Pub trade's week of reckoning

By Ewan Turney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Licensing act Public house License

Fair Pint: winners of the week
Fair Pint: winners of the week
Pubco power report, mandatory code on alcohol retailing and a review of the Licensing Act — it has been a truly momentous week.

Pubco power report, mandatory code on alcohol retailing and a review of the Licensing Act — it has been a monster week in the pub trade.

Just in case you were so rushed off your feet you missed all the news, here is a summary of the news from a week that will go down in pub trade history as truly momentous.

Business and Enterprise Committee Report

The long awaited and eagerly anticipated BEC report into pubco power was finally published. MPs are calling for a full-scale review of the tie by the Competition Commission and "urgent action by the Government" in a hard-hitting report on the pubco-tenant relationship.

The report finds "alarming evidence" that there may be serious problems caused by the dominance of the large pub companies.

Bec's unanimous conclusions were coloured by its survey of 1,000 licensees, which committee chairman Peter Luff said backed up the personal views submitted by many licensees. Among the key findings were:

• 44% of licensees had not been given a breakdown of how their rent was calculated

• 67% earned less than £15,000pa and 50% of the licensees who had a turn-over of £500,000pa earned less than £15,000 — a 3% rate of return

• 64% of licensees did not feel their pubco added any value.

Luff told Morning Advertiser​: "We are just not convinced that the benefits of the beer tie outweigh its disadvantages. There needs to be a proper look at the effects of the tie on competition, which is why we are recommending a reference to the Competition Commission."

And in words that will dismay trade bosses, he added: "There must be a legal framework that takes account of the imbalance of bargaining power between licensees and pubcos."

• Read full reaction: Big pubcos hammered by MPs​.

Licensing Act review

Venues with a capacity of under 200 should be allowed to put on live music without the need for additional licensing conditions, while the two in the bar rule should be reintroduced.

Those were two of the key recommendations from the review of the Licensing Act undertaken by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

"We are particularly concerned to hear of the way the Act may be hampering live music performances especially by young musicians, who often get their first break through performing live at small venues such as pubs," said committee chairman John Whittingdale. "Our report calls on the Government to relax restrictions in this area, which in some cases are unnecessarily draconian, and in others simply absurd."

The Committee also recommended increasing the number of Temporary Events Notices from 12 to 15, the use of cumulative impact assessments on all license applications and extending the transfer period for a licence in the event of a death.

Generally, it said the Licensing Act had been a success.

MPs: axe restrictions on live pub music​.

MPs' licensing report is 'missed opportunity'​.

Late night sector welcomes Licensing Act review​.

Mandatory code on alcohol retailing

The Government reeased further details of its controversial mandatory code on alcohol retailing.

It has abandoned plans to force all pubs to abide by Challenge 21 by law in its mandatory alcohol retailing code.

The consultation on the code re-affirms the Government's plan not to push ahead with minimum pricing — although it commits to gathering more evidence about it.

A range of extra conditions, which can be imposed by councils on two or more venues, include:

• Bans on bulk-buy promotions such as discounts on buying more than one 24-pack of lager.

• Restricting happy hours and pub crawl at certain times.

• Requiring doorstaff to search for weapons and drugs at key times.

• Banning glass or ensuring containers are collected regularly.

• Compulsory CCTV.

• Displaying information about local transport links.

Breaching the code could mean a fine of up to £20,000, loss of licence, or even six months in prison.

Compulsory Challenge 21 plan shelved in mandatory code

ALMR lashes out at 'arrogant' Government​.

Winners of the week

• Fair Pint: first victory for the campaigners (Fair Pint — the story behind the campaigners​).

• Feargel Sharkey: former Undertones frontman gets almost everything he asked for from the Licensing Act review and woos MPs further with a live rendition of "Teenage Kicks".

Losers of the week

• Pubcos: rocked by the damning BEC report.

• Cash strapped pubs: mandatory code will increase costs and add yet more red tape.

You can have your say on all these issues on the trade's only live forum. Let us know your views by clicking Post a comment​ below.

Related topics Legislation Other operators

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Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

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