative which will help immeasurably to drive forward efforts to promote wider recognition of the role good licensees play in supporting their local community. The provision of key services makes pubs the vibrant heart and soul of local life Hearing this first hand is the best way to get people to understand this.”


The campaign will also seek the endorsement of MPs, asking them to sign up to a short statement of supporting principles and they will be acknowledged on the website. Early supporters of the campaign include:


Hazel Blears MP (former Home Office Minister, Labour) said:


“I’ve always known that pubs are a cornerstone of their local communities. Over recent months I have been delighted to work in partnership with Beds and Bars, who have supported a paid internships scheme that I created which gives people from working class backgrounds the opportunity to gain work experience in Parliament. They have been fantastic in helping me support this important initiative, and I’m sure there are countless other stories out there of pubs actively working to enhance our communities.”


Greg Mulholland MP (Chair, All Party Save the Pub Group, Lib Dem) said:


“As Parliaments leading campaigner for pubs I believe that the licensed sector has a rich history and a great future in this country. This is down to the incredible hard work, dedication and talent of everyone working in the sector. The Outlook campaign helps politicians appreciate the value those individuals bring to communities and understand better how we can help you overcome the challenges you are facing. I’ll be sharing your experiences with my Parliamentary colleagues”.



Andrew Griffiths MP (Chair, All Party Beer Group, Conservative) said:


“For too long the debate about pubs has focused on the negatives rather than the positives. We have dwelt on pub closures and problem drinking rather than looking at the crucial and positive role that pubs play in our community. Pubs can be a force for good and improve the lives of those communities that use them. I fully support this important initiative to spread the good news about Britain’s pubs.




Notes to editors:


1. The Association of Multiple Licensed Retailers (ALMR) brings together entrepreneurial retailers and industry suppliers and champions the smaller independent companies that own and operate modern pubs, bars and restaurants in the UK.


2. Our members operate just under 11,000 outlets and currently employ 21,000 people in all regions and at all skill levels – from bar staff to managers of multi-million pound turnover outlets. Overall, the sector employs over 500,000 people and generated one in ten of all new jobs in 2011.


3. The ‘I’ve Changed My Outlook’ campaign opens a window onto the positive experience people have when they visit modern pubs and bars by inviting them to record a short 30 second video clip on their digital camera or phone and upload it to our special campaign website The ALMR will be sending links to these videos directly to their constituency MP asking them to sign up to a public statement of support, endorsing three simple principles which underpin our modern industry, as follows:


I value the contribution that this industry makes to the economy and local community and support modern pubs and bars that are committed to:


  • · Promoting a free and fair market
  • · Rewarding investment in people
  • · Recognising responsive retailing


4. Politicians who do this will be listed on our campaign website and they will be welcome to add their own 30 second video to the site. The aim of the campaign is not to target a specific policy measure or piece of legislation but to educate and inform policy makers and opinion formers across all parties about what’s going on in our sector today.


Kate Nicholls Strategic Affairs Director


Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

9B Walpole Court, Ealing Studios, London, W5 5ED Tel: 020 8579 2080 or fax: 020 8579 7579

John Gaunt & Partners, February Newsletter and Licensing Updates

Welcome to our February 2012 licensing update 

Please find below our February 2012 update in which we hope that you will find some matters of topical interest.

Many of you may have received our late Saturday evening alert on ‘Operation Condor’, an unprecedented 48 hour licensing enforcement crackdown carried out across London over the weekend, with almost 5,000 premises targeted. Time will tell if we see similar exercises replicated. With a number of pubs and clubs apparently closed as a result (and given the ‘occasional’ misapplication of section 19 closure notices) it will be interesting to see the basis on which such closures were effected. (Incidentally the original ‘Operation Condor’ was a campaign of political repression and terror carried out in the 1970s in South America!)

As always, where the headings below are in red, it is a link to the full item as it originally appeared on our website. Please click on those titles for further detail. If you have not received this update direct but in future would like to do so, please register your details here.


Karen Murphy and Sky 

Last Friday, the High Court granted Karen Murphy’s appeal against her 2006 conviction for using foreign satellite services to show live football in her premises. This followed on from a ruling from the European Court of Justice a few months ago (link) but the anticipated clarity which the case would bring on the use of foreign satellite services has not been forthcoming.

Significant issues raised by the case were left to be decided “at a later date” and operators are well advised not to use foreign satellite services for live football until such further clarity is forthcoming. Click on the title above for further limited detail. We still await sight of the full Judgment from last Friday.


Alcohol Strategy Awaited 

The Government is due to imminently publish its long awaited Alcohol Strategy document and what it will contain continues to be a source of some speculation.

Further legislation beyond that which is currently anticipated, is not expected. In the meantime, a recently published study by Newcastle University found that from the sample taken, less than 2% of promotions involved alcohol sold at below ‘cost price’, meaning that 98% would not be affected by a ban on the sale of alcohol below cost price as suggested.

The study calls for minimum pricing to be introduced at 50p per unit of alcohol, a figure not unassociated with the Scottish Government proposals in this area.


Live Music Bill 

By the time you receive this, it is anticipated that the Live Music Bill which has effectively completed its passage through Parliament, will have received Royal Assent although no date has yet been announced as to when the provisions, summarised in the link above, will actually come into force and effect.



A recent case impacts on the interpretation and application of CCTV conditions increasingly found on Premises Licences. What is clear is that whatever the condition in a Premises Licence in respect of CCTV, operators are still subject to Data Protection legislation under the Data Protection Act 1998. For more details, see the link above or contact us.


