(From the Archives)
What is happening, and what has happened to the BII?
This article was displayed on the MA Forum 8th Sept. 2010, for those that did not see it on the MA Forum.
A question that many of us have differing views, but remarkably similar.
The Industry desperately needs a totally fair and transparent body to Police the Industry that is both fair to licensees and pub owning companies, that is completely incorruptible in the broadest terms, without that the Industry will be in constant turmoil.
I have spent thirteen years recruiting many thousands of members all over the mainly southern half of England.
Under Mary Curnock-Cook, the BII was a professional organisation to join and endorsed by the majority of brewers with pubs.
There was a certain amount of internal unrest relating to the revenue from qualifications supposedly out stripping members subscriptions, certain directors wanted to split the BII which was successfully opposed, but it meant that a substantial amount of revenue came in from Pub owning companies.
John McNamara took over from Mary Curnock-Cook and a perceived movement towards the Pub Co’s was made in terms of corporate members and mass sales of qualifications.
The BII is a members organisation, the majority of members received a magazine and actually only a few enjoyed individual benefits.
The advent of the growth and power of the Pub Co’s caused serious problems for members, the BII hid behind the Charitable Status for not getting involved in these problems, rightly or wrongly.
This caused a steady growth of concern as to the effectiveness of the BII in safeguarding members interests and membership declined.
The BII reverted to further involvement with the Pub Co’s by automatically making Pub Co trainees members, the fees being paid by the Pub Co’s out of the training fees etc charged by the Pub Co’s, it could be argued technically that the fees were paid by the members, but the financial direction was controlled by the Pub Co’s.
This put an even greater dependence financially on Pub Co support.
A few months before John McNamara left the BII, I had lunch with him, he made some statements, which shook me to the core, I realised that he appeared to have absolutely no concept of what was happening to his members, and trotted out the usual Pub Co statement that “The Pub Co model was an excellent low cost entry into the Industry.”
A few months later I met Neil Robertson and he trotted out virtually the same words, which I endeavoured to correct him on.
I have, unfortunately never questioned the BII’s support for members until false accusations were made by two BII Directors accusing me of having two failed businesses and discouraging people from joining the BII.
To some having failed businesses is a trophy, but to me, never having ever had a failed business one is a slur and two is an insult.
I naively assumed that an error had been made and a simple apology would be forthcoming, absolutely no chance, I was removed from my home membership region and replaced by another MDC, which is the BII’s prerogative which I do not dispute.
The Membership Director before he departed finally realised that the accusations were untrue and said that I had to have a full apology from the BII to restore my reputation.
Absolutely no chance, any admission of liability for their Directors accusations was out of the question.
Which raises the spectre of what membership is worth, a magazine, a number of benefits which are replaceable through other sources and no support if a member of the Council decides that they do not like your thoughts or you have upset a corporate sponsor who has representation on the BII Board, the permutations could be extensive.
Other members have been eased out or forced to resign for questioning BII actions.
The BII cannot retrace it’s steps, because of its’ apparent financial dependence on various avenues of Pub Co finance, membership will not achieve this in its’ present form without a radical change in approach, which will not happen until the Pub Co Model is discredited.
The opportunity for the BII to effectively Police the Industry in a fair and transparent way, in my opinion is virtually impossible, because of its dependence on Pub Co income.
If the mainstream income was from membership the Industry could be Policed by the BII, since individual representation would have to be through the Regions and handled democratically, and no financial influence could be exerted.
The withdrawal of financial support by one large Pub Co would be a disaster, this tends to focus certain peoples’ minds and the decisions made, which was made very clear to me in John McNamara’s time.
My experiences have a exposed a major flaw in membership and raises serious questions, in my opinion, about honesty and integrity.
I feel that the BII are incapable of Policing the Industry from members to Pub Co’s and legislation is the only way, administered by a body which cannot be influenced by financial pressures.
Note:-This article was written ten years ago, the BII would now appear to be a failing body, with little idea of how to restore itself, many of us worked hard to make it successful. Too many people came in as senior directors with no real understanding of the problems in the industry, departing very quickly. The people who dealt with members and potential members face to face, opinions were ignored, in favour of listening to people with no coal face experience, who sat on company boards and never got their hands dirty. Sadly, I can no longer recommend the BII as a body to safeguard my interests.
The views expressed are not necessarily the editors and www.buyingapub.com accepts no responsibility for them, we do try to avoid offensive or litigious statements being made. 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.