Justice for Licensees urges tenants to report fraud if 'conned' by pubco

By Ellie Bothwell

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pub company Landlord Fraud

Justice for Licensees campaign leader Inez Ward says pubcos are a "disgrace"
Justice for Licensees campaign leader Inez Ward says pubcos are a "disgrace"
Justice for Licensees has called for tenants to report fraud if they have been “conned” by their pub company.

The lobbying group has released a statement as part of its Save the Great British Pub campaign calling for tenants of a pub company to inform Action Fraud if they believe they have been “conned, scammed or ripped off”.

Founder Inez Ward told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ concerns from tenants who felt they had been mis-sold or misrepresented in their dealings with pub companies “kept cropping up” so the group approached organisations including Action Fraud to “get help and guidance for these people”. She said she was “overwhelmed” and “surprised” by the number of licensees who felt their pub company had not been honest and was aware of seven tenants who had reported fraud since the statement was published on Tuesday.

“Tenants get passed along. Whichever body they go to they get told ‘we can’t deal with you, you’re not a consumer’. As far as we were concerned, that just wasn’t good enough,” she said.

“Whether the pubcos have been criminally negligent, well, time will tell. But these sorts of problems need addressing because they’re not helping the trade, they’re not helping tenancies and they’re not helping the pubcos either.

“If there hasn’t been fraud then great, no one’s got anything to worry about. But if it has then it needs collecting. It needs stopping and it needs stopping now before other people end up being hurt.”

Fractious relationship

Ward added that the fractious pub company and tenant relationship has been “bubbling along for a long time” but organisations have been trying to “push it under the radar”.

“If they had one ounce of morals about them they would want to know these things,” she continued. “They wouldn’t be trying to shut people up and threaten and bully them. That’s not the way to operate! It’s just dragging this trade through the mire.

“I expect better for this trade. And this trade deserves much better. It’s been around for thousands of years. Pubcos are in the press professing how much they care about pubs. Well, I’m sorry, but their actions are speaking a whole lot louder than their words. They don’t have any interest or care in the pub, the people that use them or the people that run them. And that is a disgrace.”

Fair dealing

Ward used to run Mavericks in Newquay, Cornwall but was evicted by Enterprise Inns in 2009 due to bankruptcy.

She added that PICAS  did not address the problems of tenants or the concerns of the government and said she supports statutory regulation since pub companies have “proven categorically that they are incapable of sufficient reform” to address the problems that have been highlighted through government inquiry.

“A tied tenant should be no worse off than a free-of-tie tenant. There should be lawful and fair dealing. It’s not rocket science,” she continued. “And if they can’t grab those two premises and work with them then self-regulation is going to do absolutely nothing. It’s not going to stop tenants feeling they are being ripped off or conned. It’s not going to stop people being made homeless. That’s where it started and that’s where it has to finish.”

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