Costs in Licensing Appeals 

A recent decision served to re-affirm the position on costs recovery against a Licensing Authority. Generally, costs will not generally be awarded against a Licensing Authority save where they have been seen to act particularly unreasonably and after consideration of any financial prejudice to the particular Appellant.


The Status of a Test Purchaser 

A national Supermarket chain has unsuccessfully challenged the status of an ‘under age test purchaser’ seeking to argue that, as they were acting as agent for the Local Authority, the tobacco in question was in effect being sold to the Local Authority and not to the particular youth and therefore no under age sale had taken place. The facts were largely “tobacco” specific but in any event the challenge was unsuccessful, an under age purchase had been made and perhaps sadly for operators, a significant loophole to the under age test purchasing regime has not materialised!


London Olympics 2012 – Advertising and Trading – Update 

Our article, linked above, alerted operators close to Olympic venues of restrictions on advertising and outside trading with the need for premises affected to make application for the relevant permission, particularly in respect of external areas. The deadline for such applications has been extended from 29th February until 31st March 2012.
Our January 2012 update also reminded operators on the extensive “Olympic Route Network” of likely restrictions on deliveries, advising operators to be assessing their needs and looking to vary any Premises Licences where restrictions on night time deliveries may be contained.


Marriage Act Licences 

We are seeing an increase in applications for a Marriage / Civil Ceremony Licences of late, potentially as a consequence of the current economic climate as couples look to book their ceremonies at more affordable venues.

If you believe that any of your premises may be suitable and appropriate to hold such ceremonies and you wish to obtain further detail of the requirements, please contact us.


Scotland – The Buzzworks Effect 

This was a noteworthy recent Scottish case which raises potential issues for successful applicants for a Premises Licence, granted in the face of objections. Arising from this case a successful applicant is now in some quandary as to when the grant is safe from subsequent challenge on appeal.


Betting – Split Premises 

A Betting Office operator sought to split an existing unit into two separate adjacent outlets as an attempt to “bypass regulations” and allow them to double their Gaming Machine entitlement. In refusing the application the Licensing Sub-Committee found that “on balance, not all the issues concerning the sub-division of the premises had been addressed and that the applicant had reached an artificial compromise that does not satisfy the Sub-Committee”. For more detail, please see the link above.



  • Dealing with the “problems” of late night drinking link – A reminder that this consultation on secondary legislation for the Late Night Levy and Early Morning Restriction Orders expires 10th April 2012. Operators are urged to consider and respond to this.
  • Tobacco displays in shops having a relevant floor area exceeding 280m2 will be banned from 6 April 2012 in England – link
  • British Summer Time – a reminder that on 25 March, 2012, British Summertime next begins with the result that on that morning, 01.00 immediately becomes 02.00 with the risk that premises licensed beyond 01.00 may lose an hour’s trade unless this position is covered off within your premises licence or a TEN has been given (last date for a TEN is effectively 8 March).


And finally – Scotland – ‘Licensed by JG&P…’ 

The past 6 weeks has seen 5 new venues across Scotland, licensed by us, having their Provisional Licence confirmed and open to the public. At the same time, for another national operator, we have lodged their first Provisional Premises Licence, the determination of which is still awaited.
Our “significant inroads into the Scottish market” (Chambers 2011) would appear to continue. For more detail of our Scotland services and our fee regime, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Poppleston Allen, Legal view on Karen Murphy Case

  • Date: 24/02/2012
  • Author/Solicitor: Andy Grimsey

Pub landlady Karen Murphy has claimed victory today in her legal battle with the Premier League over using a foreign satellite provider to broadcast Premiership football matches.

The High Court ruled to allow Karen Murphy’s appeal over using the decoder to bypass controls over match screening and overturned her 2006 conviction for using Greek channel Nova to show live football in her pub.

It also confirmed the European Court of Justice ruling of 4 October 2011 which said that restricting the sale of European foreign satellite decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services.

However, the judge said he was not in a position to rule as to copyright and that the other complex issues regarding the wider legality of screening matches would have to be decided “at a later date”.

The issue of copyright has been left open following a High Court ruling earlier this month, The Premier League vs QC Leisure (and others). It appears the current position is that a breach of the Premier League’s copyright is still an offence, no matter how limited this breach may be. However, the judge in this case also stated that this does not constitute a ban on the use or importing of foreign satellite systems as long as infringement of the Premier League’s copyright can be avoided.

Please note the above is written whilst awaiting full details as to today’s judgment and further updates will follow.

For more information please contact Andy Grimsey

Binge Drinking – A social study by Robert Sayles, Barrel-Dregs (236)

Binge Drinking – A social study

The recent ground breaking study into social smoking carried out in New Zealand inspired me to carry out some research of my own.

The primary objective of my study was to assess the consequences of people being given access to copious amounts of cheap alcohol.    

Armed with a notepad and recording device, I made my way down to the park in central Birmingham. Introducing myself to three young lads, (Steve, Dave and Alan) all of whom sitting on the grass drinking beer, I outlined the objectives of my research. They invited me to join them.  

I began by asking why they had so much beer to hand.

“Well we weren’t intending on drinking today” Steve replied. “We actually popped into the supermarket to get some doughnuts, but as we made our way toward the pastry section we found our way blocked by a wall of beer.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it” said Dave, “try as we might, we just couldn’t seem to find a way around it”.

“Buy one case, get four free!” said Steve. “Can you believe that? Eventually we said, “f*** the doughnuts, let’s just get pissed. Fancy a beer Bob?”

“Errr….well it’s a little early in the morning for me. I haven’t had breakfast yet.”

“Ah.. go on” said Alan, thrusting a Bud into my hand. “Don’t worry about breakfast, we’ll go and get some sandwiches in a bit.”  

