CAMRA’s annual event in Scarborough saw a motion carried, despite opposition by three members of the group’s national executive, calling for a more “radical” approach when dealing with pubcos that “indulge in unacceptable and unfair business practices”.
The motion suggested this approach should include preventing pubcos from “utilising CAMRA resources for recruitment or public relations activities”.
David Howell, who proposed the motion on behalf of the Potteries branch, explained: “There have been occasions when companies like Punch and Enterprise have turned up at trade days and beer festivals to recruit people. We have also had adverts in our publications for them. Why are we doing this when we know their tenants get a very raw deal?
“It was a bit of a revolt because there are feelings that the national executive is too close to the pubcos.”
Mr Howell said his motion was not aimed solely at the major pubcos but at “anyone operating out of the Punch manual”.
The motion also calls for a dedicated Pubco National Campaign Officer. However, an amendment removed the suggestion that CAMRA should help prospective tenants draw up a model terms of agreement, as it would have stretched the group’s resources.
A Punch Taverns spokeswoman responded by saying: “Punch remains committed to working towards a constructive outcome that benefits the long term future of British pubs and the million people who work in and around the sector.”
CAMRA also passed a motion instructing its national executive to “mount a hard-hitting campaign to secure the closure of planning loopholes that allow unnecessary loss of pubs”.
Colin Valentine, CAMRA chairman, said: “These motions underline CAMRA’s determination to tackle the threat to pubs of weak planning rules and unfair pubco business practices.”
He added: "We are at a critical stage in the campaign to rein in the big pub companies and are pressing the Government to deliver on their promise to act. There is growing frustration at the delay in the Government going ahead with their plans for a Statutory Code and Pubs Ombudsman. Thus far the Government has proven deaf to calls to tighten planning regulations to ensure local people have a say before valued pubs are lost. It is an absurdity that profitable pubs can be demolished or converted without any need for a planning application."