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MPs attack Enterprise and BBPA over delays to pubco code of practice

By Gurjit Degun & Michelle Perrett , 12-Dec-2012
Last updated the 12-Dec-2012 at 12:12 GMT

Related topics: Pub industry statutory code, General News

Version six of the Industry Framework Code, set up to improve the pubco-tenant relationship , is expected to be signed off by the end of 2012 but full implementation is unlikely before the middle of next year, British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds has confirmed.

Parliament: where the the Save the Pub Group meeting took place last week

Parliament: where the the Save the Pub Group meeting took place last week

The revelation came during a highly-charged All-Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group meeting in Parliament last week where Simmonds also admitted there were no plans for discussions into the profitability of tenants. Simon Townsend, chief operating officer of Enterprise Inns, was also questioned by MPs during the event.

Simmonds told the group during the debate: “It will be implemented as a code when it is signed off, which I hope will be by the end of this year. Then there has to be a degree of time where the framework code translates into the company codes and that takes a bit more time. But the big companies should be able to implement this within three to six months.”

When quizzed on the balance of risk and reward and the profitability of tenants, she added: “I have never told the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) we would redress the balance of earnings — that’s not the role of the trade association.

“The role of the trade association is to bring our members together and work on something that is an honest and fair framework code that can be implemented by companies. The role of the BBPA is to provide, and work on, an industry code that provides as much information as possible for publicans that want to take on a pub.”

She added: “We have a remit to look at cultural change. I can show that rents have continued to go down, and what additional services have been provided by my members, which help in that balance between risk and reward.”

Shadow pubs minister Toby Perkins replied: “The worry people have is it will take six months or so for pubcos to implement it, then another year to see if it makes a difference, so we’ll be basically at the next general election by the time anyone even decides. This entire Parliament will have passed, almost certainly, without anything being done about it.”

Brian Binley, MP and member of the BIS select committee, addressing Townsend, hit out at the way Enterprise operates. He said: “There is something that has gone wrong in the past in your organisation... I’m simply telling you there have been hundreds of people who have been very seriously harmed by the actions of your organisation, and the sooner you wake up to that fact and have a real understanding, and want to do something for the good of all the people in your organisation, the better your organisation will be.”

Townsend replied: “All I’ve ever asked is to be [provided with] clear evidence, which we can pursue to see whether we have done something wrong. We have been pointed to allegations and assertions again and again.

“There appears to be no amount of evidence or fact that we can continue to produce that will convince you or help you change your mind.”

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