“Do you realise we’re actually saving money?” said Steve, opening his third bottle of the morning. “The doughnuts cost considerably more than the beer, can you believe that?”

“Let’s be honest about it. If you were offered choice of doughnuts or beer, which would you choose? It’s a no brainer, isn’t it?”

“I suppose it is”, I replied, “but shouldn’t you be doing something else?”

“Like what?”

“Err…I don’t know, perhaps working?”

“Have you seen the state of the economy? There’s no hope of us getting a job at the moment so if we can’t work we might as well get **** faced. We come down to the park every day, meet loads of interesting people and have a great time.”

“Another beer Bob?”


At that point, another group of young people joined us. Alan motioned for them to take a beer.

“Are you sure they’re eighteen?” I asked.

“Bob, this is a social thing. We don’t ask questions here. These are our friends. We can’t say no.”

I said nothing but merely watched as the young lads took their beer bottles, joined the group and began drinking.  

“I’m off to get some sandwiches” said Alan, “what do you want Bob?” “Tuna” I replied.

As Alan made his way to the supermarket I asked the group what they thought about supermarkets offering cheap booze.

“It’s brilliant” replied one. “We’ve never got much money, but at these prices it doesn’t matter. A bottle of beer costs less than a bar of chocolate. We can afford to get legless whenever we want.”

“Aren’t you worried about exceeding your weekly unit allowance?” I asked. The blank faces indicated that they had no idea what I was talking about.

Soon after, Alan and another lad returned carrying another four cases of beer. “I’m sorry Bob; we tried to get your sandwich, we really did.”

“Another wall of beer?” I asked.

“I’ve never seen anything like it” he replied. “We tried walking around it but it was just never ending; seemed to go on for miles.”

“Never mind” said Dave thrusting another beer into my hand, “we’ll have another go later”.

By now more people were entering the park and within a relatively short space of time our ranks had swelled considerably.  

“More doughnuts” said a blonde girl, adding another couple of cases of beer to our stockpile. Everyone laughed. It was obviously an in-house joke.

By now I was famished. 

“Lunch?” I enquired hopefully. “Good idea, Bob” said Dave. “I’ll go and get some pizza.”

I decided to accompany him.

Entering the supermarket we made our way to the pizza section. After making good progress our route soon became blocked by, yes you’ve guessed it, an eight foot high wall of beer.

“There has to be a way around this” I said.

“There isn’t Bob, trust me. It’s insurmountable. We’ve tried. It’s like they’re forcing us to buy the stuff.”

“Can’t we go over it?”

“Not without a ladder.”

After several attempts to negotiate the formidable barrier, we conceded defeat and gave up on the idea of pizza. Nevertheless we took consolation from the fact that the beer offer had been upgraded since Alan’s previous visit to ‘buy one get five free’.

Making our way back to the park, we congratulated ourselves on how much money we’d saved.  

“More doughnuts” I said, putting the beer down in front of the group.

“You’re one of us now Bob” said Alan.

And of course he was right. I had, albeit unwittingly, allowed myself to evolve from detached observer to active participant. In short, I’d become a social drinker.

During the course of the day, a number of people came over to introduce themselves, lured it seems by the seemingly infinite amount of beer we had at our disposal. All were welcomed into the group with a cursory nod or wave and given a bottle of beer.

Eventually, as the beer stockpile began to run low, people began to drift away. Many appeared exceedingly drunk and I recall wondering what sort of mayhem some of them would cause before the evening was out and whether anyone would link it to events in the park.

I suspect not. If a problem were to arise, some unfortunate publican would likely be singled out for blame.

So much easier to blame the little guy than hold the big boys accountable, isn’t it?

Bob 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 Licensed Industry



Pub Licensees lose out to the Premier League and BSkyB. Barrel-Dregs (235)

Premier League and BSkyB

In my opinion two very odious bodies, who have a monopoly on viewing football in the UK.

Both Bodies senior staff make obscene amounts of money compared with almost any Licensee, the majority who are struggling to survive, they have a monopoly on football viewing at one level and in my opinion exploit it to the extreme, backed up by an army of lawyers who take no prisoners and ignore the consequencies.

I would never contribute to BSkyB in any of my pubs on principle, if everyone cancelled their contracts across the board, they would have to change their attitude, is paying the outrageous fees  that they charge really viable, would your customers back you if you voted with your feet, I am sure the majority would if they knew how much is being charged.

We complain about outrageous rents from the undesireable Pub Co’s and others, yet we ignore BSkyB, they make a fortune from advertising, you get nothing for time wasted on adverts being pushed into your customers faces, why should they hold a struggling industry to ransom along with the Premier League whose overpaid stars brains are in their feet, with weekly salaries worth far more than your leases and in some cases freeholds.

They do need your business, without it they will have a problem, sadly they have given themselves the whip hand, it’s now about time that the whip hand was given back to the customers, who are treated with total disregard by them and their lawyers and their very fat fees.

If every supportive licensee with BSkyB wrote to them threatening to cancel their contracts, if they insist on pursuing licensees who have, in there opinion legally tried for other options, if this can be done successfully it will open the door to sensible negotiation and bring viability back to one aspect of an Industry under pressure.

For a group of supportive licensees this could be a very good rallying call, if you follow “Over a Barrel” on Facebook.


Taken from “The Independent” Web site.

Thousands of pub landlords face heavy fines or jail as the Premier League and BSkyB begin a campaign of prosecutions against pubs that illegally broadcast English football matches.

The hardline approach follows a court judgment earlier this month in which the Premier League won a copyright ruling against British pubs that use non-UK decoder cards to show games.

