CAMRA 'save the pub' plea
Added: Saturday, January 7th 2012
CAMRA -- the Campaign for Real Ale -- has urged pubgoers and beer drinkers to lobby their MPs via email in a bid to support a call in parliament on 12 January to curb the power of the giant pub companies or pubcos.
The call by the real ale consumer organisation follows a government decision to waterdown proposals to tackle the power of the pubcos by the Business Select Committee last year. MPs on the committee called for drastic action to stop the exploitation of pub tenants by the pubcos and to give tenants "free of tie" and guest beer options instead of being tied hand-and-foot to the landlords' imposed beer lists.
But the coalition government favours "industry self-regulation" and will ask the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) to oversee a code of practice for companies operating tied tenancies and leases. The BBPA is funded by the very organisations it is expected to regulate.
CAMRA says the government's response has "failed to address the key issues of providing lessees with a genuine free-of-tie and guest beer option, and will not rebalance the relationship between struggling licensees and large pub companies." The majority of British pubs are owned by three companies: Enterprise Inns, Punch Taverns and Mitchells & Butlers.
The campaign adds that even the limited package announced by the govnment -- which includes a new arbitration service, guidelines for rents and national wholesale price lists -- will do little to stop pub closures. CAMRA feels these proposals may not be delivered as a result of the pubcos history of broken promises and abandoned commitments.
The campaign's chief executive Mike Benner says: "The government has been cavalier in rejecting the recommendations of the Business Select Committee and instead putting its faith in the ability of the very companies accused of malpractice to finally put their house in order. The lack of any formal public consultation on this package of measures is truly remarkable and suggests a failure of government to listen to all interested parties, including the consumer.
"Pubs are vitally important not just to the millions of regular pubgoers but also to the health of communities and the overall economy. The failure of the government to secure a more substantial reform package is a massive blow to the prime minister's aspiration to lead a 'pub-friendly' government."
Greg Mulholland MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group, says: "Ministers and officials have either taken the easy way out or have had the wool pulled over their eyes by the very people so criticised by the select committee. The response does nothing to address the fundamental point about the unfair share of turnover pubcos take from their pubs, which makes it impossible for many tenants to make a living, even when their takings are at a decent level."
*Go to www.camra.org.uk.
Vote for champion beers
CAMRA members can now play a part in choosing the Champion Beer of Britain courtesy of a new website. The site will allow all members to nominate five beers in each of the 11 categories to be put forward for the competition. Go to www.cbobvoting.org.uk.