Demonstrators set up a bar on the pavement with pump clips that read ‘empty promises’, ‘dark and murky conflict’ and ‘Bias IPA’ in reference to their concerns about PCA Paul Newby’s suitability for the role.
They also held placards claiming they were ‘Hogg “tied” with Newby’ in reference to their ongoing complaint that he is not independent and has failed to act in the interest of tenants.
Campaigner Dave Mountford, who heads up the Pubs Advisory Service, told The Morning Advertiser that Newby was not at the office during the protest but that the demonstration had been “really good”. He said: “There were 30-plus people from Southampton to Plymouth and Liverpool to York."
Actor and pub supporter Neil Stuke, star of television series Silk and Game On, also attended the demo.
A statement from the PCA said: “Paul Newby has repeatedly offered to meet those organising the protest, including inviting them to full discussions on 27 March. Like all previous offers made by the pubs code adjudicator they have rejected this invitation.
“Sadly, it is the case that the campaigners prefer to stage a demonstration rather than sit down for constructive discussions about how to make the pubs code work for tenants. If they change their mind the door remains open.”
The statement also said that the significant numbers of tied tenants who have contacted the PCA enquiry line and referred cases to the adjudicator for arbitration reveals a high level of confidence in the PCA within the sector.
“With regards to the protesters’ assertion of conflict of interest there is no case for the adjudicator to answer,” the statement continued. “Mr Newby was appointed through an open process which has been upheld by the public appointments commissioner. He has been open about his residual financial interests with his former employer; these have no impact whatsoever on his ability to be a fair and impartial adjudicator.”