The Premier League and BSkyB will signal their intent in warnings placed in adverts running in the drinks trade press today.

It follows a case brought by the League against satellite TV company QC Leisure. In a High Court ruling this month, Judge David Kitchin found that pubs violate League copyright when customers can view footage of previous games, logos, pre-recorded video sequences and anthems that are not authorised for use across borders.

As a warning of what is to come, an Essex landlord was this month ordered to pay more than £19,000 in fines and costs after being convicted of showing Premier League and international matches via Sky Sports without a commercial viewing agreement.

Frederick Young, licensee of the Rose Inn in Shenfield, was convicted on 6 February at Basildon Magistrates’ Court and fined £2,500 for each of six offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission.

Young, prosecuted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988, was also told to pay £4,522 in costs.

In a further development, one of Britain’s main distributors of foreign boxes and cards, Euroview, has ceased trading.

In a notice posted on its website this month, it said the latest High Court judgment found the Premier League was “entitled to copyright protection of certain artistic works and graphics that formed part of the relevant broadcasts of football matches in these proceedings”.

It warned: “There is now the prospect that companies providing a service that allows the ‘communication to the public’ of any such artistic works could cause their customers to be liable for copyright infringement.” The company told customers that their accounts with it would cease on 10 February.

Next week in the High Court, a Portsmouth landlady, Karen Murphy, who was convicted after using a Greek decoder to show matches, will seek to have the case against her overturned.

Ms Murphy was paying £118 a month to show games in her pub, The Red, White & Blue, as opposed to the Sky subscription of £480.

She has taken the case to the European Court of Justice, which delivered a complicated ruling that should see her prosecution and £8,000 fine overturned in the High Court but still upheld the League’s right to copyright.

Since that ruling, Premier League content has been developed to include more logos and symbols that uphold its ownership of the material, meaning landlords cannot flout the rules by turning the television on and off at key times.

Despite next week’s hearing, the League and BSkyB believe the QC Leisure ruling is the more significant.

The thousands of landlords potentially under investigation would include those suspected of breaching League copyright by using illicit foreign feeds to show games as well as pubs that screened Sky’s matches bought with a domestic subscription and not featuring the “pint glass” on-screen symbol showing the subscription had been purchased for commercial use.

Today’s campaign of warning adverts is likely to trigger fresh activity in the courts as officials from the Federation Against Copyright Theft and other i

nvestigators step up visits to pubs suspected of showing matches unlawfully.

Murphy wins case against Premier League

From the Morning Advertiser

Portsmouth landlady Karen Murphy has claimed victory today in her long-running legal battle with the Premier League over foreign satellite football.

The High Court ruling quashed Murphy’s 2006 conviction for using Greek channel Nova to show live football in her pub, the Red, White and Blue.

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said: “She was wrongly prosecuted”.

It verified the European Court of Justice ruling of 4 October 2011 which said that restricting the sale of European foreign satellite decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services. The judge said he was not in a position to rule against copyright.

This concludes Murphy’s six-year fight against the Premier League which began in 2006 when Murphy was ordered to pay almost £8,000 in fines and costs for broadcasting through Nova.

The issue of copyright has been left open following another High Court ruling earlier this month – Premier League vs QC Leisure (and others). Lord Justice Kitchin had said those importing foreign satellite equipment had breached the Premier League’s copyright in certain areas, such as by broadcasting the Premier League anthem.
Trade bodies have warned licensees not to purchase a European decoder card until a definitive ruling has been made on copyright.

A spokeswoman for Sky said:The UK courts have already ruled that the unauthorised use of the Premier League’s copyrighted material via foreign satellite systems in pubs infringes copyright and is therefore illegal. This remains the case following the ruling in the Murphy case. We will continue to protect our legitimate customers by supporting action against licensees who break the law.”

A Premier League spokesman said: ”Following the news that Karen Murphy’s appeal to the High Court has seen her conviction overturned, the Premier League would like to make clear that this decision does not change the outcome of the QC Leisure foreign satellite case.

“In that judgment (QC Leisure), made on 3 February 2012, Lord Justice Kitchin was consistent with the ECJ ruling and made it clear that the law gives us the right to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights in pubs and clubs when they are communicated to the public without our authority.

“That unauthorised use gives rise to both civil and criminal penalties. Therefore should Mrs Murphy, or any other publican, use European Economic Area foreign satellite systems to show Premier League football on their premises without our authority and outside the scope of our authorisation, they make themselves liable for us to take action against them in both the civil and criminal courts.”

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 Licensed Industry




A Cry from a Lessees Heart to a Pub Co. Barrel- Dregs (234)

A Cry from a Lessees Heart.

This is brilliant and I trust the Pub Co will not retalliate, if they do we will do our utmost to expose their total lack of humour.

Cringe moment – Have you ever written an email out of fustration not actually meaning to send it, but rather delete and re- write?

I wrote a reply to the accounts dept of singularly difficult Pub Co late last night after being outraged – I left it on my iphone till later and when I looked at it again I went to delete it to start again…

Instead I sent it :O …. as follows –
Agree … However I have yet to access my account as STILL waiting for password, and have also not developed magical skills or a tree that grows money!

You can see I am sure, that my intentions are honourable and I will during the coming week make every known effort to inject more money to your account.

Other than selling my Mother if she was still with me I am doing everything I possibly can!

If however I can sell my father (who fortunately is still with me) the funds will be with you earlier, ( he is currently on EBay but I don’t hold out much hope as he is 85).

The names have been deleted or changed to protect the Lessee, since the Pub Co is singularly lacking in humour.


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.







A Nautical View of the Good Ship BII, Barrel Dregs (233)

Bad Beer For Export

Please note, access to this site 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.

