The documents – newly released by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) – expose the nature and extent of the disagreements between pub industry associations that scuppered attempts to negotiate a self-regulatory code of practice.
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) bemoaned the British Beer & Pub Association’s (BBPA) refusal to discuss commercial measures and its limited interpretation of the role of a regulatory board.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) expressed doubts about the capabilities of the newly formed Pubs Independent Conciliation & Advice Service (PICA-Service), adding: “The decision to charge a £200 upfront fee… is surely deterring use of the scheme.”
The Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations (FLVA) accused the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) of “allowing itself to be used by the BBPA and pubcos in being put forward as a quasi tenants’ representative body, which is not its principle role”.
It added: “The BBPA seem reluctant to cede governance. We wish to see some form of representative governance but sense a form of grudgingly ceded enlightened despotism.”
The Independent Pub Confederation complained that it was frozen out, saying: “The ALMR’s presence at the code negotiating table should in no way be perceived as IPC participation.” It said that the ALMR had been “prohibited from sharing information with the group as a whole”.
And the GMB union argued: “The FLVA are deeply compromised by their funding by Enterprise Inns.”
Business Minister Vince Cable wrote to Rodger Vickers (chair of PICA-Service), the BBPA, ALMR, FLVA, Guild of Master Victuallers and IPC on 7 November asking four questions (see below).
After receiving 19 responses, he noted: “The self-regulatory approach, which was announced by the government in November 2011, has not been sufficiently far-reaching and does not appear to have engendered the culture change that is required.”
Cable added: “Discussions have faltered on two issues: firstly around who should sit on the governance board; secondly whether issues relating to the tie should be included in the code.”
Cable’s four questions:
1) What action has been taken, and is planned, by the governing board of PICA-Service to promote and maintain awareness among licensees of the availability of mediation and arbitration services?
2) What action has been taken, and is planned, by the large pubcos (those with over 500 pubs) to maintain awareness among licensees of their rights under the code?
3) What progress has the BII made in preparing for its code re-accreditation role?
4) What action, if any, is being taken under the leadership of the BII to set up a Pubs Advisory Service for licensees?