Barrel-Dregs has been run for many years, we change all the identifiable details, but give you an insight as to many of the sharp or bad practices by a number of companies, in most cases they are just legal but morally unacceptable.

We have a number of Pub owning companies that we will not recommend, their actions have featured in Barrel-Dregs too many times, we did hope that by highlighting their antics they might change, but in Barrel-Dregs terms “Leopards do not change their spots, they cover them with more Mud.”

A Nautical View of the Good Ship BII

My sources tell me that the good ship BII, a yacht of venerable age, is so far up the proverbial financial creek under the navigational skills of Admiral Martin Grant and Captain Peter Thomas, neither having passed a yacht masters course in navigating financial creeks.

The listing of this once august craft was to the tune of £500K last year and is on target for similar this year, which depending on the depth of the creek either means a total sinking or beaching on a patch of mud and hoping that the tide does not come in too quickly and may be rescued by some of the more realistic members of the far sighted BII crew, who understand financial creeks.

Sadly the long term crew, many have reclined in comfort on far too higher wages and benefits for the work and lack of foresight that they invested on the steering and maintenance of the craft, ignoring modern navigational equipment, the shifting sands and hazards brought about by the climatic changes of their passengers requirements and destinations.

Several splendid  junkets sailing to the remote extremes of the Far East with promises of riches beyond avarice were enjoyed by all, the BII East India company springs to mind, sadly the wily Chinese gleaned a vast amount of information and expensive time and said thank you with a big grin and omitted to pay for the privilege, they as always are sharper traders than the stick in the mud crew of the good ship BII.

Leaving the BII’s veritable old ship looking tarnished and far from sea worthy for the rough seas ahead.

The CPL yacht a very smart modern racing version of the BII outdated model has swept up all the solid fare paying passengers with new gizmos and the latest technology, followed by a number of imitators, further removing the demand for BII yacht passengers.

Admiral Grant struts the deck in his faded uniform followed Captain Thomas whose attire is spattered with mud from the financial creek, the crew are rebelling at the thought of being put ashore on a mud flat, most unable to swim because of their comfortable complacency.

The yacht brokers are not really interested in buying or attempting to sell a rotten old hulk that is way out of date, even the backers of a previous year have moved on to new sleeker yachts to support, why invest in something well past it’s sell by date.

Admiral Grant and his lackeys are in a time warp and should be made to walk the plank or marooned on a mud flat on a rising tide wearing lead diving boots, before they drag the good old ship down to the depths that they will surely reach, as any good sailor knows with an anchor tied round his neck.

The only solution is for the people who made the good ship BII great first of all, to take control, strip all the dross out, make the yacht sleeker and faster, get rid of the dead leg advisers who have spent many years telling the Admiral what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear, if he does in fact listen.

The paper shuffling of racing rules and individual yachts specifications should all be binned, to be replaced by one set of rules for all, with enforceable substantial fines to yachts breaking the rules, the rules as they stand and their adjudicators have no legal standing and are being ignored by the majority.

The good ship BII by virtue of its age and originality should be the premier adjudicating ship in all matters on racing, not linked by financial deals to a load of squalid yachts with very nasty habits and tactics, it should of course incorporate all the other independent training yachts on the board of adjudicators who are not involved in active racing.

However they have a major problem getting themselves out of the Financial Creek, since the ship is top heavy with the over weight crew, the trusty passengers of old are defecting to other bodies if any, why pay for a tired cruise with little service and out of date activities, that are far from cheap.

Sadly the passenger lists are shrinking faster than the tide ebbs and floes, there are volunteers to put the old ship back on course, but the present gold braid wearers are doing their utmost to block their efforts.

Will she be another rotting hulk in a grubby creek or backwater on the extreme edges of something like the Essex marshes?

Jack Tar, ex Good Ship BII Cabin Boy

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 Licensed Industry

Credit Cards at their glorious best, Barrel-Dregs (232)

CANCEL YOUR CREDIT CARD BEFORE YOU DIE ………Reported in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle U.K. Recently:

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die! This is so priceless. And so easy to see happening – customer service, being what it is today!

A lady died this past September, and MBNA bank billed her in October and November for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then in December added late fees and interest on the monthly charge.

The balance that had been £0.00, now is somewhere around – £60.00.

A family member placed a call to the MBNA Bank:

Family Member: ‘I am calling to tell you that my grandma died in September.’

MBNA: ‘But the account was never closed and so the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Maybe, you should turn it over to your collections section.’

MBNA: ‘Since it is two months over due, it already has been.’

Family Member: ‘So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?’

MBNA: ‘Either report her account to the Frauds Department or report her to The Credit bureau, maybe both!’

Family Member: ‘Do you think God will be mad at her?’

MBNA: ‘Excuse me?’

Family Member: ‘Did you just get what I was telling you . . The part about her being dead?’

MBNA: ‘Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.’

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: ‘I’m calling to tell you, she died in September.’

MBNA: ‘But the account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.’

Family Member: ‘You mean you want to collect from her estate?’

MBNA: (Stammer) ‘Are you her solicitor?’

Family Member: ‘No, I’m her grandson’

MBNA: ‘Could you fax us a death certificate?’

Family Member: ‘Sure.’

( fax number is given )

After they get the fax:

MBNA: ‘Our system just isn’t set up for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.’

Family Member: ‘Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don’t think she will care.’

MBNA: ‘Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.’

Family Member: ‘Would you like her new billing address?’

MBNA: ‘That would help.’

Family Member: ‘ Plot 1049.’ Heaton Cemetary, Heaton Road , Newcastle upon Tyne

MBNA: ‘But, that’s a cemetery!’

Family Member: ‘Well, what the f*** do you do with dead people on your planet?’

The MBNA were not available for comment when a reporter from the Newcastle Evening Chronicle rang them.  

And these people get outrageously large bonuses too!


Note:- Needless to say his application for a lease failed, he was too streetwise, which many more people should be.


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 Licensed Industry


Robert Sayles, tries for a Pub Co Lease, Barrel-Dregs (231)

So you want to run a pub

Curious to see what pubcos are now offering prospective new tenants I recently went along to a recruitment roadshow.

Entering the room I was handed a brochure entitled ‘New Year, New Career’ and escorted to the desk of one of the recruitment staff.

“Hello my name’s Jenny” said a blonde woman smiling brightly. She looked briefly at her notes. “It’s Mr. Sayles, isn’t it?

Have a seat. I just need to get a few additional details from you. Now then, do you know anything about running a pub?”

”Errr….not really no…. is that a problem?”

“No problem Mr. Sayles.  Quite a large number of our partners enter the trade from other careers; a background in the licensing trade is not essential. You’ll be glad to know we’ve just launched an exciting agreement for new applicants; it’s called ‘Earn while you learn’.”

“Sounds fantastic.”

“Do you have any funds?”

Errr…not really no…. is that a problem?”

“No Mr. Sayles. You see, we’re committed to helping our partners. Lack of capital is not an issue. We’ll get you up and running don’t you worry. Just one question, are you a homeowner?”

“Yes, I have a house in Birmingham.”



“Excellent Mr. Sayles, excellent.”

“As I said, funding is not really an issue; we can rentalise all your costs.” 

“Sounds great. When do we start?”

“We can start right now. We have some fantastic opportunities available. Have a look at this. I’m sure that somewhere out there we’ve got a pub with your name on it.”

“I’m sure you do.”

“And I’ve got some additional good news for you Mr. Sayles. We’re committed to supporting our partners. With this in mind we’ve come out with a new partnership concept; it’s called ‘Total Support’. We’ll provide you with everything you need.”


“Absolutely Mr. Sayles. Drinks, food, AWPs, EPOS, you name it, we’ll deliver it. You won’t need to leave the confines of your pub. We’ll come to you.”

There then followed a party political broadcast on behalf of the pubcos.

“We offer fantastic support Mr. Sayles……..blah blah blah…….green shoots of recovery Mr. Sayles…..blah blah blah…… sales showing signs of recovering………blah blah blah ……..we work closely with our partners..blah blah blah……our BDMs are always there for you…..blah blah blah……..passionate about pubs…blah blah blah……”

She then turned on the monitor on her computer and played the recruitment video. Another smiling woman appeared on the screen, continuing where Jenny had left off.

“My name is Michelle and I’d like to tell you about my experience of running a pub. My BDM has been fantastic; a real pillar of support. I really don’t know what we’d have done without him. He’s never afraid to take off the suit and put his overalls on; he’s that sort of guy.

Our pubco has been with us every step of the way….blah blah blah……….they’re only a  phone call away………blah blah blah……….life changing experience …blah blah blah……committed to partnership ……blah blah blah…”

“Sounds marvellous” I responded. “I place great store in the concept of true partnership.”

“We appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet Mr. Sayles, we really do. Do I take it that you wish to proceed with your application?”

“Absolutely. That said, I do have a couple of queries.”

“Fire away Mr. Sayles, fire away.”

“My name isn’t Houdini. Is that a problem?”

“Err….I’m sorry, I don’t follow?”

“Well it’s just that I’m looking at the numbers you’ve quoted on this ‘fantastic opportunity’ and it seems to me that need a magician not a tenant.”

“Err……I’m sorry, I’m not still not with you.”

“Allow me to elaborate. This particular outlet is currently turning over 110 barrels a year yet you’ve assessed FMT at 240. How do you account for that?”

“Well you see Mr. Sayles our previous partner wasn’t REO.”

“Oh, I see. But would you not accept that the first twelve months are the most critical for any business?”

“Err… yes I suppose so….”

“Well if I take on this particular pub then isn’t it the case that I’ll be losing money from day one? Don’t you think it would be more sensible to set FMT at a level which actually allows me to make some profit?”


“Err..yes well err……”


“And while we’re on the subjects of agreements; tied for food?  Are you taking the p…..?”


“I’m sorry?”


“The reason I ask is because even during the ‘golden years’ a publican was only tied for beer. However as the public’s appetite for beer has waned pubcos have continually sought to take more from the partnership by tying publicans for both spirits and soft drinks.


Not content with what you’ve taken thus far, you’ve now come out with an agreement which obliges me to buy food from you as well?


You see, food is the only area left that allows me to make decent margin. If this is removed from the equation how exactly do you think I’m going to generate sufficient margin to pay the inflated costs of your products as well as an inflated rent, and dare I say it, provide myself and my family with an income we can live on?


I see also that my rent will increase annually in line with RPI. Would it not be fair to say that this is nothing more than an upward only rent review; albeit in alternative guise?


Forgive me, but I’m having difficulty in seeing where my share of the profits is going to come from. After all, this is supposedly a partnership, is it not?”


“Err..yes well err……”


“You see we hear much about pubcos wanting to attract entrepreneurs to the trade. From where I’m sitting there is little evidence to suggest this is the case. Entrepreneurs seek flexibility and choice, yet rather than loosening the shackles, pubcos such as yours appear to be tightening them, obliging publicans to take outlets on even more onerous terms.”


“Err..yes well err……”


“I do hope we’re still singing from the same hymn sheet?”


“Err..yes well err……”


“And of course if I were to take on this agreement, chances are that 12 months down the line I’d be bankrupt. At this point you’ll no doubt take out an injunction on my house to recover costs. Presumably as I enter court to fight the compulsory sale of my house you’ll still be with me, ‘every step of the way’?”


“Err..yes well Mr. Sayles. Err….do I take it you have some reservations about signing one of our agreements?”


“You’re very perceptive. Allow me to give you a couple of suggestions.


Let’s keep things cordial and leave the issue of the tie to one side for a moment, shall we?  Now then, how about giving me guest ale provision? While you’re at it, how about setting FMT at levels which reflect the market of 2012 not a bygone era which will never return?


And getting back to the subject of food, why would I wish to purchase it from you? Is it not the case that in such difficult trading conditions pubs most likely to survive are those that have a USP?


I don’t think marketing frozen crap quite fits into that category, do you? Doesn’t this suggest that you’re rather more concerned with short-term profit than the long-term sustainability of your estate?”


“Err…yes well err……”


“Do you actually believe there is any merit in a strategy that encourages pubs to market identical menus? The collective sound of microwaves pinging up and down the country; is this likely to encourage customers to return?


We keep hearing people within the industry saying that that they’re passionate about pubs. They’re certainly passionate about profit, but passionate about pubs? I think not.”  


“Err..yes.. well err……am I right in presuming that you won’t be proceeding with your application?”

Robert Sayles,

Note:- Needless to say his application for a lease failed, he was too streetwise, which many more people should be.

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 Licensed Industry




HMRC at it’s gloriest best??? Barrel-Dregs (230)

HMRC at it’s gloriest best???

By Steve

I finally snapped with the HMRC (for any foreign readers, that’s Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customers, or the taxman)



I got back from a great day and evening out yesterday to be greeted by a letter from HMRC. It had been delivered in person by one of their inspectors and left with a worried member of staff in my absence. Now, before we go on, I need to be clear – I have NEVER defaulted on a tax bill, and I’ve been a UK tax payer for 26 years. Other than a couple of mistakes made by a previous accountant of mine (who was ditched by me and has since gone into administration) I have ALWAYS paid my tax on time. I’ve never been in trouble with the law, never claimed a benefit in my life and I’m quite possibly the most honest small-businessman you could ever hope to meet!


This was HMRC’s Letter

I’m so sick of the disparate way in which HMRC operates, that I felt compelled to reply. In fact, although he couldn’t say it himself, when I spoke on the phone to tax inspector concerned, it was fairly obvious that he spends most of his time dealing with such calls and would be pleased if I wrote a complaint letter!


So this was my reply. For simplicity, I’ve just cut & pasted the text here:


Complaints Manager
Piran House
Nettles Hill
TR15 1SL

Dear Sir

I apologise for inconveniencing you, as I suspect being a “complaints manager” for HMRC must be an impossibly busy job, but after 26 years of paying all of my taxes conscientiously and on time, with the last 4 years as an employer also making PAYE & VAT payments, I’ve finally snapped. I can no longer quietly accept the unfairness of our tax system, the perverse manner in which you treat honest people and the corruption at the top of your ‘business’ (I have inserted ‘business’ because, let’s face it, none of you would appreciate what it actually takes to run a business or try and generate an income if it wrapped itself around you and gave you a smack in the face).

So what has brought me to this you might ask? Well, before I go any further, let me offer you a simple quiz, based around my own business, a public house…

The Scenario

A loyal customer of 25 years, who spends around £1000 per year with us, has a tab on our till for one pint, which we’ve agreed they’ll pay by 31st January. On 1st February the tab is still on the till so what should I, as the Publican, do about this?

Do I:

    1. Ignore it, because he’s a loyal customer and it must be some kind of mistake, it’ll turn up?


    1. Ask the staff if it’s been paid (but just not changed on the till)?


    1. Check around the bar to see if the payment has been left somewhere else?


    1. Call the customer (or wait until he’s next in) to ask if he’s paid his bill and, if not, why?


  1. Immediately employ an extra member of staff, send them around to the customer’s house unannounced demanding that payment be made and when they find the customer isn’t there, leave a letter with their partner explaining that unless they pay in full now I will levy distraint on their possessions and assets?

Tell me Mr. Complaints Manager, if it were HMRC running my pub instead of me, which of these scenarios would be deemed sensible?

I don’t think either of us would win any awards for guessing the correct answer would we? Any other sane person would, I assume, select A, B, C or D? Scenario ‘E’ is so far off the scale of reasonableness that it should actually be numbered Y or Z? So why does HMRC insist on working this way?

I got back to my pub last night, after a great Valentine’s day out, to be greeted by a letter marked ‘private’ (Ref: 794 P 178590/4), handed to me by a worried member of staff who said that “HMRC were here today looking for you and they left this”. The letter informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I hadn’t paid my January PAYE bill and must pay instantly otherwise my toenails would be ripped out slowly (or words that had a similar effect).

Of course, I knew I HAD paid the bill, because just like the vast majority of small business owners, a great portion of my time is spent paying government bills. But I thought I’d humour you anyway, so I collected up my toenails and checked my records. Sure enough, there it was, with a little note I’d attached to the payment a few days later for my own benefit saying:

“paid this bill 7th Jan but it was declined. According to my bank, this HMRC account stopped accepting BACS payments in 2012, so I set up a new account for PAYE-Shipley and it was paid 19th Jan”

I thought you’d easily spot this because, surely, before you did anything else, you’d have an office junior spend 30 seconds pressing a couple of computer keys to have a look at the accounts I hold with you? But how naïve I am! I obviously don’t comprehend how difficult it must be for you? I mean, you’ve only had access to my full details for 44 years, your history of transactions with me only goes back 26 years, and it must be nigh-on impossible for you to check the only 2 possible accounts where my payment could have gone (for only three possible services – VAT, Self-assessment or PAYE). It’s so much easier to send a person down from your office and accuse me of being a thief isn’t it?

This, in itself, wouldn’t usually be enough to rile me; I’d normally laugh it off as yet another example of how incompetently wasteful our civil service is. But a similar thing happened a few months, albeit without the letter, as I had the good fortune of meeting the gentleman on that occasion and having to spend 15 minutes explaining why I wasn’t a crook while he looked at me with the sort of look you give your puppy when it’s just shit on your new carpet. He then managed to sort it with a 30 second phone call but, hey, why make that 30 second call back at the office when you can waste half a day being paid to have a ride around Somerset?

But even that wouldn’t usually be enough, it would just offer hours of jolly banter with my regulars as we swapped stories of how much of our tax is wasted by the government machine. No, what has got me to the point of writing a letter to the one organisation on the planet that will probably take absolutely no notice of it, is that this sort of thing is deemed acceptable by the very people who openly break their own procedures (and the law) to accept ridiculously generous deals with unscrupulous companies?

You’ll spend an inordinate amount of time and resource chasing honest business people, who can ill afford the time or resource themselves, whilst your corrupt wanker of a leader, Dave Hartnett, gives away £BILLIONS of our cash for nothing more than a few posh meals? The likes of Vodafone and Goldman Sachs are afforded many meetings and negotiations with your top brass, whilst I can’t even speak to your call centre on the phone without waiting in a half hour queue, and the only negotiation I would be allowed is to decide whether you cut off my balls with a rusty knife or a garrotte?

The likes of Facebook and Google siphon away £billions offshore, via the cheap Irish finance structure, to openly avoid their tax commitments right in front of your eyes but you’d be straight down on me if I so much as take the £1.26 interest I received on my savings account last year on holiday with me.

You give about a week’s grace period to any smaller tax payer before unleashing the hounds of hell on them whilst allowing big companies years to negotiate their way out of payments.

You seem to chase the people who DO pay their tax whilst all around us are people who are so obviously ripping you (and I) off, I wonder at times why I shouldn’t just join them? Yours is a system that seems to be set up to penalise those who DO pay but who make small errors or sometimes struggle with their payments, rather than those who obviously DON’T pay. You’re constantly chasing the low-hanging fruit of small-business when you should be focusing your attention on both the juicy, untouched fruit at the top of the tree and the parasitic plant that’s living for free off the tree’s hard work.

It has to stop and it will stop. The injustice in the whole UK tax system is so self-evidently corrupt that, as Complaint’s Manager, you’re like a guy sitting on a burning pyre holding a can of petrol. If nothing is done about the pathetically biased procedures of HMRC soon then I fear you will face a rebellion so great, it will make last year’s riots look like a street party. But I would imagine you don’t actually hear much of this from the ground? You see, most people are loathe to complain to the taxman because, regardless of any assurances they receive, it’s a much safer strategy to just accept it and get on with something else, precisely because of all the things I’ve just mentioned.

I, for one, would gladly withhold all of my tax payments as part of a collective, nationwide demonstration until either this is sorted out or the country goes bust, and I genuinely feel this is not long coming. It may seem a tad dramatic on the basis of a couple of HMRC visits to my business but if that’s what you’re thinking as you finish reading this letter then you have woefully misinterpreted what I’ve been saying and should, instead, ask yourself why a dutiful and honest small-businessman is reduced to writing such a letter?

It’s your choice…

Steve Wilson
Licensee & DPS

Note:-I like Steve have always been scrupulously honest in my tax payments, everything has been handled by accountants, paid on the nail as any honest businessman would do, unlike many very wealthy people.

My accountant phoned me and said the  HMRC are inestigating you, I immediately asked why, he had no idea, I volunteered to ring them, which I did.

I was given an immediate verbal summons to visit an investigator (interrogator), which I complied with.

Within two hours of his grilling, I was nearly in tears, I was shaking and terrified, he insinuated that somewhere we had been hiding money off shore, I had no idea how to set up an off shore business account and certainly every penny that we took went through the books.

My philosophy, as the owner of a freehouse, has always been to feed as much cash through the till since the capital value goes up accordingly and the tax due is far less in the long run.

However, shaking like a leaf and terrified I phoned my accountants, who immediately ran a total check to ensure no errors had been made, absolutely nothing.

The Interrogator demanded that my wifes and my Passports be handed in to them, which we did the next day, they were returned within a week by registered post, three months later my accountant phoned me and said HMRC are not very happy with you, they asked for your passports and you didn’t give them to them, I said that I had and they had been returned within a week by registered post.

This continued for some months, costing me a substantial sum to the accountants and we were getting nowhere.

I remembered that I had helped an HMRC investgator with a problem in another area, to do with drug dealers life style.

I gave him a call and he said he would check it out, it appears that they had received an anonymous call stating that I was committing all sorts of tax dodges and avoidance schemes.

Some time before all this started I had been asked to grease the palms of a couple of individuals over a planning application, which I declined fairly forcibly, it appears that the then head of the local HMRC son was a close friend of these two individuals who were connected to or were involved in the local planning applications.

HMRC will not reveal their sources, but the whole thing was dropped instantly, I had a substantial bill from my accountants, which the interrogator said “Set it against Tax”.

Now you can have insurance against these investigations, there is no payment for stress.

But the Interrogators attitude was that I was guilty instantly,  from one malicious phone call, I will never forget it, it was a nightmare, especially if you are innocent.


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 Licensed Industry

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 Licensed Industry